Band To Watch: Porridge Radio

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If you live in the British coastal town of Brighton, it’s hard not to feel the ever-present draw of the sea, for better or for worse. For Dana Margolin, the pebbly beach and great watery beyond that signal the end of Brighton’s city center became particularly entangled with her life around the time she was … More »

The role of critics: Getter breaks his silence after Visceral Tour cancellation [Op-Ed/Interview]

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The role of critics: Getter breaks his silence after Visceral Tour cancellation [Op-Ed/Interview]Getter

Artists are people, too.

It may not seem like it through the lens of an Instagram filtered helicopter ride, but that doesn’t negate the fact. Artists require honest feedback on their work for the sake of progress. But they equally require encouragement from peers, critics, and consumers. When they’re receiving both, the music scene is at its healthiest.

The union of encouragement and appraisement invoke a sense of balance under the critical microscope. Honest feedback is well-rounded and multi-pronged: pointing out well-founded shortcomings, areas of oversight, regression, or misguided efforts, while real encouragement resides in helping the artist make use of critiques. Too much of either and the scene stalls. 

Power like this, on both ends of the artistic experience, is frequently abused, often unknowingly—with people wielding words like weapons, either unaware or irreverent of their impact. Apathy, in this particular regard, in both fan response and critical exegesis is starkly embodied in Getter, who months after being abused about the shift in sound on his latest album Visceral  is once again playing shows, producing music, and contributing to social media.

“No matter what you think, we are all humans with the same emotions and thoughts,” Getter tells Dancing Astronaut. “You have to remember that musicians aren’t here to serve you music sculpted by fans on a platter. There’s shit you’ll like, and shit you’ll hate, with every artist.”

An excess of encouragement means lackluster music permeates through the helm of the industry unchecked. On the inverse, too much criticism can stifle an artist’s creativity, curbing their hunger to try new things.

This illusive balance puts artists, critics, and fans in a precarious position. Unfortunately baseless detractors are often the loudest. And critics and fans, now equipped with the ubiquitous social media mouthpiece, have to be conscious of the power of their input.

Those familiar with Getter know that Visceral is a glaring shift in both sound and style from the jarring dubstep upon which he carved out an indelible niche. The album came out on deadmau5’s mau5trap label housing—known for its ghostly and symphonic approach to dance music. 

“I’ll always be proud of Visceral,” Getter says. “Moving forward, I want to put out all kinds of music and mix it up. That way everyone’s happy.”

Getter was admirably trying to expand his musical range with Visceral; yet the most pervasive feedback he received from listeners on his album and tour was vile, hurtful, and downright destructive. So much so to the point that he eventually cancelled the remainder of his tour dates.

In an emotional address to his social media, Getter said,

Consider the gravity of Getter’s statement. Visceral long stood as the focal point of his life, albeit a luxurious life that’s coveted by many and shared by few. However, the razor-tongued naysayers who opted to use this fact to excuse their myopic comments are egregiously misguided. Money and VIP vacations don’t assuage robbing someone of their professional resolve.

Those who have spent a minimal amount of time on the internet know that its inherent separation from face-to-face interaction invites cruelty to run rampant. Because the chances of tangible retaliation are practically non-existent, it’s an open door to proceed without caution.

“At the end of the day, social media is enabling a part of your mind that you wouldn’t normally notice,” Getter says. “It inflates your insecurity.”

For the most part, it’s not against the law to type hateful things. If Getter was someone’s dubstep idol, and that person spent money to watch his Visceral tour only to discover that he wasn’t going to play any dubstep, that person has a right to be disappointed in the show.

That person does not, under any circumstances have the right to attack Getter personally. That pushes the needle nowhere and incites progress for no one. Not Getter. Not the person posting. Not the dance music community as a whole. 

