Interview By Terry Gotham
1. How’s 2016 been for you two so far? Any wild party stories from touring or festival sets you’re looking forward to?
Omni – 2016 has been great. So many great things have happened but I think being an official artist at sxsw for the first time takes the cake. That whole week was just overwhelming in a good way.
James – Yea SXSW was nuts this year I feel it was a tie between that and Magfest. Magfest was giant convention with a 24 hour arcade (pretty much our heaven) and SXSW we were official artists so that was pretty crazy.
I promised you that I’d dig deep to find the best emerging talent from all over the world, and floatinurboat is exactly the artist I created this blog to promote. The smooth, effortlessness of his production jives with a sonic aesthetic that would be right at home in a Porter Robinson or Madeon set. Someone tell Porter we’ve found a new opener for him, at least, once he’s old enough to get into the club!
1. When did you start producing? Did you play any instruments before you started?
I first started producing when I was around 14, my dad got me FL11 and I just completely fell in love with the program and producing. I wasn’t completely new to music though because I had been playing piano for 10 years at the time (now 12).
(This week, I’m breaking my rule of focusing on NYC based artists for a good cause. A friend is raising money to fund music programs for at-risk & underprivileged youth in the Seattle-Tacoma, Washington area. She’s a drummer/musician extraordinaire, so I wanted to get the scoop on punk, live music & the scene out in SeaTac. Hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!)
1. What’s it like being in the minority of lady drummers in Seattle?
It’s both intimidating and exhilarating. Intimidating in the sense that since the vast majority of drummers and rock bands in general are male, I have experienced my share of patronizing comments and extra scrutiny from ensembles I’ve played in that were all male. Throw in the fact that I’m older, and have not been playing drums for very long as compared to the guys who have been playing in bands since their teens, I can say that for someone who is very confident in most other aspects of my life, coming into this scene certainly forced me to develop a thick skin. On the other hand, since there are so few female drummers, I feel like I’m in a very elite club – a unicorn of sorts. I’ll be honest, I also came into this knowing that people find chick drummers to be extremely bad-ass. I suppose that’s due to the fact that drums have tended to be considered a “guy” instrument. There are many female vocalists and guitarists. Drummer chicks, not so much.
2. Were drums your first musical love, or have you hopped instruments over the years?
My musical experience started when I was 5. I started out playing piano, because my mother is an accomplished classical pianist. I learned to sight-read music at a very young age. But I remember, when I was 6 years old, for the first time hearing a song on the radio by Aerosmith, and from that moment, I fell in love with rock and roll. Growing up in a home where rock was considered garbage, it was tough to stick to an instrument. My parents finally let me learn guitar, as long as it was classical guitar. I had the skill to play, but the passion wasn’t there for me because I wasn’t playing the music I wanted to play. Growing up in NYC in the 80’s and 90’s I also spent a lot of time at dance clubs, and my ear and body gravitated towards rhythms. I became really fascinated by percussion and in awe of the musicians who were able to coordinate their 4 limbs to do different things at the same time and create a single groove. Eventually I ended up dropping piano and guitar while I was in graduate school – which is something I have always regretted. The desire to learn drums was always there though. And finally, 4 years ago it dawned on me – I’m all grown up, I have my own house, my own space, my own income and my husband’s old drum kit sitting in storage. I found a Groupon deal for 4 drum lessons at a local shop in Bellevue WA, bought it, and now 4 years later, I’m still with my same teacher, and still taking lessons every week. The drums are where I belong.
I was lucky enough to speak to some emerging talent by the name of The New Tarot recently. Always a fan of lady-fronted acts, this one took me by surprise. There’s a bit of melancholy, a bit of indie, a bit of alternative and a whole lot of rock here. Take a listen, you might be surprised when you see them on the lineup at Gov Ball 2017. If you can’t wait for that, head to Le Poisson Rouge on March 26th to catch them live. )
The New Tarot – Interview by Terry Gotham
1. How is Brooklyn treating you? Are the reports of the death of the borough greatly exaggerated?
Brooklyn is awash with the prickly pine cactus leaves of February’s desert – chewed up pine needles, sticking like burrs to the bottom of bored, lavished tongues lashing out
2. Now that you’ve got a supporting cast of musicians, do you ever mix up performing/production duties, or are your roles pretty fixed from tune to tune?
