Never one to shy away from a bone-rattling bass drop, GRiZ continues his hot streak with Bangers.Zip, yet another collection of tracks that is guaranteed make listeners’ hair stand on end in the best way possible. This installment of his Bangers series follows the fourth part of Chasing The Golden Hour, which was released in early October.
Consisting of three heavy-hitting bass excursions, GRiZ comes back after a two-year Bangers hiatus by blasting off with “Skydive.” Following it up with a riddim voyage on “Laser Fire,” the EP wraps on an explosive note with “MEGAZORD.”
The Detroit-born multi-hypenate has been on a winning streak this year, to say the least, delivering one extended body of work after the next, including his LP Rainbow Brain, Chasing The Golden Hour, Pt. 4, and soon another edition of his annual GRiZMAS set which will be performed live in Detroit on December 9 and 10. Grab tickets to his GRiZMAS show here and stream his latest below.
Featured image: GRiZ/Instagram
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2022 continues to be the year of DJ Hanzel. After beginning the year with a handful of pop-dance singles, Dillon Francis has now released three consecutive titles under his long-running tongue-in-cheek DJ Hanzel alias. Out now on One Deeper records, Hanzel’s “Gumby” is easily the suit-clad selector’s deepest and heaviest cut yet.
Rarely making appearances at festivals or night clubs, DJ Hanzel made his presence known in Southern California earlier in this year’s events circuit. First playing an unannounced set at Coachella’s DoLab stage, Hanzel later took the decks in September at Insomniac’s Nocturnal Wonderland. Even though Francis’ enigmatic alter ego’s discography is fairly short, the veteran beatsmith never fails to go…well, one deeper, with each successive delivery, with “Gumby” falling right in line. Beginning with what seems like a fairly simple tech-house framework, the track swiftly turns into something far darker as Hanzel employs a rolling and hefty bassline across the new tune. Stream DJ Hanzel’s latest single below.
Featured image: Rukes
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Back in July, news of Printworks‘ looming closure surfaced following London’s Southwark Council officially approving renovation plans in the area. And after a few months of uncertainty as to when Printworks’ final run of shows would exactly take place, its now revealed its farewell season and the 40-plus shows that will go along with it.
Beginning on February 3, Printworks’ final season will be a grand sendoff with some of dance music’s finest, including a deadmau5 and Kaskade date, Charlotte de Witte, Bakermat, Ed Banger Records, Defected, Drumcode, Odd One Out, The Martinez Brothers, Above & Beyond, ARTBAT, Honey Dijon, and four currently yet-to-be announced shows during the season’s last weekend from April 29 – May 1.
Printworks was originally established in 2017 as a temporary five-year venue, with the only hopes for its timeline to extend beyond that being a permanent approval from the city or a potential extension if the renovation plans ended up falling through. And as to what those renovation plans exactly are, Printworks—as well as Surrey Quays’ leisure center and shopping center—will be converted into a co-working space that includes offices and retail locations.November 29, 2022
Featured image: Printworks/Facebook
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Pauline Herr is back on campus for her sophomore year at RL Grime‘s Sable Valley institute. After delivering “Secrets”—a standout cut on the label’s Sable Valley Summer Vol. 2 compilation—Herr has now triumphantly returns for a standalone single, “Let You Go.” The Dancing Astronaut‘s Artist to Watch in 2022 embodies the conflicting feelings of love and loss through a creative hybrid between the genres of trap and wave music.
Know for her multi-talented ability as a singer/songwriter and producer that can do it all, Herr explained in a post to Instagram that she’s “always felt overlooked when it comes to [her] music production,” adding that “having support from artists and teams [she looks] up to means the absolute world to [her].” And she teased that “Let You Go” marks “beginning of a new era” while also alluding to “lots more on the way.” And as she wraps up a banner 2022 campaign, her artist to watch status seems like it’ll be more than likely carried into the new year.
Those that were in attendance at RL Grime’s “Halloween XI: Dead Space” may remember “Let You Go” during Pauline Herr’s back-to-back set with Hex Cougar where it was teased as unreleased music coming soon. Luckily for Sable Valley listeners, they didn’t have to wait long before it earned a proper release on the label of the “Halloween XI: Dead Space” headliner. “Let You Go” marks Herr’s first release since delivering a collaborative Distance EP with TWERL which included a standout lead single “Addicted.” Stream Pauline Herr’s Sable Valley-backed original “Let You Go” below.
