Celebrate 10 years of UKF with founder Luke Hood [Interview]

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Celebrate 10 years of UKF with founder Luke Hood [Interview]Luke Hood UKF Founder

In April 2009, a 16-year-old from Frome, England wanted to share his love of bass music with the world. Luke Hood started a YouTube channel called UKF (which stands for United Kingdom and his hometown of Frome) and saw his subscriber base steadily begin to grow. The brand launched that year with the creation of its original channels: UKF Drum & Bass and UKF Dubstep, which now have 2.2 million and 6.3 million subscribers, respectively.

It’s been 10 years since the launch of these lauded channels, and Hood’s passion project has turned into something bigger than he ever could’ve imagined. Videos across the UKF channels have garnered more than 3 billion views, and the brand has hosted UKF events in 20 countries and 38 cities around the world.

Hood and his team have been celebrating these momentous milestones all year long by dropping singles from the label’s UKF10 – Ten Years Of UKF album—a massive 37-track compilation that makes its full debut on Friday, Nov. 29. So far this year, the world has been treated to fresh tunes from bass music greats like Camo & Krooked, Hybrid Minds, Matroda, and more. Finally, to cap off the year, UKF is throwing a huge party in London on Dec. 14, featuring a lineup that most bass music lovers could only dream of.

To hear more about the journey from humble YouTube beginnings to legendary compilation albums and worldwide events, we chatted with founder Luke Hood.

What does this 10-year anniversary milestone mean to you as UKF’s founder?

For me, it’s my entire adult life’s work! So it’s a really special moment to reflect for me. We’re all guilty always looking into the horizon, setting goals and comparing yourself to others along the way, without ever really taking a moment to pause and reflect, so it’s been really special in that respect. We’ve achieved a lot over 10 years with so many artists, managers and labels, and it’s been one of my favourite years ever running UKF.

What have been some of the most exciting moments in UKF’s timeline?

2011 was a really crazy year for us. We released UKF Dubstep 2010 in December 2010 which in January topped the iTunes Dance charts and remained in the top 50 for years, followed by venturing into live events where we put on our first 500 capacity show in January, through to a sell-out 12,000 capacity show at Alexandra Palace with UKF Bass Culture, which tied into our first TV advertised album. It was a lot to take in at the time, but I look back on it with some pretty fond memories.

In more recent years, festival takeovers and launching UKF.com into an editorial platform to help up and coming artists in the bass scene get support where they otherwise wouldn’t. I’ve always wanted to champion new music and supporting artists with some of their first interviews written on UKF has been a highlight.

And finally, taking UKF back to my hometown of Frome in Somerset was a real moment for me. I had the pleasure of bringing some well-known UKF artists back to my hometown where while I was growing up it was impossible to go out and see artists in the bass world perform. When I was 16/17 I always wanted to go to shows but they were all too far away, I hope that some people who had never been to a dance music event before were able to attend and hopefully be inspired enough to go on that journey and build the next UKF.

What have been some of the biggest challenges UKF has had to overcome?

When you’re a global youth music brand focusing on multiple niches/genres of music, it becomes really difficult to stay on top of the various scenes we cover while knowing which platforms to focus on as they appear. We obviously started out as a YouTube channel, but our ethos has always been to try and spread the music we love everywhere, so had invested from the early days to make sure we had a presence on Spotify and Apple Music, where a lot of our audience now live. That extends to social media too, where when you cover such a broad spectrum it’s hard to know should we be on Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? Tiktok? How much time and energy should we focus on each? I think we’ve done a good job of striking the balance over the years, but it’s something we have to constantly review.

What do you think makes UKF special and contributes to its longevity the most?

I’d like to think there’s a degree of authenticity that our fans subscribe to. Unlike most streaming services today we really do our best to keep our ear to the ground to find the latest tracks that are being made and getting reloaded in clubs, compared to the data-driven/algorithm-led world we live in today. I’m still heavily involved in the curation and I hope that consistently over the channels it’s noticeable.

The second and most important thing I think, particularly that has kept the longevity is the community. There have been people commenting on our videos for years, and it’s that interactivity and engagement you don’t get from other platforms. We are nothing without our fans and the comments/likes/dislikes that come with them. Without that, we’d just be a streaming service.  

What has feedback been like on the UKF10 singles hitting the airwaves this year?

Positive! We were overwhelmed by the feedback initially when we put out the first single with Camo & Krooked. As soon as “Atlas” was announced we had so many artists and managers get in touch to express an interest in getting involved with the campaign. We’ve always been there promoting artists to our community at the core of what we do, and naturally helping artists release their music felt like a natural step after 10 years. I’m really proud of the album that’s come together as part of this and I’m excited to see the response to it when it finally drops! It’s an amazing collection of artists old and new that we’ve worked with and supported over the decade.

The 37-track UKF10 arrives Nov. 29. Listen to the compilation’s previously released singles here.

Who are some up-and-coming artists we should be keeping an eye on?

There’s a few, and I always find this a challenge to pick a small amount because there are so many! But if I had to pick 2 it would have to be 1991 and Notion. 1991 is coming out with some brilliant music, which doesn’t stick to a particular path like a lot of other Drum & Bass artists that will find their sound and stick to it for a while. Each release has a very different vibe to it and I like that! “Midnight” is probably my favourite track of his, as well as his UKF10 track “Full Send” and his upcoming track on RL Grime’s label, “The People.”

