Exclusive: Oliver Heldens dishes bouncy house hits in Heldeep Radio ahead of Djakarta Warehouse Project performance

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Exclusive: Oliver Heldens dishes bouncy house hits in Heldeep Radio ahead of Djakarta Warehouse Project performanceOliver Heldens Photo Credit Rukes

Oliver Heldens led the perky, future-house sound to triumph in 2013, where his signature style brought his first single, “Gecko,” to top charts across the world. Six years later, the 24-year-old now beholds a world of accomplishments including performing on some of the largest festival stages like EDC and Tomorrowland, heads his very own record label, Heldeep Records, and radio station, Heldeep Radio, along with maintaining his not-so-secret alias as HI-LO, allowing him to express a deeper, bassline-driven sound from his typical sonic direction.

While all equally as impressive feats, Oliver Heldens has continued to impress the nation with continuous musical prowess as he tours across the globe. Before closing out the decade, he’s slated to perform at the Djakarta Warehouse Project, one of the largest electronic music festivals in Southeast Asia. Ahead of his anticipated mainstage set, he’s released an hour-long mix, available exclusively on Dancing Astronaut.

In his latest mix, Heldens hand selects a curation of tunes from his current musical carousel including tracks from his own seasoned discography and snippets of singles from other artist friends. In this release, he drifts through a grand majority of his own productions, from his recent ’80s sample-infused collaboration, “Turn Me On,” to high-energy dance floor shakers like “Renegade Mastah” under his HI-LO moniker.

Tickets and more information about the Djakarta Warehouse Project are available online.

Photo credit: Rukes

Exclusive: Proxy and AC Slater cause a bass house stir on ‘Have Some Fun’

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Exclusive: Proxy and AC Slater cause a bass house stir on ‘Have Some Fun’PROY18 06

On Collusion, Proxy and AC Slater make like the title of their new collaboration and “Have Some Fun.” It’s with this shuffling cut that Proxy’s latest electronic endeavor, Collusion, commences, setting an ebullient tone for the three tracks, “No More,” “Fitness,” and “Poltora,” that will follow.

A prominent presence in contemporary house circles for the past decade, Proxy asserts that his acute ear for rhythmically driven records has only grown sharper over his near year-long hiatus from the scene. With Collusion, Proxy prepares to once more penetrate the dance circuit with the potent technics of his underground aesthetic.

Wonky samples, a galvanizing vocal, hard driving bass lines, and bumping beats collectively constitute the dance-worthy craftwork of “Have Some Fun,” and, as listeners will note upon Collusion’s full-length arrival, these stylistic tools are key to Proxy’s assembly of Collusion. The EP will release via Night Bass Records on December 6, but listeners can get a preview of Collusion’s effervescent sound in the form of “Have Some Fun” one day early, exclusively on Dancing Astronaut.

Exclusive: R3HAB drops hour-long mix ahead of performance at the Djakarta Warehouse Project

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Exclusive: R3HAB drops hour-long mix ahead of performance at the Djakarta Warehouse ProjectR3hab 4

2019 has been the year of R3HAB. In just this year alone, the artist, born as Fadil El Ghoul, has toured around the world with more than 120 show dates, released more than 30 singles and remixes, and now rounds out his accomplished era with one of his final, show-stopping performances of the year at the Djakarta Warehouse Project.

Ahead of the gargantuan three-day festival, R3HAB has prepared a delectable hour long-mix for Dancing Astronaut in anticipation of his set at the “Garuda Land” stage, aptly named after the country’s enriching coat of arms, the Garuda Pancasila. The mix opens with the thunderous bassline and sultry vocals from ZAYN, the opening notes to their latest jaunt “Flames.” With a quickening change of pace, the mix flips through high-energy hits and remixes from his catalog, including his Latin-inspired single “Fuego.” Throughout the mix, R3HAB shows support for budding artists on his CYB3RPVNK label, mixing in tracks from artists like CItyzen and his collaboration with Skytech.

While he’s currently city-hopping with long-time friends and electro-house trio Cash Cash, next on his global takeover marks a performance at Djakarta Warehouse Project, one of the largest electronic music festivals in Southeast Asia. The festival falls in the heart of Jakarta among his circuit of tour stops.

Tickets and more information about the Djakarta Warehouse Project are available online.

Photo credit: Tony Cottrell Photography

Exclusive: So Dope unleashes the low end on VIP Bootleg of Travis Scott’s ‘HIGHEST IN THE ROOM’

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Exclusive: So Dope unleashes the low end on VIP Bootleg of Travis Scott’s ‘HIGHEST IN THE ROOM’So Dope Press Image

Sharp as ever, So Dope cuts Travis Scott‘s “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM” an electronic edge in a brand new VIP bootleg. Armed with the hard trap technics that have characterized his catalog to date, namely “Catch Me Now” and “come for me,” the New York native converts Scott’s original from an anticlimactic hip-hop outing to a rousing hybrid.

The lulling collection of chords at the onset of So Dope’s bootleg border on dreamy in description; they’re vaporously smooth, but they don’t set the precedent for the sound that will follow on So Dope’s revamp. As streamers familiar with So Dope’s sound know, a sonic plot twist is to come.

