Dancing Astronaut Gives Thanks 2016
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 producers and performers that put their full hearts and souls into everything they do, the clubs that go all out every night of the week, and the people who live and breathe dance music. Today, we celebrate you. It’s the least we can do.
I’m thankful for Stranger Things for reigniting public interest in ’80s electronic music and synthesizers. I’m thankful for Kiasmos (simply for existing). I’m thankful for those techno fans on YouTube who can somehow ID every track in an obscure Len Faki set. I’m thankful for Sasha for writing an entire ambient album. I’m thankful for Carl Cox, for his infectious spirit, and his historic run at Space Ibiza. I’m thankful for every random person that comments on one of our Solomun or Kate Simko articles and says “more of this.” I’m thankful for ear plugs, Funktion-Ones, extended DJ sets — but mostly for the dancefloor itself, for providing a safe haven in these troubling times. Escapism is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
Lastly, I’m thankful for our wonderful staff, who work their asses off day in and day out to provide the most comprehensive dance music coverage in the world.
I am thankful for the return of Justice and that Woman actually lived up to an album’s hype for once. I’m thankful for our dedicated staff, who spend their days talking about music instead of what Martin Garrix ate for breakfast — writers who take more pride in tastemaking than they do in pageviews. I am thankful that after 7 years, we are still the industry’s most respected media brand, and we did it without using the acronym “EDM.” I am also thankful for Facebook’s algorithm changes and the “fake news” dilemma, because I think that 2017 may finally be the end of clickbait.
I’m thankful for the renaissance of the LP in electronic music. While 2016 saw dance music become more commercialized than ever before, numerous skilled producers put forth thoughtfully-crafted studio albums that prove dance music hasn’t sacrificed substance for the sake of style. Boys Noize crafted a dystopian techno masterpiece with his fourth album, Mayday, which is arguably his strongest work yet. Justice triumphantly ended their five year hiatus with Woman, an impeccably composed piece of work that evokes the impact of rock music’s most iconic albums. Mr. Oizo dutifully blended disco and techno with bizarre atonal experimentations in a remarkably successful way with All Wet. And, of course, Eric Prydz finally conquered the milestone of producing his debut album, the magnificent Opus.
Dance music is poised to become further commercialized and commodified in the coming years. As this evolution continues to develop, it’s comforting to know that there are numerous prodigious artists ensuring that electronic music’s artistic integrity remains intact.
Its been a few years now of sitting down and pondering these Thanksgiving blurbs. Each year I still struggle with how to disguise an open love letter to Skrillex and get it past my editors. But reflecting back on what I am most grateful for this year, in the broader scope, I think I am most thankful for the refuge dance music as a whole provided from the sometimes nightmarish garbage that went down in 2016. Thinking past an election cycle that felt more like the Truman Show and losing icons like Prince, Leonard Cohen, and David Bowie was easier with dance music to turn to. Most of us even mourned a gorilla for the better part of this strange, confusing year.
But through it all, we had great music. We got Justice’s hallowed return. We were blessed with LCD Soundsystem’s comeback. We had game-changing events like FORM Arcosanti and Dirtybird Campout; boundary-pushing labels like OWSLA and Ed Banger’s inspiring bodies of work.
Most of all though, I am fortunate enough to learn from an remarkable online family at DA made up of the most brilliant writers and content curators on the internet. This year rocked our world, though despite that, dance music and the culture surrounding it are as prominent as ever, and for that I am extremely thankful.
I’m grateful for Hardwell, who recently said what we were all thinking. I’m thankful for our Hungarian friends who helped us finally find an excuse to hate these jokers. I’m forever indebted to Tom Hiddleston, without whom I wouldn’t have the perfect fall jam to soundtrack my late night passive aggressive emails to my ex. I’d also like to extend my eternal gratitude to the investigative journalists who’ve made all my Chainsmoker inspired daydreams more anatomically correct. Shout out to Avicii, who was brave enough to present his impossible vision and kind enough to keep sharing it for so long. Lastly, thanks a million to our dedicated staff, without whom this industry would be sorely lacking.
