Winter Music Conference: A Mecca for New EDM Sounds

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Words by Chelsea Whitaker

Winter Music Conference (WMC) has become the official Spring Break of the EDM community, bringing together DJ’s, artists, and music industry professionals together in sunny South Beach, Florida. Workshops, album premieres, and of course parties, were all on the agenda. There was not a quiet spot in Miami all week, and various EDM beats constantly filled the air along Ocean Drive.

One of the highlights was an exclusive listening party for Afrojack‘s anticipated new album, “Forget the World”. This will be the first full length studio album for the Dutch DJ, who has made his mark by remixing the likes of Madonna and Beyonce while also co-producing and writing hits such as “Titanium”. The album is a musical journey across genres, touching on deep house and even trap with a song featuring Snoop Dogg. The album will no doubt connect to core EDM fans, as well as gain radio traction across the country.

Along with listening events, club takeovers acted as live showcases for top label talent. The Brooklyn based Fool’s Gold – headed by DJ A-Trak, threw some of the wildest and most talent-packed events. Top DJs including Loudpvck, Gladiator, High Klassified and Nick Catchdubs, hit various stages over 2 nights of parties, all hosted by A-Trak. The label set itself a part from the EDM madness with a Rap Party featuring Just Blaze. The packed event mixed songs by A$AP Ferg with classic Duck Sauce tracks, blending two worlds which are destined to collide in a big way this year.

Smaller parties acted as showcases for upcoming talent. Fresh from his Ultra set, DJ Max Gold, set himself apart from the mix by not only being the youngest guy at the Shore Club Red Room (he’s 16), but by bringing a unique sound of tribal-meets-trap to the turntables.

Overall, WMC is a talent showcase and a networking party, rolled into one. Every mic, and every party was a chance to become the next club star. A random rapper hopped on the mic, spitting over EDM beats on the top of the Cleavelander at 2am while the ocean wind blew the entire crowd into frenzy. This epitomized WMC 2014 in one moment – genres mixing, random talent and, of course, Miami.

New Release: Justice – ‘New Lands’ EP

 

Justice this week released a 5-song EP including remixes for “New Lands,” a track off of 2011′s Audio, Video Disco. The New Lands EP boasts spirit quivering remixes by A-Trak, Sebastian, and Falcon, as well as a live version.

Hit play on the stream below and whip it real good to the Falcon remix. We’re bouncing on our imaginary bouncy castle right now and it feels oh so right.

Catch the guys on their North American tour kicking off in August!

Tour Dates
August 3 – Montreal, QC @ Osheaga Festival
August 4 – Toronto, ON @ Historic Fort York
August 5 – Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
August 7 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks
August 10-12 – San Francisco, CA @ Outside Lands
October 21 – New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
October 25 – Asheville, NC @ US Cellular Center
October 26-28 – New Orleans, LA @ Voodoo Experience Music Festival
October 28 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
October 30 – Austin, TX @ Austin Music Hall
October 31 – Dallas, TX @ Palladium Ballroom
November 8 – Guadalajara, MX @ Foro Alterno
November 10 – Mexico CIty, MX @ ONE Festival

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Giant Step’s Resident 39: Theophilus London At The Studio At Webster Hall and A-Trak At Mehanata

Photo of Theophilus London (c) Gina Erdmann

Let’s be adults about this – I’m fat. This isn’t insecure Bridget Jones whining. I’ve honestly packed on some pounds. At first it was kind of cool. When I rush downstairs my belly fat quivers. Kinda like the stomach flip you get when going down a rollercoaster. If I jerk my head to the left, the right side of my body jiggles. Sorta like there’s a waterbed underneath my skin (groovy). Every morning I play the challenging game of “stuff the thighs into the dark wash denim.” And every morning it’s like shoving a television set into a condom. I know I can free myself of the flub through simple diet and exercise. However, I waste more time haggling with the membership director at the Bedford Avenue YMCA instead of actually spending the measly 45-minutes on the treadmill. I cancel out the nutrients of a salad by dumping bits of cheese pizza into it. The times when I could be feeling the burn (I live a whole two blocks away from the aforementioned Y) I’m stuffing my face with candies and watching Mahogany.