It accordingly unfolds at the one-minute mark; the break down is accelerant and shrill, satiating in the trap turn that it takes. Replete with pummeling bass and the distinct grit of aggressive trap, the drops that So Dope engineers on his VIP Bootleg are hammering additions to “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM” that augment the firepower of the flip. So Dope’s style, evidently, remains blazing hot.

So Dope’s “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM (VIP Bootleg)” will formally release on November 25. Listeners can stream the producer’s latest electronic endeavor one-day early, only on Dancing Astronaut.

Beyond The Booth 022: exploring the cosmos with Robert Nickson

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Beyond The Booth 022: exploring the cosmos with Robert NicksonRobert Nickson Press Shot

Beyond the Booth is a feature dedicated to the hidden side of artists that exists outside electronic music— a side rarely discussed with those outside their immediate circle. We venture “beyond the booth,” so to speak, and dive into their deepest passions that tie into their unique personalities. After some self-introspection, each participant then returns to the booth, providing an exclusive mix for the Dancing Astronaut audience.

Robert Nickson and space make a fitting pair; after all, the producer has long proven his expertise in transporting his listeners to different worlds through uplifting trance. This motif carries itself through many of his works, with titles like “Sprial,” “Tachyon,” and “Stars” implying extraterrestrial inspiration. His deepest contemplation of the cosmos, however, has only just come to surface in the form of his first-ever LP, Tellurian. In it, we’re swept into a futuristic voyage across the universe, encountering stars like M.I.K.E. Push, Vintage & Morelli, Re:Locate, and Thea Riley along the way. It’s a brilliant demonstration of his expansive sonic pallette, and the fierce emotions stirring within Nickson’s psyche that grant his music the ability to open up others around him.

For this Beyond The Booth edition, we dive deeper into Nickson’s life outside of music—and find the two worlds are more interconnected than one might think. It just so happens that Robert Nickson’s other profession lies in the sciences, and he recently found himself on contract with the European Space Agency working in the Human & Robotic Space Exploration division. It was in fact his time spent at the Agency that helped spur inspiration for Tellurian. We delve futher into Robert’s expertise in the matter on a professional capacity, chatting over the start of his journey into the subject matter to his present endeavors. Nickson also expands on how the universe allows for a greater connection overall between his right and left-brained pursuits.

What have been some of the breakthroughs or memorable moments that happened during your time at the ESA? (please lightly dumb it down for us non scientifically literate folk)

I have somewhat of a scattered time at ESA. I had a few summer jobs there when I was 16/17, followed by an internship and then a job from late 2016 to late 2018. One of the most memorable times was during my summer job (I was 17 at the time) when there was a full solar eclipse in Europe. It was amazing to see, even if it was only a partial eclipse in The Netherlands. It was one those moments where everybody was standing outside in awe, constantly waiting for a break in the clouds to see it. Perhaps it was just me seeing an eclipse for the first time, but it felt like such an appropriate setting for it.

What did your professional resumé (sans music) look like prior to you accepting the role there? What are some other interesting jobs you’ve worked outside of trance?

Before working at ESA I was at Armada Music for 9 years, which I guess still falls under trance (though not music production). After that I did web development with a friend for a few years. Technically speaking we still do that, though it is somewhat on the back burner these days. I should really stress that I’m not a (rocket) scientist or anything. All my jobs at ESA were IT related. I was just fortunate to work somewhere and be small part of an industry that really interests me.

Tell us about how your love affair with the cosmos began and steps you took to learn more about space as you grew up.

As a kid from the 80s I used to love watching a cartoon on Saturday morning called Starcom. It was about the U.S. Space Force, which had colonies throughout the solar system. I can’t remember if I thought there were actual bases on the moon at the time but I imagined there would be by the the 2000s (the 2000s seemed so futuristic back then). I imagined going to space would be the easiest job in the world by then, no different than getting on a plane except that you’d have to wear a helmet.

These were also exciting times because of the Space Shuttle. It was such a beautiful machine and it made going to space seem so effortless. I had the opportunity to see a shuttle launch in 2009 (Atlantis STS-125). We were up before dawn and waited 6 hours for the possibility of a launch (it was all dependent on weather conditions etc.) and in our case it paid off. Truly an amazing experience that still gives me goosebumps today. I know the shuttle has now been retired, but if you ever get the chance to see a launch of any rocket, do not hesitate!

When I was older I became a fan of stargazing. Looking up at the stars gives me such a profound feeling of scale. It truly shows us how small and insignificant we all are. I’ve sat out in the desert in Arizona taking photos of the Milky Way, attempting to make timelapse videos as it passes overhead. On side note, I should add that I’m really not so much of a fan of science fiction. I think I was maybe 15 before I even watched Star Wars.

Give us three random facts about the universe that are cool to know/bust out at a party

I find these facts interesting but let me be clear, they are definitely not cool at parties [laughs]!

