Recently launched a new website for the Arrival Agency.
Recently launched a new website for the Arrival Agency.
It was Saturday night and the curious suburban mating ritual of getting done up, hopping a SkyTrain to Granville Street, then drinking so much you vomit all over yourself was in full effect. In a sold-out Commodore Ballroom, Jägerbombs were lined up, joints were rolled, and ass cheeks were poised to clap in anticipation of Juicy J hitting the stage.
Born Jordan Houston, the 38-year-old rapper from Memphis, Tennessee is famous for being a member of the legendary Dirty South group Three 6 Mafia. However, his solo career is currently turnt up in its own right and he’s established himself as a larger-than-life elder statesmen of drug-taking and tail-chasing from the South—basically rap’s Bill Clinton.
Featuring huge bass lines, rolling snares, and infectious lyrics—which have spawned countless annotations on Rap Genius—Juicy J makes the best party music around, and his forthcoming album Stay Trippy is one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated hip-hop releases. This likely explains why the Commodore wisely elected to lock up its glassware for the evening and serve everything out of plastic cups.
Sporting a red toque, shades, gold chains, and a Stay Trippy Tour T-shirt, Juicy J opened with “Show Out”. Initially the crowd seemed more interested in Instagramming the rap icon while sparking joints than in the performance. But the man from the city our beloved NBA franchise absconded to really hit his stride a few songs in with “Get Higher”. Produced by wunderkind Lex Luger, the crowd immediately got caught up in singing the chorus: “Take the blunt, dip it in the lean, then light it/Pop a molly, drink some orange juice, get higher.”
The party chants continued with four consecutive Luger-produced bangers “Who Da Neighbors”, “Riley”, “Bombay Gin Dance”, and “A Zip and a Double Cup”. At this point, the dance floor was billowing marijuana smoke and it was a certainty that the owner of the buck-a-slice closest to the venue would be able to pay for his kid’s braces. (Attempts by security to curb the pot smoking were an exercise in Sisyphusean futility.)
While performing tracks he did with the Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa, or Triple 6, Juicy J’s powerful voice and commanding stage presence kept the cotton-mouthed faithful attentive. No one even seemed to mind that he didn’t perform his Oscar-winning song, “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp”, from the Hustle & Flow soundtrack.
“There’s a lot of sexy ladies in Vancouver,” he proclaimed after inviting a group of young women on-stage to make out with each other and then twerk to “She Dancin’” and the strip-club anthem “Bandz a Make Her Dance”. Fret not, Juicy J also took the time to validate the quality of our city’s drugs on numerous occasions as well—a huge relief for everyone in attendance given his well-documented connoisseurship of narcotics and “ratchet pussy”.
“Who wants to get high with me? Who wants to go to a strip club with me? Who wants to share their girlfriend with me?” he asked at one point. And everyone in attendance was thinking “Pick me, Juicy. Oh, please, pick me.” But hold the phone. Drugs, strip clubs, and partner swapping? Maybe the mating rituals of these loogans from the suburbs aren’t such a bad thing after all.
I recently help launch a brand new website for Nuba. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in the city and the people that operate the Nuba group are some of the most standup folks I know. Currently, I’m helping them with web and marketing on an ongoing basis so be sure to check them out.
If you put a lot of stock in popularity contests, as one should, Above & Beyond might be EDM’s prom king. Since the London-based group—consisting of Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki—formed in late 1999 they’ve been a perennial top 10 finisher on DJ Mag’s Top 100 list, been two-time winners of BBC Radio 1’s Essential Mix of the Year, and incited crowds of one million strong to sing along to their histrionic vocal-trance productions. Their successful label, Anjunabeats, has released hundreds of tracks since its inception, a remix they did of Madonna’s “What It Feels Like for a Girl” was used for a Guy Ritchie–directed video, and then there’s that radio show, Group Therapy, they host every Friday that a few people tune into.
“It’s in the region of 20 or 25 million,” says Siljamäki of Group Therapy’s weekly audience. The producer is talking to the Georgia Straight on his cellphone while on tour in Australia. “It’s really weird for us. We sit in a small room, we go through a load of tracks, and we put together the best radio show we can. The waves that it’s made is really incredible.”
Group Therapy, the 500th episode of which will be broadcast this summer, has a listenership comparable to the population of the country Above & Beyond is currently touring.
