Techno Tuesday: Sebastian Mullaert talks Circle of Live and the philosophy of improvisation

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Techno Tuesday: Sebastian Mullaert talks Circle of Live and the philosophy of improvisationTechno Tuesdays

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.

Sebastian Mullaert has been active with a variety of electronic music projects, notably his melodic techno duo Minilogue, for nearly 20 years. Having played the organ and violin from a young age, Mullaert is as comfortable playing with with analog electronic gear as he is the Tonhalle Zürich philharmonic orchestra. A life of live performance and mindfulness has led the Swedish multi-instrumentalist to develop a holistic philosophy that he applies to every aspect of his life.

Basing much of his philosophy around the intersection of nature, meditation, and tranquility, Mullaert adds an uplifting energy to all of his collaborations, be that with other musicians or just the audience listening to and engaging with his music. Having taken a break from his more structured duo performances, the forward-thinking artist has been focusing on his new collaborative improvisation project, Circle of Live since 2018. Dancing Astronaut had the chance to sit down with Mullaert to hear a bit more about this project before his six-hour Movement Detroit performance with Mathew Jonson, Amp Fiddler, and Vril, as well as his solo performance at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust on May 24.

Techno Tuesday: Sebastian Mullaert talks Circle of Live and the philosophy of improvisationSebastian Main Image 2

As an introduction for our readers I’d love to hear just a little bit more about the concept behind Circle of Live.

On the surface Circle of Live is only a live performance of music from the beginning to end of the night or stage. So there is no DJs playing, there is no music before it starts. No music after. It’s basically to allow improvisation and the musical journey based on the whole night or the whole day, depending on where we do it. We really want to to let creativity, and then life, flourish with opportunities not demands or restrictions. At the moment we are a group of twenty artists, and every Circle of Live performance is a combination between about three artists. They are free to come and do whatever they want. We don’t have their time schedule. There is no rule that you have to play all night, there is no rule that you have to play with someone else. I want to encourage everyone to to try to feel and decide “what do I want to do now,” not to push people to think about what they’re expected to do or what do I normally do in a situation like this. “Maybe I don’t want to play, you know, I want to take a break on stage.” So therefore it’s up to the artists come to the stage whenever they want. I don’t tell them when they should come. It’s up to them. And also they don’t even need to come to the place. I tell the artists that if you feel like taking a break, you want to come later in the night, that you for some reason need to rest or be by yourself, you’re also free to do that. So if an artist is like “Oh I’m not up for jamming with someone else today, I really want to have a play by myself,” it’s totally okay to do that. If I don’t want to play by myself, I would like to improvise with other people, that’s also fine. It’s really about setting a quite clear frame full of opportunities and possibilities, but not with demands.

Personally, it is, in a way, an extension of my approach to to expressing through music in general. I think it’s a method or an approach that I can apply on humanity as a whole, from kids to other adults. How you approach your work can be applied in many different situations. It’s not the only method. But I feel that it’s one method and, personally, that my creativity really blossoms when I approach it in that way. I try to go to the studio and do things in a way that when I feel things, I do them. I don’t do what I should do but what I feel I want to do. It’s not an egocentric perspective, but it’s included in the whole setting. I don’t encourage people to be egotistic individualists. Not just thinking about themselves, but an that approach in a way also makes an individual more open to the environment they’re in. It’s easier for you to actually connect with other people around you, regardless if it’s musicians jamming on stage or if it’s a situation where you’re sitting with your family and enjoying painting in the evening together or whatever. So it’s really about possibilities for me. To make that possible on stage, you need to improvise. If you’re a 20 artists–a lot of these artists have never met. They don’t know each other. That never played together. They can also have very different backgrounds. I tried to invite artists that I feel have an open attitude to music and the values that I’m talking about. Some have played electronic music for five years, some have played electronic music for one year. Some people use just a laptop, other people use gear worth $500,000. You know there are people from all different directions of music. So to be able to do a six to 10 hour live jam together with that background, you need to be open and accept that. I believe it’s a beautiful perspective for musician to get to new routes of creativity and to find new ways of expression.

As an artist with many projects, what brought Circle of Live to the forefront for you and made this the project that you wanted to focus on?

What I felt personally and also as feedback back from a lot of other artists, is that in our scene of electronic music and dance music, there are a lot of expectations. We get bookings sometimes even a year ahead. Very specific slots, like “you’re going to play here between two and three.” You come there and you know it is a club where people do this or that. I like this music and I know that I’m supposed to do it, though no one really knows what you’re going to play. I think the beginning of night the audience starts to wonder like who’s playing. Oh now it’s two, and now it’s four people. But then after worrying, then you don’t really care, you know, because you can’t really keep track of it. So the importance of who is playing and what they’re playing in a way also get’s lowered. It’s more important how I feel about it now.

The whole setting I want to create on stage gives the same opportunity to the audience and the dancefloor. Ultimately I don’t think there is any difference. As human beings we are created. And the creativity is just flowing through us. And when we listen to music or play music or dance to music it’s all an expression of what we feel. And that’s creativity.

It seems like this comes from a philosophy that values like open mindedness and balance within the realm performance and consumption as a whole. You kind of touched on this just very recently, mentioning that the electronic music scene the dance music scene often have these kind of strict set times norms of performance or that someone is going to get to show up somewhere play their songs, and then leave. Since you are coming at that from a different approach, do you feel like these kind of completely improvised sets these sets with fewer expectations are riskier? How do you feel going onstage you know where when a crowd may not know what to anticipate that you might be bringing?