Notion I’m a big fan of because he is great with melodies and has taken that bass house sound and made it his own which a lot of producers have struggled with. Check out “Hooked.”

What are you looking forward to about the London event in December?

It’s been a long time since London has had a diverse showcase of artists big and small for a club event. There’s a lot of purely drum ‘n’ bass nights, dubstep nights, bass nights, but nobody is combining all three. I think it’s really special that we’re able to promote the full spectrum, and I hope that we’re able to introduce some people to some artists they wouldn’t usually go and see, with some favourites old and new. We’ve got Dimension headlining, who first had an upload nine years ago! 

Get tickets to the Dec. 14 event and learn more here.

What does the future look like for UKF?

I want UKF to remain a consistent voice people can trust to help them discover new artists as well as see some existing favourites across all the different streaming services. The current streaming landscape on Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube means that algorithms are always giving you more of what you already know you like, which is great, but who is making sure the people grafting away in their bedroom with no audience are able to be heard? I hope that we’re able to continue to talk about artists in 5 years time that we discovered and picked up on in 2019 that are going on to achieve big things. There are plenty of exciting projects in the pipeline as well for our live events, but that’s all I can mention for now!

What do you want UKF’s legacy to be?

I hope we’ve helped billions of music fans discover new music they wouldn’t have otherwise heard, while continuing to engage a core community of around the various genres we cover. In addition to that I hope we’ve helped tens of thousands further their career in music, whether UKF inspired them to try and make their first record, carried out their first interview, played them for the first time, or helped accelerate their development by putting them in the spotlight on our YouTube channels.

6 exciting activities to try at Holy Ship! Wrecked

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6 exciting activities to try at Holy Ship! WreckedRukes III 1

For the first time in its near decade-long tenure, Holy Ship! will not be at sea, taking the form of a new endeavour known as Holy Ship! Wrecked. For five days, Shipfam will inhabit the world-renowned Hard Rock Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic along with dozens of artists who understand exactly how to keep the Holy Ship! spirit alive on land.

Certain aspects of the event will, of course, be unavailable without the boat, but Cloud 9 and everyone else behind the scenes of Holy Ship! Wrecked are putting countless hours to ensure that there will still be an endless number of activities for attendees to enjoy when they’re not dancing to the tunes of their favorite DJs. Check out some of the cool activities planned for Holy Ship! Wrecked below.

1. Offsite Adventures

The announcement that Holy Ship! would no longer take place on a boat brought dismay to many Shipfam regulars. However, this continental relocation has also opened doors for a series of brand new activities that will take this luxury music festival to the next level.

Snorkelling, sunset catamaran sailings, ziplining, ATV rides through the jungle, and fishing trips are just some of the new offerings available to all attendees. Each allows you to fully explore the unlimited beauty of the Dominican Republic.

2. World Sumo Wrestling Federation

If there’s one thing people know about Valentino Khan and 12th Planet beyond their musical prowess, it’s their wacky antics. If the dance music scene were a high school, they would definitely be two of the class clowns which makes them the perfect choice to host the World Sumo Wrestling Federation. Learn the basics of sumo wrestling and perhaps catch one of the hosts rocking a shiny gold speedo. Do you have the guts to get in the ring?

3. OG Celebration

Just because Holy Ship! has a new name and a new venue, it doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about their loyal Shipfam. Since the first Holy Ship! departed from Fort Lauderdale in 2012, those who have come back year after year received an exclusive invite to the OG party. It is here where fourth-timers receive their highly sought after blue robes in a champagne-filled ceremony before enjoying their revered status along with all those who share the title. This may be the first Holy Ship! Wrecked, but all those who have remained faithful to the Ship will be rewarded once again with all the amenities of the Punta Cana resort.

4. Gud Vibrations Super Smash Bros. Tournament

For those who aren’t aware, the latest iteration in the Super Smash Bros. franchise for Nintendo Switch includes every single character from every single past game as well as new ones who have just joined the roster. Pretty spectacular. Millennials grew up playing games like Super Smash Bros. and NGHTMRE and Slander are all Millenials, so they have seen fit to host a tournament during Holy Ship! Wrecked. It’s not quite clear just yet what the winner of this fist-flying tourney will receive, but one thing’s for sure: Shipfam and Super Smash Bros. together is a solid recipe for a good time.

5. ABC Party

Like most festivals, Holy Ship! is a hotspot of sartorial creativity. Halloween takes a backseat in comparison to the costumes you would see around the boat, and now Holy Ship! Wrecked is urging Shipfam to get even more creative with one of their theme nights: ABC Party.

In this case, ABC stands for “Anything But Clothes.” Being practically without a definition in the first place, it is almost impossible to conceive how Shipfam will interpret this term.

6. Lisbona Sisters’ Bikini Beach Clean Up

Being environmentally conscious and being sexy don’t have to be separate on Holy Ship! Wrecked thanks to the Lisbona Sisters. These two ladies are going to make this beach clean up a breeze on the shores of the Dominican Republic by asking everyone to flaunt what they got as they pick up any trash that they find. Big props to team Holy Ship! for encouraging sustainable activities throughout the event. If festivals are going to continue into 2020 and beyond, the producers and attendees both have to be aware of their environmental impact.

