Event Coverage

"A Contemporary Breath of Old Soul"

  Shadow5   I had never seen DJ Shadow or Cut Chemist perform live before, so when I heard that they were going to be co-headlining an all-vinyl tour, dedicated to the works of hip-hop legend, Afrika Bambaataa, I jumped at the chance to witness history in the making. First of all, it’s a tribute to Bambaataa. This guy was one of the biggest influences the hip-hop  world has ever known. Second, it’s an all-vinyl tour. I respect the digital world that we live in and I appreciate the convenience just like the next person, but the craftsmanship and dedication it takes to bring an all-vinyl selection across the country has to be recognized. This wasn’t a random selection of records either. This was a hand-picked selection from Bambaataa’s private collection that had been donated to the Cornell Hip Hop Archive. Third, you’ve got the combined mix-master skills of both Shadow and Cut, who were obviously extremely emotionally invested in this project to stand proudly behind it. As an added bonus, it was going to be at one of my favorite intimate venues in New Orleans, the House of Blues.   I’m not quite sure what to expect. The setup for the stage is simple and understated. There are two tables with three turntables on each and the backdrop is one large projection screen. Crowd-wise, you might think you were in the wrong place just by looking around. I honestly expected a more ethnically diverse crowd for a tribute to a hip-hop shaman, who ushered in the Zulu Nation. It was quite surprising that the majority of the audience were flannel-clad hipster-esque individuals. My initial survey of the environment is swept away as the pervasive silence, only broken by scattered, unintelligible chatter, erupts into a sea of cheers as Shadow and Cut take the stage. As these gentlemen speak you can tell how much they care about what they’re about to share. Shadow informs the audience how humbling the entire curative experience has been for the both of them. I’m still not quite sure what to expect when the sounds of tribal drums fill the venue.   Our journey began with an exploration of the percussive roots in Africa. An animated short, reminiscent of a National Geographic documentary, visually whisks the crowd away while the music continues to take over. I don’t see dancing but the vibe has definitely permeated the psyche of everyone around me. Some have their eyes closed and are jamming to themselves, with only a slight visible bobbing of their heads, while others have adopted a melodic sway as the vibrations increase. I feel like I’m caught between the world of slam poetry and “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” As the illustrious career of Bambaataa spanned several decades, shaping music culture and theory along the way, so must our musical voyage. Cut and Shadow exhibit a meticulously crafted synergy as we are immersed in the innate reflective progression of hip hop culture. The audience’s feet are starting to get lighter as we jam through the funk-driven 70s. A raucous uproar occurs every time a marquee song, from year’s past, hits us right in the “groove center” of our brains. We’re getting hit with James Brown, Rick James, and even “little Michael.” The 1980s were ground central for the breaking movement and this  duo has taken the tempo in this venue from a full stride to a wide open gallop. A circle even opens up for those who are ready to break out of their shells and bust a move.   The camaraderie of these two talents is front and center. I can only equate the way that they manipulated the records back-and-forth between one another was like a game of “sonic scratch tennis.” One guy picks the beat up, tosses in some razzle dazzle and sends it screaming right on over. Without missing a note, the transitions seem almost effortless. When you see a turntablist smile while they’re respectively wrecking shop, you can’t help but share in their communal joy. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I stepped in the doors but I would be beside myself if I had missed what I just witnessed. In a city where hip-hop never takes a day off, New Orleans just received a revitalized dose of classic old-school kickassery. Blessings came in many forms but all were received well. Thank you kindly, Renegades of Rhythm!!!   Connect with DJ Shadow: Website Facebook Twitter Soundcloud   Cut Chemist: Website Facebook Twitter iTunes    

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"Vegas Can't Capture Mad Decent's Energy"

  154   Diplo and Friends have recently been blazing their unique brand of mayhem across the country for the Mad Decent Block Party event series. Why would their stop in Vegas be any different? After all, it’s Vegas. Take one look around the Encore Beach Club, located in the Wynn hotel and casino complex. Get over the fact that the tiny bottle of water in your hand cost $11, and you’ll realize you’re in a special brand of paradise, only this paradise comes with a soundtrack from Grandtheft, Paper Diamond, Paul Devro, ETC! ETC!, Dillon Francis, Diplo, and Flosstradamus.   63   With any magical kingdom, before you can step into the spledor you must pass through the gates. The gates in question here were unfortunately manned by a crew of very misinformed and unprofessional people. I can hear the music and I can almost smell the chlorine but I must first submit to an extremely slow TSA-style check before entering. I never really knew kandi was such a big problem. Considering I didn’t see anybody with any kandi or see any contraband get confiscated, I often wondered what the hold-up was. I’m all for safety, but I came to jam and time is precious. The beat is calling me, Mr. Rubber Gloves. That’s chapstick. That’s hand sanitizer. That’s an unopened pack of gum because I was forward thinking. Thank you. I’m officially inside.   54   Hedonism and Vegas go hand in hand. I’d have to think really hard about when I’ve seen more tribal tattoos and cosmetic surgery in one location. Let’s not let this get out of hand and sound like I’m unimpressed with my surroundings. The pool area is amazing. I  really like the “mist showers” they have over some of the aqua-adjacent booths. I get the vibe of Spring Break in Babylon, except instead of Natty Light and cheap vodka it’s $25 JagerBombs and $12 Heinekens. On the periphery of this flesh bazaar is a double-row of expansive cabanas, each populated by crews that would look at home on either a yacht in the Mediterranean or the Jersey Shore.” Everybody on the elevated balconies is moving in slow motion. It's almost like they’re trying not to look like they’re perpetually posing for a camera that’s not there.   