Getter’s a professional, though, and he audibly attempted to hear the concerns from his detractors and act on them. He understands that he needs to take feedback seriously if he’s going to succeed as an artist, and he tried his best to do so:

“Been thinking about the criticism of the visceral tour so far and have started to adjust a lot of shit in the performance,” Getter wrote to Twitter. “It doesn’t make sense for me to expect everyone from previous shows to be 100% down w the new stuff. Ima make this super special thanks for the pointers”

He acted professionally. Made adjustments to his set. But the trolls whittled his patience thin. 

When he canceled his tour, he emphasized the importance of honest criticism:

“Criticism is healthy. My friends and I frequently critique each other’s work and it helps the final product. However, the constant hate and the disgusting attitudes I’m faced with are destroying me.”

As Getter noted, artists are not hired guns, paid to deliver a singular product to an eager, esoteric fanbase. Art is too often reduced to a commodity, and the state of music suffers.

The only reason to be so upset with an artist’s performance that it merits condemnation is if they’re too intoxicated to perform, show up late, or bail on the show. Other than that, it’s mutually understood that they’re doing their best to deliver for the crowd and themselves.

“I think that sometimes people forget what a concert, or a live performance is. For a lot of musicians, you go in, do the job, and leave. It’s a paycheck, it doesn’t have to be a well thought-out performance. But… you should remember that you are going to see them… if you truly appreciate an artist, you’ll know if its done for money or for the art. And if you’re going see your favorite artist or any artist for that matter, rather than thinking about how much it sucks or if they are selling out cuz of a new style, think about what they are giving the crowd. Maybe you don’t like it, but maybe someone around you is really attached to it.”

Again, there is a balance to consider here between criticism and encouragement. If negative comments can have such a staunch and lasting effect on him, then positive comments would theoretically do the opposite to a similar degree. It’s possible to share a negative review while praising an artist’s will to experiment in a single stroke of communication.

If every artist were condemned when they wanted to try something new with their music, the scene would go nowhere. Everyone would be stuck making the same songs over and over again, and dance music would die. Consumers need to understand this fact. But this is also why critics also have a necessary place in music, as Diplo recently articulated.

Among critics, Visceral was a modest success. Some reviews were more critical than others based on the more concrete musical merits of the album (which is commonplace given their subjective nature). But most of them were complimentary based on Getter’s willingness to expand his sound and express his emotions through his music. 

Being a frequent habitué of digital critique in music, most critics are inclined to praise artists who try to expand their sound with verve. They often understand that is how the scene moves forward; how new sounds come about. This level of praise for Getter was probably one of the reasons he threw himself into his Visceral tour with as much vigor as he did, and in that sense, the critics did a good job. They encouraged Getter to continue on his musical journey.

“Critics stir shit up. They tell you what they think. And that’s fine, the world needs people to be real sometimes. I always appreciate constructive criticism, or if someone calls something ‘trash’ that’s fine too. But the understanding of why is a little more satisfying. There’s no comfort point you get to as a musician, you always want to move forward, good or bad, movement is key. Trying new things, innovating.”

Unfortunately, critics can often be too encouraging, as represented across every genre of music in the modern scene. When critics stop doing their jobs properly, commercialism has its way with music, and that’s exactly what’s happening right now. 

This is why Instagram personalities are signing record deals. The general public has meshed the ideas of what sells and what’s good which is a result of critics cowering to offer honest and well-founded opinion.

Believe or not, people still listen to critics. People hear about albums that are widely praised like To Pimp a Butterfly and Lemonade because those albums deserve every bit of admiration they receive. So when critics let cookie-cutter party tracks pass unchecked, it devalues authentically brilliant music, it inflates the egos of the artists, and it erodes the role of critics themselves thus opening the door for the debate Lizzo started recently.

After receiving a few lukewarm reviews (alongside an influx of exceedingly positive ones) on her album Cuz I Love You, the steadily ascending pop artist tweeted: 

“PEOPLE WHO ‘REVIEW’ ALBUMS AND DONT MAKE MUSIC THEMSELVES SHOULD BE UNEMPLOYED.”

The fact is, it’s better for non-musicians to review music. That way they focus on the product itself rather than the process. When critics review an album, they aren’t reviewing the effort the artist put into the album. They’re reviewing the album itself. If an artist were to do that job they would be inherently biased simply because they understand how hard it is to produce an album. 

