For three days straight on the weekend of June 8, the city of Chicago was filled with deep beats, pop-inspired melodies, and bass that reverberated through the streets. This is Spring Awakening, Chicago’s premiere electronic music festival. Located in Addams/Medill Park, the festival attracted concert goers far beyond the city limits to include residents from
This year, Chicago’s Spring Awakening Music Festival, the largest dance music fest in the Midwest, will return to Addams/Medill Park with another packed, meticulously curated lineup, including Tchami, Virtual Self, Tiësto, Alison Wonderland, and more across its three-day span. Dancing Astronaut has teamed up with the fest to get to know its standout acts a little better, just before SAMF arrives to bid spring adieu June 8-10.
Alexandra Sholler, aka Alison Wonderland, EDM’s token Aussie with the purplest hair and some the most massive bass beats in the game, is heading back to the Windy City for 2018’s Spring Awakening. Aside from her status as a globetrotting DJ/producer, Sholler is also a classically trained cellist, songwriter, and singer — her voice can be heard on nearly every track she writes. Last year, she made headlines for her stellar performance at Coachella, where she and Rezz were the highest paid females on the ticket — not to mention Coachella history.
Known for her transparency about struggling with mental health, Sholler has become something of an advocate in that domain for both other artists and her fans, often taking time out of her sets to speak candidly on the topic. Both her new album, Awake, and her 2015 album, Run, are weighted in unequivocal emotion, a redemptive motif encircling her momentous trap beats and intricate sampling.
A highly in-demand collaborator, Sholler has teamed with talent across the spectrum, including Lido, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Chief Keef, and most extensively, fellow Aussies, Slumberjack, whom she speaks so fondly of with Dancing Astronaut before she heads to SAMF’s Equinox Stage June 8. She also divulges into inspiration for Awake, must-see sets at SAMF, and her at-home, one-woman DJ sessions.
How would you compare the Australian dance music scene to the US’s?
I grew up in the dance music scene in Australia. It’s what shaped my whole career as an artist. I feel like the festivals are different. I remember the first time I played EDC Las Vegas in 2015. I had never seen an electronic festival like that in my entire life.
Quite a bit of time elapsed between Run and Awake. Were you working on Awake for that entire time?
No I was not. I did a lot of touring off Run. To be honest, I didn’t expect Run to get the attention it did when I made it. I find it hard to produce and write while I’m on the road, so I started working on Awake when I had more down time in one place. I am also very inspired by my emotions, and Awake is about a pretty heavy series of events in my life. I can’t pick and choose when things happen to me or where I find creative inspiration, and I started writing awake to deal with those particular issues.
How have you evolved as an artist in that time span?
I am not sure. I feel like as I grow as a human, I grow as an artist. It’s very organic for me. I grow off feelings and intuitions. I am super bad at planning, so I think I just have more insight now. I don’t really think about how I have grown. I think I definitely am a better songwriter and producer. That’s the great thing about art: you can always learn new things.
Last time I saw you live, you got up on the decks and had so much enthusiasm. Do you still get that hyped about DJing?
100%, even when I’m alone I get hyped. I think this is the only thing I genuinely love, to be honest. I DJ alone in my house for fun. Once I played for eight hours straight at a house party I threw in LA. Ask Jai Wolf, he was there. I feel better behind the decks than in front of them. Every time I play I feel at home and it is super cathartic for me.
You’ve collaborated with Slumberjack on your past two albums. Tell me about your experience working with them.
I just f****ng love those boys. We really get each other musically. Everything just flows so easily. We always seem to make music in the most random places. “Naked” was finished in a hotel room with sh**ty laptop speakers and my iPhone as a microphone. “Sometimes Love” was made in a kitchen. I prefer collaborations that feel organic where there is mutual and equal respect. I work better that way. I mean everyone does. It is important to have trust in each other’s creative processes. I feel all of that with the Slumberjack boys.
What’s your favorite part of being on tour? Least favorite?
My favorite part is playing shows and feeling the adrenaline and connection with a crowd that comes with that. My least favorite part is the loneliness.
How does it feel to be returning to Chicago for Spring Awakening?
Amazing. I cannot wait. I love the crowd there.
What three sets would you recommend from the Spring Awakening lineup this year?
I would not miss Virtual Self, Bleep bloop, Oh and this loser. Her mother paid me $20 dollars to say this: Alison Wonderland.