Featured image: haleylan
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Exactly two years ago, Grigoré‘s sonic narrative began with Illusion, which not only marked his first-ever time on This Never Happened, but also the official musical debut of the project at large. And after the Illusion sequel——a four-part EP titled Nautilus—landed in November 2021, that annual pattern of late fall projects on Lane 8‘s imprint is lending itself to a third consecutive calendar. The Russian-born talent had already went through This Never Happened’s release doors once this year—a rework of Le Youth‘s fan-favorite Reminders cut, “If Only”—but he’s back to carry out a November-hosted EP trinity with It’s All Fiction.
While It’s All Fiction may mark Grigoré’s first group of This Never Happened originals since Nautilus, it marks his fourth extended offering in 2022 alone, following his Deepest Thoughts EP, Electric Drama, and Modern Tranz Opera. Preceded by “Fiction (Break Bad)” with Lewny, It’s All Fiction introduces a subdued undertaking of its maiden single while also unlocking a pair of desired IDs from Lane 8’s “Summer 2022 Mixtape“—”Metaphysical Transition” and “Hyperreal”—as well as another fresh EP cut, “&101Reasons.” And throughout each of It’s All Fictions‘ five characteristic sides, Grigoré continues to flesh out his sinister, forward-thinking recipe to his techno-angled approach to melodic-house. Stream all five tracks from It’s All Fiction below.
Featured image: Sergey Free
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G Jones‘ Illusory Tracks isn’t so elusive anymore.
After a hearty period of road testing, during which many tracklistings scored play time on his IllusoryOS tour, the bass innovator’s second EP of 2022 hurtles to digital streaming platforms with the propulsiveness and inventive sound design signature to G Jones’ sound. Led by a compelling triplet of singles, “Operator,” “R.A.V.E.,” and “Say What” with ISOxo, Illusory Tracks reaches completion with three previously unreleased inclusions, each of which finds Jones passenger-less. The revved-up venture marks his first solo EP since 2019’s Tangential Zones, and in it, there’s one key takeaway: whether in the presence of company or in sheer solitude, G Jones’ production muscle is ever apparent.
Featured image: Tyler Hill
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More than two years ago, Le Youth played a hand in reworking an album that ignited Lane 8‘s Dancing Astronaut 2020 Artist of the Year campaign. Fast forward to 2022 and the This Never Happened boss called Le Youth back in to put the finishing touches on the rollout for Reviver Remixer with his take on “I’ll Wait.”
And while the reworked edition of Lane 8’s Brightest Lights successor is without a date or tracklist at the time of writing, Le Youth joins the current group of Reviver remixers than include Sultan + Shepard—who took on “Survive”—EMBRZ—who took on “Red Lights”—Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs—who took on the Reviver title cut—OCULA—who took on “Watermelon Wormhole”—and ultimately Grafix, who took on “Survive.” And Le Youth becomes the first to tackle Reviver‘s other Channy Leneagh-backed number, trading out one faultless touch of melodic house for another in the same manner he did justice to “The Rope,” which only adds to the reasoning that a proper Le Youth and Lane 8 collaboration deserves to happen. While we now wait for more info on Reviver Remixed, stream its final preview courtesy of Le Youth below.
Featured image: Le Youth/Instagram
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Back in August, “Angels Landing” shed itself of the title of being one of Dancing Astronaut‘s most-anticipated IDs of 2022. Exactly three months later, ISOxo—one of our Artists to Watch in 2021—and FrostTop‘s—one of our Artists to Watch in 2022—trap merger for the ages has now received its first official update. Not even a full week after it hopped off our ID tracker and into Nightmode‘s release chamber, Midnight Kids—who was a fellow Dancing Astronaut Artist to Watch himself in 2019—took to Twitter to preview what was immediately identified to be his own take on “Angels Landing.” And after Nightmode teased it in its class of forthcoming fall releases, it was only a matter of time before it got the green light, with the remix officially landing just ahead of Thanksgiving.
The “Angels Landing” reimagining completes a release trilogy for Midnight Kids just before the calendar turns to 2023, following “Keep It Complicated” and an appearance on Dabin‘s Between Broken remix package. Everyone was well aware from the 40-second teaser alone that Midnight Kids’ version of a track that helped defined trap in 2022 was going to somehow hike its value even further. And while Midnight Kids’ sound routinely leans towards the emotive end of the electronic spectrum, he took the opportunity to unexpectedly tap into a heavy-hitting presence, further attesting to the fact that Kyle Girard’s solo chapter has still just scratched the surface.