Critics understand the effort in the abstract, but their job isn’t to pat the artist on the back for trying. Their job is to explain the merits of the final work. In a perfect world, every album would be the best of the best, and the artists who made the best music would be the most successful. Of course, the world isn’t perfect and the music business will never work that way, but the critics are obliged to do their best to make it that way. 

That includes being truthful when a piece of music isn’t up to par. Think about it. Just like when critics universally praise album, if critics universally denounce an album there’s a considerable chance that the album simply isn’t good. This is how inspired artists are separated from the contrived. A true artist will take that criticism and work harder as Getter did. Untrue artists will point fingers and find fault in critics.

It’s not right for any artist to have to cancel a tour, as Getter had to, after receiving endless vitriolic pelting for taking a chance. That is not the dynamic this industry needs. The artistic reward system for thoughtful risk is, frankly, off-kilter as it is now.

Music is, of course, subjective. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and no piece of music is loved by literally every human being in the ear-having macrocosm. But objective elements of quality are inseparable from music as well. That’s how songs like “Imagine” by John Lennon can actually change the world. Regardless of whether one or two people (including your humble author) don’t like the song, it is expertly written, exquisitely performed, and culturally galvanizing to the point that it helped inspire a generation to do the just thing.  

This may come as a surprise, but talented artists are making music of that caliber every day, and with the right support system from fans and critics that music will come to light and change the world all the same. We here at Dancing Astronaut are fans and critics alike, and we do our best to support artists like Getter in this way because they are people, too.

Photo Credit: Jared Stossel

Artist To Watch: Squirrel Flower

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No matter how vulnerable or genuine a musician’s work is, when they get up on stage there is always an added performative element. Whether under their own name or an alias, they’re recreating a past state of mind — one that still might be fresh, but is reconstructed nonetheless. Ella O’Connor Williams considered this when … More »

Pet Shop Boys partake in a spot of ‘Monkey business’ amidst Glastonbury rumors

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Pet Shop Boys partake in a spot of ‘Monkey business’ amidst Glastonbury rumorsPet Shop Boys

Original gangsters of synth-pop, the Pet Shop Boys find their inner funk with a bit of “Monkey business,” the disco-directed third showing from their upcoming album Hotspot, due January 24.

“Monkey business” may be getting a 2020 release, but is more of a 1970s sonic pool party packaged into a three-minute radio edit as electronic luminaries Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe invite fans to shenaniganize with booze-drenched lyrics, harmonizing backup singers, and groove-laden vocoder. The upcoming album’s third cut is a sonic departure its first two singles, the radio-ready “Dreamland” and the acoustically introspective “Burning the heather.”

In addition to the new single, Tennant also sparked rumors of a Glastonbury appearance during an interview with BBC Radio 2’s Nicki Chapman earlier this week, stating “You have put me on the spot, let’s just leave me there…” when asked about this year’s festival. Glastonbury takes place between June 24 and 28, the same week that the Pet Shop Boys’ scheduled EU tour concludes. Hmm…

H/t: BBC Radio 2

Velvet Code Delivers Powerful Interview About Music And Beyond

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VELVET CODE (real name Marlon Wurmitzer) is a Canadian electropop artist, DJ, and producer based in Toronto. As a songwriter and music producer, Velvet Code’s influences include Madonna, Freddie Mercury, Robyn, and Muse. His music can be described as a modern take on 1980’s pop with heavy influences of electropop and EDM. Dreamer is Velvet

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Dillon Francis and Diplo put tastebuds to the test on ‘Hot Ones’

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Dillon Francis and Diplo put tastebuds to the test on ‘Hot Ones’Dillon Francis Diplo Rukes

YouTube’s equivalent of Fallon (with 80 times the heat), Hot Ones is the only talk show with the gall to put its guests in not just conversational discomfort, but physical comfort as well, a quite literal hot seat, if you will. Host Sean Evans conducts his interviews in traditional fashion, with one exception: Both he and his guest eat a hot wing after every question, graduating in heat as the interview beats on.