163   There’s not really a stage. An elevated platform, with the venue logo front and center, was slid into the opening of a banquet room that faces the pool. I keep reminding myself that, despite the obscured view of our respective curators, people seem to enjoying themselves overall. I’m still torn, considering I came for the musical experience, and that seems to be the component of this event that’s receiving the least attention. The designated "dance floor" in front of the DJs appears to be the place that people congregate to get their fifteen-second clip for Instagram and then get back in the pool. This place doesn’t have the feeling of a festival or an EDM event in general. Something is missing and I think it’s the interaction element. I don’t know if the desert heat and the looming unmoving sun in the sky, combined with copious amount of alcohol, have made the crowd complacent. As soon as the thought enters my mind, there is a “ratchet uprising.” Diplo’s grooves stirred up a frenzy and the front of the “stage” almost gets ripped off from some good old-fashioned twerk action.   Mad Decent came with the right attitude. They brought the talent. They brought the energy. They brought people that can make the plaster on arena walls start to crumble. I just think people were more concerned with “being there” than being in the experience. There was no musical communion. Save for the few moments when the DJs peeked out of their cubbyhole, people were totally left to their own devices. The venue made their presence unavailable. I respect each one of these artists and I feel that the layout handicapped the potential of their performances. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just Vegas. One thing that evens the playing field, in my mind, is that this was just one stop on a killer tour. There are still several locations to receive the audio hot fire over the course of the coming weeks, culminating in Mad Decent’s first foray into the nautical festival arena, the Mad Decent Boat Party. These cats don’t mess around and you should definitely make it a point to catch one of these shows.   http://maddecent.com

All of the stock images and gallery link are from the in-house photographers at Encore Beach



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“You Don’t Have To Believe The Hype When You Can Feel It”

  proto9   Where do I begin? I go to every event I attend with an open mind and ready to enjoy: the music, the people, and the environment. Every once in a while, a party comes along that just makes it impossible to have a bad time. When Protohype and Dotcom, with amazing local support from C-Lab, Kayatik, and Kthulu Prime, came to Republic New Orleans is one of these parties I’m talking about. The killer crew at 3rd Coast Music knows how to put an event together. They know the crowd came to be dazzled by creative displays and dance the world away, in a sea of deep BASS and pulse-pounding drops, and Republic is just the place to do it.   Everybody started off as an opening act at some point, and I truly appreciate it when the first artists to the stage play like they’re headlining a show at a soccer stadium, filled with eighty-thousand people. Free your mind and start stretching because C-Lab is the maestro for our introduction to the evening. From the jump, you can tell this kid is not messing around. He comes out “tommy gun-style” with a steady rat-a-tat-tat for the senses. Rising action is something that must be for trance enthusiasts alone because he brings us directly into the mayhem that we seek.   proto54   Without missing a beat, another dose of Nola BASS-Traptasm, in the form of Kayatik, takes the stage and keeps the party going. Blending high-energy and “wop wop get loose,” seamlessly, is something that just comes naturally to this guy. You never know what you’re going to here when he’s in charge because originals, remixes, and that in-between flow freely. Check your pulse and stay hydrated because we’ve barely scratched the surface of this evening.   proto49   If Jimi Hendrix was reincarnated and his musical inclinations were towards electro-house and grimy dubstep, he would be manifested as Kthulu Prime. He is another local up-and-coming phenom that is consistently establishing his proficiency behind the decks by mesmerizing the audience with all-out audio warfare. I look around and I can’t make out any faces because everybody won’t stop dancing.   proto28   The time has arrived for the first out-of-towner to break the audience off a little. Dotcom is ready to bring his signature Philly-grown style to Nola. He manages to keep a poker face but you can tell that he is super focused on taking this party to the next level. I’m about to remark on his remarkable level of composure when he pops the lid off his enthusiasm and just lets loose. This is no time to worry about people stepping on your sneakers because they’re doing what you should be doing...dancing.   proto17   Fresh off the SMOG City Tour with Dub and BASS giants, 12th Planet and Datsik, L.A.-based Protohype is quick to make sure the intermission is short-lived and your senses aren’t given a chance to recover. Call it “Dubhop.” Call it “brain-stinger” music. Whatever you name it just know that you can’t fight it. I step away to the green room, for a few minutes, so I can have a little chat with Dotcom.   Who am I chilling with right now? Chris Comstock aka Dotcom.   How did you come up with the name, brother? My last name is Comstock...Dot-Comstock. Ever since the fourth grade people have been calling me a variation of that or Dotcom, specifically.   You grew up with the internet obviously. Yep. Not too old :)   What brought you into the music industry? Given the internet you are able to be bombarded constantly. I’ve was in a few bands when I was a kid.   What instruments do you play? I play guitar but I can play pretty much any instrument.   Do you have a favorite? I like the drums a lot. I grew up playing music and thankfully it stuck.   Did you grow up in a musical family? Ironically, no. I was the musical one. At the time that I got into EDM, I was also in a band but there’s only so much you can do in a band because you’ve got to coordinate with everyone else’s schedule and everyone has to be on the same page in respect to releases and such. I started DJing in 2010 and it kind of just took over.   You produce as well as perform. Since you’ve dipped your feet in both waters, which do you prefer? There has to be an exhilarating feeling being in front of a crowd but at the same time where do you rank the process of creation to completion? Good question. They’re different. The satisfaction that you get from producing is when you know that: you came up with a great idea, you know exactly how it’s supposed to go, you finish it, you put it out, and hopefully it does really well. On top of that, when you perform it and you get to see the tangible, in-your-face reality of what you spent ten straight hours working on in your bedroom and you get to see it come to live and the crowd’s reaction.   