That’s a very multidimensional question. In general what I personally really loved to listen to is improvised music, and also stripped back minimalistic improvised music. I’m not so interested in very complex compositions from very advanced productions. The reason for that, I think, is that I feel that as a live organist, I feel connected to some things I listen to that are a product of an organic flow. It’s something that very naturally happens. In a way, I feel it’s very similar to go out into the woods, like in really old nature that is left alone and has a very very honest and true balance in itself. When I come into a forest like that I feel like “this is it.” It’s not produced. It’s not defined. It’s not made with an intention that it should be in a certain way. It’s more an expression of something. I think when we are close to something like that, it reminds us. So, in a way, when when music is that reminder and the dance of the audience becomes an expression of that idea, I also become that reminder towards myself and others around me. Suddenly we have these beautiful circles reminding me of now. When that happens, something very, very beautiful and strong musically happens.

There is, of course, during long sessions of improvisation, quite boring parts. There can also be fuck-ups, things that were not super good. We also have that in our journey in life, going through all kinds of things, beautiful moments and terrible moments where you are actually adding in a destructive way, and the moments where you’re adding a very constructive way. And I think to follow a jam and dance to it, because when we dance we are so directly connected to what’s happening, it’s not a passive exercise. The audience becomes an active part of the whole experience and you follow all these parts that the audience can also follow from boringness to, “Oo, now it get’s interesting, now it clicks, now it blooms.” I think that gives energy to the audience. To me as a listener, I get something that I can take out of life. Because life it is like that. I don’t feel that I went through something that is better than me or more that me, I just experienced something. It was not something external. That experience belongs to you. It’s yours because you are conscious.

I think I think that’s an interesting dynamic to analyze–that of the differences between being able to be one with an experience but also an observer of it. And I think that you are bringing Circle of Live, as well as your next solo perfomances, to environments that are very conducive to that. Somewhere like Movement in Detroit, where there is such history of innovation and experimentation in techno, as well as National Sawdust in Brooklyn, which brings a ton of great performance art and usually a crowd with an open mind. So what makes these settings more receptive to live improvisation spontaneity, and what is is helpful in sort of setting the mood and philosophy of the night for it for a space that you’d like to perform?

I think what Circle of Live is a reaction to is that, in our time, we are getting more and more restless and we expect that the delivery should come really fast and quickly. When we go to a concert, we almost expect to have an Instagram photo with smoke in the air, lights, all hands up after five minutes. We are waiting for that moment where we can take that photo. Once again, we are not there. We’re waiting for something. We have an expectation. It’s a thought that we project on our wishes. And for me that’s the opposite. To come with an open mind and kind of let whatever happens happen. To an audience that wanted to come early, an audience that doesn’t want to run around that go to five different stages at the same time but actually stay and add to this presence that is key. And I think that musically also what I tried to do in the beginning is really start music before the audience comes. The intensity of the music and the volume of the music is always kind of increasing in a very slow way to create a warm welcome space for people to enter. I think these are some small things that can help. I also think that what we are doing now, to be able to talk about this and have a magazine or a journalist that wants to talk about and share this also may be attracting people who might otherwise miss this or want something different to the consumption experience.

That makes a lot of sense I think bringing some diversity to what we can expect from festivals and what we can expect from live performance past the typical hourlong sets.

Some of the artists that are included in Circle of Live are very successful, selling lots of tickets, have high expectations of themselves. When they come and do something solo, a certain responsibility pops up. “Ok, 2000 people came here to see me, probably a lot of them expect me to do a certain thing.” I think you can be a little bit afraid to challenge that. Or you can feel more humble, but you don’t want to disappoint them. But when you do a collaboration like Circle of Live, I think all the artists, in a way, can hide. Because their individual presence, as much of that is of course super important, it’s also less identified as specifically important. Maybe one of the artists that normally always play in the middle of it night smashing the room can play an ambient set, and there is room for the artist to, within the collective, be free to do what they feel for.

I see that Circle of Live have some recordings posted online and some recordings for sale, such as your FreeRotation performance on vinyl, as well as a few remixes. How do you kind of translate those ideas of spontaneity and improvisation and the whole live sector into a realm of recording music?

At the moment, we record all sessions always, so we have loads of upcoming releases, which will be selections of that. It’s almost impossible to get a feeling when you select a little piece out of a long improvisation. You disable the listener to follow the whole journey. I have a dilemma with that, but we still feel that to share what Circle of Live is and also to promote improvised and less perfect music. When we improvise, it’s never as perfect as someone in the studio making music. There will always be things with the mixing, with effects. Maybe people in Circle of Live play a little bit out of tempo, sometimes that adds a very organic and random touch to it. But if we always only release music that is perfect, that also creates a certain perception of what music is. In the way as an artist running Circle of Live as a label I feel that we have an opportunity to share things that are less perfect, but maybe even more pleasant to listen to. It will always be improvised.

The idea of creating less perfect music and not kind of being beholden to the standards of studio mixing is very fascinating. It reminds me a lot of how early jazz was recorded live in jazz clubs, where you hear the band members calling out to each other, you hear a little mistakes and crowd reactions. It’s very organic. While maybe imperfect, it’s a very unique and individual experience

That’s exactly my inspiration. I also want to point out that I do not believe that Circle of Live isn’t something super innovative in that sense, improvised music has a really long history. But I think for an electronic scene, sometimes you need to do a little bigger project and kind of raise the flag a little bit higher or something, and I think that’s what Circle of Live is. We are trying to take it to a festival stage with a lot of people and also do it there, not only in this small venue with 20 people where the nerds gather. We try to take it even further in that way also spread the message and share these beautiful things. Because I do think it’s a healing process to dance to music and also to dance to improvised music. So I want, in a way that is true and honest, to enable it for a bigger audience. [00:26:37][82.4]

I’m looking forward to seeing that Movement, I’ll definitely be there at the stage to catch some of definitely some Mathew Johnson and Amp Fiddler!