“We’re suffering from the terrible, terrible weather down here [in Perth]—it’s 30 degrees and sunny and we’ve been on the beach,” says the 35-year-old, Finnish-born Siljamäki, his current trials and tribulations a testament to the hardship of being an in-demand touring DJ.
He’s on the road with McGuinness, while Grant, who presumably lost a coin toss, handles hosting duties for the radio show and works on new material at their studio back home. After Australia, it’s on to Hawaii for the two, and then the Pacific Northwest, where they’ll be headlining the upcoming Get Together event at the Pacific Coliseum. The show is taking place during our province’s inaugural long weekend for You’re a Colossal Disappointment Day (or Family Day, as some are calling it) and is likely your last chance to find someone to spend You Will Die Alone Day with on February 14th.
“In terms of doing a show where we just press ‘play’, that wouldn’t be interesting to us,” says Siljamäki. He promises a DJ set of the latest big-room-friendly Above & Beyond remixes and tracks off the forthcoming Anjunabeats Volume 10 compilation that will include a new A&B single named after television’s favourite meth chef, Walter White.
Just don’t expect them to be hitting you with cakes, crowd-surfing in an inflatable life raft, or yelling, “Make some noise if you’re high” over the tracks. A unique element at Above & Beyond shows is the projection of visuals that feature messages written in real time to the crowd.
“You’re trying to help people connect with the songs and understand what they’re listening to and get them involved and to hype things,” he says. “Even if we get words a bit wrong sometimes, or whatever, it’s given us this really powerful tool. We don’t just have to take the microphone and start talking. A lot of the tracks we play have vocals anyways and we wouldn’t want to be talking over vocals on a track.”
He adds with a laugh, “We’ll try our best not to misspell your city’s name.”
Having been around since the start of the millennium and predating the eye-roll-inducing term EDM, Above & Beyond is old guard. Over the years, the landscape of the scene has clearly changed a lot, especially since the much-hyped dance-music explosion that people won’t shut up about. Your computer is now the best place to hear new tracks, as opposed to a weekly club night, and massives have long since moved from illegal warehouses into more traditional venues.
“I actually think it’s been really interesting,” says the trance lord. “I’ve always been interested in the theatrical aspects of shows and nowadays there’s lots of really cool stuff to see. There’s also many more shows to see than there used to be. One of the things that’s maybe lacking a little bit is the sense of community and that vibe where everybody knows each other. I suppose it’s still there and maybe it’s good that there’s always a bit more new blood in the party.“
While Above & Beyond’s prolific output and connection with fans is certainly responsible for its fame, this didn’t happen in a vacuum. Everything EDM-related is selling these days. With the number of shows and ticket prices always increasing, you’ve got to wonder if the dance dance revolution is just a bubble waiting to burst?
“There’s a bit of a bubble. EDM is definitely fashionable in North America at the moment,” suggests the man who once performed an acoustic set in a hot-air balloon. “But I also think there’s a lot of great music in that scene that is timeless and in 20 years time we’ll be listening to it. It remains to be seen how much more commercially successful EDM can become. I sort of see us as slightly above that kind of scene. We’ve been into this since before EDM had its explosion.”
Optimistically, Siljamäki points out that if this bubble does burst, “Something a lot more real will continue.”
But, just in case it doesn’t, inhale all the nitrous oxide out of that balloon while you can, and have a good laugh.
In + out
Paavo Siljamäki sounds off on the things enquiring minds want to know.
On the DJ Mag accolades:
“It’s been interesting to see how the whole scene has evolved. The DJ Mag Top 100 was very important at the beginning of our career. It feels like I’ve moved on from it.…Every year I’ve seen guys like Eric Prydz, who I really rate, and Skrillex, who’s enormously popular, and we’ve been higher than them in polls. I’ve always felt like ‘C’mon, that’s a bit weird.’”
On using CDJs versus a laptop:
“Using CDJs is simple, it’s easy, and it works. It doesn’t take too much focus from what we’re doing on-stage. We’re there with a lot of people and having a great time listening to music with them. I’m such a nerd, if I get in front of a computer screen and start fiddling away it takes away the focus from the show.”
On what your grandparents might be up to:
“I’ve seen people clearly in their mid 70s absolutely having the time of their life at our shows.”
this article was originally published in the georgia straight in february 2013
Without question, Lady Gaga is the best pop star of our time. Twenty-six-year-old Stefani Germanotta’s songs are wonderfully infectious, her videos are mesmerizingly artful, and her outlandish style is unfuckwithable. The world’s most popular tweeter is panache perfect and it’s impossible to avert your eyes. Simply calling her a “young Madonna” needs to end, as she’s equal parts Damien Hirst and Alexander McQueen as well. My God, even her signature scent, Fame, which they were handing out samples of at Rogers Arena, smells good and doesn’t induce hives.
