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Who is shaking up the EDM industry?

EDM

This week, Electronic Dance Music’s most overtly opinionated, twitter-fighting bass genius Joel Zimmerman, a.k.a Deadmau5 dropped his latest studio double-album while(1<2).

Well, what does mean? While most may just yawn, close this tab or even throw their computer at the wall with the sheer thought of another release of a repetitive head-banging EDM collaboration, this album release, alongside many others in 2013/2014, have spurred a debate really worth raving about (…literally).

Anyone who knows the Mau5, knows he has a history of distaste for sloppy production, festivals, the banal of over-played EDM music and well, anything music related, thanks to the joys and reach of social media. However, in a recent interview with the UK’s The Standard, Zimmerman took one more dig at the music genre which has housed his music for so many years.

“Disco had a longer run than EDM has, to be honest about it, and that died in a f****** hurry. EDM is way more susceptible because that was in a time when they didn’t have mass social media and all that shit. It’s not gonna be me saying, ‘OK, EDM’s done’, and the whole thing falls apart, but I think it’ll eventually f*** itself so hard.”

While some are selling-out to Las Vegas adaptating (I’m looking at you Calvin Harris) in order to survive as the biggest, most well-paid DJ on the planet. Other artists who found their roots in the EDM scene have done a complete 180and rebelled against the pressures of money, fame and their record labels, to produce some of the most exciting tracks of the last year. I am not here to sit and ridicule EDM culture; I proudly fly the “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” flag. It is has just come to the surface that times are changing and, dare I say it, it is not all about the “drop” any more. Here are some of the big-name rebels who are shaking up the current EDM industry:

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Avicii

Why am I starting with Avicii? Why? He’s just so mainstream…

Remember that song “Wake Me Up”? That tiny song, which he produced with Aloe Blacc, reached number one in over 22 countries, and had over 375 million YouTube views. Yeah that’s the one. Well, things did not start out all peachy for this 24-year old Swedish rebel. If we take ourselves back to Miami’s Ultra Music Festival 2013, when he dropped this bluegrass banjo-infused, thigh-slapper set with live instrumentalists and singers, fans of this tried-and-tested banger machine were left shocked, outraged and confused with no drop to jump to.

Avicii later replied, “I really wanted to switch things up and do something fun and different, as I always strive for, and this album is about experimentation and about showing the endless possibilities of house and electronic music…My music is open to anyone who wants to listen to it and I will always stay true to my sound.”

Even Ash Pournouri, Avicii’s manager, knew the gamble would pay off:

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While, we may all argue that Wake Me Up, and other songs of his 2013 album release “True,” have now become dance floor staples, we have to remember this is the same guy that bought us Levels. He took a big risk on a global stage and at that moment, in terms of production and ingenuity, this was a large step forward for the young Swede. Since then we have seen him collaborate with country legend Mac Davis, bluegrass musician Dan Tyminksi, Incubus guitarists Mike Einziiger and Ben Kenney and folk rock singer-songwriter Audra Mae. In a music scene which can quickly become shrouded in artistic unoriginality, this courage to step up to the plate should be commended favourably.

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Deadmau5

No Dj in the world is more outspoken and passionate about the Electronic Music genre than the mouse-head-clad Deadmau5. However, when he took to the stage at Ultra Music Festival’s to play the Saturday closing set earlier this year, he provided one of his most controversial outcries to date.

With the antics starting on Twitter shortly before his set, the fans were somewhat ready for his trademark rebellion:

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While some have called his Levels shout-out a fair tribute to the hospitalized Avicii, who was set to play the marquee spot at Ultra, EDM young-gun Martin Garrix did not get off so lightly. Halfway through his set, Deadmau5 dropped Martin Garrix’s festival-anthem Animals, with a distinct mash up with Old MacDonald Had a Farm; gaining him the official dickhead troll of the year title.

Just like a duck into water, Deadmau5 dealt with the inevitable backlash to his public EDM tantrum in true Mau5 fashion – over Twitter. Among those who did not find it funny was superstar DJ Tiesto, a mentor to fellow Dutchman Garrix. While Tiesto did not directly condone Zimmerman’s action, he did make the point to call out Animals as an “epic track” and pinned Garrix as a “super talent.” Deadmau5 later replied with a sarcastic “Am I supposed to sneer while hitting the sync button? Or is that ironic?”.

We can just to add to his list of his other twitter disputes: Deadmau5 v.s The Internet, Madonna, Arcade Fire, Justin Bieber, Porter Robinson, Steve Angello…the list goes on.

