Wooli and Excision converge on ‘Evolution’ EP for an exhibition of bass variance [Review/Q&A]

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Wooli and Excision converge on ‘Evolution’ EP for an exhibition of bass variance [Review/Q&A]Ecision Wooli At Bass Canyon 2 Credit Oh Dag Yo

When the old and new titans of the bass world coalesce on a distinctive vision, the witnesses quake in anticipation of its residual impact. In the case of Excision and Wooli, their latest collaborative project Evolution has demanded the inexhaustible attention of bass fans not just for its impeccable sound design, but for its decisive showcase of stylistic colors in a formidable four-tracker EP package. The burgeoning Wooli is capitalizing on his momentous rise in the heavy bass scene, and Evolution both dictates a pivotal act of artistry in his career while heralding the continuum of his genre-morphing inclinations as he looks forward to his next move.

Cementing his early status in a portfolio of “briddim” and hard dubstep, Wooli, born Adam Puleo, first broke onto the scene with his remix of Excision and Dion Timmer‘s “Her” and rapidly accumulated a fanbase devoted to his production prowess in thrashing bass music. His imposing sound earned him the weighty support of mainstay Excision following the latter’s inclusion of Wooli’s track, “Wave It Up” in the 2016 iteration of his iconic Shambhala mix.

Dancing Astronaut spoke to Wooli about all the creative elements that shaped his journey to present day, including his relationship with co-producer and dubstep behemoth Excision.

“Excision was one of the first people to ever support my music at that kind of scale. He’s actually really easy to approach as far as sending music. He’s been supporting my music his last two or three tours and playing probably anywhere from three to six of my songs per set. Then, it transitioned into me playing a lot of the shows on his tours. So that’s where we finally met. It was just a natural relationship that evolved. As long as you find some way to become friends with that person, it comes pretty naturally wanting to write music with them later.” 

The rest is history; since then, Wooli has collected a stacked set of songwriting, sound development, and tour experience in a short time—embarking on Adventure Club‘s Death or Glory tour, debuting two tracks on Seven LionsOphelia Records, and gracing festival circuits from the likes of Electric Forest, Bass Canyon, Electric Zoo, and more. Now, the Rochester native acts to prove his fledging reputation is no act of luck, but a culmination of sheer talent as he simultaneously takes on his own headlining tour, The Voyage, alongside peer Trivecta and releases his joint Evolution EP with Excision.

“It started with just one song. We wrote “Evolution” with Sam King and we had some more ideas for different projects that we either started, never finished or just had in the back of our head. He had me come up to his house up in Canada, we wrote up there for about five or six days, and pretty much finished the EP there.”

Evolution spans four tracks each characterized by their respective tonal marks and constructed by idiosyncratic intentions. The EP opens with “Lockdown” —the only track devoid of features— for a heavy-hitter signature of screeching synths and pounding bass; the ensuing dubstep production is exactly what listeners expect from the combined forces of Wooli and Excision. Titular track “Evolution” also echoes the chaotic menace of the opener, its foreground perforated by the growls of mammoths while Sam King‘s vocals pave the way for a deadly drop. With primal instincts and raw energy, both numbers will be destined as crowd favorites for the live stage, undoubtedly seizing their full potential with the capabilities of bass-thundering sound systems.

“The most fun to make was “Lockdown” just because it was me and Excision in his basement/mega studio and it was my first time ever working in the studio; I always just work over the internet. It was a really fun experience and he’s got like the loudest, biggest, bass-iest speakers you could buy.”

As much as “Lockdown” and “Evolution” epitomize the expected product of a Wooli and Excision collaboration, the rest of the EP signifies a dynamism outside of their supposed expertise that grants endless bounds of excitement in relation to the former. Finding middle ground between melodic and heavy, “Another Me” lies on the cusp of genre nuances. Although driven by Seven Lion’s imprint on melodic dubstep, Wooli and Excision’s own taste of elbow-throwing soundscape make their presence equally known.

“‘Another Me’ was a favorite personal song just because I’ve always wanted to work with Dylan Matthew; his vocals are amazing and he’s an amazing artist. Then, obviously there’s Seven Lions who I’ve worked with before; we always just kill it together when it comes to the melodic side.”

However, the star of Evolution is Trivecta triple-collaboration, “Oxygen” and its poignant rendering of Wooli and Excision’s softer productions. Vocals from Julianne Hope reflect the emotive lyricism: “Swimming in the deep end / Breath away from drowning / Kiss me like I’m oxygen”. A clear divergence from its adjacent tracks, “Oxygen” trades a dubstep drop for future-bass inspired crescendos; the resulting product is breathtakingly beautiful. Exercising minimalistic instrumentals, keyboard chords and guitar strums pepper the delicate structure before the track builds into a sublime melodic drop and ephemerally descends into melancholic repose again.

“I’m really happy with the EP and response. My only concern was how open people were going to be specifically to the song “Oxygen” because there’s not a dubstep drop, but the fans…they kind of get it and they like it. I’m just happy with everything right now.” 

Evolution‘s selection of songs leaves no question for Wooli and Excision’s collective versatility and its sonic range may leave some fans curious, others disappointed, but many hungry for more. However, treading outside his staple comes as no surprise to Wooli himself, whose path to dubstep first found its origins in other forms of electronic music.

“Drum n’ bass was basically my first introduction to bass music when I was a lot younger. It was something my brother would listen to in the car when he was driving me around. In my city Rochester, New York, there’s no local dubstep scene. It was either tech house or drum n’ bass. Those were the only two things that people would listen to and if you wanted to be a DJ locally you had to play those kinds of genres. So when I learned how to start DJing, —before I was making music, just wanting to be a DJ— I was mixing drum n’ bass a lot.” 

More importantly, the inherent risk-taking in juxtaposing the harsh, heavy-hitting productions with melodic territory reflects Wooli’s own personal goals with where he believes he can take his music and where his motivations have always resided. Unconfined by the arbitrary lines of sub-genres, Wooli intends to carve his own visionary definitions of quality music into the bass scene. While his previous releases have harbored traces of experimentation, they act as playing ground in comparison to Evolution—the large-scale release of which has validated Wooli’s concrete ability time-and-time again to step with ease into any musical area he wishes to explore. Evolution ultimately showcases equal parts stylistic breadth and depth, refusing to relinquish Excision and Wooli’s beloved hard dubstep in light of new directions. Now, welding another massive collaborative project under his belt, Wooli finds himself at the crux of another jumping point in his artistic growth and overarching career.