Yes, it’s so fun because so far we haven’t done one collaboration two times. So this one is very I’m very excited about. I am big fans of their music but they are so different musically and personality-wise. It’s a lot of psychology. This week I’m talking with all three of them. You know it’s a lot of time and effort to create this warm space for them as artists. To not feel any fear or not feel that they need to compare themselves to each other. You know if you have Amp Fiddler next to someone, for example, who has only played the keyboard for one year, of course that can also trigger fear like “OK who am I to play with this person who is so experienced.” Let me put that on hold to say “you know, I have creativity, I have energy, I can express that.” Each new person together in one room in one session has that opportunity, and none is less important the other.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity

Techno Tuesday: Catching up with Moscoman on the ‘New Tel Aviv Wave,’ Gather Outdoors, and more

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Techno Tuesday: Catching up with Moscoman on the ‘New Tel Aviv Wave,’ Gather Outdoors, and moreTechno Tuesdays

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.

Record label owner and global sound purveyor Moscoman is an artist who needs little introduction. First becoming a pillar of the Tel Aviv underground, his sound that effortlessly smudges the lines between disco, electronic, global music, and house have since made him a subject of international intrigue. He eventually made Berlin his home base, where he launched Disco Halal in 2016. In just a few years, the imprint has earned a high reputation, playing an ever-increasing role in the rise of left field dance music with notable signings from Chaim, Red Axes, Trikk, and more. Moscoman also made waves in 2017 with his hybrid imprint/eight-part series, Treisar.

The artist has continued to build upon his recent successes in 2019, putting out well-received EPs from Trikk and Nicola Cruz & Auntie Flo while stopping by fellow avant garde leader DJ Tennis’ label Life and Death for Wave Rave. Like its name, the eclectic four-tracker is rife with new wave/1980s influences—with futuristic overtones. His and his artists’ output remains impeccable, and it’s clear that Moscoman has fully stepped into his own as an artist,

He also follows a busy tour schedule, with one of his key upcoming dates being Gather Outdoors. The festival, organized by New York scene shapers Teksupport, is putting on its first edition at the Holiday Mountain Resort in the Catskills region of New York. Moscoman joins the likes of Francesca Lombardo, Brian Cid, Audiofly, and more at the festival’s Members-curated Oak Stage.

Curious to know more about his take on the rise of global sounds in dance music, lessons he’s learned through his long-reaching career, playing Gather, and his curatorial influence, we had a brief chat with Moscoman for this edition of Techno Tuesdays.

Techno Tuesday: Catching up with Moscoman on the ‘New Tel Aviv Wave,’ Gather Outdoors, and moreMoscoman Press Creidt Nuphar Blechner
Photo credit: Nuphar Blechner

Learn more about Gather Outdoors and get tickets to the festival here.

If you weren’t able to DJ and produce for a living, do you think you’d still be working in the industry full time? We saw a Twitter exchange about publicity?

Ha, the PR tweet was a joke amongst friends, but i’m super into everything around this industry!

I would do something maybe in management or any other way to help out artists, and of course my daily label work is one of my favorite things.

‘Disco Halal’ has been described in the past as “a very Berlin based label” – can you give us a rundown on how your sound has changed and evolved since moving to Berlin from Tel Aviv?

I reckon that only in Berlin I really found my voice, and thus begun this era of New Tel Aviv wave. Both happened at the same time simultaneously. Disco Halal is a Berlin Label, but its influences are worldwide. There isn’t really a play-by-play of what happened. But in terms of content, it moved from editing remixing other people music to releasing originals and giving people a platform to release their truth.

On a similar note, you’ve also advised that Berliners tend to have a more restricted mindset. But in recent years with artists like yourself, Acid Pauli, Powel, etc, it seems as though the city’s mind has “opened” more toward world sounds and more melodic material. What do you think has led to this change?

Tourism, inwards and outwards. More DJs playing outside of Berlin and more outsiders play in it all became a melting pot, people need to dare more to standout these days (and throughout history for sure).

Why do you think people connect so deeply with your sound? It’s been crazy to see how much you and your brand have grown over the past few years.

I believe people connect to us because its very Mediterranean in its core. It’s like your mother’s cooking, its something you are familiar with or something you want to be familiar with. It comes from the heart and soul of all of us, its a story of unity somehow.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since launching your own labels [Treisar project and Disco Halal]?

Not to want too much too fast, and everything has its moment. The smart ones know when the moment is right (I’m still working on that point!)

Do you ever feel as though you’ve sabotaged yourself at times in your efforts to release other artists’ music over your own on Disco Halal? Why not?

No, in life you give and get back, and never directly. This label is not my personal playground, it’s made for the music, for the fans and of course for the artists that are helping us to create and develop it.

Who are some artists you’ve signed as of late that are particularly noteworthy, and what makes these artists unique?

I have a personal relationship with all my artists, and I love to hear what they say and what they’re after. No one is after huge success really, and all are after their true artistic selves. That can be annoying as a label manager, but as an artist myself so i can also understand it. Ultimately every person is unique, but only a few standout.

Having lived in two distinct music towns, what are the similarities and differences you’ve noticed in terms of innovation, support for the arts, etc between Berlin and Tel Aviv?

You can’t really compare stuff. Tel Aviv has been about survival, Berlin invented many of the rules of this scene, when I moved I had no idea that things will pan out they way they are so I didn’t really notice too much. I would say that there’s great music from every city, and party wise there are better parties in Israel at this point, because the Berlin club market is over saturated which makes stuff a little bland. That said, the key clubs still hold their own.

How do you determine when the timing is right to release a certain track, or EP? Thinking about how you waited until the right moment (2018) to release your debut EP on Disco Halal.

I go with my gut, to be honest, no magic. I don’t live within patterns so I honestly do whatever i want all the time. It’s not always right, but it’s never quiet.