  1. We are made of star stuff. Stars convert hydrogen into helium and other matter such as carbon, oxygen, etc. Once a star dies it can explode in a supernova, scattering this matter throughout the universe. This matter then lumps together to form new planets. Everything we see around us now, trees cars, buildings etc. and ourselves have come from a star that exploded. And according to Lawrence Krauss the atoms in your left hand likely come from a different star than the atoms in your right hand. Mind blown! I used a sample of Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining some of this in my track ‘RNX – Atoms.’
  2. The Voyager program. This was a program to send probes to the outer planets Jupiter and Saturn. Someone at NASA calculated that there was a window to launch a probe in the 1970s that could pass by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. This alignment only happens once every couple of hundred years so the timing was perfect. After passing these planets the probes would head into outer space. They included a golden record with images and sounds from earth in case an advanced alien civilisation would one day find it. As it will take thousands and thousands of years to leave our solar system, let alone reach another star, you’ve gotta love the optimism they had with the golden record. It’s absolutely pointless but really speaks to the imagination.
  3. The physics of Star Trek, a book by Lawrence Krauss. This book contains so many cool facts it’s easier to read instead of me picking one or two of them. This book goes into the physics of all the technologies used in Star Trek (such as warp speed and ‘beam me up’) and what it would take to achieve or what the consequences would be. You don’t need to be a fan of the show to read this (I’m definitely not a fan).

Cliché question, but curiosity for your POV has killed the cat. Are you in the camp of Elon Musk and other eccentric figures that believe the best way to ensure human survival is through space colonization? Why or why not?

I love the enthusiasm Elon Musk has to colonize space. He’s made space sexy and seeing those two SpaceX rockets land side by side is goosebump-worthy. Having said that, I think he’s a little too eccentric perhaps in thinking we’ll be living on Mars anytime soon. I think it was Neil DeGrasse Tyson who said that as Mars basically has no magnetic field there’s nothing to protect us from solar radiation, and therefore if humans were to live on Mars, they’d have to spend 99% of their time underground to not get cancer. I’ve never seen Elon address this issue other than saying they are basically the transport company and are relying on others to come up with a solution to this. But like I said, his enthusiasm and can-do-attitude is inspiring and I truly hope he succeeds. How amazing would it be to see a human on Mars in our lifetime?

The “Space Race” has played an understated, yet sizeable role in intergovernmental relations and defense strategy since it began. What are some of the ways you’ve seen modern space research affect diplomacy over the past, say, decade or so? What arenas of research have you seen certain countries, including the European Union, focus on?

I don’t really follow the politics too much to be honest. It is quite amazing to see though how the US/Europe and Russia can still work together on the ISS for example, particularly these days with so much tension. Good on those who manage to find a way to keep the project going under such pressures. When Europe was developing Galileo (Europe’s version of GPS) they wanted to use the same frequencies as the American GPS. The U.S. complained about this as they were afraid an enemy could use Galileo against them for example in guided missiles. They could not jam the signal without jamming their own GPS signals. Apparently there were even talks of the U.S. shooting down Galileo satellites in times of conflicts. In the end Europe agreed to use a different frequency. Perhaps the most bizarre occurrence I read about was when the U.S. and Russians were planning to dock in space for the first time. While I’m sure it’s just a myth as I can’t find any info in it anymore, apparently neither side wanted to develop the female part of the docking port. Neither side wanted to have the spacecraft that would be f#$%ed by the other spacecraft so they had to develop some expensive non male/female docking system. I think most space agencies focus on science projects (or at least claim to). Earth observation, planetary exploration, understanding of astrophysics, etc. Human exploration seems to becoming popular again, in particular landing on Mars. Military satellites are usually developed by other contractors outside of the space agencies, though often still launched by them.

Tell us about a project you’ve been keeping tabs on (ESA or outside) that you think will have a monumental effect on human life if there’s a breakthrough?

Finding/building a new type of propulsion for faster travel will change everything. To reach the closest star with current technology will take tens of thousands of years. If there’s a big breakthrough it may take decades instead, which makes a huge difference. I don’t know of any ESA projects working on this though. There’s a project called Breakthrough Starshot founded by people like Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg are working a proof of concept to achieve something like this. Travelling this fast will bring all kind of other interesting problems (which the Lawrence Kraus book I mentioned earlier discusses).

As someone with a [presumably] deep knowledge of the physics behind soundwaves, frequencies, and how they might affect the mind or the molecules surrounding them, do you feel you can elicit certain effects or reactions to your music as a result (if that makes sense)? Compare this to knowing music theory; does it better your songwriting as a whole, coming into the studio with a more studied/traditional knowledge of the subject beforehand?

No I don’t really think that way. I use the entire space theme more as a way to set a mood. It’s more of a “close your eyes and imagine you’re somewhere else” feeling, and space just seems to be a good setting for that. More of an effect than a cause, if that makes sense. I know there are people who prefer music at 432hz instead of the standard 440hz (short explanation: an A4 note on a piano is normally tuned to 440hz, A5 would be double that at 880hz. etc.). Some people say 432hz is more natural as they claim it’s the resonance frequency of the human body. To me it’s just an arbitrary default tuning and it honestly makes no difference one way or the other. This is the closest example I can think of to such an effect, but like I said, it doesn’t work for me. As for music theory, it does help if you can play an instrument (particularly keyboard or piano) and understand chords. I do sometimes wonder if true music theory geniuses are somewhat trapped in the terminology and stick to rules they’ve been taught that may not necessarily apply when producing dance/trance.

In general, how do you translate your ongoing explorations of space (pun intended) into your music? How have you done so in Tellurian?

