Halloween is upon us and with it, some of the largest parties of the season. To expand on what’s happening 4:30 PM (1:30 PM PST) during our #FestFriday discussion on Twitter, I wanted to explain one of the biggest problems in the dance community today, the RAVE Act. I’ve written about this extensively on a much larger blog, EDMTunes. The short story is, laws that were created to prosecute people who rented to crack dealers, were used to prosecute rave producers. Public comment on the laws and aggressive prosecution especially after tragic events essentially destroyed the EDM boom of the mid 2000’s. Any of us old enough to be keeping score can tell you about how certain clubs got obliterated, gangbusters style. NYC, DC, LA, you name it, nights were being ruined. This was done under the pretext of protecting children from unscrupulous dealers, and Joe Biden did his best to ensure that no one danced to hardstyle, happy hardcore or techno again.
(I sat down with The Crystal Method at Escape Music Festival, held at the Beach Club on Governor’s Island. Their set was one of Saturday’s best, kicking the day into high gear. It was a proper, old school party, with amazing dance, techno, house & ridiculous live sets. This is a repost from EDMTunes, so hit them up and show them some love so they keep letting me do this stuff. Photos by Sarah Vale.)
1. How was your Summer 2014? Better than your Summer 2004? How about your Summer 1994?
Scott: That’s interesting, nobody’s ever asked us that question.
Ken: You know just this month, October actually, would be 20 years since our first release, our first 12″.
Scott: Is that when it came out? October 94? So summer of 94, was us just trying to create something that we thought would be cool & be the first release on this label called City of Angels. We were excited, and we’re still excited. So, much different time, 20 years ago to today. Summer of 94, there was a lot going on. So much stuff, Pearl Jam and Nirvana.
Ken: The LA rave scene was still happening.
Scott: Slightly yes. It was on its downturn then. We were living down in Orange County at the time.
Ken: The actual recording of Now Is The Time was done at the Bomb Shelter. Summer of 94.
2. For people who maybe only know what parties are like cities like Berlin or NYC or London, what is the club, dance music scene like in LA these days?
Ken: There are some big clubs like Exchange, Avalon, Create, also a cool smaller club called Sound. And then there’s a lot of other, more Indie kind of things going on. Little warehouses & there’s a Burner community…
Scott: There’s still the Beach parties, the Moon Tribe things?…they do something out of Malibu or Santa Monica. Anyways, the thing about LA is that it’s so spread out. There’s no public transportation that is fun & sexy & easy. So people are far away from each other, and there’s not that communal vibe you would sometimes find in a city like London or Berlin. But you definitely have pockets. Downtown is becoming a real hotspot for a lot of artists living. But the club scene is continuing to thrive & grow, and I think it’s not at a pace where you feel like it’s going to hit some sort of bubble. It doesn’t feel over-saturated, it’s still a very fun, organic scene.
3. Keep Hope Alive always been a personal favorite, and it was an anthem of positivity to millions of people. What was it like after Keep Hope Alive was chosen as the theme to Third Watch?
Ken: We were excited about it. It was the first time we had something like that, going out in such a big way. Every week they were playing the song, it was really featured and it was just a lot of fun. Whenever you hear your music being played for a lot of people, even though you’ve heard the song a million times before, it’s like Wow! This is pretty cool!
Scott: I was just on an airplane and I heard Trip Like I Do was in an episode of Fargo, the TV show Fargo.
Ken: In the stripper scene right?
Scott: In the stripper scene! And a character gets killed right in that scene.
Ken: We’re good at that!
Scott: A lot of people get killed in our scenes! And Keep Hope Alive was actually, weirdly, had the most deaths on camera at one point. It was in a Chow Yun-Fat movie called The Replacement Killers (sequence here). But I love that moment when the song was in that show, Fargo. It’s such a great show, it’s such a great movie. You’re just like, aw man, the Coen Brothers have heard our song. Or Billy Bob Thornton has heard our song. There’s a moment where you go, that thing that you made like, 18 years ago, 17 years ago, 20 years ago, whatever it is. And you’re just doing everything you can to create the coolest thing you can for you and for your audience. And then it finds this whole other audience. And then it lands somewhere like that, where you’re like, Shit, it’s a very cool moment. I knew it was in there before, but then seeing it…because it’s not like they give us any kind of approval or review of what the scene’s going to look like before. But, seeing it, having it in the middle of such a great production was just really cool.
4. Your self-titled album that was released after Scott’s critical surgery was loved by every person I spoke to about it. How did you keep the hard-hitting vibe of classic TCM intact while updating the sounds for the post-EDM generation?
Scott: I wish it was released this during the surgery, so you get all the sympathy, you know what I’m saying? Buy This Album, or he’ll never come out of it!
Ken: He’s barely hanging on! Well, it was, you know, a conscious effort. We DJ a lot so we’re always listening to new music. We like a lot of the new sounds but at the same time we always want to make a Crystal Method album. One that when people hear it, they’ll know it’s us. I think this album has been a really good combination of those two things.
5. I last saw you guys live at the short-lived Identity Festival when you played Camden, NJ (in that parking lot) on that crazy day in August 2011, with the storm. Did you guys get your gear out and everyone to safety before it got too wet when you cut your set short?
Scott: They covered all of our gear up. We barely made it in, we like, jumped into somebody’s bus.
Ken: Yup, that’s right.
Scott: It wasn’t our bus, it was somebody else’s bus. It might’ve been Morgan, our VJ’s. He was on a bus with a bunch of other people, and it just opened up. It came down that afternoon. That’s right, you could see Philadelphia over the river. It struck me how close everything is. That you could see Philadelphia in Jersey, is really wild. It takes the Giants hours and hours to Philadelphia, but just because of traffic.
6. Along those lines, do you have any thoughts on harm reduction for promoters and event/festival producers that would want to book you or other safety-conscious acts in the future?
Ken: We prefer playing events that welcome harm reduction techniques and groups like DanceSafe & Electronic Music Alliance. They’re taking a real proactive stance. They’re not trying to promote drug use in any way, but they are saying they want people educated about these things that are out there. And I think the more education kids have, the safer they will be.
7. Some have claimed that your favorite synthesizer is the Clavia Nord Lead, is that true? Do you have any recommendations when it comes to hardware or plug-ins that you’re digging at the moment, or could not live without?
Scott: We loved the Nord Lead & the Nord Lead II. Over time if you were to examine it, it’s probably one that we use a lot. We love the Roland Jupiter 6, I think my favorite as far as the type of sounds you can get out of it. We’ve got a lot of lovely new stuff. Picked up this fun device, it’s fun, it’s a consumer model. But it has an ability to sample, and it kind of takes you back to one of those early synths.
Ken: Yeah, like the SK-1.
Scott: Plug-in’s wise, we use a lot of Sylenth, the Native Instruments stuff is awesome, FMA.
Ken: All the Arturia plug-ins are great.
Scott: The quality of them is so crazy. When we were making Vegas, there was no “In-the-box.” Everybody’s got so much power now, you can put all these effects & plug-ins across all of these different channels. It’s a completely different world. It is so crazily different, production-wise, from where we were 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. There’s a lot of great stuff out there. We use the Wave stuff, as far as stuff on the EQ side. McDSP & SoundToys also create really great delays & strange stuff.
8. Who are you looking forward to collaborating with, and are there any places left in the world that you haven’t played at that you’d like to?
Scott: The collaboration thing is always a strange thing. Obviously there’s people that we really love and respect and would love to work with, but if the feeling isn’t mutual, then it’s not gonna be a great thing. Places we haven’t played yet….We haven’t played in St. Petersburg, we played a few cities in Russia. Would love to play South Africa, Morocco.
Ken: I’d love to play India!
9. What would be your favorite positive/cool thing in dance music that’s occurring right now, anywhere in the world? Something cool you’ve seen maybe outside of the states, as opposed to talking about something you dislike in the industry?
Ken: I think with SFX & Insomniac battling each other, I think the production value of all of these events is going through the roof. So sound & lights & visuals have just been super amazing at all these big festivals. And that’s cool.
Scott: On the music side of it, I’m always amazed at how much great stuff is coming out. There’s lots and lots and lots of music, saturating every layer of every genre. People can dump on dubstep or electrohouse. The puritans in the House world have the thing they like and that’s the great thing about it. We’re all just loving the entire scene. We have little pockets of people, cousins don’t always get along but they don’t have to hate on each other you know what I’m saying. You’re all cousins!
Ken: That’s right!
Scott: House cousin don’t hate on Breaks cousin. Sure you don’t look the same, maybe your Dad’s got a lazy eye & a limp, and that’s why you can only move at one tempo, but we’re beyond that. We’re all family. One of the things that come out of any culture, you find people who feel heavily affiliated closely, it’s “their” thing. Something they discovered on their own. So they take ownership of it, but then they start to worry about people coming into their territory. Fucking do what you do and love it. As long as you do everyone’s gonna be good.
10. If you could, what do you think of the evolution of American EDM over your two decade presence in the dance music community? You’re one of the only groups that survived, any thoughts as to what you can attribute that to? Where do we go from here?
Ken: Our longevity is from loving to work with each other and loving to make this music. The future, we don’t know. We’ve kind of ridden waves of popularity of this music. There was a big wave in the late 90’s, then came back down. Now it’s up high. We’re gonna be ok if it levels off or goes down.
Scott: We’re like squirrels, we’ve been saving some nuts for any kind of hibernation for a long winter.
In case you thought that Twitter didn’t matter, I’ve got a mix that proves you wrong. Hospitality announced their DJ competition winner over the weekend on Twitter, and I’d have missed it otherwise. My reward for clinging to the array of Hospitality social media like a barnacle was this FANTASTIC mix by Steve Nolan. Now, if you’ve heard of Steve Nolan before, I’m buying you a case of PBR and a replacement fixie bike chain, because you’re officially more hipster than me. This mix is an incredible journey that pulls some of the best in liquid, drum & bass and Hospitality together into a wonder of a 30min mix. I really hope we hear more from this kid, because this mix is MASSIVE. Put it into your face and let’s get him on the Hospitality parties in 2015, stat.
Greetings Gothamites! Halloween, or New Year’s Eve with costumes, is one of the best nights of the year for the city. However, as with all major holidays, the gouge effect when it comes to tickets and drinks is worse than Uber surge pricing. To combat this malarkey, here’s a list of a bunch of free/cheap stuff that’s dope and totally viable. (Disclaimer: To note, no one asked me to post any of these, I just was invited to them by someone trying to make something cool here in NYC. So I give props for that and try to help. Here’s to hoping they succeed. No torches & pitchforks if a warehouse gets busted, there’s a hurricane, or you don’t like the DJ please.)
Hawly crap, just when you thought you’d never see the light again, Drum & Bass returns to the NYC club scene! This two-fer event pack is giving me a whole lot of love for the Slake management right now. After absolutely nailing the Above & Beyond pre-party with Matt Lange, now they’re pulling in some delightful talent to make me question going to underground stuff this weekend & next.
Saturday, Wilkinson, the 2014 award winning D&B producer is headlining with Sigma, another prodigy. These two are going to put on an amazing show, and it’s one I am seriously considering staying at late into the morning. This might mess with my schedule, as I hadn’t put Slake on my Nov. 1st H-Ween schedule, but these DJs earn your ears, in a big way. The smooth, groovy D&B is definitely some of the best we’ll get here for months, so do not sleep on this y’all. Dali & Alex English, two of the steadfast dance floor warriors NYC owes its soul to, will be providing bass in your face support. So get tickets here, and the 160bpm will thank you.
The next week, a huge, even MASSIVE event is happening on the 8th. BBC Radio One Xtra’s very own Crissy Criss is crossing the pond with a merry band of DJs, including Jumpin Jack Frost. The potency of the UK team here cannot be underestimated. I think every veteran of Konkrete, Camo & the other d&b parties need to get at this event, especially if you’ve been a fan of his radio show. This looks to be a proper evening filled with high flying dance & sick fam attendance. Tickets are here, and this is a great way to kick Fall in the teeth.
This one caught me by surprise. 3min in, ethereal power ballad build, with notes of Disclosure & funky garage-styled vibes. The break keeps you on your toes and should be in the armamentarium (totally a real word!) of any Brooklyn DJ who is spinning irregular house these days. It’s Monday at midnight, the hardest part of the week is over. Just think about all those Halloween parties bearing down on you. (via Fresh New Tracks)
Since this came on at the exact time I needed it during Gratitude, I’ve been meaning to update everyone on The Adversary. I first covered this sound almost a year ago, and he’s been fighting the good fight. The combination between live sounds & electronic elements is perfect for what people are looking for in Brooklyn these days, and the video is a whole lot of fire & attitude. The video work is well done and the bass is fun as hell to groove to. Ritual Dream is one of the tracks off a new EP that’s pretty quality, so I’ll be discussing my ambient thoughts about it below of course ;)
Surprisingly funky & rock filled, with a voice that needs to get more attention. The combination of strong driving chords & the sly lyrical work create a memorable sound that I’d probably expect at a bar where people cooler than me hung out.
Top Of The World pushes in a little deeper into the realm of Indie, but remains a stompy, soulful tune. The synth, reverb & delay are used appropriately here, and it gives me hope for how he’s progressing, as this is definitely more technically complicated than the EP he released last year. The vocal work is more daring, while the ideas are getting bigger and bigger. Kudos to this guy for dreaming big and swinging hard.
We Need makes me wistful thinking about a group called InnerPartySystem. The more artists that try to straddle this “live vocal + garage house bass” style, the happier I will be. This is what I assume my night will sound like if I ever have to chase a quirky exotic photographer through a crowded series of bars & parties. Or at least, what the cut montage of it would be of course.
Yoshimi is an interesting track that I’d mentioned before, but it’s quite nice. It’s essentially a Boten Anna that doesn’t suck (for anyone into Basshunter). There’s a streak of alternative vocals here with some fun anthemic guitar work that are totally welcome here. Check the thing out & hit him up if he’s in town. It’s a fun show, trust that if he earned a slot at Gratitude 2x in a row, he’s doing something right. The Adversary is performing at the Museum of Sex for their “Sex on Fifth Avenue” series on Nov. 1 at 11pm. Get tickets here since you’ve obviously been won over by this feature ;)