What inspires you the most creatively these days?

Free time.

You’re about to play the debut Gather Outdoors festival, which has a very specialist/underground lineup. What do you think this says about the US dance scene as a whole?

I love the change. From the first time I played in the US ’till now its been a crazy ride and I’m so happy that there’s place for people like me in the US Scene.

What excites you most about playing Gather?

The amazing line up, friends, and of course visiting the borscht belt for the first time!

Super8 & Tab talk ‘Past, Present & Future’ compilation and maturation of trance [Interview]

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Super8 & Tab talk ‘Past, Present & Future’ compilation and maturation of trance [Interview]51486449 10155278066457824 4048021507002073088 O

Miika Eloranta and Janne Mansnerus folded temporalities on their recent compilation, Past, Present & Future, to simultaneously contemplate the origins of the trance genre, its current configurations, and the progression of its sound. With more than 15 years of expertise as trance producers, Eloranta and Mansnerus–collectively known as electronic duo, Super8 & Tab–are genre veterans who lay claim to a wealth of accrued insight regarding the maturity of trance sound over the years. It is this intimate familiarity with form that guided their fastidious shaping of Past, Present & Future, released this past March on Armada Music.

As its title denotes, Past, Present & Future scales the continuum of trance music, to position modern updates of older genre efforts like Super8 & Tab’s 2019 remix of their 2012 Anjunabeats instrumental, “Helsinki Scorchin.”

“We have a long, long history in [trance],” Eloranta tells Dancing Astronaut. “We wanted to take that journey that we’ve had over the past 15 years, and put it on the compilation. [Past, Present & Future] reflects what we play during our DJ sets: testing some new tracks, playing some classics. Now, it’s packaged.”

-E

The forward-thinking quality of Past, Present & Future indeed figures in Super8 & Tab’s live sets, which Eloranta and Masnerus regularly use as platforms for debuts of new IDs. Both Eloranta and Masnerus hail from Finland, and return to the country to play about ten shows on their “home base” each year. Super8 & Tab’s interweaving of unreleased material into these sets has grown to be an experimental practice familiar not only to Eloranta and Masnerus, but also to the fans who attend Super8 & Tab’s annual Finland based shows.

“We usually test a lot of new tracks there for the first time, so it’s interesting for the people who come, because they know [to expect that],” Masnerus said.

While Super8 & Tab cite Finland as one of their favorite places to play, the duo’s travels have taken them all over the world, from Singapore to Madrid, and recently, to New York City, where Super8 & Tab caught up with Dancing Astronaut aboard Crust Nation’s Past, Present & Future Boat Party.

Enacted in support of the eponymous EP, the Past, Present & Future Tour is a live initiative that extends an engaging experience to fledgling fans of the genre. The new listeners who progress from first-time trance show attendees to well-versed dwellers in the domain comprise the future of the genre from the perspective of fan support, as Super8 & Tab know, and know well. Yet, Super8 & Tab also strive to apprise trance newcomers of the genre’s detailed past through their live format. Eloranta and Masnerus’ shared goal of acquainting their attendees with genre staples by featuring older and iconic trance cuts in their performances translates to Past, Present & Future.

“There’s a lot of new fans, so we wanted to get them to dig in deeper, to see what we’d been doing earlier,” Eloranta said of the release.

Super8 & Tab highlight Ashley Wallbridge‘s remix of the duo’s “Alba (Mixed)” as an emblem of a particularly well-executed contemporary rework on Past, Present & Future.

“I think he did a brilliant job,” Eloranta said when asked to identify the remix on the album that best exemplified a present take of a more dated trance release. “He kept the essence of the original, but brought it to 2019,” Eloranta added.

Both Eloranta and Masnerus underscored their 2019 revamp of “Helsinki Scorchin’” as another example of a successful current revision of a prior trance production. The present trend of re-imagining the celebrated cuts that color a genre’s past is one that Eloranta sees as sustaining the future of trance. Eloranta attributes the sustainability of remixing as a means of gleaning (and maintaining) listeners to a key component of trance tunes: their enduring melodies.

“There’s a lot of strong melodies in trance. They don’t get old; they’re timeless.”

-E

Thinking further about the future of trance music, Eloranta and Masnerus salute Helsinki-based artist, Avenia, as a rising producer to watch. Avenia appears on Past, Present & Future, to collaborate with With The Winds on “Traverse (Mixed),” and to contribute his own individual release, “Kingdom (Mixed).”

“He’s really young: he’s 19 and has been growing up listening to Anjunabeats, but also Avicii, so he’s combining all [these influences], and has a new angle to transmit music. He’s talented and hard working and ready to take criticism,” Eloranta said.

Past, Present & Future features productions revered trance entities in addition to Super8 & Tab, including Armin van Buuren, Andrew Bayer, Ilan Bluestone, Ferry Corsten, and more. The wealth of support just further solidifies the torrential trance twosome’s profound presence within their sonic sector of choice.

Photo credit: Super8 & Tab/Facebook

ORBIT: Brian Cid puts together hypnotic playlist ahead of Gather Outdoors [Exclusive]

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ORBIT: Brian Cid puts together hypnotic playlist ahead of Gather Outdoors [Exclusive]Brian Cid Credit Samuel Finzi

Brian Cid has a profound understanding of music that allows him to pull off whatever style he chooses with finesse and appeal. His expertise as an audio engineer was widely demanded in the pop world, with the New York-born artist fine tuning songs from the likes of Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga. When he made the transition into dance music, he refused to adhere to trends and instead began pushing the lush, intricate prog aesthetic he’s known best for today—a style of music that had really only been pushed by a select few European and Israeli figures. Cid’s forward-thinking ear has made him one of the most respected talents to rise out of the North American dance scene.