Our roles are pretty snug, but there’s plenty of room to grow. I hope we’re a great production team one day; right now recording the shit we hear in our heads is our music school and every time we walk in the studio or into a gig, we’re there to grow and to learn. Maybe that’s why we haven’t released a full length yet; we’ve been focused on the quizzes, and, yeah it’s about time to take the test.
Thrilled to bring you the debut album from a stupendously talented Brooklyn producer. This effort is a departure from his previous work, so I’m delighted he spoke to me first about his new project, that drops TODAY, Escher Beat.1. How did Escher Beat come about? Escher Beat has been this nebulous concept in my head for a long time now. It’s hard to define when it was born- It’s like how some cultures consider the birth of a child to be when they first had the thought of creating one, as opposed to copulation, or the release of it into the real world. A lot of the stuff on the album has been in my head for ages but only now have I had the skill to get it written down and expressed in a somewhat proper form.
The album (and thus project)’s “copulation” began in 2012, when I was shying away from “23” as a project. I made the intro of the opening track (“Inter-Universal Transmission No. 2”), trying to make music that I thought I truly should be making. It was a good start but I found I did not have the skills to keep going forward. I also had a busy life finishing school and starting my career in NYC. But in the 2-3 years since then, I’d practice sound design, practice alternate forms of music, small things to up my skill set.
About 9 months ago, I said “alright, it’s time to actually try this again”. Over the course of 8 months, I wrote the album in a concerted effort. The last thing I wrote was follow up to the intro in the first track, which I thought was a nice conceptual way of completing the circle/journey.
2. What is it like being a closet producer living in Brooklyn right now? Depends what you mean by closet producer! Technically I work in a DIY-level dedicated studio. The room isn’t huge but it is covered in a professional level of bass traps with a properly set up and calibrated monitoring system, instruments, synths, etc. But in the sense that I just sit down and woodshed production for hours on end alone without telling anyone, you could say I’m a closet producer. It’s hard not to talk about what you’re working on. But it’s for the better because the more you talk about it, the less likely you are to complete it, I think. Less talk, more do.
Brooklyn is great because of the sheer number of musicians and artists around. I hope to take advantage of that in future work!
3. You had some success a couple of years ago producing dubstep under the alias 23, why did you decide to switch projects? I’ll try to keep it concise. I think 23 blew up faster than I was ready for. I was a one trick pony, and I painted myself into this dubstep corner. I began to become disillusioned with the progress of dubstep, and came to hate it. What happens when the only music you can reliably make is music you hate? That’s where the track “Fuck You (If You Like This Song)” came from; it was a frustrated irony.
I still consider my name to be the person named 23, but the work associated with it, I no longer identify with. It was a natural progression to make a new project for a more evolved sound.
4. What would be the ideal setting for listening to your music? Any altered state is a good start. The album isn’t just sound. There’s multiple layers of head-fuckery going on. I’ve used psychological setups and traps to influence the effect of sections of music based on the previous sections. There are sounds that bend and morph, and some things are so subtle, you need that altered state to obtain the perspective necessary to perceive it. These are some of my favorite moments in music, realizing the album you’ve been listening to for years had some hidden aspect to it you hadn’t unlocked.
I think a good stereo setup with a sub, with a bed in the center is a nice way. The album has very danceable moments, but they’re never too intense, so I think they’re still relaxation-worthy if you’d like to do home listening.
For dance purposes, I really want to see how it does on a big sound system with people who are really into dancing. There’s some funky grooves and heavy syncopation that, at least from my perspective as a dancer, lends its self to some really fun times dancing.
Without a doubt though, the album is best listened to all the way through. When you take the songs out of context, you begin to lose some of the “magic” so to speak.