Holy Ship! Wrecked will take place at the Hard Rock Punta Cana Resort, January 22 to 26. Book your trip here

Photo Credit: Rukes

‘The fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this’—Sean Tyas on the trance community, his creative ethos, and more [interview]

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‘The fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this’—Sean Tyas on the trance community, his creative ethos, and more [interview]Sean Tyas Press Shot

The path to success for Sean Tyas was a quick one. A longtime connoisseur of trance and somewhat of a hero in his hometown East Coast scene, the producer entered the global circuit in a strong way back in 2006 when his debut single “Lift” became an instant hit that topped the Beatport charts. He’s since remained a driving force in modern underground trance, planting his feet firmly in the tech and uplifting realms and boosting his profile with a consistent slew of international touring and performing alongside the likes of John O’Callaghan, Bryan Kearney, Paul Van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, and many more. He’s the type of artist to take well-calculated, careful decisions in his career, allowing him to stay true to the sounds that inspire him while growing on his own terms—and in doing so, he’s set himself up for continued prosperity.

Tyas has has quite a busy 2019, undertaking one of his busiest touring years while providing fans with a variety of singles across Subculture, VII, and of course, his burgeoning Degenerate imprint. A particularly noteworthy release came in the form of his remix to the Rapid Eye classic, “Circa Forever.” His re-work preserved the timelesssness of the original whilst updating the instrumentation and ultimately twisting it into a modern masterpiece of his own. After months of stirring a frenzy among the trance community rinsing the then-unreleased gem, it finally became available to all in August. Now, Tyas prepares to make his trek back stateside to California’s Dreamstate—a Insomniac’s festival dedicated to the genre which has become America’s premier event for the sound. He’ll be joining fellow icon Menno De Jong for a stimulating back-to-back on Saturday, November 23, where fans can expect a high-octane mixture of classic and contemporary tunes. Grab tickets for Dreamstate here.

We sat down with Tyas prior to his westward voyage to talk about his journey until now, remixing legends, his process, and what else is in store for the next year.

Let’s dive into your artistic journey. Tell us about your decision to produce trance, and the process of finding your own sound. Did you find it easy to create something distinctively ‘Sean Tyas’ from the get-go, or was your path more complicated?

That is one hell of a broad question but I’ll do my best to not write a novel. I started off into the whole scene as an enthusiastic raver in NY back in the late 90s, going to parties and clubs and really loving every single moment of what happens to me when I set foot on that dancefloor each weekend. Nothing really up to that point in my life was really quite like it. Eventually, I really started to get more specific in my musical tastes and to fast forward a bit, I ended up falling deeply in love with trance. I still liked a few other styles but trance just “did it” for me. The power and that 136-142 BPM energy was just resonating with me and how I danced. I was in art university at the time, so I had a bit of time to start to make a bit of music as a hobby, where I could finally start to learn how it was made and what was required to do it. Unfortunately, it was a VERY expensive thing for an 18-19 year old to get into back then. Computers were not on the level they are at now, where everything could be run as software inside the machine. I’d have to buy synth-after-synth , drum machine-after-drum machine, etc, just to get specific sounds. Just trial and error (a lot of errors) led to development.

What drew you to trance in the first place, and why do you think people are attracted to the genre as a whole?

I think its a genre that very heavily, in its nature, promotes togetherness on that dancefloor. The crowd at trance events know their music, know the tracks, and most likely know LOADS of other people they are on that dancefloor with. It’s a beautiful community. Maybe that’s why we do get newcomers to the genre too, and the music can be outright gorgeous at times, but that was be so fucking ignorant to say “yea, trance is emotional so people come flock to it.” I hate that phrase because its bullshit; all music is emotional to someone. Death metal is emotional and evocative to the right person. But for me and countless others, well, trance just hits the nerve and scratches that itch we need scratched. It’s never something that is easy to explain, why people like a type of music, but there it is—people love what they love.

How does living in Switzerland help or hinder your creativity? Would you ever consider moving back stateside, since the genre is beginning to have a renaissance there? Why or why not?

It’s a pretty inspirational place to live I have to say. Walking and running outside in these landscapes of mountains and rolling hills is inspirational in itself, so as an artist I find it to be really conducive to the work I do. As far as moving stateside, my roots are pretty deep here at this stage, now over 14 years living here, I’ve gotten dual citizenship, and my kids are already growing up so fast in the school system, I think here is where I stay. But having said that, I am REALLY lucky to work a career that allows me to get back to USA very often to constantly satisfy my homesick feelings when they pop up. Most of my family is in New York, so with JFK being the hub of almost every trip to the states for me, extra quick visits to friends and family are effortless—and I love that.

What have been your key ingredients in sustaining a longterm career, especially in a field of music with such peaks and valleys in popularity?

Peaks and valleys indeed. But it is one thick-skinned genre that is for certain. The main ingredient to sustain any long term career… it’s really simple and obvious. Improvement, consistency, humility (by this I mean to always be working for something, because the moment you have that sense of “entitlement”, you are already the asshole), and health (this is one I have only really started to believe in during the recent years going to the gym much more often and really concentrating on eating better foods). Anyone else can just simply throw a monster marketing budget at their career and get all their tracks ghosted, but is that sustainable? Is it respectable? Not to me.