In an effort to end Operation Pork I’ve tried to be more aggressive with my nightlife excursions. Recently, I attended the glorious Flashing Lights party at Mehanata. The first floor of Mehanata had crazy iridescent plastic leaves covering the ceiling which made me feel like I downed some ‘luudes and partied in an enchanted freezer. A-Trak spun some dizzying Euro House jams from Fedde Le Grand and Mylo. Upstairs was a Balkan Beat party where I danced with a slight fellow from Albania and jumped around like the harvest just came in.

Also, I’d been curious about Theophilus London for a while. I finally got closure at his This Charming Mixtape release party at The Studio at Webster Hall. Performance-wise, he has a loooong way to go. It’s a pale version of the slobber over the microphone, hump womenfolk in the audience, me against the mainstream thing that Spank Rock has been owning for years. It was like watching a bunch of really hyper zoo animals trying to break the cages with their screams. The ubiquitous Jesse Boykins III was his backup singer which was not a great look for London. Boykin’s easy cool was more captivating than London’s desperate mayhem. It was like watching Smoky Robinson two-step next to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. However, the music itself is proper. London and Boykins’ “Cold Pillow” is an airy electro-soul jam with an addictive beat. His remix of Solange’s “Sandcastle Disco” is equally catchy.

Maybe I can listen to it when I hit the gym. Or when I wallow in my own flub eating candies.

Giant Step’s Resident 24: Rich Medina, Q-Tip, The Martinez Brothers, Santogold, Diplo and More

Photo of The Martinez Brothers © Phillip Angert
View photos here. Archive link here.

By Mawuse Ziegbe

Bless Rich Medina and Q-Tip for giving this city something reliable to do on Friday nights with their body-rockin’ weekly at Santos’ Party House. It’s still in its infancy (only a few weeks old) so it’s still all innocent and chill (although Solange, the underrated Knowles, and actress Jurnee Smollett did sprinkle a little stardust on the joint last week). It’s exactly how you expect it to sound if you kidnapped ‘Tip and Medina and forced them to play your favorite disco, hip hop, house and soul records – and they were into it. With tracks like MSFB’s “Love Is The Message,” Tribe’s “Find A Way,” and Shaun Escoffery “Days Like This” It was one of those, “I gotta leave but this is my JAM” type of nights. Come 4 AM and I was stumbling around Chinatown with soulful disco house still buzzing my ears. Word of advice: things don’t get jumpin’ till after 1 AM.

Speaking of Rich, The Studio Museum of Harlem nearly crumbled under the chunky Afrobeat and soul rhythms at the Kehinde Wiley opening. I was batty about his portraits of African youth but it was the subtle three-dimensionality of the backdrop that put a crease my pants. Very impressive.

And no groove was safe from my friend-in-my-head James Pants’ heady set at Studio B with Peanut Butter Wolf. It was the age of buggin’ out as Pants put the needle to everything from Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to Smokey Robinson and The Miracles‘ “Tears Of A Clown.” The place wasn’t packed but we were shearing some rugs, honey. Then Pants jumped off the turntables and ended his set with a dance that looked like Napoleon Dynamite got the holy ghost. Lordy.

Shaking things up at Giant Step’s Hudson Hotel jump-off were the LP-loving zygotes The Martinez Brothers. At 16 and 19 years of age, they must have picked up taste for spinning in utero and favor the chunky thump of house gems older than themselves. They volleyed DJ responsibilities throughout the night and were as wiry as the classic house selections pumping through the systems speakers. And that kept a steady stream of taut bouncy beats they kept the feets moving like DJs old enough to vote and buy porn. I wasn’t mad at them at all.

I was, however, hopping mad at the Mad Fools Summerstage show featuring Santogold, Kid Cudi, Diplo and A-Trak aka The Seventh Circle of Hell. Too much of New York was there in the acute heat and the endless wait for Santogold. I guess the first two hours were supposed to be a big outdoor shindig with Mad Decent and Fools Gold DJs taking turns as lives of the party. But watching people do the Electric Slide on stage when you have no room to snap in a circle three times is infuriating. And watching it for two hours is Chinese water torture. By the time Santogold came I was fresh out shits to give. But here’s why she deserves the hype. She came out with her militant booty-poppin’ back-up singers to “Find A Way” all smiley, extra sweet and dropping a corny joke or two. Then launched into “L.E.S. Artistes” and “Shuv It.” She has weaknesses but knows how to patch them up (hence the fly-ass back-up dancers) and she’s just cool enough, breezy, but definitely in control. The suffering of the previous two hours melted away and I managed a sincere booty wiggle or two. She ended the show with the electric buzz of “Creator” and in her sweet-as-pie way told us she wasn’t doing an encore so please don’t ask. All praise be to Santogold who understands when the party is over.

