Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 57

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 57Deters Beat Lab@0.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA managing editor Robyn Dexter. With a taste that can only be described as eclectic — to say nothing of a name that lends itself to punnery — DA is happy to present a selection of tracks personally curated by Dexter for your listening pleasure.

Listen in playlist format here.

Seven Lions is a master at building cinematic, picturesque soundscapes. When “Dreamin’” with Fiora came out in July, listeners were enraptured with the blissful beauty of the vocals layered over Seven Lions’ production. The artist just revealed a three-track set of remixes for the track, featuring a drum & bass take by Mazare, a trance remix by Sunny Lax, and melodic dubstep version by Last Heroes. While each one brings something refreshing to the table, Mazare’s drum & bass rendition is particularly entrancing. It’s subtle but strong — my favorite kind of music.

QUIX continues his consistent release schedule with a future bass-meets-trap power piece with Jaden Michaels. The contrast in this track is  jarring — but in a good way. While Michaels’ vocals can be tender at times, she amps up the power in sync with QUIX, who builds into a series of gut-punching drops over the course of the song. This was intentional. “I especially wanted this track to be remembered  for having a powerful first drop and a hard second drop,” he notes in the track’s description.

Hunter Siegel has been churning out a series of genre-spanning tracks this year, ranging in classification from hip-hop to house to electro. His latest, though, dives deep into the bass house realm. He teams up with Seelo for a searing bass-backed heater called “12 Gauge” on Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint. With feisty vocals and an overpowering dosage of bass, these two have crafted a short but engaging piece of work, encouraging a late-night dance floor fiend to “pump ya body like 12 gauge shotty.”

Talk about a talented trio of artists. Bearson links up with Lemaitre and josh pan for this stunning original, “It’s Not This.” Though seemingly simple, this laid-back track is backed by crisp production, a mellow beat, and a moving melody. Though summer ends officially tomorrow, songs like “It’s Not This” show the timeless quality of sun-soaked rhythms and vocals.

Dutch downtempo producer Allay just released an ethereal collection of tracks, Journey Of The Velvet Adorned Nomad. As mystical-sounding as the LP title, Allay delivers “Adrift In the Borderless Sea” with Rod V. This six-minute venture is ushered in by a saintly set of synths that crescendo into a haunting melody. Its enigmatic qualities draw the listener in immediately, leading them into a song that’s rich in light percussion and lush piano themes.

Girls Of The Internet talk forcing one’s way into the industry, label ownership, and ‘Remember My Name’ [Interview]

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Girls Of The Internet talk forcing one’s way into the industry, label ownership, and ‘Remember My Name’ [Interview]1D3A4873

Since the initial blessing of Classic Music boss Luke Solomon and the signing of their smash debut single “When U Go”, dance act Girls Of The Internet have only continued to feed the funky fire they’ve built up. The Girls have earned key stamps of approval from tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson, Dimitri From Paris, and Benji
between starting their own imprint Drab Queen, tightening up both live band and PA performances, and reworking classics like Parris Mitchell’s “All Night Long,”

Ahead of their next single “Remember My Name”, we sat down with Tom from the on-the-rise act to talk about divas, running the acclaimed RAMP label, and today’s state of electronic music.

How did you get into music and eventually running a label as influential as RAMP?
I ran RAMP for 13 years or something. I was just a young lad from the country – I had no idea how to get into the music industry. Music is my first love, and I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life, so I forced my way in.

I cobbled some money together and started approaching distribution companies and artists. I didn’t even know how records were made. My first release was in 2004, somehow I managed to sign one of my favourite hip hop artists at the time; Count Bass D, and just as his collaboration with DOOM came out, so he was flying high. Things were much different then – vinyl still sold, and there were no digital sales. It was impossible to walk into a distributor and just get a deal like you can now. Our first release sold 16,000 units, for which my distribution company only paid me just under £3,500, which didn’t even cover the advance we paid the artist – we should have been paid at least £4 per unit sold. Around the same time, another artist took £10,000 from us without delivering a release. This was my introduction to the music industry.

We worked exclusively with US hip hop for a few years, which was always drama. Post 2006, we started working with UK distribution companies and producers, but we still had a few more incidents of distributors not paying us, and artists taking advances for releases they would never deliver. We lost money. Often. Couple this with an industry where you’re lucky to break even.

Throughout our time, I was really lucky to be working in, in my opinion, one of the golden ages of electronic music, and while I have no delusions we were a huge or important part of it, I like to think we at least contributed a little something, and had a small, unique, and hopefully annoying voice in everything that was going on. The reality is, even without money being stolen from you, long term, it’s very hard to make a profit or pay wages on a small label. I was working 80+ hour weeks for no pay, essentially just to support other people’s DJ careers.

Most electronic music doesn’t sell enough to cover costs when you’re pressing vinyl, and if you do find an act that gets big, a bigger label will swoop in and sign them. Unless you have a big act who will blindly stay on your label, or you release that one big album that brings in enough cash to expand, the life of your little indie label is finite. After a fairly successful few years, once I hit 2010 – 2012, my run of good signings ended, and every single act I signed and invested money in from that point just became a huge money pit. I managed to hold that together for a few years, but there is only so long you can run a company that’s current assets are losing money, so I stepped away from the label.