I can see it in your face that you genuinely relish that connection. In this industry, at least I hope, it’s what moves everybody to want to make music to see the positive reaction from the audience.   The crowd, via the power in numbers, has to be a big part of the total process. When the track plays and you wonder why is the fucking floor rattling and it’s because you made them jump!!! Absolutely. Then it all goes back to the ten thousand fucking hours I spent working my ass off in my bedroom trying to perfect my craft. It’s a balance. I have to say they are two very different things but you can’t have one without the other. Bringing my work live has to be the ultimate for me. Easily.   Ghost producing is a “hot-button” issue, currently. Do you have an opinion on artists that use them? I mean, you can get the crowd whipped into a frenzy with one of your tracks, mix in tracks from other artists, but if you’re not the one responsible for any of the creation, does it take something away from being a true showman? I guess it depends on the person. I personally couldn’t do something like that. If there’s nothing from you in that track, you shouldn’t claim it as yours. (We both take a pause because Protohype is going off right now)    There is a consolidation among the major players that produce electronic events and festivals. How do you feel this will impact the individual identity of the respective festivals/events? Will it be possible for them to retain their individuality or will there be some homogenous scene as a result of this corporate assimilation? Is there anything that an artist can do in order to ensure integrity remains? I would have to say, if I understand what you’re asking me, that there will be some artists that will follow whatever rules that are laid out and say “Just give me the money,” but there will also be those that refuse to be branded and compartmentalized. These festival companies, that have been recently purchased, haven’t thrown their festivals under the new management yet, so only time will tell. If there is a blanket or umbrella thrown over the events, I think the ones that won’t rock the boat will be the commercial, ghost-produced “artists.” There’s trailblazers, in the commercial sense, that will do business over integrity and there’s trendsetters that are doing things that haven’t been done before. They have the balls to be insanely different.   We’re on the cusp of a fucking transition of the world’s evolution of understanding right now. So true. Everybody is just going along right now and waiting to see what happens. There’s some kind of haunting demise that is in back of everyone’s mind. I guess back to the root of your last question (I’ll call it a global consolidation), I don’t what it means for these festivals.   For the artists that are already under some sort of regimented sponsorship, having performance parameters might not change the way they do things, but for the newer artists, who are trying to break the mold, how can they approach survival with this looming? Is there a battleplan? The only option I can see is to persevere.   The word “commercial” has an asterisk next to it. I’m sure you’ve seen the meme that has Hardwell and Tiesto asking “Whose going to play “Animals” next? Don’t get me wrong. I love festival anthems, but I love hearing new music live before it gets played out on the radio. With everything that is happening with “EDM,” to me as an artist, there are those that are trying to advance that seem to be overly concerned with whose shoes they have to fill. Who’s going to be the next Skrillex? Who’s going to get the recognition and get that break? I think some people are forgetting that it’s supposed to be about the music.     Is it sad that there are ascribed roles? Music is supposed to be expansive. There are only so many mathematical ways that you can arrange notes in music. If you could ask Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach, they would say the same thing. Your ethereal impression on the EDM landscape is supposed to be uniquely your own and illustrated through your work. That idea makes sense on paper, but the unfortunate truth is that different, to an extent, isn’t popular outright. We’ll see where it goes.   (We have to cut it so Dotcom can go kill it side-by-side with Protohype) Individually, these cats are monsters behind the decks, but when they perform their Voltron-tandem combo, I implore you to brace for impact. If there is an audio zenith for this evening, it’s happening right now. Hooks, drops, and watch your back because this mob of BASS-hungry people is alive. After the set is over, I head back to the green room to discuss the evening with Protohype.   How did you enjoy tonight? I really enjoyed tonight. The sound was great. The visuals were great. The crowd was amazing. New Orleans is great. This is my first time here, so it was really fun.   As long as you come on vacation and don’t leave on probation, we do have a great city. You’re right, and I’ve had a great time so far.   Let’s get right into it. Producing versus Djing. The ability to create versus performing. What provides the most solace for you? What provides that unlimited lifting factor? I would say that factor comes from producing...on a good producing day. On a shitty producing day, I feel like shit and I can’t make anything and my music is terrible..blah blah blah. I can always DJ. DJing is so easy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s hard to be incredible at, but it’s easy to just get it done. Producing is a difficult thing. You have good days and bad days.   Do you set benchmarks for yourself when producing or does that counteract the creative flow? Like I need to make so many tracks by such and such...? No. It’s normally, I just sit down at the computer and if I can make something, that’s great. A lot of times it works out like that and I can just sit down and come up with something. When it doesn’t work out, it gets frustrating and it’s tough. You get annoyed. On a good producing day, there’s nothing better. I would say producing over Djing any day. I started producing when I was 13. (How old are you now?) I’m 24. I started Djing when I was 21 so I’ve been producing for so much longer than Djing. So that’s where my passion is.   What does it mean to you when someone takes a track that you feel has been “mastered,” in its entirety, and remixes it? Is it a promotion of the track? Is it an accomplishment? I think it’s an honor. I think it’s a matter of respect. I think it’s great that someone would enjoy my track enough to spend time working on remixing it.   (Small break for Slapshot sponsored by Jack Daniels) So, yeah, anytime that someone would get the desire to remix one of my tunes it’s very fucking humbling. Even if the new approach isn’t something I like, per se, I still respect that they took the time to do it.   When someone approaches a remix and they have free reign to choose to preserve or eliminate certain elements like: the baseline, lead vocals, etc., is there any personal separation that you feel when you hear the new version? That’s the cool thing about a remix. It’s a personal interpretation and they are entitled to change it how they see fit. Even if there is a part of a song that I might feel is the best part of the tune and they don’t use it, I can’t be offended.   Do people send you their remixes as they make them? Is it like a sign of respect? Yeah. It doesn’t happen that often. I’m really not that big. People aren’t just remixing my tunes all the time so when it does happen I’m really stoked about it. I try to put myself in their shoes and see how they approached it.   You were on the SMOG City Tour. Between 12th Planet, Datsik, and yourself, there had to have been some collaborative moments. What is it like being in that collective atmosphere? I would assume that they would happily help nurture your craft. The coolest part about it, and it means so much to me, is that some of the people that I have idolized for so long are now my friends and my peers. That means a lot to me. Even though they’re my friends, they’re still my idols. Datsik, for example, is one of my best friends now and we hang out almost every day. I mean, two year ago, I couldn’t have even dreamed of talking to that dude. Little did I know that we would end up speaking for, like, fifteen minutes and (BOOM!!!) realize we’re the same person. It still doesn’t change the fact that they are my idols, but it’s very cool to work on music with them and have them as my peers.   How does having people around, that you’ve looked up to for so long, influence the creative environment? When Skrillex plays my music and I see the videos, it gives me this crazy energy. Even though Sonny is one of my friends, that fool is like the best to me. It doesn’t change how I view him. Even as one of my friends, he’s still the best to me. It’s really fucking awesome to have him, and other people that I respect, to support me. It’s humbling. Surreal? It’s surreal and it’s inspiring.   As long as you see the positive. It’s nothing but positive.   Some people might get overwhelmed being surrounded by these BASS Gods and you have to remember that you have your own identity and your own goal to make new music for the people. If anything, it just keeps me motivated and inspired to keep pushing forward. It’s a blessing. It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling.   Everybody has a dream gig. What’s the platform where you think you could be the most effective and the most instrumental? Where would you enjoy it physically, emotionally, and spiritually the most? EDC Vegas or Tomorrowland, hands down.   How do you feel about the potential global consolidation of EDM festivals and events and its impact on an artist’s ability to preserve their integrity if they aren’t inclined to become “commercial?” It’s not about being “commercial.” It’s not about being “underground.” It’s not about labels. It’s about doing what you fucking love to do.   Those terms equate to someone who is undiscovered versus someone who has been playing for years and been accepted by sponsors and promoters alike. Maybe your favorite song that you’ve made ends up on the radio and that makes you commercial. That’s your favorite song. You love that song. It shouldn’t put you on a negative tip, you know. What really matters is that you give a fuck about what you make.   The fact that you said “commercial” and applied it to mean that you’re on a negative tip, implies universally that “commercial” has a stigma. That’s dumb as fuck. I hate that this term means something negative. It’s supposed to be about doing what you love. Don’t let a term define you.   What’s your mantra for progress? Find your unique sound. Stay true to yourself. Embrace what you’re good at and find what you’re shitty at and work at it. Do everything you can to improve on everything that you feel you suck at and you’re bound to make progress.   Five amazing artists under one very hospitable roof normally equals a good time. This evening was a great time. I have to thank the crew at 3rd Coast Music and Republic again for bringing this event together. Trust me when I say that you can expect many more memorable evenings with these teams at the helm. I would be mad at myself if I didn’t remind everybody that the music, once again, is what made this all possible.   https://soundcloud.com/dotcomstock https://soundcloud.com/kayatikmusik https://soundcloud.com/clabproductions

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"You Can Repower The Scene At Planet SMF"

e79bc342d295162c11a477146809fd7d34-854x480   What happens when you bring one of the best festivals in Florida and an “Electro-Eco Brigade” together to help kick off the summer in style? You get “Planet SMF.” The largest electronic music non-profit organization, the Electronic Music Alliance, has teamed up with a Florida-based student organization, IDEAS, that focuses on international solutions to global problems, to bring a green aspect to Sunset Music Festival, the likes of which have never been seen before. SMF is a Disco Donnie Presents event so you can already bet that the atmosphere is already going to be teeming with a stacked lineup and massive production to drive the beats home. Dedicating a portion of the festival site and incorporating a positive message, designed to help “Repower The Scene,” seems like the icing on the cake. However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Planet SMF concept will be hosting a variety of unique eco-centric demonstrations as well as providing a platform to explore how integral an individual’s role is in helping preserve our environment. Some of the activities range from demonstrations and information sessions on how to conserve water to sunset yoga sessions, set to a solar-powered DJ set. That’s right...solar-powered jams. I was blown away when I heard that part too. I immediately had so many questions I decided to go right to the source. I asked one of the artists performing at the festival, and coincidentally, the co-founder of the EMA, The Crystal Method’s Ken Jordan, a few questions about the Planet SMF concept and what we can hope to expect in the future.  