Walking through the crowd at the first of two Vancouver stops for the Born This Way Ball on Friday was to observe a sweded retrospective of every outfit the Queen of Pop has ever donned. From the moment the curtain dropped and unveiled the show’s ridiculously awesome set—a three-storey castle—till the very last song, this city’s most flamboyantly gay men and most “misunderstood” young women were elated. Her monsters were not disappointed.
Gaga took the stage in spectacular fashion: riding a mechanical unicorn while singing “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)”. However, a metallic helmet hid her face until the third song. The reveal was, of course, outrageous. Lady Gaga’s head appeared at the top of a giant inflatable body in the lithotomy position. Shortly thereafter, she emerged from the body’s zipper-vagina to perform the LGBT mantra “Born This Way”. From here on out, it was clear that the Vancouver Pride Society will need to work overtime this year if they want the parade to compete with this grandiose pop affair.
The Ball is a pop-rock opera. The story goes Lady Gaga escaped to Vancouver from an interstellar Government Owned Alien Territory (G.O.A.T.) to train for an invasion of Earth. Periodically, Mother G.O.A.T., a giant animatronic re-creation of the Fame Monster’s face encased in a glowing diamond, would lower from the rafters and spew some gibberish about Operation: Kill the Bitch. It even sang part of “Paparazzi” then bled to death out of its eyes, mouth, and nose. Confused? It’s okay, that’s part and parcel of the Lady Gaga experience.
Megahits like “Bad Romance”, “Just Dance”, and “Telephone” were almost always accompanied by a costume change into an Italian-fashion-house–designed outfit. There were even a few throwbacks to classics like an assault-rifle bra, which she wore during “Alejandro”, and a meat dress, which was trotted out for “Americano” and “Poker Face”. (The latter was performed while in a meat grinder.) The Kermit the Frog doll top appeared on-stage but, sadly, was never worn.
Pop concerts tend to be as spontaneous as evolution. Thankfully, there were a few moments when our visitor from G.O.A.T. veered from the script and almost seemed human. At one point she sang “Happy Birthday” to a tearful devotee who had just turned 18. Following that, Gaga relayed what her dad told her when she hit the same age: “Don’t get too excited. It just means you don’t get a fucking allowance.”
Then, after performing “The Edge of Glory” during the encore, Lady Gaga invited five lucky little monsters on-stage with her during the final number, “Marry the Night”. Jubilant tears ensued as they danced with their hero, then descended through a trap door to hang out backstage. Damn it, Gaga! You’re making everyone else look bad, again. How many more Twitter followers do you need?
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in january 2013
There were at least three young men wearing shirts emblazoned with “Suck My Dick” in attendance at the Zomboy show. Sure, there was a lot of what pickup artist extraordinaire Mystery would refer to as peacocking going on in the pretty packed Fortune Sound Club. Bridge-and-tunnel EDM enthusiasts were decked out in shirts with blinking LEDs, glowing gloves, and Fun Fur hats, and one lady was even wearing glowing Fun Fur. But it’s the “Suck My Dick” shirts that turned out to be the best metaphor for the gig, as that’s how subtle the music was.
Born Joshua Mellody, Zomboy produces big-room EDM with huge bass drops, wacky samples, and… Oh, screw it, he sounds just like Skrillex. Since September 19, 2011, Zomboy’s Wikipedia page has been deleted five times because editors on there don’t believe he’s important or significant. However, that appears to be a mistake, as the 23-year-old from Guildford, England, is on the way up. His latest EP, The Dead Symphonic, came out in September and hit number one on the iTunes Electronic Albums chart in Canada and the U.S.
Sporting a black T with “Hulk” written on it, he took the stage shortly before midnight and instantly smashed everyone by opening his DJ set with Skrillex’s ”Goin’ Hard” mix of Birdy Nam Nam’s “Goin’ In”, and followed that with one of his own productions, “Nuclear (Hands Up)”. Hearing all these songs on Fortune’s terrific sound system worked the crowd into an absolute frenzy, and you could tell they were going to be getting what they came for: a relentless face-fucking by nonstop EDM bangers. There would be no handholding, romancing, or foreplay on this rainy December evening.