How did you end up with your own music on such a legendary label Classic?
I started doing other things, but after a year’s break from working with music, it pulled me back in. I wanted to work with music again, but I needed to rethink how I would do it. I initially started to work with a few musicians as a collective on another project, things frustratingly came to an end due to internal politics.

Things weren’t going to plan in my life – I hit an extremely low point. For the first time in my life, I started to revisit the music I was in love with when I was a teenager – Daft Punk, Basic Channel, Cajual/Relief, Guidance, Planet E, various techno mix CDs, hunting for the disco samples of my favourite house tracks. I’ve never been somebody who sits with one kind of music for too long, I’m always searching for something new and different, but the house and techno I was into as a 17 year old, out of everything I’ve listened to and collected, is the thing that really speaks to my soul.

I started making some house music, still as a band with other musicians and vocalists, as I wanted to keep that sense of collaboration, but I kept control of everything. As my confidence grew as a producer, I took on all of the production and arrangement responsibilities, along with some of the writing and playing of instruments.

For the first time in years I had some time on my hands, so I locked myself in my house for a few days, and “When U Go” was the result.

I’d sent tracks by artists I was working with to Luke Solomon from Classic for years, only for him to turn them down. Classic was the first and only label I sent “When U Go” to. I had no confidence he would sign it, but it’s a label that is very special to me for the 1997-2001 period. I sent it over and Luke emailed me back almost straight away to say he wanted it. Although it was such a small thing, and so insignificant in the whole Classic/Defected story, it was a really important moment for me. I don’t know where I would be now, both emotionally, or in my career, if it wasn’t for Luke signing that track, and I’m forever thankful to him for picking it up, and for the small amount of success the track has subsequently had. People still message me about it now all the time. At my lowest moment, it changed my life.

So how did you get back into label life & what’s the progression of Girls Of The Internet?
It was never really my intention to start my own label. After running RAMP, the last thing I wanted to do was have another label. “When U Go” came out, and I was confidently sending my stuff out to labels, but the new tracks got knocked back by everybody. I suppose what we are doing is a little different – we’re a live band who make deep techno/disco/dub/house, and some labels don’t seem to have the same open minded attitude the scene had a few years ago – or perhaps we’re just not that good.

So I had all these tracks, which I thought were great, but no label to release with. The label slowly emerged through making some connections with some supportive distributors who were into music, just as a way to get some of this music out that was building up. We have had a few releases now, and even without press (this is the first bit of press we’ve done) or much fanfare, it’s already outselling a lot of what I put out on RAMP and it’s subsidiaries for years – which is mental.

I do the label artwork myself too – the cover for “Remember My Name” is the first painting I’ve done in about 20 years. I originally studied fine art at uni, which I quit to do music.

How did you get involved with such an awesome vocalist like Linda Muriel?
I initially worked with Linda Muriel a few years back on another project. I never spoke to her directly, we just had a track by her hanging around that was meant for another project that never saw the light of day. I always loved what she did, so I reached out to her and we started chatting, and we instantly got on like a house on fire, so I started reworking her vocal into “Remember My Name”.

My track was initially completely different, but while working on it, I woke up from a dream (my music often first appears in my dreams) about Linda’s vocal over the disco version of Roy Ayers’ “Sweet Tears” – which has always been one of my favourite disco riffs. Masters At Work and Moodymann didn’t actually sample the track on their versions – I loved how it’s this classic disco riff, which while being used very famously multiple times, still hadn’t properly been sampled, in a scene built on samples. I wanted to continue the tradition, so I scrapped my first version of the track and replayed the riff and it fit.

Is Linda a diva?
Definitely! I think that word is used negatively so often, but the traditional use of the word, for me, is something that’s incredibly beautiful. Sometimes divas can be tragic, sometimes they are just fucking fierce. I don’t think it’s about being mean or haughty. So many of my heroes are divas – Sylvester, Chaka Kahn, RuPaul, Loletta Holloway, Whitney Houston… Linda is one of the UK’s unsung divas – and I hope that’s something that will soon change. We’re already working on more material together, she is going to feature on our debut album, and there may be a little EP together at some point too.

What’s in the works next for Girls Of The Internet?
This single is “Remember My Name”, featuring Linda and with remixes from Rick Wade & Pépe, is out September 28th. Our follow-up single is called “Fondness Makes The Heart Grow Absent”, with a remix from Terrence Parker that will be out in October. I might try and squeeze in another single before the end of the year too. I’m currently putting together our debut album – the music is all finished, but working with vocalists takes time. I’m hoping we can finish before the end of the year. While I’ve been waiting on various singers, I have put a little (what I’m calling) mixtape together – it’s just a collection of some silly music I’ve put together using only a drum machine and a sampler, which I’ll probably put out early 2018. Just for fun.

We’re also putting together a live show – we have a full live band where we play our original tracks, but I’m also working on a live PA, where I’m pushing the concept of DJing a bit further. I use live singers, a sampler and a drum machine to construct tracks live. I’m pretty excited about it.

What do you think of the state of electronic music now?
There is too much boring music being released. There is too much music being released, period. Labels need to be more discerning. Where are all the great independent A&R’s? Listening through the new releases every month is depressing. Just too much of the same thing done averagely.

There is always great stuff about – I never won’t be excited by new music. I’m always keen to hear what FYI Chris, Medlar & the Peckham crew are up to.

