Colorado is one of the greatest states in the US. The music community there is booming! They recently just legalized a certain something. There’s tons of world class skiing. The legendary Red Rocks. Gorgeous women. The list can go on and on about Colorado.
With all this around in the state of Colorado you could only hope for incredible festivals that would showcase all of the above. Snowball is exactly that. It is a three day music festival that happens in the month of March. You can everything from skiing, outdoor stages, snow, pioneering music, and late night showcases that will keep you going all through the week-end.
This is one of those unique events where everything comes together quite nicely. There’s a little of everything for everyone. I’m really looking forwarding to attending as it means I’ll get to reunite with the Colorado family but also kick it with tons of other homies who are coming in for the festival. Winter Park is a fantastic meeting ground for everyone all around the States. It’s absolutely gorgeous out there. It’s one of those few festivals that you’re out in the mountains while it’s snowing. I do warn you all that plan on attending to be ready for snowfall and cold conditions. Personally I think it’s worth it as it’s always memorable catching some of your favorite artist on stage while snow falls down. It’s something I hope you all can experience! See you out there at Snowball 2013!
For more information about tickets, after parties, ski lift passes, etc… Snowball 2013
No words can describe how excited I am to awaken my dreams once again at the open-source experience that is Lucidity Festival on April 12-14 at Live Oak Campground. We will all be together again soon… dancing, howling and frolicking below those sparkle-laden timbers in the stunning Santa Barbara hills. Last year was incredible. Colorful, mischievous, beautiful, raw, and resilient are all words that come to mind when I reminisce on the transformational festival. Together us participants weathered and savored the torrential storm and together we welcomed the following rainbows and glistening sunlight with open arms and hearts. Magic. I feel like the morphing weather patterns brought everyone together, helping establish a heightened sense of community. I believe that everyone left that festival a changed being in one way or another. I guarantee that this year’s Return of the Totem will be just as, if not more life-changing. Open your senses to all of the possibilities!
There is something for everyone at Lucidity, whether you want to activate your booty shakin’ skills at one of the sound stages, gaze in awe at amazing art creations scattered about the grounds, test your agility on one of the many awesome structures, delight in an organic smoothie, learn about the Human Energy Field, or simply wander aimlessly. The opportunities for both self reflecting and connecting with other souls are infinite!
The musical talent brought to the totem (get it, haha) is unparalleled. Zion I have been one of my favorite hip hop groups since I started getting into it in high school and I love their live performances. Phutureprimitive will take the crowd on mind-bending soundscapes. Ill.Gates will get everyone moving with his hard basslines and varied upbeat resonance. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister will tingle our senses with their eclectic blend of sounds. Gladkill will awe us all with his beautiful melodic lovestep. I may be the most excited for Bluetech with his gorgeous instrumental downtempo vibes. I have been listening to him a lot lately and liking what I hear more and more. Kaminanda will tingle our senses with his global fusion of beats. Ill-Esha will sooth our souls with her combination of vocal and digital talents. Nico Luminous will kill it with his unique “Glitch-a-delic Soul Whomp”. The list goes on and on!
Then there’s the art. I could never get bored with Bamboo DNA’s large scale organic installations… their Bamboo Stage at LIB always impresses! The Alchemy Arts Collective brought some of my favorite interactive playgrounds to Symbiosis last year so I am enthralled to see what they will bring for our eyes to feast on and bodies to climb at Lucidity! I am intrigued by the solar-powered Autonomous Video Hut which brings “elements of architecture, sculpture, cinema, and video-art to audiences”… sounds sublime. The Space Palette looks to be way too much fun to experiment and discover your inner artist on. The gallery art looks to be phenomenal.
This, my friends, will no doubt be a comprehensive and integrated experience for all beings present. Come play within the oak trees at Live Oak Camp on April 12-14…. Evoke the stoke!
Since first falling in love with electronic music in 2008, I have never underestimated the importance of having extremely trustworthy music sources. There is an insane amount of music out there, some great, some terrible, and unless you’re ready and willing to spend hours searching through the depths of Soundcloud to find two, maybe three, new artists you genuinely like, then you’re left with what I have figured out to be the best options: blogs(but you’re on Afro Monk right now, so I’m assuming you’ve already got this one down ) and following labels. It’s not true for every record label, but many often focus around a genre or style. To find a record label you really love is like finding a key. They are doing the dirty work for you, sifting through hundreds of promos and hours of research to find artists that are going to represent the label and their sound. There are many labels I love and follow devoutly, but my favorite is Rwina Records.
