electronic dance music

Music’s Got Me Feeling So Free

Couchella Weekend 1 was a huge success. The documentary was fantastic and a great reminder of happier times both in the past and to come. I learned a lot about Coachella from it. I watched it each day of what would have been Coachella 2020 Weekend 1 including a special Friday premiere viewing party with a few of my Coachella coworkers. I decorated the room a bit to feel like Coachella and trust me it kind of did. It helped me separate from the outside world much like actually working a festival does. It also introduced me to new music, which is what I need to write about today. I mean new as in the sense of I wasn’t really into the music before last weekend because this group has been around since the 90’s. Their set in 2006 was very notable in the history of Coachella and that group is Daft Punk.

The French electronic music duo Daft Punk was formed in 1993. After their lack of success in the punk band Darlin’ (which also included Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix), Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter created Daft Punk. They went in a different direction musically, after being introduced to the rave scene. The name “Daft Punk” came from a negative review of Darlin’ which referred to their music as “a daft punky thrash.” The group got their break at a rave in 1993 when they handed off a demo to Stuart McMillan of the Scottish electronic duo Slam. Slam had their own record label Soma.

The duo hired Pedro Winter to be their manager and signed with Virgin Records in 1996. In 1997 they released their highly anticipated debut album Homework, which included their earlier singles “Alive” and “Da Funk” along with “Around the World.” They released their second album Discovery in 2001. The album had a more of a synth-pop sound than what the group was known for from their debut album, but it lead Daft Punk to commercial success. The album reached the Top 10 in music charts throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. When performing during their earlier days, the duo would cover their faces with different masks. It wasn’t until Discovery came out that they adopted their robot alter egos.

In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album Human After All. Despite reaching high positions on music charts throughout the world, the album didn’t quite have the success that Discovery did. In the early 2000’s Daft Punk also got into the visual entertainment sector and released two films, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem in 2003 and Daft Punk’s Electroma in 2006. As I mentioned before, 2006 also brought Daft Punk to Coachella for their first and only Coachella appearance. They debuted their famous pyramid that they also used on tour that year.

In the years between their third and fourth album, the duo was again busy working on films, specifically the soundtrack for Disney’s Tron: Legacy. Then, they won their first Grammy in 2009 for Best Electronic/Dance Album for their live album Alive 2007. They also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

On May 13, 2013 Daft Punk released their fourth studio album Random Access Memories. The album featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers of Chic, Pharrell Williams, and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. The album became their most successful album to date with hits like “Get Lucky”, “Instant Crush”, and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” The record earned them peak positions on music charts worldwide as well as numerous accolades and awards including a Grammy for Album of the Year. In many countries the album has reached Platinum status or beyond. Daft Punk were also co-producers on Kanye West’s 2013 album Yeezus.

Since Random Access Memories and the few years that followed, Daft Punk has been relatively quiet. Their most notable project came in the form of collaboration with The Weeknd on his hit singles “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming” in 2016. They’ve since been working on solo projects.

Daft Punk’s style of electronic music is very much house music. Through the years though, it’s varied album by album. It also incorporates elements of rock and disco. Personally I think Daft Punk’s music is ahead of its time, especially the album Discovery, but again I might not know that much about the history of electronic music since I’ve started listening to it only in the past few years.

I first learned of Daft Punk around the time of Random Access Memories due to the popularity of the album. I wasn’t a fan of their biggest hit song “Get Lucky” though. It was still at a point where I detested main stream music nor did I like EDM. I didn’t understand the hype and in the past few years as I got into electronic music, Daft Punk wasn’t really a name I heard often unless it involved headliner predictions for Coachella.

The Coachella documentary shed some light on Daft Punk for me. After watching the scene about their 2006 set, I thought to myself, “Wow this looked like a lot of fun! Maybe I should see what Daft Punk is about.” So I started listening to some of their stuff on Spotify. I realized I heard plenty of Daft Punk tracks over the years, but it was probably just background music for me. So I went through their discography and listened to tracks from all their albums. I listened to them while I attempted to cook my favorite dish from Coachella catering last weekend. It hit me that I’d been missing out on Daft Punk for a while now. I finally understood the hype. I’ve now become one of those people who hope Daft Punk is on every Coachella lineup. I would love to see them live. I want to see them live and I want to see them at Coachella.