The opening act learned about the audience’s desire the hard way. Sixteen-year-old local boy Giuliano Rascan brazenly ended his set with one of his own productions, a floaty melodic number that—gasp—didn’t have the compulsory bass drop. Everyone quickly dispersed. The young lad had fared much better when he began his set with Deorro’s “Clap Your Hands”. (If you’re not familiar with that one, it’s the electro-house song that has an Auto-Tuned voice repeating, “Everybody clap your motherfucking hands right now” for a minute before a ridiculous, room-shaking drop.)
Zomboy’s tunes clearly hold their own alongside the EDM hits. This was especially evident when he played Knife Party’s hilariously fun “Internet Friends” then mixed into “Vancouver Beatdown”, one of the more interesting tracks off his latest. Zomboy wrote the song when he visited Vancouver back in May and even played it out that night. It’s a raucous ’80s electro-funk-infused number with a guitar riff reminiscent of “”Aerodynamic” by Daft… Oh, fuck it, it sounds just like Skrillex and Wolfgang Gartner’s “The Devil’s Den”.
An hour and 20 minutes after he started, the audience was sweaty, satiated, and ready to sprint for the last SkyTrain. Zomboy ended his set with one of his biggest, “Game Time”, and the ravers grinned as they waited in line at the coat check. Witnessing the spectacle firsthand, it’s easy to understand why crowds, which seem to have an endless supply of money, flock to these shows on a weekly basis. Because, really, who doesn’t like having their dick sucked?
When asked how his night was going, the beer man petulantly responded with, “unbelievably slow,” as he took $18 for two thimbles of Alexander Keith’s. To say the co-headlining gig with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Snow Patrol at Rogers Arena was sparsely attended is an understatement as the place felt empty. One can’t help but wonder if scheduling a Snow Patrol concert on a night when a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy was set to air was a costly oversight.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds took the stage and started with the 1994 Oasis b-side “(It’s Good) To Be Free”. Fronted by Britpop’s favourite hooligan, they’re basically an Oasis tribute band, albeit a very good one. The new material from NGHFB’s 2011 self-titled debut sounds like the band that made Gallagher famous, and they also play a lot of Oasis songs, which, of course, were received enthusiastically by the crowd.
However, the loudest cheers came when the U.K. icon gave the audience what they really wanted: him acting like an arrogant asshole. An overly excited fan upfront was yelling at Gallagher that it was his birthday. Much the crowd’s delight, the frontman responded with, “I don’t give a fuck whose birthday it is. It’s not my birthday. I don’t care.” A few songs later, as the fan, who apparently had a bit too much birthday cheer, was being escorted off the premises Gallagher kidded, “Getting kicked out for talking to me? Good!”
Looking like he was having a lot of fun, Gallagher ended his set with the Oasis classic “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” It was great end to a surprisingly good show from a legend who’s still got it.
Snow Patrol, the television montage–friendly alt-poppers from Scotland, took the stage next in support of their sixth studio album, Fallen Empires. Fronted by the sweet-voiced Gary Lightbody, the band opened with “Chocolate” while video screens showed a laughably cheap-looking computer-generated eagle flying around. The eagle remained there for most for the show, inspiring you to make more than one joke about how stingy the Scottish are.
The crooner tried his best to engage the audience with banter, working “Vancouver” into the lyrics of “Hands Open”, and attempting to get the crowd to join in. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well for him; you really haven’t witnessed depressing until you see a rock star try to start a sing-along with an apathetic crowd in a mostly vacant hockey arena.
Nine songs into its set and Snow Patrol had already played “Called Out In The Dark”, “Run”, and its smash hit “Chasing Cars”, which so famously played during the dramatic season-two finale of Grey’s Anatomy when Izzie’s malpractice killed Denny shortly after he proposed to her. It felt like Lightbody might have blown his load a little early. This wasn’t the case though as it turned the group was going to be playing a very short set. Snow Patrol only did a few more songs before finishing with “Just Say Yes” and left the stage without returning for an encore.
Undeniably, Lightbody has an incredible set of pipes. The more emotional Snow Patrol numbers make you want to run to the bathroom and cry while stuffing your face with a churro. But the people who dropped upwards of $90 for tickets to see the group were probably wishing they stayed home and caught that episode of Grey’s Anatomy instead of watching a rather curt performance.
this article was originally published in the georgia straight in October 2012
Is Madonna still relevant in 2012? One could certainly make the case that the 54-year-old Queen of Pop doesn’t deserve that moniker anymore as the crown now belongs to Lady Gaga. Madge’s latest album MDNA stalled well short of platinum, and she hasn’t delivered a timeless hit single since “Hung Up” from Confessions on a Dance Floor in 2005.
