Legendary production duo release new track under moniker BLVK JVCK [Watch]

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Producer duo The Runners are legendary in the hip-hop scene, having been the forces behind singles from Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Lil’ Wayne, among many others. Andrew “Dru Brett” Harr and Jermaine “Mayne Zayne” Jackson have now rebranded themselves to try their hand within the electronic scene under new moniker BLVK JVCK, and their first single featuring Dyo is now out via Big Beat Records. BLVK JVCK does not mark the end of The Runners, who will continue to produce enduring hip-hop classics, but rather an exciting fresh start for the producers.

“Mind Games” masterfully blends hip hop with subtle electronic undertones while Dyo’s sensual vocals draws the listener in. The catchy track is sure to be a radio hit that the duo will be able to add to their long list of past successes. Watch the full music video for “Mind Games.”

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What the hell does it mean to be a producer in 2017?

24K Starboys: Thoughts Upon Seeing The Weeknd & Bruno Mars On Consecutive Nights

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The year was 2011. Winter was on the verge of melting away, but the sounds emanating from the north were still plenty frigid. From out of the newly ascendant Toronto scene that gave us Drake came a dark and mysterious figure calling himself the Weeknd. We’d later learn this person was Abel Tesfaye, a child … More »

Insufferable YouTubers Are Now Making Terrible Rap Music Too

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There comes a time in every adult human’s life, should they be lucky enough to live that long, when they must conclude that youth culture is trash — or at least it has become entirely indecipherable to anyone old enough to exist outside its bubble. From my vantage point out here, I’m pretty sure what’s … More »

What the hell does it mean to be a producer in 2017?

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It’s 2014, and 60,000 festival attendees at Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival are staring expectantly up towards a sea of lights and a DJ board. Over the course of the weekend, they’ll watch Pharrell Williams, Zedd, and Calvin Harris light up the desert sky, but now, they stand and wait for two men whom not a single person in the crowd has seen take the stage.

Fans linger, eager with anticipation, confident they know what to expect from this ‘breakout’ group from hit releases ‘Smile’ and ‘You.’ Little do they know, they had been listening to their music for years.

Linus Eklow and Christian Karlsson of Galantis are staring back at the expectant faces from the side of the stage, taking a moment before they reveal themselves. For the past 20 years, their production capabilities have propelled the likes of Britney Spears, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue into the limelight of sold out arenas. They have created hit records, chart topping albums, and won Grammys. As they stepped out in front of a roaring crowd and a thousand lights, they turned to one another and smiled.

Now it was their turn.

—–

For as long as anyone can remember, a producer’s job description has entailed slaving over sound boards in a dark studio and inevitably forfeiting all due credit to the vocalist. A producer was acknowledged for his or her masterpiece in the fine text of the ‘thank you’s,’ and their fame began and ended with industry stakeholders.  The David Axelrod’s and George Martin’s of the world lived in anonymity despite producing some of the industry’s most well known tracks such as “The Edge” by David McCallum and “Love Me Do” by The Beatles respectively. Had Axelrod or Martin been told that being a producer would result in the excessive and public facing lifestyles embodied by the Diplo’s and The Chainsmokers of today, they likely would not have believed it.

Today’s producers are global citizens, jet setting across the world to play their music for a different hoard of fans each night. Emboldened with microphones, they are performers in their own right. They pack arenas and festival grounds with tens of thousands of fans like the pop singers of the 2000s. For the first time in the history of commercialized music, being a music producer is sexy.

The reality of our modern music landscape is that we now live in a world that has two distinct factions of music producers. There are still many traditional producers, who strictly work in the studio and behind the scenes to create music that is performed by star vocalists and bands. These producers—people like Max Martin or Rick Rubin—aren’t credited in the title of the tracks they create nor do they perform their music live.

The second faction of producers are a recent breed. They elicit their own fans who are drawn to the beats behind the songs that they create. These music producers are doubly skilled: in addition to producing their own tracks they perform their music ‘live.’ This new brand of producer is a complex phenomenon that many are still teasing out.

Up until 15 years ago, there was no option for a music producer to become a performer unless the producer was also the vocalist. As the art of DJing has evolved into a mode for producers to ‘perform’ their tracks ‘live,’ the producer’s role has evolved, too. Now the job title music producer can indicate one of two very different career paths, and because of this, there has been a dynamic shift within the music industry.

Before the rise of commercialized electronic music, music producers were virtually never credited in the title of a track. This elevation of the producer to an artist—as opposed to a fine text name at the bottom of a Wikipedia page—is something that was rarely done in the U.S. pop music scene until fairly recently. M.I.A.’s breakout hit, “Paper Planes,” for example, was both written and produced by Diplo in 2007.  In contrast, 2015’s “Where Are U Now” is billed as a track ‘by’ Diplo, Skrillex, and Justin Bieber.  

As producers find their own celebrity through DJing, a greater public appreciation of the craft has resulted, and they are more able than ever before to use this leverage to further their own celebrity.  

This phenomenon is all too familiar to Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklow—the production duo behind the Grammy nominated project Galantis. Though fans are surely familiar with the group’s hit songs like breakout “Runaway (U+I),” less familiar are the years of behind the scenes production work Karlsson and Eklow have racked up.

Karlsson is the Grammy award winning producer behind mega hits like Britney Spears’ “Toxic” as well as a part of the Swedish Indie Pop band Miike Snow. Eklow co-produced and wrote on Icona Pop’s number one hit, “I Love It.” Karlsson and Eklow have, independently of one another, produced and co-written music with the likes of Katy Perry, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue

“It’s important to mention that today you can be a producer and you can be an artist,” says Karlsson, though he concedes that duality is “not for everyone.”

“That’s for a few. If you are an amazing producer and you don’t have that talent and you don’t have that in you, you aren’t supposed to do that. To make it as a ‘celebrity producer,’ you need to be an artist,” says Karlsson.  “It’s a totally different thing.”

Karlsson’s distinction is hardly without merit. Being a celebrity producer today is reserved for those who aspire to be an artist, just as someone like Britney Spears did. Although Djing as a method of performance has gotten it’s share of criticism from those who believe all it requires is standing on a stage and pushing a button, there is a reason why not every successful music producer has become a mega star through playing their hits on stage.

But Karlsson’s distinction begs the question: has the rise of the celebrity producer diminished the value of the traditional producer? A famous producer can bring their brand and their fans to the table in addition to the vocalist’s. The traditional producer cannot add this value.

“The producer fee is the same, but celebrity producers are not only being paid for being producers,” says Karlsson. They are being paid as artists, which adds another layer to their credibility.”

Stranger yet, Karlsson points out, is the that vocalists now seek out superstar producers to appear, credited as artists, on their albums.

“A singer is going to do a song, and now they are able to seek out an artist who can produce the song,” says Karlsson. “Celebrity producers appeal to vocalists because they want that brand so badly and the bigger exposure. The cross pollination of producers’ and vocalists’ audiences has resulted in new and exciting collaborations across different genres of music that we haven’t seen before.”

If anyone is familiar with this sentiment, it’s Maarten Vorwerk. Vorwerk made a name for himself in 2015 when he came forward as a ghost producer—a controversial role in dance music which involves unknown producers selling their creations outright to famous artists who then own the track.

Though Vorwerk now puts his efforts into his own creations, he enjoyed a long run as one of the most sought after ghost producers in the industry, engineering more than a few Beatport number one hits.

“Eminem tells everybody that Dr. Dre has produced his new track and the fact that Eminem collaborated with Dr. Dre is seen as a big selling point to the track,” explains Vorwerk. “Whereas, you wouldn’t see a DJ saying that this or that producer has produced his new track. From my point of view I think that you should give credit where credit is due.”

But ghost producers, he concedes, are paid outright to never be credited.

