The Harlem Shake Youtube video trend is finally beginning to fade out, and I’m sure everybody is thanking the heavens that the most overplayed song of 2013 is finally diving back into the depths from which it came from. However, in today’s social media society, once something goes viral, it is simply never the same. Rather than your typical David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, even Skrillex-type music that is often associated with rave culture, the world got to see a subgenre, trap music, and it became a sensation that literally took the world by storm. I swear, never in my life have I seen a Youtube trend so big, and it just makes me realize that I think the world is ready for the next step in music, which is to shy away from all the typical bullshit you hear on the radio. Drum’ n ’bass exists, gabber exists, liquid dubstep exists, epic trance exists, but sometimes I feel like its all lost in translation because the bigger artists making the more popular genres of music hog the spotlight. “Harlem Shake” proved that trap music, which is seriously such an overlooked and underplayed subgenre, can make it big. People who are passionate about EDM get sick of the same genres getting played out. Our world is more than the famous artists I have listed. Its about experimentation with sound and having fun. Many artists put together tracks and corresponding Youtube videos that are all supposed to be in good humor, just a little something I’ve noticed about EDM culture. A lot of people think raving is “bad” or “all about drugs”, but I think that this Harlem Shake takeover just showed the world that as “ravers” we’re just trying to listen to/ make good music, try new things, and have a fun time doing it. Who knows, maybe another obscure subgenre of EDM will make it viral. EDM is here to stay, and I think the more knowledgeable the world is about our culture and what we’re about, the better this not so little EDM world is gonna get.
Recently Deorro, aka Ton!c, has been coming up on my radar as a fresh new producer displaying some of the best in electro house and indie dance music. As a producer, I’ve noticed the last thing he does is color inside the lines. The reason I have been so drawn to him as an artist is the unique sounds and the diversity of each of his productions. I feel like he has almost created his own subgenre, it sounds like gangster meets electro house. No two of his songs sound the same (which I find is a bit typical with electro house producers) and everything he produces makes you want to get up off your ass and dance. Everything about what he does is just straight funky. Half the time I feel like his music doesn’t even fall into a genre because he just does what feels good, which in turn, provides an orgasmic experience for the ears. For me, his music is the total party experience. This is definitely not easy listening, if you’re going to switch on some Deorro, make sure the volume is on full blast and get ready for a dance because I really don’t see any possible way to sit still while listening to him. Enjoy some of my favorite songs by him!
I can’t say that I have a long standing history with Norin & Rad, because I really don’t, but on this particular night I was in the mood to see what this trouse duo could do on the decks. I’m surprised to say, that it really wasn’t anything a nerd with a laptop couldn’t do. Norin & Rad overall gave a very confusing and disappointing performance, completely lacking of any genre and personality, and was very unmemorable to say the least. Seeing as they are really only getting started in their music career, I wasn’t expecting a big crowd. It was nice to finally be in a nightclub where drunk morons weren’t spilling 70% of their drinks onto my clothing and I thought it would be a more intimate experience with a smaller crowd. I was wrong. Norin & Rad almost seemed like first time DJs, they had no experience with building any type of vibe in the crowd, and the songs they played seemed like a clusterfuck of monotony. They seriously played the worst songs, and on top of that, skipped out on picking anything with vocals. Their set was honestly so boring, that I left before their performance was over. Rather than playing trance, trouse, progressive house, or even electro house, it really just felt like I was listening to boring transition music and there was really no point to their set. A dj that has his shit together can tell a story in two hours through their set. Norin & Rad just made me feel like I was listening to a hastily put together playlist of songs that could possibly bore you to death rather than a performance. I wouldn’t recommend seeing them live. They’re nothing special at all, didn’t build a vibe with the crowd, and definitely didn’t play any good music. A bit disappointing for sure. They’ve made a couple of good songs and remixes, but as DJs you can skip them and know that you didn’t miss anything truly legendary.
What is your name ?
My name is Phil but I go by “Buddah” (yes it’s spelled wrong on purpose)
When did you first here dance music?
The first time I was introduced to it , I think when many children of the 80s were exposed to it , about the mid 80s when bands like Depeche Mode, and Kraftwerk , and other synth pop bands were just exploding onto the mainstream, kind of pushing traditional rock and pop to the side and making a real name for itself. I was never a Michael Jackson or Madonna kind of kid. I gravitated toward the dark synth pop and the synth driven stuff. The first time I think I put a face to the sound was Flock of Seagulls “I ran” and “Cars” by Gary Nuwman, I finally witnessed “what was making that sound”
Later in the 90s I think for many kids it became Nine Inch Nails , The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method groups like that.
Why did you want to become a dj?
