Arty’s Pure Trance Alter Ego Remixes Virtual Self’s ‘Ghost Voices’

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Virtual Self has been one of the most interesting story lines in EDM over the last several months. Porter Robinson released his new alter ego focusing on an unique and unexplored world and obviously it became an instant success. Several artists have tried their hand at remixing Virtual Self and most have come out incredible.

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Virtual Self & the State of Electronic Music: Keeping art authentic in the face of a swallowed up culture

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porter robinson

Porter Robinson is either a tortured soul, or the “tortured artist” personae is one that works to his favor. His love of electronic music and simultaneous disdain for “EDM” culture is a complicated and genuine struggle, much like his highly self-critical relationship with his own music. But there’s something authentic and thoughtful in the way Robinson goes about creating art. Here is a guy who publicly lambasts his own style for becoming too stale or no longer honest. He has also been both artistically and commercially successful at once — something producers may work their whole careers to achieve, which Robinson had already accomplished at the ripe age of 21 when he debuted his electrifying Worlds project.

Porter Robinson incorporating live vocals on his Worlds Tour in 2014

Revered by his fans and respected by industry veterans alike, the now 25-year-old artist embodies a legacy much bigger than his music or visuals could convey. Over the years, he’s fostered a creative space for a global community to connect with spirituality and find purpose in his work. With an artistic inspiration entrenched in video gaming and Japanese anime, Robinson stays ahead of the game by not bothering to compete with anyone.

“I didn’t have this goal to be the next number one DJ in the world. I just kept taking the opportunities that we given to me and doing my best,” he once told BeatsRadio. Because of this, he’s developed a niche that allows him to be wholly genuine in his approach, consequently influencing fans and fellow artists to value substance over surface and to pursue their passions at all costs.

Just weeks after a surprise performance on Holy Ship! and one month prior to his debut festival appearance at Buku Music + Arts Project, a certain e-mail was leaked in which Robinson introduced his Virtual Self project and his rationale for making such a move. The letter itself was revealing and personal, but so is Robinson despite his aversion to the public spotlight. Robinson speaks to pop’s infiltration of electronic music and his concern over how artists are compromising authenticity for the safety net of a chart-topping hit. His ultimate goal with the project, per the email, was to reignite creative risk-taking.

 “[E]lectronic music is at its best and its healthiest when new, exciting, unexpected things are happening. This is a genre that thrives on novelty.”

Yet, while he certainly alludes to such, Robinson never explicitly discusses the state of art in the context of latent capitalism. And that is precisely what is missing in his lamentation over the loss of artistic originality.

This begs the question: Why are artists quick to discount, or often times uncomfortable even mentioning, art’s relationship with money and capital?


Art for art’s sake? Or art for money’s sake? 

“As electronic music essentially converged with pop in 2016…I think it’s pushed a lot of artists away from risk-taking and passion projects. In the last two years, for most artists, all they really had to do was compromise their style by like 30% and add a safe, inoffensive tropical vocal to have a chance at having a hit — and I think for many, that temptation was too much.” – Porter Robinson

In today’s hyper-commercialized culture, some musicians hold steadfast to the notion that art is art first and foremost. That is, money comes secondary to creating a genuine expression of one’s self. This creates a quandary for artists like Porter Robinson. First, because it’s a luxury only commercially successful artists can afford to make. Second, because it’s a claim that rests on an outdated, modernist mode of thinking.

The fact is, Robinson wouldn’t be in a position to take huge artistic risks had he not garnered the widespread support of prominent labels like OWSLAAnjunabeats, Universal’s Astralwerks and Ministry of Sound. How did he do this? By hopping on the “big room” train and playing packed-out stadiums on Tiësto‘s Club Life: College Invasion. Robinson was able to go onto pursuing future passion projects like Worlds, his “Shelter Tour” with Madeon, and now his Virtual Self alias — all the while enjoying monetary success — precisely because he had compromised artistic identity at the onset.

Porter Robinson plays Tiësto’s Club Life College Invasion tour stop in Los Angeles, California.

It’s no secret that Porter Robinson grew quickly tired of a commercial EDM scene centered around formulaic songs with their timed builds and beat drops — a scene which was also responsible for his success. The point of disconnect for himself, and other artists, lies between the passion for creating art and disdain for the ubiquitous money-making side of the music industry. Therein lies an inescapable truth: music is an industry, through and through, and the pervasiveness of capitalism plays a vital role in how one’s art reaches the masses.