“I’m going to keep on exploring what I could do with combining the melodic and the heavy. If not melodic and heavy, just two different genres like with my single “Psyclone” where it was heavy and psy trance. Anything that I feel like would keep the listener guessing to what’s going to happen next is what I’m really interested in and focusing on who I can get as far as a vocal feature to elevate the songs to the next level. My whole goal now is to make music that’s going to feel more like a complete song rather than just a dubstep drop.”

Stream Evolution below.

Photo Credit: Oh Dag Yo

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 108

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 108Deters 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


I really, really love Mamma Mia. It’s fabulous, and so is its soundtrack. In the rare moments when today’s electronic music scene acknowledges the greatness of ABBA, I rejoice. So this week, I rejoice in Kramder‘s “disco tool” edit of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” It’s just way too fun.

Aero Chord‘s new EP, The Sound, arrived Sept. 12 via Monstercat, delivering four songs of broad sonic range. The collection’s title track bursts into the listeners’ ears with anthemic production, booming with powerful, trap-oriented goodness from start to finish.

Unexpected drum ‘n’ bass is the best drum ‘n’ bass. I certainly wasn’t expecting it when I saw Manic Focus had released his sixth studio album, but I was pleasantly surprised when the first track had a racing beat. “Star Sweeper” still contains many of the groovy, jammed out elements fans have come to expect from a Manic Focus track, but they’re incorporated in an unexpected way.

Duskus‘ new original is a relaxing piece, leading the listener to sonic bliss with a subdued beat and filtered vocals. The orchestral interlude brings a different form of calm, delivering an almost therapeutic sense of peace.

Direct and Matt Van are an iconic duo, consistently delivering impeccable sound design and production when they get together. Their newest, “Cold Ground,” is no different, bringing their fans a flawless, mellow experience. The artists seem to implore the listener to get lost in the passion they’ve put into their music, and it’s easy to do.

Armin van Buuren details harnessing the many ‘Moons Of Jupiter’ [Interview]

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Armin van Buuren details harnessing the many ‘Moons Of Jupiter’ [Interview]ADE2018 GAIA PRESS

“With GAIA we said ‘Look, what do we really need?’” – Armin van Buuren

The answer: a kick drum, a bass line, six synths for pads and arpeggios, and a sequencer for the drums—nothing more, nothing less. It was with these select few elements that Armin van Buuren and Benno de Goeij would produce their inaugural GAIA album, Moons Of Jupiter. The 21-track LP sources all of its sounds from one soft synth, a Native Instruments MASSIVE, copied over six channels.

“I take pride in that, because we limited ourselves, and that actually gave us creative freedom,” van Buuren said in an interview with Dancing Astronaut before his Main Stage set at Electric Zoo 2019. “I have access to all these plugins and synthesizers in my studio and sometimes it drives me nuts looking for one plugin because I have to scroll through all these menus,” he added. “[With this approach] you didn’t think ‘Oh that plugin can create that sound.’ You had to dig deep under the hood of the MASSIVE. It felt like a relief, not having all of those choices.”

The selectivity of van Buuren and de Goeij’s combined constructive approach to Moons Of Jupiter is just one way that the album-making process would veer from more trodden electronic pathways. The inverted structure by which Moons Of Jupiter came about is another. Normally, producers would go into the studio, create tracks in a sequencer, mix and master them, release the subsequent album, and tour in support of it, van Buuren explained. Not so, however, with Moons Of Jupiter.

“We started with the touring and created the tracks literally on the fly,” said van Buuren of the project’s serendipitous jump start.

The songs that attendees would hear live—and later, would go on to comprise Moons Of Jupiter—were loops that van Buuren and de Goeij had collaboratively amassed over time.

“We always work on two DAWs; one person may be arranging on one screen, while the other is doing something else,” van Buuren said. “Instead of letting all the works that we didn’t use go to waste, we made a deal with ourselves: we would save the midi and whatever else we had made and would throw it in a folder.”

That folder got “bigger and bigger and bigger,” according to van Buuren. The pair eventually put their stock of loops into an Ableton project. Although the GAIA members typically work in Logic, van Buuren and de Goeij set to work in Ableton to prepare their live set for their forthcoming show in Paradiso at Amsterdam Dance Event 2018. They had six months to finish their set up, and no finished music.

What we’ve done with GAIA is we’ve basically created loops,” van Buuren said of his finished product. “That’s why I came about the idea of planets, because planets rotate. As a kid I’d always been fascinated by space. I saw a book about the planets of Jupiter and I thought, ‘That’s a great concept [for an album]. Imagine if you had a spaceship and could travel between the moons of Jupiter: what would that sound like, what would the soundtrack be? That was the ambition.

With a litany of loops at their disposal to manipulate, GAIA gurus built their own custom equipment to perform the set, including mini sequencers. Although the experience was admittedly “scary” for van Buuren, it, too, was exciting, in part because it offered van Buuren “a release” from his primary project, Armin van Buuren.

“I love being Armin van Buuren and I love to do the Main Stage sets, but there’s another side of me that feels the need to experiment and travel to uncharted territory for myself, steering a little bit off the safe path,” he explained.

Whereas Armin van Buuren is “more commercial [and] more radio-driven” in sound, GAIA, by contrast, is unorthodox by nature. Indeed, GAIA is far from an alias designed to garner voracious streams or contort to meld to other meters of commercial achievement. This, in addition to the absence of samples and collaborations on Moons Of Jupiter is precisely what allows GAIA to “go a little bit against the grain,” to be “the opposite” of what Armin van Buuren does, and how electronic releases broadly operate.

GAIA is a statement that music can be so exciting if you try to go across genres,” van Buuren said.

However, listeners shouldn’t mistake GAIA or Moons of Jupiter as an opposition to the way that the electronic music sector runs.