For me it was personal, I finally got to experience the place where the music I loved played, and I didn’t feel alone anymore, but I wanted to be more involved in it, it was just a natural progression for me, although I was terrible in the beginning, no one showed me how to do anything or what things worked, because where I was there were maybe 2 or 3 party kids, and they were more interested in glowsticking than DJing.
What was It like then?
Well in the late 90s early 2000s you could only go to a few record stores to get flyers n such. My home base was SWELL records and Clothing, and sometimes we would go to PLASTIK records, where then unknown Marcus Schulz and crew had a smaller but similar store. Really the only way you heard about parties was at these places, flyers by the door, only a phone number for the map point later. Lots and lots of records for everything. I bought a lil of everything too. You felt very much apart of a bigger family at these places, because everyone met there. I did stay steady at a place called “Pompeii” aka “Club Freedom” in Tempe, I started attending said club the day of my 18th birthday and made sure I was front and center every Friday for Markus Shultz on “the edge factor” , he had a live broadcast then on a local alternative staion, and it was amazing , 3 hour sets of dark proggy trance, and sometimes a headliner or two, Saturday nights were for touring djs. I got my education on the second floor right above the dj booth watching every move every dj that came through that place made.
What were parties like then?
Very big, but very simple. You had on a bad night 1000 kids, on a good night, well, you were outside waiting to get in, 3 or 4 thousand kids at a spot was not unusual . It was a cool vibe because everyone was nice (at least that I remember) and the music was awesome, usually 3 or 4 areas always, with all kinds of stuff each time slot. You were never ever bored ever.
What do you mean by simple?
The lighting was kept to a minimal, the props were there but not over bearing, you could tell all the money was in the sound and stage, all the “cabs” that were there. I can remember that people were really into their locals then , really into the quality of the sound. People really supported their local djs, they were the gravy to the headliner, if your locals were not as good as the headliner or better the party was “off” . Back then the locals were often as good or better than the headliner, I can remember a few times I was disappointed in the headliner and blown away by the local talent.
Why was that?
The playing field was level then, no one used cds or computers, it was all vinyl and you could do it or you couldn’t, and it was the difference in being that good or that bad, record selection second, if you didn’t know how to build a vibe , you were sunk. I think the fact that you got an hour and a half to 2 hours helped too, it allowed you to build a flavor, a real journey that doesn’t exists now in the “45 minute but we have 100 of them” time slots now.
What made you stop?
About 2007 I took a break from that world , got married, started a family. I kept up with the music, I just stopped playing out as much.
Do you think things have changed?
Oh gosh yes, it’s a whole other planet now, lol.
Well the biggest difference I noticed is the music. Dubstep was a sub sub sub genre when I decided to step away a while , now its just as loved as it is hated. Electro house is pretty big now do , although much of it sounds the same, feels like that genre is rubbing up against a creative wall , they all do they , it promotes growth within itself so we will see. Trance and progressive house are very different now , not as popular as they used to be around here but have some good things going. Many of the parties now seem to be very similar in the line ups save for the headliners, that used to be true for the most part back when , however the locals were given way more time to play. I notice much of the same music is played via those locals as well or the styles are similar, I ‘d like to see more variety in genres and styles.
What else do you think has changed?
The media output is way different, now its ultra advanced cd players and computers, which I don’t mind, however I think there should be more creativity in their use, just playing end to end track to track doesn’t work anymore, it did when it was in vinyl because there was a physical skill involved in mixing , which has been taken away by technology , either for ease of use or more room to be creative.
Do you feel there is a lack of creativity in music now? Specifically in EDM?
I love that term , EDM, I used to just call it dance music lol, but yes and no. The producers I think do a great job in creating music and doing what they do, but the people that have given us this technology to present it in such a way that has made some people lazy or given some an outlet to be very creative, traditionally djs are there to provide music and an atmosphere , but now with the software you can see the song, literally mix it just by looking at it, the software will then beat match it and its your job to just mess with the levels and blend the next one. Which again I think is good and bad, leaves less room for error , but more room to be creative, so when I see someone on a $2000 lap top and a $900 controller , just mixing songs together I am bored, same thing with cd players with screens and an overly accurate BPM counter put there by software you loaded the song to before you got there , that’s great, but now I want to see you take it further. Its like good food, a hamburger is great, its what you put on it and the way you cook it that is gonna make me wanna eat it. I am super picky though, if I think someone sounds the same as the last guy I usually don’t stick around, even if you wear a mask and jump around like an idiot.
Some people like that though . .
They do, and it makes me really really sad, partly because I think kids now get cheated out of that authentic experience, one which is hard to define, one which is just as mainstream now as the syth pop bands of the 80s and early 90s, the music is side by side with Maroon 5 , and Katy Perry, shoot , they even use it in their own songs. If we are strictly speaking raves though, much of that has changed, tickets are delivered to you, venues have clean bathrooms and air conditioning , a wide variety of toys, beverages, and niches. Some of that I like and I cant complain about too much, it makes me sound like a old “when I partied I had to walk 15 miles into the desert to hear a broken record play one loop all night!”