Brian’s next destination is Gather Outdoors festival, where he’ll be playing the Oak Stage. The stage, hosted by Member, boasts a wide array artists that specialize in deep, hypnotic sounds, including a special b2b from Holmar and Philipp Jung, Chaim, Francesca Lombardo, and Goldcap. Ahead of the occasion, he’s curated an exclusive playlist that features his own music, and other hidden gems that are bursting in melody, rhythm, and drive.

On playing the festival, Cid explains, “Nothing makes me happier than playing in NY, the city that saw me rise. Gather is precisely a gathering of old & new friends where we will be able to re-connect and make our bond even stronger. This playlist fits the mood I intend to bring to stage. It’s deep, upbeat with a bit of darkness. It will make you move for sure.”

Gather is Teksupport‘s inaugural festival venture, taking place in the picturesque and historical Catskills region of New York. The Brooklyn-based promoters have been widely responsible for a resurgence of underground dance music in the city, helping to bring iconic brands like Time Warp, Mosaic, and Cocoon stateside while also hosting landmark shows like Cirez D and Adam Beyer.

Learn more about Gather Outdoors and purchase festival tickets here

Photo credit: Samuel Finzi

Exclusive: Above & Beyond dive into trance haven with exclusive playlist ahead of EDC Las Vegas performance

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Exclusive: Above & Beyond dive into trance haven with exclusive playlist ahead of EDC Las Vegas performanceAbove Beyond

Anjunabeats labelheads Above & Beyond are returning to EDC Las Vegas for the 2019 edition of the festival, scoring a midnight set at the Circuit Grounds stage on Friday, May 17th. Marking one of the most anticipated festival weekends of the year, thousands of attendees —both newcomers and EDC veterans alike return to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to reunite for three mesmeric nights under the electric sky.

Ahead of their long-awaited performance, Above & Beyond curates an exclusive playlist with 15 of their choice festival cuts for Dancing Astronaut. The trio delves into a slew of their most prominent and striking singles, ranging from “Distorted Truth” to “Show Me Love,” their collaboration with trance maven Armin Van Buuren. The playlist trickles into the soothing lulls of the trio’s club mix of “There’s Only You”, mesmerizing listeners with the harmonies of long-time vocalist Zoe Johnston. Between the invigorating twists of percussive-soaked festival anthems and the lush transitions of their staple ballads —Above & Beyond notate their musical journey through the ebbs and flows of the playlist.

Saturday Night Session 021: Elephante opens up about being a vocalist on more music moving forward and gives fans a look into a day in his life

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Saturday Night Session 021: Elephante opens up about being a vocalist on more music moving forward and gives fans a look into a day in his lifeElephante

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

Every artist has a unique story when it comes to their foray into music. Some come into notoriety carrying out their lifelong dream of becoming an artist and others stumble into the career accidentally. Tim Wu, who is more popularly known as DJ and music producer Elephante, found himself sitting alone in a music studio at 25 through neither of these paths. He admits that, would he have been able to go back and tell his 16-year-old self that he would end up becoming a DJ and music producer, he wouldn’t have believed it.

Wu grew up an avid John Mayer fan, which ultimately inspired him to play in bands and write songs that he would perform on the acoustic guitar at local showcases in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Music has always been an incredibly big part of his life, but Tennis ultimately landed him at Harvard University where he played and locked in a career in consulting after graduation. When he wasn’t at his consulting job, Wu discovered electronic music production, and he became hooked. The more he produced music, the more miserable he became at his job to the point where he quit. He was so concerned about his parent’s reaction that he spent over a year lying to them about the decision to became a full time musician.

He reminisces on telling his parents he had stopped working as a consultant to pursue music, stating, “I think they were mostly confused, and obviously worried. Like what do you mean you’re gonna be a DJ? Can you get healthcare doing that? But at the end of the day, I think they knew how unhappy I was and that it was something I had to do, and were mostly just hoping I didn’t get hooked on heroin or something. I mean, can you imagine moving to a different country, working your ass off your whole life to give your kids a better life, and then having said kid tell you they were quitting their job to be a DJ? I would have murdered me. Now though they are super stoked – I brought them on stage for a couple shows and fans were asking for pictures with them and stuff, so I think they get a kick out of it. My mom still reminds me every time we talk not to do heroin though.”

The rest is history with Wu’s production career, although those who are familiar with the producer’s music would hardly be surprised to learn that Wu’s artistry grew out of his love of songwriting as a teenager. In a world where commercial crossover releases dominate the charts, Wu has found a way to bring vocals front and center in his releases without producing a stream of three note drops that leave the vocals and vocals alone to differentiate one track from the next. His body of work spans for folky “Come Back For You” featuring Matluck to beautiful “Catching On” featuring Nevve.

Wu recently released his own cover of “Shooting Stars,” which is the second release he has put out with his own vocals. Wu speaks about the decision to utilize his own vocals on his music, noting, “I was a singer-songwriter before I started producing music, so I’ve been singing for forever. But it was really important that my voice was the right one for the song, and I wasn’t just singing it for vanity’s sake. If someone else could sing it better, I’d have them do it instead.”

Those who have seen Wu perform live will recognize his rendition of the track, which has been cut in and out of his live performances since he made the cover in 2014. Now that he has begun to release music with his own vocals, Wu has developed a stream of covers that he will be putting out over the next few months.

Wu gives fans insight into his decision to utilize his own vocals, which is a decision more producers have seemingly been making over the past few years thanks to artists like Calvin Harris and The Chainsmokers singing on their own original releases. He states, “Especially after The Chainsmokers had so much success with Drew singing – there were a bunch of DJs who were like ‘oh I can sing too,’ and some really can, and others were like… should you though? And I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just doing it for the sake of it. Producing the songs I sing feels somewhat different, just because I know I always can go back and change the line.”

