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“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

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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.

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.

 

How to Become a DJ Parody (CVNT5)

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Sup Peasants, read my commentary about the music video below, otherwise skip to the bolded text at the end for my thoughts:

  1. It’s pretty sad that we still live in our mom’s basement. I just want to be rich and famous, how can we do this quick? I know! We’ll just become DJs, it’s so easy and these guys make mad bank. I think our faces are douchey enough.
  2. DAYUMM look how much money these DJs are making!!! We can be the next Calvin Harris. BEST. GET. RICH. FAST. SCHEME. EVER.
  3. I’m not sure how to make music, do we use apps? Or what? Let’s just get a ghost producer. I don’t know any, but we can google everything, right? We can pay him later after he makes us rich and famous.
  4. Next step, we have to practice fake pressing buttons and twisting knobs. I don’t have time to learn that shit. Let’s do it in front of the mirrors so we can make sure we look legitimate, make sure to pump your fist a lot and jump up and down. And don’t forget to scream “EVERYBODY FUCKING JUMP” because that’s what I saw this DJ named Hardwell do and he was Number 1.
  5. We need a name. It has to be something dirty to show we got swag. CUNTS! GDI the domain name is already taken. It’s porn, let’s take a short masturbation break. But back to reality. Let’s just alter “CUNTS” so we’re politically correct, we have to be like deadmau5 and 3LAU and MOTi. We’ll just change the U to a V and the S to a 5! CVNTS. Dang we have the coolest name ever.
  6. Publicize, publicize, publicize. First we’ll upload one song on Soundcloud, that’s how all the DJs get discovered right? I mean, isn’t #SELFIE what put The Chainsmokers on the map? I have a few dollars saved from making sandwiches at the deli in high school, we can buy some Instagram and Twitter followers since no one knows who the fuck we are.
  7. Next, we will just sit back and watch our numbers grow. Our views increase, followers increase, clubs start booking us, then we’re headlining every major festival in the world! It’s just like dominos, no effort necessary. Why didn’t we think of this earlier? I could have been using Heinz ketchup on my hotdogs instead of that generic stuff.
  8. All we need to do now is make money, press some buttons, jump up and down and…have some sort of creative signature stage move. We’ve got the DJs who give champagne showers, the ones who throw cake into the crowd, and the ones who pour Grey Goose into fan’s mouths. We’ll urinate on a really hot girl’s face – it’s unique, it’s different.The chicks will beg for it. Maybe we can invite them behind stage after the show so they can give us blowjobs while their boyfriends watch.
  9. We should start practicing our duck faces and our “I’m rich and I don’t care about other people” looks in our bathroom mirrors. Thus, when the big magazines contact us for photoshoots, we will be ready with our game faces. I can instagram pictures of my face plastered on billboards and tweet articles about me talking about life! It didn’t even take much talent!
  10. The real talents and greats don’t even know who we are. Whatever, I have money.

Despite how humorous the music video is, the underlying topics brought up are not entirely false. Gareth Emery and Ashley Wallbridge intend to mock multiple aspects of the electronic dance music industry that are not widespread, but lead to an overall negative impression by outsiders. Issues such as using ghost DJs, buying Instagram and Twitter followers, fake DJing, being a performer more than an artist, and general hedonism and debauchery are raised in this parody. The few DJs that use these tactics undermine the majority of the other DJs who don’t, giving an overall undesirable reflection of the entire electronic dance music industry as a whole, causing outsiders to lose respect for the “real” DJs. We need to focus on the positive aspects of the industry and remember the multitudes of talented DJs from a diverse range of backgrounds that bring us great music cultivated through talent and hard work. Congrats to Gareth Emery and Ashley Wallbridge on an amazing song!

Check out their hilarious parody Twitter that makes references to real events: https://twitter.com/wearecvnt5

 

Armin @ BKWHS Review

Warehouse vibes!

