“Saving Light”

The song I’ve been listening to on repeat for hours has been “Saving Light” by Gareth Emery and Standerwick, featuring the vocals of HALIENE. My blog might sometimes seem like a Gareth Emery fan page, but there is a reason why Gareth Emery has always been my favorite. In his first Monstercat release, Gareth Emery has partnered with DitchtheLabel.org to fight bullying. Only after listening to this track for hours on end, have I finally watched the music video. During his Electric for Life podcast, Gareth had warned his viewers that it was impossible not to cry while watching the music video, and he was not wrong because I have been choking back tears, with my heart completely open for the children in this world who are bullied everyday so drastically leading them to want to end their lives.

As you remember from my previous blog post where Gareth Emery puts down rankings (and for a good reason, too), rankings don’t define who a person is or how good their music is. You can read that article here. However, “Saving Light” landed No. 1 on Beatport’s Top 10 Chart, and as the first trance track which has been at the top for 5 years, I’m extremely proud.

Just from music downloads, music streaming, and music video views, Gareth Emery was already able to donate $2000 to Ditch the Label. Ditch the Label is a non-profit organization in UK that uses campaigns to promote against bullying, and partnering with a DJ to create a powerful music video and song was part of that execution. This music video is intended to help victims of bullying become empowered and gain self-esteem. Regardless, I love to see a real DJ with a heart who uses his talents creating music to spread awareness of everyday causes.

A Tribute to VJ Jonathan Bernbaum

11206029_10207134586662353_5416997340827751038_n

Jonathan Bernbaum? I had no idea who he was or what a VJ was when I saw his name plastered all over the news associated with the Oakland warehouse fire, but I know better now. Jonathan was the visual artist for Knife Party, Markus Schulz, and many more. He tragically lost his life in the Oakland warehouse party fire last weekend, where 36 others and counting have died after a dangerous artist-collective warehouse called “Ghost Ship” deemed not fit to live in caught on fire late Friday night. The warehouse in Oakland, California, less than an hour away from my hometown, was not up to code or regulations, and was only allowed to be a warehouse, however desperate artists who couldn’t afford to live elsewhere called that matchbox their home.

An Oakland resident who was an alum of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, 34 year old Jonathan was a talented filmmaker responsible for many of the breathtaking and immersive shows in many festivals and raves all over the world. He had recently returned from a world tour in Asia to his home in Oakland where he was scheduled to do visuals at the top floor of the labyrinthine warehouse. Little did he know that would be his last gig, however, he will not be forgotten. Through this incident, in addition to mourning the loss of a great artist, I have also realized the important of VJs, thus gaining appreciation for Jonathan and his contributions to the electronic dance music industry. Below are a few of his many works, although videos and photos cannot truly capture the full effects of his passion.

 

 

VJs are the behind the scenes at every event, rave, festival, concert, club, etc. They are the ones mixing the lights and video productions and creating that multi-sense immersive experience we all undergo when we attend these events that are not only about the music, but about the stimulating visuals that synchronize with the music. Companies such as V-squared labs, which Jonathan worked for previously, contract out professionals who specialize in making sure people get the full captivating experience.

So next time you attend these events, make sure to appreciate not only the DJ, but also the VJ behind the scenes ensuring that the already amazing music is enhanced further through enrapturing visuals. The visuals are intended to complement the music, not to replace or overwhelm them. These VJs are similar to DJs in the fact that they do “mixing” of their own, using databases of media such as imagery and video clips that they compile to create visuals that synchronize with the music in real-time, in sync with the DJ’s song/mix choices.

So rest in peace, Jonathan. You will never be forgotten, as you will live forever in the memories of the millions of people all over the world who have had the privilege of enjoying your talents.

Gareth Emery #EFL100

Can we please talk about how great Gareth Emery’s 100th episode of his radio show Electric for Life is? This is his 100th episode since launching this new live radio show, his previous show being the “Gareth Emery podcast,” which he revamped.  This podcast is filled with songs from his album “100 Reasons to Live” as well as the remix album “1000 Reasons to Live.”