“GAIA is not an anti-EDM statement, [we didn’t make it] because we want to be anti, hell no” van Buuren said. “For us it is an homage: we wanted to make this album because this is who we are. It’s a monument to the early sounds of dance music.”

van Buuren explained that Moons Of Jupiter also honors his childhood, when he was first be exposed to electronic music around the age of eight- or nine-years old. He recalls how his father would often play a sundry of early electronic artists, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kitaro and Vangelis, whose music would all prove pivotal to the development of the young producer. Back then, in 1988 and 1989, when van Buuren was just becoming a fan of dance music, the genre was in a markedly different state than it is today. It was a time when sub-genres such as bass and trance were not defined, or as van Buuren puts it, when “the rules were not set.”

For van Buuren, Moons Of Jupiter and GAIA more broadly represent the chance to “go back” and revisit these foundational electronic artists who inspired him.

“I always promised myself that if I ever got to the position where I am now, I would go back to my roots and say to my fans ‘Look guys, I will never forget where I come from,’ and I think you can hear that in the album,” van Buuren told Dancing Astronaut. “GAIA shows you the core of me.”

In experimentally harkening back to a nascent time in the history of electronic sound, Moons Of Jupiter does not embody current stylistics. Many people have even told van Buuren that the LP reminds them of the ’80s and ’90s, due in part to the album’s drum programming, among some of its other technical approaches. Though the work remains largely epoch-less.

“It’s not the sound of now, let’s face it,” van Buuren said, “but it’s probably my favorite album that I’ve ever done.”

For van Buuren, the significance of Moons Of Jupiter arrives not from its reception—although the album has fielded no shortage of favorable reviews—nor from the number of streams that it may attract, but rather from the artistic journey that it represents. The significance of “journey” in this context is two-fold, in that it encompasses both the growth of Armin van Buuren as a producer over time and the crafting of the LP. Moons Of Jupiter embodies the musical wisdom that van Buuren has gleaned with each track he’s made to date.

“Every track teaches you something for the next,” van Buuren said. “There’s some DJs who say ‘Oh I made that track in two-hours.’ Well, you didn’t, because you take all of the experience from your past tracks and put them into the next track, so each track is a step in the journey to the next one.

What does the future hold for GAIA? Well, unsurprisingly, more journeys. van Buuren said that he and de Goeij have “plenty more loops standing by.”

“Jupiter has 67 moons and there’s only 21 tracks on this album. There’s still moons to be discovered,” he noted.

With GAIA and with their ensuing albums, van Buuren will continue to “go back” to the early electronic sounds that motivated him to go into music in the first place and to the younger van Buuren who lent his ear so attentively to the productions of the dance pioneers of his father’s instrumental influence.

“You have to always go back to that little kid that fell in love with dance music the first time, because that guy is probably the most important guy. That guy guides you to your own sound,” van Buuren said. “If you can listen to that guy and stay loyal to that guy, then there you go.”

*This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity and readability

Saturday Night Session 026: From being a die-hard Tiësto fan to playing on the mainstage, GATTÜSO talks about his entrance into electronic music

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Saturday Night Session 026: From being a die-hard Tiësto fan to playing on the mainstage, GATTÜSO talks about his entrance into electronic musicGATTUSO STUDIO 2

Few moments are more sacred than the reprieve Saturday night provides from the daily grind of school and work. Its importance is meant to be emphasized, and thus, a feature dedicated to “doing the night right” was born. Saturday Night Sessions are set around energizing mixes meant to get the party started. New or old, each episode has one cornerstone thing in similarity: they serve as the perfect backdrop for the weekend pregame.

The journey of becoming a successful DJ and producer is different for everyone, but almost always unified by years of hard work. It’s a grind, and for many, an uphill battle to get booked, grow a fanbase, and score radio placements. Reem Taoz is as familiar with the hard work part of this story as the best of them, but the electronic music industry seemingly woke up one morning and decided that he was going to be a household name. Taoz arrived to the forefront of the electronic music scene the second he got into the studio, and this is almost certainly thanks to his infectious spin on progressive house and club music.

Taoz performs under artist alias GATTÜSO, and the Israel native actually credits legendary producer Tiësto as his inspiration to become involved in the electronic music industry.

He mentions, “I have to credit Tiësto as my biggest inspiration.  I heard him play first in Israel, and when I first started to really travel – it was to go to a Tiësto show, and I ended up following him to shows around the world.”

This led him to Peru, where he started working in the nightclub industry. The more time he spent around the music, the more certain he became that he needed to start creating his own. In 2017, a now New York City based Taoz stopped everything to focus on making music. Two years later he has 12 remixes and seven originals under his belt with 10 new original releases in the works. He has released music on Dim Mak, Armada, Enhanced, and he has his own record label called T&T Records. He has also done official remixes for an extensive list of tier one artists including forthcoming remixes for Galantis, Yellow Claw, and Sam Feldt among others.

The sheer volume of music Taoz has put out despite being a music producer for only two years is impressive. His output begins to make more sense after discussing the amount of time he spends in the studio and what he does outside of work to unwind. He notes, “The past month, I spent 300 hours in the studio, which hasn’t left a whole lot of time…I really try to spend every minute outside of the studio enjoying food, family, and staying healthy.  I’ve said it before, but Im a HUGE fan of sushi, and working out, and I hit the gym and run at least a few miles every day.  I also love tequila and champagne, although I try not to do that every day!”

For those trying to figure out what led to Taoz’s meteoric ascension, one stunt comes to the forefront. Taoz chose the artist name GATTÜSO because he was a huge Genaro Gattuso fan, who is an Italian soccer player from AC Milan.

When asked how he chose his artist name, he explains, “It’s ironic, because the name just came to me one night.  I wanted something that sounded strong and forceful.  I’m a huge football fan (soccer), and I knew that there was a former player for AC Milan, who was a major star, and then went on to coach the team.  I figured that somewhere down the road, we might cross paths, and as it turns out a huge AC Milan fan, with a big instagram account, realized that we had the same name, created a bunch of buzz on it, and we ended up collaborating on a song called ‘Scuza Gattuso,’ which started as an inside joke and went on to be featured in tons of global press outlets, featured on top playlists, and brought me a loyal fan base of Italian listeners.”

GATTÜSO’s inside joke has certainly garnered him a strong Italian fanbase. He also touts an ever-expanding group of loyal listeners in the U.S. and throughout the world. When asked what kind of a Saturday Night his Saturday Night Session will get listeners ready for, Taoz comments, “Life with GATTÜSO is always a party.  Life is meant to be enjoyed – every minute of it, especially this Saturday night! So get ready for good vibes and a playlist you’re going to play again and again.”

