Producer and DJ Gryffin is known for his compelling take on dance-oriented pop music, with a slew of innovative originals and remixes under his belt. The “Love In Ruins” artist has now teamed up with Norwegian singer/songwriter Iselin for their emotional new collaboration, “Just For A Moment.” The new original work is the Gryffin’s second single of 2018, landing shortly after “Winnebago” which landed earlier this spring. On “Just For A Moment,” Gryffin forgoes a characterisitc hip-hop production for a softer, more sentimental melodic offering. Polished by Iselin’s smooth vocals, the full impact of Gryffin’s dynamic future bass synth arrangements come together as a vibrant collaborative piece that’s worth repeated listens this summer.
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Yotto hardly needs an introduction in today’s dance sphere. Having risen seemingly out of nowhere, the Finnish talent caught the attention of Anjunadeep early on in his career and subsequently climbed the house ranks for his lush, melodic take on the genre.
He became much more than simply a wunderkind for Anjuna, however, forever keeping his blinders on and making music that brought him the most profound fulfillment. As a result, his forward-thinking approach to musicmaking cemented his credibility, and made him a well-respected member of the dance underground. Yotto’s name began appearing on prolific bills across the globe, with an increasing demand for his driving, hypnotic aesthetic. In 2018 alone he’s been tapped for his debut Essential Mix, while also releasing on an EP Joris Voorn‘s Green imprint.
As he prepares for his Miami Music Week appearances — which include a booking alongside progressive greats at the Rapture festival (tickets here), a gig at Do Not Sit On The Furniture, Ultra, and more — he graciously provided Dancing Astronaut with some insight on his artistic development, retaining balance among a chaotic tour schedule, and using his air miles for various things around the airport.
Tell us about your first Essential Mix – what was the story of your recruitment to make one, and how was the process for you of fashioning the mix?
Making an Essential Mix is one of those bucket list things that I’ve always wanted to do – BBC Radio 1 has been an invaluable supporter for my music so I think getting to do an Essential Mix came very naturally. For the mix I wanted to include a combination of stuff that I play right now and a lot of music that forms my musical DNA some in form of edits that I made just for the mix. In the end I just recorded the mix and added some intro and outro bits later.
What sorts of sounds, artists, and other factors have inspired your sonic evolution over the years?
Ahh many things! Most of my musical inspirations come from old, non-dancefloor electronic music like Boards Of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss. Listening to new, upcoming producers is also great for inspiration as they might have a less jaded view on producing and bring new, fresh ideas to the table. Dj-wise I was always a big fan of Sasha & Digweed, Desyn Masiello and Deep Dish.
It seems progressive has played a major role in your upbringing – from your days of influence from Sasha & Digweed, to falling in love with the classic progressive house sound, to now, where a lot of your music can be defined under the sub-genre. What is it about progressive that strikes a chord so deeply with you? Do you feel it’s having a moment again in the current dance sphere thanks to acts yourself (among many others) are helping to return its credibility to the mainstream?
I have never been a big fan of genres to start with, I’ve just always had a very passionate relationship with emotional, musically rich dance music. It can be disco, classic deep house, just a fat techy drum loop or the turn-of-the-century prog sound. I honestly don’t think that the more progressive sound ever went away. People just keep rebranding it – a lot of today’s “melodic techno” is 100% progressive house to me but sometimes people need to come up with new labels to form a new perspective on a sound. I think generally it’s a sound where people can find more to remember in a song, when the musical content is rich.
When did you realize the “music bug” had entirely bit you and that you needed to do music full time? Or did you fall into it unexpectedly? Tell us the story!
I did work for ages before actually giving in and working on music full time. It was always more or less a daydream but all good things have a way of coming if you work for it. It all happened quite organically after a few successful releases with Anjunadeep I was able to start touring and at that point there’s really no way to have a day job when you arrive home late every Monday and have to leave on the road again on Thursday.
Given your climb up the success ladder as of late, you must be finding yourself quite busy. How do you maintain balance and clarity among a chaotic work schedule? What is your self-care routine?