Therefore, art doesn’t exist in subservience to money, or vice-versa. The postmodern collapses this distinction. In a postmodern world, money and art exist in a cyclical relationship — they are constantly coming back to one another, fighting with the other, and, yet, are codependent on each other.

This is the intersection at which Robinson’s outward struggle with art and authenticity lies. It’s a problem of postmodernism. Or perhaps it isn’t a problem at all.


Art is a copy of a copy. So what is authentic anymore? 

“I tried to authentically incorporate IDM-y, jungly drum breaks, era-accurate trancy super saw sections, early hardcore and j-core elements, but all morphed into something that sounds kind of ‘big’ and thoroughly produced.” – Porter Robinson

Porter Robinson poses for the American Dream Issue of CLASH Magazine.

Exposed, vindicated, and honest, Robinson is poised as a tastemaker to influence dance music trends. The producer has dabbled in big room, complextro, and now seeks to fuse trance and happy hardcore with his Virtual Self identity. Robinson states his new project’s objective is to morph 2001 tropes of dance music and update them for a 2017 production sensibility.

The stance reflects the very contradiction of postmodern art that we’ve been encountering since Andy Warhol’s famous depiction of his Campbells Soup Cans. Crucially, Warhol showed that art is a commodity and a commercial business, and that the commodity is a fetish in capitalist society. Like Warhol, Robinson finds himself knee deep in the thick of postmodernism — by imitating art. The act of imitation sanctifies art as a commercial activity, affirming and celebrating its commodity status.

Inevitably producers will soon piggyback on the style of Virtual Self just as others mimicked the style of Robinson’s Worlds, especially as they see his new formula successfully selling records. By this token, capitalism is the same metaphorical beast that The Beatles evoked in Yellow Submarine — a beast that swallows up everything in its path and, as it runs out of things to swallow, ends up swallowing itself.

This is the state of art in latent capitalism, as “new” art becomes a copy of its original, and then a copy of a copy, until consumers have forgotten where the art originated. Likewise, how many dance music enthusiasts can describe what classic genres influenced the birth of techno? Or what city house music was born in? How many can even name the multitude of genres that fall under the umbrella of EDM?

Electronic music is, by its very design, a postmodern process, as evidenced in how producers pastiche various styles and genres of music together to tell a different story.

 I want to convey a certain kind of ‘new nostalgia’ and resuscitate some things that have fallen out of fashion, especially from the early 2000s.” 

The postmodern collapses not only the distinction between the old and the new, but also the gap between “highbrow” and “lowbrow” art. By the same token, the work of Virtual Self isn’t something new or original; although it may be an exciting spectacle to behold.

The quandary for Porter lays in his pursuit of the authentic, resting on the modernist belief that what Virtual Self is doing is somehow “high brow,” or more authentic; while making the inference that those who pursue “safe, inoffensive” artistic choices, by not taking risks, are pursuing lower forms of art.


Revive, Reinvigorate, Renew: Making the old sound new 

“I really, really, truly, love electronic music, and I want it to be as good as it can be. I hope that by doing something unexpected, I can shake things up and hopefully inspire other artists to do something weird.” – Porter Robinson

So what do we do as creators and consumers of art to preserve its sanctity?

Ideologically, we might stand to collectively change the way we think about art and authenticity. Authenticity is not some modernist dirge, but a postmodern undertaking. What is authentic to one’s artistic process may not be to another. Authenticity then boils down to whatever is honest to one’s own human experience. Given how his Virtual Self identity is rooted in the fragmented nature of online identity, Robinson seems to understand what it means to live a postmodern life. Yet, Porter’s struggle over authenticity is evidence to the fact that we are still coping with the modernist sentiments of yesteryear in our postmodern time.

“And to be totally clear, I don’t think that Virtual Self, early 2000s trance, or digital abstract art are the solution or the future at all.”

Artistically, Porter is doing everything right! That is, he is evoking his Virtual Self identity to change the way music is experienced. At the same time, he is evoking his privilege as a commercially successful artist to package a different sound to the masses — a feat that would be much more difficult without the name recognition he earned from his earlier, safer pursuits.