______________________________________________________________________________

You kind of came out of nowhere- releasing your first original in 2018, and all of the sudden you’re doing remixes for major artists and your originals are amassing millions of streams. Tell us about your entrance into dance music and why you started producing. 

I have to credit Tiësto as my biggest inspiration.  I heard him play first in Israel, and when I first started to really travel – it was to go to a Tiësto show, and I ended up following him to shows around the world.  Thats what led me to Peru, where I spent a few years in the nightclub business.  The more time that I spent around dance music and DJ’s, I realized that it was time to turn my passion for music as a fan into finding myself as an artist.  I played music as a kid and had messed around with some production software over the years, but in 2017 I stopped everything and turned to focus on producing full time.  My first original releases, “Who We Are” and “Dance Stay High” were really personal songs for me, as was “I Will Play.” This writing was directly from my personal life and was very cathartic for me.  Seeing these songs with millions of streams now is very satisfying because I think it shows that other people feel the way I do, and I’m happy to see my music resonating with people around the world. 

How would you describe your musical style to those who haven’t heard you before?

I love progressive, with big drops, catchy melodies, and driven by memorable vocals and great songs.  Thats what I try to do! I balance this out with club tracks, and Im going to be releasing more of those in the near future, since I have a lot of fun making them. 

Given your first original came out in 2018 and you have since released a plethora of remixes and originals- you must spend quite a lot of time in the studio. What do you do to unwind? 

As of this week, Ive actually released about or exactly 12 remixes and 7 originals. I have another 10 originals that I’m working on now, and about 5 are ready to release.  The past month, I spent 300 hours in the studio, which hasn’t left a whole lot of time.  That said, I love to enjoy my life, and I make sure that I carve out time to do that.  I love making music and that time is very special to me, but I really try to spend every minute outside of the studio enjoying food, family, and staying healthy.  I’ve said it before, but Im a HUGE fan of sushi, and working out, and I hit the gym and run at least a few miles every day.  I also love tequila and champagne, although I try not to do that every day 🙂 

How did you choose the artist name GATTÜSO?

It’s ironic, because the name just came to me one night.  I wanted something that sounded strong and forceful.  I’m a huge football fan (soccer), and I knew that there was a former player for AC Milan, who was a major star, and then went on to coach the team.  I figured that somewhere down the road, we might cross paths, and as it turns out a huge AC Milan fan, with a big instagram account, realized that we had the same name, created a bunch of buzz on it, and we ended up collaborating on a song called “Scuza Gattuso,” which started as an inside joke and went on to be featured in tons of global press outlets, featured on top playlists, and brought me a loyal fan base of Italian listeners.  

Do you have any specific releases or remixes coming out soon that you are particularly excited about?

Yes! All of them.  August was a huge month for me, with 4 remixes back to back. There’s a Two Friends remix coming this month, “Dollar Menu” (Dim Mak 9/6), and then Im finishing up great remixes for Icona Pop (who I have always loved), and Starley, which should be out in October. It’s been amazing to work with such great songs and artists, that I’ve been following and listening to for some time now.  They have all inspired and influenced me, so its really awesome to have these kinds of opportunities.  I’m in the process of finalizing some label deals on a handful of originals, and I’m going to release one this month on my own label, T&T Records, called “Love Is Not Enough.”  I LOVE this record and the singer S.A.L.E.M just kills me.  She’s amazing, has something very special I think, which is hard to find.  

I just did a swap with Mark Sixma.  He’s awesome.  My song with Disco Killerz, “Million Things” was on Dance Rising with his song “Million Miles.”  I loved his style, and when I released “When In Rome” on Armada in July, when it came time to get remixes done, I hit him up and we decided to trade.  Really excited for that to come out September 20th.  

Other releases and remixes I have coming out:

Breathe Carolina X Asketa & Natan Chaim “Get Away feat. Rama Duke” (Spinnin Records)

Steve Void & Louisa – Aint Got You (Strange Fruits/Universal 8/23)

Sam Feldt – Post Malone (Spinnin Records 8/29) 

Galantis & Yellow Claw – We Can Get High (Big Beat/Atlantic 8/30)

What is your favorite song of all time?

Thats a tough call.  Lets go with top 3

Radiohead “Creep” 

Dash Berlin “Till The Sky Falls Down”

R3HAB “Lullaby,” and I was fortunate to do a remix for that one.  I have always been a big fan of Fadil’s and he has now become a friend.  

What kind of a Saturday night is your Saturday night session going to get listeners ready for?

Life with Gattuso is always a party.  Life is meant to be enjoyed – every minute of it, especially this Saturday night! So get ready for good vibes and a playlist you’re going to play again and again.  

Photo Credit: Richard “Parlay” Copier @OneiPhotography

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 107

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 107Deters 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


Goldroom is less than two months away from the arrival of his new LP, Plunge/Surface, and continues to share snippets of what fans can expect from the two-part album. The latest of these is “Running Wild” with former collaborator Nikki Segal. This relaxed piece ushers the autumn season in with ease.

RÜFÜS DU SOL blessed their fans with a new set of remixes for Solace on Sept. 6, sharing among them Gerd Janson‘s vocoder mix. The German producer brings a sparkling, bright new atmosphere to “Treat You Better,” putting a twist on the original’s vocals by incorporating a vocoder.

Fox Stevenson has been hard at work on his live show, a documentary, and his debut album, so it’s crazy to see the amount of material he’s been releasing. The latest in a string of releases is “Dreamland,” a vocal-powered drum ‘n’ bass-but-otherwise-hard-to-define song. He calls it “maybe [his] favourite song [he’s] ever made,” and it’s easy to see why.

deadmau5 and Kaskade‘s iconic “I Remember” is chillingly haunting in its original format, so when BLOODTONE got his hands on it, he somehow found a way to make it even more so. He’s given it what he calls “a dark warehouse feel” and plunged it to the depths of the shadows in a thrilling way.

The opening notes of RL Grime‘s “Core” are undeniably some of the most recognizable in today’s EDM scene. The 2014 tune has received a frantic drum ‘n’ bass facelift from Flite, and it’s nearly three minutes of pure energy. It’ll make your head spin—but in the best possible way.

