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.
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.
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.
I know what you’re thinking: “Why do I want to read a review of Identity Festival in Toronto last weekend when I haven’t even seen the bpm Spotlight episodes on Digital Dreams or Full Flex Express yet?” I completely understand how you feel — but with so many amazing shows happening this summer I feel like I need to give you feedback on ‘em while the experience is still fresh.
And fresh it was. Identity had a lot to live up to. Between the monumental scale of Digital Dreams and the all-star lineup of Full Flex — and factoring in the absence of tour headliner Wolfgang Gartner from the Toronto bill — Identity came into the picture as something of an underdog.
Still, Identity did have one secret weapon up its sleeve: Eric Prydz, who hasn’t played in Canada for more than a decade, was slated to close out the night — and for many people, that was more than enough on its own.
Interviewing Eric Prydz at Identity proved to be one of the highlights of my young career, and to discover how humble and down-to-earth he seems was inspiring and encouraging. As for his performance on stage well, no surprise there: it was the best of the night.
Praise should also go to Le Castle Vania, who threw down a wicked set for a crowd that didn’t seem as familiar with him as one might have expected. This guy does not make bad songs. And while he sticks pretty close to the North American brand of electro house, the young man from Atlanta has mad skills when it comes to mixing and making music. His remix of Kaskade’s “Turn it Down” (a favourite among all the songs I’ve blogged) sent the place mental. Madeon‘s set was incredible as well. He was well and truly representing, and you could see why the young Frenchman’s star has shot so high so fast.
My personal favorite set: Showtek. These guys are crazy. I’m not really a hardstyle fan, but they converted me. They’re an awesome bunch, both as artists and as people — but when the mic is on and the tables are turning, they morph into animals. I know hardstyle has its loyal fans, and I’m sure the genre gained a lot of new ones besides myself on Saturday. Can’t wait for you to see the footage our cameraman Middy captured. Epic!
So that’s the summer’s tally so far: Digital Dreams, Full Flex, Identity – all successes. Next up is the Mad Decent Block Party, which should make it four for four. This one’s free so be sure to get your ass down to Toronto’s Yonge & Dundas Square on Saturday July 28. Headlining: hometown heroes Zeds Dead! See you there.
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!
Just a few hours now till the Full Flex Express hits Toronto’s Fort York: the first stop on a magical mystery tour that will be rolling on to Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton before finishing up in Vancouver on Sunday July 22. The folks at Embrace Presents have brought out the big guns for this cross-country juggernaut — and the biggest gun of all is some guy called … Skrillex? Possibly you have heard of him?
The last time Skrillex was in this neighbourhood was at WEMF 2011. Things have changed just a little since then. He has, simply put, become a worldwide star. Now many bpm:tv fans aren’t keen on dubstep. Fair enough. Many don’t like Skrillex’s music. Again, fair enough. But like him or not, you’ve gotta respect him as an artist. He has, more or less single-handedly, brought a sound to a completely new audience — and that serves all of us who love EDM fan. He’s also been completely honest and up-front about his strengths and limitations, admitting outright that he has learned only recently how to mix at live performances. Some of your favourite house DJs could afford to demonstrate that kind of candour and humility.
I’m not here to have a debate about “selling out,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. What I will say is this: when you have a chance to see a live performance by an artist who’s in such high demand, you should grasp that opportunity. I’ve seen Skrillex live on two occasions: the first a crazy show at The Phoenix before most had heard of him, the second at WEMF, by which time nearly everyone knew the glitches and wobbles in “Cinema” by heart. Both times he murdered the show. I expect he’ll do the same tonight at Fort York. And for DnB fans out there, his recent experimentation with drum ‘n’ bass might be added incentive to try catching up with the Full Flex Express.
Of course, Skrillex isn’t the only reason to snag a ticket. Diplo, Pretty Lights, KOAN Sound, Grimes and many more will be aboard the train as well — all headliners in their own right. Pretty Lights always delivers a great show, KOAN Sound has massive tunes, I have a major crush on Grimes and Diplo just crowd-surfed Digital Dreams in a giant f**king balloon. Festival season, is in full flight, and this one is a must-go!
ABSOLUT GREYHOUND UNLEASHED feat. MSTRKRFT @ The Hoxton, Toronto – June 28, 2012
Absolut Vodka has a long history of supporting and curating the arts, so hosting a massive global booze-fueled promotional party campaign makes perfect sense for the brand. It also makes sense that they would hire superstars Swedish House Mafia to compose the “Greyhound” tune, what with being a Swedish product and all. Haven’t seen the commercial yet? It features robotic dogs in the desert, chasing after a quicksilvery blob, with cut scenes of Angello, Axwell and Ingrosso DJing inside the minds of the dogs. Which happens! Check it out:
So, last Thursday night, Absolut launched the Toronto arm of the “Greyhound” cocktail tour at The Hoxton, with local electro-celebs MSTRKRFT headlining. The set was some serious high-energy stabbing and bassy business, working far better in a mid-sized club environment rather than at the Rogers Centre, where the duo were seen last November opening for Deadmau5. The club was decorated with statues of the Voltron-esque cyberdogs, and select bar staff were outfitted with costumes and masks reproduced from the “Greyhound” video, lending to the overall Gaga-ish masquerade theme of the evening.