Featured image: Miguel Mendoza
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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 ones behind the turntables while we get to party, but for the greater dance music culture and its constantly expanding fan base. 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.Ross Goldenberg
Managing Editor, Editorial and Social
“As always, I want to start this by saying I’m thankful for Dancing Astronaut. It’s now been more than five years with DA, and I’m so grateful every day to be here. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for Hardwell being back and putting out a masterpiece of an album. I’m thankful for Ultra for finally returning after what felt like a lifetime. I’m thankful for The Brooklyn Mirage for letting me live there rent free this past summer. And lastly, I’m thankful for all of the incredible music put out and shows I’ve been to this year that have both continued to reinforce why this genre is and always will be my number one passion. 2022 has easily been my favorite year of dance music since 2012 and it’s been surreal having a front-row seat to it all.”Alex Lambeau
“I’d like to thank the team at Dancing Astronaut for giving me an opportunity even with no formal background in the music industry. They saw my passion for dance music and took a chance on me. The opportunities provided to me by Dancing Astronaut have been some of the best and most rewarding of my life. I am thankful to have traveled to Europe this summer and being able to attend the best music festival in the world, Tomorrowland. I want to express my gratitude and thanks to the humble artists that I have been able to meet (Dom Dolla, CamelPhat, MEDUZA, Third Party, SIDEPIECE) in just under a year with Dancing Astronaut. Finally, I am thankful for PR teams, artist managers, and venue teams that have allowed me such great opportunities.”Josh Stewart
“There’s a lot to be thankful for, especially in the light of the dance music industry. For starters, I’m thankful for the community-driven nature of the scene. I’m thankful for the fact that many of the industry’s business and networking events end up feeling like groups of old friends reuniting. I’m thankful for the built-in opportunities of the music industry that have given me the opportunity to see artists and parts of the world that I never thought I’d have the chance to see. I’m thankful for the core memories that the industry is allowing me to create and know that I’ll only grow more thankful for them in the future. I’m thankful for Four Tet, Daft Punk, and although I’m late to the party, Fred Again…. Finally, I’m thankful for the fact that although the music industry often moves at a thousand miles a minute, it’s clearly brimming with passionate and kind-hearted people. Also, I’m thankful for complextro don’t @ me.”Rachel Narozniak
“This year, I am grateful to be a part of Dancing Astronaut and the larger dance/electronic music community as pivotal golden-age classics from 2012 turn(ed) 10. I didn’t begin going to shows until 2016, and because that’s when I discovered my affinity for dance music, I never really had a chance to experience these productions as they were being released in real time, nor in person at events. For this reason, there’s always been a tinge of wistfulness in these classics for me, like Zedd’s Clarity and Swedish House Mafia’s Until Now. That said, 2022 was a really special year for me in that yes, while I missed out on experiencing the seminal music of 2012 then, I had the opportunity to celebrate it this year, on its 10-year anniversary. It is truly so special to be able to reflect on the impact of 2012 dance music on dance music as we know it today, as part of the genre’s music journalism and music industry network. I think there’s a case to be made that 2022 was just as special a year as 2012 in some ways, considering how surreal it is to realize the enduring influence of these classics during this milestone benchmark. Having the chance to celebrate 10 years of my favorite dance album, Clarity, at the one-night-only anniversary show in San Francisco, California was a bucket-list experience that I will never forget, and it only further underscored just how indelible a mark dance music has made on my life. The same is true of getting to see Swedish House Mafia for the first time ever at Madison Square Garden this year.
I would also like to thank all of the artists who trusted me to help verbalize their unique stories and perspectives through interview-features this year. Thank you to deadmau5 and Kaskade, Sofi Tukker, Wax Motif, Chandler Leighton, SLANDER, and The Glitch Mob for taking the time to speak with me, and thank you to all of the dedicated PRs and artist teams who help make these things happen and keep us all up to date. Happy Thanksgiving! <3″
One of the most consistent dance artists of 2022 has to be LP Giobbi. And one of Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch in 2022 is now continuing her massive winning streak with her newest original, “Body Breathe.”