The painfully entertaining online series has hosted the likes of celebrities from all walks of showbiz, from Kevin Hart to the Mayor of Flavortown himself, Guy Fieri. It’s the show that bred the infamous DJ Snake disapproval meme, for context.

Evans has now served up a hefty shot of EDM double trouble with the show’s latest victims, Dillon Francis and Diplo. The pair must answer a series of questions, via the show’s Truth or Dab segment, ranging from mild to flamin’ hot in regards to level of controversy (i.e., harmless, albeit insufferable industry trends vs. the wildly contentious waters of outing ghost producers). It’s only fitting the twosome appear together, given their longstanding friendship and Dillon’s tenure releasing on Diplo’s Mad Decent label housing. Viewers are in for a torrential treat.

Photo: Rukes

Midnight Kids delineate the making of ‘Run It,’ what’s on the sonic horizon [Q&A]

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Midnight Kids delineate the making of ‘Run It,’ what’s on the sonic horizon [Q&A]MKpress TateLumb 1

After asserting their re-imaginative prowess on remixes of P!nk’s “Hurts 2B Human” and San Holo’s “Right Here Right Now,” Midnight Kids now channel their artistic energies to “Run It.” The fourth Midnight Kids-stamped single to gain a release, “Run It” broadens the duo’s stock of original productions, and as Midnight Kids disclosed to Dancing Astronaut, it won’t be the last to do so.

The Annika Wells-assisted number is but one Midnight Kids project to make the leap from the pipeline to streaming platforms. With a queue of unreleased music eagerly awaiting rotation, Midnight Kids are poised to further expand their electronic influence in the year to come. The producers delineate how “Run It” fits into their continuously expanding catalog, the sonic moves they’ll be making in the new decade, and more in an exclusive interview with Dancing Astronaut.


Arriving at the close of the year, “Run It” builds on a stream of singles, such as “Those Were The Days.” How, specifically, does “Run It” build on/expand the sound that you’ve developed over this past year?

We want every track to sound like it’s a step up in production quality from the last. With “Run It,” it feels like the culmination of everything we’ve worked on this past year. Great vocals, lush chords, and a rich, full soundscape are what make this record so special for us. “Run It” will give everyone an intro to the Midnight Kids world they haven’t heard or seen yet. This is a record we are very proud of and we’re so excited to see what everyone thinks of it.

How did you approach the production process of this record?

The production on this track came together incredibly fast and naturally. We were sent a batch of demo toplines and Annika’s original demo really stood out to us. We loved the way she sang the chorus. It had an incredibly bouncy, moving rhythm and we tried to preserve that as much as we could in the production process. Having such an amazing vocal to work with from the get-go made executing ideas that much easier for us.

“Run It” follows two Midnight Kids remixes: P!nk and Khalid’s “Hurts 2B Human” and “San Holo’s “Right Here Right Now.” What are the qualities of a song that attract a Midnight Kids remix, are there any particular hallmarks that you look for?

It’s sort of a case-by-case basis. The most important thing we pay attention to, though, would be the vocal. We love big and beautiful sounding vocals, really anything that is filled with tons of emotion. Most of the time, we end up building an entire new track using just the vocals for remixes, so as long as we like the vocal, we can end up making something awesome.

Your sound has a youthful, whimsical flair to it, and it’s certainly safe to say that its brought color to the electronic scene. As you continue to develop your sound over the next year, and in the extended future, are there any particular sub-genres or artistic approaches with which you hope to experiment?

We’ve explored the mid-tempo and house genres pretty thoroughly at this point, it could be cool to experiment more with halftime oriented records. We’ve been utilizing real guitar and instrument recording for quite some time now, but recently we’ve been experimenting with modular synthesis and feel it could elevate ideas to a new level creatively moving forward. Being able to physically create and manipulate sounds in the real world has infinite potential for new inspiration and ideas.

What’s in the cards for Midnight Kids in 2020, can listeners expect a long-form project?

