I’ve been lost, but now I’m found. This is the track that woke me up from my dread-of-winter semi-hibernation. EDM NEVER SLEEPS AND NEITHER SHALL WE. This Dirty South collaboration with Michael Brun keeps the mind-blowing summer of 2012 alive and well! No winter blues for the EDM scene: the vibes of summer will be with us all year ’round. A well-deserved round of applause for the team that produced this euphonious progressive house track. You’ll be pressing repeat on this one as much as I did!
Continuing with a look at some new videos, I have a treat for the trance addicts: a new one from Dennis Sheperd. This talented German has been busy these past five years establishing himself as a headliner, and his newest track — featuring vocals from Molly Bancroft — shows exactly what he’s capable of: a satisfyingly rhythmic collection of keys, melodies and just enough bass to keep that smile on your face.
The video starts off a little awkward (check out the dancers in the background!), but the strength of the song really makes this one worth putting on repeat. You’ll be able to buy it on Beatport on August 13.
At a time of year when festivals come and go like the subway, an artist really has to stand out to draw huge crowds during one of these events. Your set list, of course, is always going to be the main attraction — but a little originality in your stage presentation can go a long way.
Few events offer a more unusual or original platform than the Tomorrowlandfestival in Belgium, which just wrapped its 2012 edition. Going to Tomorrowland is like falling down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole and landing in the middle of Woodstock. Inaugurated in 2005, this fest is as much about the stage and the environment as the artists who perform. Words really don’t do it justice, which is why I’ve dug deep to find a live set worth watching.
Skrillex is one of the most hotly debated artists on this site, and with good reason. But one thing is undeniable: he puts on a good show. Check out his set at Tomorrowland: it really gives you a fantastic sense of the environment. Epic!
Atlanta, Georgia isn’t exactly known as hotbed for electronic music, but LE CASTLE VANIA (a.k.a. Dylan Eiland) is doing his bit to change that. He burst on the scene in 2006 with a buzz-worthy remix of “Black Eyes” by fellow Atlantans Snowden, and quickly earned a rep as an artist to watch. Part of the new wave of American DJ/producers who’ve shifted EDM’s centre of gravity Stateside, he’s earning rave reviews this summer as one of the stars of the Identity Festival tour (alongside the likes of Eric Prydz, Nero, Wolfgang Gartner and Madeon), while busily prepping his debut album. Here, he chats with Toronto’s DJ Soundbwoy (a.k.a. Chris Wilson).
DJ SOUNDBWOY: Where did the name Le Castle Vania come from?
LE CASTLE VANIA: Umm, it’s a boring story. There’s nothing really interesting about it — I just basically made it up.
DJS: What made you get into DJing?
LCV: Well, first thing, I just really loved music and electronic music. The thing that inspired me, though, to really start DJing was when I was 16: I tried to sneak into this club to see some DJs, but it was an 18 and up club. I had a fake ID, but got totally rejected at the door. A bunch of my homies were with me and they had all gotten in, so I had to go sit in the car and wait for them. The car happened to be parked behind the club, and as I was chilling there, bummed that I didn’t get in, I just stared seeing all the DJs coming and going out the back door. Something just clicked in my head and I was, like, if I was a DJ I could get in wherever I wanted, see the DJs I wanted to see, and be a part of that crew and lifestyle. So that was kind of thing that inspired me to start producing and DJing.
DJS: Was it always your main goal to start producing music?
LCV: I was always more inspired by writing and creating music, ’cause that’s where my passion is. DJing, though, is kind of like the reward for creating music, ’cause that’s when you get to unleash it on the audience and see people go off to it.
DJS: You don’t hear of many electronic music artists from Atlanta. That being said, what were your musical influences and how do you try to incorporate that into your sound?