Crafting another ethereal atmosphere alongside Monogem, the track sets the tone with a simple piano progression, airy vocal reverb, layered synth work, and a resonant melodic bassline. Be it her cinematic production, profound underlying messages, or her incredibly electric live shows, LP Giobbi’s powerful outlook and production permeates through the noise, rapidly evolving into a standout voice of this generation of dance music devotees. LP Giobbi spoke on the making of “Body Breathe,” explaining
“I booked Monogem way back in the day to play W Los Angeles after discovering her on a Spotify playlist. I loved her voice and she turned out to be a really kind and wonderful person. We stayed in touch and set up a studio session in my studio in LA. My studio doors were open and I was at the piano playing [Bill Evans’] ‘Peace Piece’ warming up and killing time before Monogem got there. She walked in while I was playing and we started talking about our shared love for jazz. As I continued to tinker around on those chords, she started singing ‘take all the time you need, open up your body breathe…’ Although those chords weren’t right, they got us to her amazing vocals and that vocal got us to the track.”
Her latest joins her catalogue in the midst of what may very well be a larger project, with her latest hits “Forever And A Day“—which recently received a rework from Diplo—and “All In A Dream” via Ninja Tune. Stream her latest outing below and stay tuned for more exciting announcements.
Featured image: LP Giobbi/Instagram
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Rising dance music star, Aaron Hibell, has shared a visual appendage to his popular mixes in a stunning outdoor setting. With a committed digital presence, accented by three million streams on his remix of John Summit‘s “Human,” Hibell is on track to become a household name in the dance domain. Finding virality on TikTok with his mixes shot outside an ancient monastery, Hibell has watched his edits and unreleased tracks skyrocket him to the masses. He’s been chiseling away at Monastery of Sound, Vol 1 since 2021. The final offering includes original songs, remixes, edits, and more in his audiovisual mixtape.
With a unique twist on progressive melodies and melodic techno, Hibell has demonstrated the versatility to succeed in both nightclub and festival settings. While he preserves a strong connection to melodic techno stylings, his originals and edits resemble a faster tempo, more evocative of Drumcode as opposed to Tale of Us or CamelPhat. With edits from Rüfüs Du Sol, London Grammar, and Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” Hibell has shown he can take popular melodies and power them up with a thundering techno bass line. Garnering support from Martin Garrix, ARTBAT, and more, Hibell’s popularity will surely only continue to rise. Stream Monastery of Sound, Vol 1 below.
Featured image: Aaron Hibell
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On the two-year anniversary of the death of techno DJ/producer i_o (born Garrett Lockhart), the Lockhart family and i_o collaborator Lights celebrate his life and musical legacy with the release of Warehouse Summer. The LP, co-written by Lights, whose vocals are featured across the album, comprises 14 original unreleased tracks. Notably, Warehouse Summer marks the first and only time that i_o’s music has been posthumously released following his unexpected death on November 23, 2020 from natural causes related to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder associated with chronic inflammation of the thyroid.
“We’d like to thank all who have patiently and lovingly stood by waiting for us, G’s family, to say yes to releasing these last tracks. Thank you to the i_o management for bringing together all the teams necessary to release these last tracks of music produced by Garrett & Lights. We are grateful to them and so many others for their regular ‘check-ins’ with us, allowing us time and space to miss him and grieve his absence,” The Lockhart family said in a statement released on November 22. “We loved hearing from so many, as each of us remember Garrett in different ways. Some of your stories made us laugh or smile, others made us cry, for it is in those stories we relived much of what Garrett was about as a person and in the many ways his life impacted each of us. Thank you for sharing yourselves with us, it has truly helped in the healing. We hope with this music release there will be healing for others as well. Continue to take gentle care of yourselves and each other, remembering how fragile life can be. On November 23, 2022, Warehouse Summer, a legacy album, will be released. Tomorrow, we celebrate you.”
“This is a body of work that I’m immensely proud of and am very emotionally connected to. Garrett was endlessly talented and he inspired me to give my all and be my best. It’s safe to say making this album with him was life changing. I hope you immerse yourself in it, there is a lot to feel in Warehouse Summer,” added Lights. In a tweet, Lights clarified that she and i_o made the album in 2020. “It is one thing that will always remain a triumph, a bittersweet opus from that year,” she wrote.
A cerebral extension of i_o’s signature sound, Warehouse Summer is out now via Armada Music and can be streamed below.November 23, 2022
Featured image: Taylor Conran
Ever since Amidy told his story during the seventh edition of our Supernovas series more than a year ago, he’s done everything in his power to uphold the triple-threat designation attached to him. And the Supernovas alumni—and also one of Dancing Astronaut‘s Artist to Watch in 2022—has now completed Wild Winds, his second EP of the year on Insomniac’s home for melodic bass.
