It comes at a time when illegal raves are on the rise across Europe, as well as sanctioned, legal open air dance music events. The resurgence of parties both licensed and unlicensed has proven controversial, with many questioning the safety of such events, even with mask-wearing regulations and other measures in place.
For a new feature, DJ Mag spoke to venue owners, promoters and ravers about their hopes and fears regarding illegal raves, and other topics, in the wake of COVID-19. One interviewee, a raver, spoke about the anxiety he feels at the prospect of going back to the rave as the pandemic continues: “It could put some people at risk; it’s still transmittable,” he said. Warm Up promoter Aidan Doherty also touches on this during his interview. “I’ve noticed, sadly, how divided the scene has become in some respects,” he told us. “There’s an almost 50/50 split of people who want to get back to living and doing what they love, and the other half who feel that it’s way too early to even consider this.” He adds, “People are more emotional than ever right now, which is resulting in cases of public disorder, and more and more rebellious behaviour.”
(Pictured: Goa Club, Rome)
Chris Varvaro‘s #pursound initiative, developed to entwine ambient sounds and progressive house, forges forward with Varvaro’s latest installation, Sunnie Williams feature, “Wicked Intentions.” The third single from the Recording Academy inductee, “Wicked Intentions” succeeds “Meant That” and his penultimate progressive house showing, “Intoxicated.”
For the trifecta of original productions in this decade to date, Varvaro maintains his progressive house framework but dials back on the energetic builds and breaks seen on past releases like “Intoxicated” to embrace a downtempo track orientation. The comparatively more muted—but no less impactful—approach culminates in a vocal showcase that appeals to Williams’ sung contributions while further making a case for Varvaro’s electronic ascent.
Featured image: Michael Today
Rony Seikaly has shared a new EP.
Lebanese/American DJ and producer Rony Seikaly, who has released records on Suara, Saved, and Yoshitoshi Recordings, returns to his recently-launched Stride Records imprint with two-track EP, ‘Mila’.
Featuring an original cut of deep, vocal-heavy house from Seikaly, the producer has also called on dance duo Audiojack for a remix. “What I look forward to when I produce a track is a groove,” Seikaly said on the release. “I just want to make sure that the track has that special groove that reaches the soul and body. I can start producing a track with any element as long as the groove is always there.”
“’Mila’ is a track that I made for my daughter,” he continued. “She is going to college next year, she’s been my baby for all these years and going off to college could be an amazing experience for these kids. I just want her to always know that I’ll be there for her, no matter what. As much as I want her to go, I don’t want to let her go, and that is basically what the track is about.”
Seikaly also recently launched a fundraiser following the catastrophic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon earlier this month. Partnering with SEAL, a non-profit organization founded in New York City who help underserved communities in Lebanon, Seikaly hopes to raise $1 million, and has raised over $500,000 so far, donating $100,000 himself. The donations will focus on providing shelter, food, medication/medical support, and rehabilitation.
You can donate to Rony Seikaly’s fundraiser here, and listen to the new release below.
Behind every LP is a stock of unreleased songs that almost made the finished product, but were ultimately superseded by other track listings. Kiss Land is no exception.
In a recent episode of Momento Mori, The Weeknd‘s Apple Music radio show, the “Blinding Lights” crooner took a trip down memory lane to recount the inspirations behind the 2013 album and shed some light on some of the Kiss Land potentials shelved seven years prior.
The parcel of unreleased demos debuted during Momento Mori encompassed “For Your Eyes,” “One of Those Nights,” “Heavenly Creatures,” “Another One of Me,” and “Angel Face,” in addition to a never-before-heard remix of Lana Del Rey‘s “Money Power Glory.” Del Rey’s original hails from her sophomore LP, Ultraviolence, released in 2014.
Whether the unwrapping precedes the full-fledged release of the saved materials remains unclear, but fortunately for fans, the unheard Weeknd rinse of “Money Power Glory” can be streamed below. Stream the full Momento Mori episode here.
Featured image: Nabil Elderkin
Hip-hop pioneer Jam Master Jay’s murder has remained unsolved modern rap lore for nearly 20 years. Jason Mizell, best known for his role in the trailblazing hip-hop trio Run-DMC, was killed the night before Halloween in 2002, in his Jamaica, Queens recording studio. That night, two masked men entered the building, and one fatally shot Mizell in the head. Since then, despite the not-so-quiet speculation surrounding the murky details of the legendary DJ’s death, the case remained unsolved for nearly two decades. Now, two men, believed to have been Mizell’s former associates, have been arrested in connection with Jay’s murder.