LCV: Atlanta is kind of known for being more of a hip-hop city as far as music goes. But there’s actually a lot more going on in Atlanta — there’s an electronic scene that has grown there, and there’s always been a cool indie rock scene there as well. But you know, my whole sound and vibe is very inspired by the fusion of electronic music and rock music. I sometimes deviate from it and do a lot of different things, such as the Cee-Lo remix, which had a lot more disco influences. I try to take influences from all over and from all the different music that I like.
DJS: How did the “Fuck Yess” monthly party come about?
LCV: Fuck Yess was a party I started in Atlanta because at the time there was no club or venue that you could go to and hear the type of music I was producing — like that indie electro, more aggressive dance music with an indie rock influence. So basically the vibe of the party is buck wild-ass people and music.
DJS: What’s the weirdest or coolest thing you’ve experienced playing a venue or festival?
LCV: The coolest thing is always connecting with the people like when you play at a big festival and you’ve got thousands of people with all that energy coming back at you. As for the weird stuff, I’ve experienced so much — but what happens on the road stays on the road.
LCV: I’m not going to go into any comments about other artists and their opinions. What matters to me is that I came up learning to DJ on vinyl, and learned the ropes the right way and the real way. But at the end of the day, these kids are coming out to part — so if someone is screening a presentation that sets it off, and those kids have a fun time or it heightens the experience to a level they couldn’t do otherwise, then I ain’t mad at them. Everyone just needs to just chill the f**k out and let everybody do their hustle. If that’s not how you want to do things, then you don’t do things that way — you know what I’m saying? We just got to let everybody do their thing. Nobody needs to be trying call anybody out or trying to hate on everyone. The scene is growing and let’s just be happy about that. Every act in electronic music that gets bigger creates more opportunity for every other act in electronic music, and that’s the reality of it. I respect everyone’s hustle. Let’s just let them do their shit the way they want to do it.
And so the last day of the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest in Ottawa arrived. And after Saturday’s epic blowout, Sunday felt like it might be a slower day. But what should have been a bittersweet coda turned into quite the party. After these two weekends of EDM, and almost two full weeks of rock, pop, hip hop, blues and dubstep, the fest went out with a bang.
Ottawa’s BKRK (a.k.a. Paul Burke) got the late-afternoon crowd warmed up with punchy beats. Seemed as though a lot of people were still riding the high from the previous night’s Skrillex show.
Next up: Vancouver’s Felix Cartal. Did I mention what an amazing job DNA did programming the Electro Stage with a great mix of local, Canadian and international artists?
Cartal got the crowd jumping with remixes of Fedde Le Grand, Autoerotique and Laidback Luke.
Over on the Claridge Stage (the second main stage), Toronto’s The Weeknd performed. You couldn’t fail to be impressed by the number of fans who turned out, and who clearly knew the music by heart.
Considering rarely he performs, and his widely-reported reluctance to sign with a major label, it was interesting to observe his fan base: teenage girls, with a load of twentysomething guys. Curious, but it all worked.
Back to the Electro Stage for the final night — and it ended with Ultra Records star Wolfgang Gartner (a.k.a. Joey Youngman) delivering a crazy electro house set. Massive bangers and hit after hot hit. Here’s our boy Felix Cartal taking in the mayhem.
So the two Sunday nights at Bluesfest ended up being among the craziest and busiest of the festival. The tunes were the largest on these two nights: first with Chromeo on the opening weekend, and then Gartner wrapping it up on the final night. Kids losing their shit until the bitter end, until the last song was played out,
So long, Ottawa. I’ll miss the way you guys gave it your all for every act !
An homage to the legendary 1970 Festival Express tour that sent Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and The Band rolling across Canada by rail, the Full Flex Express packed Skrillex, Diplo, Grimes and Pretty Lights aboard a specially outfitted Via Rail train to party their way from from Toronto to Vancouver.
The set started at 6 pm with Diplo playing in 34-degree heat to about 10,000 people. He was in a chatty mood, continuously introducing his tracks on the mic and joking, “I heard Ottawa was harder than Toronto — but I had no idea how much harder!” This latter met with screams and cheers.