5. How do you produce these incredible tracks? Can you give us any peaks into the method to your madness? I constantly have general ideas in my head about stuff I want to try. For example, in the second track (“James Brown…”) there’s this build up to this complete breakdown of the sound all together that then filters up and becomes a completely unique element of a completely unrelated beat. THAT kind of stuff is the essence of an “Escher Beat”. I had that concept in my mind for a long time, and that wasn’t even my first attempt at it.
After a concept is decided on, if any (sometimes things begin with a sound test or a jam) the writing process its self can be very…. automatic. There are times where I feel more like the music is written through me, or that I’m merely writing down what was already supposed to come next. My best music just happens, it becomes obvious to me. Sometimes, especially with long studio sessions, I’ll come back in a week later and forgot I wrote entire sections of music.
I guess that’s expected when you stay up for 24-48 (on rare occasion, 72) hours in a room with no windows. Definitely gets weird by the end of a session.
6. Do you have any preferred medium for performing live or strong opinions on the whole vinyl/laptop/cdj wars? Right now I work off Traktor cause that’s what I’ve always done. For someone who produces music, it can be a bit limiting, but I’m so familiar with the limitations and how to get around them that it’s a good old standby.
In the future I’d like to do Ableton live stuff. But I’m busy as fuck so that learning curve has kept me at bay for now. I’d really love to be able to re-fuck, re-mix, and re-contextualize things on the fly.
As to opinions on live mediums, I don’t think the medium matters at this point. Does the music sound good? That’s all that matters to me. I don’t go to shows to watch guys idly spin knobs or pretend they’re busy looking through a record bag. If the music is good, it’s good.
7. Are there any cool things happening in electronic music that you’re really into at the moment that our readers may not be aware of? A sub-genre or a new party or thing the kids are doing under the cover of darkness that you’re into? Honestly I hear good, new music every damn day. I love some of the more down tempo neuro stuff going on like Aio – Steam Prism, and also a lot of chill wave, and other really trippy beats. People are constantly putting out cool shit and a lot of it gets little to no attention.
I’d like to see this more progressive music at events. You’d think in such a forward city (when it comes to things like art and fashion) you’d see more interesting music at big events, and it certainly exists, but not at a reasonable scale. Like anywhere else, it seems most people in BK and NYC want that familiarity. Few people REALLY get into dance (dance, not dance music) and I think that’s a big reason why. When you have a strong dance vocabulary, new kinds of music means more ways to express yourself, as opposed to non-dancers who want to jam to familiar tunes (typically).
8. If I could wave my magic wand and get you a headlining slot anywhere in the world, where would you like to spin? I’d want to spin somewhere that has both a dancefloor, and places to relax, with lots of interactive and immersive artwork. Maybe something like DJing to people wandering a technological hedge maze/hall of mirrors that leads to different dancefloors with different art installations. I’m not sure it exists, at least all in one event. What I’m trying to say is the idea of me headlining a big crowd isn’t what I’m after. I’m about unique experiences and immersion, which have functional limitations in regards to scalability. I hate the idea of exclusivity, elitism, etc, but practically speaking, immersion isn’t possible when you have too many people. Except immersion in a crowd, but that’s why Big Room House came out. No thanks.
9. Any favorite plug-in’s, programs, pieces of hardware, or other music creation tools that you couldn’t have created the album without? A lot of the edits are by hand, and just layers upon layers of sound, with pretty basic plugins most of the time. When it comes to synths, if I didn’t have one, it’d be another. Most common VST is probably just my EQ. It’s less about the tools and more about the vision.
10. Are there any sonic influences that you couldn’t have arrived at this point without? Favorite producers, musical teachers, life-changing parties, etc? There have been a lot of nights at Burning Man where I heard music that I have never heard again that just blew my mind. I didn’t know how to classify it. But it was groovy. And when the DJs were done, they disappeared. Only recently have I been seeing music *similar* to this hitting the public sphere. Maybe it’s there and I just can’t find it. In a sense, this album is my version/interpretation of that hard to classify, but groovy vibe.