I’ve known DJ Haus for many years (I released some of his early music), and after initially not being hugely into UTTU, it’s now really starting to find its feet and is well on the way to become an amazing label. Finn is one of my favourites – so excited to hear his new music. Pepé Braddock is the only artist I know who I love just as much now as when I heard his first EP – to watch how he has evolved is amazing. Baba Stilts stuff for XL is wicked, so is the new Okzharp stuff. Connan Mockasin always. I like the new Maurice Fulton bits. Eska – please release some new music, we need you!

Pre-order a copy of ‘Remember My Name’

Photo credit: Jessica Skye

David Guetta’s double-sided ‘7’ is a timely portrait of dance music, spanning a voluminous 27 tracks [Review]

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David Guetta’s double-sided ‘7’ is a timely portrait of dance music, spanning a voluminous 27 tracks [Review]Cool Guy Guetta Photo Credit Ellen Von Unwerth

There often comes a time in great artists’ careers when they have acquired a certain level of devoutness from fans that allows them to truly feel free from the confines of an appealing facade or obligation to appease. Three decades into his into his artistic journey, David Guetta surpassed that milestone many musical epochs ago. Yet, with his Big Beat-housed, double-sided 7 album, Guetta endeavors to show the world there is uncharted sonic terrain worthy of the trek.

The two-disc album is certainly indicative of the different hats Guetta has worn over the years, most broadly as a ubiquitous dance-pop deity and more recently, the reveal of less radio-ready stylings from his alter-ego, Jack Back. Disc-one is Guetta as the world knows him — in all his prophesied pop eminence. Riddled with weighty collaboration, the first side of the venerated French powerhouse’s new studio work features a slew of larger-than-life joint efforts, including his previously released, immaculately sung “Flames” with Sia, a reunion preceded by their sublimely successful 2011 smash, “Titanium.” Guetta seems to cover all his streamability bases in this first portion, enlisting equally exalted dance pop sharks like Justin Bieber, Nicki MinajMartin Garrix on “Like I Do” and the Steve Aoki-assisted “Motto.” Guetta casts a wide net of appeal, following commercial counterparts like Major Lazer in sprinkling in some ever-so-timely Afro-pop, bolstered by the South African Black Coffee, on “Drive.”

Guetta’s recently unraveled side-project, Jack Back, drives home disc-two, which is comprised of groove-heavy, largely atmospheric tech-house. With winding, instrumental tracks like “Overtone” and “Afterglow,” it stands as an ambivalence-inducing paradox. On one hand, it represents the mainstream dance circuit’s acceptance of a more avant-garde product, of the scene’s most prominent figures’ willingness to deliver a raw, less-calculated extension of themselves. On the other — succeeding fellow icons like Calvin Harris, who recently announced he’d be receding back to his club-adept roots — this return to form can easily be construed as an overdue attempt to delineate oneself from the improbably saturated, monotonous sea of over-compressed bass drops. Tech-house, following progressive, future bass, and future house, takes its place among one of the most recent sub-genre crazes. The resurgence has been actualized by the likes of longtime devotees like Claude VonStroke, Carl Cox, and Green Velvet, who have been championing the jazzy, instrumental sound for decades. David Guetta plants his flag on side two. He’s earned the status to return to a less commercially viable aesthetic. What’s more, fans deserve something potentially more stimulating from such high-held superstars. Our palates are savvier than they were in 2010, and radio-ready blockbusters can only take an artist so far, and Guetta uses the back half of the gatefold to address that shift.

Yes, two years in the making, is Guetta’s seventh studio album. But the French DJ/producer wears the number as a badge of continuity.

7 is a magical number and represents a full cycle to me. When you’re just starting out as an artist you go step by step and it’s only positive energy; passion, love, challenges,” says Guetta. “…This is why ‘7’ is a perfect name to me, because I feel like I’m going back to my original energy which can be heard in this album.”

Existential turmoil aside, whether Guetta has been biding his time to showcase this doubtlessly more nuanced side of his artistic repertoire or he simply seized a timely opportunity to reinvent himself, performs as a spacious snapshot of contemporary dance music.

Celebrate seven years of OWSLA with this new playlist stocked full of label highlights [Stream]

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Celebrate seven years of OWSLA with this new playlist stocked full of label highlights [Stream]Skrille Baauer Slushii Wsn Owsla 5 Birthday

This month, Skrillex‘s LA-based artist collective, OWSLA, celebrates seven years in business. In those seven years, Skrillex went from promising mau5trap recruit, to burgeoning label head, to one of the most ubiquitous talents in electronic music history — and in turn, one of the most renown A&Rs in the game. Skrillex has achieved icon status as one of the most popular producers on the planet. His catalog speaks for itself. But perhaps more a testament to Sonny Moore’s abilities, and possibly what could wind up making a larger impact on his legacy than his own music, is the body of work he’s curated since OWSLA opened its doors seven years ago.

As the story goes, the label, named for the rabbit army in Richard Adams’ Watership Down, came into existence in 2011, shortly after Skrillex connected online with an emerging Porter Robinson. The young wunderkind instantly gripped Skrillex’s attention, and it wasn’t long before he was making plans to launch his own publishing imprint in order to host some of Robinson’s earliest, and most prolific works. Seven years later and here we are. Dancing Astronaut rounded up some of our favorite highlights from OWSLA’s first seven years, including work from Zedd, Anna Lunoe, Kill The Noise, Louis The Child, and many many more. Good people, good times.