With all the negative outlooks for the relatively near future, no one is sure when live music will be back, especially large-scale events like music festivals. Who knows when the next Coachella will happen, but when it does happen again it will likely be an epic event. In the mean time, I can always remind myself it took me 4 years to get to Coachella from when I first wanted to go. I can also do my best to take in Weekend 2 of what would have been Coachella 2020 as best as I can. I plan on watching the documentary each day of Weekend 2 just like I did during Weekend 1 and I also plan on watching some full Coachella sets from past years that I found online. I watched RÜFÜS DU SOL’s 2019 Weekend 1 set last weekend (I was actually at the set for the end half too!). This Weekend I have Dillon Francis’ 2019 set, Foster the People’s 2011 set, and yes, Daft Punk’s 2006 set because I found it in full on YouTube. I can’t wait to see how fun it actually was and I can’t wait for the day we’re all back at Coachella. Hopefully we’ll be listening to Daft Punk live one more time. It could happen. We could get lucky.

Coachella Band Preview: Hayden James

It’s been two months since the Coachella 2020 lineup was released, which means we have 5 weeks and 2 days to go before the masses start flooding the Coachella Valley in preparation of southern California’s most famous music festival. I can’t believe it’s only a little over a month away. Time really flies when you spend the winter in Mexico. Now it’s full steam ahead towards my 5th Coachella. It’s pretty surreal how I started these yearly band previews in preparation of my first Coachella and now here we are 5 years later and I’m on the brink of being at my 5th one. It was truly the festival that started it all for me and this crazy music industry adventure that I’m a part of. Alright…enough of me being super grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, it’s time to focus on the music. This week I’m previewing an artist I wrote about back in 2018, Hayden James.

When I first wrote about electronic artist Hayden James, I had been listening to his song “NUMB” ft. GRAACE for months. It was my most listened to song of 2018. Since then, James released his debut album Between Us on June 14, 2019. I also did an album review of it in August. Since the debut release, James has only played a few music festivals and a few tour dates, which is a bit out of the ordinary surrounding an album release. Most of his sets were in his home country of Australia with a few dates in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand. This year includes several more tour stops in Australia, Mexico, and the U.S. including his Coachella appearance.

Coachella 2020 will mark James’ second Coachella appearance. His first came in 2015 as a Do Lab artist. This time he’s officially on the bill though and likely to play the Sahara Tent, if not, Gobi or Mojave. His soulful and sensual house style will surely bring plenty of fans out to his set no matter where it’s played. I would definitely expect a larger draw at Sahara since a lot of younger festival goers like to spend all their time at the stage, but who knows because many people enjoy a good electronic set. After seeing him in 2018 at Electric Forest, I know he’s capable of bringing lots of dancing and a lot of bass to his sets. He’s also very capable of setting the Coachella vibe with his tracks. Here are the one’s you should know:

  1. NUMB
  2. Something About You
  3. Just Friends
  4. Better Together
  5. Just A Lover
  6. Favours
  7. Nowhere to Go
  8. Hold Me Back
  9. Remember You
  10. Permission to Love

Coachella 2020 Lineup Review

The countdown to Coachella 2020 is officially here! After spending yesterday feeling like the lineup wasn’t going to come, the Coachella twitter came alive around 8:30 p.m. EST. Then, I knew it was coming. They started tweeting out artists playing the festival by retweeting tweets from years ago from the artists playing the festival or from casual twitter followers mentioning artists playing the festival and adding their own comments. Then around 10:05 p.m. EST, the lineup dropped.