An EP follow-up to Tattoo—his last extended outing on Lost In Dreams from three months prior—Amidy further energizes that multifaceted label of an artist that checks off the singer, songwriter, and producer boxes. Preceded by “Motion” alongside Abandoned as well as the EP’s eponymous cut with help from Man Cub, Wild Winds consummates the tracklist trifecta with the Danny Olson and Tyler Graves-backed cut “Gravity,” with Amidy offering up three fine-tuned, distinctive slices of sublime melodic bass. Amidy spoke on how Wild Winds came together, explaining,
“The process of making the Wild Winds EP has been an absolutely amazing time. The story of going with the flow and letting life take you wherever it leads you couldn’t resonate with me more. I’ve been in a stage of life where I don’t want to be afraid of going on a journey I may not be used to. We only have one life and I know it can be scary thinking about screwing it up. But I think letting things go and remembering to be in the moment and not being afraid to say yes to unexpected plans or journeys can lead you to some of the most memorable and fantastic times. This life is full of twists and turns, why try and control it when you can let the Wild Winds take you on a journey?”
Featured image: Alex Hong
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Chicago’s very own Honey Redmond, famously recognized as Honey Dijon, has officially turned in her second studio album, Black Girl Magic, now streaming via 1994-founded UK label Classic Music Company. The American house music icon’s long-awaited sophomore LP consists of 15 collaborative triumphs, drawing support from genre-disparate counterparts like Channel Tres, Sadie Walker, Mike Dunn, Dope Earth Alien, Kameelah Waheed, and Hadiya George.
“This album is dedicated to love… Love of music, community, but most of all, the love of self,” Dijon emphasized in a recent press statement. She further outlined the album’s core message of “being true to who you are in spite of everything else, and having the courage to love fearlessly.”
Dispatched in full on November 18, Black Girl Magic signifies Dijon’s first long-form undertaking since 2017’s The Best of Both Worlds, which earned its release on the same imprint as the new LP. Since contributing on Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE and assisting with the May-released Madonna tribute album thus far in 2022, the new 15-track offering acts as a prodigious supplement to Dijon’s already-impressive calendar year.
Honey Dijon’s famously eclectic sound design and inherent love for collaboration shine brightly on Black Girl Magic. Stream the complete album below.
Featured image: NY Times
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France’s beloved Habby, aka Uncle Habby, aka Habstrakt, recently unlocked his fourth original offering of the calendar year. Dispatched on November 11, “Outer Space” marks the veteran producer’s highly anticipated follow-up to his August-released official take on ACRAZE‘s global hit, “Do It To It.”
Habstrakt’s latest boils down to a hard-hitting tech-house anthem, exemplifying undercurrents of the DJ’s roots in both bass house and dubstep. Featuring a gritty vocal topline from burgeoning Canadian talent Roderick Porter, the cosmic collaboration will undoubtedly serve as an asset to upcoming club sets and festival shows alike. Stream “Outer Space,” by Habstrakt and Roderick Porter, below.
Who do you think should make a remix of Outer Space ?— habby (@habstrakt) November 15, 2022
Featured image: RUKES
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Anyone that’s been fortunate enough to witness either Dom Dolla or John Summit take the decks in recent months likely had a number of IDs on their mind that Shazam was simply of no assistance for. One of those unreleased gems was a bootleg of Fred again..‘s “Jungle” that was traced back to Disfreq. The other was confirmed to also belong to the Irish brothers and would turn into their 11th original outing of 2022. And the track that had been a standout moment in sets like Dom Dolla’s The Concourse Project appearance or John Summit’s second stint at Los Angeles’ The Shrine has now landed, with “Psychedelic Girls” arriving through Armada.
“Psychedelic Girls” comes less than a month removed from Disfreq’s triple-sided Liveware EP and only furthers the release onslaught that they’ve carried on throughout the year. And Disfreq’s requested ID earns a more than fitting name on release day—also helping many solidify their spelling of “psychedelic”—with the hypnotic, ’90s-like vocal meeting with a sonic framework of acid-doused techno. Stream Disfreq’s newest original below.
Featured image: Disfreq/Instagram
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The ISOxo and G Jones ID has been teased out for a handful of years as an undeniable weapon in a live setting. “Say What”—the duo’s debut collaborative effort—dates back to at least early 2020 when ISOxo, Knock2 ,and RemK rinsed it during a back-to-back-to-back livestream. It’s become a staple of both ISOxo and G Jones’ notoriously high-energy sets, with the cut setting crowds ablaze during each and every play. G Jones explained that he was “so happy” to link up on a production with one of trap’s fastest-rising stars after saying ISOxo has been “making some of [his] favorite tracks to play in [his] DJ sets for the past couple years.” And it made all the sense in the world for the two to unite on a record that can only be described as a blissful merger between trap and bass.
