Originally thought to be two ends of the music spectrum, the convergence of house and hip-hop music has been at an all-time high lately with producers experimenting with the genres through remixes and the recent partnership of Moodswing Management and Crush Music. Funk-lords, Bixel Boys, recently entered the beat lab with the intention of mixing their head-bouncing basslines with Theophilus London’s single “Tribe,” and it’s safe to say this combination is sweeter than the union between peanut butter and jelly. The LA-based duo overlay London’s vocals onto a dark, hypnotizing melody before unleashing their own take on the recent fad of future house. The future house drop embodies the idea of raw and unfiltered yet it retains a groovy nature to complement the soulful feature of Jesse Boykins III and impeccable flow of Theophilus London. This track is the perfect follow up to their recent #FREELIFE jersey campaign that received immense support from the dance music community in the battle against cancer.
The Warfield Theatre in San Francisco carries an opulence that’s pretty much impossible to replicate in modern venues. Built on a foundation that dates back to the early 1920s, its walls sing of a long creative history, connecting generations through the nuances of expressive art. One of these nuances - whether or not our forefathers would put it so bluntly - is an aptitude for not giving a fuck. No matter the era, culture has always moved forward when some people decided they were going to do things differently. That’s the vibe that reverberated throughout the sold out venue Thursday night.
“I don’t smoke crack, motherfucker, I sell it!!!” is a line everyone in attendance might remember, as it was the very first thing Drew yelled out to the crowd as the headlining duo prepared to take the decks, thickening the plot more and more as he repeated it. An appropriated Kendrick Lamar line isn't exactly the quote you’d expect an “EDM act” to open their set with, but if you know anything about Alex and Drew of the Chainsmokers, you know they’re the poster boys for not giving a fuck. Their fans, a feverish league of 18 to 20-somethings dressed casually and combed to perfection, were all for it, too.
I could feel the energy and the guys still hadn’t spun their first track. It was similar to cheering on a good friend who invited you to his/her showcase for moral support; no matter how good or terrible they might be, you’d be their personal cheerleader for the simple fact that it's your homie. The Chainsmokers’ rise to fame with the pop culture relevance of “#SELFIE” and their ever-increasing catalogue of remixes should be enough to muzzle naysayers who still question their talent, but I’m almost certain the music wasn’t what brought the energy levels to almost deafening heights way before the initial lid was removed. I'd bet it was because no matter how big the Chainsmokers get, they still seem like guys we all went to high school or college with. The homies you just want to cheer on.
While the opening was the most special moment for me, personally, the entire set was nothing short of Alex and Drew’s eclectic music tastes and niche for melody, presented in such a way where I was often left thinking, “Damn, this original song would be so much better if it actually used these vocals.” But what was arguably most impressive was the pace the two managed to control – torrid one moment when dropping tracks like “I Can’t Take It No More” by Dillon Francis and jubilating the next when rotating to uplifting tunes like their classic remix of Smallpools’ “Dreaming.”
“Where's all my real Chainsmoker fans at who’ve been down with us since day 1?” Drew called out to the amenable crowd. There’s always room for nostalgia at their shows, which causes one to think it’s every bit for them and remembering how it all started as it is for the fans in attendance who were there from the jump.
Just to show the extent to how much they don’t give a fuck, Alex and Drew would even purposefully break the fluidity of their set by dropping some “unexpected” rap, notably paying homage to their hometown of New York by spinning Bobbdy Shmurda’s anthem, “Hot N*gga.” We see a lot of DJs try it, but it often comes across as a gimmick. Not that two middle-class white guys with amazing hair intrinsically have what it takes to drop a Bobby Shmurda track in urban San Francisco on a Thursday night; it’s the mindset they carry along with them that makes it okay. One that says it’s okay to crowd surf with the people who paid to party with you tonight. One that says it’s okay to stand atop expensive stage equipment and scream obscenities to the fans’ delight. One that says its okay to be yourself and not give a fuck no matter what. It's the pillar upon which all of their success is built and probably the one thing they'd want each person who attends their shows or listens to their music to take away. San Francisco seemed to get it. The Warfield rocked in affirmation.
Spinnin’ Deep just hatched as a premier, deep house label this past year, but the influence the imprint has had for the genre has already been tremendous. From Oliver Heldens to Tchami to EDX, the spin-off label has launched some of the hottest deep house acts that have been tearing up the festival circuit. The label now hosts Dutch producer Sander Kleinenberg‘s latest single “Can You Feel It” featuring the vocals of Gwen McCrae. Premiering on the legendary Pete Tong’s BBC Radio 1, Kleinenberg showcases his future house sound that he has touched with a new flair. His smooth verse melody in conjunction with McCrae’s soulful vocals provide a refreshing build up to a dance-floor-ready, future house break that will have fans moving and grooving. The full track will be released via Spinnin’ Deep on December 1st.
Calvin Harris has officially canceled his performance at this year’s MTV EMAs. Following the success of his most recent album, Motion, and two new record-breaking achievements, Calvin was scheduled to perform during tonight’s MTV European Music Awards. According to a post on the event’s Facebook page, Harris has become ill and will be not be performing. As reported by BBC Radio 1, Harris let fans know on Twitter that the reason for his cancelation was due to “heart problems,” the severity of which has still not been disclosed.