Rwina Records is an Amsterdam based collective, specializing in innovative, underground bass music, heavy in science fiction and gritty futuristic influences and not afraid to push the boundaries. Rwina means “never ending chaos” in Moroccan, and the label stays true to the title with every release. Their international array of releases is impressive and consists of some of the best in underground bass music including Eprom, NastyNasty, Starkey, Doshy, and Krampfhaft.
Although I own and love so many of Rwina’s releases, I’ve never know much about the man behind it all, Akkachar a.k.a Akka. What I definitely did not know, was that a release by him and label mate, Taz was going to become one of my favorite pieces put out by the label ever. After a series of collaborative works spanning over three years, the two recently graced us with a mini mix of their upcoming spring release, Synergy. The mix is a futuristic hip hop hybrid, blending old school video game vibes with lush and dreamy like synths, producing perfect dance floor bangers for humans and cyborgs alike. Each track is unique and brilliant within itself, but as a group, works together effortlessly. I absolutely love it and am ecstatic for the official release of the EP on April 1st.
Trip Down Memory Lane, is a collection of some of my favorite trip-hop classics. I’ve always wanted to put something together that showcases the music that I love and have so many memories tied to with Love. Happy Valentines Day <3
Featured Artist: Me, Bjork, Portishead, Wax Tailor, Massive Attack, Hooverphonic, Lamb, Tricky, Jem, Team Sleep, I Monster, Bang Gang, 8mm, Zero 7, Air, Halou, Dj Krush, Frou Frou, Lovage, Goldfrapp, & RJD2
Oh Camp ?, words cannot describe the fun I have had getting down on your dusty dance floor. Whether it be on the playa, or at their festival, Emissions, or at all night parties in the bay, their shows and gatherings have been the backdrop of some of the best nights of my life. What always not only impresses me, but totally wins me over, is their tendency to book a ton of truly up and coming artists. And not just a few thrown at the bottom of the billing with a shitty time slot, but awesome quantities of them. Youngins’, innovators, the potential next big thing, Camp ? is paying attention and trying to get them on a sound system near you. I can not express how important this is to me. There are so many incredible producers getting zero bookings while the same mediocre DJ’s and producers play at every other show or festival. Yes, I understand that is where the money lies (In NAMES. People love them big names.) and although the electronic music scene often times promotes the facade of being some kind of ultra conscious, society defying movement, money is still the driving factor of many of these parties. But whatever, that notion just makes me appreciate communities like Camp ? and their party philosophy even more. With that being said, I love and support Camp ? in any way I personally can and here is a chance for you to do the same (and score some amazing tuneage while you’re at it!)
I introduce to you, The Campilation, an 18 track compilation released on the ever killing it, MalLabel music, to raise funds for Camp ?’s 2013 Burning Man camp. The compilation is home to tracks from a range of artists and styles, including some more established names such as Minnesota, Stylust Beats, Love and Light, and Sugarpill, as well as a collection of other very talented producers. I’ll admit my devout obsession to glitch hop has been dwindling over the last year so it was so refreshing to hear some great stuff from the genre, especially from two of my favorite, and in my opinion, highly underrated artists, Kll Smth and Mad Zach. The variation in style makes it hard to choose a favorite, but Guttstar, an amazing producer who if you aren’t familiar with, you should be, really brought it to the table with his atmospheric yet bangin track, “Where Do Dead Stars Go?”. I also may or may not have listened to G Jones’s “West Cliff” 4-5 times before changing to the next song. But we all already know how I feel about him ;)
Whether you’re planning on attending this year’s Burning Man or not, know that by buying this album you are supporting a truly great organization of bass loving humans. And if you are hoping to make it to the playa this year, know that your financial support will be going to one of the most poppin camps in all of Black Rock City. Regardless of the philanthropic aspect, this is a great release for all kinds of bass music lovers and I hope you all love it as much as I do.