The marvelous evolution of Bob Moses continues with sophomore LP ‘Battle Lines’

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The marvelous evolution of Bob Moses continues with sophomore LP ‘Battle Lines’Bob Moses Battle Lines Album Review 1

At it’s best, dance music has championed the misfits, and been a home for the one-of-a-kinds. When this happens, a club can become a safe haven and temple for anyone willing to embrace others as they embrace themselves. But what happens when it isn’t the outside world that can’t contain an idea, but the club itself? The answer, it seems, is Bob Moses. Originally honed in New York’s effervescent music world, the now LA-based duo were warehouse warriors with a destiny that sets them apart from every indie rock act and dance DJ in rotation. The brainchild of an Ultra Records trance savant and a rock band bassist, Bob Moses has aspirations beyond every pre-made path; the weepy indie scene needs more kick drum, and the fist pumping dance hoards need to be subject to more songwriting with soul. It’s from this thrilling, precarious position that the duo deliver their second full-length studio effort, Battle Lines.

The album begins with a bang, as the towering vocal harmonies of “Heaven Only Knows” leads to a thundering four-to-the-floor romp. Despite grungy guitar work woven throughout the track, the song has an undeniable royalty to it that belies the track’s tellingly conflicted lyrics. As the LP flows forward, it’s clear the group is presenting their unique tastes, and nothing else. It’s a lucky thing; the compositions range from the shimmering cool of album’s title track to the rattling thrum of “The Only Thing We Know.” It doesn’t take long to realize this latest incarnation of Bob Moses has shed another layer of dance floor disco. In its place is an extra pour of smoke and fuzz that brings the duo deeper into indie rock territory than ever before — at least in terms of texture and instrumentation.

Beneath the surface is a group feeling freed to try on every song structure and arrangement inspiration that grasps their interest. The record’s final complexion reveals a lot about what the studio sessions were probably like. Guitar lines and echoing piano power Oasis-esque sensibilities on “Selling Me Sympathy,” while “Nothing But You” drenches Maroon 5 pop stylings in saturation and warmth. Dig deeper, and there are those uniquely effortless dance roots that put the group’s scene-straddling abilities in the spotlight. “Listen to Me” and “Enough to Believe” are atmospheric deep house in indie rock clothing, and “Heaven Only Knows” possesses a gritty stomp that would sound right at home on a more recent Justice record. In less capable hands, the collection of ideas would border on chaos. Ever the masters at toeing the genre line, Bob Moses cover the entire project in two bulletproof ingredients – sonic cohesion, and a supreme confidence and command of musical elements that come from the natural maturation of an artistic journey. The various inspirations push and pull the listener back and forth, but the space Bob Moses’s music lives in remains the same. The feat is duplicated in rich, bittersweet, and conflicted lyrics. They speak of loss, doubt, remorse and ultimately resolution — consider, “Back Down” begins with the phrase “Caught in the tide of our own divide.” If Battle Lines represents a group with a foot in multiple worlds, Bob Moses should hopefully aim to ride that tide right into whatever fascinating canvas of expression they draw up next.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 56

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 56Deters Beat Lab@0.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA managing editor Robyn Dexter. With a taste that can only be described as eclectic — to say nothing of a name that lends itself to punnery — DA is happy to present a selection of tracks personally curated by Dexter for your listening pleasure.

Drum & bass maven Flite has had a banner 2018 so far. With releases on Play Me Records, Monstercat, Liquicity and now Viper Recordings, the Texas-based producer has time and time again demonstrated that stellar drum & bass doesn’t just come from the UK. His latest, “Titan,” is best categorized as organized chaos. It’s frantic and impeccably put-together, progressing at such a rapid speed it’s sometimes hard to keep up. But its accelerated pace leads the listener to tune in more closely, where they’ll realize the pure intricacy of this track.

Danny Byrd is no novice to the drum & bass scene. He was one of the first artists to sign to Hospital Records in 1999 and hasn’t slowed down for nearly two decades. His new 15-track LP, Atomic Funk, is packed with pure energy from start to finish — including this fun standout, “Lizard Steppa.” An infectious melody carries the fast-paced tune, injecting it with a fun, almost funky component that’s worth hitting repeat again and again. Atomic Funk was released in its entirety on Sept. 7.

Taking the tempo down to a steadier 125 BPM, Dombresky and Noizu have teamed up for a red-hot tech house heater. With searing “rave alarm” vocals and an actual alarm that builds as the song does, the two producers have created the perfect a track that’s primed to amp up a dark, sweltering club or warehouse. Both artists have showed no signs of slowing down in 2018: Dombresky has remixed Alessia Cara and performed at EDC, and Noizu has teamed up with Malaa for “Music Sounds Better With You” and remixed Valentino Khan, as well.

Prismo‘s latest venture is full of exactly what its title boasts. The Texas producer continues to evolve and grow his style in a way that’s never cliché or predictable. Last month’s track, “Solo,” delved more into an alternative rock atmosphere, but “Energy” sees him reincorporate plenty of bass and electronic elements. “I wrote ‘Energy’ about my experiences with an incredible person that recharged my spirit and enthusiasm,” the producer notes in the track description. “When I was at a low time in life, I was comforted knowing that I have someone that’ll support and re-energize me.”