You can expect a lot more music from us in 2020. We can’t say much at the moment, but we can say that everything you see from us for the foreseeable future is only a small part of something much bigger that we’ve been working on.

Photo
credit: Tate Lumb

Daniel Lopatin On Scoring Uncut Gems

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Uncut-Gems-Soundtrack-Daniel-LopatinEvery album Daniel Lopatin has made feels like a portal into an alternate universe. His earliest work as Oneohtrix Point Never, made almost solely on his father’s old Roland Juno-60 synthesizer and collected on Rifts, formed a sprawling multi-album narrative about an astronaut dying in space. The crumbling TV commercials of Replica, MIDI church hymnals … More »

Exclusive: SebastiAn talks new album, movie scores, and keeping the process fresh

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Exclusive: SebastiAn talks new album, movie scores, and keeping the process freshSebastian

With dance music being such a flavor-of-the-week industry, it’s normal to hear an artist update his or her sound a few times over the course of just a single calendar year. A steady release schedule allows them to stay up with the trends and, more importantly, keep their names fresh in the minds of listeners. Not the case for Ed Banger‘s homegrown SebastiAn.

For the past eight years, he took a considerable hiatus from releases to hone his craft elsewhere. While the gap in his discography has left fans thirsty, the industry attention and resulting production gigs that the French producer (real name Sébastien Akchoté) has picked up in the meantime marks him as one of the most diversely qualified studio producers in the game.

Accordingly, SebastiAn’s sophomore album, Thirst, is served as a delectable tapas of the flavors that Akchoté has incorporated into his palate since we last heard from him. French electronic releases are often defined by their lineage and development upon the scene’s nostalgic sounds of yesteryear. But Thirst acts instead as a testament to the eclectic evolution possible when growth and expression remain an artistic priority. The album enlists a squad of A-list collaborators (including Gallant, Mayer Hawthorne and Charlotte Gainsbourg) and grabs inspiration not just from a range of genres, but a myriad of media types offering a new perspective on the wide, menacing sonic DNA that SebastiAn is known for.

We caught up with the SebastiAn to talk artistic evolution, creating personal challenges, movie scores and more. Checkout our interview below and to ask SebastiAn your own questions, keep an eye out for his Reddit AMA on 12/10.


DA: It’s been eight years since your last album, what can those who are new to SebastiAn expect from Thirst?

If I can be quite literal, I’d say it’s emotional but also challenging at the same time. It’s always difficult to put the music into words but it’s about representing hate and love in music. It’s not like if hate is on one side and love is on another side, but I wanted to express hate and love as one thing in my music.

Total was distinctly French-electro, whereas in terms of genre Thirst is more music without boundaries. How important is it to break away from the confines of a specific genre as an artist?

It’s important but it depends on the artist. Even some artists who I love have styles who’ve never changed, not over 20 or 30 years and I still love their songs. I don’t like to repeat myself in music too much, so the thing was trying to reinvent not by changing the DNA of what I’m doing but by finding another language to express, to create, and express the same intensity. It’s quite important not to be bored and search for new songs.

For example, when I did Total, all of my friends, like Justice or people from Ed Banger had already created sounds that, even years after, became not normal but more common, so it wasn’t the thing for me to come back to. If people still like those kinds of songs, they’re already everywhere, so I wanted to try something new.

I guess that also keeps your job as a professional musician fresh.

In a way, I don’t know if it’s French tradition, but in electro music, like with Justice and Daft Punk, we’re always trying to find something new on the next album.

People always have certain expectations for new releases for their favorite artists, particularly with Daft Punk, but it usually just takes some time for them to adapt to a new sound...

What’s funny with Daft Punk is when they release something new, everybody is disappointed because it’s not like before, then eight months later it’s seen as the norm. I was searching for something new. A new way to produce, a new process, or something that I’ve never done before. It was more like a personal thing, not one where I wanted to reflect recent music that I’ve heard.

A change in style is always most interesting when it’s done for personal reasons, rather than following trends.