2019 will be a big year for Wu, who notes he has multiple projects in the pipeline. For now, he is still inducing euphoria through his live sets and original releases, including a high energy and genre-bending Saturday Night Session that takes listeners through a dynamic journey. When asked what kind of a Saturday night the mix is going to get listener’s ready for, Wu states, ” The best Saturday night of their life!!! You were planning on taking it easy, but instead you listen and are inspired to go out and you meet the love of your life and go get pizza with them and on a whim buy Powerball tickets and you win a billion dollars. That kind of Saturday night.”

_____________________________________________________________________________

Where do you draw inspiration from when you sit down to produce music? Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
Honestly, sounds and melodies and lyrics kinda just pop into my head at random times, sometimes in the shower, when I’m about to fall asleep in a hotel, when I’m listening to music or reading or whatever. I have no idea where exactly it comes from though. I’ve learned to write down or record a voice memo any time one of these little moments strikes, so by the time I’m sitting down in the studio I have a bunch of ideas that I’m excited to work on. Once I’m there, it’s all about just really diving in an exploring that idea – I’m always asking myself what comes next? What would be cool with this? I try to work away from the computer as much as possible – playing piano, jamming on guitar, writing/drawing in notebooks, whatever. And I just try to keep finding that next little cool moment, that next little sound, and then on the good days I come to 8 hours later and something exists that didn’t before. On the bad days the voices in my head are silent, and it’s like well, guess I’ll try again tomorrow.

“Glass Mansion” was your first time singing on one of your songs, and rumor has it you’ll be doing this more often moving forward. Were you nervous at all to jump into also being a vocalist? Does producing a track with your own vocals feel different than producing a track with someone else singing on it?
I was, but for different reasons than you’d expect. I was a singer-songwriter before I started producing music, so I’ve been singing for forever. But it was really important that my voice was the right one for the song, and I wasn’t just singing it for vanity’s sake. If someone else could sing it better, I’d have them do it instead. So it took a long time for me to write a song that I knew I absolutely had to sing, and really feel confident in that, and “Glass Mansion” was the first time I was like, ‘I have to do this.’ Especially after The Chainsmokers had so much success with Drew singing – there were a bunch of DJs who were like ‘oh I can sing too,’ and some really can, and others were like… should you though? And I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just doing it for the sake of it. Producing the songs I sing feels somewhat different, just because I know I always can go back and change the line, or change the phrasing or whatever, which can actually be kind of a negative. But over the years I’ve gotten better at understanding what works and really building the song around the vocals, whether it’s me or someone else, and not just slapping a beat over an acapella.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Yes, eating almond butter out of the tub. I’m doing that right now actually.

When you aren’t touring, what does a normal day in your life look like?
Ideally I’ll play some pickup basketball in the morning, then eat and hit the studio. I fucking love the studio. It’s what I’d want to do even if I wasn’t making a living doing it. You know how when you’re a kid you have things that you had to finish your homework before you can do, and that’s the thing that gets you through the day? That’s making music for me. It’s so much fun I’m still kinda baffled that I get paid to do it. 

You have a really interesting story- you went to Harvard, got a consulting job, and then quit to pursue music full time. You didn’t tell your parents that you quit for a while though. How did they react when you first told them, and how do they feel about your career as a musician now that you’ve become so successful?
I think they were mostly confused, and obviously worried. Like what do you mean you’re gonna be a DJ? Can you get healthcare doing that? But at the end of the day, I think they knew how unhappy I was and that it was something I had to do, and were mostly just hoping I didn’t get hooked on heroin or something. I mean, can you imagine moving to a different country, working your ass off your whole life to give your kids a better life, and then having said kid tell you they were quitting their job to be a DJ? I would have murdered me. Now though they are super stoked – I brought them on stage for a couple shows and fans were asking for pictures with them and stuff, so I think they get a kick out of it. My mom still reminds me every time we talk not to do heroin though.

What is one thing your fans don’t know about you?
I’m allergic to bees? And dogs and cats and horses and pretty much anything with fur. Which sucks cuz I love dogs. Can’t have it all.

What kind of a Saturday night is your Saturday Night Session mix going to get listeners ready for?
Best Saturday night of their life!!! You were planning on taking it easy, but instead you listen and are inspired to go out and you meet the love of your life and go get pizza with them and on a whim buy Powerball tickets and you win a billion dollars. That kind of Saturday night.

Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 91

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Dexter’s Beat Laboratory Vol. 91Deters 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.


Varien calls his latest single his “favorite track [he’s] made in years.” He’s tapped Strix as the vocalist on the metal-tinged song called “Hush The Storm Away.” Like all Varien music, it’s a beautifully pieced together composition, packed with dramatic percussion, soaring strings, and powerful breakdowns. Given the sheer complexity of his songwriting, I find something new every time I listen to “Hush The Storm Away.” I love it.

In their latest endeavor, T & Sugah have again taken to Liquicity, this time to release the title track for the Descenders video game. This breathtaking track has been two years in the making, according to the Dutch duo, and it’s well worth the wait. They bring their precise sound design and a healthy dose of bass to “Descenders,” thrilling drum ‘n’ bass lovers of all persuasions.

Polish producer Guy Arthur has taken on a classic: Nero‘s “Crush on You,” which skyrocketed to electronic music fame after its release in 2011. It’s been remixed countless times in the eight years since, perhaps most notably by Knife Party in the same year. Guy Arthur’s given his version an upbeat, retro feel, which is appropriate, since Nero sampled a 1985 Jets song to create their initial revival.

Goldroom classifies his latest single, “U,” as “some disco house for a late night on the beach”—and it’s perfect for just that. Following “Do You Feel It Now?” at the end of April, the LA-based producer has this time joined forces with Chela to kick the tempo up a notch. This simmering dance floor heater is primed for both relaxing in the sun and a late-night nightclub, making it the perfect song to ease fans into the summer months.