I have so much love for this English trance DJ and shamelessly rewind this podcast over and over again just to re-listen to one song. His humbleness publicly announced in 2013 regarding the DJ Mag Top 100 list:

“So here’s an alternative Top 100 message: Don’t vote for me. Seriously, when you buy a ticket to see me in a club, I consider that a vote. When you blast my music in your car, or share it on Facebook, or tell your friends about it, that’s a vote too. Those votes, and the amazing support you’ve shown over the last year, is what matters to me.”

So that’s it Gareth, you have my vote 🙂 Listen to the podcast http://electricfor.life/episode/100.

 

And for those who doubt DJs have musical talents…

 

The truth behind DJ Mag Rankings

As you all know, the top 100 DJ rankings from DJ Mag was released a few days ago, crowning Martin Garrix as the number one DJ in the world. For months before this moment, all I could see were instagram posts, tweets, and facebook posts littered with DJs pleading for the support and votes of their fans. Facebook and twitter cover photos as well as profile photos were stamped with the Top100 DJs insignia. DJs would ask their fans to vote for them so that their rankings would climb, and they would. I did and I do every year.

Recently, Pasquale Rotella hosted Armin van Buuren to pick his “Up All Night” tracks on his Night Owl Radio Episode 059. Armin van Buuren has been consistently in the top 5 for years, and was number one for a record five years. In 2010 when Armin was the Number One DJ in the world, he had a lot of pressure from fans. In order to maintain his fan base and retain his high ranking, Armin felt like he had to produce mainstream music in order to please his fans. He basically said that he was losing his identity as a trance DJ, however, my favorite DJ Armin is a visionary who always triumphs entrepreneurially and ingeniously. Armin started Gaia and the record label “Who’s afraid of 138?” in order to regain that sense of purpose and creativity that he had before being voted number one.

So what IS all this fuss about? I read about DJs like 3LAU who tell their fans NOT to vote for them, and are adamantly against the concept. 3LAU has finally released a statement on why DJ Mag rankings matter:

Gareth Emery refuses to participate as well. His duo CVNT5 involving himself and Ashley Wallbridge posted a video satirizing how DJs would pay DJ Mag in order to get the highest rankings. I truly admire CVNT5’s work; in the past, I’ve written an article about CVNT5’s views on fake DJs and ghost producers, which you can read here:

How to Become a DJ Parody (CVNT5)

The video is a whopping 9 minutes, but I highly recommend you watch CVNT5’s video below showing how DJs pay for rankings:

So next time you look at the DJ Mag rankings, take the rankings with a grain of salt. It could be votes from fans that earned that DJ that spot, or money put into DJ Mag’s pocket, but ultimately, it’s the fan that knows who is the best based on the music they make and the way they present themselves.

Monstercat

Several years ago, I was introduced to Monstercat. The song I listened to was Au5’s song called “Snowblind” featuring the beautiful lyrics of Tasha Baxter.

Recently, I started listening to the Monstercat podcast released weekly which features different artists every week. In episode 118, Eminence took over to promote his new EP “Hollow Mind” released on Monstercat. Monstercat is a Canadian based EDM and dubstep labeled founded by Mike Darlington and Ari Paunonen in July 2011. Monstercat allows DJs to sign to release single tracks, giving them the flexibility of bouncing from label to label. Artists such as Nervo, Eminence, Krewella, Dirty Audio, Marshmello, Project 46, Slushii, and Vicetone have released music on this label.

Eminence is a DJ duo consisting of Dillon ‘DLN’ Wong & Mathew ‘Kazmo’ Kazmierowski. I am Chinese, so naturally I was excited to see that one of the members was Asian, as this industry is predominantly Caucasian males. The festival lineups these days are mostly Caucasian males, and with the entrance of Eminence into the scene, there is a little more diversity. On festival main stages, DJs and DJ groups such as Krewella, Nervo, and Steve Aoki have proven to society that females and Asians were talented as well. However, it is important to still choose lineups and judge music based on the talent and ingenuity, not by a person’s ethnicity/race or gender.