I don’t really see it that way. I really just use it as a way to set an atmosphere. It really speaks to the imagination (or to mine at least). The first track from the album (Arecibo) is dark and includes samples from the golden record (as mentioned earlier). That combined sets a real mood. But it’s usually something that comes as I’m making a track though. I don’t usually set out to make a ‘space track’ from the start—it’s just how it goes. The tracks “Iridium Flare” and “Oort Cloud” I named such in part because I’m hoping people will think, “what the hell is an Oort Cloud??” Maybe they’ll Google it and find out. Let’s see if anyone does…

Dive more into the process of Tellurian; what inspired you to craft the album around the cosmos, and what makes trance a good fit to explore these themes?

Of all [electronic] music, trance and space themes seem like such a natural combination. It’s so melodic and emotional (though I dislike using that word), and you can really set the mood almost anyway you like. Add a good sample from someone like Carl Sagan talking about the Pale Blue Dot and it just instantly clicks. This just doesn’t work with house or EDM, as it sounds out of place.

Why was now the right time to create an album? What were the ‘signs’ that told you it was time to embark on a longform voyage?

Albums are great because they provide an opportunity to release different music. It’s “easy” to release another trance record, it’s not as easy to release something “album-y.” It’s just harder to market. Within an album those rules are somewhat gone. Of course you need the tracks, which everyone knows you for but it’s a great way to show another side of yourself. So why now? I’ve been working on a lot of those different tracks for some years and this year I felt it was ready. You put the tracks in a certain order and it just feels right—like a journey. I don’t know how to define when it’s right, it just kind of does, if that makes sense.

Describe a day in the studio—how does songwriting usually look for Robert Nickson? Do you like to start in a specific place? Are you more of an improviser who creates songs on the fly, or do you always start off with some sort of a base idea?

It’s different every time to be honest, though usually I start with either some chords or a melody as that’s what’s really at the heart of trance. On occasion I do start with the bassline/beats, but then I find I often get stuck on the melody. If I really like them I often keep them for when I have a melody and combine the two.

Finally, what’s next in the Robert Nickson pipeline?

At the moment we’re planning more singles to release from the album. We might do some remixes later on too. I’m working on a club of one of the more downtempo tracks at the moment, which I hope to finish soon. I also have loads of music left which didn’t make the album, so I’m looking into what to do with some of those tracks. I might do another album next year or just release them as singles, it all depends on how it comes together if that makes sense. I’ve also been playing around with synthwave music over the past few months so I might try to do something with that first. I really love making this style of music. It’s kind of my version of what I’d call a more trance take on synthwave. The styles are very similar in many ways though. And of course more T-shirts [editorial note: check out his cheeky collection here].

Exclusive: Oscar Olivo’s ‘You & I’ is a dulcet vocal-centric endeavor

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Exclusive: Oscar Olivo’s ‘You & I’ is a dulcet vocal-centric endeavorOSCARR 2

With “You & I,” Oscar Olivo extends an invitation to listeners:
drift away with the swelling melodies of his ambient new production. To press
play is to slip into a laidback sort of sonic escapism. With each second of Olivo’s
single, streamers are further immersed in its warm, rolling chords and its euphonic
flow. It’s a fantasy of synchronous elements that streamers can endlessly
relive, just with the activation of the replay button.

Being in Los Angeles has its way of bringing incredible talents into your life in the most serendipitous of ways. I met Chateau in the elevator of an apartment building; we instantly connected musically.


 Rustic guitar riffs add texture to Olivo’s tuneful effort; unimposing piano notes deepen the dynamic character of the cut. “You & I’s” vocal contribution, sourced from featured artist, Chateau, is a complementary soprano punctuation to Olivo’s arrangement.

‘You & I’ combines elements of nostalgia and hope, which I believe are the best ingredients for a song that touches your heart. Chateau & I have been in the electronic dance music field for many years.

Given that we’ve both had a great run to date, we [can focus on] bringing [dance music back] to its roots; Some great chords, great melodies, great lyrics, and a good vibe—we think ‘You & I’ accomplishes that.


“You & I” follows Olivo’s Jonathan Hoyle-assisted single, “Give Me A Sign,” released in August. The tenured producer’s catalog lays claim to no shortage of lulling original productions. 2018 notably saw the release of Olivo’s debut LP, Chapter 23, and another is forthcoming: Olivo is currently at work on his second studio album, SANGRE LATINA.

& I” will formally release on November 22, but streamers can preview the
single early exclusively on Dancing

‘The fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this’—Sean Tyas on the trance community, his creative ethos, and more [interview]

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‘The fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this’—Sean Tyas on the trance community, his creative ethos, and more [interview]Sean Tyas Press Shot

The path to success for Sean Tyas was a quick one. A longtime connoisseur of trance and somewhat of a hero in his hometown East Coast scene, the producer entered the global circuit in a strong way back in 2006 when his debut single “Lift” became an instant hit that topped the Beatport charts. He’s since remained a driving force in modern underground trance, planting his feet firmly in the tech and uplifting realms and boosting his profile with a consistent slew of international touring and performing alongside the likes of John O’Callaghan, Bryan Kearney, Paul Van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, and many more. He’s the type of artist to take well-calculated, careful decisions in his career, allowing him to stay true to the sounds that inspire him while growing on his own terms—and in doing so, he’s set himself up for continued prosperity.