Sixis may be a new name to you, but the influence on and from his sound is closer to ancient. Heavily textured and deeply organic, Sixis’ music represents to me the holiness of the merger of technology and nature. Alien like pads, swampy bass, and rhythmic drums create a natural yet unique experience, encompassing the listener in a deep, hypnotic embrace- warming the soul, exciting the conscience.
Sixis is the moniker of Bay Area native to Pacific Northwest transplant (hey, like me!), Ben Taecker-Wyss. Ben is currently attending Evergreen State College (hey, like me!) to study music production on a serious level. His first official release, Transhuman EP, put out by Substruk Records, blends tangibly thick bass with earthy elements to create a powerful energy, full of movement and oozing with psychedelic creativity. His sound design is excellent and his music complex and interesting, reminiscent of early work of the legendary Heyoka. After extensive listening of his soundcloud, I can hear the improvement in his most recent work and am really looking forward to seeing what this up and coming artist has in store for us in 2013! Big ups, Sixis!
You should NEVER let anyone brand your music. I will admit that I’ve done it in the past and had AfroMonk.com Exclusives but back then Soundcloud and YouTube worked very differently. This is not to say that don’t let others repost your music but noticed how I use the work repost vs brand your music.
If you actually use marketing or advertising techniques (high recommend) you’ll lose all that data and information from people who listen or play your music. There are TONS of analytics that you should be looking at OR have a marketing/advertising person monitoring. When you hand over permission for someone to upload or use your music via their outlet, all of that is gone. You’re ultimately letting them capture your audience and even give them the power to advertise to these people and make money from your audience.
How could you leverage other networks to support you via their Soundcloud, YouTube, Blog, etc… You make sure they SHARE/Re-POST your soundcloud tracks or videos. The major issue is Soundcloud and YouTube. You lose the plays on your account and the opportunity to have the new listeners find you on other social media outlets that you can leverage by pointing them to which ever you want (Facebook Like to Download). If the channel SHARES your track anyone who Follows or Like’s their channel will STILL see it and they are leveraging their audience for YOU not THEM.
There are also advanced strategies that allow anyone who hits their page/channel and plays your track to be added to their list versus yours. All this can be prevented if you simply require them to point to YOUR track or website. YouTube channels are a big culprate of this. I can’t tell you enough how bad it has gotten on Soundcloud. Websites and networks should be building GROUPS not profiles. If they are posting a track on a blog post make sure they are using YOUR account or profile versus theirs.
Don’t be a fool and think that they are helping YOU vs them when pushing your music for you. They are ultimately using your music to help themselves. Just look for banners, ads, sponsored links, etc… All that traffic they are getting for your name and music is making them money. I’ve been running this blog for three plus years now and always made it a point to not advertise or take money for post. I might be running banners for festival events but assure you that all I receive in return is a ticket to cover the event.
I just want to make sure producers are aware of this and it’s a very real thing that’s happening. Times are changing and you deserve the gains versus others. If they are really out to help you they’ll use your links and mediums versus theirs and share it properly to help you not them.
Let me close this rant off with introducing you something that you might of considered… If you’re a moderately successful producer and want to take it to the next level you might want to consider bringing in someone who specializes in Marketing or Advertising. It’s a common practice to have an agent or manager but their roles and skill set usually and almost never in building your market share. PR people help out with this but deal more with keeping your name in the media but not DIRECTLY reaching people. Think about it like this if any business wants to grow or reach more people they invest in public relations, marketing or advertising. This is why I’m building an agency with a talented artist manager to address these issues and make sure artist aren’t taken advantage of.
* Note: The old Soundcloud does not have the SHARE feature. The new Soundcloud allows you to SHARE someone elses track and appears on their feed so anyone who Follows the profile will see that they shared the original track from the Producers profile.
This is an experiment and might even delete this post but I wanted to create a post on one of my random rants today. It’s become common knowledge that if you’re a producer or band that the money to be made is performing live and going on tour. Album sales are low but do provide income none the less. Yet where do all your favorite big name acts make their money? Live shows.
Now that we have this cleared up… You would think that if you’re paying to see someone live you’d get a unique experience versus just hitting play on your media player, right? I don’t know if it’s just me and because I use Ableton to DJ that I’ve become jaded. I can’t tell you how much of a let down it is to see someone use CDJs or even vinyl for that matter today. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE a solid turntablist but if you’re not scratching when playing on vinyl then you’re just I don’t know… Hell why would you even do that when 90% of clubs don’t have solid turntables to use?!