Good thing about being busy with music is having this hard-wired need to make music and listen to it all day long, so it does not feel like a burden. Chaos can be controlled, haha. Touring is tiring and sometimes very heavy, but it’s a small price to pay for being able to do it. Taking care of your health and family is essential. I try to do sports basically every day I’m not on the road, have recently been getting back into the swimming pool too so that should keep me going. Taking the dog out into the woods is also a perfect form of therapy. In all fairness I enjoy making music for a living so much that I think I’m cheating in life and should be taken in for questioning.
On that note, where do you see yourself taking your career in the future? Have you given any thoughts to running your own label? Are you planning a party series like Guy Gerber’s Rumors?
For sure, there’s no masterplan for it just yet but will definitely look into having my own label at some point. I get sent a lot of amazing music and would love to get that out there on my own too.
What is your philosophy toward making, and performing music?
I make and play music that I like, very simple. I believe that whatever music you make and play it should come organically and from a real place, otherwise there’s no point if you can’t enjoy it in a very honest way.
Where are your favorite places to play in the world, and why?
Everywhere! I must say I love South American crowds a lot, they have a great culture for dance music. Each city and every club has their own charm, so it’s hard to pick just a couple. Sometimes a festival stage feels amazing, sometimes a tiny basement in a small European town is exactly what gets you going.
Let’s switch gears to Rapture festival. It must have been an honor to be booked on the Soundgarden stage! How is it working with Nick Warren, and to know you were chosen to play alongside such heavyweights in your arena?
Nick is a legend, and the whole festival has a really good lineup from Luciano and Guy Gerber to a great combination of classic and modern progressive artists on the Soundgarden stage. I think that’s a great representation of where the sound is now and where it’s going in the future.
What excites you most about playing Rapture?
The lineup and the location, I’ve heard that it’s a beautiful part of Miami and feels great to jump out of the madness of South Beach and Wynwood for a bit during the Miami Music Week. Also a cold beer or two, hopefully a hot dog and maybe pancakes if they have any.
Now for your favorite question: what’s coming up for Yotto throughout the rest of the year?
More music! I’m excited about all the new music that I have ready to go. Will be going around all continents again over the rest of the year so I’m also looking forward to missing airplane meals and trying to figure out if I can buy candy with air miles.
Armonica are a pair whose name has been steadily making its way around house and progressive circles. They’ve seemingly come out of nowhere, but have quickly made a name for themselves since being picked up by none other than Solomun and the Diynamic tribe.
Now, they’ve been tapped by Rey & Kjavik to reinterpret “Saraswati,” a single from the German act’s new album. Armonica add an even groovier spin on the original, wrapping its tribal elements in a melodic overlay and, in the process, creating a deep trance within whoever is touched by its soundwaves. A tense breakdown leads gently into a culmination of the ethnocentric motifs set in motion before, making for an enduring and danceworthy tune for an outdoor setting.
“Saraswati (Armonica Remix)” officially releases on March 2.
BAILE translates to “dance” in Spanish. Appropriately, the rising New York talent has proved his aptitude at making dancefloor-worthy hits not long into his tenure in the underground sphere, putting forth melodic and grooving remixes of a multitude of singles in addition to earning recognition for his solo work in both the ambient and deep realms.
Having impressed Sasha with his re-work to “Singularity,” BAILE was subsequently tapped to compose his very own EP on the legendary Last Night On Earth imprint. What resulted is an embodiment of what he does best — a two-tracker that summons immense sentimentality by way of skillful melodic manipulation.
The EP’s title opener “Spectrum Bias” is a haunting record, tugging at the heartstrings with ethereal vocal clips and wistful, yet poignant piano chords. Its introspective disposition is one that is easy to meditate to both on the dancefloor and at home, showcasing BAILE’s abilities at crafting versatile electronica. Furthemore, “Spectrum Bias” is a clear manifestation of the LNOE ethos as of late — emotive, grooving, and forward-thinking.
Suwannee Hulaween has become one of the most highly-anticipated gatherings over the past five years. Held annually at the picturesque Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL, the festival has gained a veritable reputation as the South’s premier Halloween weekend festival. This year, Bassnectar, GRiZ, and The String Cheese Incident are among the top acts that will draw a sold-out jam and bass crowd into the festival. To take a closer look, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite acts on the bill from a broad range of genres for a playlist series leading up to the weekend.
