Dancing Astronaut Gives Thanks 2018
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.
2018 has, unsurprisingly, yielded its fair share of events for which the dance music realm should be very grateful. Chief among these, from my perspective, is the ongoing news surrounding Gesaffelstein’s seemingly imminent return. Avid readers of the site will note that this is not the first time I’ve expressed my gratitude to dance music’s darkest denizen — indeed, in 2015, I crafted my entire statement around the then-recent release of his Maryland soundtrack. And, though Gesaffelstein has released no albums, EPs, or even solo singles since, his recent signing to Columbia and abundant teasers of the past month hint that we are closer than ever to new additions to his catalogue.
Additionally, after a year away from Dancing Astronaut, I am thankful to have returned, not only to cover this long-awaited development, but also to help continue guiding the ever-evolving voice of the site as it approaches its tenth anniversary this coming July.
This year I am without a doubt most thankful for my team. DA has undergone significant changes in 2018, but the glue that always keeps me stuck to this job is the people and their dedication to this publication. I am most grateful to be leading a team of the most passionate, intelligent, and driven individuals in our shared goals and vision for DA. I am thankful for old faces and new ones, my mentors, my fellow editors, and for the endless hours, video calls, editing sessions, interviews, slack threads, google docs, nights and weekends these people all put in to make DA a success. I am preemptively thankful for Skrillex’s sophomore album, and I am thankful to everyone who visits our site every day.
I’ve gotta be mushy here….the thing I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving is my team of Dancing Astronauts. I am so grateful to be part of such a group of talented, kind, and driven people who show up everyday and pour their heart and soul into the site. 2018 has been extra special for me, because I got to meet so many of them in real life after being internet buds for years on end. We’re all in this boat together, through thick and thin!
Also thankful for The Digital Blond, Olafur Arnalds, and Jon Hopkins, whose albums really knocked my socks off this year, and for all the amazing artists I got to talk to this year, whether on the phone, through email, or in person. Looking forward to yet another incredible year of quality electronic music and the memories that will surround it.
Firstly, I’m thankful for artists who have spoken openly about mental health this year. Thank you for starting conversations and showing people they’re not alone.
I’m thankful for the brilliant surge of drum & bass that’s hitting the States and the resurgence of synthwave/’80s-inspired music that’s been making its way into releases across the electronic music spectrum. I’m thankful for labels like Mad Zoo and Silk Music that continue to churn out genre-defying music. I’m thankful for Mat Zo’s “Meaning Lost All Words” and Rüfüs Du Sol’s “Underwater,” two of my favorite songs of 2018.
Lastly, I’m thankful for the people of today’s electronic music scene – the artists, the fans, my DA coworkers – who use this little corner of the universe to spread messages of acceptance, peace, and positivity in an often dark world. Thank you – truly.
This year, I’m thankful electronic has sewn itself even deeper into the fabric of mainstream music for a multitude of reasons—the foremost (and less selfish) of them being that producers are now more than ever stepping out from the shadows and receiving front and center credit for laying down tracks that formerly would’ve solely been labeled as a vocalist’s song. A beacon of this phenomenon would be LSD. It’s great to see my man Diplo get his due credit for bringing some nuance to dance pop.
Another reason is my family’s sudden acceptance of my formerly “outlandish” obsession. Getting to tell my loved ones that my beloved dance blog is sending me to China in a few weeks to cover a Skrillex-headlined festival was nothing short of a watershed moment in my writing career and personal life. It’s so remarkably validating knowing all this work has truly not been for naught. I also got to take my cousin, with whom I’m extremely close, to her first EDM-centric festival this summer; we’ve been to two electronic shows together since. It’s such a relief to be able to identify with people more and more this way with every passing year.