Tyas has has quite a busy 2019, undertaking one of his busiest touring years while providing fans with a variety of singles across Subculture, VII, and of course, his burgeoning Degenerate imprint. A particularly noteworthy release came in the form of his remix to the Rapid Eye classic, “Circa Forever.” His re-work preserved the timelesssness of the original whilst updating the instrumentation and ultimately twisting it into a modern masterpiece of his own. After months of stirring a frenzy among the trance community rinsing the then-unreleased gem, it finally became available to all in August. Now, Tyas prepares to make his trek back stateside to California’s Dreamstate—a Insomniac’s festival dedicated to the genre which has become America’s premier event for the sound. He’ll be joining fellow icon Menno De Jong for a stimulating back-to-back on Saturday, November 23, where fans can expect a high-octane mixture of classic and contemporary tunes. Grab tickets for Dreamstate here.

We sat down with Tyas prior to his westward voyage to talk about his journey until now, remixing legends, his process, and what else is in store for the next year.

Let’s dive into your artistic journey. Tell us about your decision to produce trance, and the process of finding your own sound. Did you find it easy to create something distinctively ‘Sean Tyas’ from the get-go, or was your path more complicated?

That is one hell of a broad question but I’ll do my best to not write a novel. I started off into the whole scene as an enthusiastic raver in NY back in the late 90s, going to parties and clubs and really loving every single moment of what happens to me when I set foot on that dancefloor each weekend. Nothing really up to that point in my life was really quite like it. Eventually, I really started to get more specific in my musical tastes and to fast forward a bit, I ended up falling deeply in love with trance. I still liked a few other styles but trance just “did it” for me. The power and that 136-142 BPM energy was just resonating with me and how I danced. I was in art university at the time, so I had a bit of time to start to make a bit of music as a hobby, where I could finally start to learn how it was made and what was required to do it. Unfortunately, it was a VERY expensive thing for an 18-19 year old to get into back then. Computers were not on the level they are at now, where everything could be run as software inside the machine. I’d have to buy synth-after-synth , drum machine-after-drum machine, etc, just to get specific sounds. Just trial and error (a lot of errors) led to development.

What drew you to trance in the first place, and why do you think people are attracted to the genre as a whole?

I think its a genre that very heavily, in its nature, promotes togetherness on that dancefloor. The crowd at trance events know their music, know the tracks, and most likely know LOADS of other people they are on that dancefloor with. It’s a beautiful community. Maybe that’s why we do get newcomers to the genre too, and the music can be outright gorgeous at times, but that was be so fucking ignorant to say “yea, trance is emotional so people come flock to it.” I hate that phrase because its bullshit; all music is emotional to someone. Death metal is emotional and evocative to the right person. But for me and countless others, well, trance just hits the nerve and scratches that itch we need scratched. It’s never something that is easy to explain, why people like a type of music, but there it is—people love what they love.

How does living in Switzerland help or hinder your creativity? Would you ever consider moving back stateside, since the genre is beginning to have a renaissance there? Why or why not?

It’s a pretty inspirational place to live I have to say. Walking and running outside in these landscapes of mountains and rolling hills is inspirational in itself, so as an artist I find it to be really conducive to the work I do. As far as moving stateside, my roots are pretty deep here at this stage, now over 14 years living here, I’ve gotten dual citizenship, and my kids are already growing up so fast in the school system, I think here is where I stay. But having said that, I am REALLY lucky to work a career that allows me to get back to USA very often to constantly satisfy my homesick feelings when they pop up. Most of my family is in New York, so with JFK being the hub of almost every trip to the states for me, extra quick visits to friends and family are effortless—and I love that.

What have been your key ingredients in sustaining a longterm career, especially in a field of music with such peaks and valleys in popularity?

Peaks and valleys indeed. But it is one thick-skinned genre that is for certain. The main ingredient to sustain any long term career… it’s really simple and obvious. Improvement, consistency, humility (by this I mean to always be working for something, because the moment you have that sense of “entitlement”, you are already the asshole), and health (this is one I have only really started to believe in during the recent years going to the gym much more often and really concentrating on eating better foods). Anyone else can just simply throw a monster marketing budget at their career and get all their tracks ghosted, but is that sustainable? Is it respectable? Not to me.

What are some creative or career-related roadblocks/obstacles you’ve had as of late, and how have you worked through them? Has your outlook on music and your career changed as a result?

The only obstacle anyone should be concerned about is self-doubt. The minute you let that all in, you are already in trouble. I need to ALWAYS believe in myself, my skill level, and believe in what I’m doing. I have had disappointments all throughout my career, of course, but these just get me working harder, specifically in the studio… pushing my sound, trying to experiment with techniques I’ve never heard in a trance track as well as sharpen ones I’ve used before to make them new and cutting-edge.

How does a day in the studio look for Sean Tyas? On account of your innate perfectionism, would you say it’s easier for you to bang out rough ideas quickly, and afterward you spend the vast majority of your time tinkering with them to ensure they meet your standards?