Orbit Playlist: Matroda readies his ‘Red Tape’-themed repertoire ahead of AMF debut

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Orbit Playlist: Matroda readies his ‘Red Tape’-themed repertoire ahead of AMF debutMatroda 1

One of Dim Mak‘s newest dancefloor weapons, Matroda, recently rounded a number of his like-minded, heavy house/bass-affiliated counterparts for the deluxe arm of his double-sided The RED Tape EP. BIJOU, ANGELZ, and fellow Dim Mak habitue, JACKNIFE, were just a few to toss their high-voltage offering into the RED Tape remix cap.

Following a number of auspicious stops on the high-priority festival front this past season (Spring Awakening, Ubbi Dubbi, Das Energi), the Croatian DJ-producer was recently invited by Destructo (Gary Richards: ever one to bolster fresh, new talent in dance music via his events) to spin at the second edition of his downtown LA-housed All My Friends festival this year, on October 19.

Before that, though, Matroda cooked up Dancing Astronaut‘s dynamic-dancefloor-acquainted listeners a pre-festival playlist consisting of his favorite selects of the moment. The soundtrack arrives in a similar vein to his latest multi-track showing, spanning the summertime, effervescent energy of Tchami‘s new “Rainforest,” to the caustic, ear-searing bassline of Noizu‘s “Jungle.” Upping the ante, he offered insights as to why he deemed each track worthy of inclusion.

Find the playlist/Matroda’s comments below:

Matroda feat. Dances With White Girls – Bang This is a song I produced last year with the legend Dances With White Girls and is part of The RED Tape EP. It always works well at the festivals.

Matroda – Kulio
My newest track. I will play it live for the first time among with many other IDS.

Walker & Royce, VNSSA – Word
Word? Word? Woooord! I like what Walker & Royce are doing and this song goes off hard every time I play it. I did my own version of it. A festival version.

Valentino Khan – Pony
Valentino Khan’s latest EP House Party is dope. Pony is my fav’ track.

Sonny Fodera – Insane 

One of my fav’ house producers…cant go wrong. This is an insane track called “Insane.”

Tchami – Rainforest
Tchami always impress with something new and fresh. Dope track all around! 

Mike Vale – Music Is The Answer
A good friend of mine delivered big time. This song was number one on Beatport for few weeks. It’s a dope remake of a classic.

Ship Wrek – Need It
I like versatility in their production. They nailed this one. Need it!

FREAK ON – Juicy
This one is more for the after parties. Deep, but still very dope.

Noizu – Jungle
I’m a big fan of a drop here. Noizu is the man.

Madeon details his Good Faith Live premiere at Lollapalooza, plans for sophomore LP, and the genesis of ‘Pop Culture’ [Interview]

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Madeon details his Good Faith Live premiere at Lollapalooza, plans for sophomore LP, and the genesis of ‘Pop Culture’ [Interview]EBZ6loMYAMaEY

Excluding his immortal collaborative effort alongside Porter Robinson, “Shelter,” in late 2016, a four-plus-year interlude reverberated without any original material from the Madeon headquarters.

Nonetheless, the French native had already inscribed his indelible earmark on the wall of electronic music eminence long before he had (by most standards) reached adulthood. At the ripe age of 17, Madeon curated what many would consider the magnum opus of mashups in electronic music, “Pop Culture,” wherein he fused 39 of his favorite charting tracks via his Launchpad controller. The amalgamation’s live rendition, as of today, sits at a staggering 50 million YouTube hits; though it accrued viral status in mere days.

Following back-to-back EP releases in the subsequent years, Madeon formally demonstrated that he could not be further removed from one-hit-wonder discourse, as he put forth his accolade-abundant freshman project, Adventure. Not long after it reached shelves, Madeon’s debut LP has been widely regarded as one of electronic music’s signature releases. The album left his globally dispersed fan base to at a loss as to how such an endeavor could be eclipsed.

But this past March, all suspicion of what Madeon had been plotting during his absence from solo work reached long overdue fruition, when he announced that he would be unveiling a never-before-seen live experience at Lollapalooza 2019. Following months of well-warranted speculation following the cryptic teaser, Madeon began to inch back the curtain on the musical masterpiece that he was meticulously etching to perfection behind closed doors. Judiciously stamped, Good Faith, Madeon’s sophomore album proceeded to spawn back-to-back, contrasting yet equally enticing, productions. The first was ushered in by a strategically surreptitious billboard in Los Angeles, in May of this year. Since, the pair of releases, “All My Friends” and “Dream Dream Dream,” have faultlessly led expectations for the remainder of the forthcoming endeavor to skyrocket, as Madeon proved he hasn’t lost his golden thumb in the studio after all.

As the Saturday of Lollapalooza’s 2019 edition promptly approached, Madeon’s finale performance at the festival’s American Eagle complex was among one of the event’s most anticipated electronic spectacles. While he had previously revealed that new music would surely appear during the show’s display, it remained to be seen just how much of Madeon’s sophomore effort would be at the downtown Chicago audience’s fingertips.

Just a few hours prior to Madeon’s taking the stage to demonstrate for patrons the importance of showing a little faith, Good Faith, that is, with the new live setup, Dancing Astronaut had the pleasure of sitting down with the 25-year-old titan of his trade, to dive into the background behind the show’s assembly, what to expect from the album, and how his “Pop Culture” mashup changed his life.

As it was assuredly futile to keep up in real time during the 60-minute performance, 1001Tracklists.com afforded the understanding that Madeon rattled out a mind-numbing ten unidentified tracks throughout his visually-enthralling ‘Good Faith Live’ phenomenon. While he maintained that no material from his Lollapalooza performance would be a candidate for his next single release, clues from a puzzle pieced together on his latest Good Faith Radio episode indicates his third single could potentially appear to be “Be Fine.” Ultimately, listeners will have to keep the faith until further notice.

You’re debuting your new show ‘Good Faith Live’ here at Lollapalooza, and it’s your first solo live show since the Adventure days. What made you decide to specifically share it here in Chicago?

I’ve been thinking about the show simultaneously with writing music so it’s been years, and the vision for the show is best expressed in larger scales. I felt like a festival was the perfect opportunity to present it in its best light from the start. So when Lolla came asking me what I was up to, it felt like the right timing and the right amount of prestige to debut a show. It was a great landmark to look forward to in the future.