Alright now back to the Ableton thing… Tons of people can bitch and complain about how using laptops or whatever controller isn’t really DJing or whatever they want to say. The fact of the matter is that there’s this program that they’ve made that lets you use all the tools you’ve used to make the fancy music the producer makes LIVE?! Wait what?! You can remix, edit, manipulate, cut up, screw, etc… all with the flick of a button, knob, fader, touch screen, etc… If all this time is put into creating a track or release why isn’t the same amount of effort being done when you’re getting paid to play live. The idea of simply mixing track to track isn’t really that hard, seriously. All you beat matching purist who yell about Sync buttons, Warping, Beat grids, etc… are annoying. The “old school” DJ uses a 3EQ, pitch shifter, and volume faders. There’s nothing special about beat matching and moving the pitch to match the beats. Anyone can be a DJ as we’ve seen with people like Paris Hilton taking it up. Not to discount her at all but it’s something that be learned fairly quickly.
Why am I even writing this? Well because it’s beyond frustrating when you’ve put so much passion and time into a live DJ set where my goal is to create a unique new experience of every track I play with all the things I have available in front of me with Ableton. I may not be considered a producer now but it’s not as if I’ve never made a track before. I spent most of my time in Ableton actually when listening/working on music. My issue is that if I’m not making records on the regular basis but have been using Ableton for a few years now, why don’t these producers who probably have way more experience with modulating sound do it more often live? Don’t even get me started on the fools who play pre-recorded sets and simply just add filters or random efx here and there to make it seem like they are mixing. I’ve seen many producers play in arrangement mode and it baffles me. How can you justify doing that at all?! Oh you made the music and that allows you to just be lazy since all the work was done in your studio? Come on! If you’ve taken the time to master your craft creating music in FL Studio, Pro Tools, Logic, etc… trust me it’s not hard to pick up on how to use Ableton. Even someone who isn’t an experienced producers can pick up Ableton for DJing and create something different when I play others music. Why can’t you do it with your own?!
I also have heard people say that if you’re playing to a MASSIVE crowd it should be PERFECT and don’t want any issues and that’s why they don’t mix live or try remixing live. Something tells me that if your music is that good to be playing at that level of a crowd they’ll appreciate you’re actually doing something up there. I use to think to myself oh man this might not sound perfect or be super weird but it shows that I’m actually doing something up there and not just hitting play. It’s LIVE and I hope people understand that you’re taking a risk doing something that might actually take some practice, skill, talent, etc… to do these things vs the guy after you just mixing track to track. In a way I think those people who use CDJs and Vinyl are the ones who fall into the category of people who “just hit play”. You dance around and let the track play the same way it would just like it sounded on the album or release. There’s no unique experience in that other than just selecting tracks. Now on the other side of the coin there are fools who are even insane enough to simply have about 10 tracks up in Ableton and just move between channel 1 and 2 with their crossfader. Now that’s just ridiculous. You give laptop DJs a bad name as well as Ableton users.
I will say that this is a very exaggerated opinion of mine but there’s a lot of truth in this, more than you think. Majority of people simply just go to hear music live to dance, party, rage, etc… but if you’re going for the music and in it for the music there are some things that you just can’t help but notice sometimes. Sure I’ve taken a stab at producers and DJs in the post and that’s not to say there aren’t people out there who perform their heart out. There are many, trust me. Go watch Shigeto, Mux Mool, NastyNasty, Project Aspect, etc… The complexity and skill level varies more than you think in the live performance aspect. I just come from the school of thought that things should be done with serious passion especially if you’re playing live for a group of people. Unfortunately most people aren’t that big into that and just want to hear music played no matter what the medium is. After all it’s all about having fun at the end of the day.
I’m not trying to say that using Ableton is superior to CDJs, turntables, etc… I’m just saying that there should be more time and passion put into live sets from producers and DJs. If the money is in that don’t start thinking what type of stage, lights, lasers, etc… you have when you show up before you’ve considered spending a good amount of time into a unique experience when you’re playing the music live. Now imagine if all those things you can do to manipulate the sound are mapped to your stage… Now that’s what I’d love to see more. This is not to say that it’s not done by some but I think this topic deserves some more light in the industry.