What are some creative or career-related roadblocks/obstacles you’ve had as of late, and how have you worked through them? Has your outlook on music and your career changed as a result?

The only obstacle anyone should be concerned about is self-doubt. The minute you let that all in, you are already in trouble. I need to ALWAYS believe in myself, my skill level, and believe in what I’m doing. I have had disappointments all throughout my career, of course, but these just get me working harder, specifically in the studio… pushing my sound, trying to experiment with techniques I’ve never heard in a trance track as well as sharpen ones I’ve used before to make them new and cutting-edge.

How does a day in the studio look for Sean Tyas? On account of your innate perfectionism, would you say it’s easier for you to bang out rough ideas quickly, and afterward you spend the vast majority of your time tinkering with them to ensure they meet your standards?

Every day is different depending on what projects are going on. For example Tuesdays are usually radio show day, so I’ll spend all day going through all the promos of the prior week, sifting through and putting together the mix for the show, then doing all the voiceovers etc. On a production day, I guess the first thing i usually do in the studio each day (or every couple of days) is to reverse engineer a couple of sounds I hear in tracks that intrigue me that I hear in others’ productions. It can be anything from a drum with a unique aspect to it, to a brutal bassline that I want to know the approach of how it ticks. From there I can apply these techniques in new ways to to other things and it brings about a cross-pollination in the studio that really leads to new creativity for the full day.

You’ve had a couple notable remixes this year; for one, your long-awaited take on Rapid Eye’s “Circa Forever” finally came out, and you also took on John O’Callaghan’s “Choice Of The Angels.”
How did these come about? Tell us the backstory and what inspired you to re-work these ones.

The Circa Forever remix was nice for me because to me, like so may others, that original really symbolizes this sort of “Golden Age” of trance, and of course a couple years ago when I threw together my first “re-work” of it. By re-work—as opposed to calling it a remix—I mean the original track is layered into a project and I go and cut out the bass end of it completely to be replaced, while adding multiple elements onto the track and also tweaking how the arrangement flows with edits. This [re-work] was sort of my go-to classic for that time. After a while, I think Armada mentioned to me that they could release it, but I said, “you know what, I’m not too comfortable at how it sounds right now.” To me it was just a rework, and generally, I don’t LOVE the idea of releasing those. “Let me turn it into a full-fledged remix, not utilizing the original track as the backbone anymore,” I told them. And so yeah, that came out, and I am happy it did, because it is now much more in line with my own sound. And as for the “Choice of the Angels” remix, John has been a friend of mine since the “Discover” days, and he came to me with that single and asked if I’d like to remix it for Subculture. “Hell yeah, why not?” I thought. It was very open to melodic reinterpretation in its original form, and this makes it so much fun to remix.

Do you ever feel pressure to adhere to a certain aesthetic in your music in order to please your fanbase? How do you balance making something fulfilling to you without alienating longtime listeners? Have you ever felt afraid to experiment with your sound further on account of this pressure?

I feel the fanbase is overcoming the monotony that we have seen in the genre over the years—fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this. The sound is finally evolving and I’ve been an obnoxious proponet to this change in the genre for years. Its finally seeing a bit of fruition now and some of these new tunes people are releasing now are really becoming on the level that we need to be. Attention to detail, attention to sound, and a bit less lazy in the generic melody department. As far as fear to experiement, never. I mean look at my album Degeneration; this was my first artist album and I wanted to really see what I could make. To say that this was a “journey” for me would be putting it lightly, but I got there in the end. John Askew was so supportive the whole way through, with my ideas of things like including two Drum ‘n’ Bass tunes on the album as well as bits of breaks, techno, and chillout. Experimentation leads to growth and learning.

You’re about to play Dreamstateyou’ve played a few now, correct? What do you think festivals and events like this say at large about the USA trance community?

It’s fantastic to see the popularity of the style has birthed this beautiful brand of festival, and it’s so encouraging to think about what the future holds for the USA trance community. These behemoth events bring new faces into the scene for their very first time, and I can only hope they truly love what they hear and see and decide they love it as much as I do.

What are you favorite parts about Dreamstate?

Well, Insomniac is just a fantastic company that really look after us as artists, from the stocked up artist dressing rooms, to the production level on that stage we play from. The light shows that accompany the sounds we bring really exponentially enhance the experience to all the people on the dancefloor and it is just an experience from beginning to end. I’ve always been a sucker for a good laser show

Finally, what’s in the pipeline for Sean Tyas?

I have a new single coming out in December on Deep in Thought, featuring a truly amazing seasoning of vocals from Nashville-based Shelby Merry, whose quality of vocals you truly have never heard before in a trance tune. I also have new remixes coming. The first is my new remix of Liquid Dream by Liquid Soul & DJ Dream I have done for Iboga. This is actually a complete redo/overhaul on a remix I did 2.5 years back as my Neodyne guise, but always felt I wanted it to sound different. Well now it will come in its full form. The second remix coming is one I’ve just done of Bryan Kearney and Dierdre McLaughlin “Open My Mind” for Kearnage which I’ve just started testing out now. You will hear all three of these new productions at Dreamstate for sure. After these, I have a long list of stuff to get to, but I think 2020 I would really like to focus and start putting toegther a second album that is 100% club-focused…

Photo credit: Sean Tyas’ Artist Team

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 117

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 117Deters 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

The Knocks released “Colors” in the final days of summer 2019, seeming to wish farewell to warm-weather days with the dreamy and bright single. A few months later, remixes for the tune have begun to trickle out, including this latest one from Robokid. The Los Angeles-based producer has kicked the song into a new key and injected it with energy. It’s infectious.