After 2014, I used to hope mercilessly for a similar great lineup every year. When finally after 2018’s lineup disappointment, I stopped expecting great indie rock lineups. I feel like this year’s mix of music has hardly any indie rock/indie pop. It’s really disheartening. I looked at the 2011-2014 lineups last night in reverse order. It was incredible. When I looked at 2011 I was incredibly shocked at how much these festival lineups have changed over the last 10 years. 2011 was the year I was introduced to Coachella because Foster the People (who I was introduced to around the same time) was on the bill. I feel less disappointed than I did in 2018 because I know I’ll still have a great time at the festival and there are a few artists who I’m very excited to see play Coachella.

First and foremost though, the Coachella 2020 lineup as follows:

The Headliners: Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean

As typical, over the past few weeks these were the three names rumored to be headlining the festival. I knew about Travis Scott for almost a year due to some inside industry sources. I was hoping there might be another Tame Impala-esque headliner but not the case this year. Out of these three, I’m most excited for 90’s rock band, Rage Against the Machine. They played the first ever Coachella in 1999! I know a few of their songs, as most people do. Plus, I’m not sure if there’s any other way I’d ever see them. I’ll definitely be re-listening to their stuff in preparation for their Friday night set. Travis Scott has been headlining festivals over the past few years so Coachella was one of the next steps. It’s not his first time in Indio either after he played the festival in 2017. He’s even hosted his own ASTROWORLD festival the past 2 years in Houston, Texas. Frank Ocean hasn’t played Coachella in 8 years. This time he makes his return as a headliner. He doesn’t tour either, which makes his festival appearances all the more special. He headlined Panorama back in 2017 when I worked it. I never got into him but I heard him play there, which is apparently more rare than I realized. Frank Ocean’s R&B/hip-hop style isn’t my cup of tea, but he’s got a large following of fans that are stoked to see him headline Coachella.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: Calvin Harris, Run the Jewels, Rex Orange County, Megan Thee Stallion, BIGBANG, Flume, Thom Yorke (Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes), Disclosure, 21 Savage, Danny Elfman, DaBaby, Summer Walker, Lana Del Rey, Lil Uzi Vert, Daniel Caesar, FKA Twigs, Marina, Louis the Child, Ari Lennox, BROCKHAMPTON, Big Sean, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizards, City Girls, Lewis Capaldi, Madeon, Charli XCX, Lane 8, GRiZ, Anitta, Caribou, Joji, Testpilot, Swae Lee, Black Coffee, Cuco, Jai Wolf, Roddy Ricch, Yaeji, Koffee, Tchami, Dixon, Fatboy Slim, Banda MS, Lil Nas X, Mura Masa, Duck Sauce, Jessie Reyez, SLANDER, Denzel Curry, J.I.D.

The two artists I’m most excited for this year are in this mix. Both could have easily headlined this festival and both were the first name under the headliner on their respective days.

Lana Del Rey, one of my favorite artists, will be back this year for the first time since 2014. After dropping one of her best albums this past year (Norman Fucking Rockwell!) thanks to the help of famed songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff, Lana deserves to be back at Coachella. Hopefully my dream of hearing Lana play “Coachella – Woodstock On My Mind” at Coachella will come true!

Flume, the first electronic artist I could ever say I liked, is also playing. Flume has really exploded over the last 5 years. He’s played Coachella before but this year he’s back in his biggest spot yet and with new music. Last year he dropped his mixtape Hi I’m Flume and the hit electronic single “Rushing Back” with Vera Blue. Who knows if he’ll release any more new music in the lead up to Coachella, but it’s safe to say Flume is back this year after a few shows and festival stints in 2019.

I’m also pretty excited for electronic DJ Jai Wolf. I was able to watch some of his Made in America set in 2018, but I’ve never seen him other than that. I’ve been into his music for the past few years as well. His cred has really gone up in the last few years too earning him a second line spot on the Coachella lineup.

Three years ago, composer Hans Zimmer played Coachella with a full orchestra coming in to support his set of movie magic. I’m expecting a similar performance from composer Danny Elfman. I’m also expecting to hear the entirety of A Nightmare Before Christmas. I feel like sets like this are so unique that you should try to catch them because it’s doubtful you may ever get another chance to witness something like it.