It felt like the right fit and it’s nice because I get to do this show and then I have a couple of months where I’m in Europe and then a couple of months for the U.S. tour. I get to improve and learn from this show and it’s like a large scale experiment. We literally brought the largest screen we could fit so we went all in.

What are you able to tell us about your plans for the unveiling of ‘Good Faith Live’ tonight? Are there any outright differences between this and the full tour?

The tour we’re trying to bring the most we can practically but obviously we’re doing different venue sizes. When we’re doing Bill Graham, it’s going to be as big but when we’re doing smaller cities, it’s like something else. We’re making sure we bring a full and great experience to every show that we’re doing but the main difference is that we’re doing is that the tour will have a longer set because this is just under an hour.

I’m going to be able to play a lot more songs and have a lot more moments so this first show is sort of like a condensed teaser. I also decided when I was working on the setlist that I wanted to debut some new music but not all the new music. So for example, I’m currently picking my next single and all of my next single options are not songs that I’m going to be playing at this show. So there’s still going to be new things that I’ll play on tour.

Recently you touched on how you started work on Good Faith right as the Adventure era was coming to a close. How was the creative process for ‘Good Faith’ comparable to how you approached ‘Adventure’?

It was so incredibly different, nothing like it. Yesterday, I was getting emotional about this show. I was going through the e-mail I sent to my team in very early 2016 when I was kind of wrapping up what my vision was for that next era and almost everything in that is still what I’m doing now. The way I described the show then is still the show I’m doing tonight. I had such a clear idea of what I wanted to do which was quite different from Adventure, which was more a process where I was trying to figure it out.

I took a lot of time because I was mostly concerned that I was taking care of myself, taking time off when I needed it, taking the time to learn certain things I didn’t know and not rushing into things. There are some songs like “Dream Dream Dream” that were ready very early on and just because they are ready doesn’t mean they need to be out right now. Let me figure the whole vision out first, so I had to be patient. With Adventure, I made it while I was still touring a lot and it was more so start and stop and more interrupted where I could be less introspective with it. I love that album so much but that process felt vastly different for sure.

So far your sophomore album has given us two singles with “All My Friends” and “Dream Dream Dream,” which possess clear stylistic differences. Is Good Faith going to lean specifically towards either of these styles or towards something completely unexpected?

You’ll find there’s a really clear sonic theme to the album. I think both singles touch on elements of the recurring palette, like one big thing is humans, choirs and chants which is obviously very prominent in “Dream Dream Dream.” That’s the thing throughout the show and throughout the album. That will be seen in the visuals and that’s manifested in the audio of almost every song, so those singles are good representation of that. The palette of emotion does get a little bit broader than those two songs. I do think they’re a good intro, though. I think they hopefully set the tone quite well but there’s more secrets and fun moments to come. 

You had acknowledged that “All My Friends” was probably the most pop-leaning production on the album

Yeah so I really like the idea of making music that I didn’t even think of as necessarily living within the format of dance music. The songs I was referencing or thinking about when I made that one felt very free. I didn’t feel like I needed to make it relate to any particular format so in my head so I was just writing a straight up pop song, but in the best and most sincere way possible. Pop music is a really respectable genre. The Beatles are great and they’re a pop band, so deciding you want to write a pop song isn’t necessarily a bad intention, it’s a beautiful intention. I was trying to express my love for that genre and obviously anything I do is still informed by my background in dance music, so it comes through and ends up being dance music, but it’s nice to free your process and clutter of genres.

Through the creation of Good Faith, were there any musical inspirations that helped you along the way?

I was listening to a lot of more hip-hop when I was making Good Faith. I got into Pink Floyd too and you’ll hear some influences maybe on the album. I rediscovered my love for The Beatles, which I do every so often. I got really into Tyler the Creator and stuff like Kraftwerk. All of the bands and acts I was destined to eventually love that I hadn’t found by that point, I found now. My musical taste had expanded in the most enriching way and I’ve never loved music more than the past couple of years.

Earlier this summer, your legendary “Pop Culture” Launchpad mashup celebrated its 8th birthday. What has that song meant to you personally as you look back and see how far you’ve come?

It’s so hard to say. It’s mostly a beautiful, beautiful memory. It’s something that I’m so thankful and grateful for. I felt very lucky to have that idea at a time where it had the room to connect and it found an audience. It felt like the stars aligned in my life for me because I needed that to happen. I was just out of school and everything was uncertain, so it made my future more precise.

It was a big relief because it felt like my take on music was maybe going to connect with some people. It changed my life and I still really enjoying it, listening back to it and performing it in sets. It was so spontaneous because it was literally the first thing I did when I got a launchpad. I just had that idea, I went to the store and then shot it that night. I just saved it and didn’t put it out right away because I wasn’t that secure about it I guess. Then I got more confident like, “You know what? This will probably do 10,000 or 100,000 views.” So I put it up and went on vacation. It blew up and I didn’t even see it so my manager called me and was like “Hey, so here’s what’s going on.” I was on vacation in somewhere with no internet so I could only go to the cafe every few days. Between the time I arrived and the first time I went to the cafe, it had several million views which was so cool.

**This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity and readability

Featured image: Dan Franco

Premiere: BoxPlot gears up for enthralling Liquicity EP with ‘Voicemail Poems’ [Q&A]

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Premiere: BoxPlot gears up for enthralling Liquicity EP with ‘Voicemail Poems’ [Q&A]Boplot

Introspective drum ‘n’ bass finds its voice in talented producers like BoxPlot. The Boston-based producer first caught the attention of the dnb world back in 2015 and has been making a name for himself via his unique brand of dreamy beats ever since.

His newest piece of work, an EP called Alice, arrives on Liquicity Records on Sept. 6. Hear its opening track, “Voicemail Poems,” and learn more about the work that went into the EP below.


Tell us a little bit about the making of this EP.

The initial idea came from my tune “My Non-Existent Friend, Alice,” but not from the tune itself. It came from the people in the YouTube comments sorta wondering “who is this person” or “why is she non existent.” That got me wondering if I should build this story further into an EP, and so I did. The making of Alice was a pretty grueling and extensive—1.5 years or so—but it was definitely fun. I’m very meticulous when it comes to writing songs because I nitpick on literally every detail and I absolutely want to make sure that it’s 100 percent the direction I want to go in. As for production techniques, I’ve finally gotten to utilize my Eurorack synth that I’ve been on and off building for a year or so. I’ve sorta designed it to where it’s basically made to be an ambient-lofi drone machine, and it does wonders when it comes to making atmospheres.

