Do you feel it? I definitely feel it. It’s the sound of summer coming to an end.
Ok ok ok ok! Hold on! Quit throwing rotten vegetables! I didn’t mean to say that it’s over — only that this wonderful, busy, record-breaking summer of ours seems to be winding down. But it’s not all doom and gloom: after all, autumn is when producers head back in to the studio, study what they’ve hearing on tour all summer, and get down to creating some next-level shit.
Consider this a quick snapshot of what’s going down as the summer draws to a close.
Collaborations in music today are so commonplace that almost nothing comes as a surprise anymore. If Garth Brooks teamed up with Wolfgang Gartner, I’m not sure I’d even even bat an eyelash. And to me, anyway, that’s a positive. Bringing together vastly different sounds and genres in unlikely combinations can leading to something unique. The results may be awful, interesting, strange, enticing or immaculate — and sometimes all of the above.
EDM really seems to lead the way when it comes to collaborations. Maybe it’s the big role that festivals play in the genre. These gatherings are about more than just celebrating the music: they give artists a chance for artists to catch up, listen and share their new sounds.
All of which brings us to the mysterious new duo known as Dog Blood.
Rumour has it that Dog Blood is actually a collaboration between heavy hitters Skrillex and Boys Noize. I’m inclined to believe it. Why? Well, their debut release “Next Order” comes to us via OWSLA and Boysnoize Records — so that’s, you know, a little bit of a hint. Many of my industry friends and fellow bloggers are certainly convinced it’s them. And frankly, this teaser sounds exactly the way you’d expect a Skrillex/Boys Noizes superhero team-up to sound.
Now, say what you want about Skrillex (and many people do). But the superiority of Boys Noize is not up for debate. He reinvents himself, disappears, and then reinvents himself again — the perfect artist’s template, in my mind. This project sounds tight, so let’s hope we hear more. Lots more.
My new obsession is NYC electro-pop duo The Knocks. Though they’ve been around since 2007, putting out substantial remixes and originals, it’s only in the past six months that, for me, they have really started to shine. The distinctive way they blend electro with pop-funk gives you a sound that’s been missing from today’s general noise. And their remixes offer clear proof of musical knowledge well above the norm. They know how to preserve what you love about the original song while adding something that feels like it should have been there from the beginning. Right? Right!
What I didn’t know about B-Roc and JPatt — and shame on me! — is their mixing ability. They’ve just released a 15-minute mix that features no less than 46(!) different songs. For those of you who constantly flip radio channels in your car or skip tracks on your iPod faster than Usain Bolt on race day, this mix will be right up your alley. As for those of you who appreciate tracks from start to finish … well, I urge you to do just that: listen to this mix all the way through. It doesn’t feel at all like a clusterf**k of pop tracks; it’s a perfectly balanced blend of familiar tunes and hidden gems that you probably overlooked in the past.
The three amigos are back at it again — but this time around, it’s to deliver their swan song.
We still don’t know exactly why Swedish House Mafia have decided to call it quits, but the fact that all three members are gearing up to pursue their solo careers suggests it may be a while before we see the Scandinavian dons together again. For now, they’re embarking on their “break-up tour,” and dropping a few new tracks that you can count on hearing again in a few years time, when they play the inevitable reunion shows.
Whether you think this split is a promotional stunt or the real deal, you can’t deny that these guys have been as important to EDM as any DJ in the history of the genre. They helped put EDM at the front and centre of the public consciousness, and established themselves as international icons. They were one of the first acts to make me feel truly starstruck when I encountered them in Ibiza. There has always been a special aura around this trio, and it will be sad to see them go their separate ways.
Still, you knew they wouldn’t part without some proper goodbye gifts. Their latest release, “Don’t You Worry Child” is as reassuring as the title promises. It’s the sound that’s synonymous with their name, with those enrapturing vocals the whole world loves to hear. This is only a radio rip, but it’s well worth the listen until the official release comes along.
As good as these guys are as individual performers (Axwell, for me, standing head and shoulders above Ingrosso and Angello), I can’t help but wonder if they’ve taken for granted the special quality they share as a trio. Granted, their image and profile have taken a bit of a dip with the emergence of North America’s new wave of superstar DJs — but make no mistake, you still want to be at a SHM concert.
OK, so it’s not like The Beatles are breaking up, but it does draw a little tear. This is the end of an era.
Something brand new for you and your crew. But first and foremost, a quick word on last weekend’s VELD extravaganza.
Naturally, it was a massive success. However, the fact that French electro kings Justice — one of the reasons that massive EDM events like this even exist — were playing at HARD, a completely different festival taking place at the same time on the other side of the city … well, missing that made the whole thing a bit bittersweet for me.
Now, judging by the reported turnout at both VELD and HARD, there were plenty of EDM fans to go around. But still — if we’re going to have festivals like this, why force fans to choose between competing events on the same weekend? Why not do as Rogers and Bell have done with Olympics coverage: establish a consortium and have a single event that the world will envy?
Just my opinion. Anyway, enough politics; more music. We got something brand new-ish today from Dillon Francis and Jack Beats. Dillon and the Jack duo have both established their own signature sound over these past two years, winning followers one track at a time. This new offering is a little different, but just as sick. I don’t know how to explain it except to say: it sounds like a perfect blending of both artists. Wicked.
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here we go again. Back to Echo Beach — this time to see a man who hasn’t traveled to Toronto … scratch that, Canada … no, wait, scratch that, North America … in 12 years. Eric Prydz is headling the Identity Festival in Toronto on Saturday, and I am amped.
I really don’t know what to expect. We’re talking about one of the pioneers of this genre. Somebody who was bending boundaries in the studio before the term EDM had even been invented. Who was making his mark as a live performer when DJs were still mainly associated with hip-hop acts. Who’d established the pseudonymous Cirez D as a household name well before alter egos became all the rage in dance music. Basically: if you’re in Toronto this Saturday there is only one destination.
And the awesome doesn’t stop with Pryda. Other heavy names featured at Identity include none other than Nero — currently number one on the bpm:tv Hot 20 Dance Chart with their single “Must Be The Feeling.” It’s a while since I’ve seen this UK duo perform, and I’m excited about how their sound has evolved. The latest album, Welcome Reality, has been a massive success, I’m looking forward to this set — not just to see the crowd’s reaction, but to hear their choice of remixes. Should be a performance to remember.
Then there’s Madeon and Le Castle Vania: Both young, both heavy electro — and both awesome. The 18-year-old Frenchman Madeon has built a rep in Europe as something of a prodigy, as been a favorite on BBC Radio 1 for quite a while now. The Atlanta-based Le Castle Vania, meanwhile, is part of the tide of fresh blood from North America blood sweeping across face of the EDM world. Both should be great sets, so be sure to check them out.
And then there’s Excision. Canada, stand up! The dubstep demon from Kelowna, BC will definitely be excited to play such a high-profile fest in his home country. And whenever you get a bass DJ hype to play for you … well, consider your pants soiled. Be prepared to get grimy.
So with all that said, I think it only fair that this week’s Sweets should showcase the artists performing at Identity. Enjoy!
A very late-breaking edition of Sweets of the Week here, tendered with apologies: what with the jam-packed summer schedule of festivals and events, it can sometimes be tough to get the weekly playlist assembled in time for Friday. But don’t you stress — I will always provide for my homies.
This week we hear a massssssssive new big-room track from Laidback Luke, which has owned my iPod for the past couple of days, plus new stuff from Toronto’s Dzeko and Torres, Riva Starr and Butch Clancy, aaaaaand a sexy, sultry ballad from Ellie Goulding. These taste sooooo good! Have at it, kids!