If, as the postmodern turn suggests, the sanctity of art lays in its commodity status, then what is hallow about songs packaged onto iTunes for $1.99 a pop? Why the experience of course! The experience is the key to the spiritual domain, or the feeling of human connectedness. That is something capitalism can never imitate or reproduce. What Porter Robinson and artists like him understand so well is that the solution lays in experiencing music live.

Porter Robinson performs with Zedd on their 2013 Poseidon Tour. Photo cred: Rukes.

Thus, we return to the original point at hand: Robinson is neither the first nor last artist to straddle the contradictory space between art as a tool of honest self-expression and art as a commodity good. The aim of this observation is certainly not to condemn anyone who pursues art to make a living, but rather to unearth the many contradictions associated with living in capitalism.

Virtual Self unveils diverse minimix for Annie Mac

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virtual self

Porter Robinson‘s elusive new alter ego, Virtual Self,  has been the subject of meticulous speculation since its inception in late 2017. Exponentially more fans will soon become acquainted, as Robinson is set to take his new project to major festivals such as Buku, Ultra, Bonnaroo and EDC this year.

Now, Virtual Self has returned with an enthralling 5 minute minimix on Annie Mac‘s BBC Radio 1 broadcast. Thirteen tracks deep, the mix moves in and out of tracks faster than listeners can blink. Whether its the inclusion of Burial‘s seminal “Temple Sleeper,” Pryda‘s progressive house tune “Stay With Me,” or Virtual Self’s own “Ghost Voices,” the mix effectively hits on a diverse soundscape nearly
effortlessly.

TRACKLIST: Pryda – Stay With Me

Virtual Self – Ghost Voices

KLANKEN – Vijf – Dee Wee

Push – Strange World (2000 Remake) – Bonzai

Enjoii – Let U Go – Liquid Ritual

Ayla – Ayla Part. II (Taucher Remix)

Utada Hikaru – Simple & Clean (PlanitB Remix)

Three Drives On A Vinyl – Greece 2000 – Hooj Choons

Hybrid – Finished Symphony – Distinctive Records

Tenth Planet – Ghosts (Vincent de Moor Remix) – Northern Exposure

Ian Van Dahl – Castles in the Sky – NuLife Recordings

Burial – Temple Sleeper – Keysound Recordings

Virtual Self – A.I.ngel (Become God) – Virtual Self

Virtual Self aka Porter Robinson Drops 5-Minute MiniMix

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Over recent month, Porter Robinson has introduced the alter ego “Virtual Self”. The alter-ego has taken the industry by storm in similarity to his dominance with “World” years back. Since inception, Virtual Self has played his debut live show in Brooklyn, NY and graced the Holy Ship! decks with his blend of smash psy-trance? If

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Leaked Porter Robinson Email Reveals What He Thinks About Electronic Music

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Porter Robinson has never been shy to share his true feelings on the state of music. Through a recently uncovered e-mail from the producer on his Virtual Self project, Porter Robinson shares his true thoughts of the current state. The e-mail which was originally meant for industry partners and friends, offers Porter Robinson’s views on

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Leaked Porter Robinson email uncovers what the producer thinks about the state of electronic music

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Porter Robinson by Ohno

Porter Robinson‘s love of electronic music is a relationship often expressed through care and criticism. A recently uncovered e-mail document from the producer on his Virtual Self project proves as much.

The leaked e-mail, which was addressed only to key industry partners and friends, offers further insight into Robinson’s views on the the state of art and authenticity in electronic music.

In the message, Robinson speaks to pop’s infiltration of electronic music since 2016, his concern over how artists have been compromising personal style for the safety net of a chart-topping hit, and his goal to reignite creative risk taking.

Robinson felt he was uniquely positioned to “push electronic music in a different direction,” whereby his Virtual Self identity could be used as a launching pad for giving the industry the creative invigoration it needs.

The message was confirmed by his management as authentic, as well as in Robinson’s replies on Twitter, embedded below.


Virtual Self is my new side-project. With this E.P., I want to convey a certain kind of ‘new nostalgia’ and resuscitate some things that have fallen out of fashion, especially from the early 2000s.

Musically, the project is super super inspired by rhythm games and electronic music from that time period. I could talk endlessly about the techniques that I learned to make stuff sound like it was written in 2001, but that’s probably boring to you — but I tried to authentically incorporate IDM-y, jungly drum breaks, era-accurate trancy supersaw sections, early hardcore and j-core elements, but all morphed into something that sounds kind of ‘big’ and thoroughly produced. In other words, I wanted to morph 2001 tropes into a 2017 production sensibility.

Finally — and this might be the goal that’s dearest to me — is to push electronic music in a different direction. As electronic music essentially converged with pop in 2016 (for the second time in the last 10 years, the other time being 2011), I think it’s pushed a lot of artists away from risk-taking and passion projects. In the last two years, for most artists, all they really had to do was compromise their style by like 30% and add a safe, inoffensive tropical vocal to have a chance at having a hit — and I think for many, that temptation was too much.

In my opinion, electronic music is at its best and its healthiest when new, exciting, unexpected things are happening. This is a genre that thrives on novelty. And to be totally clear, I don’t think that Virtual Self, early 2000s trance, or digital abstract art are the solution or the future at all. But!! I DO think this style is something unexpected, and something I’m uniquely poised to make, because I love it. And that’s the precedent I want to set, or at least the approach I want to remind other artists of.

I really, really, truly, love electronic music, and I want it to be as good as it can be. I hope that by doing something unexpected, I can shake things up and hopefully inspire other artists to do something weird.

Anyway, please listen and enjoy!

Thanks for taking the time to hear about all this.

– Porter Robinson


H/T: Your EDM

Photo cred: Ohno

Virtual Self releases otherworldly music video for ‘Particle Arts’

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In late October of 2017, Porter Robinson announced a new alias, Virtual Self, that showcases a different side of the world-renowned producer. Virtual Self is a departure from the nostalgic sounds of Robinson’s debut album, Worlds, in favor of a more intense sound inspired by late ’90s and early 2000s dance music.

One of the songs from the striking EP, “Particle Arts,” has been beautifully crafted into a fantasy-inspired music video, which features stunning futuristic visuals perfectly accompanied by the sounds of the piece. The music video goes hand in hand with the vision Virtual Self has portrayed to listeners across the world. With intriguing, mesmerizing graphics, the music video for Virtual Self’s “Particle Arts” will have viewers in an unwavering trance.

 

Read More:

WATCH: Porter Robinson make his debut as Virtual Self

Virtual Self’s debut EP is here

Porter Robinson Surprises Holy Ship With A Virtual Self DJ Set

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Even though Porter Robinson’s second scheduled Virtual Self performance was slated for BUKU Music + Arts project in March, Porter Robinson decided to give Holy Ship attendees a special surprise by playing a one-of-a-kind performance for an unsuspecting crowd. The set quickly became the talk of the town after both Holy Ship! and Brownies &

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DA Presents: 2017’s Producers of the Year

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Despite incessant predictions for the trajectory of the scene, 2017 marked a banner year for all things electronic music. As such, producers experienced more freedom to explore more new sounds with the end result not a fractious, rigid delineation between genres, but rather a continuum of experimentation that led to some of the most interesting and forward-thinking music of the year, with the addition of exciting new niches for artists to inhabit.

With this nuance in mind, Dancing Astronaut is proud to present a superlative class of seven producers who stood about the rest in a crowded space. From the more obvious, mainstream mainstays who continually wow to the breakout producers who surpassed everyone’s expectations, 2017 was packed full of impressive productions from this eclectic pack of standouts.

 

 


 

Rezz at The Observatory, photos by Sean Thomson

THE PRODIGY WHO EXCEEDED ALL EXPECTATIONS: REZZ

Isabelle Rezazadeh ripped into the electronic music scene in 2015 with an unparalleled juxtaposition of industrial techno and pummeling bass that immediately carved out an unforeseen niche in the mines of ominously-sinister, singular techno. While Rezazadeh has exuded a singular artistic vision from the very inception of her REZZ moniker, her unique, genuine vision has more recently seeped into all facets of her “brand” in a refreshingly distinct and similarly succinct fashion.

Having signed and released two EPs on mau5trap in 2016 — both The Silence Is Deafening and then Something Wrong Here — REZZ has since earned slots at premier music festivals and become renowned for her craft across the world.