Scottish disco maestro Last Island has been on a roll in 2019, churning out more than a dozen tunes since February. Among them are his Sustain EP and an otherworldly rendition of Madeon‘s “All My Friends,” and he follows them up with a remix of Ellis and ILY‘s “Falling Through.” He’s infused the single with more electro and disco elements, giving it an entirely new feel.

Vancouver duo The Funk Hunters are back with another effortlessly funky masterpiece. They’ve tapped the talents of A.Skillz for “Body Move,” and the result is a piece that’s captivating both in its beats and in its vocals. It combines elements across the electronic music spectrum, encouraging listeners of all persuasions to embrace it in its entirety.

Friction‘s music is timeless, and his deep involvement in the drum ‘n’ bass community has led more than two decades worth of fans to embrace his artistry. The former BBC Radio 1 host takes to his own Elevate Records to release his newest tune: the much-anticipated “Good To Me.” Powerful female vocals lead the introduction, building steadily into the hefty drum ‘n’ bass rhythms the producer’s become so well-known for.

Side note: Only a snippet of “Good To Me” is available on SoundCloud, but you can find the full version here.

Camo & Krooked never shy away from pushing the drum ‘n’ bass envelope. Their incorporation of different styles of dnb make singles like their latest, “Set It Off,” make their music intriguing to the ear. American rapper Jeru The Damaja lends his fearless vocals to the verses, largely stepping back on the chorus to let the unique drop shine through.

Meet Oliver Malcolm—the newest super producer taking 2020 by storm [Q+A]

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Meet Oliver Malcolm—the newest super producer taking 2020 by storm [Q+A]Ollie BLUE FINAL 1

You may not have heard of Oliver Malcolm yet, but that’s all about to change. And while the 20-year-old producer may not yet be a household name, you’ve certainly heard his music already. That’s because Malcolm already has a slew of high-profile production credits to his name, including work with Joey Bada$$, Jay Rock, MF Doom, AlunaGeorge, and Cee Lo Green. Now, the young producer is planting his own flag, signing with Interscope/Darkroom—the same team that broke Billie Eilish to the world. Ahead of Oliver Malcolm’s impending breakout in 2020, we sat down with the emerging beat maker to learn a little more about him and what makes one of music’s next torch carriers tick.

Currently, which musicians inspire you the most and why?

“It really depends on what I’m listening to each day. One day I’ll be listening to the Clash and be super inspired by them, the next I’ll be inspired by Jimi Hendrix and the next by Kendrick Lamar.”

Is there a single moment or event that made you decide this was the career for you?

“Yeah, I mean when I was twelve or so I picked up some DJ decks to teach myself how to spin and that was sort of my introduction to really finding my love for music. But becoming a producer and eventually wanting to be an artist, I remember downloading a cracked version of Logic and once I was in that it was game over.”

In the first few years of your newly emerging career as an artist, what would you say your primary goals are?  

“I want people to just feel something with my music, that’s all I want at the end of the day. I’m really excited to start playing shows and want to do this full band set up. I have so many ideas, it’s going to be crazy. Other than that man, I just want to see what happens once I put my own music out there.”

What made this the right time to launch your own project after working with such recognizable stars?

“It just felt right, man. I mean I love producing and will always be down to collaborate and produce for others, but I hit the point over the last year or so I’d say where I was like, ‘Why don’t I just put out my own shit? I have something to say and can do it 100% myself.’ So it just felt like the right evolution.”

If you weren’t producing music, what else would you be pursuing? What interests you outside of music?

“Honestly man, music is it! When I was in school, I would just think about music and wasn’t interested in much else. All I would want to do is get out of class and be cooking in the studio. If I had to pick something though, it might be something in fashion or photography. Something to do with art, because at the end of the day that’s what I’m here for man, the art.”

Is there a genre or a musical niche you feel is under-represented in pop culture? Do you intend to change that?

“I don’t know if there’s a musical niche or a genre is under-represented but I do feel like culture can change at any moment and I want to be at the forefront. I just think there’s an intersection between what is out there pushing boundaries as well as music that is more digestible and popular and I want to be at that point where they collide.”

Look at your Spotify/Apple Music—what is currently in your personal rotation?

“Oh man, definitely anything Eminem. He has always been such a massive influence on me. ‘Jimmy Jazz’ by the Clash. ‘Ghost Town’ by the Specials is essential. In terms of songs right now, few that come to mind are the new FKA twigs “sad day”, Dijon’s ‘CRY BABY,’ the new Frank songs, tons more.

The Van Gogh Disco and other artistic looks at Museum Night in Amsterdam [Review]

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The Van Gogh Disco and other artistic looks at  Museum Night in Amsterdam [Review]Museumnight

Amsterdam’s annual Museum Night (Museumnacht in Dutch) is a work of art entirely within itself.

