Dancing Astronaut Gives Thanks
Today is Thanksgiving. It’s a time to give thanks for good health, good friends, good family, and, of course, good music. We thought we’d take the time to pay tribute to our favorite parts of dance music culture on this day of thanks, not only for the guys who slave over turntables while we get to party, but for the dance music scene in general and its constantly expanding fanbase. This one’s for the EDM acts that put their heart and soul into it, the clubs that go all out every night of the week, and the people who live and breathe house music. It’s the least we can do.
I’m thankful for EDM fans. You know, the people who get to shows ridiculously early to be right up front against the barriers, the ones who make kandi bracelets and wear those crazy furry boots, and, of course, the ones who read Dancing Astronaut. Writing about music is something relatively new to me, but I am infatuated with the passion that our readers share for the artists, songs, and events that we write about. I can’t say how many places I’ve been to where someone knows DA, and am taken aback by the immense support and genuine love that you guys have for what we do. We may not always agree on what constitutes “Anthem Status” or whether Skrillex actually produces “music,” but we can always agree that the most important part of the equation is the music itself. Thank you, Dancing Astronaut readers, for being there and for calling us out. You keep us on our toes and you validate what we do. For that, I am thankful.
I am also thankful for Thomas Gold… and Swedish House Mafia.
House music has exponentially increased in popularity from where it was a year ago: an influx of new artists have popped onto the scene, and the Billboard charts are loaded with EDM talent. It’s nice being able to walk into a random bar, club, or sporting event expecting to hear a few great tracks from my favorite genre. People from the US especially have seen the biggest vacationing hotspots — Vegas, Miami, New York, Los Angeles —begin booking the brightest EDM stars. What we all should be really thankful for is the the fact that EDM is no longer the red-headed stepchild of the music — it’s officially mainstream and truly defines pop culture.
I am thankful for Dada Life, for living up to their name.
“Dada (English pronunciation: /ˈdɑːdɑː/) or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. Its purpose was to ridicule what its participants considered to be the meaninglessness of the modern world. In addition to being anti-war, dada was also anti-bourgeois and anarchist in nature.”
I’m thankful for their bananas and their irreverence and their sausage fattened basslines that are so greasy they make my Italian relatives weep. They are, in my opinion, the epitome of dance music and the party culture. The right amount of mayhem and talent with just enough self awareness to never take themselves too seriously. Thank you Dada Life, you crazy Swedish assholes!
While I could easily be thankful for Avicii, a man who’s had arguably the best year in EDM of all time, I would like to give thanks to someone who hasn’t earned as much fame but who deserves serious praise for what he’s accomplished this year. John Dahlback in 2011 hasn’t been a consistent festival headliner like some of his fellow Swedes, but his body of work musically has won me over as a fan. He’s shown fantastic dexterity by mastering a wide range of sounds from deep progressive that would make Eric Prydz proud (Phoenix) to hard fidget electro worthy of a Bloody Beetroots and Steve Aoki music video, (Grunge). I can’t think of many artists with that kind of flexibility — but that’s not the reason I’m most thankful for John Dahlback in 2011.
The songs that really matter to me as a music fan are the ones that inspire emotion. Whether happy, crazy, soothing, or sad, the best songs transport you to specific memories or stories that you can enjoy any time you listen to them. In 2011, Big (JD remix), You’re in My Heart, and One Last Ride were my favorite Dahlback songs. Quoting Erik Hassle’s vocals from One Last Ride: “Take me to your hideout, one more time. Stay here, ’cause then when I’m falling the downhills will all be worth it, to get that high. One last ride.” Tommy Trash’s remix was epic but Dahlback executed the emotion of the original just perfectly to tell the story in a way that makes the strongest impact.
I am thankful for Hardwell, for being a 23 year-old prodigy. I am thankful for the fact that he has only been in the EDM world for a short period of time, yet has developed such a distinct, big room, and raging sound known as trouse. Hardwell has also pumped out massive amounts of big room tracks such as “The World,” “Munster,” “Encoded,” “Molotov,” “Asteroid,” “Cobra,” and “Move It 2 The Drum.” Once his remixes are added to the list, they will take up another half a page. With all of those monstrous releases Hardwell has also found time to start his own record label – Revealed, which already has notable artists and tracks added to its roster.
Hardwell entered the DJ Mag Top 100 at number 24, which is only one spot below the highly reputable Steve Angello, and a few spots above other global veterans such as Kaskade, Daft Punk, Bob Sinclair, Carl Cox, and Benny Benassi. Most of all, I am thankful for the fact that Hardwell’s immense talents reached one of the best EDM artists of all time – Tiesto. Their destined collaboration led to one of my favorites and one of the best tracks of 2011 – “Zero 76.” One thing that’s for sure, Hardwell will give me many more reasons to be thankful for him, after I experience his performance at Pacha NYC’s 6th year anniversary celebration – December 3rd.