90’s EDM artist Fatboy Slim is also a part of this year’s lineup. It’s not his first time soaking up the Coachella vibes either. His set should be filled with classic dance jams and should also be a ton of fun. I’m definitely gonna try to catch it if I can.

Former Coachella headliner Calvin Harris is also included in this mix. He last played the year I attended in 2015. I remember hearing a lot about Calvin Harris in the early 2010’s but I feel like his hype has since dropped. His biggest hit since he last performed has to be 2018’s “One Kiss” with Dua Lipa and 2016’s “This Is What You Came For” with Rihanna. A lot of people are already hoping he brings out Rihanna as a guest.

Some other big names from this list are hip hop duo Run the Jewels, rising rap star Megan Thee Stallion, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, electronic duo Disclosure, rising pop star Lewis Capaldi, rapper Denzel Curry, and one of 2019’s most famed newcomers Lil Nas X. The biggest shocker of this year’s lineup was the exclusion of My Chemical Romance who was rumored to be playing the festival for weeks especially after their reunion show at Goldenvoice venue the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Many people, myself included, anticipated Coachella as being the second return of the band. Maybe MCR will be a part of the festival though? They could always come on as a guest of an artist.

The Rest: Chicano Batman, Omar Apollo, Kim Petras, IDLES, Daphni, The Martinez Brothers, Pink Sweat$, Peggy Gou, Hatsune Miku, TNGHT, Rich Brian, Damian Lazarus, Princess Nokia, slowthai, YBN Cordae, TOKiMONSTA, The Chats, NIKI, Malaa, PUP, The HU, The Regrettes, Friendly Fires, Sleaford Mods, Erick Morillo, Cashmere Cat, Beach Bunny, Tiga, Amyl & The Sniffers, Amber Mark, Code Orange, L’Impératrice, Kyle Watson, VNSSA, Lost Kings, Jayda G, Giselle Woo & the Night Owls, Melé, ela minus, Kynda Black, Hot Chip, Carly Rae Jepson, DJ Koze, Floating Points, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, BADBADNOTGOOD, Pabllo Vittar, MIKA, ANNA, Snail Mail, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Steve Lacy, Weyes Blood, Masego, Orville Peck, Chelsea Cutler, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Matoma, 100 gecs, black midi, Nilüfer Yanya, Chris Liebing, Raveena, Sasha Sloan, beabadoobee, Ezra Collective, Inner Wave, Emo Nite, girl in red, Aya Nakamura, Sama’, Beach Goons, Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital, Paco Osuna, Mannequin Pussy, The Comet is Coming, Whipped Cream, Anna Calvi, GG Magree, Ellen Allien, ONYVAA, DJ Lord, Sara Landry, Ленинград, Epik High, Duke Dumont, Lauren Daigle, Conan Gray, Bedouin, Bishop Briggs, (Sandy) Alex G, Big Wild, Alec Benjamin, Noname, YUNGBLUD, Dave, SebastiAn, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Emotional Oranges, Channel Tres, Crumb, Doja Cat, Ed Maverick, Ali Gatie, Hayden James, Skegss, Monolink, Dom Dolla, Satori, Black Pumas, Sampa the Great, Altın Gün, Luttrell, Nathy Peluso, Olivia O’Brien, Mariah the Scientist, Viagra Boys, Cariño, Adam Port, Guy Laliberté, Detlef, Sahar Z, also featuring 88rising’s Double Happiness

As per the usual, there’s several great artists in this mix of the names in tiny font on the lineup. The one that stands out the most for me is Bishop Briggs. I fell in love with Bishop Briggs music in late 2017. I felt like I missed out on her all summer as she played the festival circuit. Since then I’ve been able to catch her performances the last two summers, at Electric Forest in 2018 and at Bonnaroo last summer. I’m extremely excited to see her perform at Coachella though. She’s fantastic and always brings so much energy to her sets.

Hayden James is another artist I’m super stoked for. His song “Numb” was my most listened to song in 2018 and I saw his Electric Forest sets that summer as well. He released his debut album over the past year and his only Coachella performance happened at the Do Lab so this is definitely progress for him.

