Dancing Astronaut Gives Thanks: Thanksgiving 2015
Dancing Astronaut Gives Thanks: Thanksgiving 2015
Ah, Thanksgiving. Today is the day for Americans to hedonistically indulge our senses with absolutely no remorse. But before you put on your stretchy pants and sneak in a few early bites of pie, it’s time to give thanks for health, family, friends and of course, good music.
There is so much about electronic music that we appreciate here at Dancing Astronaut: late-night sets with no end in sight, labels and their leaders, Diplo’s Snapchat, and of course, the dancefloor. But really, we are so thankful for all the artists, fans, and dance music denizens that put their heart and soul into this industry. Thank you for joining us on this journey.
Here’s what our staff is thankful for in 2015.
I’m thankful for the changing tides of dance music in the US. As the seemingly infallible momentum of the EDM wave begins to slow, a new generation of house and techno fans has emerged, hungering for authenticity in the face of recycled genres and mainstage monotony. It’s no coincidence that international brands like Time Warp, ENTER, and Cityfox are beginning to stake their claim in the US. There’s a cultural shift taking place, and it’s just getting started. The fact that Dirtybird can throw its own campout festival and have it nearly sell out speaks volumes about where we’re at — and the fact that Awakenings is planning its first ever solo show in America speaks volumes about where we’re headed. The EDM bubble may finally be bursting, but there’s something entirely unique forming in its place.
Photo: Richie Hawtin’s CNTRL Tour, Los Angeles
In 2015, I’m thankful that lot of electronic music “broke.” I will always be thankful for the Hardwells and Afrojacks of the world, not because I prefer their music, but because that’s where new electronic fans begin. But I am even more thankful for the diverse layers that exist beyond the main stage; for live crossover acts that break the boundaries and definitions of “electronic music” and for the musical acts that I don’t yet understand, but know someday I will. I’m thankful that the walls of Gashouder can’t talk, so early mornings and nights will be forever kept a secret between the DJ and his audience. I am endlessly excited to see the progression of electronic music as an industry; for innovations like ADE and IMS for breaking barriers and building a bridge between cultures around the world using the building blocks of dance music.
Photo: Coachella by Jake West Photo
I am thankful for the incredible opportunities that dance music has afforded me; from traveling around the country to being flown literally across the world, I’ve been given the chance to see countless festivals and cities that I otherwise would not have. I’m thankful for, after nearly four years, realizing that there’s much more beneath the surface of EDM: techno. I’m thankful for Drumcode, Cityfox, Babel, I Feel, Robot Heart, and most other underground brands that would likely be very upset upon discovering their name on a site as mainstream as Dancing Astronaut.
Photo: The Cityfox Experience, Brooklyn
2015 has ushered a lot of negativity and skepticism towards all corners of electronic music — some merited, some not. I am grateful to the artists and professionals still trying, those who refuse to settle for the mediocre and use creativity to give the world something that they truly believe in. When you look beyond the ‘Twitter beefs,’ dick measuring exercises and TMZ moments that are rite of passage for any industry or genre in the spotlight, we have a lot to celebrate. Contrary to popular belief, there is more deserving, creative and on-talent in this industry than ever before. Whether you’re representing the underground or hitting towards the popular charts, if you’re doing it with love, integrity and a purpose then I’m just grateful you showed up.
Photo: CRSSD Festival by Jake West
I am thankful for young talent. In electronic music, it isn’t often that we hear completely new, refreshed sounds on the mainstage. However, the real pioneers are out there — they’re just a bit harder to find. I am thankful that bedroom producers don’t give up their dreams of making it to the big stage and showcasing their music to the world. Artists like Ramzoid, Yacht Club, and GLD give me faith in the up-and-coming talents that are just beginning to emerge. I am thankful for the increasing implementation of live instruments in the electronic music setting. We are used to artists like Big Gigantic and Pretty Lights bringing the instruments out, but I am thankful that more and more artists are abandoning the CDJs for a performance aspect. I am especially thankful for the way Lido has done this. His live show is a spectacle to behold.
Finally, I am thankful that electronic music is dominating the mainstream. Many people look at the commercialization of electronic music in a negative light, but the increased attention and monetary flow into the music industry gives all of our favorite artists — not just the ones you hear on the radio, but all of them — a collectively higher pedestal on which to stand.
Something interesting occurred to me while reflecting on what I’m thankful for this year. Maybe growing up is influencing my taste in music. This year I find myself, as always, eternally grateful to guys like A-Trak, Diplo, and Skrillex. Those guys are my heroes, they always will be, but as I grow and my taste is continually challenged and changed, in 2015, I’m mostly thankful for the tireless A&R work that happens at OWSLA, Fools Gold and Mad Decent, respectively. The head honchos of my favorite labels have carried me through the year, putting me on to sounds from Drezo, Falcons, Vindata, Sleepy Tom, Carmada, Anna Lunoe — talents I believe will one day lead our scene. There are too many new, fresh up-and-coming acts to mention by name, but I feel my musical horizons broadening all the time. The industry’s biggest have my sincere thanks again this year, most importantly for helping me shape and refine my taste, and introducing me to more sophisticated selections, so I can be a better tastemaker in my own writing.