What can listeners expect from this EP?

I’d definitely consider this to be like a mini concept album if anything, but still very familiar to my Tramontane EP. I really wanted to hone in on the emotions of lust and loss and sorta play around with them. You can sorta view the timeline of these two imaginary characters and see how things evolve over the course of the four tracks. I periodically listen to the entirety of the EP end to end and I still get chills from it.

What does this EP mean to you?

While making the EP, I didn’t really think it had some sort of emotional connection to my actual self. I more or less just thought I was just writing a story just for the sake of writing a story. But after these past few months have gone by, I’ve come to realize that this body of work was actually me subconsciously telling myself how I felt over the past year. It kind of is surreal to think how when writing things you can be writing something that has no meaning or anything behind it, but in actuality it does and you don’t know it yet. 

What are your hopes for drum ‘n’ bass in the United States?

I’m optimistic about it, but I’m realistically in the middle. I’m noticing there’s now tons of hype coming from a good majority of the big EDM guys talking about how drum ‘n’ bass is so sick and are asking for tunes from people, but it’s one of those things where I sorta need to see it to believe it. Now I’m not talking about the talent here in the U.S. The talent I’m seeing from the States is actually rather insane to be honest. A great example of this is a guy named Winslow. His tunes are absolute stompers and he makes really quality YouTube videos that I tend to watch periodically and enjoy greatly. Anyway, back to the original point: it’s the promoters that are based here that I’m iffy about. For example, if you don’t originate from the UK, you aren’t getting booked. It’s as simple as that. Flite I know for a fact is working his butt off to make sure to change that, and it’s working. It’s just that these promoters aren’t willing to pick up these homebrew artists at all, or they are at times but they are getting paid in pennies. It’s a slow process yes, but that’s what it is going to have to be; a waiting game.

What’s in store for the remainder of 2019?

I do have some collaborations with some artists that I’ve always wanted to work with, but I won’t name drop them because I do want to keep things secret. I do have plans to also make a non drum ‘n’ bass EP for once since the good majority of music I actually listen to isn’t really drum and bass. Finally, I also have another EP lined up, but this time it’s for my side project, Tetracase. Nothing is completely set in stone for that one, but it’s probably going to receive the majority of my attention for the remainder of the year.

‘Everything changes’: Seven Lions reflects on progress and Ophelia Records from Electric Zoo

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‘Everything changes’: Seven Lions reflects on progress and Ophelia Records from Electric Zoo636132311417960229 1247347347 Jeff

A lot can change in a year.

In February of 2018, Seven Lions took a career-altering step: he erected his own record label, Ophelia Records, swiftly consummating the imprint with the brand’s very first production, “Calling You Home.” The celestial, two-track EP, Ocean, co-produced with Jason Ross soon followed the seminal single. Not long after, “Horizon” arrived, with well-founded assistance from Tritonal and Kill The Noise. The Ophelia agenda continued raking in high-profile ammo in the months that followed.

“My vision for Ophelia was just a place for me to put out my music,” Seven Lions told Dancing Astronaut in an interview at Electric Zoo‘s recently concluded 2019 iteration. “[But] everything changes. Within the last two or three months, our release schedule has gotten so busy that I’m struggling with where to put my [own] music.”

Ophelia’s crowded release schedule led Seven Lions to just last month share two brand new singles, the MitiS-assisted “Break The Silence” and “Another Me,” just a week apart.

The theme of transcendence, which Seven Lions credits as a key creative motivator both in the way that he stylizes his music and in the manner that he disseminates it, has been paramount to Ophelia’s progression in the time since its foundation. Whereas Seven Lions originally conceived Ophelia as a platform for his own releases, the imprint has morphed into something else altogether. Case in point, Ophelia’s takeover of Electric Zoo’s Riverside stage proved a multitudinous showcase of the label’s heavy-atmospheric talent that included Said The Sky, Wooli, Jason Ross, Blastoyz, Crystal Skies, Dimibo, MitiS, and, of course, Seven Lions himself.

“I never really thought it was going to be the way that it is right now but I’m super stoked,” Seven Lions said of Ophelia’s evolution to date. “I had no visions of doing a stage at EZoo or anything like that [when I first founded the label], so now that it’s happening I feel that I’m watching it happen, and I’m going to [continue to] dig further into it.”

More showcases and stage takeovers will be an integral part of Seven Lions’ Ophelia expansion, according to the producer. As 2019 continues winding down, many artists look considerably ahead to calculate their first major career moves in 2020, including Seven Lions, who hopes to book more shows with the express purpose of exhibiting the prolific talent of Ophelia artists.

“I want to have more showcases and want to do more stuff like [stage takeovers] where I can get more people like Crystal Skies in front of a crowd, so they can throw down and show what they can do, because I feel like they don’t really have that opportunity very often,” Seven Lions explained. “Specifically Crystal Skies, Blastoyz, Last Heroes, Trivecta, all those people who haven’t had the exposure that they deserve as producers, trying to get that for them: that’s my goal, to help them get in front of larger audiences.”

From his seat backstage at the Riverside stage, where his label mate, MitiS, is performing, Seven Lions traces Ophelia’s activity over the past year for Dancing Astronaut, noting that the exponential growth that Ophelia has gleaned is largely akin to his own rise as an artist.

“[Music] was a hobby and it turned into something,” Seven Lions reflects. “I’m going to go after it with everything I can. I guess I never dreamed that big and then once it’s right in front of you [it’s] like I’m going to get that sh*t.”

As Ophelia matures, its label head will nevertheless continue to advance the Seven Lions project, which he cites as his “legacy,” enduring on the forefront of the multi-genre master’s creative focus. The weighty entrepreneurial undertaking has certainly kept Seven Lions busy in recent months. In addition to producing and planning his own releases, Seven Lions has also been engaged with his Alchemy Tour.

