Serbia’s exalted castle-bound music event, EXIT Festival, bolstered its diverse reputation with the release of phase two of its 2020 lineup. Now added to the already impressive roster are the open-format stalwart, DJ Snake, the indie-dance collective Metronomy, and NYC’s prodigious young rapper Sheck Wes, among a series of other impressive acts.
These varied inclusions join previously announced heavy-hitters like Fatboy Slim, Tyga, Boris Brejcha, ARTBAT and more to celebrated EXIT’s 20-year anniversary.
For two decades this festival has enthralled the worldwide music community. Beyond its extensive lineup that spans more than 40 music areas, EXIT takes place in Serbia’s Petrovaradin Fortress, a historic castle that sits right on the Danube River flowing through the nation’s capital of Novi Sad.
This new phase only brings the lineup to one-third of its full grandeur, so expect more announcements coming between now and July 9 when the festival opens its gates.
Boris Brejcha may just be the biggest DJ you’ve never heard of. While the German-based musician has been a mainstay of the European club scene for years, he hasn’t managed to permeate most American soundwaves until just recently, having just wrapped up his first stateside tour in 2019. Thankfully, with his recent album Space Diver, hosted on Ultra Records, alongside an upcoming marquee set at Detroit’s esteemed Movement Festival, the cat is finally out of the bag. Brejcha is among the sharpest acts in the industry, and a must-see for any earnest dance music maven. His catalog is as deep as it is aurally amorphous. But the latest release serves as an incisive hour-long dissertation on why Brejcha currently resides among dance music’s most exciting names.
If you want to use traditional electronic genres as a scale, you’ll see parallels all over Brejcha’s music. The topline of tracks like “Lieblingsmensch” and “The Future” for example, channel the German producer’s minimal lineage, creating bounds of space on dancefloors that typically brim with audible clutter. On the other end of the spectrum, two of the album’s lead singles “Gravity” and “Never Look Back” capture the undeniable atmosphere of the trance buildup, elevating the tracks with melodies and elements so soft they seem touchable, ideal for those mid-set moments that make live sets so memorable.
The comparisons go on, with progressive elements in “Happinezz,” and the album’s title track. The tracks climb the intensity to an album apex, with pitch-shifting electro-synths that even off-the-wall Steve Aoki would deem high-energy. With that in mind, Space Diver may not hit home to purists of any one genre, or those with a particular dislike for another. But for those who are able to cast a wide net of personal tastes, it falls right in the stylistic potluck sweet spot.
Speaking to Brejcha, who rarely listens to dance music himself, it quickly becomes clear that he isn’t trying to fit into any preexisting niche.
“When I go to the studio I just produce the music how I feel,” says Brejcha. “So it’s not that I go [in] and want to produce techno or something, I just produce from the heart.’
This approach doesn’t only result in a stunning collage of electronic music, but allows Brejcha the confidence and creative freedom to stretch his wings as a musician. It sounds strange to sense an artist’s comfort in his or her creative space just from their end product, but Boris’s work shows a unique ability to head full-steam into an improbable idea, like “Space Diver”‘s funky pre-drop beat structure, with untethered finesse. He is uncannily comfortable in the unorthodox.
With all of this talk about walking the line between genres, it’s only fitting for Brejcha to have created his own—High-tech minimal. Of course, some take it upon themselves dissect and question the terminology (I’m looking at you, techno purists). But the term is really as much his own definition as it is an invitation for listeners to call the Fckng Serious label boss’s music whatever the fck they want. This approach of “Here’s some quality tunes, label ‘em what you want,” has clearly paid dividends though, as the recent traction has positioned him on some of the biggest stages in the world next to the biggest acts in all of dance music. Go to YouTube and filter the search for “Live DJ set” by view count in the past year and you’ll not only see Brejcha positioned among EDM gargantuans like Tiësto and David Guetta, but sitting at the top of the heap with his 2019 Grand Palais Cercle set.