It’s Com Truise Persuasion System release day! The nine-track “mini-LP” made its full debut on Ghostly International on May 17, showcasing the synthwave producer at his finest. A shining example of this is “Ultrafiche of You,” a glowing five-minute piece that combines varied percussion and twinkling synth melodies. “It’s a love song, and I don’t write many of those,” the producer told Mixmag.

Gary Richards on where he’s been, what he’s learned, and starting over, premieres ‘No Retreat’ with Loge21 [Interview]

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Gary Richards on where he’s been, what he’s learned, and starting over, premieres ‘No Retreat’ with Loge21 [Interview]6E258AEB46AA40EFB93BCEB4B99FD32E

Electronic music consumers over the last two decades would be hard-pressed to pinpoint an individual who’s impacted the dance music event space harder than Gary Richards. Since the 1990s, Richards (also known musically as Destructo) has taken his talents miles above their subterranean roots, largely helping shape the Southern Californian rave scene, relentlessly seeking new ways to secure dance music a more tangible, industry-wide foothold. From championing a quaint little get together, now known as Electric Daisy Carnival (incepted under the ‘Magical Mickey’ masthead, from when the event series bore Richards’ earmark in the ’90s), to hatching the now-legendary HARD Events, which bred the still fervently attended Holy Ship! and HARD Summer, he’s exuded a visionary’s proclivity for predicting (and propelling) the next electronic it thing oozing the je ne sais quoi that really makes an event stand above the rest.

Gary Richards on where he’s been, what he’s learned, and starting over, premieres ‘No Retreat’ with Loge21 [Interview]Destructo3

Richards not only has a promoter’s penchant for garnering the excitement needed to get ideas off the ground, but a masterful musician’s tact to make them stick. A desire to liven up a scene subject to cyclical staleness served as the impetus for Richards’ most recent brainchild, branded AMFAMFAMF (All My Friends).

“The landscape is very competitive,” Richards said of picking up shop in 2017 after a decade at HARD to breathe life into yet another new endeavor. “There’s a lot at stake now and business people don’t want to see new things pop up. But dance music’s all about new and fresh and that really can’t be stopped.”

Though, despite the daunting nature of starting over in one of the most volatile industries in existence, the All My Friends event train gained almost instantaneous headwind, perhaps due to Richards’ own reputation preceding him. The first edition of the company’s cornerstone party, FriendShip Cruise, amassed thousands for its four-night maiden voyage aboard the Celebrity Equinox to the Caribbean. With it, came a colorful stream of genre-traversing acts, from Boys Noize to Busy P, RÜFÜS DU SOL to Rico Nasty. Richards’ seemingly curious curation must have struck a resounding chord, as the 2020 cruise is already 70 percent sold out.

Gary Richards on where he’s been, what he’s learned, and starting over, premieres ‘No Retreat’ with Loge21 [Interview]Destructo1

In addition to a stint captaining Def American’s A&R sector under the emphatically accomplished eye of pioneer producer, Rick Rubin, driving innovation in the music industry is in Richards’ DNA. His father, Barry Richards, a concert promoter and prominent radio personality of the late ’60s and early ’70s, made sure his son’s sonic sonar was firing on all cylinders before he hit puberty, ensuring his kids got to catch everyone from Rick James to Black Sabbath. Barry himself is known for helping to introduce progressive rock to East Coast radio stations in his time. Quite ironically and somewhat timelessly, Barry certainly imparted his intuition and curative periphery to his son, as they stood on the precipice of a consequential musical uprising Barry never saw coming. Barry, it seems, believed Eminem when he quite comically announced “Nobody listens to techno,” on 2002’s unforgettable “Without Me.” Little could Barry have known at the time that Gary would famously sample the line years later for for his 2015 club sensation, “Techno.”

“My dad was always like ‘Don’t mess with that [electronic] music cause no one likes it,’” Richards said. “20 years later, he called me up and was like ‘Hey, what’s a Major Lazer?’”

Gary Richards on where he’s been, what he’s learned, and starting over, premieres ‘No Retreat’ with Loge21 [Interview]Destructo2

With this perpetual irreverence for convention as a promoter/organizer, so comes Richards’ success as DJ-producer, Destructo; a success which can be characterized as a career-long dedication to discovering strange new ways to merge the house and hip-hop domains, which historically has been tough to do properly, even despite the two genres’ inextricably shared origins. Richards maintains his success as a musician is innately linked to his success on the business side of the coin.

“I think when you’re just a concert promoter you’ve never really been in the artists’ shoes, so you don’t really understand the nuances—especially DJing electronic music,” Richards said of his entrepreneurial edge amidst a capitalism-catalyzed sea of eager competitors.

Gary Richards on where he’s been, what he’s learned, and starting over, premieres ‘No Retreat’ with Loge21 [Interview]Destructo Busta Rhymes Fkin Sht Up

Securing collaborations with rap icons like Ty Dolla $ign, YG, Yo Gotti, and Busta Rhymes, Destructo’s music soon became something of a G-house archetype: flippantly feel-good tracks for a night out up to no good. However, his latest record, a Dancing Astronaut exclusive, strides outside the hip-hop-predicated mold of his most notable works, for what Destructo himself dubs his “hardest-hitting track yet.”

“No Surrender” is a bass-driven battle cry primed for the perennially raucous festival frontlines. Bolstered by Parisian bass house duo, Loge21, the track employs Richards’ own thunderous, Sparta-inspired vocal cut. Destructo isn’t asking this time; he’s just cutting to the chase and coaxing listeners directly to dance floors.