This year in dance music has been an interesting one. The commercialization of dance music has seemingly hit its peak, and as such, a lot of my favorite producers have been releasing formulaic tracks in attempt to score a spot on the mainstream radio rotation to appeal to the “masses” in recent years. In 2018, I think a lot of producers woke up and decided that they were sick of trying to fit into this mainstream box. I think the “sick of it” realization for many coincided in the rebirth of Swedish House Mafia. Axwell, Ingrosso, and Steve Angello reuniting brought together dance music fans and the artists in ways I didn’t foresee. I am thankful that they are back, and I’m thankful they have kickstarted the new energy and excitement that has resulted in some of the best creative output from some of my favorite artists in years. Unfortunately, I think the death of Avicii too has contributed to this revitalization, and I’m eternally grateful of everything he gave to dance music. Lastly, I’m thankful that Skrillex is sneaking back out of hiding. Love you Skrills, and thanks unto 2018 for making dance music great again.
I’m always interested in what sets one show, one stop of a tour, one festival, etc. apart from another that I’ve attended. This year, I got a chance to experience the “party series” for the very first time, and got a taste of what it’s like to attend an event designed around a clear and specific concept. I went to Elrow’s “The Residency Begins” and “Rowlympic Games” events, and also checked out Claptone’s The Masquerade series, which made its inaugural US stop this September in BK. Series really offer a full experience that differs from that of a singular stop on a tour or individual show, and there’s a lot to appreciate in terms of how these conceptual events are put together, so I’m thankful to have gotten to attend multiple party series and to see and take part in the individual visions behind each.
I know my tristate area people will feel me on this, but I’m also thankful for the BK Mirage, which deserves a shout. I know I’m a little late to the party on this one, but after making my way to BK Mirage for the first time ever this year, I’m thankful to have such a large scale slice of venue heaven in Brooklyn–it’s really shaken up the show scene in New York.
To me, there’s something undeniably intriguing about cities and the music that comes out of them, and when those scenes can find fans in other cities. I’m thankful that 2018 was another year that I was able to explore local electronic scenes around the world – from Serbian industrial techno shows at 9AM and long nights of drum & bass in London, to Desert Hearts and Circoloco Halloween parties in NYC and LA. Every weekend I feel so lucky to look at the concert listings in New York and find techno showcases right around the corner from my apartment and the world’s best talent always just a subway ride away. So overall, I’m thankful that underground dance music scenes are thriving in 2018, that things are spreading around the world and driving innovation. In a world where independent venues and promoters are consistently closing their doors, I’m so happy to be part of a community that sees the value of nightlife and actively engages in making it better.
I’m thankful for what I like to call the “organic house” movement that’s happening in electronic music. Lane 8 was able to pave the way with this new sound that incorporates, and invokes, the sounds of nature along with beats marked by subtlety and depth. Artists like Icarus, Luttrell and Planete have been able to create their own versions of this sound, and are getting great responses. It marks a great moment for progressive music as well, with both sounds being able to lift up their deeper, darker counterparts with melody. I’m also thankful for the music scene in LA and the fact that the city is becoming a model for others to follow, launching new, smaller and more curated festivals in 2018 that have not made the market feel more saturated.
I’m thankful for the innovation of the groove, the subtle moments of true connection during live sets, and the fact I’ve gotten to experience so much beauty living in New York over this past year.
I’m thankful for the warehouses, secret sets, bars, and clubs that have hosted my elation.
I’m thankful that music and technology are making love under what feels like a falling sky. I’m thankful for sleep, my ability to breathe, and the freedom to wear what I love on my sleeve.
I’m thankful to write, and I’m thankful to love, I’m thankful for everything below and above. I’m thankful for the vibrations and waves that make sound, thankful to DA for having me around.
I’m thankful for vocals, which first got me hooked, to a content medium that wasn’t a book. I’m thankful for melodies both bitter and sweet, that tend to my emotions that are difficult to treat. I’m thankful for rhythm, I’m starting to dance, for hours and hours while finding romance. I’m thankful for bass, and now I can feel, what gives music weight and makes it sound real. I’m thankful for artists that take the time, to blend these sounds with harmony and purpose in mind. I’m thankful to all who bring to life, the sounds of musicians who work through the night. I’m thankful for taste, for if I had none, my soul would feel empty with no sense of fun. I’m thankful for music, because without it, life would be bland, there’s no doubt about it.