According to separate law enforcement officials who each spoke to the New York Times on the condition of anonymity, federal prosecutors charged Ronald Washington, 56, and Karl Jordan Jr., 36, believed to be drug traffickers, with murder. While law enforcement has yet to officially detail the two mens’ involvement, investigators believe Mizell was financing the alleged drug-trafficking operation, and eventually the arrangement went south. According to one quoted official, “There was a beef—it didn’t go as planned.” Washington is already serving a federal prison sentence for robbery, while Jordan, who had previously been incarcerated for shooting Jay’s cousin, rapper Little Dee, in 2003, was taken into custody again on August 16.
Jam Master Jay was much more than just the beats behind Run-DMC’s barrier-breaking campaign. Outside of his work with Rev Run and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Jam Master Jay was a paragon of New York’s scratch selectors scene, founding Scratch DJ Academy and his own label, while rising up to champion local talent in the city including 50 Cent and others.
H/T: New York Times
Celebrations are in store for the 40th anniversary of Roland‘s revolutionary TR-808 drum machine. For the milestone occasion, the Japanese electronic equipment manufacturer has shared a variety of engagements including a short documentary film, an 808 playlist, and a free DAW plug-in. The TR-808 has left a lasting legacy in popular music, from hip-hop to electronic to trap, with its iconic 808 sound becoming ubiquitous in the musical landscape.
Entitled Building the Beat: Inside Legendary Roland TR-808 Tracks, the mini-documentary features an eclectic selection of artists who break down their signature 808 classics. Carl Craig, Arthur Baker, A Guy Called Gerald, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis span a few of the luminaries who appear in the short.
In addition, Roland’s 808-inspired playlist unveils 50 tracks created with the drum machine, encompassing early pioneering tunes including “Planet Rock” and “Sexual Healing” as well as songs from a diversity of acts like Kanye West, Felix Da Housecat, Jamie xx, Snoop Dogg, and countless more.
Learn more about the history and creation of the TR-808 and download the free plug-in here.
15-year-old Omar Davis, better known as Moore Kismet, have released their new project, Revenge Of The Unicorns EP. A clinic in self-expression and unique sound in the bass space, the production has arrived through the NEVER SAY DIE shop.
For those unfamiliar, the name “Moore Kismet” means “more than fate,” and serves as a representation of Davis finding success in the industry while sharing their story of who they really are. As Davis explains, being an openly pansexual/non-binary artist is somewhat unique in the music industry, but with much love and support from the LGBTQ+ community, this identity has become a major aspect of Davis, particularly as they strive for greater inclusivity in the music industry and beyond.
Making music and growing into one’s own identity are intimately related in the context of Kismet’s creative process. In a press release, Kismet further expounded on this idea and described how the Revenge Of The Unicorns EP was both the impetus for and an emblem of personal progression, stating,
“What rarely ever comes across my mind about this project is that it originally was never meant to be created. In the midst of working on my album, I stopped myself and began to use the techniques I had developed and learned in other tracks separate from it. Little did I know, these tracks would end up coming together to represent a timeline of my life’s most important moments, good and bad.
I can honestly say without a doubt say that working on ROTU has changed my life for the better. It’s allowed me to grow as an artist. It’s shown me how to grow as a person. Creating this project has constantly encouraged me to grow from my past mistakes and to embrace my flaws as I know it’s a part of who I am. I’m so glad that this EP is finally out for the world to hear, and I sincerely hope that people will be able to listen to it with an open mind so they can truly see the story I have to tell with it.”
Dancing Astronaut spoke with the young up-and-comer, asking production-focused questions to not only home in on the techniques that you hear on the Revenge Of The Unicorns EP, but also celebrate the release of the extended play.
Why did you call the project Revenge Of The Unicorns?
KISMET: “The reason why I called the EP Revenge Of The Unicorns is because the meaning behind the project’s culmination spawned from all of the hatred and abuse I had received from listeners, old friends, and even close family when I was younger. It never left my mind. It was meant to symbolize me releasing all of the energy formulating from the anger, stress, anxiety, and depression that I had repressed.”