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Porter Robinson

In a very enlightening Reddit AMA last Wednesday, 21-year old Porter Robinson opened up to his fans revealing that he “started to become really unhappy with the EDM-type stuff” and “basically, [he] wanted to stop writing music for DJs/clubs/etc and instead write more personal, songwriting-oriented stuff that focuses more on being beautiful and vast-sounding and nostalgic.”

“I don’t see myself ever producing EDM music-for-DJs again, no,” Robinson told one fan.

Right. Well, this was unexpected. Last time I remember hearing this bass-driven EDM whiz-kid, he was filling the room with Language, and 100% in the Bitch, and gracing the mainstage of Ultra. However, if we could learn anything from this young EDM rebel, it is that under no circumstances can we call his new hotly-anticipated album Worlds, set to be released on August 12, an EDM album.

“A lot of my angst about EDM came from my songwriting process. iIthink that EDM, in order to do its job in its intended setting (a DJ set), has requirements to make it ‘work’. the most effective electro tracks have a 30-second buildup, where the chord returns to the root note, with risers, maybe a rising vocal, a snare roll – there are moves you HAVE to do in an ‘EDM’ track to make it work.”

He later added, “It was the BEST FUCKING FEELING EVER to be writing music without those confines. writing music makes me so goddamn happy again.” Those “confines” being pressure on the function over real artistic expression.

In 2014, Porter has enticed us with a 10-hour release video, and three songs including Sad Machine, Sea of Voices and his latest release, Lionhearted, a clear departure from his usual bass-heavy big room sounds. It is obvious he has spent a long-time separating his new work from the rest of the EDM cluster pack, and with this evolution, sets a bright future for electronic music.

This Saturday sees Robinson take over the decks on BBC Radio 1 for a special Pete Tong Essential Mix. A rebellious mix which should not be missed.

UPDATE: Listen to the two-hour long mix here.

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Dillon Francis

This guy. Mr funny man himself Dillon Francis may not be the most overtly opinionated dance-infused producer, but he definitely does not take the pressures of the EDM world too seriously. Nurtured under the decks of producing mega-dude Diplo, and his Mad Decent label, Francis has flown the flag for a new sound called “Moombahton.” Do not fret, I can barely wrap my head around the terminology – apparently a fusion genre of house music and reggaeton. What you do need to know is that this signature don’t-give-a-fuck style (“I.D.G.A.F.O.S” is one of his prime tracks) and well-produced beats are what looks to be the immediate future of the EDM genre. Taking the piss out of anything and everything.

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Besides his flourishing DJ career, providing one of the most memorable sets at Coachella 2014, his social media presence has gone from stride to stride; or should I say, alter ego to alter ego. Dj Hanzel, one of Francis’ many alter egos, urges his crows to go “vun deeper” and provides endless Vines and Instagram Videos for his fans. His latest attempt to poke fun at the ridiculousness of the EDM festival scene, was personified in his new character “Treva” from Australia (yay, we are now globally recognised feral festival goers!). In reality, this rough jab is an attempt to break away from the confines of the EDM trap Moombaton sound which very often pigeon-holes his work. While Dillon Francis may be relatively new to the ‘fuck-you EDM, revolution, this attempt to add diversity to his DJ career makes him a rebel to the system in 2014.

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Le Youth recruits Javeon for Feel Your Love

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LA Producer, Le Youth, had an unexpected hit last year with his song COOL, which sampled Cassie‘s Me & You. He’s now teamed up with newcomer Javeon, for another soulful slice of electro-house with his new track, Feel Your Love. It really ticks all the boxes. It’s a glistening, supremely-produced cut that has enough grunt to be a major hit for him.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/leyouth/le-youth-feel-your-love[/soundcloud]

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5 Rich Kids in Hip Hop

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It’s time to talk business. Last Thursday, Dr Dre officially became is the first billionaire in hip hop, acquiring a cool $3 billion ($2.6 in cash, $400 million in stock….but who’s counting) in one of the most mouthwatering deals of the decade. While the rumours mounted that Apple Inc. were going to pull the plug on this trademark deal with Beats Electronics after that Facebook video announcement (Money + Rapper ? Intelligence), things seem to be all rich and rosy between the two megabrands.

The first billionaire in hip-hop, right here from the motherf**king West Coast.”

But wait- the music. Where is the music in all of this? While many musicians are happy to settle with their music, their fans, their millions and their countless rehab stints, others have taken it upon themselves to trade their musical notes, for well, just notes, making their money elsewhere. Damn talented people, I probably should have really listened more in my Business 1001 classes.