Every day is different depending on what projects are going on. For example Tuesdays are usually radio show day, so I’ll spend all day going through all the promos of the prior week, sifting through and putting together the mix for the show, then doing all the voiceovers etc. On a production day, I guess the first thing i usually do in the studio each day (or every couple of days) is to reverse engineer a couple of sounds I hear in tracks that intrigue me that I hear in others’ productions. It can be anything from a drum with a unique aspect to it, to a brutal bassline that I want to know the approach of how it ticks. From there I can apply these techniques in new ways to to other things and it brings about a cross-pollination in the studio that really leads to new creativity for the full day.

You’ve had a couple notable remixes this year; for one, your long-awaited take on Rapid Eye’s “Circa Forever” finally came out, and you also took on John O’Callaghan’s “Choice Of The Angels.”
How did these come about? Tell us the backstory and what inspired you to re-work these ones.

The Circa Forever remix was nice for me because to me, like so may others, that original really symbolizes this sort of “Golden Age” of trance, and of course a couple years ago when I threw together my first “re-work” of it. By re-work—as opposed to calling it a remix—I mean the original track is layered into a project and I go and cut out the bass end of it completely to be replaced, while adding multiple elements onto the track and also tweaking how the arrangement flows with edits. This [re-work] was sort of my go-to classic for that time. After a while, I think Armada mentioned to me that they could release it, but I said, “you know what, I’m not too comfortable at how it sounds right now.” To me it was just a rework, and generally, I don’t LOVE the idea of releasing those. “Let me turn it into a full-fledged remix, not utilizing the original track as the backbone anymore,” I told them. And so yeah, that came out, and I am happy it did, because it is now much more in line with my own sound. And as for the “Choice of the Angels” remix, John has been a friend of mine since the “Discover” days, and he came to me with that single and asked if I’d like to remix it for Subculture. “Hell yeah, why not?” I thought. It was very open to melodic reinterpretation in its original form, and this makes it so much fun to remix.

Do you ever feel pressure to adhere to a certain aesthetic in your music in order to please your fanbase? How do you balance making something fulfilling to you without alienating longtime listeners? Have you ever felt afraid to experiment with your sound further on account of this pressure?

I feel the fanbase is overcoming the monotony that we have seen in the genre over the years—fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this. The sound is finally evolving and I’ve been an obnoxious proponet to this change in the genre for years. Its finally seeing a bit of fruition now and some of these new tunes people are releasing now are really becoming on the level that we need to be. Attention to detail, attention to sound, and a bit less lazy in the generic melody department. As far as fear to experiement, never. I mean look at my album Degeneration; this was my first artist album and I wanted to really see what I could make. To say that this was a “journey” for me would be putting it lightly, but I got there in the end. John Askew was so supportive the whole way through, with my ideas of things like including two Drum ‘n’ Bass tunes on the album as well as bits of breaks, techno, and chillout. Experimentation leads to growth and learning.

You’re about to play Dreamstateyou’ve played a few now, correct? What do you think festivals and events like this say at large about the USA trance community?

It’s fantastic to see the popularity of the style has birthed this beautiful brand of festival, and it’s so encouraging to think about what the future holds for the USA trance community. These behemoth events bring new faces into the scene for their very first time, and I can only hope they truly love what they hear and see and decide they love it as much as I do.

What are you favorite parts about Dreamstate?

Well, Insomniac is just a fantastic company that really look after us as artists, from the stocked up artist dressing rooms, to the production level on that stage we play from. The light shows that accompany the sounds we bring really exponentially enhance the experience to all the people on the dancefloor and it is just an experience from beginning to end. I’ve always been a sucker for a good laser show

Finally, what’s in the pipeline for Sean Tyas?

I have a new single coming out in December on Deep in Thought, featuring a truly amazing seasoning of vocals from Nashville-based Shelby Merry, whose quality of vocals you truly have never heard before in a trance tune. I also have new remixes coming. The first is my new remix of Liquid Dream by Liquid Soul & DJ Dream I have done for Iboga. This is actually a complete redo/overhaul on a remix I did 2.5 years back as my Neodyne guise, but always felt I wanted it to sound different. Well now it will come in its full form. The second remix coming is one I’ve just done of Bryan Kearney and Dierdre McLaughlin “Open My Mind” for Kearnage which I’ve just started testing out now. You will hear all three of these new productions at Dreamstate for sure. After these, I have a long list of stuff to get to, but I think 2020 I would really like to focus and start putting toegther a second album that is 100% club-focused…

Photo credit: Sean Tyas’ Artist Team

ORBIT Playlist: Nathan Barato selects some tasty cuts ahead of City Hearts Festival

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ORBIT Playlist: Nathan Barato selects some tasty cuts ahead of City Hearts FestivalNATHAN BARATO 4

For the better part of two decades, Nathan Barato has served as a leader in the house and techno space. The Canadian producer and selector earned his stripes as a hometown hero in his Toronto scene, moving on to become an internationally lauded talent thanks to his cutting edge melding of everything from garage, breakbeats, and classic house & techno into his sets. After signing onto numerous imprints like Hot Creations, Rekids, MOOD, and more, the time soon came for him to launch his own imprint Roots & Wings. His excellence in curation on both the A&R and DJing sides continue to place him in the underground’s upper echelon.