Do you have a typical production process and if so, what does it consist of? Additionally, what instruments/tracks do you start with; do you use a skeleton or blank slate?
KISMET: “I normally begin any new song with a fresh blank slate. I usually scroll through my sample library to see if I can find anything melodic to work around. More recently, however, I’ve started new projects by experimenting with sound design and working on a rough concept for a drop first, then writing the rest of the song around that concept within the span of one or two weeks.”
What was a go-to synth for the project and why?
KISMET: “Definitely 3xOsc. This is a stock plugin for FL Studio, and I can say with utter confidence that it can be utilized for SO much. I mainly use it to create a clean sub bass for drop sounds, but I’ve also utilized it for reese bases, background synths, leads, chords, and random noises to resample using other VSTs.”
Did you also have a go-to MIDI controller?
KISMET: “I don’t own any MIDI controllers.”
Did this project involve any special VST that really took the production home?
KISMET: “I would really have to say MFreqShifter by MeldaProduction and Couture by Auburn Sounds. MFreqShifter is a frequency shifting plugin that allows you to alter the frequencies and sound of the assigned audio signal. Couture is a transient shaper that allows you to make the transients of your drums snap and punch through the mix harder. They both came in really handy when it came down to the beginning stages and the home stretch of production for the ROTU EP.”
Do you have any pet peeves with your DAW?
KISMET: “Not really. One minor issue that I have is that whenever I try to live stream myself producing for my friends on Discord, I have to switch through my audio devices, which is kind of a pain in the ass. However, that’s an issue with my actual computer, not with the DAW specifically.”
Which song took the longest to make and why?
KISMET: “‘They Changed’ without a shadow of a doubt. Ari (snowcloak) and I worked on it for so long, and went through so many different versions of it. When we finished it, we were at version 22 with a runtime of over five minutes. Whenever them and me create a new track together, it’s always a fairly long yet very cinematic and euphoric experience. I had a blast working with them on the track, even if it took quite a while for us to get it sounding right!”
What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project and why?
KISMET: “I would have to say ‘Convulsion Therapy’ takes the cake on that one. The story I wanted to tell with it absolutely required it to be as minimalistic as possible. It was hard trying to still show my true self through the sounds while becoming one with experimentation through storytelling.”
What are some production skills or methods you have recently improved that have really taken your production or process to the next level?
KISMET: “Sound design, layering drums, and arrangement. I’ve learned that being freer with my arrangements and flows help make my music more expressive and freeing than it ever did before. Sample selection is a fairly small but equally important part as well, as I’ve been able to make some of my best drums through proper sample selection and layering techniques.”
You’re so young, who are your mentors in this industry?
KISMET: “I don’t really have any mentors, I just learn from my friends and from my own mistakes in music production.”
Is there a certain producer’s sound or production technique that you admire and wish you could re-create yourself?
KISMET: “For music in general, I wish I could write cinematic/orchestral music as well as my friend Josh (laxcity) can. He makes such gorgeous orchestral works. It’s as if he just pulled it straight from a movie scene. For electronic specifically, I would love to be able to learn how to create sounds like MARAUDA, Moody Good, and Virtual Riot.”
What was your most memorable in-studio moment while producing Revenge Of The Unicorns?
KISMET: “I remember the day I wrapped up ‘Convulsion Therapy.’ I had finally broken through a long string of depressive experiences with some positivity. The second I finished up the third drop, I IMMEDIATELY hopped on Instagram to record my reaction to the fucking monstrosity that i just concocted for this opening track. Over 1,600 people viewed it. I was very happy and proud that day.”
Are there any specific up-and-comers that you’re excited about?
KISMET: “Too many to list, but PLEASE keep your eyes on snowcloak, Hollimon, euphorian, Chuck Sutton, kmoe, Lunamatic, HOLIDAYKISS, kilamanzego, laxcity, VOLTRA, Crimson Child, & SHSTR. They’re all my absolutely favs and I love them so fucking much. It’s impossible to fully express it in words. Pay attention to them all.”
Are there any causes that you care about at the moment and why?