The next artist in our series needs little introduction. Crywolf, real name Justin Taylor Phillips, is an electronic music producer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Los Angeles. Since he started producing music in his college dorm room, Phillips’ atmospheric, melodic take on indie-electronic music has garnered support from the likes of Adventure Club, 12th Planet, Skrillex, Minnesota, and more. He was recently signed with the Always Never label, where his debut Ghosts EP reached No. 18 on the iTunes Dance Charts on its the first day of release. Crywolf joins Hulaween to round the festival bill’s unique, forward-thinking house inclusions for 2017.
“I love Halloween because it gives everyone an excuse to be strange without being judged for it. People don’t express their bizarre sides enough. Hulaween will be the first festival premiere of my new conceptual live set, This Is Negative Space. It is catered to Halloween so well, so I can’t wait for you guys to see it.”
Crywolf has dreamt up a chilled-out playlist to match his personal approach to melodic electronic musical tastes. With a revealing title, “DYSPHORIA,” the playlist comes to DA with some of his personal favorite artists, complete with indie-dance offerings from Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Crystal Castles to tracks with more mainstream dance appeal, like Owen Westlake’s official remix of Tiësto‘s “Knock You Out” (ft. Emily Haines).
Tomorrow marks the exact three-year mark since ODESZA released their second LP, In Return. Today, September 8, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight have stepped out of the woodwork for their third full-length album, A Moment Apart,out on their Foreign Family Collective imprint.
The relentless touring that followed ODESZA’s sophomore LP gave way to rainy Seattle studio sessions in the winter of 2016, with finishing touches being made earlier this spring. The result is a 16-track treasure trove of indie-electronic gems that represents ODESZA’s artistic evolution and their penchant for raw experimentation.
“This newest album, I think, is a lot more about growth and progression and maturity. I don’t think we’re trying to reinvent the wheel, its really just about us pursuing our sound to the fullest,” Mills revealed in a recent interview.
Building upon their Pacific Northwest folk-inspired sound, ODESZA’s A Moment Apart plays with weighted atmospheres and shimmering synth lines while invoking familiar feelings of nostalgia, optimism and hope. “We kind of rediscovered [our] sound, in a sense, and reconnected to it,” says Knight, “It has flavors of what was, but is also something new and progressive.”
Photo courtesy of Avi Loud.
The album, is without a doubt, a statement that ODESZA’s dynamic range is worthy of pop mainstream attention. Only time will tell, but there are two thematic qualities as to why the LP works so seamlessly: close attention to form and genre, and a dedication to organic experimentation.
What is immediately evident off the Seattle-based duo’s humble masterpiece is its stunning ingenuity and its delicate balance between the ebullient and ethereal, from it’s dreamlike melodies and glitchy sun-kissed vocals to it’s crunchy drums with their large sweeping bass lines.
Take the album’s first couple of instrumental tracks, “A Moment Apart” and “Boy,” which ODESZA has been teasing in their live sets since early spring. The tracks stand as the instrumental launching pad for blasting off into ODESZA’s rich, corporeal sound – one which collapses both time and space dimensions – wrapping the listener into a cocoon of emotional longing for what was, what is, and what has yet to come.
As the album progresses, a clear picture is painted. A story begins to emerge in sound. Rather than making a statement of longing for summer, as with their previous Summer’s Gone LP in 2012, Mills and Knight bring listeners with them on an emotive, cyclical journey through the four seasons.
The album’s twelfth track, “Thin Floors and Tall Ceilings,” resembles the dark, rainy winters of the Pacific Northwest, while, at the same time, expressing a longing for summer, all packaged into one chilling ballad. With indecipherable synthesized vocals, which sound as if they’ve been rinsed through an old phonograph, the top lines slowly building over a powerful string section and pulsating timpani drums.
“Cuidad,” the following track, carries with it the warmth and glowing fervor of summer, with it’s more scattered tempos and upbeat appeal. The result is a playful track that is simultaneously lighthearted and fun while being both dark and daring, uplifting and, at times, melancholy.
Speaking to Dancing Astronaut on the LP’s development, Knight referred to A Moment Apart as the full embodiment of the seasons in Seattle, noting how location has an immense impact on their sound:
“Seattle is known for it’s kind of rock and folk and kind of indie scene so a lot of those elements make it into [our] music. And this album specifically is very organic and I think we were trying to hold on to more organic instrumentation and I think that is due a lot to where we come from.”