Dave Tipper is one of the most talented producers alive. He has helped pioneer many genres of music including the Break and Glitch Hop sound. He has set the standard of recording in 5.1 surround sound and has released a collection of music that most would consider divine in nature.
I’ve had to luxury of seeing many live performances by him over the years. There’s two distinct sides to Tippers music. There’s the uptempo glitch-hop bass sets that will get you moving and then there’s the organic downtempo sound journey. I can say that his downtempo set at Symbiosis 2012 was the most unique and beautiful pieces of auditory sound that I’ve ever experienced in my life. I felt as if I was a small child rediscovering sound.
This February in Austin, Texas, Dave Tipper will be doing a special one time performance with the theatrics group, Quixotic. They are an artist collective comprised of aerial acrobatics, dancer, film makers, fashionistas, musicians, and visual artist. I had the pleasure of seeing them at Wakarusa and was totally blown away by the amount of production that goes into their show.
The Tipper Quixotic Experience is what they are calling it and assure you that it’s something you won’t want to miss. Once I saw the announcement of the show I immediately looked up plane tickets to Austin, Texas and bought a flight.
It is rumored that Tipper will also be moving more towards the live downtempo sets in 2013. There is no confirmation of this but you better believe that I’m praying with all my heart to get at least half set of downtempo. The event is a post Valentines Day called Cirque de L’amour. The events name translates to Circus of Love. I can’t tell you enough how excited I am to return to Austin, where I left a big piece of heart. It only seems like the proper time to revisit one of the most amazing cities in the States.
If you’re a follower of Tipper, enjoy theatrical performance, and never been to Austin, Texas I highly recommend considering flying or driving to this event. Many of you might have a strong opinion of Texas but I can create an endless list of why Austin is one of the greatest cities in the country. One of the best ways to describe Austin is by comparing it to New Orleans except it’s WAY CLEANER and super progressive compared to the rest of Texas. It’s the live music capital of the US and for good reason. There are tons of quality venues, bars, bands, DJs, etc that reside in the city. It’s also quite cheap and filled with tons of educated young people who attend The University of Texas.
If you’re reading this. Thank you for what you have done for the electronic music community. I think I’m speaking on behalf of all your fans. We want another downtempo release (feel free to make it another surround sound album).
For more details visit the Cirque de L’amour FB event page.
Also if you plan on attending be sure to say Hi if you see me =)
If you need some convincing on why this man is one of the most talented.. Click this to stream one of the greatest pieces of music created in my opinion, Broken Soul Jamboree.
I have a very personal love for Greg Jones’s music. He lives in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California and I have seen him play countless times, mostly at small bars and our much loved outdoor parties, more commonly referred to as renegades. Known originally as Grizzly J, he was easily one of my favorite local DJs; never disappointing me in a set, never sounding like the person before or after him, and always keeping me dancing from start to finish. Eventually I started to notice his original productions. Tracks like his “Totoro” Remix and “Stardust” genuinely impressed me with their melodic and whimsical feel. Enamored with his somewhat distinctly Bay Area sound, I soon realized he was going to become an important part of the local bass community.
A couple years down the road, a name change, and a jump in popularity later, G Jones is making some of my favorite music out there. His work in 2012 landed him a spot on both me and Afro Monk’s top of the year lists. His latest EP “Transmissions”, released on the wonderful MalLabel Music is a fantastic mix of heartfelt melodies, thick basslines, and hyphy undertones. “Heart Cave VIP” took a quick lead for my favorite track, as I had fallen in love with it in his excellent New Originals 2012 Mix last summer, but by my second or third listen, the complex movement and glitchy aesthetic of “Kretek” had me sold. Oh, and did I mention there’s a freaking Widdler remix on there?
G Jones’s live sets are a mix of epic originals and really well chosen works of others. I was lucky enough to see him perform last weekend at a great warehouse party in Tacoma, Washington and it was probably my favorite set I’ve seen so far in 2013. I highly recommend checking him out if he’s on the bill of a show you’re attending. Or even better, try and get your favorite local promoter to book him now, cause I know this kid is only going up from here.