She’s not aging gracefully either. Despite being just months away from Freedom 55, Madonna is still trying to maintain her sex symbol status. But just about the only thing you can think when you see her gyrating in music videos these days is “Stop it grandma, you’re making me very uncomfortable.”
Surveying the audience at the first of her two shows at Rogers Arena, it’s evident that Madonna’s fans aren’t getting any younger either. The plastic surgery adverts that frequently appeared on the venue’s screens before the Material Girl took the stage were met with receptive eyes. With tickets costing up to $350, the singer’s MDNA Tour easily could have been a cash grab by an icon that’s past her expiry date. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case, as Madonna delivered all the magic and spectacle that her amazing Super Bowl XLVI halftime show hinted at.
The show opened with an appropriately weird chant that featured monks ringing church bells, more monks appearing out of trap doors, and shirtless dancers sporting gargoyle masks. Madonna flew onto the stage in a confession box and launched into “Girl Gone Wild” off of MDNA . The crowd seemed to mimic what Madonna kept repeating as she entered, “Oh my God.” Everyone is the arena was so ecstatic to see their hero you’d have thought they were all on, well, MDMA.
When the singer was playing her boring newer material, the ridiculously grandiose stage show was more than enough to keep you entertained. At any given moment, there were backup dancers doing parkour on hydraulic LED screen lifts, marching bands dangling from the rafters, or acrobats in prison coveralls bouncing on slackline ropes.
However, the crowd snapped up tickets to this show overnight because they wanted the hits. Madonna obliged and did enough of them to satiate the most demanding of the faithful. When she was dropped “Holiday”, “Open Your Heart”, and “Vogue” it was perfect pop overload. At one point Madonna, wearing a majorette outfit, segued from “Express Yourself” into a quick and cheeky cover of Gaga’s incredibly similar sounding “Born This Way.” Clearly this Golden Girl isn’t going down without a fight.
The biggest crowd pleaser was the second last song of the evening, “Like a Prayer”. It got the whole arena on its feet and singing along—you almost felt like a member of the choir from the song’s classic 1989 video. Or, at the very least, an extra on an especially rapturous episode of Glee.
As everyone filed out of the arena, one blissed-out fan summed it up best, “That was the best Lady Gaga show I’ve ever been to.” Madonna has fallen, but she can get up. The MDNA Tour proves she’s not only still one of the greatest entertainers on the planet, but that she’ll be relevant long after she’s tooting around the stage on a Jean Paul Gaultier–designed mobility scooter.
Remember when The Tyee reported that dubstep is the new heavy metal? Well if dubstep is now heavy metal, then trap is the new dubstep. This summer, it seems like you couldn’t step into a club without hearing it. You also couldn’t listen to a song on YouTube without reading, “Yo, listen to my trap remix of this jam!” in the comments. (Keep dreaming buddy. No one’s going to click on your link.) So what the hell is it?
“The Trap” is slang for a crack den or a place where drugs are sold. Southern ghettos is where trap music originates from and, for some inexplicable reason (osmosis, you think?), it’s a dark and guttural hip hop beat. The sound has been around for a while — listen to any album by your favourite Oscar winners and you’ll hear it. However, the geniuses on North American hip hop message boards want to attribute it to one guy: Lex Luger.
Rather than continue to describe what trap sounds like, you should probably just give a quick listen to the breakout tracks the now 21-year-old Luger produced for Waka Flocka Flame and Rick Ross in 2010. You’ll quickly understand why it’s the perfect beat if you’re looking to rap about popular southern gangster activities like pimping, selling drugs, or drinking lean (One part codeine syrup, one part sprite, serve on ice in a Styrofoam cup with a Jolly Rancher candy to taste, kids!)
After these two tracks blew up, Kanye West and Jay-Z sunk their claws into him. That was followed by the backlash from hip hop aficionados proclaiming Luger a played-out one trick pony. Instead of fading into obscurity, a funny thing happened with trap music. And by “a funny thing,” I mean the same thing that happens whenever anything musically interesting comes out of the worst neighbourhoods in the world: privileged white people take it and make it their own. My God, we’re so bloody lame and predictable.