Just off the tip of his latest releases on Roots & Wings—the gritty, Kevin Knapp-assisted “Funk Police”— the artist looks westward for his next big showing: City Hearts Festival. The urban off-shoot of Desert Hearts touches down in LA on November 9-10, and Nathan will be taking on a special back-to-back performance alongside Desert Hearts co-founder Porky. Expect a deliciously eclectic showing as these two join behind the decks for the first time. Of his upcoming performance, he states:

“Its probably typical of me to say, but Im super horny and mentally stiff to play City Hearts. This DH crew is so dope …really love playing and just being at their jams. Its one of the most distinctive and fun events on the planet. Obviously Im so excited.”

Nathan’s given us a taste of what’s to come for this edition of Orbit, where he’s picked a fine batch of dancefloor weapons. “Funk Police” naturally makes the cut, in addition to fresh cuts from Amine Edge & Dance, Sirus Hood, Truncate, and Cuatero. Grab tickets to the fest here in the meantime.

Techno Tuesday: Ardalan and the philosophy of being ‘Mr. Good’

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Techno Tuesday: Ardalan and the philosophy of being ‘Mr. Good’Techno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

Duality is a concept instrinsically connected with Ardalan‘s life and career. Born in Tehran to parents with international professions, he spent his youth living between Iran and his stateside home in the Bay Area and adapting to each locale’s different societal norms. Oddly enough, it was through his friend in Iran that he discovered DIRTYBIRD, courtesy of Claude VonStroke‘s megahit, “Who’s Afraid Of Detroit?” Not long after, he attended the very first BBQ as a young teenager. He released his first track on the imprint alongside Justin Martin by age 19, forever cementing his status as label family and one to be watched.

It was through this newfound success, and growth into adulthood, that the Ardalan noticed the contrasting nature of human existence, especially in the way one might present themselves to the world versus the person within. Thus, Mr. Good’s story was born. The key lies in its title track, and the more sinister “Mr. Bad,” which are the yin and yang of the album’s story. Just as everyone has a “Mr. Good” that they show off to the world, there exists a “Mr. Bad” to balance it.

The album as a whole is experimental, a step away from the lighthearted shade of tech house one migh have expected from his longform debut. Ardalan is no one trick pony, however, and he pulls off his album and its multi-genre exploration off with polished finess. One might even say that Mr. Good is an entrance into a new sonic era for DIRTYBIRD.

We chat more about the themes of Mr. Good for this Techno Tuesday, additionally taking a gander into its tech side, Ardalan’s artistic journey, his dual lives, and more.

Mr. Good really gave you a medium to explore your sonic range. In doing so, has your overall style in studio and behind the decks changed at all as a result?

In some ways I believe it has. I feel like I am always constantly testing new ideas and taking risks to do something different. Whether it’s in the studio or behind the decks, I really enjoy challenging myself to find a new sound. It’s fun. I look at it like its a puzzle, but with sound! I love playing different styles and creating a journey out of a DJ set. When I am in the studio, I always find a way to use or create something different with each track. I’m now excited to explore uncharted musical territories!

Which songs in particular really pushed you to go outside of your comfort zone musically, and in what ways did they do so?

“Lifted” with Claire George. It’s the one track on the album that isn’t 4 on the floor. I’ve never made a drum n’ bass tune in my life to this magnitude, so when I started working on it I didn’t really know what I was doing or know if there was a rulebook of sorts that I needed to follow. I was just jamming on the SP 1200 and having fun when I realized I could just work with the loop in half time and turn it into drum n bass!

Your dance music discovery really began in Iran. Can you take us to the time of discovering Euro house and techno there and how this ultimately prepared you for your full launch into the music world upon reaching adulthood in the Bay Area?

When I was growing up in Iran, I really didn’t have any sort of knowledge for music. I was just hearing all these cheesy trance melodies and some 90s pop house on bootlegged cassette tapes and satellite televisions from Europe. I was exposed to hearing Persian music as well. In the late 90s early 2000s, my brother got into Progressive House and Techno music from artists such as Deep Dish and Anthony Pappa. I got a taste of that and instantly got hooked. I then moved to the Bay in 2004 and really got into Boards of Canada & Aphex Twin. I then moved back to Iran in 2005 and moved into my brothers old room. He left his old computer behind with all the music mentioned above still in it. I started going through it and found James Holden’s Balance 005 compilation and that changed everything for me. I got into microhouse / minimal around 2006 and moved back to the Bay Area in 07. That’s when I heard Claude Vonstroke’s “Deep Throat” and ultimately DIRTYBIRD!

On that note, you’ve also mentioned that you made an effort to imbue the music of your ancestry into the project; how have you executed this?

I tried to incorporate a track that had those elements but I ultimately ran out of time and didn’t want to rush it as I want to do it right and raw yet keep those Iranian elements balanced.. I will go back to it in the future!

Techno Tuesday: Ardalan and the philosophy of being ‘Mr. Good’Ardalan Shot By Grady Brannan1 1
Photo credit: Grady Brannan

The album process was a long one for you, and with some tracks taking months to finish. How did you get over these periods of writer’s block or override what was holding you back?