Riding the wave of their multi-million dollar endorsement deals, clothing lines, book deals, restaurants, movies, and even perfumes (I mean who can resist the scent of Eau de Katy Perry) – the new millennium has seen an influx of talented musicians, or notably hip-hop moguls, trading their brand on the stock market in places you wouldn’t even imagine.

Here are a cashed up hip-hop artists who have acquired all them dollar bills in the most unlikely of places.

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Dr Dre

Consumerist Teenager: Dr Dr, I am having a problem hearing my music!

Dr Dre: An Apple (Inc.) a day keeps the doctor away!

How about $3 billion of dem Apples! That’s right, Dr Dre and his business partner Jimmy Iovine have finally done it – they are hip-hop’s first billionaires, signing a deal even grand in Apple’s standards. Described as a “no brainer” by Apple Chief Exec Timothy Cook, the acquisition of Beats Electronics is in fact Apple’s largest purchase to date, with the Beats’ subscription-based music streaming service as its main selling point.

“We’ve known these guys forever,” Cook added, “We’ve dated, we’ve gone steady and now we’re getting married.” Sorry Kanye and Kimmy, this may actually be the biggest wedding in hip-hop history. Dr Dre and Iovine have not only made headphones cool again since they started the company in 2008, but they entered into an overpriced market that only the big boys at Apple can afford. Well played, very well played.

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50 Cent

It’s hard to think that a hip-hip, dirty lyric, rapper named Curtis ’50 Cent” Jackson, would go from selling 15 million records and being shot 9 times, to being one of the richest big boys in the music beverage industry. Huh? That’s right. Jackson’s beverage company Glaceau was the creator and marketer for “Formula 50”, a brand of Vitamin Water which Coca-Cola purchased in 2007 for a tidy $100million. How refreshing!

Half a decade later, 50 has launched his Street King Energy shot, and it’s already moved to number two slot in its ($2 billion) market. Just to add to his G-unit clothing company, not to mention the deal made with Reebok in 2003, his own record label, G-Unit Records and monies earned from his dabbles in acting and authoring. Hand this guy an Oscar already!

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Sadly, money does not buy coordination…. 

Jay (remove the hyphen) Z

Jay-z sings it perfectly in Kanye West’s song “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”: “I’m not a businessman, I am a business, man!”

With an estimated net worth of $475million in 2013, Brooklyn born Jigga is not only a master of music, but a myriad of businesses as well. He is a hip-hop god, a fashion exec to his own Rocawear clothing label as well as an entertainment mogul, earning double digit millions from his concerts and Roc a Fella label, and new sports news agency launched just last year. Although this hustler doesn’t fully own any alcohol brand, he is associated with a number of top alcohol brands in the market, including Ace of Spades and D’Ussé cognac,

If that isn’t success, then he’s always got Beyoncé’s measly $300 million empire to fall back on (sigh).

P-Diddy

Up until May this year, Sean “Diddy” Combs held the crown as the richest rapper in the world. Although he may have lost the illustrious title to Dr Dre, I’m sure he won’t be going hungry tonight with a staggering net worth of $700 million. A cool $120 million more than 2013, thanks to his deal with beverage giant Diageo and his burgeoning Revolt TV music channel.

While on stage we have seen him change his name from “Puff Daddy”, to “P.Diddy” to just “Diddy”, lately, this entrepreneur has adopted the moniker “Ciroc Obama” (his words, not mine). As Ciroc Vodka’s value soars toward $1 billion, this entitles him to an eight-figure annual payout and a nine-figure windfall if the brand is ever sold, cementing himself on the cover of Forbes’ 400 lists alongside Warren Buffet as one of hip-hop’s next billionaires.

This guy has so much (non-music) money he really doesn’t give any fucks if he loses a mil or two!

I OWE YOU: Diddy scrawled out an IOU for $1 million dollars after losing a “shooting dice” bet with Rick Ross. He aptly captioned the video “I just lost a million dollars. It ain’t nothing #SuckMyD**kB***h

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Bryan “Birdman” Williams

For everyone who is thinking, who the [email protected]#k is this guy? You are not alone. This New Orleans-born rapper/producer-turned-entrepreneur was the co-founder of musical powerhouse Cash Money Records, with his brother Ronald “Slim” Williams over two decades ago. Starting to ring a bell? Cash Money Records inked a $30 million distribution deal with Universal in 1998, catapulting it to success, signing rappers such a Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. With a net worth of $160 million ($300 together with his brother), Birdman placed himself securely in the Top 5 of this year’s Forbes “Hip-Hop Cash Kings”. Now, Birdman and Slim seem intent on taking over the world building a new branch of their business Cash Money Sports in May 2014, signing Texan American Footballer Mike Evans to the agency.