Though ghost producing is undoubtedly a very real phenomenon among the dance music community, keyboard warriors are quick to level the charge against any artist they don’t particularly like. This witch hunting can be chalked up in part to our increasingly polarized and contentious internet culture. It also reveals how little people understand just what a ‘producer’ is responsible for.

Contrary to popular belief, the producer is not necessarily the person creating the sounds and programming the track. Karlsson and Eklow explained that the role of a traditional producer does much more than simply engineering the beat of a track.

The producer is responsible for even the most ephemeral elements of music creation: to make sure everyone is hitting timelines and the atmosphere in the studio makes the vocalist feels comfortable and confident.

“You can hire anyone to program a drum,” says Karlsson and Eklow. “People think that the producer is the guy who actually programs the beat. The producer is the one who decided who is programming the beat, and what the vision for that beat is, and how it’s supposed to make the listener feel. See the difference?”

“Everything that happens in the studio—it is the producer’s responsibility.”

In this regard, producing music becomes similar to producing a movie or a tv show. The producer isn’t responsible for the technicalities of lighting and camera angles. Instead, the producer is making sure that all 200 pieces that need to come together to create a final product do so.

The more mainstream electronic music becomes, the more noticeable the discrepancy between the traditional producer and the celebrity DJ-producer. In examining where the traditional pop producer is left when there is the potential for celebrity, Galantis solidified that celebrity DJ Producers should be likened to artists as opposed to the traditional producer.

After all, they are compensated as artists, they are branded as artists, and they are celebrities in their own right.

Perhaps no one knows this tension more intimately than Andrew Harr and Jermaine Jackson. Together called “The Runners,” the duo have a staggering 17 year production history working with a star-studded list of clientele that includes the likes of DJ Khaled, Usher, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber. Harr and Jackson have a reputation for being some of the best minds in the music industry, but their reputation lives solely within the music industry itself and hardly registers at all to music fans outside of it.

Recently, Harr and Jackson have had an epiphany of sorts. In hopes of being recognized for their own talents by a newly receptive public, the duo have developed a project to push through their own original releases. With their BLVK JVCK project, they hope to drum up traction for their creative work without having to depend on the star power of a pop artist feature.

“Our dreams always were to be a Pharrell or a Timberland, but we couldn’t sing and we couldn’t rap,” says Harr. “The growth of electronic music has opened that door for us to express ourselves musically.”

“When you are working with the Rihanna’s and Ushers of the world, you are creative but you still have to create something that caters to them creatively,” continued Harr. “Now it is our opportunity to do what most producers dream of- to create something that is our own. Our own portrait, our own painting, and that is amazing. To be able to say this is my project, and this is how I’m going to do it is an amazing rebirth creatively.”

Harr and Jackson look onto the evolution of the producer’s role and star power in a positive light, but not every behind the scenes producer is clamoring to become the next Calvin Harris. In fact, Harr and Jackson could indeed be outliers in a world where many producers are still keen to stay behind the scenes and live in quiet glory.

 

Read More: 

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‘You have to be free when you write a song’ – Galantis on why songwriting still matters [Interview]

When Career Artists Score A Freak Pop Hit

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One-hit wonders are a common phenomenon in the music business, and most of them have a fan base that insists their other songs are just as good. It’s rarer, though, to see a well established band break through with a surprise pop hit more than a decade into its career, “She Don’t Use Jelly” style. More »

Ember Island – Umbrella (Midas Touch-Up)

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Midas has garnered thousands of streams on his releases since he started putting out music at the beginning of the year. The Washington D.C.-based producer’s unique artwork pulls the listener in, and the quality of the music keeps them listening.

Midas takes Ember Island‘s cover of Rihanna‘s “Umbrella” and gives it a dual personality. The first half of the track exudes chill trap vibes, while the second drop gets downright dirty — the juxtaposition totally working with the flow. With a clear confidence in his music, Midas is sure to go far.