He dropped AC/DC to a thoroughly crazed reaction — no surprise, given, as I’ve mentioned before, Ottawa’s classic rock roots. Plus “Roxanne” by The Police with a deep Moombahton flow. The other huge anthem: “Rack City” remixed in various flavours.
Diplo felt so at home here he spent the last minutes of his set crowd-surfing, holding the mic and chatting. DJs jumping into crowd: is there any lingering doubt they’ve become our new rock stars? Nobody can touch them right now (figuratively speaking).
Meanwhile, over on the Electro Stage, Tyga was in the process of sending Ottawa’s hip-hop lovers ballistic.
I honestly had no idea that the local “heads” were so f**king nuts for the Cash Money/southern ballers style. But they lost it from the moment he hit the stage. He slammed it non-stop, and I had to duck side-stage as soon I heard the first few bars of “Rack City” — I could feel they were gearing up to lose their shit.
Elsewhere, Skrillex’s fans were busy getting ready to freak out the f**k out.
Pretty Lights was next up on the Main stage, as the crowd continued to swell. His set was orchestral and massive, punctuated with tunes like this one: “I Know The Truth.”
And finally, the main event! Skirllex brought a larger and more elaborate show than he had the previous night in Toronto. The backstage was closed due to all the pyrotechnics, lasers and whatnot, which meant no photography. So I had to sneak these …
This was a full-fledged rock concert ordeal, on a par with or bigger than what any of the week’s other main stage headliners had delivered — and the record crowd of 30,000 freaked to every minute of it.
… and FINALLY, an after party!
With the train set to depart at 2:30 am, getting to the party felt a little rushed, but once everyone got to Ritual Nightclub and settled in, the only issue I could foresee was getting all the artists to leave on time.
After Koan Sound (who are also on the train) played a dubsteppy set (including ragga jungle licks like “Special Dedication”), it was down to the Don. Skrillex, having just performed a full-on concert, played another few hours at this intimate club venue.
And the crowd was right there with him, partying on just as hard.
He gave it everything he had, sweating profusely and never letting up — even taking the photographer’s camera and snapping pics of himself with the crowd. Steadfast and dedicated, he is without question the hardest-working DJ out there right now.
And with that, the Full Flex Express left Ottawa as quickly as it had come, leaving a trail of wondrous disaster in its wake.
After going dark for a few days the Electro Stage came alive for the final weekend of the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest in Ottawa. And if you’ve been reading the recaps so far, you’ll know that the fest is definitely due for a name change, what with a lineup that includes headliners like Skrillex and metalheads Mastodon. Although perhaps distantly blues-inspired in some former lifetime, neither heavy metal nor dubstep could really be said to fit on the same bill as Howlin’ Wolf.
Toronto-based Grantdtheft was first up on the decks this Friday night. As a self-styled DJ/VJ, his forté is integrating video with his audio mixes. I thought he was doing this all in real time, and he assured me later that he was — but the real work lies in the gruelling studio process of synching video to audio. Once that’s uploaded (see “days of work”), then he mixes live as per usual.
Mad skills and loveable tunes that had the crowd singing along; hip-hop and reggae anthems and hooks like no other DJ had summoned all week. And maybe a few guilty pleasures rolled up in there as well.
A festival generally means fewer rules than a club gig, more freedom and less pressure to bring the latest and greatest. You get to play in more of a relaxed, party atmosphere. So maybe the reason I ended up hearing the remix of “Fading Like A Flower” twice in one week!
The last time I’d seen him was with Major Lazer in Toronto at Sound Academy, and this was definitely one of the sets I was looking forward to most: he seems to plays all my favourite jams, with tight technical mixes.
A natural-born musician, he also took an opportunity to chat engagingly with the crowd. Definitely one of the house -ier sets of the week, it got the ladies onto the dance floor — and the guys quickly followed suit.