A post shared by Armin van Buuren (@arminvanbuuren) on

  1. When I heard it was a secret Brooklyn warehouse party, I knew it was going to be good Armin. Two and a half hours of Armin, not just 45 minutes of Armin at a festival. 45 minutes really limits a DJ and they’ll end up playing a bunch of basic songs to appeal to the crowd. I respect him because as his music evolved, similarly to Tiesto, he delved further away from trance especially with his new albums “Intense” and “Embrace.” However, because he had a longer set he was able to incorporate both elements.
  2. There was an outside and inside stage. Of course it rained that day. It’s always like that in NY. It was so appealing to be crowded and trampled inside the venue (Brooklyn Hangar), only to walk outside to stand in the wet mud which was also super crowded. Alternatively, I could escape that to walk into the urine puddle of a portapotty. They said the event would go on rain or shine, but because of the massive rainstorms the outside stage was cancelled.
  3. $6 for a bottle of water. This is a great time for me to invest in a camelbak. Do I want to pay $6 for a drink that hydrates me or $10 for a beer that dehydrates me?  Recommendation to hosts: provide free filtered water at events. People will still pay for bottled water and if someone dies from dehydration, it’s ultimately their fault, but it still makes you look bad. At least there were food concessions. I was genuinely surprised as I’ve never been to a night event where food was being sold.
  4. Paint dropped from the ceiling every time the beat dropped, whether it was into my drink or onto our sweaty bodies, I didn’t know it was paint, I just wondered why there were chunks falling me.
  5. The music was amazing. The lineup was Ruben de Ronde, Khohma, MarLo, and of course the king of trance Armin van Buuren. There was no lack of Armin Jesus throughout the night and the energy in the crowd was high. Going alone as a short girl, I wasn’t able to join the crowd, so I watched from the sidelines to avoid becoming the next headline. I didn’t get to see the lasers or the carbon dioxide cannons or experience the full sensory overload of the show, but I had a great view of Armin’s side and I was able to fangirl him with a spacious spot at the barrier. He mostly looked ahead, but occasionally he acknowledged those on his sides and when I waved to him, he pointed at me – and that is when my heart melted. I know to him that I’m just a random fan girl, but to me he is everything. I personally enjoyed MarLo as well. A lot of people left after Armin’s set, because they wanted to rest before FSOE with Aly & Fila on Governer’s Island the next morning, but not me. Because the crowd became less like sardines and more breathable, I was able to get a spot in the crowd with enough room to dance. MarLo was phenomenal. Not only was the music perfect and synced with the vibes of the warehouse, but the lasers were spectacular. They were able to use the lasers with the carbon dioxide cannons to create a beautiful cloudy sky.
  6. Armin allowed multiple people to join him on stage, including a man who had cerebral palsy. It was a touching moment.
  7. Lastly, RPM Presents, despite you holding so many great events and bringing in so much great talent, it is disgusting how you oversold tickets. I met a guy there who said they barred everyone behind him from getting in. It could have easily been me if I had hit a lot of traffic or if I had a work shift that ended later. These are paying people who were denied admission to a show. Some people make long drives, take off days of work, buy airplane tickets, and go lengths to go to these events. Despite not allowing a number of people to enter the venue, the venue was still crowded regardless.

RPM Presents, get your shit together. I love Armin, but I don’t love Armin so much that I’ll pay for a ticket that only MIGHT get me admission to see him.

 

Highlights of EDC Las Vegas

I missed EDC Las Vegas. Again. No worries,

  1. Marshmello trolls crowd by pretending to reveal himself but it’s actually Tiesto. I actually believed Tiesto was behind Marshmello’s identity for 10 seconds, then realized that I was being ludicrous.
  2. BassPOD Stage literally catches on fire because of a pyrotechnic device. Talk about pyro gone bad…and here I was thinking that the fire was part of the stage.
  3. Anna Lunoe and Alison Wonderland become the first solo female DJs to perform mainstage at EDC.
  4. Sad festival goers are turned away at the gate because of counterfeit wristbands. My heart broke for them. Moral of the story: don’t buy tickets from sources not to be trusted. Only ever buy tickets from the original ticket provider.
  5. Paris Blohm raving with the crowd even though he has performed at EDC before. He started out as a fan and he’ll never stop being a fan even with all his fame.
  6. Ravers showing their love and support after the tragic Orlando shooting and uniting together
  7. KSHMR’s set literally blows out the speakers during his set Saturday morning. Poor KSHMR, even a few minutes of silence cannot hold his fan base down. I would have stayed for the former ex-Catarac.
  8. No one died. That’s actually great news for a festival of this magnitude.