The event not only gives attendees access to 55 of the city’s grandest and most nuanced museums for the price of a single ticket (about 20 euro), but re-envisions many of the city’s spaces for a nightlife-conducive affair, hosting DJs, dance performances, film screenings, and single-night art exhibits.

Take the coveted Van Gogh Museum, where the lobby was turned into a funkified dance party fueled by a variety of gin & tonics—a scene straight out of Williamsburg. For a break from the music however, attendees are free to step away and wander the several stories of the Dutch impressionist’s revolutionary work. This was the case all around the city, giving those involved the unique opportunity to get loose and museum hop their way through Amsterdam’s cultural backdrop.

The evening presents the opportunity to experience the majority of the city’s standout museums in a single gulp, from the Anne Frank House (which hosted an acoustic concert as well as writing workshops), to the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam’s haven for modern art); but the true charm of Museum Night is found in the nooks and crannies stumbled onto along the way. Whether that’s an electro party spilling onto the streets in front of the Diamond Museum, or the Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, a 17th century church that now resides tucked into an attic in the Red Light District, is entirely up to you. But therein lies the beauty of Museum Night, it gives you a palette and an easel and lets you paint the night however you see fit.

Saturday Night Session 031: Audien Presents Cookout Exclusive Mix and Talks Debut ‘Escapism’ LP

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Saturday Night Session 031: Audien Presents Cookout Exclusive Mix and Talks Debut ‘Escapism’ LP12651074 10153194318771673 7371433896995231521 N

It’s been a decade since Nathaniel Rathbun released his first single, and now fans are finally able to listen to the producer’s highly anticipated debut album. Rathbun, who is more popularly known as Audien, was the perfect embodiment of a feel good electronic music producer who could combine the best elements of pop and fuse them with the most energizing and euphoric parts of electronic music. Rathbun can create crossover releases that captivate listeners from the outset, and his music caught on at the perfect time as electronic music was becoming part of the mainstream.

While his work can largely be considered progressive house, Rathbun has versatile production abilities, and he has a flair for producing uplifting trance music in addition to his radio-friendly roster of crossover releases. All of these styles are captured within 11-track Escapism. Although it took him three years to finish the album, the time is reflected in the work he has put out, which can only be described as quality.

Highlights of the album are previously released single “Reach” featuring Jamie Hartman’s vocals. Hartman is a delicious deviation from Rathbun’s typical ethereal female vocalist, and the track imbues an iridescent strain of subtle, exceedingly accessible drum ‘n’ bass. “Escape” showcases Rathbun’s playful side with melodic trance notes framing a bouncy electronic progression. The drop is everything Audien fans look for in his live show, and the single can’t help but to induce a smile for the listener.

When asked how his creative process is different now compared to when he started creating music, Rathbun notes it is, “so much different. It’s more structured and serious, versus just having fun. That can be a good and bad thing, but the music I’m making now is far more substantial and has a musical story behind it. I still have just as much fun, it’s just less often.”

“Escape” seems to be a return to his original production inspirations, and he comments on how this is one of the singles from the compilation that is most personal to him. He says, “‘Escape,’ ‘Heaven,’ and ‘Reach’ have really crazy stories. They took a substantial amount of time to complete, but so worth it in the end. Those songs really embody the diversity and variety I wanted to have on the album. I try not to be so one-dimensional as a producer.”

Rathbun will be embarking upon an Escapism Tour to accompany to the full album’s release, and he has a refreshing take on what elements the tour will enlist in order to make it a worthy compliment to his newly released body of work. He says, “The Escapism tour is not a reinvention of the wheel, but more of a heightened and dialed in version of an Audien show, which simply put, is a ravey DJ show. I took all of my favorite things about a show and put it in one tour. I could have bought some drum pads or played piano on stage, but I decided to keep it true to me, which is that ultimate release of a traditional electronic show. That will NEVER go out of style.”

For those who want a taste of what they can expect from his show early, Rathbun crafted a one hour Saturday Night Session that infuses his album releases alongside old school electronic hits to get listeners ready for their nights. He notes that his Saturday Night Session will get listeners ready for a “party, release, forget problems, be with friends, love music kind of night.”

Photo credit: Rukes


You have been producing music for over a decade. Why the decision to now release your first LP as opposed to continuing to release singles?
It’s been a while! Honestly, I’ve tried to put together an album for years, but my life got too busy, and I didn’t want to rush it. It’s honestly coming at the best time.

Is your creative process or your mindset different now than it was when you first started releasing music? If so, how is it different?
So much different. It’s more structured and serious, vs. just having fun. That can be a good and bad thing, but the music I’m making now is far more substantial and has a musical story behind it. I still have just as much fun, it’s just less often.

Can you tell us the intention behind your choice to name the album Escapism?
I want the album to feel like an escape from reality. I always try to capture that feeling in my music, and the Escapism Tour will be very cohesive with this idea.

Is there a release on the LP is most personal to you?
“Escape,” “Heaven,” and “Reach” have really crazy stories. They took a substantial amount of time to complete, but so worth it in the end. Those songs really embody the diversity and variety I wanted to have on the album. I try not to be so one-dimensional as a producer.