You can hear trap’s influence with indie darlings like Purity Ring and Salem. But where it’s really spreading is in the EDM scene. Every white kid with a pirated copy of Fruity Abelton XXL and a “mega swag platinum” sample pack from the Piratebay started making trap this summer. Essentially, trap has become rave music for white kids who are into hip hop. Here, have a listen to EDM’s trap anthem “Harlem Shake” by Baauer.
It’s not just zitty bedroom producers who got behind the sound. In fact, some of EDM’s perennial tastemakers have hopped on board as well. There’s Diplo with his remix of Sleigh Bells’ “Demons.” Dillon Francis recently did a trap remix of one of his very own tunes. If you’ve ever wanted to hear a trap remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games,” Flosstradamus have a treat for you! Even the man everyone loves to hate, Skrillex, made a foray into it with his remix of Birdy Nam Nam’s “Goin’ In” and it quickly became the most listened to trap song of the summer. A bit closer to home, Vancouver’s Expendable Youth put together this excellent trap mix that you should probably download and give a good listen to.
Caucasian musicians have always been playing follow the leader with inner city sounds — from baile funk, breakbeats and ghettotech, to more obscure genres like house, techno, and rock ‘n roll. While new dance music genres come and go about as quickly as people can come up with names for them, it appears that trap may have survived a summer of heavy play in the clubs. Unfortunately, for all of us, this means we’ll all be subjected to watching more white people dancing like idiots to it at least until Halloween.
this article was originally published in the tyee in september 2012
Beats Antique is an in-demand act for end-of-the-world parties. On December 21, 2012, when Earth will be obliterated, Beats Antique will be playing next to the pyramids at a festival in Egypt. Not only that, they got invited to gig at the Mayan pyramids in Mexico on the 21st as well.
“We decided that the Egyptian festival and those pyramids would be powerful,” drummer Tommy “Sidecar” Cappel explains during a conference call with multi-instrumentalist bandmate David Satori and the Georgia Straight. “Just personally, hearing all the stuff that’s been going on in Egypt, they need some love.”
The Oakland, California–based, world-fusion act consists of Cappel, Satori, and Zoe Jakes—who is kind of the lead singer, except instead of singing she performs belly-dance routines. (Unfortunately, she won’t be making the trek for the band’s LIVE at Squamish set.) Beats Antique’s sound blends acoustic Northern Indian, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern folk music with electronic genres like downtempo, dubstep, glitch, and hip-hop.
Cappel and Satori, who are both classically trained musicians, honed their passion for world music through schooling and travel.
“Studying all these folk songs, I had a real deep appreciation and love of the music. It was a really natural, easy thing for us to create our own version and our own modern take on these folk traditions,” says Satori. “It was a sort of a no-brainer. ‘Let’s make a belly-dance album!’ ”
The belly-dance album he’s referring to is Beats Antique’s 2007 debut, Tribal Derivations. It came about when Jakes’s former troupe, the Bellydance Superstars (think Riverdance with belly dancers instead of Irish jiggers), needed some music to perform to. The album sparked a serendipitous reaction.
“People said, ‘You guys gotta deejay this stuff out,’ and we kind of laughed because we’re predominately live musicians. I don’t think either of us planned on being DJs,” Satori admits.
Apparently, deejaying wasn’t a hard skill to pick up, as he and Cappel were soon invited on tour with the West Coast bass scene’s biggest name, Bassnectar. Buzz from that led to a choice booking at Lightning in a Bottle, a popular Southern California EDM festival. “That was the first opportunity to add live drums and be more like a band. It’s just been growing ever since,” says Cappel.
If this all smells a little like unwashed dreadlocks, you are correct: Beats Antique plays a lot of patchouli parties. But the band has also been burning up large audiences like incense with tunes off its fourth full-length, Elektrafone, at live music–driven festivals such as Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Lollapalooza.
“What we prefer most is where we can stand out in some way. For instance, we both had a good time playing the Vancouver and Winnipeg folk festivals because we were the crazy electronic weirdos,” Cappel declares. “Same thing with rock festivals. We are a band. We just do a band differently.”
While not as dramatic as an end-of-the-world show with the Great Pyramid as a backdrop, Beats Antique’s Live at Squamish appearance will take place in an indisputably majestic setting. And, as a bonus, you won’t have to worry about pesky mummy attacks.
this article was originally published in the georgia straight in august 2012
“Yeah, tonight I turn it up to 11 just to piss off the one neighbor that has moaned for over a decade to get this place closed,” tweeted superstar DJ and producer Kaskade before hitting the stage Saturday at the PNE Forum. The one neighbour he was referring to is Barry Sharbo, a curmudgeonly fella who lives across the street from the Forum, seems to monitor the noise from concerts there with a trusty decibel meter, and spearheaded the banning of EDM shows at the venue. Because of him, Kaskade’s Freaks of Nature Tour was to be the final dance-music blowout at the Forum. And, really, is there anything more fun than an eviction party?