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Why you need to be friends with Pharrell

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

Turning 41 just last week, Pharrell Williams is a multi-Grammy award-winning, Oscar-nominated, TIME’s most influential people, chart topping superstar producer, singer and songwriter and the most popular guy in school music. Showing no signs of slowing down, this mega-producer is hot property and if it is not already hideously obvious, here a few reasons why we all need to get chummy with Pharrell.

He has seen Daft Punk without their helmets.

Actually, let us rephrase that. He has seen Daft Punk, period. Which is more than most of us will be able to say in our lifetime. Plus he has bragging rights to some of the French duo’s best new hits, “Lose Yourself to Dance” and that relatively minor sensation, ‘Get Lucky’.

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

His fashion sense is out of this world.

With his own signature Vivienne Westwood hat, Pharrell’s style evolution has been fearless and effortlessly trendsetting (and adorably goofy) over the years. He is also the co-founder of two clothing brands, and has his own Louis Vuitton jewellery line.

You can’t say the guy hasn’t got game, wearing this to the Oscars.

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He is 41 years old, and we are totally cool with that.

This Benjamin Button of the music world truly gets better with age. No really, this guy is immortal. He doesn’t look a day past 25.

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

If he had a party, everyone would come.

Pharrell has worked with literally everyone in the industry, whether it is singing for Daft Punk or Robin Thicke, or producing for Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Kelis, Britney, Lupe Fiasco, Justin Timberlake, Usher or Frank Ocean.

Coachella 2014 saw Pharrell bring the largest posse on stage, both weekends. Gwen Stefani, Nelly, Snoop Dogg, Diplo, Tyler the Creator, Usher, Busta Rhymes, Rapper T.I, Pusher T and Jay-Z! Heck, even Lorde and Haim were up there dancing at one point with Beyoncé cheering fiercely on the sidelines.

As it seems his peers, just like his fans, genuinely admire and adore him.

He probably owned most of your high school iTunes library.

Recognise any of these babies? Pharrell produced, wrote, co-wrote or featured in all of them.… and they were fricken’ awesome.

I’m a slave 4 U (Britney Spears), Rockstar (N.E.R.D), Work it out (Beyoncé), Senorita (Justin Timberlake), Hot in Herre (Nelly), Milkshake (Kelis), Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani), Drop it like it’s hot (Snoop Dog)…..the list goes on.

His second solo album, ‘Girl’ was released this year. His first in eight years!

Kermit Cintron vs Walter Mathysse

“Women are a phenomenal force in my life and in my career” and “the cornerstone of existence”,  Pharrell spoke in media conference earlier this year. He went on to envisage a future world in which “75% of it is run by women … and I want to be on the right side of it.”

So the general consensus is that Pharrell has a perfectly healthy, un-creepy appreciation for girls.

Whether it’s the charming jungle beat of ‘Lost Queen’, the cheeky disco groove of ‘Hunter’ or the punchy opener ‘Marilyn Monroe’, this album definitely offers up a little somethin’ somethin’ for everyone. He has even enlisted friends (more friends!!), Miley Cyrus, Kelly Osbourne, Hollywood’s hottest composer Hans Zimmer, Justin Timberlake, Timberland and vocals from Daft Punk to lend a hand, just because he can – marking an exciting step forward for the producer in 2014.

And I dare you not to dance to this.

Then there’s this…

Oprah. Pharrell crying. It’s all too much.

What a guy.

 Oh, and this…

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Coachella Dos and Don’ts

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Coachella Weekend Two is upon us and those who are lucky enough to get their hands on the hottest festival tickets of the season are gearing up to face the best weekend of their lives. Notoriously cursed Weekend One turned out sun, sandstorms, Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé, the epic headliners Arcade Fire and comeback kids Outkast. So, with Weekend One done and dusted relatively injury free, let’s learn from their mistakes and don’t fuck it up.

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Do: Ooooh and Ahhhhh at the celebrities

This is one of the only festivals where celebrities brave it to walk amongst us plebs in the light of day (minus the epic security entourage). Best advice, buy VIP tickets. Worth the price if you want to rub shoulders with the rich, famous and D-class celebs. Alternatively, you could just go and enjoy the music and not fork out the $1000 in a celeb-spotting fueled moment of spontaneity.