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Listen to Ember Island’s euphoric cover of Rihanna’s’ Umbrella’

Ember Island – Need You (Original Mix)

The Weeknd x Ember Island – I Can’t Feel My Face (Kicks N Licks Remix) [Free Download]

Kesha Shows Her True Colors On Rainbow, And It’s Beautiful To Behold

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“I could fight forever, but life’s too short.” Every lyric on Rainbow — Kesha’s first album in five years and the first since initiating a messy legal battle against former producer and label head Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald — is loaded, but those words in particular stand out. They’re among the first lines on album … More »

Rihanna Semi-Apologizes For Saying Diplo’s Music “Sounds Like A Reggae Song At An Airport”

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In a new interview with GQ, Diplo details his unsuccessful quest to collaborate with Rihanna. “I played her ‘Lean On.’ She was like, I don’t do house music. I face-palmed so hard on that one,” he begins. “Another time I had a session with her, and Future was also invited. The Weeknd was … More »

Diplo weighs in on “cheesy” EDM culture, getting burned by Rihanna and more

This post was originally published on this site

Electronic music’s globe-trotting maestro recently sat down with GQ Style amidst his African tour. Opening up on his decision behind touring Africa—hitting Uganda and playing small shows in Nigeria over CoachellaDiplo lamented on the value within candid experience and breaking even over making millions.

“Coachella, Vegas, all those things are gonna be there… Touring Africa is something you have to work towards. That’s why I became a DJ. That’s why I even wanted to make music, so I could do things like go to Africa and perform. I’d rather invest in experiences like this, rather than putting it back into my own ego.”

While Diplo may be working to limit his ego padding, it would seem the artist’s taken a few hits to it as of late. Opening up in the interview on Major Lazer’s work with artists in Africa, Lo also shared why he’s worked with fewer artists in the states, in particular, Rihanna. Of course, it’s not for a lack of trying, as Diplo has worked with her in the studio in the past, even playing her “Lean On.” But apparently, RiRi was less than thrilled. Diplo remembered this incident all too well, detailing it in the interview.

“I played her ‘Lean On.’ She was like, I don’t do house music. I face-palmed so hard on that one. Another time I had a session with her, and Future was also invited. The Weeknd was there. Metro Boomin was there before anybody knew who he was. I was so contact high. Future played her, like, 700 songs. It was four in the morning. Finally, I was like, Yo, G, I’m leaving unless you let me play her a song. So I played her a song. And she was like, This sounds like a reggae song at an airport. [laughs] I was like, I’m gonna go kill myself.”

After being dealt a burn one would imagine would leave a sizable scar, Diplo ultimately understands it doesn’t matter if he and Rihanna ever collaborate. In fact, he also said in the interview that he wouldn’t really care, “I think before we’re all done, she’ll be on a song of ours. Hopefully. But if not, I don’t really care.”

While Major Lazer and Diplo’s success, in particular, is not riding on the curtails of a Rihanna collaboration there’s no denying it would be a total banger. Until then, Diplo left us hanging with the possibility of a Mark Ronson disco collaboration record in the near future.

“You know the album I did with Skrillex, Jack Ü? Me and Mark are trying to do something with disco music.”When asked to detail the album a little bit more, Diplo said, “It’s something we talked about over the last year. Jack Ü was awesome, but it was very young. I want to do something that feels more my age. I feel like me and Mark can do something more sophisticated.”

It’s likely that we’re to see a much more focused Diplo in the future. Diplo deeply understands his place in the industry. He understands music is a business and also that he’s long been the butt of the joke. But he wants to change things.

I mean, DJs in general, the culture’s really ugly. It’s cheesy. Corny. It’s embarrassing. You know, I never wanted to be part of the DJ world. I just fell into it.

Instead of complaining about it being cheesy, I’ll see if I can help make it better. EDM’s changing. Three years ago, they just paid everybody, because all the corporations and clubs wanted a piece of it. Now they realize only a few of us can make money for them. It’s a business. I’m just trying to be smart about it. Eventually I want to sit back in the studio and be more of a producer-writer, and I have my kids, too.