A few other great ones from this list are Lost Kings, Matoma, and Hot Chip. I’ve wanted to get into Hot Chip for years since their style is a lot like LCD Soundsystem. I just always forget about them because they’re not really on the scene much anymore. Them being on the Coachella lineup is going to push me to listen to them a lot in the next few months so I can be ready for their Coachella set. Matoma’s “Old Thing Back” remix was one of the first electronic songs I liked. I actually listened to it on my drive to Indio on the way to my first Coachella in 2015. I’ve never seen him perform either so I’ll really be looking forward to hearing Matoma’s Saturday set. One of Lost Kings first songs, “You”, was one of my favorite songs in 2016. I’ve listen to a few of their songs here and there since then too so I’m super stoked they’ll be a part of Coachella this year. Depending on their set time, I may not be able to see any of their set, but it’s still pretty cool that they’ll be performing.

Some other artists I’m hoping to get into in preparation for this year are electronic/pop singer Chelsea Cutler, punk band Mannequin Pussy, and alternative/pop-punk/scene artist YUNGBLUD. Also Carley Rae Jepson of “Call Me Maybe” fame will be playing this year so that might be a fun set to see. I’ve also heard great things about Emotional Oranges  and Sasha Sloan who has sang on Odesza and Kygo tracks that I’ve liked.

One of the most unusual/wonderful names on this part of the lineup is Emo Nite. Emo Nite LA is playing Coachella. How is that even a thing?! Emo Nite isn’t a band, artist, or DJ. It’s just an emo music party. I’m probably wrong about this but I feel like when the My Chemical Romance rumors started, Paul booked Emo Nite to try to make up for it! HA! It seems like great reasoning but I’m sure they were booked for a while. Maybe Emo Nite is just code for My Chemical Romance and the band will suddenly appear. I’m still pretty stoked about it and am definitely gonna try to go to Emo Nite.

So that’s it. Coachella 2020 is finally on the horizon and we have 3 months of prep to do. I feel like I have a ton to do and plenty of bands and artists to learn more about. As the years progress, I feel like Coachella is getting further and further away from the music I love and what the festival used to be. The atmosphere is still the best there is though. I also still have hope that one of these years the lineup is going to shock me. It might not be this year, but that just means I’m probably going to find a love in a lot of these acts just as I did last year with Maggie Rogers, Lizzo, and Dermot Kennedy.

You can look forward to band previews each week. I’m going to be working in Mexico again this year over the next two months but Coachella previews will be coming regardless. It’s always been my favorite thing to blog about from January to April and I won’t let anything stop it. So now it’s time to start listening. I already have. It’s Coachella SZN Baby! Let’s get this desert party started!

 

Coachella Band Preview: Zedd

In 1 month today we will be on the brink of Coachella 2019. Campers will be coming in. Hotels will be filled. That anticipation of another year of Coachella will fill the air. It will be similar to Christmas Eve with one exception: Coachella lasts 2 days longer than Christmas. I guess you can say that for any highly anticipated music festival, but trust me, Coachella is a special place in the festival world. That being said, there’s only 4 more weeks to learn the tunes of your favorite Coachella acts before they’re performed live on the Polo fields. This year I haven’t been as stoked for many of the electronic artists as I was last year. Most of the electronic acts I’m excited for this year fall on that indie electronic spectrum and are bands, not DJs. However, I decided there is one electronic DJ I’d like to see this year and that’s Zedd.

Anton Zaslavski, better known as Zedd, is an electronic DJ and producer. While growing up, he received formal training on instruments such as piano and drums and was part of a band. He got inspired to start making electronic music because of French electronic duo Justice. He first entered the EDM scene around 2010. He released two tracks on the website Beatport which included an original song and a remix of Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”. After that he began remixing songs of well-known artists such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and the Black Eyed Peas.

In 2012 Zedd signed with Interscope Records and released his debut album Clarity. The album included the hit singles “Spectrum” featuring Matthew Koma and “Clarity” featuring Foxes. “Clarity” has since gone on to receive Platinum status. Zedd also received a Grammy for “Clarity” for Best Dance Recording. In the following years, Zedd went on his first headlining tour and sold out venues across 5 continents worldwide. He also released several more singles like “Stay the Night” and “Find You” in addition to producing songs for the likes of Lady Gaga on her 2013 album Artpop.