The results may seem effortless, but Brejcha’s success tells a story about finding what you love and committing yourself to it.
“It was my dream to become a musician…” says Brejcha. “I mean, I work almost all day but I love it, so it’s totally okay.”
His recent explosion on the global scene might paint him as a newcomer, but 15 years of releases and more than half a dozen LPs reveal an artist that has truly earned his stake. Taking a trip down memory lane, the very first video on Boris’s artist YouTube channel shows him playing a small Brazilian show back in 2008:
“It was the first gig in my life, with the shitty, small mask,” he says.
Scroll back up the page and it becomes evident that his entire journey to the top is cataloged for the world to see, from a semi-nude promo shot with his girlfriend at the time juxtaposed with his larger-than-life 2018 Tomorrowland set, which has amassed over 30 million views.
“It’s crazy man,” he says, reflecting. “I remember one time when I was in the studio with my ex-girlfriend and my best friends in the earlier days, just chatting around and doing some shitty things and some shitty videos just to upload to YouTube for 200 or 300 views.”
As the lyrics of “The Future” say however, “The future starts from here.” And between fostering the next generation of talent through his own label, Fckng Serious, and admitting to “another 2 or 3 albums” worth of material, it looks like we can all expect a little more Boris Brejcha in our futures.
After much anticipation, Space Diver is now out via Ultra Records.
The masked crusader of “high-tech minimal,” Boris Brejcha has shared his anxiously anticipated new album, Space Diver, following a prolific studio LP release history.
The Fckng Serious label boss and Space Diver himself has been peddling much of the 12-track aural journey for a while now. Known for sticking to his own releases to score his DJ sets, the album has had plenty of play time from Germany to Chicago. The album traces a sonic spectrum of styles only Brejcha could traverse, from progressive to techno to minimal to trance.
The album opens with last summer’s hit, “Gravity,” which is a melodic techno feature with vocals from Berlin-based singer and songwriter Laura Korinth. Other previously released tracks from the compilation include “Happinezz,” “To The Moon and Back,” “Never Look Back,” and “Lieblingsmensch.” Space Diver is out now via Ultra Music.
Boris Brejcha is heading into 2020 as he does most years, joker-masked and starry-eyed. Less than three weeks into the year and he’s already dropped an astronomical track that’s been present in sets for years, titled “To The Moon and Back.”
As with many of Brejcha’s productions that adhere to his nebulous progressive cocktail of sounds, this one is a sonic journey. However, the accompanying video introduces some ambiguity as to the nature of this journey.
Space exploration is a frequent motif in dance music given the abundance of eerie, supernatural sounds in the arena. As such, Brejcha used the video to demonstrate that within artistic context, a trip to the moon can symbolize any voyage as long as the end goal is lofty enough.
In this case, Brejcha is searching for Ginger, the featured vocalist on the track and his real-life lover.
For ostensible hours the pair of crusaders separately traverse the hills and valleys of an unknown desolate region. Searching high and low for one another, the images trace the crests and valleys of the track, leading to the climactic finish when the two join and Brejcha can shed his mask; revealing himself to her and to the universe.
German mainstay event, Sea You Beach Republic will record its seventh edition lakeside in Tunisee from July 18 – 19, during which it will spread out its house and techno talent across seven stages. The first wave of the event’s 2020 lineup features Claptone, Boris Brejcha, Georgia Angiuli, Kid Simius, Kobosil, and Lexy & K-Paul, among other underground acts. Touting more than 100 artists, the full Sea You ‘Beach Republic’ lineup will be announced in two successive waves.
Attendees can expect Sea You Beach Republic to offer more than just electronic activity across its two days of production: water-skiing and wake-boarding, among other other lake events will be free for festival goers. There will also be a fashion and beauty lounge. Tickets to Sea You Beach Republic and additional information can be found on the festival’s official website.
The third iteration of Romania’s coastal, fun-in-the sun (and long thereafter) festival, NEVERSEA, proved a particularly impressive production this past year—considerably so for a young festival still trying to find its footing in a swarming European event market.