KISMET: “BLACK LIVES MATTER (ESPECIALLY BLACK TRANS LIVES). DEFUND THE POLICE, STAY HOME, AND WEAR A FUCKING MASK. IT IS NOT THAT FUCKING HARD TO KEEP YOURSELF AND OTHERS SAFE!! You can find petitions to sign, numbers to call, emails to message, and donation links here.”
What is next for Moore Kismet?
KISMET: “What’s next for me is the official release of my second studio album next year, with a good amount of singles and remixes carrying out the rest of 2020 following the release of ROTU! Aside from music, one of the biggest things that I’m currently working on is an upcoming animated series titled Stargazers, which is currently in production. My goal with this series is to shed light on topics and themes that aren’t spoken about in media, specifically in animation. This includes full representation of LGBTQ+ people and themes, mental health issues, and unique storytelling. My production crew primarily consists of my amazing friends, most of which are LGBTQ+ citizens and allies, and I could not be more excited to tell the world more soon!”
Featured image: Incredibly Dope
Make no mistake—dance music is born from black culture. Without black creators, innovators, selectors, and communities, the electronic dance music we hold so dear would simply not exist. In short, dance music is deeply indebted to the global black community and we need to be doing more. Black artists and artists of color have played a profound role in shaping the sound and culture of dance music and now more than ever, it is necessary for everyone in the music community to stand up for the people that have given us so much. Dancing Astronaut pledges to make every effort to be a better ally, a stronger resource, and a more accountable member of the global dance music community. Black Lives Matter—get involved here:
Beatport has revealed the biggest-selling dance artists of the last 12 months.
Collating artists, labels, and track rankings from Beatport, Beatstats ranks each category based on their position in the Top 100 Beatport Charts.
Oliver Heldens has topped the artist list for the last 12 months, with his track ‘Turn Me On’ alongside Vula and Riton also topping the tracks list. Spinnin Records took the number one spot for labels, followed by Ministry of Sound Records, and Virgin EMI.
Elsewhere in the top 10 dance artists list, David Guetta, Duke Dumont, UK duo Disclosure, and Meduza made appearences, with MK and Purple Disco Machine featuring in the top 20.
You can check out Beatstats here.
In January, Beatport released a new infograph to coincide with their 16th anniversary, charting their legacy and influence via a series of key stats and figures. The numbers include the surpassing of 250 million downloads – 259m so far – as well as having paid out $300m to independent labels, while hosting over 74,000 indies, having added over 420,000 playlists to their Beatport LINK streaming service which launched in 2019.
Beatport’s CEO, Robb McDaniels, commented, “It’s been a ground-breaking year for Beatport. With the launch of LINK and our continued success as the world’s largest DJ download store, Beatport is moving into 2020 stronger than ever. The global DJ community is going to see innovative tools and services coming from Beatport in 2020 as we continue to evolve our company.” We wrote about some of those potential tools in a recent piece around how the new influx of data from streaming could impact the dance music industry.
Amid his ongoing 2020 run (jaunt?) for president, Kanye West recently revamped his famed Sunday Service worship series at his ranch in Wyoming, with newly employed COVID-19 safety precautions. Draped in matching red outfits, the Sunday Service choir was filmed in front of a sprawling backdrop of rolling mountains and crystal-blue skies. And while the choir appears without masks, according to ‘Ye, all the necessary safety measures were in place for the event. According to the G.O.O.D. Music head honcho,
“Praise God. We would like to thank our staff for making sure all Covid safety guidelines were followed today during Sunday Service at our West Mountains family ranch in Wyoming. We are beyond blessed to be able to share the love of Christ through worship.”
West’s messaging was echoed by Kim Kardashian who took to Twitter to inform fans, “Kanye’s team took every precaution to ensure the choir’s health and safety which is always top priority. It was filmed today without an audience. The music will be shared soon for anyone who could use [something] uplifting.”
West’s latest Sunday Service is the rapper’s first worship event to occur since Easter Sunday, though the latest iteration did not have an audience present due to safety concerns. See footage of the latest Sunday Service below.
We would like to thank our staff for making sure all Covid safety guidelines were followed today during Sunday Service at our West Mountains family ranch in Wyoming
— ye (@kanyewest) August 17, 2020
— ye (@kanyewest) August 17, 2020
Go to my IG stories for all of the videos pic.twitter.com/IzyFtSasA6
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) August 17, 2020