Passionate musician and vocalist Fatherdude bids farewell to summer months in his newest release, “Summer Gone.” He effortless merges elements of pop, electronic and R&B in this latest effort, letting his soulful vocals take center stage with a supporting backbone of guitar and percussion. “Summer Gone” closely follows the release of “Let Me Live” just days ago and is complemented by an accompanying music video.

Kaskade talks new ‘Destinations’ compilation series, the translation of a place into a sound, and plans for upcoming spotlight cities [Q&A]

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Kaskade talks new ‘Destinations’ compilation series, the translation of a place into a sound, and plans for upcoming spotlight cities [Q&A]Kaskade Live Credit Rukes

If a specific place could be translated to sound, then just what might that place sound like? Kaskade envisions an answer to this question on his latest project, Destinations: Tulum, the inaugural installment in the producer’s newly conceived Destinations compilation series. Destinations: Tulum debuted on Kaskade’s Arkade imprint in August. The production sought to embody the spirit of Tulum, crafting a sensory listening experience emblematic of the distinctive personality and aesthetic of Mexico’s coastal getaway spot.

The project’s 18 tracks, hand selected by Kaskade, comprise the first edition of the newly minted series and befit both the character of Tulum, and the larger vision of the Destinations concept. Kaskade describes the actualized product as the result of, “traveling the world and becoming emotionally attached to different locations.” Dancing Astronaut caught up with Kaskade just before his main stage set at Electric Zoo‘s tenth anniversary edition in September to chat about the veteran producer’s newly emerging series.

The first installment of Destinations is out on Arkade and it’s a hefty offering. 18 tracks really gives you a breadth with which to recreate that sensory experience of ‘walking through the town’ or ‘sitting on the beach’ as you’d stated was your objective.

Kaskade: Sounds like you listened to it!

It’s a really dynamic concept. When it comes to translating a place through sound, I’m imagining that the song selection process is different for each compilation. So what were you specifically looking for when it came to choosing the tracks for Destinations: Tulum?

I think I was just trying to capture the mood of that. I’ve been to Tulum, I’ve visited Mexico many, many times, and I came up with the idea for the compilation while sitting in Tulum in a cool café which I don’t know the name of, and they had this DJ playing this really chic, cool music, and in my head it sounded like what’s on the compilation now. It’s been a few years, so I don’t know if it’s actually like that, but it paints a picture in your head. It was this really laidback and chill groove, and I’m sitting at the beach drinking lemonade with my family, and hanging out and I was like, ‘this is amazing,’ and I think the idea for the compilation was just to kind of capture that moment.”

But even if it’s changed you crystallized and froze that moment in time. What is it about these locations — Tulum being the first — that make them canvases for upcoming editions of the series?

I kind of have this theory, and a lot of people agree with me, that you’re inspired by what you’re surrounded with, right? People, places, things, food, you know, family, whatever is happening around you. I think the idea for the compilation is just to have moments, sonic moments, that kind of weave this tapestry and make for something memorable. Then later you’re like, ‘oh my gosh yes, this reminds me of this time I went here or when I went there,’ so yeah I started with Tulum, and we’ll see what comes next, I haven’t started on the next one yet.

So you’re kind of making it up as you go.

Producers are reaching out to me and being like ‘dude, Iceland should be next,’ all these cool places that people want to travel and see and I’m like take it easy! You know, like let’s get the first one out. People have been really receptive to the idea, and other producers who want to contribute. Yeah, I don’t have a place chosen yet, but I have a short list going.

Your Chicago roots — might they lead to a Destinations: Chicago compilation?

There definitely should be a Destinations: Chicago, for sure. 100 percent that needs to happen.

Your Redux shows provide a really intimate and immersive live experience. Destinations seems like it could expand and really lend itself well to a live experience, maybe in a similarly intimate style.

That’s the idea, I hope it grows and expands and people are open minded and want to listen to different locations and what they might sound like, all through the filter of my brain. I’m here letting it unravel and seeing where it takes me.

On the subject of travel, what is your absolute, number one go-to travel essential, the one item you can’t travel without, however general or unusual it might be?

I carry a beanie whether its summer or winter, it doesn’t matter. I travel with those compression socks, it’s kind of a unique thing since everyone else is going to say the same thing, iPhone whatever. But I travel with compression socks, I started doing that before it was cool because now everyone makes compression socks, Nike makes them, Stance, I travel with Stance compression socks since I like them a lot.

While Kaskade returns to the studio to plan the next stop on his musical itinerary, listeners can stream Destinations: Tulum sans jet lag and compression socks here.

Photo Credit: Rukes

Australian producer Nyxen gives indie-electronic music a refreshing twist, and now we know why [Interview]

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Australian producer Nyxen gives indie-electronic music a refreshing twist, and now we know why [Interview]Nyen Press Shot

Sometimes the best electronic music producers are those who stumbled into the genre — rather than those who sought it out. The quickly-ascending Nyxen is a perfect example of the former, thanks to her cool, instrumental-infused tunes that are quickly making her a name in the industry. She is the perfect example of how a diverse musical background can lead to a fresh take on electronic music, and prove how sometimes even the most seemingly unrelated forms of music can come to life when a producer is able to pull from a wide array of musical influences.