With tens of thousands of attendees, primarily from Bucharest and surrounding Eastern European meccas pouring in to the relatively quiet, though densely populated beach town of Constanţa July 4-7 for NEVERSEA’s multi-national electronic, hip-hop, and pop roster, success was a tall order, made taller with one of the aural agenda’s top-sellers, DJ Snake, rescinding his lineup spot in a last-minute heartbreaker of an announcement.
But NEVERSEA rose to the occasion, largely due to its audacious artist acumen, which spanned UK-bred Sub Focus’ whiplash-inducing drum breaks, to the mellow electronic/live instrumentation synergy of Bob Moses. Saturday, the four-day affair’s busiest night, drew over 60,000 festival-goers, NEVERSEA reports; and while by 7 pm there was little room to move about freely (particularly near the main stage), let alone secure an opportune spot, most of the all-ages attendees hardly seemed to mind. The remaining three days saw much of the same congestion near the main stage, though mostly confined to the riper hours of the evening during the most prominent performances, like that of Alesso and G-Eazy.
The varied and immaculately decorated subsidiary stages offered ample refuge from the often-overflowing headlining performances. The kaleidoscopic Temple Stage, for example, with the elevated Constanţa strip as its beckoning, spotlit backdrop, hosted a lustrous litany of club-centric house and tech-leaning talent, including early-morning majesty from the likes of Jamie Jones, Boris Brejcha, and Dubfire. Faithful observers in the art of four by four, with penchants for surreptitious low-lit after-hour locales were sure to be found worshiping at the Temple.
The Ark Stage offered dance digs of the most brash and unbridled variety. A walk past the vessel-themed stage could proffer either serrated drum ‘n’ bass displays from Andy C or Sub Focus and their razor-lipped MCs, or perhaps up-to-the-moment four on the floor from NERO‘s Dan Stephens. By all accounts, a rendezvous under The Ark is not for frightful ears.
‘Til the break of dawn
A stroll through the sandy grounds at daybreak proves NEVERSEA can hold an audience. Even at 5 am, as the orange glow of sunrise kissed the Black Sea coastline, and the delicious and delirious madness of Boris Brejcha’s “high-tech minimal,” an amalgamation of progressive, techno, and trance, began winding down, it was clear attendees were in it for the long hall—as hundreds remained camped around The Temple stage, wide-eyed and enthralled. The intensity of the Eastern European people is no myth, personified in hordes of young people dancing at 8 am with 8 pm vigor. They gathered restlessly, striking coquettish poses with the flowered festival foliage long after dawn stretched into day.
In just a few short years, NEVERSEA has solidified its spot as a must-attend on the Romanian festival front, really only contending with its Transylvanian sister soiree, UNTOLD. The robust beachside gathering is an impressive mid-sized mounting on the Eastern European festival mantle.
Having just clocked in at No. 2 on Dancing Astronaut’s Breakout Artists of 2019, Boris Brejcha continues his hot-streak of genre-bending club releases with “Lieblingsmensch,” his next successive single on Ultra Records in almost as many months. Translated to “favorite human ever,” “Lieblingsmensch” ticks all the boxes that make his tunes so matter-of-factly Boris.
A healthy balance of in-your-face light/dark elements? Check. How about a bottomless toolbox of uniquely textured elements? Check. Melodic twists and turns? Those, too.
Sure, his style revolves around the build/drop dynamic, but between his understanding of dance music and sophisticated songwriting, even that takes a refreshing spin through the cosmic corridors of “Lieblingsmensch.”
Brejcha is no newcomer to the electronic zeitgeist. He’s been known for minimal and techier sounds since much earlier in the now dwindling decade. But those who have seen him behind the decks as of late likely remember this release for the lynchpin that it is in his current mix/live set setup.
Boris Brejcha’s upcoming LP, Space Diver, is expected out on Ultra Records this coming January.