However collectively I think the ‘scene’ as its called was a different place, music wasn’t everywhere, mixes where not online by the millions, the shows there was no way you were gonna see in your lifetime, are on youtube, the lighting is more important that what you are hearing (so it seems) , it was a college like party atmosphere it has now, it was more, “you cant hear, do, or talk about this anywhere else in your life but for these 6 hours you are here standing in it”
Do you think its too popular?
I do and I say that with caution because you cant really say it was unpopular then with 5000 kids standing shoulder to shoulder listening to it 15 years ago, however I feel that now that’s its mainstream (when you hear dub step in a JC Pennies back to school commercial, its mainstream) parties are treated more like a business, the party goers like customers, the party like an “event” , I miss it just being about, going to hear your favorite local or dj play the music you cant hear anywhere else. I miss being hand picked by a promoter because of what I played, not who I knew and how many tickets I could sell, or how many people were guaranteed to be there because of me. We even have local djs here that have played huge festivals in Europe that cannot get paying gigs here. Guys that have traveled to Japan and back selling thousands of records, that no one gets to here, the ‘oldschool’ talent as it is now, is immense here, but it often gets swept aside, not all the time, but for the most part it does I miss it really being about the music , but times have changed, and the mainstream music industry has really seeped into this counter cutler. For the most part I get it, that there is lots of money tied up in it , and financially there are risks , there has always been that, but when it becomes all about that I think then it becomes something else. I am waiting for Budlight and Monster to start sponsoring local events lol.
When is the next time you play out and what is it that you are playing?
The next place I am at is a party called bubble bobble , its an annual foam party in Mesa, very fun , lots of people go (last year was over 2k this year is expected to be bigger) and I will be playing . . it’s a surprise but I will tear the roof off as always!
It saddens me to say that this is legit the first time I have seen Ferry Corsten live, and actually lived to tell the tale. I’m sure there have been other times, early on in my raving “career” that I have caught bits and pieces of his set, but I was never that big of a fan of him up until a few years ago. Let me just say, I don’t care WHO you are, Ferry Corsten is a legend and I don’t think there are enough words in my vocabulary to describe how amazing his performance was at Axis Radius in Scottsdale. Literally everyone gathered on the dance floor and nobody left. For the first time in a long long time, I got to be a part of a crowd that did not leave until Corsten got off the decks, which was around 2:30 in the morning. Corsten had the entire crowd wrapped around his finger and just absolutely dominated the dance floor. I make it a point to tune into his weekly radio show, where I never actually know what I’m going to hear. Sometimes his show is extremely electro, other times its trance, but either way, I always enjoy it. When I arrived to his show here in Scottsdale, Arizona I was not expecting a super trancey set, but more of a combination of electro and trance, and praying for everything else except for trouse. What I got was honestly the best performance of 2013 so far. I was lucky enough to be front row (as usual) and danced the night away with the biggest smile ever on my face. Corsten chose some of the greatest trance classics out there, in combination with all his new stuff, in combination with some great electro. Everything about his performance is almost indescribable; the music he played, his energy, his smile, his crowd interaction, the flow of his set, the vibe from the crowd. There was absolutely no way this experience was anything less than perfect. 2013 has been pretty great so far with all the different artists I’ve gotten to see, but Corsten’s performance definitely wins my award for best performance this year (so far). I can’t stress enough that every single person that is a fun of EDM NEEDS to see him live. He is incredible and also incredibly friendly. Please do yourself the favor and take yourself to see Ferry Corsten live the next time he is in your city!
Its been a while since I’ve seen a Chicago House DJ, so when I heard JJ Flores was going to be in Phoenix with no cover charge, I decided to cease the opportunity to break out of the trance and electro house rut I’ve been in. That, surprisingly, turned out to be a VERY bad choice. JJ Flores was definitely one of the WORST djs I have seen in a while. Literally he would be playing a song, have people dancing, and then trainwreck his set with some really horrible music and clear the dance floor. That was honestly the basis of his set. I can’t even express how unimpressed I was with his mixing skills, let alone his song selection. He played generic club and radio music and proved that he was too lazy to even mix well. There was absolutely no flow to his set, and it almost felt like I was listening to a mixtape or something where it was just song after song with no transition whatsoever. Given the show was at probably the least popular night club in the Phoenix area, there were really only a handful (ok maybe 5) of people in attendance. I’m assuming no one in the crowd was actually there for JJ Flores since he is still an underground DJ in my book. As much as I wish I could at least point out one redeeming quality of his performance, I simply cannot. Although Flores might not be on many of your radars, please choose to keep it that way and avoid seeing his performance at all costs.