Cazzette came out of left field with “Sleepless” — abandoning their brand of quirky dubhouse and releasing one of the most acclaimed crossover records of the year. Finding the venue to produce deep sounds with a commercial appeal, the duo find themselves sharing space with the likes of Oliver Heldens and Zhu; “Sleepless” made this positioning indisputable. And they’re not done yet. Following up their 2014 trademark wouldn’t be easy, but Cazzette make such effort seem like a cake-walk. Their latest is “Blind Heart,” a brave approach to electronic music that’s somewhere between its predecessor and David Guetta’s “Dangerous.” Vocalist Terri B brings soulful attitude that pairs well with the original percussion, making for a sound that couldn’t be more traditional, nor more modern, all at once. “Blind Heart” could quickly become a favorite throughout dance music as well as radio.
In case their were any confusion about where progressive house has been hiding and what it even sounds like today, Axwell and Ingrosso are on top of the ball. Premiered by Zane Lowe as his Hottest Record In The World selection, the duo’s newest single is everything their longtime fans could hope for and nothing like the EDM-Karoake material that electronic artists have been dishing out as promo singles to radio all year. Making for the ground it stands on, “Can’t Hold Us Down” comes with the sense of hungry aggression circa the days of being aspiring Swedish DJs; and bringing an old taste to present time are layered intricacies and modern twang subtle enough to keep a tight grip on that identity. Without a concrete release date, the single is confirmed to drop this quarter with Axwell and Ingrosso’s debut album as a partnership will arrive in 2015 via Def Jam Recordings.
Over the past week, Amtrac has been rolling out material for fans from an unforgettable appearance on Diplo‘s BBC Radio 1 show to a remarkable remix of Shakka, both presenting a deeper, somber side of Amtrac. Alesso‘s radiant progressive single “Heroes,” featuring the elegant vocals of Tove Lo, recently reestablished to fans why Alesso has been one of the most dominant forces in progressive house and EDM. Well, Amtrac flips Alesso’s refined track, slowing down the tempo to generate a serious late-night vibe. The Kentucky-based producer dares to drop Tove Lo’s vocals a couple octaves to change the mood of the track, but he manages to keep her vocals soulful and compelling as ever. Amtrac’s recent transformation to the dark side stunned some fans, but after listening to this remix, we are excited to see what else Amtrac will turn to gold.
Not one to deviate too far from his animal-themed hits, Oliver Heldens’ latest undertaking zeroes in on a beloved late 90s character with worldwide recognition. “Pikachu,” as it’s been named, is a new collaboration with Dutch duo Mr. Belt & Wezol and is shaping up to be as vibrant as its yellow, mouse-like counterpart. Already deemed a notable game changer by many producers twice his age, Oliver Heldens’ unmatchable house touch is crystal clear. The track dances with rhythmic ease as it shifts beneath cheeky samples of the Pokemon star’s distinguished battle call. Sharpened by Mr. Belt & Wezol’s complementary house perspective, “Pikachu” is the perfect balance of comical cries of the Pokémon character and Heldens’ fine-tuned ear for groove and future electronic direction.
Known for dropping some of the finest indie pop remixes around, The Chainsmokers return with a rework of Josef Salvat’s surging smash “Open Season”. Opting for deeper vibes over their traditional progressive sound – the duo’s rendition pairs the tantalizing vocal alongside a lighthearted melody and subtle trap snares. Check out the free mix here.
Dillon Francis‘s full length debut Money Sucks, Friends Rule is just around the corner, yet the closer we get, the more music the the Mad Decent heavyweight seems to have up his sleeve. Releasing a handful of tracks in the last few weeks leading up to his long-awaited album, Francis is serving out another tune to quell cravings until the record’s official release on October 28th. This time, it’s his crowd-favorite collaboration with Martin Garrix, “Set Me Free.” “Set Me Free” has been galvanizing crowds all summer long, from EDC to Mad Decent Block Parties all across the country, and now it is available to fans for free instantly when they pre-order Money Sucks, Friends Rule. The track is quintessential Francis material, introducing itself with recognizable moombahton elements but quickly revealing itself to be a throbbing electro-house cut. Complete with precise sample work and a melodic build, the track comes to a stomping break matched with a festival-primed synth arrangement. With Martin Garrix lending stylistic additions and his knack for producing main stage staples, “Set Me Free” sweetens the album’s upcoming that much more.
When Oliver Heldens and Sander Van Doorn first hinted at a collaborative debut, heads turned. When they later suggested it would fall in the form of a crossover techno offering, the understandable skepticism kicked in. Alongside so-called ‘future house’ Youngblood Heldens, Doorn’s latest namesake label offering had a lot of speculation to live up to, but continues a positive ascent from such u-turn offerings as “Get Enough” that spoke in favor of this versatile streak. “This” sits somewhere in-between the remits of Helden’s own bassline favoring getup and the techno infused sound that hallmarked Doorn’s inauguration into the upper echelon of electronic dance music some eight years ago. The heathens aren’t going to like hearing those two names associated with the staple underground genre, but what the Dutch duo does is bridge a gap between the popular house market and that of a functional and timeless sound still essential to this generation.
Small pieces of information regarding Avicii’s next album have been trickling out over the past few months. “The Nights,” an original mix which landed on FIFA 15′s heavily-electronic soundtrack, provided a small taste of the Swedish star’s impending studio release, despite no information on where that single would end up in Avicii’s discography.Now returning courtesy of “The Days,” the countdown to Tim Bergling’s next album has officially begun. Fanfare surrounding the original mix is far less conspicuous than when “Wake Me Up” arrived last year, however, “The Days” delivers on a multitude of fronts. Beginning with catchy acoustic guitar riffs, uncredited vocals build momentum before a swift kick gets thrown into the fray towards the end of the track. The cross-genre originals heard on True marked a new direction for Avicii and new single “The Days” looks to continue his crossover appeal.