  Before I jump into the interview, I find myself reminded of TCM’s track “Keep Hope Alive,” from their first LP, “Vegas.” The song’s focus was to inspire members of the electronic music scene and having them, figuratively, keep the hope alive that the scene would be revitalized. It appears that we have come full circle. Global progress comes with the hope that the underlying message of change will be properly received, internalized, and perpetuated. Here’s a little contemporary information on Ken and The Crystal Method, just to illustrate how important environmental issues are to them. Ken and the EMA were involved in the first-ever “Planet Dance” on Earth Day in San Francisco this year. Ken recently celebrated his one year anniversary for choosing a vegan lifestyle. He prefers to wear eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious clothing brands as well as chooses to patronize restaurants with similar attitudes. He is an outspoken advocate for taking public transportation and choosing methods of travel that have a reduced or non-existent carbon footprint. At every event or show, where The Crystal Method is playing, they have an eco-friendly rider, requesting that all products provided for them are all organic or environmentally-sound, at least in some way. Provisions are also included for recycling containers and ways to reduce waste for the evening. The message is in the music, the attitude, and in the lifestyle. Now, without further ado...   What impact on the EDM community was your initial driving motivation when you decided to organize the EMA? My wife, Janine, and our good friend, Monica, started EMA from their desire to keep the scene safe, encourage sustainability amongst the fans and within the industry, and to activate our scene to do their part in changing/ being a force for good in this world. We care about our community and wanted to see it thrive in a mindful way.   How integral has the involvement of Disco Donnie Presents been in moving the ideals of the EMA forward? I’ve been working with Donnie for almost 20 years. He’s been supportive of us from the start and was one of our very first of our 100+ founding members. We are grateful to him and Disco Donnie Presents because they are the first to provide EMA the opportunity to have an activation presence at a major festival. Thank you Donnie!   How was the cooperative partnership with IDEAS solidified for this event? This came through our Programs Director, Graham Penniman, who grew up in Florida and knew of IDEAS from the college he attended. Partnering with other non-profit organizations is something we do with our #PlayitFWD initiative. If it makes sense, we collaborate so we do not have to re-create the wheel. From my understanding, they were a strategic partner for some of the displays that they could bring in but also because they have a volunteer base, since they are primarily based out of Florida. Part of PLANET SMF includes the post event, what Janine and Graham are calling a “Massive Action” which will be volunteer opportunities the following weekend to clean-up Florida waterways. IDEAS is helping us coordinate that effort in different locations throughout Florida.   Will you be at the Massive Action? Janine and I would be normally but we had tour dates previously scheduled. Janine and I are pretty active when it comes to doing beach/ community clean-ups. (See this link: http://ema-global.org/blogs/user301667/global/66/huntington-beach-clean-up-with-coastal-playground )  


  What aspect of the “Planet SMF" concept are you the most excited to see experienced by the festival-goers? I’m excited about people taking the party pledge. We’re getting “I signed” stickers made for the people that sign it. By signing the pledge, they become an Underground member of EMA and will get our newsletter which gives them access to special EMA discounts and special events. I think they will also get some sort of activation credit as well. If you build up enough credits you can earn PLANET SMF prizes. I am also interested to see the aquaponic structure, the spin art bike, and Plasquatch, the plastic bag man. I am glad to know that we will have a solar charging station in the area so that I don’t have to worry about my phone going dead. I play on Sunday but I just decided to fly out a day early so I can be at PLANET SMF all day on Saturday. I’ll be available for meet-and- greets and interviews all day. I’m also going to try and convince some of the other artists to come to the area and tweet to their fans about the party pledge.   Are there any elements of the Planet SMF Experience that weren’t able to be included this year that you would like to see added for the future? We work with the opportunity that is offered by the promoter. Adding elements could be limitless. We have no lack of imagination.   For those that can’t make this festival, how do you recommend that they get involved? Go to our website and reach out to us EMA-Global.org I know Janine is currently looking for community leaders to lead volunteer days in their local communities. She really wants for our dance music community to feel they are empowered to change the world.   Can we expect to see more of the "Planet EMA" concept in the future? EMA wants our scene safe and sustainable, and so we definitely want to continue to partner with these amazing promoters to create EMA-integrated activation areas at their festivals.   It’s foolhardy to isolate a problem and to expect a spontaneous positive change without first introducing and organizing a manageable solution. The motivation of these organizations, namely the EMA, IDEAS, and Disco Donnie Presents in this case, should resonate as a not-so-subtle reminder of our inherent humanity and an escalating trend towards the necessary preservation of Mother Earth. I commend Ken Jordan and The Crystal Method for utilizing their platforms, as an artist and respective performance duo, to help mobilize individuals in the electronic community. Personal awareness, by definition, begins within the individual, but the comprehensive nature of an openly-inviting social community enables ideas and their subsequent self-realizations to be spread at an exponential rate. Sometimes it just takes a little nudge. Can you think of a better environment to get that friendly nudge than a festival?

