Earlier this week, the world learned of the death of musician Andrew Weatherall, who suffered a pulmonary embolism at age 56. Weatherall was a leader in the growth of Britain’s electronic music scene, and his musical passion and drive helped grow his reputation as a tremendously respected visionary.
Join us in celebrating his life and accomplishments by revisiting a classic example of his work: his appearance on BBC in 1996 for an Essential Mix. Weatherall’s two-hour mix showcases his superb DJing prowess, both in technical skill and wide track selection.
Rewind 13 years to 2007, a British-American producer known as Mark Ronson was just at early stages of his imminent rise to international stardom. The previous year won him widespread recognition for his production on Christina Aguilera‘s Back to Basics, Amy Winehouse‘s Back to Black, Lily Allen‘s Alright, Still, and more. However, it was 2007 that cemented the dawning of Ronson’s electronic legacy—seeing the release of his second studio and No. 2-charting album Version, his highest-peaking single (with the exception of “Uptown Funk”), “Stop Me”, and his first Grammy-nomination. Even living under a rock, anyone could tell: Mark Ronson was the next big thing.
Now, we look back to Mark Ronson’s 2007 Essential Mix days after its 13th anniversary. Reflective of his penchant for disco, hip-hop and electronica, Ronson’s selections inject retro-inspired covers like Britney Spears’ “Toxic”, beat-heavy hip-hop picks from Notorious B.I.G. “Nasty Boy” to Rhymefest’s “Devil’s Pie”, and tracks from collaborators including Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and Robbie Williams. Two hours of high-funk energy cut with doses of nostalgia-inducing sounds, Ronson’s Essential Mix traverses the electronic playground through elements of blaring brass, guitar riffs, rap, and more, driven by an insatiable appetite for the dance-floor and an eclectic taste for good music that undeniably foreshadowed Ronson’s status as one of the most prolific producers today.
In 2008, a Scottish artist by the name of Calvin Harris had just begun hitting his stride and earning notice from the dance community at large. His debut LP offering the year before, I Created Disco, proved a hit and later led to collaborations with Kylie Minogue. He also earned credit on the tour circuit through support for Groove Armada and Faithless. Naturally, Pete Tong took interest in the burgeoning artist as well and promptly slotted him into his Essential Mix series.
We revisit Calvin Harris’ debut Essential Mix just days after its 11th birthday, which immediately places its listeners on a path down into the blog house era from whence it came. Iconic hits of the day like deadmau5′ “The Reward Is Cheese,” Riva Starr’s “I Jack U,” and Harris’ own twist on the DJ Assault hit “Ass N Titties” are featured, with additional flecks of Santagold, Pryda, and Cosmonauts. It’s a nostalgic journey that maintains the same levels of cheery fun that ensued upon its October 2008 debut, and served as another early indicator of the success Harris would continue to reap as he climbed the dance music ranks.
Boys Noize has been a pioneer since breaking out in the early aughts. A decade ago, he was one of the standout artists helming the blog house movement and bringing it to the prominence it had at its peak. It was also around this time that his namesake imprint really began taking off as a platform for top quality music.
Naturally, Pete Tong had his eyes on the German icon from his earliest years, and in 2009, invited him onto Essential Mix. The mix is now a sonic time capsule from the memorable time that was the Blog House Era, with a great deal of the selections mirroring the distinctive mixture of funk, electro, and tech that dominated the dance music sphere at the time. To boot, Boys Noize mixed entirely in vinyl, showing off his mixing skills in any medium.
His mix now turns ten years old on October 10, and to honor it, we’ve selected it as this week’s edition of Weekend Rewind.
Back in 2012, Skrillex had just been crowned an EDM superstar. His unique brand of raucous dubstep was dominating the charts and social media alike. Of course, those familiar with how social media treats superstars will remember that the trolls had Skrillex in their crosshairs as well.
Success breeds contempt on the internet, and Twitter A&R was ready to typecast Skrillex—real name Sonny Moore—as nothing more than a dubstep producer who made his name on spectacle rather than substance. Moore, however, didn’t feed the fire with his own internet assault, as so many of his peers would have done. Instead, he threw everyone a curveball. Not only did he collaborate with Boys Noize, a bonafide legend on a new project called Dog Blood, but he also invented an entirely new genre entitled “electronic-core-rave-metal” with his new German cohort.
Naysayers would contend that this project and genre were equivalent to Moore’s previous work: eye- and ear-catching for no reason other than a claim to originality. Looking back though, it’s clear this project was born from a love of music and chemistry he shared with Boys Noize, aka Alexander Ridha. Dog Blood never embarked on a worldwide, 200-date tour, and to this day, they haven’t even put out five releases. This project demonstrates the best parts of music culture: mutual respect among talented artists leading to fresh, innovative music.
Now there is a new four-track EP from Dog Blood just around the corner. To honor the release from this dance music supergroup, Dancing Astronaut looks back at a sunrise set from the pair at Monegros in 2014. Adopting an entirely different vibe than Dog Blood sets are known for, these 90 minutes prove that Moore and Ridha shared undeniable chemistry as DJs and that their taste goes deeper than any naysayer would care to look.