According to Absolut Senior Brand Manager, Chris Bhowmik, the idea behind the event was “to create a multi-sensory experience that tells you what your cocktail should sound like.” The evening’s spotlighted cocktail was the classic Greyhound, a summery concoction first introduced back in the 1920s. CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE. Stay tuned for more sonic adventures from Absolut, as Chris hinted at future cocktail collaborations featuring mellow indie-rock and jazz flavours..
Tonight’s the night!Porter Robinson will drop the bomb on Toronto this evening at the Sound Academy, courtesy of Embrace Presents. To get you in the mood, and to wrap up our week-long spotlight on the North Carolina prodigy, we’re re-posting bpm:tv’s frontline report from his last TO appearance.
They say you never know the true quality of a producer until you see him live, a phrase I have lived by for the past five years. On Saturday, thanks to Embrace Presents, I finally had my opportunity to see Porter Robinson in the flesh. And I can say with 100 percent conviction that the boy did not disappoint.
It was a good vibe all around. The crowd showed up by the hundreds with plenty of enthusiasm. The line was incredibly long but — as with all shows at The Hoxton — it moved really well. And once you got in the scene was perfectly balanced: a blend of knowledgeable fans, there to catch a memorable performance, and the requisite contingent of gorgeous girls. The chant of “Porter, Porter” rang out before Mr. Robinson approached the tables. Once the young man reached the platform … BAM! A surge of excitement from the crowd, and then it started.
One thing was obvious from the get-go: this kid loves him some Wolfgang Gartner. Many times he used slight remixes or re-edits of Gartner tracks, feeding the crowd perfectly. It’s something I’ve been preaching for a while now: this new wave of American artists take pride in where they come from, and really want to establish their own sound. The set had a strong North American feel — and right now that really is the sound of quality.
Without going into details on each song — because if you weren’t there I wouldn’t do it justice — I’ll just say that it was a proud moment to see how Toronto turned up for Porter. I believe it was his first show in TO, and the city really welcomed him, with a crowd response that would have pleased some of the world’s top DJs.
The concert was so good it took me an extra day to write this report. True story! Just another absolute beast of a show courtesy of Embrace Presents.
Canadians are more than lucky this year. Usually, festival season means having to venture to some distant location to see our favorite acts in the flesh. But not everybody can afford the cost of a trip to Coachella or Electric Daisy Carnival.
This year, happily, some of the best fests are taking place right in our own backyards. WEMF you know about already — an automatic must-see. Then we have Digital Dreams, which promises to be absolutely sick: Duck Sauce, Afrojack, Kaskade — ’nuff said. And, of course, there’s the much-publicized Full Flex Expresscross-country train tour, featuring Skrillex, Pretty Lights, Diplo and Grimes.
Also on the agenda: HARD Toronto on August4, featuring M83 and Justice along with locals Austra. Another must-see, right? But wait! Turns out the VELD Music Festival , featuring Deadmau5 and Avicii, is going down the same day. R’uh r’oh!
So Toronto goes from having no electronic festivals to having too many — a great problem to have, right? I dunno. Sure, we’ve got a large number of EDM fans in the city and province — but enough to support two festivals on the same weekend?
Granted, the music on offer isn’t exactly the same. Justice appeals to more of a rugged, indie-based crowd, while the VELD fest lineup is the definition pure EDM. (I mean, the mau5 even made a song called “The Veld.”) But for most fans, it’s not going to be a question of preferring one over the other. It’s more of a scheduling conflict that could end up costing one or the other of these fests a lot of audience — not because the promoters failed to assemble a good show, but because your average EDM fan just can’t physically be in two places at once.
I kind of think this problem sucks — but I also figure it’s better to have too much choice than too little. Either, it’s going to be a helluva festival season. A lot of people will be wearing out their summer tires that first weekend in August, shuttling between Hard and VELD. And I’ll be one of them.
Everybody’s favourite Swede, Tim Bergling (a.k.a. Tim Berg, a.k.a. Avicii) is back with some stellar visuals to accompany “Silhouettes” — perfect for those of us who just can’t get enough of those club lights. This is one of his lesser-loved tracks (if such a thing even exists), but I have the feeling it will pick up a lot of steam on the strength of the video.
This isn’t the only happy news from Avicii today: he’s released the listings for his Le7els tour. Hello Quebec City, Montreal, Saskatoon and Calgary! If you live in one of these cities, be sure to take this opportunity to check out young Timothy!
Avicii – Le7els Tour: DATES
* May 17 — Houston, TX @ Reliant Arena
* May 18 — Fort Worth, TX @ Fort Worth Convention Center
* May 20 — New Orleans, LA @ UNO Lakefront Arena
* May 22 — Detroit, MI @ Joe Louis Arena
* May 24 – Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
* May 25 – St. Louis, MO @ Chaifetz Arena
* May 26 – Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center
* May 27 – Winnipeg, MB @ MTS Centre
* June 6 – Atlanta, GA @ The Arena At Gwinnett Center
* June 7 – Tampa, FL @ Tampa Bay Times Forum
* June 8 – Miami, FL @ AmericanAirlines Arena
* June 14 – Pittsburgh, PA @ CONSOL Energy Center
* June 15 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden
* June 20 – Buffalo, NY @ First Niagara Center
* June 21 – Quebec City, QB @ Colisee Pepsi
* June 22 – Montreal, QB @ Bell Centre
* June 26 — Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
* June 28 – San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium