Tonight, we’re going back just far enough to when trip hop was still a thing. Groove Armada is such a crucial component of any dance music fan’s arsenal that if you’re hearing it for the first time I’m both disappointed & jealous. Groove Armada managed to combine lyrical flow, downtempo vibes and a really mature (especially for the time) understanding of production. This kind of vibe is rare but utterly necessary within the the non-main stage/post-party chill situation. Whether it’s a lower energy Thursday for you, or just a throwback to some happy and relaxed Sunday mornings listening to this, you’re gonna smile when you hear this. And if you’re new to Groove Armada, here’s a quick 15-track playlist to get you up to speed.
I was lucky enough to hit up a couple of Groove Therapy shows when I was in the city and the events at SRB, Sullivan Room & other spots were utterly ridiculous. On May 15th, Slake is going to have a heavy dose of vintage Groove Therapy. The label has been holding it down in the scene for a decade (as you may have guessed), which, in NYC, might as well be a century. Staying in biz that long is no easy feat, and this party is a testament to their resilience in a fast-changing, expensive as fuck city.
This is going to be an absolute shitshow. The lineup is a who’s who in NYC rave massive. This kind of music doesn’t get played out very much anymore and it’s a FREE PARTY. That’s right, just like the good old days before the 30-40 buck tickets came out. Slake is hosting this ridiculousness so it’s also nice & central for people from all parts of the city.
To show how long these cats have been running around, I’ve included a Lenny Dee set from 1995, and a heavy techno mix from DJ Gonzo from 3 days ago! It’s not as if these people have retired, they’re still out there doing work. They know what their crowd has wanted through the years, and I’m going to be really interested to see what happens when these sounds come out from under the EDM rug. They’ve been swept under since the explosion of Big Room, but it seems that’s faded. These guys are going strong and I think their community will be out in force to support.
The collab/b2b aspect of the event is going to be proper. Double Dragon going to give us a legit jungle set, coming off #marchdnbmadness, we’re all itching for more. I have no idea what genre or genres Dali, Hiyawatha & Alex English are going to drop, but I assume the set is going to be one for the record books. This b2b2b will be more than enough to get the party started. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
They’re opening up the 2nd room for this night and piling in a bunch more of the Groove Therapy DJs. PJay, HOWHARD, Integrity, Steve Nice and HardBass Addicts all ring a bell if you’re a veteran of the NYCRavers & previous eras of parties. Back when before CandyBall was banished to Exit in Brooklyn & when Brooklyn warehouse parties had not a soul for blocks in every direction. These tunes will definitely bring you back and help show us where the local scene is going. To get your name on the RSVP list, go here.
(This week, I’m honored to be bringing you one of the first looks at R&B/Soul singer Jae Jin. After earning a spot on House of Cards & being featured in the Huffington Post, he’s building a his fanbase & crowdfunding his debut album which is totally something you need to get in on. He’s also one of the best voices & musical talents of my generation, deserving your total attention. ) 1. With this release, what can people expect to hear from you? This release is a huge deal for me, because as an artist, this is the very first time, in all of its vulnerability, that I’ll be releasing original music and original songwriting. Writing has always been a passion of me (I even entered University as a prospective writing major) and my songwriting has gone through so much growth and fine-tuning, and continues to. My original music is also a reflection of my life, my love, and bits of the things I’ve been through. It is my hope that individuals will be able to not necessarily garner the same thoughts and feelings, but to just simply feel emotions that stem from their own lived experiences in life.
2. How did it feel when you were informed your song would be on House of Cards? Has anything come of it? House of Cards was a wonderful experience. It was very much grace and unmerited favor. I got brought on not just as an extra, but as a Principal Actor for an episode and had the opportunity to sing a Christian song by Hillsong for the church scene. I feel that the biggest thing that has come from it, is the impact it makes in viewers lives… an impact I didn’t intend nor could even plan. On a monthly basis, I am reached out to via social media and email by individuals who feel like they were so encouraged and moved by just that tiny scene. Some even talk about how they don’t believe or are spiritual, yet felt something or were moved emotionally. THAT is powerful! That has nothing to do with me or my talent. It has everything to do with music. Music can be so damn powerful!
3. How has your sound changed over the last couple of years? My sound has been evolving so damn much over the past few years, and even in the past few months it continues to evolve. I imagine that as an artist who continues to cultivate his craft and work to become better, that the evolving element will continue on. I think that the moment I’m not evolving or growing will be the moment I’m no longer alive.
4. Do you plan on adding more members to your band? Or are you satisfied with what you’ve got going right now? I don’t have a set band right now, but deep down, I know that my music will be brought to a whole other level once I form a band to properly bring my thoughts, ideas, and original music to its highest potential. I’m NEVER satisfied with anything I’ve got going on right now, besides maybe the fans. I’m DEFINITELY satisfied by the support and love that pours out to me. More than satisfied, I’d say I’m grateful and truly blessed.
5. What is the summer of 2015 looking like for Jae Jin? Touring? Collaborations? So summer 2015 will be pivotal. I’ve just launched a crowdfunding campaign through PledgeMusic to release my debut album. A majority of it is sitting in pre-production and I’m hoping that I’ll bring this album to fruition. I’ll be heading back out to the West Coast for a month starting in June to complete and finalize the album. I also continue to play out here in NYC and will aim to continue to do shows when I’m out West during the summer months.
6. What artists or tracks do you listen to on a daily or weekly basis? I’m CONSTANTLY listening to new music. But I’m also always listening to some of my favorite influences. It is funny how with many of my favorite influences, you can listen to the same song, and depending on where you are in your own life or how you feel, the song can speak in different ways. Again… the power of music.
7. Are there any artists that are coming up right now that really inspire you? I’d say that there’s definitely a handful of artists that I’m glad are recently enjoying the spotlight. A few that come to mind are Allen Stone and Alabama Shakes. Also, I’m also really into this British electronica trio called Years & Years. They won BBC Sound of 2015 among other awards this year, and I’m excited for their debut album Communion. But for every artist that seems to be in the spotlight, there are definitely a handful that I wish had an even bigger spotlight. I’m also really inspired by a singer/songwriter named Josh Garrels and also really a fan of this folk-rock band called Dawes.8. Do you feel you’ve been discriminated against or treated differently as an Asian soul/R&B singer? I’d say that the fact that I’m Asian definitely hurts me but also can help me at times. At the end of the day, music and soul knows no race. I also love breaking social constructs and stereotypes. Most times, when I get on stage, most people don’t really expect the music or sound that comes out of my mouth, and to me, there is a bit of satisfaction in that. You can even look at someone like Sam Smith. When you hear that voice on the radio, you don’t imagine that he looks the way he does. Not saying that it’s a bad look. It’s just really cool that regardless of looks, artists are breaking social constructs and also breaking the common typified personas of what an artist should or shouldn’t look like. It’s like oneself in life. You can’t change how you were born. You just own it and be confident in it. In my case, I can’t change what race I was born. I also can’t change the discrimination or the challenges that come with it. I will simply accept them and move forward boldly knowing that if I want something so passionately, not even challenges or obstacles will stand in the way.
9. Who are your musical idols? Any personal dream acts to open for? I’m not sure that I idolize any musicians or artists. I do have a fond respect for nearly all artists who create their own music. Of course, there aren’t too many artists and musicians who still create their own original content but they do exist. I would say that it would be amazing to sing in front of some of my biggest influences like Stevie Wonder and it’d be pretty amazing to one day open for current musicians I highly respect. These artists range across many genres as well. To list a few, Ray LaMontagne, John Mayer, Dawes, Allen Stone, Paolo Nutini, Sam Smith, John Legend, Gavin Degraw, Miguel… the list can honestly go on and on. One day when I’m sharing the stage with even one, I’ll be pretty ecstatic!
10. Any words to those who may be struggling with illness or a crisis in creation? We are all susceptible to darkness and hard times. But in darkness, we can remember what we believed and knew in light, and can push forward to another day. It does get better. It may not seem that way in the moment, but it does. And it’s beautiful. Life is simply a constant balance of holding on and letting go.
In many cultures around the world, drugs are primarily consumed not by smoking or snorting, but chewing. Coca leaves in Latin America, Betel in Asia, and Khat in the Middle East and Africa. This process is the traditional method of psychotropic substance consumption, especially in places where only tobacco is frequently smoked. In Somalia-land, the Eastern regions of Africa & the Arabian peninsula, Khat is king. This cathinone has amphetamine-like effects, but is significantly less powerful than something like adderall or methamphetamine. However, just because it’s a plant, not a powder, doesn’t mean it’s not still potent & hugely popular in much of the world.
This “herbal stimulant” has followed sub-Saharan migrant workers to Europe, while entrenching deeply within its native Somaliland (an independent autonomous region from Somalia). Approximately 20% of the government’s revenue comes from the sale of the plant. The drug has been seen as a problem for some, while an opportunity for others, and with the government encouraging the sale, a ban or restriction of any kind seems unlikely. The plant is considered less potent & addictive than powder or pill based concentrates that have made it over to the Western world. Al Jazeera has a great pair of features about the plant and the migrant worker culture surrounding it.
While the West has a terrible history of using racism to make drugs illegal, only Missouri in the USA has made this specific plant illegal. The active substance, cathinone, has gone on to much infamy being associated with “bath salts.” Cathinones are internationally scheduled, but the Khat plant was made illegal in the UK after a long & bitter fight that seemed to occur along racial & class lines (as discussed in those dope Al-Jazeera articles), as the plant is chewed primarily by immigrants. Ravelrie, NY DanceSafe & Stay Safe Seattle will be joining me to talk about the effects, information on the addictive potential & the positive/negative effects of the plant. Use #khatFF to join in the slightly sped up fun!
I was given the privilege of speaking to the director of Electronic Awakening AC Johner. This groundbreaking film discusses the beginning of the rave & dance music culture. Moving through Moon Tribe, Burning Man, psy-trance parties & other foundations of the scene, the music is stupendous, as is the commentary.1. Was this project your baby, or did someone approach you to direct? Electronic Awakening is my baby. I directed and produced the film under my production company Federation of Earth. I began the film in 2006 when I set out to explore the culture under a grant from my university. After my initial fieldwork, I invested to expand the project into a feature film. After 4 years, interviewing and filming, I built a rough cut of the film strong enough to attract finishing funds from a successful Kickstarter Campaign, as well as a production partnership with Keyframe-Entertainment. Last but certainly not least, Philip Wood and Satsi Jaquith of Ammo played a huge role in getting the ball rolling on production.
My conception of the project began during my undergrad thesis in anthropology when I began researching electronic music culture. Having never been to any events, I was inspired to read that the parties had encouraged so many participants to engage in more conscious lifestyle to the point that some had established a spiritual kinship with the music.
Coming in as an outsider, my perception of EDM was little more than a stigmatized imagery of teenagers with glow-sticks dressed up in fury costumes celebrating a drug-high to obscure music. My perspective broadened after discovering the research of anthropologist Graham St John, Scott Hutson, and religious studies scholar Robin Sylvan, whom all had contributed a wealth of scholarship towards the spirituality underlying the culture.
While the media had reported little on this side of the culture, I set out to explore it first-hand. I sought out events such as Burning Man, Moontribe, Shambhala, outdoor psytrance festivals, and other events now heralded as transformational festivals. When I arrived on site and witnessed the alters, ceremonies, and wealth of participants professing the dance floor in a sacred context, I knew that this religiosity reported by the aforementioned scholars was all very real, real to the point I had questioned if this were some new form of religion rising up through the dance music underground. Continue reading
This is a retro delight. Thomas Dolby showed up on a vintage Muppet Creature Workshop by Henson & helped explain what samples, synthesizers and basic sampling technique is. This is way back when you got your sample’s info on an oscilliscope and there were no Macbooks anywhere in the studio. For those who don’t know who Thomas Dolby is, he created the nerdy classic track “She Blinded Me With Science.” This a fun, family friendly way to understand what’s going on when those stupendously talented 19yr olds do this with laptops, digital recording programs on their phones & free software. Man, what a long, strange trip it’s been. (via Open Culture)
Well this one came out of left field. Props to Stoney Roads for the tip on this, the artist has under 25 twitter followers & isn’t even on Facebook at the time of writing. This has been on repeat all day, forcing me to track this new artist down. White Noise was a hauntingly good track by Disclosure & MNEK if you don’t remember, but this refix by Baiji is unheard of. The molasses pace, the deep, soulful honoring of the original vocals, and a general turn down to chill vibe is exactly what’s needed as festival season heats up here and the tracks get bigger and bigger. This alternative, relaxed attitude has definitely got him on my radar. And apparently, if you actually go through & adopt a dolphin, Baiji will buy you Chipotle. So, put this into your face as you finish out your 420.
I don’t get into the legal realm very often, but this is important. The Festival Lawyer has put out a quick, easy to follow video with tips to make sure your phone is protected just in case the cops decide to ruin your day. Little things, like password protection, ways to speak to them that don’t inadvertently waive your rights, and even apps to download to help you record the cops. These little things are all presented quickly, easily & The Festival Lawyer totally has a great voice for radio. I’m definitely following all of the steps & subscribing to the new Festival Lawyer network, because that’s gonna be useful at some point. I can promise you that much. Get the video into your face & show your stupid friend, you know the one I mean.
If you need a break from the Coachella livestream & you had a Genesis, you’re going to like this stuff. I got the Sonic the Hedgehog theme music stuck in my head so I decided to dig around and throw down my 2 favorite remixes involving the Blue Blur himself. First up, PrototypeRaptor mixing a fun Electro remix of the Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic 2. Bumping, super high energy and authentic pad work really makes it come alive. This is one of the few video game remixes that I could see making it onto a legit dance floor. This was one of my favorite downloads at OC Remix. Apparently people liked it so much he dropped a VIP/extended remix of it, which is what you just listened to. Ben Briggs needs a huge amount of props about this. This kind of bouncey modern re-imagining of the Hydrocity Zone music in Sonic 3 is a prime example of what I think modern chip & VGM DJs need to sound like to remain relevant in the era where people are playing games on their phone as often as they are on their gaming consoles. The FX are totally authentic, the squelchy bass works great & the wait to pull you into the mega-sweet breakdown at 2:15 is executed masterfully. The drop pulls in synthy perfection that throws me back into playing the crap out of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles locked on (who even remembers lock on technology?!). The sample is from one of the Sonic cartoons and could not be more at home. Now if I could just find a chili dog somewhere.
If you want a good idea of what the inside of my mind has sounded like for the last couple of weeks, just put this on repeat. This duo, made up of Alex Toni and Rodion De Charme out of St. Petersburg has created some amazing tracks, but this one is a fantastic stand out. The combination of soulful lyrics, soothing beats & perfect production is the reason why it’s been on daily repeat. They recently came out with a new track, which can be listened to here. They are able to capture a smooth, almost hopeful melancholy that you don’t hear in dance music much these days. Listen to this in the sun, or while walking in the light.