AMFAMFAMF recently announced dates for both its Seattle and LA dates— Seattle will see a July 4 affair with Chris Lake and Justin Martin in tow, while LA’s October 19 – 20 event roster still remains a mystery. Though, as Richards’ newest festival property continues to build brand equity within a heavily diluted electronic events circuit, Richards’ is already sure of All My Friends’ longevity, noting it is one of his most important entrepreneurial accomplishments so far. “With that it’s the same Gary, just a different name,” says Richards. And if the last 20 years of dance music events are any indication—if it bears Gary Richards’ name, it’s going to be a hit.

Learn more about AMFAMFAMF’s Seattle and LA dates here.

Exclusive: Kaskade delivers melodic and moody Orbit Playlist ahead of EDC Las Vegas 2019

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Exclusive: Kaskade delivers melodic and moody Orbit Playlist ahead of EDC Las Vegas 2019Kask Orb 2

With EDC Las Vegas imminently approaching, Kaskade delivers a sweeping selection of his latest personal track picks—ranging from electrifying main stage bops, to moody, underground beats exclusively for Dancing Astronaut’s Orbit playlist series ahead of his performance at the famed Kinetic Field.

In between polishing off the third installment of his Redux EP series and announcing the return of his Los Angeles based Sun Soaked beach party, Kaskade shows no sign of slowing down upon his next endeavor, delivering a show-stopping performance under the electric sky.

Curating an assortment of fifteen tracks, Kaskade opens his playlist with bouncy, groove-inducing tunes like his festival-ready release, “FUN”, and Duke Dumont‘s latest fan favorite, “Red Light, Green Light” to kick off the tone for his mainstage set. He continues by delving into areas of nostalgia with timeless tunes such as Cajmere‘s “Percolater”, and Camelphat‘s intoxicating remix of Calvin Harris‘ “I’m Not Alone”, and dives deeper into the immersive melodies of Anjunadeep 10 select “Prospect” by Nox Vahn and Marsh.

Dancing Astronaut presents: a veteran’s guide to surviving day through night at Camp EDC

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EDC Las Vegas has cemented its legacy into the landscape of electronic music festivals across the world, curating a distinctly unique excitement for its arrival. From the preceding week-long, pool party festivities that make up EDC Week, to the recent undertaking of Camp EDC, the festival’s newly introduced campgrounds, Las Vegas transforms its atypical glitzy, nightclub fronted atmosphere into the ultimate glitter-speckled, gaudy outfit-approved haven for EDC attendees during the month of May.

The festival’s 2018 edition saw the birth of their camping program, which brought in thousands of fervent attendees impatiently awaiting to kick off their weekend festivities. After a successful inaugural run, this new amenity will return for 2019’s upcoming weekend. Campers will be privy to a handful of exclusive activities such as the campground pre-party and daytime parties, health and wellness workshops and communal endeavors. Insomniac has tailored the campground experience with their headliners at the helm for its second year, attesting to Insomniac’s ongoing commitment toward self improvement in the events space. In preparation of Camp EDC’s second round over the May 16-20 weekend, Dancing Astronaut has composed the ultimate Camp EDC survival guide – fit with tips, tricks, and experienced knowledge on how to make the most of your EDC experience.


Dancing Astronaut presents: a veteran’s guide to surviving day through night at Camp EDCDustin Downing For Insomniac 1

Glam up your campsite

Your campsite will become your temporary weekend home—so make it feel like it!  Not only do you get to show off some wicked site design skills, but personalizing your campsite will make it easier for your friends to locate your site. Come bearing your flashiest flags, totem poles or inflatables to decorate. Make a checklist to ensure no camping essentials are forgotten at home. If you’re missing anything, check out the on-site general store for those last-minute necessities.

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Snap a picture of your campsite number

Much like navigating a maze, getting back to your campsite can be difficult to steer through after dancing till dawn. After hauling all of your camping essentials onto your site, be sure to snap a few pics of your site number and your tent to keep handy. Rather than waiting for the festival shuttles to head back to the strip, take comfort in the fact that sleep is just a few steps away.

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Take disco naps to keep you dancing 

Arguably the biggest perk of staying in Camp EDC is that your bed is always a few minutes away. Whether you’re cooling down under the Cascada tent or holing up in your Shiftpod, take advantage of the napping opportunities to keep you energized throughout the weekend.

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Snack smarter

Between exclusive campsite sets from Joyryde and Justin Martin, to interrupting your mid-day nap to join in goat yoga—catching a bite to eat might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Be sure to stay hydrated and eat while you can in-between your daily activities to keep you fueled for a night under the electric sky. If you’re looking to crush some cravings, Camp EDC is welcoming over 15 gourmet food vendors on the grounds to satisfy all appetites.

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Bring extra supplies

Those who have attended the inaugural edition of Camp EDC are no stranger to the scorching sunlight that beams upon the campgrounds. Come packed with essentials like hydration packs, sunscreen and ear plugs. In this case, having more is better than having less. Pro tip: sharing and caring with your neighbors is a surefire way to lock in some festival friends for life.

Dancing Astronaut presents: a veteran’s guide to surviving day through night at Camp EDCSkyler Greene For Insomniac 2 1

Arrive early and stay late 

Checking into the campgrounds isn’t a walk in the park when thousands of other campers have the same idea in mind. Rather than attempting to weasel your way into the campgrounds with everyone else while the entrance line is at its peak, arrive for the check-in open time on the day of your arrival. Your crew, and your future self will thank you.

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Disconnect and connect with those around you 

Cellular service on the campgrounds may be spotty, allowing you to take the time to get to know the people around you. If you really need to utilize your network, keep an eye out for accessible areas where the wifi is flowing. Areas like the Carnival Square in the festival grounds is prepped with free wifi, food and fun all weekend long.

Photo credits: Dustin Downing, Adi Adinayev, Skyler Greene