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"How BUKU Are You?"

IMG_9390   Before we jump head first into this, let me paint you a picture. New Orleans is a city unlike any other. It’s got its own flavor and its own style and it knows how to rock it. Now that we’ve honed in on the city, let’s explore the location for this unique adventure because I can’t stress enough the importance of this particular atmosphere and setting. Mardi Gras World is a funhouse unto itself. It’s situated on the bank of the Mississippi River, replete with: views of the GNO bridge that you can’t find anywhere else, a burned down factory in the distance, active railroad tracks on one side, and encompassed under a panorama of screensaver skies. That’s the setting on a regular day. We’re not going there on a regular day. We’re stepping into the madness when it’s decked out for The Buku Music & Art Project. This means five stages for one of the most diverse lineups a two-day festival can offer, tons of hidden and not-so-hidden goodies, and a riverboat thrown in the mix, and that’s a dramatic oversimplification just to ease you into what’s about to happen. I’ll be upfront about this. Winter Circle Productions, MCP Presents, and Huka Entertainment know how to throw a festival. One very important aspect that takes this from just a “festival” to an immersive “experience” is the incorporation of brilliantly executed kick-off parties and after-parties, at multiple locations, for each night. This means you can seamlessly blend Thursday to Sunday in a blur of smiles, lasers, and BASS, with the only limiting factors being how much dancing your feet can take and when will you stop high-fiving strangers. I’m not being sarcastic because it’s rhetorical. Once you tap the throttle, you’re in it until the last beat fades into the night. Without further ado, let’s BUKU!!!!   IMG_8802   I am already painfully aware that my concept of time is going to be extremely warped from the get-go. Once the music begins, I know there is no backtracking, and I refuse to hide my excitement. The weekend kicks off a day early, as it should in Nola, at Republic for the Official Buku Pre-Party. A favorite spot for the local and out-of-towners alike, you can feel the buzz in the air already. It’s quite fitting that the first audio lambasting I get is from one of the hometown beat wizards, Kthulu Prime. There’s nothing like a little local hot fire to get things cooking before we go international. Disclaimer: There is no such thing as too much Circus Records love in one building. I know Cookie Monsta and Doctor P are on tour together, have worked together extensively, and both know how to throw it down, but I’ve never experienced my pulse pounding from their live handiwork before. I don’t know if they planned it to work out this way, but their back-to-back sets complemented one another so well. Doctor P was even classy enough to show an unequivocal sign of respect for his friend and co-founder of Circus Records, Flux Pavillion, by working “I Can’t Stop” into his set. Please turbo-charge the “Going Ape Shit Meter” as the crowd can no longer be contained. The evening closes with another killer set from Kthulu Prime to remind us that we are in New Orleans and the weekend has just begun.   IMG_8661   I start every festival with some semblance of a game plan. I lay out whose sets I CAN’T miss. The ones I refuse to miss. I sketch out a rough timetable for when I’ve got to head this way or another, but as soon as I step through those gates all bets are off. Basking in the sunshine and being perpetually greeted by countless smiling faces dissolves even the most well-intentioned plans. I am now in meander mode, guided only by the music because I know there is an AT&T vortex above this venue and my phone will be all but worthless for communication this weekend. Since time has now become relative and “contemporary” is a flexible concept (as good music never leaves your heart), I’m pleased to announce that the pacesetter to get my Day 1 groove going is Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony. I refuse to call their hits “classics,” as they are truly timeless in my book, and it makes me smile to see a group of neon tutu-clad ladies that know all the words. I already have that extra pep in my step and I think I’m sufficiently stretched-out and limber to make a change for something more suited for bouncing and shuffling.   IMG_8944   I’ve found my new home until I feel the impulse to migrate again. Float Den, you are my ground zero. Let’s get things moving. Next to the stage is one of Ballerado’s favorite sons, Paper Diamond. Producer. DJ. Mother Nature Selective-Combustion Enthusiast. Call him what you will but he is ALL energy. He skips the rising action and expertly ushers in my inaugural dose of “whomp whomp” for today. His energy is translated instantly in a reaction that spreads like wildfire through the crowd. The sun isn’t even close to setting and he’s dropping bombs like the Apocalypse is coming. There’s no need to duck for cover because these BASS-laden salvos are the standard for this gentleman. You can’t escape the beats. Why would you? Isn’t that what you came for in the first place? No hesitation or trepidation here. I’m thoroughly invested in what’s happening and what’s to come. This adventure has just begun. The downtime between sets isn’t even enough for me to catch my breath. That’s what happens when you get exponential on your inner “shuffle master.” Chipotle Gang in the house!!!! Carnage chooses his opening words carefully and his bottom line is that this party isn’t going to miss a beat. What happens when you: take a few thousand people, put them in a warehouse that is used to store Mardi Gras floats, and unleash a continuous medley of genre-busting anthems and BASS-bangers? You enter A State Of CARNAGE!!!! My man is living up to his name and making sure that I when I wander away from this venue my brain will still be rattling.   