Red Bull + fire extinguisher = the perfect metaphor for his set. Pulsating rhythms and beats that grip the heart. Beautiful and classic vocals co-existing peacefully with dirty, grimy bass lines to whine your waist.
Here, the boys chill offstage and catch up. These festivals give you a chance to see old friends and get to know new ones.
A-Trak, the evening’s headliner, turned in an absolutely mental set, drawing a crowd even larger than Tommy Lee and Aero’s or Paul Oakenfold’s — no small feat.
A ton of Montrealers made the two-hour drive and placed themselves strategically in the crowd to cheering with fierce Canadian pride for their hometown hero — a onetime DMC champ who has toured with the likes of Kanye West.
A-Trak’s quiet demeanour offstage belies his onstage persona: the “Big Bad Wolf.” Can you guess, by the way, which track was the banger of the night? Here’s a hint.
No question, this was the perfect way to gear up the Electro Stage for the final weekend of the festival.
Another week, another amazing show. If you’re in Ontario’s capital today, I urge you to head over to Yonge and Dundas Square, where the Mad Decent Block Party is raging even as we speak. Local heroes Zeds Dead will be wrapping things up later tonight, and I predict they’ll be shaking the concrete in such a manner as to have the walls of the nearby Eaton Center clinging on for dear life. It’s an extravaganza, amigos – and it’s FREE!!! Say no more.
Speaking of Zeds Dead, we start this week’s Sweets with the brand new EP the duo dropped earlier this week — a collaboration with Omar LinX and, as you’d expect, a classic. Elsewhere, Montreal duo Botnek have a heavy-duty remix on their hands and Alvin Risk takes Fun.‘s “We are Young,” plus a few other goodies. Onward!
This summer isn’t just about fabulous festivals — EP releases are dropping fast and furious, too. Exhibit A: the latest from talented Toronto producer Poupon and Montreal duo Prince Club, who have pooled their creative juices and poured the resulting cocktail into their DAW of choice … and voila: the Technique EP.
Fans of their last collaborative EP (Platinum) should be thoroughly impressed with what they’ve come up with here. The title track sounds almost filtered, but in a classy, polished way — as though it’s already bumping from your basement. The (sampled?) vocals are mesmerizingly catchy. Those arresting ahhhhhs feel at once tribal yet utterly modern. Like “Iron & Water” by Gingy & Bordello or “Something” by Meech, this track has the kind of consistency that makes you want to loop it for hours and hours. Deep.
“The Block” is dangerous. It borrows the immortal 20th Century Steel Band sample from “Heaven And Hell,” famously lifted by Jennifer Lopez — and you immediately get why J.Lo’s effort fell short. But this track is more than just the sample: it has a pace to it. Though it stays at the same 122 as “Technique,” it seems to make you move faster. A perfect track to throw on at your party just when everyone is comfortable on the dancefloor.
So. Another Canadian EP, another success. And again, a reminder of why EPs are so essential. As much as I love albums, I wouldn’t be able to wait until Poupon and Prince Club release an long-player. This is the tease and taster we crave and need. Technique‘s technique will leave you satisfied.
So remember Feed Me – the lovely British fellow who signed to Deadmau5‘s Mau5trap label? You know, the guy whose beats are so fat you leave the club full and needing a cigarette? Yeah, that guy.
Well, it’s been a while since we heard from him. There was the Escape from Electric Mountain EP back in the winter, which was out of control. But since then he’s been pretty quiet.
But no longer! Dude is back — and dude is deadly.
What he’s made is a little guest mix for BBC Radio 1′s Annie Nightingale. Except there’s nothing “little” about it. This is 23 minutes of purest pleasure. He has not forgotten any of his technique — in fact, he’s enhanced his style a bit. His mixing ability is second to none, and the track choice … well, you’ll see.
Something to get you through your Thursday: FEED ME in da mix!!!!!!!!!!!!!