This year, I am thankful for the brands in dance music that have stayed true to themselves and continue to support the next wave of up-and-coming talent (i.e. OWSLA, Brownies & Lemonade, Dirtybird, Mad Decent). With the amount of content available on the internet today, its brands like these that fans are looking towards as a trustworthy, go-to source for discovering new music and artists.
I’m also thankful for the festivals and event series like CRSSD, HARD, and Red Bull Sound Select for curating tasteful, eclectic lineups to include artists from the underground to hip-hop to future genres and anywhere else good music lives. Finally, I’m thankful for artists like Lido, Rufus Du Sol, Flume, and Kaytranada who continue to uphold the album model on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Its artists like these that are concurrently moving the needle forward and maintaining the artistic integrity their fans respect them for.
I’m thankful for the internet, because without this lovely invention, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love, or come to know many of the other awesome and equally nerdy people out there who I call my friends (and brethren). I’m thankful for the genres starting with “T” – trance, because the music defines my personality, and techno for balancing out my life with pounding drums and dark, meditative measures. Also, I’m thankful for the insane releases coming out of the progressive arena lately — keep it up, guys!
Finally, I’m thankful that through all the chaos and division happening in the world recently, a new and stronger dance scene is primed to develop as people will surely flock to find solace on the dancefloor.
Shout-out to the artists who made my 2016 and continue to rock my world in general: James Blake, Guy J, Khen, Jeremy Baelander, Matt Lange, Solarstone, Paul van Dyk, Aly&Fila, Airwave, ANNA, Damian Lazarus, Lee Burridge, Bedouin, Hernan Cattaneo, Sasha, John Askew, Tim Penner, & John 00 Fleming.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that dance music remains a bastion of open-mindedness and inclusive attitudes in a world that doesn’t always appear the same way. I am thankful for the careers of great influencers- some, like Bowie and Prince, who have departed this earth, and others, like Cox and Bergling, who are moving on in other ways. I am thankful Fabric is not actually closing yet! I am thankful for Justice and Daft Punk (always) and that they have graced the end of 2016 with proper disco records. I am above all thankful that this scene is so much more than EDM, and anonymous bedroom producers can create something entirely unique that generates as much interest as a Vegas club performance.
The electronic music world showed its human side both as a business and a culture in 2017. A-list DJs shone a spotlight on the gritty realities of success and busy schedules. Outspoken artists proved that mental health issues within the entertainment sector can be discussed in an open and supportive manner. Perhaps closer to home, business owners and government figures came together to protect global nightlife and its patrons, recognizing our music and culture for its rich value along the way. There is still work to be done in this avenue, driven by an overarching sense that responsibility, sustainability and safety can be strengthened in all facets of the industry. Most importantly, key figures across the board have supported the notion that success and growth are never an excuse to sacrifice personal wellbeing. If we can follow suit as an industry, we are sure to set ourselves up for a long, prosperous, and healthy future.
I am thankful for my parents, who provided me with a life that has allowed my passion for music to blossom, and my brothers, who first introduced me to electronic music back when it was completely underground. Little did they know that exposing me to the electronic scene — and buying my first DAW for me — would change my life infinitely for the better. I could never thank my family enough for that.
I also am incredibly grateful for Dancing Astronaut, and the opportunity that the site has given me to help drive exposure toward undiscovered artists while also allowing me to broaden my own sonic horizons. I feel very lucky to be able to experience and take part in the evolution of the music industry as technology makes the art form increasingly accessible — creating the space for it to become a truly universal language.
Finally, I am thankful for all of the amazing festivals that let me experience the power of art at a deeply profound level within the community; This year, I’m particularly grateful for Burning Man, LiB, EDC, HARD, and CRSSD. Watching the spectacle of dance music unfold is truly breathtaking.
I’m thankful for analog and digital, vinyl and USB sticks. I’m thankful for live shows and DJ sets. I’m thankful Flume wrote a truly weird LP and it’s a smash that reveals more depth with each listen. I’m thankful Justice is back with Woman and Daft Punk found a muse in The Weeknd. I’m thankful for DA and editors who trust us to sniff out interesting, good music.
Most importantly, I’m thankful that in a year that has been brutally divisive and saw an obscene amount of legends pass on, music — electronic, acoustic, and everything in between — is healthy, diverse, and strange, bringing folks from all walks together on the dancefloor.