Tokyo-born and Sydney, Australia based, Chelsea Lester grew up playing any instrument she could get her hands on. She began with the keyboard and the violin. At 11, she finally convinced her mom to buy her a guitar, which she cites truly sparked her obsession with music. She remembers, “when I was in high school, I’d play around with pretty much every instrument the school music room had to offer, and I’d sneak into my sisters room and play her bass guitar when she wasn’t home. Homework for me was dumping my books in a pile and plugging my amp in!” Her singular focus on music, while seemingly risky, has never been a choice for her. When asked what her backup plan is should music not work out, Lester notes that she does not have one. Music is it for her, and it has always been her one true passion.

Lester was initially inspired by the Synthetic Band phase in the early 2000’s, citing acts like Miike Snow and MGMT as early influences. She started recording her own instrumentals, becoming enamored by the idea that she could record herself, and modify the recordings to sound exactly as she wanted them to. This led to her playing around with Ableton, which allowed her to expand her sonic repertoire into endless opportunities that the software provides. She reflects on this realization, noting, “when I started using Ableton, it kind’ve opened up this whole new world where you can have all these different layers of sound complimenting each other, rather than just one or two layers.” That’s when Lester went from just a musician to an “electronic music producer.”

What is most unique about Lester’s experience is that her foray into Ableton and music production coincided with her 18th birthday, and therefore entrance into the world of clubbing and productions coming to life. She talks about this, saying, “I had just turned 18 at the time, so I was experiencing clubbing and electronic music in a new setting, so I think it was a super natural direction to go in because of all the sounds I was hearing in these crazy new environments.”

While the electronic music world was certainly not where she came from, it is a natural future given Lester’s fascination with production and blending her passion for instrumentals with the idea of her sound design coming to life. Lester’s moniker Nyxen has slowly been ascending into electronic music notoriety, and she really got her start in 2015 after signing to Unknown Records. Since then, she has amassed over 10 million streams on Spotify alone across hit tracks “Running,” “In The City,” and now newest release “Chains,” among others.

One unifying theme across her current roster of releases is that she is the featured vocalist on all of her tracks. She notes that vocals have always been a secondary component to her music, so she has not felt the need to bring in outside vocalists just yet. As her music progresses and she releases a few more instrumental based tracks, she says she would be interested in bringing in more outside vocalists to add a new dynamic to her music.

There will undoubtedly be a place for Nyxen in the electrosphere, as her music continues to spark interest thanks to its much needed and refreshing sound. While her touring is mainly confined to Australia for the time being, she dreams of performing at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO. Nyxen’s tunes are what anyone needs on a relaxing summer day, so take a listen to smooth “Chains” as the season comes to a close.

What is your musical background? You play a few instruments- can you tell us about that?
I grew up playing a few instruments (the violin and keyboard), but I was always fascinated by guitars. I begged my parents for one, and when I was around 11 or 12 my mum finally caved and bought me an acoustic, and my obsession evolved from there. When I was in high school, I’d play around with pretty much every instrument the school music room had on offer, and I’d sneak into my sisters room and play her bass guitar when she wasn’t home. Homework for me was dumping my books in a pile and plugging my amp in!

What inspired you to become an electronic music producer?
I really liked the idea of being able to record all the things I had previously been playing with my guitar. Instead of recording snippets of songs on my old Nokia, I could make something and have an mp3 file to listen back to, sounding exactly how I wanted it to. When I started using Ableton, it kind of opened up this whole new world where you can have all these different layers of sound complimenting each other rather than just one or two layers. I had just turned 18 at the time, so I was experiencing clubbing and electronic music in a new setting, so I think it was a super natural direction to go in because of all the sounds I was hearing in these crazy new environments.

If you weren’t producing music, what would you be doing in terms of a career?
I genuinely have no idea what I would be doing. Music has been the only thing I’ve ever loved doing, so I can’t imagine what I’d be doing if it wasn’t this.

Should we expect to hear your vocals in all of your releases moving forward? Or do you see yourself branching out and producing tracks with other people’s vocals at some point?
I’d definitely love to work with another vocalist on some music! I’ve worked with an amazing vocalist before on an unreleased song. I’ve always used my vocals within my songs- they’ve just not been the main narrative of the music. Most of the new music I’ve been working on has a main vocal line, so definitely expect more of that, but I’d like to put out a few more instrumentals, and would love to get another singer on board to add a different dimension/vibe.

Is there anywhere you are dying to play that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
There are so many places I want to play. I would LOVE to play at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre one day. That would be an absolute dream. It looks like the most stunning venue, and the idea that these rocks have just formed in that way over millions of years to form perfect acoustics is mind-blowing for me, so I’d completely lose it if I ever got to play there (or even just see a show there).

When you aren’t producing music, what are you doing in your free time?
I’m a little bit boring haha I just really like hanging out with my friends, eating ramen, and usually if I’m cruising around at home, I’ll pull out my acoustic and have a little strum. I also play on a basketball team, so you might find me in a park having a little shoot.

What’s your weirdest habit? Conversely, do you have any pet peeves?
I have a few pretty weird habits! I say “hectic,” “sick” and “boom” an excessive amount, and I talk with my arms a bit too much. I don’t really have any pet peeves. My friends would probably say differently haha, but I can’t think of anything.