“Say What” lengthens what’s been a banner calendar for the former Dancing Astronaut Artist to Watch. The release of one of his most highly-sought after live tracks follows his collaborative remix EP with Knock2—niteharts, which arrived through Sable Valley—that the two put out on the same day as their ISOKNOCK III set in support of RL Grime at “Halloween XI: Dead Space.” And as for G Jones, the new single follows “Operator” and “R.A.V.E.” as the third and final preview from G Jones’ Illusory Tracks EP, which is set for a complete release on November 22. Stream ISOxo and G Jones’ long-awaited ID via out the latter’s very own Illusory Records below.
Featured image: Eric Ananmalay
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When both Jerro and Forester made the trip to Las Vegas for their first-ever appearances at Life Is Beautiful, they took the opportunity to join together on stage to present “something very special.” And exactly two months later, they’re ready to officially draw the curtains back on what that was. To pile onto his king-sized timeline of This Never Happened offerings this year—including his Coming Home remixes, “Trois,” “Legacy,” his Duality EP, and “Need Somebody“—Jerro helped the duo make a welcome debut on Lane 8‘s imprint with “Breathless.”
The collaboration traces back to more than a year ago when Jerro and Forester linked up in Los Angeles, immediately reaching a verdict that a marriage of their sounds would result in unmistakable bliss. And “Breathless” is a spot-on way to characterize how listeners of the This Never Happened union will likely feel following just one listen, with both Jerro and Forester’s tones artfully connecting for a serene half-and-half of melodic house beside an angelic vocal to boot. Stream what has the potential to wind up being one of the top tracks of 2022 below.View this post on Instagram
Featured image: Jerro/Instagram
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Five years. That’s the last time an artist was invited to put their take on anything from the Gorillaz catalog. But this past August, the paths of the famed alternative rock band crossed with none other than Tame Impala for their first-ever collaborative effort, “New Gold.” And while Gorillaz have seemingly maintained strict guidelines for official remixes, the psychedelic single received an unexpected but welcome rework from Dancing Astronaut‘s 2019 Breakout Artist of the Year, Dom Dolla.
There’s debatably no one better than Dom Dolla when it comes to spinning some of the most well-known bands in music. Just a few months earlier, he gave RÜFÜS DU SOL‘s “Make It Happen” a heavy twist and now, the Aussie producer is trying his hand at something beyond the dance music realm. Evoking a more club-primed feel compared to the original, Dom Dolla significantly speeds up “New Gold” to a tech-house pace while maintaining both the lyrical and melodic work of Gorillaz and Tame Impala’s original. Dom Dolla’s “New Gold” remix results in a fitting track to mix in for listeners across any music genre, giving the best of both worlds.https://open.spotify.com/track/2c3KCGq6UojB2c8UAFrRON?si=9e8fca80d3794ce2
Featured image: Jared Tinetti
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At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and amid its unsteady recession, society struggled with the age-old existential question, “What’s the point of this?”
Among those asking were The Glitch Mob‘s Justin Boreta, Ed Ma, and Joshua Mayer. Fatigued by the sheer strangeness of a world embroiled in a public health crisis and later, of that same world’s shaky return to quasi-normalcy, the Los Angeles-based trio turned inward to find the answer to the question, which, they say, can be asked not only of life during the pandemic, but also about the extravagance of modern dance music.
Two or three months after the COVID-19 lockdowns lifted, The Glitch Mob traded California scenery for Utah desolation. They packed their bags, set up shop in a studio in Boulder (complete with its own built-in nightclub of sorts), and made their fourth studio album, Ctrl Alt Reality. The setting, quiet and removed, is antithetical to the music written and developed there. Ctrl Alt Reality—The Glitch Mob’s first album since 2018’s See Without Eyes—is a buzzy homage to earlier, ’90s-reminiscent rave sound with a wildly-beating pulse and rollicking nods to old-school Jungle breaks. The placid, still space where Ctrl Alt Reality came to be is not the same place where it was meant to flourish: on the liveliest of dance floors.
The LP is as much an ode to rave culture of earlier years as it is a contemporary attempt to restore connection in today’s ultra-commercialized dance market, where “spectacle,” The Glitch Mob say, has stolen the show. This dynamic led live events to feel somewhat impersonal for Boreta, Ma, and Mayer, who, with this record, “bow out of the production arms race” and lean into music made not to impress anyone, but rather made to unify audiences and soundtrack the fun to be had along the way.