Zedd’s second album True Colors was released in May 2015. In the lead up to the album release, Zedd released the single “I Want to Know You” featuring Selena Gomez and the single “Beautiful Now” featuring Jon Bellion. Zedd embarked on his second world tour in 2015. Since then, he has released singles routinely. Some of those singles include hits like “Starving” feautring Hailee Steinfeld and Grey, “Stay” with Alessia Cara, and one of 2018’s biggest hits “The Middle” featuring Maren Morris and Grey. Zedd hasn’t released an album in 4 years, making him due for one soon.

Zedd plays a house/electro house style of electronic music. He draws influence from classical, dubstep, and progressive house music as well. At this point though, Zedd’s music can even be considered pop because his hits have become pretty mainstream. In fact, there’s a bunch of electronic artists that fit that category too since electronic music has risen in popularity in recent years.

I usually write about how I became a fan of the artist I’m previewing, where I first heard them, or some sort of story about them, but honestly I’m not a huge fan of Zedd. I just know a lot of his songs because many of them are very mainstream. I will say “The Middle” became a guilty pleasure of mine last spring and “Starving” was another guilty pleasure in late 2016. It was actually one of my favorite songs to play on guitar for a while. I know Zedd’s music well enough that if I were to pick any electronic DJ to see this year, it would be him. I think his set will be fun to be at and it’s sure to have a huge draw as well.

Zedd plays Sunday at Coachella 2019. This year will mark his 4th Coachella appearance. In 2012 and 2014, Zedd played at the Sahara Tent. In 2016, Zedd was the Outdoor Stage headliner on Saturday night. If Zedd isn’t the Outdoor headliner again, he most definitely will be playing the Coachella Main Stage right before Ariana Grande. In fact, we might even get a Zedd and Ariana collab during one of their sets since they did team up on Ariana’s “Break Free” in 2014. You might already know a ton of Zedd’s music, but in case you didn’t, here’s what to listen to in preparation for his Coachella 2019 set:

  1. The Middle
  2. Clarity
  3. Starving
  4. Happy Now
  5. Stay
  6. I Want You to Know
  7. 365
  8. Lost In Japan Remix (originally by Shawn Mendes)
  9. Spectrum
  10. Beautiful Now

 

 

Top Tunes of 2018

Each of the last two years I’ve written posts about how much music has shaped the year. In 2016 there was a lot of shit that went down and music was the bright spot. Last year was one of my favorite years in music in a while so 2018 had a lot to live up to. So as the year comes to a close, the results are in. It was in no way comparable to last year, but thats okay! Because music was still important as it always is.

2018 as a whole will never be comparable to last year. I felt too much in 2018 and in the process I lost a lot of perspective. I had to dig myself out of personal holes so many times. A lot of which I hadn’t felt in years. In a way I’m still trying to overcome some personal struggles but one thing I learned this year is that it could be worse. So I try to remind myself of that. Despite losing perspective at times, I was able to gain it back through meeting new incredible people, through traveling all over the country, through new experiences, and most importantly through music.

I worked harder and put in more miles than I ever had in the past this year all because of a goal that started last January. My friend and I planned a trip to London. I went on that trip last week and it was definitely a trip I won’t soon forget. As much as all the work made it worth it. It was the journey of the year that made it special and so many songs and bands that got me through this weird rollercoaster of a year. So without further delay, here are some of my faves from 2018:

“NUMB” by Hayden James

According to Spotify, this is my top song of the year. Spotify isn’t lying either. It’s now my second most played song on my iTunes. I fell in love with this song during EDC Las Vegas, a festival which ultimately changed the course of the year for me. This song related to my life in all the ways at times, so I kept turning to it. Plus it’s a big fucking mood! I saw Hayden James perform at Electric Forest this year and was able to catch this song during his sets both weekends and during his Weekend 2 DJ set. The bass was so overpowering, but I loved it nonetheless. Now, 7 months later and I’m still choosing to listen to this song. It will forever be associated with this year and all the ups and downs that came with it.