What is something your fans probably don’t know about you that you would like them to?
I went through a pretty rough time a few years ago where I didn’t really have anywhere to live for a little while, and was super lucky that I’m surrounded by beautiful people who helped me out.
I ended up moving in with my friends’ family, who I consider my extended family now, and I was working as a truck driver to free up time to work on music. I’ve always used music as an outlet to express how I feel or how I want to feel, so it means pretty much everything to me that people want to join me on this journey.

If you could hand pick a mentor as you kickstart your career, who would it be?
I’d probably pick Jai Paul. His style of producing is the sickest thing, and he has this talent for getting sounds to breeze across the song abruptly in the best kind’ve way. It’s such a perfect mix of electronic elements and more organic sounds like guitars and vocals. I’d also really like to hear some of his new music because I’ve had three songs on repeat for about 6 years now.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 55

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 55Deters Beat Lab@0.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA managing editor Robyn Dexter. With a taste that can only be described as eclectic — to say nothing of a name that lends itself to punnery — DA is happy to present a selection of tracks personally curated by Dexter for your listening pleasure.

Talented Monstercat standout Richard Caddock has reimagined himself as an artist with the debut of a new moniker, Keepsake. His first release, “This Time Around” featuring Slyleaf, is a lighthearted, bouncing track that’s highlighted by a merry melody and spirited vocals from himself and Slyleaf. Its carefree atmosphere is reminiscent of old-school Owl City tracks and marks his first release on the label since 2016.

Continuing on the multi-week of loving and promoting the forthcoming Destinations, Vol. 1 EP, Vorso delivers “Crisis.” This intense, four-minute ball of energy is marks the fourth release on the five-track EP. It’s a drum & bass slice of heaven, smashing and exceeding expectations with its forceful, bass-heavy tendencies.

In mid-August, Faux Tales tapped vocalist Ingrid Lukas for an alluring cinematic experience he calls “Rise Now.” Lukas’ voice captivates immediately, drawing the listener in with her wistful singing. Faux Tales backs up her vocals with astoundingly stellar production, crafting a mesmerizing soundscape of dramatic interludes and delicate piano melodies.

Friction‘s “Running” featuring Raphaella may have come out last October, but I’ll confess: I didn’t discover it until the release of the UK drum & bass maestro’s debut album on Sept. 7. All of Connections is beautifully constructed, highlighted by entrancing standouts like this one. Connections has been four years in the making, and it’s well worth the wait.

In an interesting turn of events leading up to their album release, The Midnight have unveiled an instrumental track called “Arcade Dreams.” Kids‘ other releases so far have been vocal-centric, but “Arcade Dreams” doesn’t need vocals to stand out. It’s beautiful as it is. Twinkling synths rise and fall in a dreamy pattern, invoking waves of nostalgia that wash over the listener from start to finish.

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]

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Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Justice Julian Bajsel Coachella C014875

Growing up with one French parent, as a child I was exposed to a more-than-healthy amount of Gypsy Kings. My Parisian mother, her questionable selections aside, always maintained music as a strong element of family life. However, somehow in raising someone who grew up to be a dance music journalist, my parents often have no idea what I do for work. Occasionally some dance music does break through their Baby Boomer consciousness though, and most often over the course of the last decade, it’s been courtesy of French electronic icons Justice.

Harmonizing the perfect blend of disco, classic rock tropes, and electro — the band’s inimitable catalog undoubtedly boasts a multi-generational appeal. Justice’s seminal debut album, †, was one of my first real forays into electronic music, and when I fell, I fell hard. It was essentially my parents’ introduction to electronic dance music too, so when I told my mother I’d be interviewing Xavier De Rosnay of Justice, a French dance legend she’s actually quite familiar with, she insisted on joining me. In fact, there was really no negotiating. Anyone else with a French mother, De Rosnay included, probably understands. So I had my mom present to help me interview one of the greatest electronic music minds of all time just ahead of Woman Worldwide‘s highly anticipated release.

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Justice Ww Live AnthonyGhnassia Credit

It has been almost two years since De Rosnay and bandmate Gaspard Augé’s critically lauded third LP, WomanNow, the two electro luminaries have followed up with a new “live” album — an homage, or perhaps more accurately, a counterpart — to Woman‘s live production, rebuilt in the studio as what De Rosnay describes as a “proper Justice record.” De Rosnay explains the record’s complexion, detailing, “After maybe six months of touring, we were really feeling the music we were playing on stage every night, and we just wanted to share it with the people who are interested in it. So we thought to record it and make another live album, but we wanted to find a way to make it different.” In those six months, the “Safe and Sound” producers brought Woman‘s flooring live manifestation to Coachella, Lollapalooza, Sónar, and home to Paris’ AccorHotels Arena to name a few. De Rosnay continues,

“We love A Cross The Universe and Access All Arenas, but they were meant to capture what its like to be at a Justice show. We knew people were frustrated, and so this time we decided to make a very clean version, very hi-fi version of it.”

Justice on wax compared to Justice on stage are two very different, polarizing experiences. De Rosnay boils down his relationship with that dichotomy, painting a picture of everything he and Gaspard wish they could do on stage being packaged up and brought to the studio to be fully actualized. Expressing a limitation on the minimal processing they can engage in live on stage, eventually, performance notes collected night after night were brought to the pair’s state-of-the-art studio in Paris with the intent to merge the two experiences. With the time, space, and resources needed to make their live show emulate the quality of a crisp, clean studio album format, Augé and De Rosnay were able to cherry-pick the best parts of their hair-raising live set and recreate them into Woman Worldwide. “It’s a version of what we’d like to do every night that we can’t do,” says De Rosnay.