IMG_9371   The voice in my head, that represents my homeostasis, is urging me to mix it up. It’s time to venture again. After willingly allowing my mind to be systematically assaulted “Big Room” style, I need to take the intensity in a different direction. The welcoming and melodic stylings of Zedd beckon me back to the Power Plant stage. Resting heart rate, you’re welcome. Alas, the wave of calm if short-lived. Zedd came to play. Mingling through the crowd I hear a string of random quotables with a common theme. “I wonder if he’ll play Clarity.” “When do you think he’ll play Clarity” “I can’t wait for him to play Clarity.” Relax. Have a little faith. He’ll play it when the moment is just right. I hope that these people actually look up and enjoy the song when he plays it instead of burning down their battery power trying to send a Snapchat to a hundred people right when the drop hits. Zedd consumes the crowd with a blend of electro-fused power ballads. While the atmosphere is still invigorated from Zedd’s set, the next act takes the stage. Her voice is equal parts folk temptress and angelic siren. I am of course talking about the multi-talented Ellie Goulding. Her voice and her stage presence make you wish that you could freeze time. It doesn’t surprise me how many people, guys and girls alike, that know all the words to her songs. If their reaction to her is the same as mine, I know everything else fades into the background. I am mesmerized. It could be the power of her words. It could be the patented “whip-back” motion that defies gravity and proves the power of the muscles surrounding her spine. Ellie is a classy lady and brings a performance designed to entertain. Tonight is no exception.   IMG_9517   It’s time to make a dash back to the Float Den. I’m sure I could leisurely walk, but I know I’m about to take a ride into the “Atmosphere,” courtesy of Kaskade, and I’m not prepared to miss a beat. He starts the tempo slow, allowing your mind to feel the warm embrace as his set gains momentum. The energy in the room is growing with each expertly chosen transition. My feet even start feeling lighter as the progression takes me on the equivalent of an ethereal carpet ride. If it was possible to channel the positive energy in this venue right now, you could power the city for weeks, months perhaps. I am witness to countless sets of outstretched arms, directed skyward, as the audience revels in the transportive powers of the resonating communion present. The correlation between uplifting music and a surge in radiant energy is transparent with this crowd. I don’t know if an appropriate term exists for a state of “elevated mellowness,” but the DJ tag team that takes over next has a different plan for syncing your heartbeat to a specified BPM. Hooks and DC, known the world over as Zeds Dead, want to close Day 1 with a series of jarring maneuvers, designed specifically to motivate individual switches from “Yeah, I was bobbing and swaying peacefully to that,” to “I think it’s best if we rip the roof off this place one more time.” It’s all in good fun. Determined to raise the “shuffle factor” by an exponent of “wop wop get loose,” these boys go hard. There are no complaints here. Today has been a roller coaster: for my emotions, for the music, and for my resting heart rate. I wholeheartedly appreciate that I will walk away vibrating at a higher frequency. Classics and bangers. Classics and bangers. I’m not saying the crowd isn’t particular. I’m just saying that they are receptive to everything sent their way. Lovers of music for music’s sake. I have no faults and am rejuvenated by the BASS that has mobilized every working synapse in my brain. We close with a bang but the night is not over yet.   IMG_8960   Time to follow the lights to more lights. Even the festival patrons that cut out early are stuck in traffic as a massive pilgrimage begins towards everyone’s respective after-party. The same affliction you face at a festival comes into play when choosing the after-party. All options for the twilight hours have stacked lineups, but the voice inside my head is telling me that I can’t pass up the option to see Paper Diamond and Carnage twice in one day. Republic, once again, you are my destination. If there’s at least one person dressed as a banana in the crowd, you know the party is still thriving.   IMG_9570   This is one of the rare times that Father Time sends me a wink and forgives my perpetual tardiness. As I walk in the door, Paper Diamond is taking the stage. Yes, my friends, this was meant to be. With the signature style and creativity that was featured front and center earlier in the day, there’s no doubt in my mind we are in for a treat. Alex B. does not disappoint in any form or fashion. His high energy and crowd interaction have initiated the immortalization of this event in Republic’s illustrious history. The Ballerado train makes a stop in Chipotle Gang territory as Carnage takes over the decks. I told you I was sold on this event when I thought I was going to be given the opportunity to double my daily dose of PD and El Gordo, but there’s always some surprise in store when you walk through those doors. DC from Zeds Dead decides to drop in and crank out a little side-by-side action with Carnage as they proceed to annihilate the audience’s audial nerves. Jamison, high-fives, old friends, and new friends all come together in a delightfully eclectic mix, and we all know that we get to do it all over again. Sleep is for the weak, but this guy needs food so I’m not starting the next round on an empty tank.   