Widely regarded as one of the top American DJs, Kaskade plays and produces big-room, singalong house music. It’s formulaic, it’s cheesy and, of course, it’s incredibly popular. In just the past few weeks he’s played the Staples Center in Los Angeles as well as the final set on the EDM stage at Lollapalooza. The massive crowds he attracts are made up of shirtless bros and their female counterparts, whose scant neon outfits are almost always complimented by hooker boots with Fun Fur appliqué.
The 41-year-old at the forefront of the Dance Dance Revolution opened with “Eyes” from his latest full-length Fire & Ice. Almost immediately, it was clear that the janitors at the Forum were going to be sweeping up a lot of Fun Fur at the end of the evening. Aside from the beer garden running out of Mike’s Hard Lemonade—which could have easily incited Woodstock ‘99–style mayhem at a bash like this—the only other disappointment was the rather mediocre visuals and lighting that couldn’t hold a glow stick to the setups Daft Punk, deamau5, and Skrillex have at their shows.
Kaskade jumped up and down, twiddled knobs on the mixer, and led the singalongs from his LED plinth, but he didn’t appear to be doing much else aside from, you know, pressing play. In fact, if you listen to previous sets he’s performed on the Freaks of Nature Tour, they’re all pretty much identical. On top of that, his performances largely consist of pre-made mash-ups of his own productions with other big dance tunes, which might be considered faking it by some.
But even if Kaskade is a button pusher, he is one of the highest order. He knows what his crowd wants and he gives it to them. It’s not like you overheard the guy who was upfront and fist-pumping with a crutch in each hand, non-stop for the entire show, bitching about any of this.
“You guys too high? You wanna go home?” Kaskade teased the crowd before beginning his encore with the euphoric “I Remember”, a track he co-produced with deadmau5. Though up against a ludicrous 11pm curfew, there was time for one more. Before pressing play, he got on the mike and yelled, “Make the most noise now so the neighbours can hear us” then gave the elated audience his mixmash of R3hab and Swany Tunes’ “Sending My Love”. As the thunderous anthem was playing and everyone sang and danced along, it wasn’t hard to imagine Sharbo in his home across the street with fingers in his ears, cursing Kaskade’s name to the heavens for blowing up his beloved decibel meter.
this article was originally published in the georgia straight in august 2012
Let’s just cut the shit for a minute and say it: electronic dance music is the stupidest music on the planet. It even has a fittingly dumb name, EDM, which makes me cringe every time I see it. More so than the acronym, though, the reason it sucks is because the amount of talent required to perform it is precisely none.
Case in point: Paris Hilton recently made her DJ debut in Brazil. She can’t give a competent on-screen blowjob—Christ, you just put it in your mouth and spin your head around like Linda Blair—but she sure can throw down Gotye remixes and Avicii tracks to big crowds. Hilton even pushed a few buttons and it looked like she knew what she was doing. The best part about the whole spectacle was how it showed that trotting out some attractive and vapid idiot with no qualifications to DJ, other than that they have a following, isn’t exclusively a Vancouver thing. (Hi, Mayor Gregor Robertson. I loved your set!)
At about the same time, one of the genre’s biggest stars, deadmau5, came forward and said what we’ve suspected all along: DJing is fucking easy and all the knob-turning that goes on at a “live” EDM show is a sham. The refreshingly candid man behind the mouse mask claims that if you’re remotely tech-savvy you could learn how to do his show in about an hour. It’s just pressing play and that’s all there is to it.
Surely this means the current dance-music craze is done. I mean, Paris is on the gravy train and deadmau5 said that all these $100-a-ticket arena shows are Milli Vanilli with excessive strobes. No, of course not. See, the fans of this stupid fucking music are fucking stupid too. They’re still lining up to slap down their hard-earned money from their dead-end jobs so they have somewhere to pop a couple pills and dance like no one is watching on a Saturday night.