“We were trying to harness the spirit and energy of old-school rave culture, where it was really just about people coming together under one umbrella purely for the music,” Ma told Dancing Astronaut in an interview coincidentally conducted one year to the date that the group left Utah to finish Ctrl Alt Reality back home in LA.
Ctrl Alt Reality, The Glitch Mob attest, is a product of a “joyful and celebratory process” free from the typical fetters. And whether by happenstance or design, it is also a resounding response to the question, “What’s the point of this?”: pure connection through and for the love of the music.
this next chapter in our artistry is intended to get back to the music, the movement, the dance, the connection of body & sound. we are here to provide an audio experience you feel deep in your soul. we hope you feel this as much as we do. you are all welcomed and loved— The Glitch Mob (@theglitchmob) September 4, 2022
In a tweet you stated, “this next chapter in our artistry is intended to get back to the music, the movement, the dance, the connection of body and sound.” What prompted your desire to write this new chapter of sound?
Ed Ma: “This record exists in a post-Blade era of The Glitch Mob. The Blade was our live production and instrument that we used to perform in. This record [Ctrl Alt Reality] was birthed after essentially The Blade has gone into retirement. We’ve been at this music thing for a while, and I think when we don’t have something like The Blade somewhat dictating our creative process, we were just more free to do whatever we wanted to do. I think we all [in The Glitch Mob] grew up in an era of old-school rave culture, you know? Jungle breaks, warehouse rave culture and stuff, and that was just something that we were inspired by, and we wanted to write a record that captured the spirit of what that was all about. It’s essentially a polar opposite experience from what people equate to raves nowadays, American EDM festivals, you know what I mean? We were trying to harness the spirit and energy of old-school rave culture, where it was really just about people coming together under one umbrella purely for the music.”
Joshua Mayer: “I feel like there is a collective feeling in the air about getting back to a more simplified version of electronic music, you know, having it be more purely about the music and not so much about the spectacle. I think that obviously at one point in time, all this big money and corporate kind of influence came into electronic music and put the whole rock and roll model on it—bigger, better, louder shows kind of outdoing each other from one to the next, and I feel like it’s kind of lost that sense of feeling and soul about the music itself. So, for us, we were trying to take it back to the stripped-down version—no production, just about the tunes. We’re literally and figuratively trying to get back to the ground level of why we do it, because it’s super disconnecting being on a stage that’s 50 feet away from everybody. It’s just kind of like, what’s the point of this anymore? You know? It’s like, I’m not here to be stared at from an audience, hoping that they understand and feel our energy, but when we can remove [the music] from that kind of setting and bring it back down to the people and all be on the same level, I just feel like it connects deeper. And that was a big part of why the music came out sounding the way it did. It was just like getting it back down to the rawness, just pure energy and dancing and connecting with folks.”
Ed Ma: “In The Blade area, we had participated in the production arms race for like a long time and it just kind of felt like it was time to just bow out of that whole entire thing. There’s always going to be another artist out there that’s going to be able to do it bigger and better, with more money and everything like that. We wanted to take this record back to a pure place with nothing approved, we’re not trying to impress anybody, we’re just trying to make tunes that we’re stoked about and have a dope vibe.”
Justin Boreta: “The album comes from a place of a post-pandemic studio trip, where we went out to Boulder, Utah for a couple weeks in the middle of nowhere. We had made a lot of introspective music and a lot of music that traversed all sorts of musical realms, and it was just pure raw energy and celebration. I think we had spent so much time in our headphones and inside that this is actually such a human record. There’s a lot of love for the power of live music to unite people, but it’s really just the raw love of the energy. I think for us, it feels more connective to our community in that way.”
Your long-term listeners know that process is everything to you. In fact, in a 2018 interview with Dancing Astronaut, you noted, “music is more about the process than the final piece of work.” What was the process like of making Ctrl Alt Reality?
Ed Ma: “I think we’ve spent many, many years, making all different kinds of records. I think the one thing that people can always count on is that we’re most likely going to do something unexpected. I think from where we started to obviously flipping a 180 on Drink the Sea and then obviously going full stadium mode with Love Death Immortality, people can always count on us to just do something different and unexpected. I think after making music for this long, one sound that we really haven’t explored a lot of was actually the sound that really got us all into electronic music to begin with: old-school rave, whether it be jungle breaks, warehouse, like, rave techno, and that was just something that spoke to us at this point in time. We had just never really touched upon that kind of sound before. And as Justin said, you we took a trip out to Utah, and we just had a blast every day in the studio. It was probably the most fun we’ve ever had making a record. As I’ve said, at this point in our careers, having done this for so long, it’s like there’s really nothing left to prove, there’s no one to impress. So we could really write music from a very pure, honest place and just have a good time with it.”