The ongoing live initiative, which commenced in Long Beach, California on August 17, positions Seven Lions among co-headliners, The Glitch Mob, SLANDER, and NGHTMRE, among supporting acts like SVDDEN DEATH, Jason Ross, and Shadient for a 25-date run across North American cities.

For Seven Lions, the collection of artists convening for The Alchemy Tour represents a synergistic continuum of electronic seniority.

“I wouldn’t say SLANDER and NGHTMRE are newer, but they’re very on the ups [whereas] I’ve been around for a little while,” Seven Lions posits. “But The Glitch Mob has been around for even longer, so it’s cool to expose The Glitch Mob to a newer, younger audience. In general I feel like [the tour] ticks all the boxes: buzzy artists and legends; I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle.”

And with almost a decade of releases under the Seven Lions moniker spanning everything from hardstyle, to trance, to his globally reverberative approach to worldly chill-step, one would be hard-pressed to suggest otherwise.

Listeners can purchase tickets to The Alchemy Tour, here.

Photo credit: Rukes

Dancing Astronaut’s 5 Under 15K: Vol. 23

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Dancing Astronaut’s 5 Under 15K: Vol. 235 Under

5 Under 15k is a feature on Dancing Astronaut dedicated to spotlighting talented up-and-coming and largely undiscovered artists who we believe deserve more exposure. Each edition of 5 Under 15k will highlight five artists from a wide variety of genres with under 15,000 followers on SoundCloud (at the time of writing).

Dastan

For the past four years, deep house and techno purveyor, Dastan, has delivered dance music what he calls “a strong Middle Eastern and tribal flair” throughout the District. In addition to his residencies over the years at Washington, D.C.’s Flash Nightclub and Eighteenth Street Lounge, among other venues in the nation’s capital, Dastan has carved out an ample niche for himself in the festival scene.

Between 2018 and 2019, Dastan covered a considerable amount of ground, appearing at Burning Man, Catharsis, Dimensions, Carribean destination festival, Vujaday, and Belgium’s Tomorrowland, wherein the last of which he’s acted as the event’s Global Journey DJ for the last two years. The smooth beat spinner’s sets carry a darkly potent pulchritude; these live efforts evidence his acute ear for culturally inflected sound, carried forth to the rhythm of sauntering beats. Although Dastan reserves the majority of his original productions for club play, listeners can sample the allure of Dastan’s sound via his recently released Summer 2019 Mix, in which Dastan elusively embeds some of his own IDs.

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@i.am.dastan

Kaivon

Hot off a live stint at Electric Zoo 2019, Kaivon is a name with which electronic music enthusiasts in the Tri-state Area may newly be acquainted. The producer’s style is largely a blend of melodicism and future bass, unified by one thematic thread: rebirth.

“My music aims to tell the story of how [people] can lose themselves over the course of their lives, and [can] then be reborn into their true beings,” Kaivon told Dancing Astronaut. “[With my music,] I want to evoke feeling in people that they have never felt before. To make people live in the present moment for just a second, because those moments where we are present with the people we love most are the most beautiful moments of all.”

Kaivon’s catalog is home to a host of remixes, such as Kaivon’s takes on Flume’s “Insane,” Zeds Dead and Delta Heavy’s “Lift You Up,” and Alison Wonderland’s “Peace.” Yet, the heart of Kaivon’s creative ingenuity beats most fervently in his own original releases. “First Breath” of Kaivon’s aptly titled 2018 album, Rebirth, provides an engrossing introduction.

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@kaivon

Omar

For Omar, his life focus of the past few years can be articulated in just two words: making music. The drive to hone in on his own original productions prompted Omar to move to Atlanta.

“[It] was a huge step in my musical journey,” Omar told Dancing Astronaut. “I took a break from DJing and [channeled my energy into] producing music.”

After releasing solo EPs and singles for some time, Omar gradually began to redirect his talents to others’ records. He’s produced music with G Koop and J57, and recently relocated to Los Angeles, where he’s currently producing music for KIDinaKORNER signees.

I care about bringing positive music into the world, [music] that sends a message but also gives you that stank face.

-Omar

A wavy and often down to mid-tempo funk pervades Omar’s original productions. A diverse body of flips and original efforts alike, Omar’s repertoire has a danceable appeal, as evidenced by “bartier pimpin,” which offers a fresh take on Cardi B’s “Bartier Cardi.” Omar’s 2018 album, Omar Makes Beats, vol. 1, meanwhile acquaints streamers with the fresh, mellow technics of Omar’s aesthetic. Delve into the dynamism of Omar’s sound:

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@omarmakesmusic

Chris Varvaro

His finger planted firmly on the lively pulse of progressive sound, Chris Varvaro‘s productions pump a particularly energetic brand of the subgenre through listeners’ speakers. Case in point: Varvaro’s recent single, “Let Me Go.” The melodic chord progressions audible on the Desanka-assisted song emblematize Varvaro’s penchant for meticulous song construction.

“I am all about chords and melodies, so naturally I [tend to] make more melodic music,” Varvaro said in an interview with Dancing Astronaut. When engineering his music, Varvaro, however, does not remain bound to one subgenre. “I created the genre ‘pursound’ after realizing that I love chill, downtempo, and progressive, so I figured: why not combine them?” he added.

Varvaro’s cross-genre dexterity and interest in experimenting with sounds and arrangements that extend beyond the progressive subgenre reflects in his recent collaboration with OMAIR, “Controlled Chaos.” Although “Controlled Chaos” is progressively leaning, the co-produced cut sees Varvaro and OMAIR take a techno course of action.

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@chrisvarvaroofficial

OMNOM

OMNOM has commendably shaken up his corner of the house music scene since the debut of 2018’s flippantly fun single, “Fo Free.” A veritable house heater that has continued to set dance floors afire, “Fo Free” made use of a rounded bass line, alien-tech sound effects, and a cheeky monologue voiced by OMNOM himself, all of which collectively situated the release well within the carefree funk of Dirtybird‘s wheelhouse.

In the time since, OMNOM has taken his off-kilter sound beyond Dirtybird’s domain, to release via House of Hustle and Insomniac, while simultaneously picking up billings at HARD Day Of The Dead and Brooklyn’s Warehouse of Horrors Halloween affair, among other events. OMNOM brings the boom boom with erratic, pulsating bass lines and wonky sound effects that infuse his original productions with a standout idiosyncrasy.

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@imomnom