A Moment Apart is chock so full of rich narratives, and pulls from so many complimentary genres that one can easily see how they all come together into a seamless story arch. Chalk it up to Clay and Harrison’s expert understanding of form as well as their dedication to integrating live instrumentation while on tour, which includes their Northwest-bred band – complete with a crisply rehearsed drum line, a horn section, and lead guitarist and old college buddy, Sean Kusanagi, who also doubles as their filmmaker.
The album’s very organic, very introspective nature actually belies the raw energy of ODESZA’s consistently sold-out live shows. This live ethos cuts across the new album in dynamic, layered songs with raw overtones and cinematic appeal, such as the RY X-assisted track, “Corners Of The Earth,” the instrumental track “Meridian,” and the all-Spanish ballad featuring The Chamanas “Everything At Your Feet.”
Time and again, Mills and Knight have shown deep drive and humility for working with others. Indeed, the entire assemblage of work is filled with radio-ready hit collaborations with the likes of Russian pop-folk sensation, Regina Skeptor, and the reigning “King of Soul,” Leon Bridges.
Clay and Harrison have admitted that they prefer to work with lesser known names for how they aren’t tied down to one specific sonic direction and thus more often willing to experiment with their organic soundscapes. Yet, perhaps the album’s most captivating song is the haunting Regina Skeptor ballad, “Just a Memory,” which the boys revealed, after an intimate hotel rehearsal with Skeptor, they completely stripped down the instrumentals to capture the raw energy with which she imbued the hotel room.
Leon Bridges performs with ODESZA at Bumbershoot. Photo courtesy of Eric Tra.
While it has received mixed fan reviews, the album’s fourteenth track, “Falls,” is an inspirational, uplifting ditty which fuses dream-pop ingredients with elements of world. With anthemic lyrics that are as palpable as it’s sound design, the track spotlights the smooth, soaring vocals of Sasha Sloan over a gentle horn section and the electronic duo’s signature drum work. Each added sonic layer becomes a new piece of the story that wraps the listener up into new plot lines rooted not in words and lyrics, but inside musical form itself.
A Moment Apart stands as a nostalgic and spiritually-adept magnum opus of lyrical and instrumental sound. It is a collection of tracks that are as euphoric and expressive as they are evocative and substantive. One might, therefore, go as far as to call the album a crowning achievement of ODESZA’s career, in its commitment to both musical convention and organic experimentation as well as in how it ventures to piece together spatial and temporal layers into a larger sonic storyline. Certainly, it is ODESZA’s most narrative endeavor to date. Or, in other words, it is the most nuanced, intentional, and fully-fleshed out project on their resume.
What stands out most about the album, however, is how it is overwhelmingly corporeal. A Moment Apartis, more than anything else, an immersive, embodied, all-consuming exploration of the inner self, one which begins at the ears and delves deep into the psyche, catapulting its listeners into both the happy and hard times, while tapping those universal memories to remind us we are both one and the same. The album reminds us that the human experience is as joyous as it is painful. It is both gritty and soft, both bleak and wildly colorful, cinematic and emotional, imaginative and real, raw, organic, and profoundly resilient.
There are melodic bass producers, and then there’s Nick Miller. The Denver-based producer known as Illenium has not only been releasing cutting-edge melodic tracks over the past three years, he’s also been advocating for “melodic” as a movement. That’s one of many reasons Dancing Astronaut named him one of our Top 25 artists to watch for in 2017.
Just one week after his momentous release with Zeds Dead, Miller took to one of his online fan group communities to reveal the official track listing for his sophomore album, Awake. The caption of his post read, “Album release getting ANNOUNCED with crawl Monday. Pre order avail next week.”
On Aug. 7, Illenium returned with another captivating melodic single, “Crawl Outta Love” featuring Annika Wells,which he has been teasing since the release of his Electric Forest “Ashes to Ashes” mini-mix in late June. The single stands as the evolutionary culmination of Miller’s past and present sound stamps packaged into one beautiful break-up ballad — from the ever-present signature synths in “So Wrong” to the budding build-ups of his remixes of The Chainsmokers‘ “Don’t Let Me Down” and Kaskade‘s “Disarm You.”