If I had to pick a single EDM artist to give thanks for, it would actually be two guys; British producers Daniel Stephens and Joe Ray, who come together to form the EDM super-duo known as Nero. These two guys are actually who I have to thank for any and all of my involvement in the world of electronic music.
Nero is the reason I originally got into producing, and just a short two years after being introduced to their music, I am totally immersed in the culture, working as a producer/DJ in San Francisco, and also (obviously) writing for DA.
Songs like “Innocence,” “Me & You,” and “Promises” are some of my all-time favorite tracks, and frequently inspire my own work. Their innovative style and amazing sound design have set them apart from almost every other artist in my book, and it pushes me to try new things everyday.
Dan and Joe have forever changed my life and they don’t even know it. Maybe when they come to Ruby Skye on December 29th for our event, I will get to meet actually thank them in person.
I am thankful for Felix Da Housecat. It was songs like “Madame Hollywood” & “Rocket Ride” that got me into house music. While both my musical tastes and Felix’s productions have evolved over the years, I still find the Thin White Duke remix of “Silver Screen Shower Scene” in the top 25 played of my iTunes. Every EDM fan has had their own moment or artist who turned them on to the world of EDM. Luckily for me, Felix saved me from an eternity of listening to mindless pop.
While I’m thankful for every song in my iTunes library (and whatever they’re putting in the Swedish water supply to churn out such incredible EDM talent), I’m especially grateful for the exceptional Aussie Dirty South. I first became a fan of Dragan through his remixes, which featured hypnotic baselines and a signature kickdrum that gave the tracks an amazing drive and life. But, much as I love his older stuff, I think 2011 has proved to be a breakthrough year for Dirty. He’s begun to experiment with new synths and more rock-inspired drums, giving a new dimension to his signature sound. “Alive” and “Walking Alone” simply speak for themselves at this point, and his remix of Nero’s “Me & You” is irresistible. And did I mention he has an amazing Australian accent?
I’m thankful for the Chemical Brothers. While I’ve moved away from the big beat sound, their music has always served me well. I remember listening to jams like “Lost in the K Hole,” “Block Rockin’ Beats,” and “Galaxy Bounce” at a time when EDM was in a lull in the US – the work of these two Brits tided me over until it began to pick up again. Without them, I’m not sure what kind of music I’d be a devotee of today.
It’s been just over a year since I first experienced Porter Robinson. There was a party at my house in Berkeley and one of my friends decided to take over the iPod. As soon as I heard the drum line I was curious to know who was behind that massive kick and bassline that seemed to saw through the dance floor. A minute later I was hearing Lil’ Jon screaming “Less goooooo!” The sinister-sounding set of chords led to the most blue balling build up I’d ever heard. I sat there waiting for the drop and when it finally hit I realized everyone in my house was as captivated as I was by this song. In case it isn’t already shaking the foundation of your house, the song I’m talking about is his remix of Spencer and Hill’s “Less Go” and it’s the reason I’ve been following his career ever since. Everyone lost it for the entirety of the track: excessive drinking, carelessness of the best variety, and ‘protected’ casual sex ensued. For that I am thankful to you Porter Robinson!
I’m thankful for Daft Punk. Do I really need to explain why?
I’m thankful for this new chapter of musical interest in my life. Kid Rock and Blink 182 have been replaced by dirty Dutch. Bleep after bleep mixed in with a chainsaw and synth or two. See R3hab’s remix of “Mugwanti,” Afrojack’s bootleg of “No Stress,” Alvaro’s remix of “Loca People,” Sidney Samson’s “Riverside” and “Punkass.” I’m sure these songs will one day bleep themselves out of my iTunes library, but for now this is where am at — and I’m thankful for it.
In the words of Tiesto: “Dance music is bigger than anything else in the world right now.” I’m thankful that our beloved genre has matured to the point that it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves. I don’t know how or why dance culture spread from the world’s moonlit beaches and abandoned warehouses to become this global phenomenon. But somehow, it did. Today, everyone wants to be a DJ, and that’s a good thing. That means that people have stopped accepting all the crappy music that’s thrown at them, and have started being more careful and selective about what they listen to. Most of all, I’m thankful for the Essential Mix, which invariably provides the best two hours of my week.
So, who are you thankful for?
(This post has been updated.)