Don’t: Go and talk to them

What do you expect? They are going to turn around and hug you and say, “Hey Jimmy-Jo, so nice to see you! Thanks so much for coming up and disturbing me while I’m with my actual friends, whom I know. Good on you!”  It’s not going to happen. Leave them in peace and respect that they have been paid $20,000 plus, to just be awesome and eat cheeseburgers (cough, Vanessa Hudgens).

Do: Take photos

What the heck. Memories! You may never be there again. We all know that how good would the X-pro filter look with the backdrop of the desert and the Ferris Wheel. Take photos with due care and remember phone batteries do not last these days!

Don’t: Video your favourite artist’s entire set on your phone

A) YOU ARE MISSING YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST

B) When you try and show it to your mates back home it’s 95% of the time going to turn out fuzzy and inaudible. Plus they don’t give a shit, they weren’t there.

Watch, listen and feel what’s going on around you. That’s what sticks in your memory more than anything.

Do: Show the Love!

This is a new and exciting environment- New people, new vibes and a place where everyone shares the same undying passion…MUSIC. Chat to people in the toilet line, dance with the random next to you because you never know what cool and interesting people you might meet.

Don’t: Mack face in front of everyone

There’s love and then there’s love. No one ones to see you and your boyfriend consummate your relationship on the dance floor. Leave it to the confines of your 1-man tent, quietly. Please, for everyone’s sake.

Do: Make a memorable meeting spot

No matter how hard you may do the “chicken hands”, “Alan….Steve, Alan” or stack on each other shoulders to find your friends, no one wants to lose a mate on the field. Agree on a solid meeting spot as soon as you enter the festival day one.

Don’t: Make your “memorable meeting spot” the Giant Astronaut

Do not be fooled by his size, you are not spacing out – what would appear to be the crème-de-la-crème hotspot, the inescapable Giant Astronaut, makes out to be a hilariously bad meeting spot. Spoiler: This wise guy slowly roams the grounds of Coachella, so it’s best to choose a better stationary giant intimate object.

Do: Make a plan

Ohhhh the clashes! The almighty clashes! It may seem a little over whelming when the set times come out: Muse is clashing with Skrillex, and Pharrell Williams. And oh god! You have to see Flume, you have to see Fluuummmmeee! Print out the timetable, fight it out with your mates, best of three wins. Get over it.

Don’t: Stick to your plan

With more artists, surprise artists and side attractions than ever before, go explore!! Stick to your essentials *cough* OUTKAST, ARCADE FIRE, GIRL TALK *cough cough,* but make leave room for frolicking around the polo grounds of Coachella. Our pick: the Heineken dome. They are churning out some exciting surprise sets, over the whole weekend.

Do: Dress for the occasion

It’s a festival. Be festive. Hats, bohemian dresses, sandals, whatever floats your boat BUT remember it is also in a desert. Warm days and cold nights. Try and pack a bandana, just for the potential of dust storms.

Don’t: Dress like a skank

Do not be fooled into thinking that covering your private parts with a flap of material and two stickers on your nips is acceptable. This is not a trailer park; Coachella is one of the classiest festivals on the circuit and you need to treat it with respect.

Those girls who want to sit shoulders – great for the Coachella after movie – but sheer misery for everyone behind you. Cover your “hoo-haa” please, is that too much to ask?

Do: Flag your tent

There are 90,000 odd people attending Coachella this year, and many of them will be sharing the cosy camping grounds with you. And believe it or not, they may have the same discount green two-man tent you bought from Walmart last week. Flag your tent with fluro, flags, fury toys, whatever floats your boat really or else risk wandering the campsite until next Tuesday.

Don’t: Pass out just anywhere

Do not assume that any piece of unclaimed land, tent or tee-pee is yours to claim. No one wants to come back to the big bad, beer-faced wolf and sleeping in their bed. Do what you can to make it home. Skip, crawl, roll.

Do: Bring Toilet Paper

Trust Us.

Don’t: Hate Girl Talk for stealing all the toilet paper for his set

madisonave

Weekend Windback 12/13 April

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Adelaide-born beats wizkid Motez delivers this week’s Weekend Windback with his fresh remix of Madison Avenue’s “Don’t Call Me Baby”. Celebrating 21 years of local label Vicious Recordings, this all Australian re-rub stays true to the catchy mood of the original millennium hit, but adds his own signature bass line and slick modern synth to keep you up and moving.

This ingenious house innovation adds to an impressive list of singles from this bass, fast-rising producer. Cementing himself in the 2014 Aus music calendar, Motez is supporting Disclosure in their Melbourne tour leg this May, and set to release a new EP in April through Sweat it Out.

[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/tonicollision/dont-call-me-baby-motez-remix[/soundcloud]

 

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