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Justice Woman Worldwide Photo Cred Pascal Teieira 2

Among all the sonic chaos the two manage to pack into each LP, there’s an obviously meticulous nature to the duo’s work ethic. Surprisingly enough, the process of writing music actually proves to be much more organic and emotional for De Rosnay than calculated and measured. My mom chimes in, prodding in French about De Rosnay and Augé’s knack for perfectionism: “Are you happy with how the final product turned out?” I can feel my ears and cheeks getting hot.

“We are very happy with the album. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for us. Perfect isn’t the right word… its very accurate in terms of being what we originally imagined it to be. It is impossible to make a perfect record, but it’s very faithful to our idea. The records I love the most are not perfect in a technical term. As long as we connect to the music, then we can put it out.”

Since their 2007 debut, the band’s artistic development has naturally progressed between predominating styles and themes, however, it has always managed to hold a sense of genuine timelessness. “We don’t mind actually being tagged in one category. It’s not for some people. But we don’t mind the categorization. Every time we hear a new band, the first thing we do is try to categorize them,” De Rosnay admits. Though s heady, distorted electro backbone stands in direct contrast in many places to Woman’s futuristic gospel-glam core that came a decade later, both albums still undoubtedly look, sound, and feel like Justice. It’s been a gradual advancement of style, “Yeah, it’s a little strange,” starts De Rosnay, “on one hand, we always feel like we’re making the same thing. The disco element has always been there, like ‘D.A.N.C.E.‘ is straight disco with rock elements, perhaps just in a different shape. When we finish a record we never know if its too similar to what we did before.”

“Even if tomorrow we’re making a hard rock record, or a rap record, or even a reggaeton record, I think it will still sound a lot like Justice.”

Though, the two producers are far from the same wide-eyed DJs they were in A Cross The Universe touring the states for the first time a decade ago. Sometimes the leather jacket and stud-clad version of Justice seems like a lifetime ago. De Rosnay concedes that the pretenses of a full-length visual feature similar to the band’s unforgettable tour documentary seems unlikely nowadays. He sighs over the thought, “99 percent of music documentaries have a band as the subject and then people all talking about how great that band is, ‘oh they’re so cool’ or whatever,” De Rosnay laments. “We didn’t want to do that. We made A Cross The Universe for fun. We didn’t want to make a documentary that says we’re great. Making A Cross The Universe was like Jackass — we wanted anyone to be able to enjoy it and find fun [in it], even if they aren’t connected to the music we make. At the time I think I was 25, [Augé] maybe 27.”

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Justice O2 Briton Academy Credit Guifre De Peray

A Cross The Universe was really about what happens when you take a new French band and you allow them to indulge in the rock and roll cliches we’ve always been told about. But we made it knowing that ten years later, we’d be in a completely different place.”

De Rosnay maintains his characteristically cool, tight-lipped allure when prompted on a possible visual element to Woman Worldwide, “We’re always trying things. If it’s good enough, it’ll exist. For example, we tried to make a film for Access All Arenas and spent a lot of time on it, but it wasn’t good enough, so we didn’t release it. But we’re always trying to create a visual tie to things.” In planning ahead, De Rosnay and Augé prefer to savor the moment, but with a cycle of nearly five-year gaps between studio albums and nearly equal measures of time between live projects, with Woman Worldwide’s release, the duo’s pattern suggests a hiatus is due.

De Rosnay politely laughs at my mother’s nudging as she pesters him about taking, “les grandes vacances” after the duo’s tour concludes at Austin City Limits in October. Even deities make obligatory small talk with mothers. He counters, “Sometimes it feels like we’re on a permanent vacation, but at the same time we’re always working. It’s been two years since Woman was released and in the time since then, we’ve been touring. If we started working on the next album right after the tour and that takes a year and a half, it would be finished by late 2020 — that’s already four years between two albums without a break,” remarks De Rosnay. “We do disappear in a way, though, since when we’re recording we don’t play live.” Has any new music been written since Woman’s release? “…No.” Ah, that abrupt, yet ultra-cool French temperament.

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Alice MoitieÌ Credit Justice Press Shot

After a brief pause, De Rosnay does creep forward. “With Woman, we worked a lot on the live show. Then we toured and spent a lot of time working on Woman Worldwide, and now we’re working on… things. But it’s hard to start writing a new album when we’re still on the last one. One of the greatest pleasures of making music is being in our studio, together with time and space. We could work on laptops in hotel rooms and planes, but it’s not a thing we enjoy. That works for some people, we just like the pleasure of being in our own studio.”

Somewhere between nu-disco and New Testament, Justice have crafted, and then re-crafted, a certified masterpiece with Woman and the ensuing Woman Worldwide. Now that we might be nearing the end of a prolific chapter in the visionary Justice narrative, De Rosnay departs with a seemingly innocuous, yet perhaps foreshadowing salutation. “We hope this continues as long as possible, let’s cross our fingers. The door is always open.” Here’s to another decade of Justice For All.