Photo: Skrillex and Diplo as Jack Ü by Jake West Photo
I’m thankful for tastemaking labels and collectives like LuckyMe, Future Classic, WeDidIt, Soulection and Team Supreme, and for the huge strides seen in 2015 towards bridging the gap between electronic and mainstream (re: hip-hop and pop) music. I can’t appreciate producers like A-Trak, Rustie and Cashmere Cat enough for stepping outside of their usual sound to produce genuinely good music. This includes Skrillex on Bieber’s album—haters will hate, but ‘Purpose’ is pure pop music at its core. Speaking of, I’m glad that it’s now no longer cool to hate on Skrillex, but it’s still cool to hate on Burning Man. I am immensely thankful for ZHU’s ‘Genesis Series’ EP and his live show at CRSSD Festival. Above all, I am most thankful for the amazing experiences and memories collected from spending my best and most youthful years in the dance music scene. It began with a Bassnectar concert in Santa Cruz, and has now culminated to being a part of the hardworking and inspirational DA team. I couldn’t ask for anything more!
Photo: ZHU at CRSSD courtesy of CRSSD Festival
I’m thankful that dance music fans are demanding more from their show experience and that live electronic acts like GRiZ and Ratatat are getting the closing slots they deserve. I’m thankful that Zane Lowe is everything a radio host should be, filling the void in my morning commute experience with his scintillatingly-conducted artist interviews. I don’t love the name, but I’m thankful for the plethora of transformational festivals in Southern California. I’m thankful for Eric Prydz’s unreleased IDs. I’m thankful for artists who take the months and years to pour into an album in the face of single-release-driven expectations today. I’m thankful that Claude von Stroke remixed Rihanna, even more thankful he remixed The Chemical Brothers, and I’m thankful for everything that indicates about where electronic music is going in 2016.
Photo: Ratatat at Coachella by Stephen Bondio
With genre boundaries morphing day in and day out, I am thankful for the burgeoning “future” scene in Australia with artists like Flume, Alison Wonderland, Slumberjack, Hayden James, Carmada and labels like Future Classic for maintaining their vision. I am thankful for artists like Porter Robinson, Odesza, Big Gigantic and Duke Dumont for bringing their musicianship to electronic dance music back through their personal live show set-ups. I’m thankful for Spotify, Pandora and SoundCloud who continue to innovate their platforms to create a way for anyone to consume the music they want to, any time they want to. Finally, I’m thankful for the international dance music community as a whole for bringing so many cultures together to make one of the most diversified musical fan bases in the world.
Photo: Alison Wonderland by Ariel Pollock
Like many, I’m thankful for Gesaffelstein. Firstly, I am thankful for him blessing California with the final installment of his Aleph live set at Coachella. His awe-inspiring performance helped foster an appreciation for French techno among a larger audience because of this appearance.
I’m also thankful for what is to come from Gesaffelstein, as he works toward his ultimate goal of achieving the Gesamtkunstwerk (a marriage of all forms of art in one). By moving outside of his electronic inspirations and into a film medium with his Maryland score, he showcased his ability to create from timeless influences like John Cage and Chopin. More importantly, however, in crossing into film composition, he acts as a Bering Strait of sorts between “EDM” and a much larger artistic zeitgeist. If we consider his DJ/producer career as his “alpha” or Aleph phase, and his newest endeavor to be his “beta,” then I can say with confidence that I am — preemptively — limitlessly thankful for whatever his omega phase will entail.
Photo: Gesaffelstein by Jake West Photo
I’m thankful for falling in love all over again with electronic music in 2015 after an inspiring year of innovative and evolutionary album releases from artists like NERO, St. Germain, Eric Prydz and Loco Dice. After years of Googling “Sherwood Forest lit up at night,” I’m blessed to have finally attended my first Electric Forest. I’m also thankful to the dozens of DA Facebook trolls who comment things like “suck my d**k” and “unfollowed” because without your unnecessary disdain for a writer’s fragile emotions, I don’t know if I’d be this cynically optimistic today. Lastly, I’m thankful for all of the Twitter beefs because watching those unfold was better than any movie that was released this year.
Photo: NERO at Coachella by Jake West Photo
This year, I’m thankful to Solarstone for continuing to remind me of life’s beautiful moments and to Above & Beyond for their ability to literally heal people at their Group Therapy shows. I’m thankful for John 00 Fleming showing that trance extends far beyond the “cheese” people assume the genre produces and for pioneering psy tech. I’m eternally thankful for queen Nicole Moudaber for consistently kicking ass and her insanely awesome collaborations with Skin. But most of all, I’m thankful for our crazy scene and all its facets. Whether you’re a techno zombie dressed in black and dancing ‘till 6 in the morning, an open and loving trance fan inviting others into the family, or even a trap enthusiast demonstrating the mystical powers of twerking, I couldn’t be more thankful for all my fellow weirdos that surround me in my daily life and continue to push this awesome music and cultural movement forward.
Photo: Above & Beyond by Jake West Photo