Through her own music, REZZ has widened a sonic space where creative forces can continue to push the envelope in their own creative capacity. To a degree, REZZ’s envelope-pushing M.O. has aided in the present trickle down of underground music into the mainstream light. In both her alignment with underground pioneers and maintsage appeal, REZZ has aided a new generation of electronic music fans on their potential journeys to underground au courant. At the very least, she’s uncovered the lesser known, both stood behind and brought up the independent artists — which is encapsulated most recently in her collaborations with knodis and Kotek on her debut LP, Mass Manipulation. REZZ has also elevated the experimentally inclined that results in a healthy attempt to wreak havoc on the mundane. Surely, her music has driven many to explore what lies beneath the surface of popular post-EDM, but it has concurrently challenged its listeners to examine the very boundaries between the separate sects of EDM and dance music entirely.

Seminal tracks like “Edge,” “Voice In The Wall,” and “Purple Gusher” are some of REZZ’s most well-known tracks, all released in 2016. These solidified the notion that REZZ was truly finding her production footing in 2015. After an appearance on DA‘s 25 Artists to Watch list for 2016, REZZ was duly named our Breakout Artist of the Year one year later. Over the course of 2017 Rezazadeh has only continued to polish her authoritative skills and justify her selection.

If 2016 was the year REZZ defined her signature sound, 2017 marked her ascension into superstardom.

She spent the year honing in on her image, toured the entirety of the fall as a bruising headliner, announced she would be pivoting entirely towards nighttime shows in the following year to enhance the experience, and in turn, established a well-rounded, distinguishable decorum.

As REZZ took her dark, foreboding ouevre across the world this year, she stunned in her meticulous attention to detail, even going so far as to heed fans about watching the videos of her shows online, so even those who missed on the opportunity to experience her sets live could be mesmerized for themselves.

REZZ also elongated her artistic vision in 2017, in a capacity that was internalized for some time. She extended her artistic body of work with a visceral 60-page comic book co-created alongside Luis Colindres, a the Chicago-based graphic designer behind the Mass Manipulation album art and who has worked alongside Rezazadeh since her Something Wrong Here days.

REZZ has announced that she will be slowing down her touring in 2018, and despite her previously announced shows at Holy Ship!, Buku Music + Art Project, Bassnectar’s Chicago-based Spring Gathering, and a few other jaunts, it’s likely that she’ll be laying off on the more direct hypnotism of the masses. Still, even with a reduced schedule on the road, there are no doubts REZZ will continue her momentum into superstardom.

Grace Fleisher


 

Virtual Self

THE SUPERSTAR REINVENTION: PORTER ROBINSON –> VIRTUAL SELF

Porter Robinson‘s ability to reinvent himself at will is a testament to his storied success within the electronic music sphere. In addition to performing stellar solo DJ sets at festivals around the world, the mercurial producer moved into the year by embarking on the Shelter world tour with Madeon, which spanned North America before a few extraordinary dates in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. The duo concluded the immersive tour with two back-to-back performances at Coachella, occupying the coveted sundown slot before Lorde and Kendrick Lamar. The Shelter tour’s impact on electronic music created waves, and was solidified as one of the most memorable live performances in EDM’s nascent history.

In the wake of the gargantuan Shelter tour, Robinson forsook his expansive, outwardly turned production and, not for the first time turned a 180, experimenting with a more introspective sound that birthed his alter ego Virtual Self. On the eponymous debut EP, Robinson created a unique sonic landscape in which computer era — the EP would fit perfectly as a soundtrack for video game from the 90s — is used as a basis to explore motifs and existential despair that establish an otherworldly narrative. Virtual Self utilizes psytrance, deep house, and computer-futura influences in order to evoke emotional purgation in the listener. Everything from the mysterious marketing behind the project to its expansive live debut is an off-kilter dive into the unknown.

Porter Robinson’s dive into the virtual abyss known as Virtual Self is one of the most audacious efforts for one of electronic music’s biggest stars recent years, and becomes even more audacious when one remembers that fans had been clamoring for new music from the producer since the release of his seminal LP, WorldsIt’s a testament to Robinson’s prodigious talent that by utterly subverting his fans’ expectations that he managed to give them exactly what they wanted.

John Flynn

 


SS17_FRIDAY2_Lane8_SOLOVOV-9483

DEEP HOUSE’S MELODIC HERO: LANE 8

The years 2016 and 2017 have functioned synergically for Daniel Goldstein, the Anjunadeep prodigy and Pete Tong-distinguished Future Star who goes by the moniker Lane 8. 2016 would serve as the foundation for a major shift for the Denver-based artist as he established This Never Happened imprint, the label’s foundation followed by the concert series of the same name that derived its immersive nature from its restriction of cell phone use during performances.