Most of the tracks were finished in the last three months of the album process. But it took me forever to finish “Mr. Good” with PartyPatty. It was the first track that I was seriously working on for the album. I had never done an album and I really loved “Mr. Good,” so I wanted it to be perfect and I constantly kept changing it. I literally have about 250 versions of it. I took a break from it and read an article about how “perfectionism” is self-harm . I took a break from it and made “I Can’t Wait” and two weeks later I took one last stab at Mr.Good and I was happy with it. I grew so tired of hearing it in my studio during the album process, but now on my album tour, it’s one of my favorite tracks to play! Other than that, What kept me sane in that period was hanging with my girlfriend and family. Any chance I could I would take breaks as needed from the studio. I would dedicate some time to doing something different which I think really helped the album process for me as a whole. I got addicted to this mobile game called PUBG and was playing it with different producer friends like Sepehr, The Fitness, Option 4, and even Doorly! I thought I wasn’t gonna finish the album because I was having so much fun playing it. But it took some stress out of the process and when I went back to working on the album. I felt recharged.

You’ve gotten your hands on a lot of new hardware for the making of Mr. Good. What’s next in that regard? Have you considered trying your hand at modular production?

I think I have enough gear for now. Modular is a commitment and I know i wont stop once I start. So I think I will have to mess with VCV RACK until my new studio is 100 percent treated and complete. I have now moved to a new apartment and I have a smaller room to work with. I have so much gear so I think I’ll be okay in that department for now. Next thing for me though is to learn my new room the same way I learned my old studio and treat the acoustics more properly.

A major theme of this record is the duality of humanity; you have to be ‘Mr. Bad’ to be ‘Mr. Good’. Can you describe how this theme has played out in your own life, and how you translated it into the album/musical format?

I just think we go through different phases in time. Everyone has some sort of internal battle. Not everyone is 100 percent stress free, maybe a few souls these days. We all have ups and downs. Whether its mental instability, hardship of some sorts, or depression. Without all these negative experiences, how would we learn what’s good or positive in life? Sometimes we just have to accept that were not perfect creatures but we can learn from it and pursue happiness. I think it’s kind of funny because the theme of the album became about self doubt in finishing my album. I was hitting a wall and I wanted everything to be perfect. I was like, “this track needs to be “Mr. Perfect.” I learned that it can’t be perfect. Sometimes you just gotta let go of that self doubt and be bad or get freaky with it. Sometimes you wanna be a Mr. Bad and not sleep. Sometimes you end up going to an underground warehouse and lose yourself in the music till the next morning. These experiences turn out to be good for the soul sometimes.

Going off of the above, a lot of these tracks were written well before the themes of your album came to mind. How did the process play out in pulling these ones out of the archives and fitting into the overall story you wanted to tell?

I wrote a lot of tracks that didn’t make it on the album. There are only two tracks that were made before the theme. I guess in some ways I managed to fit them in the story. After finishing the Mr.Good track with Party Patty, I got really inspired to create tracks from scratch and not go to the old projects. I will eventually release all those. I have so much more music that didn’t make the album.

Now that you’ve taken this leap into album territory, what are some of the next milestones you wish to reach career-wise, and what are you doing now to accomplish them?

I want to explore new sounds and keep making more music. Even releasing different versions of the album perhaps. I am also trying to lean on making my studio more jam friendly and produce “live”. I want to make the leap into the live performance world at some point as well. I think that’s the next step career wise. It will be a fun challenge but very rewarding once I take it more seriously.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the years as you’ve blown up, especially within the last five?

I’ve learned to be extremely humble. I have met so many amazing people and fans in every city and im truly grateful for that. I don’t like being alone for long periods of time. I appreciate the time I have when I’m home. The album process taught me to be positive and not stress about the little things in life such as not allowing myself to get mad or complain that the coffee shop at the airport didn’t have almond milk. I learned to get excited about the small things in life. It’s given me the tools to push through the stress of being a touring artist. I have been touring since I graduated college in 2013. I try and exercise as much as I can. I play soccer every week between gigs. It’s my biggest passion after music. I try and go for a run as much as I can and during tour life. I think Justin Martin has inspired me in that department.

You’re currently on one of your biggest, if not the biggest, tour run you’ve ever taken in support of the album. Which places are you most excited about playing the first time?

I am excited to play at Meow Wolf for the first time!

Any final words or thoughts you wish to share?

I just wanna say that it’s been so amazing to see peoples reactions to my new album. I am really thankful for all the support!

Order a copy of ‘Mr. Good’ here

Premiere: HOKI – The Push

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Premiere: HOKI – The PushHoki Press Shot Courtesy Artist

HOKI seemed to appear out of nowhere. The newly minted, relatively enigmatic duo comprised of Varti Deuchoghlian and Brent McCormick clearly had their proverbial ducks in a row when getting their start, utilizing connections gained from their respective musical pasts and coming out the gate with strong remixers in Clarian, Matthias Meyer, and Facundo Mohrr. Their team, network, and knack for melodic house production in place, they soon announced that the run of singles they’ve been releasing would become an album—an intriguing way to make an entrance, indeed.

The latest single from the upcoming LP comes in the form of ‘The Push.’ Per their established aesthetic, the track is a euphoric track assisted by McCormick’s vocal touch. Its thick bassline, sweeping strings lacing the background, and twinkling synth melodies are universally appealing, and primed to do well on the dancefloor. Given their large support system in the melodic house arena, which includes Lee Burridge and the aforementioned remixers among it, we’re sure this one will be rinsed plenty in the coming months. Order a copy here.

Photio credit: Marco Lammatteo