More often than not, people have been comparing the album to people I never listen to. A lot (not all) of my strong musical influences either have little to do with modern electronic music, or aren’t even music related at all. I’ll leave it at that because I want the album to be understood personally, not directed by me. I’ve done enough direction by writing the music its self.
(I was lucky enough to chat with the mad scientist behind one of my favorite acts of all time, ph10. A force of nature in NYC back when the word rave meant something, ph10 has taken up residence in Denver, giving his fans an epic show this Saturday at The Oriental. Here’s to hoping everyone who reads this will help me convince him to keep the brutally majestic live d&b train going.)1. How have you been preparing for the show? What can Denver attendees expect? Mostly focusing on promotion, it’s a tough town to get more than a couple hundred people at a show like this and we’re shooting for 400 at the Oriental. Beyond that, Pete and I have a brand new track to debut and I’m bringing some older tracks, some unreleased tracks including some hot fire from Clark of Saturn as a tribute. There’s a handful of people coming all the way from NYC and I’m trying to make it worth the trip.2. For everyone who missed your performance in 2013, Do you think you’d ever put out a set online? Brutal drive that was. I was stuck in Kansas for two days because a snow storm closed I70. You know what’s funny about Kansas? As bad as you assume it’ll be, it always finds a way to be worse. Sure I’ll put out a set online. You want to help set that up? Let’s do it live. (ed. You bet your ass I will)
3. Have you kept up with drum & bass these days, are you a still fan of what’s going on in the space? Honestly, I wish I could say no. I wish I could say “oh i’m way past that, I listen to Hungarian pan flute music exclusively now” but i still love DnB and it still gets me going when i need it to. My favorite artist right now is Amit – especially tracks like The Hunted / Killer Driller / Survivor / Daaku and Human Warfare. Brilliantly simple, minimal, dark and just so well produced – pretty much the opposite of pH10.4. Right now, it’s all about the DJ and the fireworks. What is it all about for you when you’re up there? Really? Fireworks? That’s cool. I love pyrotechnics. I used to have a helmet with two flash-paper guns that i fired at the audience. People hated it. Venues really hated it. What’s it about when I’m up there? Sound. There’s nothing more important to me than filling the room with a full, rich auditory experience. Secondarily I mix everything live and like to tweak all the synths to give a semi-live experience to the fans that might know the records. Beyond that, I just bang my fat head up and down and try to have fun. 5. Do you partake in the Denver scene at all? Would you ever consider showing up and mixing records or messing around with some live production somewhere just for your local fans? Not as much any more but when anyone i know ask me to get involved in a show – even if that just means showing up with a computer and dropping samples into a metal set – I rarely decline.
6. Do you keep in touch with your fans? Are they clamoring for unreleased tracks? I’ve never had anyone clamor for anything from pH10 to be honest. If anyone wants unreleased tracks (and there are a few good ones) just ask.
(ed. – You bet your ass there are a couple I’ll be asking for :D)
7. As someone who was there before, any thoughts on what Brooklyn & the NYC party scene has become? I go back to NYC a lot and I stay in touch with the promoters that I used to work with – what I hear is that shit is pretty flat right now. I can’t confirm as I’m not in the scene every day but the guys that I looked up to doing parties every month just seem burned out on NYC and have moved on. Having said that, the last time pH10 played there was the aforementioned show at House of Yes in 2013 and it was an incredible experience – so emotional for me. Many of our NY fans came out to greet us, the venue was very well run and the sound was incredible. I do miss NYC.
8. With the explosion in commercial festivals, where do you think we go from here? What’s a club kid to do? Yeah those parties look terrible to my jaded eyes but if those kids are having fun, good on ’em. What I hope happens is that they are inspired by that scene and start to find indie spots to throw their own parties. All we had in the 90s and 00s in NYC was about 5 good crews, filling venues like Wonderland, Rubulad, Frying Pan, Lunatarium etc. That’s all it took – one of those crews throwing a genuinely good party every week and lighting up the city. I hope we get back there some day.