How is Escapism going to translate to a your live show? Any details to get fans excited for your tour?
The Escapism tour is not a reinvention of the wheel, but more of a heightened and dialed in version of an Audien show, which simply put, is a ravey DJ show. I took all of my favorite things about a show and put it in one tour. I could have bought some drum pads or played piano on stage, but I decided to keep it true to me, which is that ultimate release of a traditional electronic show. That will NEVER go out of style.

How long from start to finish did it take you to complete your LP and how does it feel to finally have it released?
3 years. SO GOOD!!

Where do you draw creative inspiration from and were there any specific creative motivators for this LP?
I 100% draw most creative inspiration from nature and being out in the world. Something about vastness, and emotional scenery resonates with me. I’m able to harness that and translate it into melodies easily.

What track on Escapism was easiest for you to produce and were there any that you struggled with completing?
The intro, “See You On The Other Side” .. I made that in literally a few hours. I think the best songs come together that way.

What is one thing your fans likely don’t know about you?
I love real estate, homes, houses, design, interior design. It’s all an art of it’s own and a side hustle for me.

What kind of Saturday Night is your Saturday Night Session going to get listeners ready for?
Party, release, forget problems, be with friends, love music kind of night.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 116

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 116Deters 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

Grabbitz‘s latest release is an appearance on Ultra Music for the guitar-laden “Roam With You.” His heart-wrenching voice guides listeners through an emotive introductory verse before launching into a dramatic chorus. The second verse finds the artist harmonizing with himself to further the wistful tone of the piece.

Another Buffalo native, Snow-Key, takes to Future Vibes for a vibrant and powerful future bass-inspired piece, “716.” Likely a nod to the area code of that western corner of New York, “716” comes at the listener swinging after a relaxing introduction. Trippy bass and synth punches wallop the eardrums in an unexpected and enticing way, drawing the listener deeper into the dynamic world the artist has crafted.

Seven LionsOphelia Records plays host to Crystal Skies‘ newest set of tunes: the five-track Constellations EP. The duo have tapped collaborators like Satellite Empire, Gallie Fisher, and RUNN for the EP, and songs like “On My Own” prove that the EP is a gorgeous collection of songs. “Incredibly proud and excited to show you guys this EP,” the duo note in the EP’s description. “Some of our favorite music we’ve ever made and we hope you guys think so too.”

Sofi Tukker have remixed Laurent Wolf and Eric Carter’s 2008 classic, “No Stress”—something that seems to be a career highlight for duo member Tucker Halpern. “When I first fell in love with dance music and started to learn how to DJ, I remember the first ever playlist I made and ‘No Stress’ was on it,” he says in a press release. “I remember being so excited to play it in my first ever set, and it went OFF.” Their rendition is a groovy, up-to-date interpretation, allowing fans of the original to relive the original in a fun new way.

SNBRN comes at New Music Friday hot with a new collaboration with 1993, “DMs.” As sultry as ever, the producer has whipped up an irresistibly deep beat to pair with hazy vocals from 1993. While the vocals may sound passive, the lyrics are feisty, claiming “I got million-dollar deals in my DMs.”

Discovering Amsterdam through ADE’s wide venue menu [2019 Review]

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Discovering Amsterdam through ADE’s wide venue menu [2019 Review]ADE Laura Siliquini

Words by: Josh Stewart & Bella Bagshaw

For a festival older than many of its attendees (including a co-author of this review), Amsterdam Dance Event hasn’t lost an ounce of prerogative in the electronic music space across its 24-year tenure. Much like its increasingly international soil, ADE is voraciously traveled to by electronic infatuates across the globe. This year the industry-oriented endeavor garnered attendees from 146 countries—the most internationally visited installment to date.

But what makes ADE so painfully cool, is not only its chromatic agenda—spanning panels, parties, makeshift productions, and larger-than-life arena stops—but its locational litany. From train stations, to museums, to the warehouse spots, all of Amsterdam is ADE’s playground.

And it feels like the whole city is participating, too. Right outside the Schipol Airport, your humble narrator is greeted by a proverbial ADE cube humming above an information/check-in hut, ready for business at 8 am sharp. Once I secure my media pass, a 40-something cab driver promptly rattles off his week’s after-dark itinerary, with the enthusiasm of a tourist and the precision of a seasoned attendee.

ADE is unique in that it implores you to acquaint yourself with Amsterdam. It’s an unfettered celebration among the city’s quotidian. And that’s undoubtedly why the very best of the dance music business (Garrix, Tiesto, Guetta, Knight, Hawtin, Brejcha, you name it) return year after year. Here are some spots that made ADE sing this year.


Rijksmuseum, Dancing Astronaut‘s quintessential stop on the ADE agenda. The storied subterranean dwelling of the historic Dutch landmark make for a sublime dance music backdrop—invoking elegance and clandestine cadence all at once. Raw Rave sanctioned Boys Noize Thursday night for a long dance (the kinetic vernacular in Europe is actually swaying) in the dark, as Maceo Plex and Underworld had so notably done just a few years prior.

The hallowed columns cast great, oblong shadows through the crowd, while fog dances in time with Boys Noize‘s beguiling analog techno. It’s an altogether post-apocalyptic display; as if all the wide-eyed pedestrians who normally flood the area by day are gone for good and there’s nothing left to do but soak up the smoke and party (if you can maneuver to the bar, that is). The air buzzed with sweet and sweaty malice, beneath a collection of Rembrandts resting soundly upstairs, no less! The historic holdings are a smoldering embodiment of ADE’s ability to make Amsterdam’s cornerstone conventions come alive.