Giant Step’s Resident 21: Kid Sister, Vampire Weekend, DJ Spinna, Stevie Wonder, 2008 BET Awards

Photo of Kid Sister © Antwan Duncan

By Mawuse Ziegbe

So, why has my life recently been …bizarre? A couple weeks ago, I’m living my little Mawuse life, logging hours at the day gig when my left eye bubbles up for no reason. It starts swelling and I can feel it growing by the second. Have you ever felt the skin around your eye expand, puffy matter festering exponentially until your lids are swollen shut. Sexy, right? Well, I decided to go the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. Now here’s why I hate hospitals: the needles and sick people thing is no big deal but it’s just the horrible inefficiency of the place. The hospital is an event for the patients but for the workers, it’s just hump day. So, your eye can be in your hand but your ailment is just adding time to the clock. They’ve got a TiVo full of “Grey’s Anatomy” they need to tear into so you’re just eating up McDreamy time. When I asked the receptionist a question, it was all, “oh I don’t know.”…Er, but the website says… “oh, yes, I have no idea.” You…what? Why don’t I just ask that vending machine for info, at least a can of Fresca is pleasant. Oh, and the good doctor was no better. He sent me home after a 4 hour wait and said, “Um, I think it’s an allergic reaction to something, maybe. Take some Benedryl and if you have a problem, see another doctor.” What??? Dr. Pepper would have been a better diagnostician and he’s fucking fictional.

A bizarre experience we can all share is this rowdy monsoon season. It started innocently enough as the hipsters invaded the upper east side a couple weeks ago for Kid Sister and Vampire Weekend at that venerable New York Central Park tradition, SummerStage. Born Ruffians opened up with their biggest fans getting all nutty in the audience. I’m amped to see Kid Sister and then…the rain comes down. At first, there were little weak-ass play drizzles but then it was straight-up rainy season. Central Park looked more like Manila than Manhattan but after an hour, someone up there decided to knock it off. The clouds parted, the angels sang and DJ A-Trak kicked off his set with Fat Joe’s “Make It Rain.” Har effing har. KS hit the stage with these extra sassy back-up dancers in day-glo harem pants and foam core football gear. She performed a 30-minute set including her songs “Let Me Bang” and “Telephone.”

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Photo © Antwan Duncan

Then another hour goes by and I’m beginning to think Vampire Weekend is a myth scared up by Columbia alums out for a lark. I stayed relatively dry, climbing in every free nook I could but when VW came on I got drenched. I was enjoying the preppy hi-life rhythms but the rain was quickly too effin’ much. I punked out and went to sleep and ignored all calls. Lucky I did too since not only was DJ Spinna’s legendary Stevie Wonder tribute party going down that night but this happened…

You know those yokels who go through life screaming “no regrets!” If they missed this party they are lying monkeys.

But the bizarre stars aligned while in L.A. last week when I got to attend the 2008 BET Awards. Watching an award show in the actual theater is completely different than checking them out on TV. When the performances end, there’s no dynamic camera pan up into the rafters as we go to commercial so T-Pain, Rihanna et al, just walk off the stage all anti-climactic-like. Also, you can’t change the channel during commercial breaks so you just sit around gettin’ your thumb-twiddle on. But Alicia Keys brought back teenage memories of voguing in my living room when she sang with not only SWV but the original line-up of En Vogue and TLC during her performance of “Teenage Love Affair.” And to cap off my surreal evening, who else did I run into, looking extra dapper in basic black, but BET Best Female Hip Hop Award nominee Kid Sister and her brother Josh from DJ duo Flosstradamus. We gabbed about the source of addictiveness in Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles (I say it’s the waffle mix, they insist it’s the syrup) on the vacated red carpet. It was soooo on the verge. Elephantine eyelids, flash monsoons, red carpets and 90′s girl-group sass – I take it all in stride. Because, for serious, if my life continues to veer towards the bizarre, I’m cool with a healthy dollop of “WTF”