Some will be quick to point out that producing dance music takes a lot of talent, as there’s no magic “make awesome dance track” button that you can push and then you’re done. However, if that’s the case, why does every damn song sound exactly the same? House, electro, dubstep, moombahton, and any other genres that are created this week and fall under the catchall term EDM aren’t something to get pretentious about. It’s dumb music to get fucked up to and nothing more. A four-on-the-floor beat with a sample of me furiously wanking it would make your typical E-tard lose their shit on the dance floor. Granted, I’m a screamer.
“What about my mixing?” you retort. I hate to break it to you but no one cares about that pretentious shit except chin-stroking nerds. Then there’s the ever-popular “Selecting the right track at the right time takes skill.” Because, clearly, scrolling through iTunes and finding a song that a room full of people tweaking on bath salts will enjoy requires a PhD in curatorial studies. I’ve seen a fucking jukebox rock a crowd better than 95 percent of the DJs out there. So no rolling your eyes at me the next time I request that song Rihanna did with Calvin Harris. It’s a party starter! That boring minimal-techno shit you fell in love with in Berlin won’t fly over here, you self-important Fleshlights.
As tempting as it may be, let’s not fault Paris, deadmau5, Avicii, Steve Aoki, or even Skrillex. Ripping off clueless rubes is smart business. And at least they’re giving them what they want: obnoxious party music in a dark room where they can get messed up. In a perfect con, the mark walks away not knowing they’ve been taken. I’m not falling for it, though. For $100 you should always demand more than mere knob-twiddling. Read into that statement however you like.
this article was originally published in the georgia straight in july 2012
A little late to the party, but in the wake of the “Boo hoo, broke bands, quit asking for charity” article, Beauvillain Studios has released these t-shirts. I’m choosing to read the statement on it as “If you have sex with Michael Mann, it will help the Vancouver music scene.”
If listening to Skrillex is akin to cochlea assault for you, it likely means you’re old and you may want to give this article a pass as it’s going to make you feel like a geezer. The 24-year-old dubstep demigod has a protégé named Porter Robinson, who is 19 and wasn’t alive when Wayne and Garth sang along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. He’s handsome, friendly, and talented. He’s never worked a shit job in his life and makes more money for an hour-and-45-minute DJ set than you do in four months. The only thing you can rip on the wunderkind for is that his very existence makes you feel like a geriatric failure at life. That, and his diet, as he’s speaking with the Straight via Skype from a McDonald’s in the Czech Republic.
Inspired by video-game music, Robinson began producing EDM when he was 12 and living in rural North Carolina. When he was 17 he released his breakout electro house track “Say My Name”. Though he hadn’t set foot in a club at this point, the song was a still a massive dance-floor pleaser.
“The energy that’s required to make an audience excited is intuitive. I do think it translates well to a home listening system if you have a sense of how energy flows,” Robinson explains and then adds, “ ‘How energy flows’ sounds sort of silly.”
Things really picked up for him through a fortuitous encounter between Skrillex and Robinson’s manager, who had booked him for a club show. “When Skrillex was in the car, my manager, being the awesome opportunist he is, put on my music,” he recalls. “He was really into it.”
The two quickly became friends, shared tracks, and began touring together. Since then, Skrillex has chosen Robinson’s 2011 Spitfire EP to be the inaugural release for his label OWSLA and has been a mentor to the young lord of the dance. “He’s the best advisor I’ve ever had in my entire career. He’s steered me straight every time I’ve humoured the idea of veering away from what it is I actually love.”
What he’s loving these days are uplifting trance anthems of raves gone by. “Really emotional electronic music is something that’s underexplored in the United States right now. I think, to a point, people are getting tired of the same old aggressive sound over and over again. I wanted to take another angle. I started with the idea of making something that sounds nostalgic and sentimental and can make you cry or give you goosebumps.”
The net result of this idea is Robinson’s current single “Language”, a phenomenally euphoric number which is likely to induce synesthesia when you’re peaking on whatever shit-mix of chemicals dealers are pushing as ecstasy these days.
However, it’s not all blue skies ahead for Robinson. Winter is coming and it has a set date: July 15, the dark day when writers will have to stop obsessing over his age and he’ll be forced to confront the dreaded two-oh.
“It [my age] is the most relatable and obvious thing about me,” he says, understandingly. “Overall, it’s definitely an asset to me and it’s helped my career and inspires my fans. I wouldn’t feel right complaining. Twenty’s still kind of young, right?”
Hey, if lying to yourself is what it takes to help you cope with your quarter-life crisis, go for it.
this article was originally published in the georgia straight in june 2012