Maybe one day we will be headliners uniting under the electric sky. But for now, we’re just broke. Peace

Tiesto the troll:

BassPOD is lit:

Catch the sets here:

Jauz

I have been enjoying a free two-month trial of SiriusXM satellite radio. Basically, I can listen to my podcasts without having to plug my phone in and ensuring that my phone’s app “Podcast Addict” is consistently downloading all of my favorite DJ podcasts, which is more difficult than you think. Recently, Electric Area has been exclusively streaming Electric Daisy Carnival New York live, and I was thrilled to listen to my favorites like Dash Berlin and Yellow Claw. I was even more pleased to listen to an interview with Jauz, a twenty-two year old DJ who is already playing Electric Daisy Carnival New York. Sam Vogel aka Jauz started making music early, but specifically delved into electronic music as a 15-16 year old. A few short years later and he is already playing alongside greats like Diplo and Skrillex, performing at huge events like Insomniac’s Audio on the Bay, Life is Beautiful, Mad Decent Block Party, and this past weekend, Electric Daisy Carnival. Native to Northern California, my beloved home, Jauz is an inspiration to all of us who are aspiring to be something great.

I don’t see his climb up the electronic dance music ladder slowing down any time soon. The music he produces and the sounds he plays cannot be put into a category. His music defies boundaries and incorporates many elements of music such as trap, house, hip-hop, and dubstep. DJs like Excision, Skrillex, and Datsik have inspired him. Jauz claims his name is an inside joke, and says that it has nothing to do with Jaws or sharks. Regardless, it is inevitable that fans are calling themselves the Shark Squad. I am looking forward to his EP.

Meanwhile, listen to one of his recent singles “Rock the Party” because I am loving his style.

 

KSHMR’s new EP “The Lion Across the Field”

KSHMR, aka Niles Hollowell-Dhar, has put out a new EP called the “The Lion Across the Field.” I have been listening to KSHMR for the past few years, raving to songs like the epic “Burn” and “No Heroes” and recently “Dead Man’s Hand” and “Secrets.” He has come a long way from being part of the duo the Cataracs. I was so intrigued by the song “Burn” and was excited to learn that a member of the Cataracs had produced it. A few years ago in my undergraduate years even before I discovered my love of electronic music, I was a huge fan of the Cataracs. I danced to songs like “All You”, “On Top of the World”, “Big Dipper”, “Bass Down Low”, and so many other countless party anthems. When I found out that my school had brought the Cataracs to perform at a free concert, I was elated. However, a few days before they were scheduled to perform, the duo had broken up. I was torn, thinking that I would no longer be able to experience their talent. I was glad to learn that KSHMR lives on as an amazing DJ who puts out great records on the label Spinning Records.

He has been putting out singles for years, and he has finally put out an EP, which includes the hits “Wildcard” and “Touch.” Enjoy this album and turn it up.

Avicii is Retiring from the Tour Life

I was sad to hear that Avicii was retiring, with this year’s tour dates being his last time performing live. However, as long as he is still producing music, I am extremely happy for him. To be able to confidently announce his decision at the age of 26 of his retirement from the “excitement” that all the other DJs partake in takes a lot of courage and strength. In Avicii’s statement, he hopes to continue making music, live his life, and most importantly focus on his health.

This is a bittersweet moment for me. The first rave I ever went to was to see him at a Homecoming concert at my school. I only knew the songs “Levels” and in preparation for the concert, I listened to a lot of electronic dance music, all through Spotify. I have no words for the rave. This rave changed my life, and I became an electronic dance music enthusiast and a broke raver girl. He opened my eyes to a new world, a new lifestyle, and subsequently acted as a propellant which fostered my love for electronic dance music. I am forever grateful for him. Over the years, I watched his music style and signature evolve into something that makes me so proud. From traditional electronic to what I like to call country electronic and rock electronic, his journey to discover his music style and branch out from what is considered mainstream makes him one of my favorite artists. I wish Avicii the best.