IMG_9721   The combination of being battle-weary from an amazing after-party and traffic get Day 2 off to a late start. There’s no need for me to be disheartened because quality will always compensate for quantity. I made a promise to myself when the lineup came out that I would not miss the funktastic melody man, known as GRiZ, for anything. Determination, game face, juke moves, and some Jordans are all I need to make a beeline from the gates to the Float Den, where he’s just taking the stage. First, I don’t play an instrument so I have tremendous respect for those that can and do. Second, I don’t produce music or DJ so I have to give credit where credit is due. Now when you can play an instrument and DJ simultaneously, you’ve just produced the audio-visual equivalent of the Vulcan Mind-Meld because I’m not going anywhere. From funk to hip-hop...slow jams to def jams, he covered the spectrum like a true professional and the enthusiasm of the crowd could be felt all the way in the back.   IMG_9786   I’m trying to shake off the feeling that I’ve just been hypnotized. Before I can tell my internal CPU to stop rolling through the “GRiZtastic” highlight reel, Baauer and RL Grime assume their positions. Some brush off that cold chill that runs up your spine when you know it’s about to go down. Not me. I embrace my “EDM-inclined Spidey Sense.” It’s served me well in the past and I have a feeling it’s not going to let me down today. You can’t put up a worthwhile defense against a duo of audio ninjas. The assault is underway. All I can say is lasers and bangers. I can’t call it a tag team effort when it sounds like they’re playing a flawless game of “electro double dutch.” Seamless integration is the name of the game and they don’t miss a beat. I’ve now claimed a personal zone to shuffle in with an eight-foot radius. The best part is that I’m not the only one. The people came to dance and dance they shall.   IMG_9792   The first time an artist plays a certain festival is one thing. It’s something entirely different when it’s their first time to ever visit the host city. That last statement gets taken up a notch when their career has taken them to countless cities around the globe and somehow they have managed to miss where you live. David Guetta has never been to New Orleans before. His heartfelt welcoming words about the cultural and musical significance of New Orleans and how coming here to play is a dream come true for him tie a beautiful ribbon around what is already destined to be a legendary performance. Nestled happily in his perch, above the eager crowd, our maestro lets his laser-guided symphony begin. This iconic figure of house music guides us through an emotion-filled anthology, integrating past and current hits, and leads a thriving crowd in several unmistakably enthusiastic sing-a-long moments. If Mr. Guetta’s smile is any indication of his mood and he can see the perma-grins on our respective faces, then he knows that New Orleans appreciates the gift we just received with that performance. After over an hour of lights, lasers, and continuous jams I need a breather before I close out the evening.   IMG_9839   Get some food. Use the bathroom. Check all of the missed alerts on your phone. Rally your crew. Do what you have to do because the Float Den is about to be destroyed by The Glitch Mob’s first festival appearance on their “Love Death Immortality” Tour. Any time a stage set-up is shrouded in a black cloak, a feeling deep inside of me starts swelling, reminding me that madness is about to blast through that veil. There’s an uneasy buzz rolling through the audience. “What’s behind there” and “I heard their gear is crazy, man...” are just a few remarks I overhear. The cue is given and in one swift motion the stage crew whips off the cover. The audience’s reaction is an instantaneous boom of elation. I’m still not quite sure what I’m looking at right now. Their gear looks like the worlds of Atari and Mad Max were fused by a mad scientist, well, three in this case. This intensity that this L.A.-based trio brings to their set is incredible. I can feel the floor shaking from the steady throbbing of the crowd. One thing is for sure, these guys aren’t letting up for anything. Wailing away on their independent snares, that look like they were constructed out of goblin armor, and furiously manipulating their synth machines, there is something otherworldly altogether to this performance.  Even after the music fades, I still hear the beat with every step I take.   Every festival has its own unique flair for bringing the entertainment to the masses and The Buku Music & Art Project is a resounding success. I might be biased since I’ve been talking about Buku for the last 363 days since last year’s event, but that shouldn’t discredit the appeal or the effectiveness of this event. Every festival I attend across the country is beautiful and magical in its own way, but I make sure to tell everyone I meet that they have to make the trek to Nola and experience it for themselves. “Come on vacation and don’t leave on probation.” Enjoy the moment and make some new friends. After all, we all came for the same thing, a healthy serving of beautiful music and an environment of good vibes. Great music serves as a foundation for some of the most meaningful relationships possible. Thank you again, Buku. Until next year...     http://thebukuproject.com https://www.facebook.com/BUKUproject https://twitter.com/TheBukuProject http://instagram.com/thebukuproject

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