9. Knowing how it all turned out, do you have any nuggets of wisdom or insight for people just on the precipice of what you created? You know what, It’s finally been long enough to look back and be proud of what we accomplished rather than wonder would could have been. Regardless of the fact that some of the stuff with Pete Miser did pretty well on college radio and commercially with licensing and placements – we’ve sold a couple thousands records total, across our entire catalog over our entire history. Not exactly setting the world on fire. But the shows that we’ve performed – putting us in a position to look down off of a stage and see pleasure and pure joy in someone’s face because of the goofy shit that we’re playing – that’s what I’ll always treasure about this project. pH10 is silly but we fucking rock at the same time – that’s a great combination and all too rare these days. I like to think of pH10 as the electronic Murphy’s Law. 10. No chance we could convince you to keep it going huh? Even maybe just mastering some unreleased material or mixes of your favorite classic tracks? I didn’t expect anyone to bat an eye at the ‘last show’ declaration but it seems that there’s more interest than I expected – especially in doing live shows. The show hasn’t even happened yet so it’s a bit early to renege but fuck it. If someone in our family comes along and asks us to participate in something good, I might not know how to say no. As for releasing new stuff – that’s inevitable. I just need some help making it happen. Hit me up.
(This interview is a minor dream of mine ladies and gentlemen. As a New Yorker & journalist, The Naked Cowboy is larger than life. Whether he’s got a crowd surrounding him in the summer, or singing loudly & proudly in the dead of winter, he’s a NY institution. We had a quick chat, and he let us in on a fitness & motivational secret or two.)1. Is there any part of being The Naked Cowboy that you like more than the others?
I love everything equally about being the Naked Cowboy, but it is always the greatest pleasure to see when I make people laugh and smile.
2. When did you think, hey, I can really do this for a living?
From the beginning, I knew it was valuable. I didn’t quite know how I would make money from it, but I always moved forward with the intention of making myself the richest man in the world.
3. How the hell do you deal with the cold?
4. Can you let us in on any Naked Cowboy fitness secrets?
Run 7 miles, spectral weight training and eat small nutritionally balanced low carb meals 7 times/day. No white sugar, very little or no high fructose fruit/vegetable.
5. You mention Anthony Robbins as an inspiration. Can you talk about how he impacted your life?
Before AR, everyone told me all the things I couldn’t do, then I realized from reading Unlimited Power, that I could do anything I wanted to do. It was an immediate game changer for me.
6. Do you have any favorite Naked Cowboy media pieces or events that you like being known for?
7. What’s up with the Naked Cowboy Oysters?
They are now the #1 selling Oyster in America. They’re from Blue Island Oyster Company on the West Coast. You can get more info on them here: – Home of Blue Island Oyster Company – West Coast
8. Do you have any thought on the “asking” economy? As popularized by people like you & Amanda Palmer?
I think she is brilliant. I tried to do a few Kickstarter campaigns and they all failed miserably. I guess initially I was the only one who thought my ideas would make me the “Most Celebrated Entertainer of All Time”. It took several Corporate Endorsements for any of my ideas to begin to take shape and create value and recognition.
9. How have you been objectified in your time as the Naked Cowboy? Has it changed your perspective on how models & others are treated?
No matter how dumb it is; I believe that people recognize my success and the fact that I am simply enjoying life, making people laugh and have fun. I suggest anyone who wants to enjoy being a spectacle, should become a Naked Cowboy or Naked Cowgirl franchisee.
10. You’ve spoken about trying to give vast sums of money away, how is that developing?
Perfectly. I give money to the less fortunate every day… Over the years, the amount has already become vast and will increase continually.
Bonus: Favorite Song/Album of 2015 so far?
My most recent favorite song/album actually released in 2014: Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off next to “What The Naked Cowboy Wants To Hear”… I’d sure like her to become a Naked Cowgirl Franchisee!
(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.
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