Justin Boreta: “It was a very joyful and celebratory process for us. We hadn’t been in the studio together for a long time, and I think if anything, listening back to [the music now] and with these shows, you can really hear the joyfulness and just the love, the power of music, and that there was no particular intention at the moment. We knew that this whole thing was about the rawness, the energy of what a breakbeat feels like. But really just getting back to the celebratory nature of everything; it’s just joy, we were having so much fun. The studio that we were at had this built-in little nightclub in it, and we would go in after every studio session and drink beer and blast [the music] and dance around and just have fun with it. And I think that taking ourselves outside of our normal studio settings helped that. It’s funny, we wrote an album in Joshua Tree, and it was very psychedelic. You think of going out to nature, maybe you’re going to make a trippy album, but in fact, removing ourselves from society and going to deep, desolate nature, we just wanted to have fun.”
How does the title Ctrl Alt Reality align with the LP’s theme and sound?
Ed Ma: The whole thing comes from is ‘control alt delete,’ which is essentially that’s the key combination you use to force quit a piece of software. You could look at that like essentially hitting the reset button on everything. This record was a complete reset button for us. Ctrl Alt Reality I think takes it one step further and is just a play on modern day social media culture. You could look at it as thinking that Instagram and stuff is reality when it’s not, you could look at it as taking control of your own alternate reality as well. There are many different interpretations that you can take from it.
In the time leading up to the album’s release, you’ve performed a series of 360-degree shows where you’re ground-level, completely surrounded by the crowd. What led you to want to take this this approach and how is Ctrl Alt Reality conducive to this format?
Joshua Mayer: Part of it was to strip this whole thing down and get away from the ‘rockstar status,’ where it just didn’t really feel natural for us. We really wanted to rethink this whole thing, you know? It’s like, what are we really trying to do here? What is the goal these days? And I think for us, it was connecting with people, connecting with our peers, connecting with the music again, after being so disconnected for a couple years during the pandemic. I feel like we need like a big injection of connection with our community, and what better way to do that than to in a music culture scene in each city on the ground level? Literally on the ground with everyone around us. So it’s less about the show. It’s more about, ‘Hey, we’re all here doing this together. It’s not about us. We’re just part of the whole puzzle.’ It felt like a way to really translate what we’re trying to do through the sound that we’re currently creating. It felt honest, it felt organic, it felt like the most authentic versions of ourselves, because that’s where we came from. When we first started playing, we were playing in the dust out at Burning Man on the ground level. We were playing in warehouses in the San Francisco Bay area. We were playing clubs where like the DJ booth was literally just on the ground. And as you grow as artists through numbers and stuff like that, more fans and bigger shows, the rooms get bigger, the stages get bigger, the production gets bigger. And I think we kind of just hit our limit for now. Like, ‘Hey, let’s just kind of do away with all this stuff and get back to really what it’s about: music, a good sound system, and being in the mix with everyone so that we can all celebrate this moment together.’ It’s not about showmanship to us anymore; it’s about creating an energy and a feeling that we can all connect with collectively.
Ed Ma: I always tell people, we made this record for ourselves. You know what I mean? To rave out to. And I want to be going off as hard as humanly possible to this record when we’re playing it and be within a beer-spilling distance from someone locked in and feeling that energy. That’s really what the whole 360 experience was all about.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Justin Boreta: This was an album that was created for us in navigating the music industry and navigating the strangeness of 2022 between 2020 and 2022, nothing makes sense. The only thing that makes sense now is just being real and being authentic and being grateful that we can make music and have fun doing it. We’re really grateful to the fans that have been with us for so many reboots and sonic explorations.
Ed Ma: And we’re also grateful for being welcomed back to the underground. Sometimes when you get really big and you decide you want to come back to the roots, it might not be a welcoming place. People can be like, ‘you got big, you sold out, that’s not real.’ But the welcome back for us has been profound. It’s been incredible—super warm, welcoming, loving, and man, we just have nothing but gratitude. It’s been sick as fuck.
Featured image: CAMRAFACE
The post The Glitch Mob on ‘Ctrl Alt Reality’: ‘We made this record for ourselves’ [Q&A] appeared first on Dancing Astronaut.