Madeon was just 16 years old when he crafted his entrancing remix of deadmau5‘s “Raise Your Weapon.” He had just won a remix contest for Pendulum’s “The Island,” and in the months following this deadmau5 remix, the French prodigy would release his “Pop Culture” live mashup on YouTube, garnering him thousands of new fans and priming him to release “Icarus” at the beginning of the following year. (To date, “Pop Culture” has nearly 50 million views on YouTube.)
deadmau5’s “Raise Your Weapon” came out in May 2011, followed by official remixes from Noisia, Stimming, and, of course, Madeon. The young artist flexed serious remixing skills on this piece, packing the sultry number with energetic melodies and quirky twists and turns. Madeon’s remix quickly became beloved by deadmau5 fans, along with those who were discovering the teenage prodigy. Happy birth month, “Raise Your Weapon.”
Ultra Music Festival is upon us, and what better of a time than now to revisit one of the most boundary-pushing and genre-bending performances to have ever taken place at the festival? Avicii headlined the main stage at Ultra Music Festival for the first time in 2012, bringing out none other than Madonna to open his performance. As he reclaimed the headlining spot in 2013, expectations were high after his “Levels” and “Seek Bromance”-filled 2012 set.
Tim Bergling (Avicii) was known at the time for bringing electronic music to the mainstream, but 2013 was the beginning of his true experimentation on one of the world’s biggest stages—literally and figuratively—for an electronic music artist. The set has now gone down in history as one of the performances that have helped to solidify him as a musical genius and a true artistic innovator. Bergling complemented his euphoria-inducing progressive songs with a collection of country, rock, and soul artists, whom he featured in album True. He brought to the stage country legend Mac Davis, bluegrass musician Dan Tyminski, singer Audra Mae, soul artist Aloe Blacc, Incubus guitarists Mike Einziger and Ben Kenney, and Incubus drummer Jose Pasillis II.
Bergling spoke to Dancing Astronaut in 2013 about the performance, stating, “It’s about how to incorporate acoustic instruments from different styles and influences you wouldn’t expect and still stay true to your own sound and musicality, which for me has always been about the melodies and positive energy.”
Bringing country musicians on stage at Ultra was not simply unexpected, but in many cases, unwanted. Cross-genre collaborations are inherent to expanding one’s artistry in 2019, but it is this performance that began a shift of mentality at the time. Bergling took the reactions in stride, and continued to innovate and broaden the reach of not only his own music, but the reach of the genre as a whole.
Swedish powerhouse producer Eric Prydz has been in the game for years, but his never-ending oasis of talent just keeps on giving. In late 2018, he played a slew of shows under his techno alias Cirez D alongside Adam Beyer and kicked off 2019 with select Pryda shows. Later this year, he’ll be bringing his insane hologram setup to Creamfields for a visually stunning HOLO live performance. While Prydz’s dedication to innovating for the most advanced technology stands on a calibre of its own amongst the industry, Dancing Astronaut would like to recognize where his visionary projects stemmed from and look back on his greatest strength: mixing. Twelve years ago this month, Prydz took to the Radio 1 decks for his Essential Mix 2007, still one of his greatest mixes to date.
Prydz weaves progressive, electro, and techno into his Essential Mix, taking listeners on a two-hour journey. Featuring tracks from both his Pryda and covert Tonja Holma alias, his eclectic selection also incorporates several of his own edits on tracks from artists Arno Cost, Brett Johnson and D’Malicious. Dance-worthy, energy-ridden and, of course, mixed to perfection, this Essential Mix will forever go down in the books as testimony to Eric Prydz as one of this generation’s most timeless DJs.
Swedish House Mafia continue to make their return to the electronic sector one painstaking step at a time, the most recent of which directed the three-part supergroup to Columbia Recordsto pen a record deal with the label. Dancing Astronaut invites Swedish House Mafia fans to momentarily avert their eyes from the horizon where new SHM music has long loomed, to instead glance nine years backwards and relive the trio’s 2010 Creamfields Essential Mix as the ink of the Columbia agreement dries.
The Essential Mix takes streamers back to Aug. 29, 2010, a time in which Axwell, Ingrosso, and Angello were jointly pioneering their iconicity as Swedish House Mafia. The 2010 set, live from Daresbury, England pairs a number of classic Swedish House Mafia productions that have now ascended to catalog-staple status with remixes and edits of offerings from other electronic entities like Bingo Players, Calvin Harris, and Pendulum. Highlights include an instrumental rendition of “Miami 2 Ibiza,” and Axwell’s bootleg of “Tell Me Why vs. Bittersweet Symphony.”
Swedish House Mafia currently shoulder headlining duties for Creamfields’ 2019 edition, slated for Aug. 22-25.
One of Skrillex‘ most seminal works, Bangarang, has officially reached its seventh birthday. It was the then-burgeoning talent’s fourth EP, whose exploratory nature made it a standout of the time and an early indicator of the success to come later in his career. Totaling seven tracks, Bangarang maintained all the hallmarks of the Skrillex sound, but also saw him explore new realms along a series of fellow powerhouse collaborators. “Devil’s Den” with Wolfgang Gartner was a house-based rodeo that kicked up its robotic undertones with a variation of throwback synth riffs, for example, while his Ellie Goulding collaboration “Summit” showed off his softer side. Other notable singles from the EP were “Right On Time” with 12th Planet and Kill The Noise, and of course, title cut “Bangarang.” It was quite an out-of-the-box project at the time of its production, and showed off Skrillex’ willingness to step outside his comfort zone.
Eventually, Rolling Stone named Bangarang their 14th best electronic album of all time. We suspect it will still sound plenty timeless another seven years from now.