Anticipation continues to mount for the release of future bass powerhouse Alison Wonderland’s new AWAKE LP, following the respective releases of her first couple of singles, “No” and “Church.” Arriving as the third single off her forthcoming sophomore studio album comes the ambient single, “High,” featuring Ohio-based rapper Trippie Redd. The track is accompanied by a mood-enhancing video featuring Alison Wonderland and Trippie Redd at the center. It was self-directed by Alison Wonderland, with cinematography from Jeffrey Zoss.
“It was a real pleasure to work with Trippie,” Alison Wonderland says of the release. “It is important to vibe with an artist before we collaborate. When he heard this song, it was very organic, and he jumped in the booth and we walked out feeling that we had something special. I felt like this song had a certain spirit and wanted people to feel like they were going on a journey with us….just like when watching the music video.”
The visual aesthetic of the video perfectly encapsulates the chill, stoner mood set by the song’s lyrical content, with both producer and rapper swaying against a colorful floral background as glitchy jump cuts keep viewers on their toes. Quite unexpectedly, the video starkly transitions to an animated storyline (c/o Jayme Lemperle and Evan Red Borja) at Wonderland’s unusual and unique drop, pulling listeners into a completely different universe that is assuredly a snapshot of her mind.
Due out April 6 on Astralwerks, AWAKE is the follow-up to Alison Wonderland’s 2015 debut album, Run, which entered Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart at No. 1.
The multi-talented Alison Wonderland released “No,” the second single off her upcoming LP and following “Church.” The multitalented Australian artist has been putting in a lot of promo work ahead of the album’s — dubbed Awake — release on April 6, including vinyl signings and free giveaways, to ramp up fans’ excitement.
This track showcases a new sound for Wonderland, straying from her usual dark, trap-inflected vibes. This one is certain to lift listeners’ spirits with upbeat synths and bright vocals. She has a whole list of shows lined up in support of Awake, set to kick off in August.
As Alison Wonderland continues to ascend in the electronic realm, she’s become a fixture in the global dance scene while slowly rolling out new productions. She’s allowed her live performances to speak for themselves — a wise decision — with an upcoming installment at Coachella a high point of anticipation. Another sign of her powerful production abilities and strength of her fanbase: she’s the highest billed female DJ set to perform at the festival in 2018.
Presently, Wonderland’s preparing to release her new album, AWAKE, and now released its very first track.
A post shared by Alison Wonderland (@alisonwonderland) on
Unlike her most recent trap-ridden single, “Happy Place,” which found Wonderland in a place of considerable sonic comfort and calculated drops, “Church” is an empowering, future pop single. Its lyrics are challenging and demands that all comply to her utterance, “You better, treat me like church.”
2017 was a career-defining year for Denver’s Nick Miller. The melodic bass producer released his sophomore album, Awake, climbed to the major festival mainstage, and won “Remix of the Year” at the inaugural Electronic Music Awards. To kick off the new year, Illenium has already announced performances at Coachella, BUKU Music + Arts Project, and EDC México, and has just released a stunning music video to accompany his powerful break-up ballad, “Crawl Outta Love,” featuring Annika Wells.
The video features a series of breathtaking drone shots and aesthetic themes that fans will recognize from Miller’s album artwork. Set deep within a forest off the coast, the journey begins with a young girl and a hooded figure. While their exact relationship is left up to viewers to interpret, their connection seems to highlight the throes of navigating a toxic relationship. As mystical fog rolls in so as to capture the track’s somber tone, the visual and metaphorical elements — thunderstorms, climbing mountains, running into the light — highlights the song’s message of letting go, leaving someone behind, and mustering the strength to move on from a tattered past.
Illenium has a uniquely evocative sound design and his rise in EDM is in large part thanks to his embodiment of the beautiful, more deeply introspective side of the genre. For years, the producer has opened the floodgates on gorgeous, sound design juxtaposed with melodic EDM style drops. With the release of his sophomore album Awake, Illenium ventured into a more commercial side of EDM, sure, but also did so without compromising the emotionally-inflicting tendencies of his music.
Now, Illenium fans and lovers of all emotive music will be delighted to find out that an EP of piano covers from Awake has arrived just in time for the holidays. “Beautiful Creatures,” “Fractures,” and “Crawl Outta Love” have all received piano covers thanks to Julien Marchal, Lorcan Rooney, and Lambert respectively. The tunes are incredibly captivating and ones that will awaken its listeners in its delightful production depth.