Initially met with curiosity and, later, engrossment, the sell-out success of the This Never Happened initiative led Goldstein to extend the tour’s run into a brief summer session that visited Colorado, San Francisco, and New York City from July to September of 2017. Lane 8 effectively bridged the disconnect between listener and live performance in his removal of the cell phone screen from the interpersonal equation, re-engaging audiences, and re-personalizing the live experience.

Amassing a following over the years, listeners enthralled by Lane 8’s Anjunadeep and Suara releases, Lane 8’s conception of the This Never Happened imprint in 2016 would foreshadow the artist’s embracement of an increased independence in 2017, as Lane 8 went out on his own and announced his sophomore album Little By Little, due out Jan. 19 on his label. Concurrently, Lane 8 unveiled the impending album’s accompanying 35-date Little By Little World Tour.

Lane 8’s aural tones, complex choral progressions, and all around intricately produced releases rode an effervescent wave in 2017 that seems to be situated in the realm of the ever rising, the producer’s seasonal mixtapes and ensuing singles — think “Atlas” and “No Captain” — reflective of a continually maturing style that achieves peak after sonically pearlescent peak without plunging. 2017 surfaced as a sort of artistic Bildungsroman year for Lane 8 — one that had the whole world enthralled.

Rachel Narozniak


 

calvin harris 2017 42 west

THE FUNKY CURVEBALL: CALVIN HARRIS

Calvin Harris‘ status as one of electronic and pop music’s most gargantuan auteurs is undeniable. Whether it be a headlining performance at Coachella or his massive Las Vegas residency, the Calvin Harris brand has become synonymous with the hedonistic adventures of clubbing.

Wildly enough, however, Harris’ fifth studio album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1marked a turnstile departure from the big room atmosphere that popularized him in the first place. If albums 18 Months and Motion were forthright efforts encompassing an expansive, festival prepped soundscape, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 acted as their virtuosic counterpart.

Harris’ status as an EDM legend certainly helped him in securing features from some of contemporary musics heavy hitters including storied R&B darling Frank Ocean, contemporary hip-hop hit makers Quavo and Offset of Migos, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande, Future, and Khalid, to name a few. The album encompassed a forward-thinking landscape of sonic textures, ultimately serving as a beaming playlist in which Harris is the producer and curator. With an unquestionable legacy as a maestro just as capable in the club as in the arena and on the main stage, Harris’ side journey into sunny, funk-influenced territory marked a an unexpected, bold artistic evolution — one that will certainly pay dividends for his long-term contextualization as a producer.

– John Flynn

 


 

drezo

THE GENRE DEFIER: DREZO

In the deepest, darkest, most clandestine corners of the electronic music continuum, Andre Haglund, aka Drezo, can be found in front of bewitched crowds with his self-proclaimed “evil downtempo.” Known for his disdain towards genre-assignment, the 26-year-old wielded his visionary, malevolent soundscapes in 2017 as a cudgel to rid the scene of its often formulaic, drop-obsessed predictability. After dropping out of college to pursue DJing, and eventually production, the “Drowning Pool” remixer caught the fateful ear of Dillon Francis’ alter ego/arch-nemesis DJ Hanzel, later linking up to go one deeper on a remix of Francis’ “Need You.”

In just three tracks, Drezo’s long-awaited Jaded EP, released mid-2017, enraptured the ears and blackened the hearts of even the most unsuspecting listeners. Seamlessly weaving electro, house, and techno through the tainted fabric of the nefariously sampled EP, the result is a rich and driving milestone in Drezo’s still incipient career.

To add to his already impressive release history in aligning himself with industry favorites like Mad Decent and OWSLA, this year Drezo was also featured on some of dance music’s hottest radio shows like Triple J Mix Up and BBC Radio 1’s Diplo & Friends, wherein listeners got a heady sampling of Jaded.

Looking ahead, the “Heaven” producer has announced his nationwide Evil Live tour, set to commence in early 2018. Additionally, Drezo and known like-minded comrade REZZ, have both recently hinted on social media about future collaborative work. According to Drezo, “The future is bright, but the music is dark.” After an incredible 2017, one would be hard-pressed to disagree.