Via: GQ

Featured image via Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images.

Read More:

LISTEN: Diplo makes his Bollywood debut with ‘Phurrr’

MUST LISTEN: Diplo debuts first exclusive summer track ‘Imperfections’

Diplo on WWDD: I’m sacrificing myself to poke fun at DJ/EDM culture as a whole

 

Diplo weighs in on “cheesy” EDM culture, getting burned by Rihanna and more

This post was originally published on this site

Electronic music’s globe-trotting maestro recently sat down with GQ Style amidst his African tour. Opening up on his decision behind touring Africa—hitting Uganda and playing small shows in Nigeria over CoachellaDiplo lamented on the value within candid experience and breaking even over making millions.

“Coachella, Vegas, all those things are gonna be there… Touring Africa is something you have to work towards. That’s why I became a DJ. That’s why I even wanted to make music, so I could do things like go to Africa and perform. I’d rather invest in experiences like this, rather than putting it back into my own ego.”

While Diplo may be working to limit his ego padding, it would seem the artist’s taken a few hits to it as of late. Opening up in the interview on Major Lazer’s work with artists in Africa, Lo also shared why he’s worked with fewer artists in the states, in particular, Rihanna. Of course, it’s not for a lack of trying, as Diplo has worked with her in the studio in the past, even playing her “Lean On.” But apparently, RiRi was less than thrilled. Diplo remembered this incident all too well, detailing it in the interview.

“I played her ‘Lean On.’ She was like, I don’t do house music. I face-palmed so hard on that one. Another time I had a session with her, and Future was also invited. The Weeknd was there. Metro Boomin was there before anybody knew who he was. I was so contact high. Future played her, like, 700 songs. It was four in the morning. Finally, I was like, Yo, G, I’m leaving unless you let me play her a song. So I played her a song. And she was like, This sounds like a reggae song at an airport. [laughs] I was like, I’m gonna go kill myself.”

After being dealt a burn one would imagine would leave a sizable scar, Diplo ultimately understands it doesn’t matter if he and Rihanna ever collaborate. In fact, he also said in the interview that he wouldn’t really care, “I think before we’re all done, she’ll be on a song of ours. Hopefully. But if not, I don’t really care.”

While Major Lazer and Diplo’s success, in particular, is not riding on the curtails of a Rihanna collaboration there’s no denying it would be a total banger. Until then, Diplo left us hanging with the possibility of a Mark Ronson disco collaboration record in the near future.

“You know the album I did with Skrillex, Jack Ü? Me and Mark are trying to do something with disco music.”When asked to detail the album a little bit more, Diplo said, “It’s something we talked about over the last year. Jack Ü was awesome, but it was very young. I want to do something that feels more my age. I feel like me and Mark can do something more sophisticated.”

It’s likely that we’re to see a much more focused Diplo in the future. Diplo deeply understands his place in the industry. He understands music is a business and also that he’s long been the butt of the joke. But he wants to change things.

I mean, DJs in general, the culture’s really ugly. It’s cheesy. Corny. It’s embarrassing. You know, I never wanted to be part of the DJ world. I just fell into it.

Instead of complaining about it being cheesy, I’ll see if I can help make it better. EDM’s changing. Three years ago, they just paid everybody, because all the corporations and clubs wanted a piece of it. Now they realize only a few of us can make money for them. It’s a business. I’m just trying to be smart about it. Eventually I want to sit back in the studio and be more of a producer-writer, and I have my kids, too.

Via: GQ

Featured image via Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images.

Read More:

LISTEN: Diplo makes his Bollywood debut with ‘Phurrr’

MUST LISTEN: Diplo debuts first exclusive summer track ‘Imperfections’

Diplo on WWDD: I’m sacrificing myself to poke fun at DJ/EDM culture as a whole