“Safe” by Bay Ledges

This song was released in 2017 but I first heard this song in the spring of 2018 and I became hooked on it. It was a song that I would constantly choose to play whenever I was scrolling through my iTunes in the car or on Spotify. We also kept hearing it on our drives from Joshua Tree to Indio during Coachella this past year. It always puts me in a good mood and creates such a vibe. I was lucky enough to see Bay Ledges play last month and to hear this song live. Even if the song was released in 2017, it still got me through 2018.

Kygo

Kygo was my top Spotify artist this year. It makes sense. After seeing Kygo play at Coachella, one of my favorite sets of the festival, I got really into listening to his music. I eventually created a Kygo Spotify playlist that I’ll occasionally use to work out to. I’ve always been into the tropical house style of electronic music so it was a matter of time before I dove head first into Kygo and all of his tunes that I’ve already been listening to over the past 3 years. I kind of credit the song “Stargzing”, but overall I love almost all of Kygo’s tracks and seeing him live was incredibly fun. This was the year that made it happen for me and the Norwegian DJ.

“Curious” by Hayley Kiyoko

2018 can be defined by the hashtag 20GAYTEEN and that’s all in part to Hayley Kiyoko. She released her first full length album this year and exploded in the music scene. She performed at Coachella, sold out her tour, opened for Panic! At the Disco, performed with Taylor Swift, and won a VMA! It’s been an epic year for Lesbian Jesus. This song was released early in 2018 as a single to promote Hayley’s debut album. It’s been one of my faves ever since. I snuck away during work at Coachella to catch a glimpse of her set Weekend 2, but missed a large portion of it. It wasn’t until I worked a Panic! At the Disco show that I got to see the entirety of her opening set and felt all the proud mom feelings. I saw Hayley play a small venue show in Philly in late 2016 and it’s been pleasure being a fan and seeing her grow so much since then. This year was the icing on the cake for that. So to answer the question, in case you were curious, it is serious that she’s only going up from here.

Arctic Monkeys

2018 was a comeback year for Arctic Monkeys. They released their first album since 2013’s AM, toured worldwide, and played numerous dates on the festival circuit. It was my goal this year to see them play and I did while working their show at Forest Hills Stadium back in July. Although their new album wasn’t the comeback I hoped for, 2018 revitalized my interest in Arctic Monkeys and caused me to listen to their music even more than I did in the past. I found a love in old songs like “Suck It And See” and “I Bet That You Look Good On the Dance Floor”. I also eventually started to enjoy their latest release. It seems like the Monkeys will be riding the 2018 wave into 2019 as well so hopefully they coast back to the states soon.

“Saturday Sun” by Vance Joy

Vance Joy released his sophomore album this year back in February. “Saturday Sun” was a single from that album that was the theme of my Coachella 2018 experience. On our 1 hour drives to and from work every day from Joshua Tree, we listened to Alt Nation on Sirius XM. “Saturday Sun” was in the rotation at the time at it seemed like we heard it ever time we got in Denise’s car. It became our Coachella song. The whole experience culminated on Sunday of Weekend 2 when Vance Joy asked to sit at our table in catering and ate lunch with us. This song will always remind me this year and drives through California with my Day One since Day One Weekend One, Denise.

“Wanderlust” by James Bay

There’s no special story behind this song compared to the others I have on here. It’s just one that I kept going back to once I had it on my iTunes and Spotify playlists. I got into it right before I left for Electric Forest in June and it’s been a staple ever since. It gave me a new opinion on James Bay, whose music I thought was always slower and created romance type vibes. This song was an indie pop/rock dream that I never knew I needed from James Bay this year.

Florence and the Machine

It took me a while to get into the new Florence and the Machine album, but I did just in time to see her live at the Barclays Center in October. Again just like the Arctic Monkeys, High As Hope, the 2018 follow-up to 2015’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, was a bit of a disappointment to me initially. In general, it seemed like after a big 2017 of brilliant albums, 2018’s hype wasn’t cutting it for me. New music from 2018 just took a little while to get used to. Once I did I fell for songs like “Hunger” and “Patricia”. Florence reminded me this year when I needed it most that “it’s a wonderful thing to love” and I’m grateful for that.