Bella Bagshaw

 


 

Shigeto_1-Photo_Credit-Kristin_Adamczyk

THE PRODUCER POWERED BY COMMUNITY: SHIGETO

Shigeto stands as something of a an outlier as far as 2017’s top producers go. His tracks aren’t going to set records for most streams and it’s unlikely he’ll play the mainstages of the world’s premier festivals. It’s the release of his first new album in four years and his work building a community in his home base of Detroit, though, that makes the Ghostly International artist a deserving addition to the list.

The aforementioned album, The New Monday, is a triumphant, yet restrained, return to form for the producer. Much like 2013’s No Better Time Than Nowthe new LP sees Shigeto reservedly flex his chops across nine tracks. It also marked a homecoming for the artist, as Shigeto returned to Detroit after a multi-year sojourn in Brooklyn where his career took off. Unsurprisingly, the record takes a multifaceted approach that matches Motown’s diverse musical history. Shigeto flirts with genres as wide ranging as trip hop, techno, acid, and house and imbues them with his signature style — a combination of clever production flourishes and dipped in elements of jazz that recall his early career as a drummer. Though only nine tracks long, The New Monday is full without being forced, as the producer opts for compositions with long run times. with the shortest clocking in at just under three minutes while the longest, a heartfelt ode to his city and the album’s opener, “Detroit Pt. II” has a run time of nearly seven and a half minutes. This combination of tracks combine for an LP that is equally at home on the dancefloor or spinning on a record player on a languid summer day in Michigan.

Beyond the new album, though, Shigeto has taken things a step further in Detroit. He’s recently launched his own label, Portage Garage Sounds, that serves as a creative outlet for the city’s local musicians and also launched a free, weekly showcase at Motor City Wine dubbed Monday is the New Monday — the inspiration for his album’s title. Beyond his immense musicianship, it’s this focus and drive to foster a creative and supportive community in Detroit that makes Shigeto an exemplar of what an artist can accomplish, both in the studio and out in the world, in 2017.

Michael Cooper

 


 

ekali-press

 

THE INSURGENT TALENT WHO TOOK THE SCENE BY STORM: EKALI

Though he’s been steadily making a name for himself over the past few years, Ekali became a dance music household name in 2017.

The Canadian producer kicked off the year with a massive collaboration with KRANE just nine days into 2017 and has been gathering momentum since then.

He toured constantly throughout the year, but never slowed down his flow of fresh releases. With each new release comes an entirely new sound from the producer, as he refuses to shy away from challenges like taking on Porter Robinson’s “Language” with QUIX. His production invigorates — it effortlessly combines relatable elements of today’s mainstream electronic music with his own haunting, delicately crafted style.

His collaborations in 2017 have been massive, teaming up with the likes of TroyBoi for “Truth,” Denzel Curry for tour namesake “Babylon,” Opia for “Past Life,” and many more.

As he flexed his production skills throughout the year, Ekali also shone on a wide range of mixes in 2017, including three hour-long Awakening mixes, a Diplo & Friends mix, and a Triple J mix – all packed full of his favorite music at the time.

Instead of following trends, Ekali has been a trailblazer under Skrillex’s OWSLA imprint, creating a loyal and enthusiastic fan base that sold out many of his Babylon tour stops up until the end of December.

Just a few days before 2017 came to a close, Ekali further cemented his power status by releasing a huge collaboration with ZHU, “Blame,” which marries their styles in a powerfully unexpected way.

In a tweet posted on Jan. 3, the producer called 2017 “the best year of [his] life,” and says he’s ready to “give you an even better 2018.”

We can’t wait.

Robyn Dexter


 

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One of DA’s top picks for breakout artists in 2017 and an industry influencer, k?d kicks off the new year with a new single titled “Glass.” Patrick Cybulski is an innovative producer in his own right, branding himself with beloved anime album artwork and providing a unique style that can be described as a Porter Robinson-induced sound of the future.

Per usual, Cybulski doesn’t disappoint on this new track, with an intriguing intro of rapid piano scaling and high-pitched, distorted lead-synths. With a few drum crashes and hard-hitting bass, he sets the melody up for a huge, euphoric climax. He’ll be joining Drezo on his Evil Live tour with more to come in 2018.

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