You just have to do your thing and let people say whether they like it or not.

On the point of doing something new and challenging, tell me about the title track of Thirst...

It’s so common for music’s aggressiveness to come from the beat or something that can really punch. My thing with Thirst was trying to transcribe something hard without any hard elements, it’s more a representation of being punched for real. It’s the difference between having something really shocking in a painting or a representation of the violence in another way. I want to see if people feel the same.

Well it really does punch. Without the beat driving it, it almost takes on the feel of an early monster movie.

Yeah, you got it! I wasn’t so much into soundtracks as I was how they represent the contents of a movie.

In that case, what would be your dream film to score?

Oh, I’d like to do something unexpected. I was quite impressed with the work of Jonny Greenwood on There Will Be Blood, but for me… not a David Lynch movie because it’s not something I’d be much help for, maybe a big movie like Interstellar or The Arrival would be really fun. I think I prefer The Arrival strangely.

Seems like it all comes back to the idea of a challenge.

It’s funny, I’m fascinated by soundtracks and cinema but when I sit down to write music I have no images in my head. For me when I’m working the music is purely just something emotional. Mr. Oizo always has some visuals in his head because he’s a moviemaker. Justice always has some ideas or pictures in their head, but I have nothing. Nothing at all, which makes it funny when I hear that people hear my music as being cinematic.

You’ve worked with the visual aid before though, like your score for Mr. Oizo’s film Steak. How’s that creative process?

It can be easier for me because they give me the pieces that I don’t have. This is something that I love to do because it seems like you’re going to be confined by what’s seen on screen, but at the same time soundtracks are maybe a more freeing part of the music. You’re obliged to represent something, but the style that you approach it with is the most freeing thing ever. There are no boundaries, there are no lines, you just have to find something new.

That sort of reminds me of the monologue from Daft Punk’s “Giorgio by Moroder.”

There are new ideas coming from movies where you’re strangely more free when doing these things. I don’t know why, maybe it comes from the images, but it’s like the more restricted you are the more you are obliged to find new ways to do something.

How about your live shows? They’re known to be a bit more maximal than the sounds on your new album, are you doing anything new there?

To me, live shows are where you can liberate yourself into something hard. It’s not possible to play quietly during a live show. It’s almost something sociological for me. Sometimes people have a bad week, or they’re working a lot, and they come to a concert and want to explore or lose themselves and I really like to give them something strong.

And last, almost more of a personal question, it’s been 11 years since the first SebastiAn remix album. When can we expect another?

As soon as possible! I haven’t had time since I was producing my album, but now I’m going to get back to making a lot of remixes. I love the fact that you get a song and it’s possible to release it very quickly, versus the long slow process of an album or what. That’s why I started with remixes, because it was possible to have an idea in the day, give it back to the artist and having it out in a month.

This interview has been edited for both readability and clarity purposes.

Avicii’s father gives emotionally charged tribute concert interview

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Avicii’s father gives emotionally charged tribute concert interviewKlas Bergling

Just before Avicii‘s equally plaintive and celebratory tribute concert in his hometown of Stockholm last week, his father sat down to speak a bit about his son and planning the enormous undertaking at the Friends Arena.

Klas Bergling (Avicii’s father) gave the interview to Sweden-held TV4. In the sit-down, Bergling discusses his son’s nascent anxieties as an adolescent, the impact his rise to fame had on his son, and even touches on his own difficult relationship he has with hearing his son’s music. He also describes intimate moments on tour, having to confront his son’s dependency on painkillers prescribed for pancreatitis, and Tim’s subsequent road to recovery outside of the limelight.

He describes his son as seeming to have never lost his “strong, fighting spirit.”

The concert, produced by the Klas Bergling-started foundation erected in his son’s name, will disperse the proceeds from the event to organizations that address mental health or work towards suicide prevention. Industry icons Adam Lambert, Rita Ora, and David Guetta were among to multitude of special guests in attendance to pay tribute to Avicii, the late, watershed force in securing electronic music’s widespread embrace.

Via: TV4