Of all the Amsterdam club locales, Paradiso is likely the most atmospherically adjacent to a US spot ADE has to offer. Though, its architectural grandeur is singularly European. The assuredly haunted ex-church, with its resplendent stained glass windows and intricately etched balcony arrangement, seems destined for a back-to-back DJ set from priest vestment-donning Tchami and his perpetually pernicious aural associate, Malaa. A far cry from the litany of icons Paradiso once welcomed—The Rolling Stones, Prince, Patti Smith, The Cure, Nirvana (just to name a few)—the duo’s Dutch rendition of No Redemption was, nonetheless, entertaining as hell.

The hard-house maestros topped giant LED cubes which lit up in sync with painstakingly on-brand visuals when the respective DJ took his turn. For Tchami, a storming jungle scene evocative of his recent melodic house sensation, “Rainforest.” For Malaa, the expected illicit and explicit imagery: lines of white powder, skin-clad, ski-masked women, and otherwise. PSA: Moshing to dance music is apparently not just an American phenomenon.

Above section by: Bella Bagshaw

Armada Office

Days before the release of his 7th studio albumArmin van Buuren opened the doors to Armada’s office, sitting on the city’s outskirts for a cranked-up ADE-themed recording of A State Of Trance. Attendees were welcome to wander the corridors of the iconic trance label’s home base, with over two dozen guest sets spinning between “The Club” and the infamous recording studio where Armin streams his weekly shows. The who’s who of trance ticket gave fans a chance to see tastemaker after tastemaker, mainstay after mainstay, bringing the likes of Richard DurandMarkus SchulzFerry CorstenSander van Doorn, and even BT, for eight hours of intimate trance bliss.   

NDSM Wharf

DGTL brought four nights of ADE-insanity to NDSM Wharf, a former shipyard with grounds big enough to house 10 soccer fields. As massive of a venue as it was, another few soccer fields probably could’ve housed the droves of ravers who kept the waterfront warehouse’s sprawling mainstage saturated. A headlining lineup of Richie HawtinRÜFÜS DU SOLBonoboOrbital, and Ben Klock back to back with Marcel Dettmann proved too tempting a ticket for thousands of ADEers. There’s no doubt that the music is the focal point of a week like ADE, but it’s hard not to see the event for the grand portrait of dance music that is when showing up to NDSM. Between the ferry from Central Station, that showcases much of the city’s forward-thinking architecture, to the street art that blankets the hip, developing wharf, and fresh fruit the warehouse served until wee hours of the morning, a trip to NDSM shines a light on many of the enchanting idiosyncrasies that make ADE so distinctly Amsterdam.

Discovering Amsterdam through ADE’s wide venue menu [2019 Review]TIMBUITING NDSM Ade
Photo: Tim Buiting/NDSM

Lil’ Central Station

ADE fever even spread to Amsterdam’s very own Central Station (think Grand Central), which was effectively party-fied by Audio Obscura for the whirlwind weekend. Tucked just a few stories below the rails that funnel people in and out of Amsterdam by the thousands was Lil’ Central, a cozy nightclub space with DJs that encouraged a bit of loco and a lot of motion. From Motor City Drum Ensemble‘s swerve-inducing Thursday night set to Tchami‘s afterparty the following evening, express tickets to a good time were wholesale at Lil’ Central. Every city has nightclubs, most even have particularly cool ones, but how many municipalities are willing to turn their central transport hub into an all-night rave?

I can only think of one.

Above section by: Josh Stewart

Photo Credit: Laura Siliquini

Good Morning Mix: Boombox Cartel drops ravaging ‘DIA DE LOS MUERTOS IV’ Mix [Stream]

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Good Morning Mix: Boombox Cartel drops ravaging ‘DIA DE LOS MUERTOS IV’ Mix [Stream]1004 Nights Boombo Cartel Courtesy T1000

In celebration of a rich cultural heritage, Los Angeles-based producer Boombox Cartel has released his highly-anticipated annual DIAS DE LOS MUERTOS mix. The Mexico native has long-dominated the bass scene with a multi-genre palate and variety of heavy-hitting sounds. Gaining massive recognition with tracks like “B2U”, the Mad Decent-signed act has toured extensively and collaborated with heavyweight bass counterparts including Flosstradamus, NGHTMRE, Bro Safari, and more.

Boombox Cartel performed at this year’s Lollapolooza and will make appearances at Lollapolooza Brazil 2020. Most recently, “All I Want” saw Boombox linking with California songwriter Griff Clawson.

Boombox Cartel’s fourth edition of the notorious DIAS DE LOS MUERTOS guarantees a bass-riddled landscape for the senses. Incorporating rap-tinged tracks, melodic-leaning breaks, and trap favorites, the one-hour mix will satisfy fans with Boombox originals like “Whisper” and “Moon Love” while simultaneously delivering dance mayhem. With no shortage of unreleased tracks queued, DIAS DE LOS MUERTOS IV is relentless in its showcase of Boombox Cartel’s bass arsenal.

Photo Credit: Olivia van Rye