It has been eight long months of releases and teasers, but as of midnight EST on September 21, the wait for Illenium‘s sophomore album is finally over. Nick Miller, the man behind the productions, is undoubtedly known as one of the more prolific producers of our era, thanks to his consistent output and meteoric rise. While Miller has carved out the future bass genre and helped define its sound, this LP proves he has the ability to transcend genres and appeal to a wide variety of fan bases. This is no small feat that is becoming an increasingly difficult road to navigate as a producer in a day and age, where electronic music fan bases are becoming more fragmented as the industry continues to commercialized.
Awake will only further his prominence as a producer with its 13-tracks ranging from feel good music to intense bass laced drops. Miller even dabbles within the indie electronic genre, showcasing his ability to diversify his oeuvre while still maintaining his signature style.
There is no stronger start to an album than “Needed You” featuring Dia Frampton. The song, which is opens to flowing vocals that melt into an incredible bass drop, resonates in the listener’s mind far past the song’s close. The track combines Illenium’s mastery of mystical elements and sounds as well as powerful bass juxtaposed with unique vocals. Should there be one song selected to describe the tone for the entire album, “Needed You” could certainly vie for this position.
Five singles from the album have been released this year including the second track “Crawl Outta Love,” whose subtle intro with Annika Wells’ vocals and piano deceivingly put the listener at ease. The track hits listeners in their core with its heightened tempo and all-consuming drop. “Fractures,” “Feel Good” — co-produced with Gryffin — “Sound of Walking Away” and most recently “Leaving” make up the rest of the tracks from Awake that were previously released. Representative of Illenium’s talent and engaged fanbase, these five tracks combined have already amassed nearly 83 million streams combined on Spotify alone.
The third track, “No Time Like Now,” although short, is where we see Illenium begin to swerve from his established style into a more indie electronic sound, with guitar forming the backbone of the song. It is a good segue into the fourth track “Free Fall,” which delves back into the resonating bass intercut with melodic vocals.
“Where’d U Go” showcases a collaboration between Miller and his roommate Said the Sky, otherwise known as Trevor Christensen. The upbeat track immediately draws the listener in with a catchy beat that falls almost immediately into an intense drop. As the track continues, vocal layers of a children’s choir lightens the track before submerging the listener back into the hard drop that would resonate with dubstep, future bass, and progressive fans alike. “Where’d U Go” is one of the more upbeat tracks of the album, so those looking for a workout anthem or night out tune should look no further.
Illenium stars to venture into more commercial territory with the second half of the album, although this is far from sellout as the tracks still maintaining a distinct edge. “Lost” with Emilie Brandt veers into a progressive house vibe, with the catchy vocals carrying the track. As with all of Miller’s version of “commercial” music, “Lost” is still far different than anything one would hear on the radio.
“Taking Me Higher” wouldn’t be out of place on Passion Pit record. The track is an interesting juxtaposition of sounds, synths, and styles that melts into a perfect tune for a relaxing afternoon.
Prized vocalist MAX — who has recently collaborated with Rain Man, 3LAU, as well as Flux Pavilion — is featured on Awake‘s penultimate entry, titled “Beautiful Creatures.” Guitar once again is used as the foundation for this track and paves the way for MAX’s vocals to be the centerpiece of the song. It can only be described as melodic with a hint of mystical, and is likely to be a radio hit.
Illenium finishes the album on “Let You Go,” a collaboration with Ember Island. An orchestra compliments the vocals on this downtempo affair, and serves as a beautiful, fitting ending for a beautiful album.
While many call albums an outdated form of releasing music, we can only be thankful that Illenium ignores this and decided to create a masterful full-length in Awake. The producer has left another imprint that further solidifies his prominence in the electronic music community. It is no secret that Miller is a breath of fresh air within a genre that is receiving increased skepticism for turning pop, to say nothing of stale, and, indeed, his music has the unique ability to be played on a radio without compromising its integrity.
This summer has been an incredibly exciting time for new music in the EDM world. Artists including Oliver, Odesza, and Rezz have all released long plays which could easily be considered some of the best work we have heard this year. That being said, Illenium might have just done the unthinkable and dethroned them all.
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Illenium could quite possibly be the most popular artist in Electronic Music in the United States right now. With melodic hit after hit over the past 18 months, Illenium has been on a rise to fame that many dream of. With the anticipation of hiss new album “Awake”, which will be released next week, Illenium shared a
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