“Body” by Loud Luxury

“Body” came to me around the same time as “NUMB” at EDC Las Vegas so it makes total sense that it would always play after “NUMB” on my iTunes rotation. I first heard the song on the way to site at EDC via Josh Hurlbert’s music. My friend Erin and I were jamming to it. I didn’t know the name of the song after that, but I needed to find out. So after some detective work, Josh figured out the song I was referring to and told me what it was called on load-out day. It’s been as much of a favorite as “NUMB” since EDC and a great work out track as well. I can’t say I’ve listened to Loud Luxury beyond “Body”, but it’s been a big hit of 2018 all around so I’m sure there will be more great tracks to come from the electronic artists.

Bishop Briggs

Bishop Briggs ended 2017 for me and moved right in 2018. Her debut album came out in May and she was high on my list to see live until I saw her perform at Electric Forest. I will say my interest in Bishop Briggs kind of faded after seeing her perform live, but for the first half of this year I was focused on her debut album and possibly seeing her in the summer. She didn’t disappoint at Forest either. Her performance was full of energy and power that had everyone feeling as bad ass as her by the end of the set. It was a highlight of the festival that seemed to be one of my lowest points of the year. Thankfully, I survived the Forest and went on to have some great festival experiences beyond that.

Runner-Ups

Years & Years

“Happy Man” by Jungle

“Happier” by Marshmello, ft. Bastille

Dashboard Confessional

“Whippin'” by Kiiara

So that’s it! 10 songs and artists that were big for me in 2018 (plus a few runner-ups!). There was another band that I easily could have put on the list but I decided to hold off because 2019 will surely be a big year for them. That band is Vampire Weekend. Their comeback started in 2018 with a few festival appearances, including a special one that I was witness to at Lollapalooza, but they’ve yet to release their much anticipated fourth full length album. There were rumors it would come out in 2018, but that hasn’t happened. So I expect 2019 will be the year for them. They’re already slated to play Firefly in June and I’m sure more dates and festivals are in the works as well. I can’t wait. They’re who I’m most excited about heading in to this new year.

As with any year, there will be plenty of new music and new discoveries for me. I didn’t plan on this year being better than 2017 and it wasn’t honestly as far as music goes. Professionally though, 2018 was my best year yet. When I set out to follow my music industry dreams in 2015 (technically 2016 but it started in 2015), my goal was always to be better, learn more, and grow every year. I’ve done that so far, especially this year. I have no plans to stop any time soon either. I’ve started to reach some goals I’ve had, but I have so much more to do and accomplish. I’m so lucky I get to do what I love. I’m grateful for everyone that’s helped and supported me, everyone I’ve met, and all the experiences I’ve had. I owe it all to music. So hopefully next year is even better because I plan on trying to make it that way and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of new tunes to help me through it all. Be back next week for the Coachella 2019 lineup release!

“All of life is energy vibrating at different frequencies. It has been said, the universe is a uni-verse, one song or vibration that plays throughout existence and gives us life. When we get in tune with that tone, we are in harmony with life. Music is a way we can tap into that power. That is why we feel music with our whole being. It moves us, stimulates our imagination, opens emotions, and can pass language and cultural barriers. It lives on a primal level, one that we can all connect with.”

Brighter Days: Album Review

I like to think that the spring of 2016 is when I started to get into electronic music even though I know it was a progressive interest up until that point. There were several songs I had been listening to in 2015 through the beginning of that year but it was in spring 2016 when I actually got into an electronic artist, Australian DJ, Flume. Like I said though, by that point I was listening to several electronic songs regularly. One of those was the hit “Sweet Lovin'” by British electronic artist, Sigala.

I sampled a song or two of Sigala’s other music, but really only took a liking to “Sweet Lovin'”. Interestingly enough, it helped me bond with a fellow co-worker when I worked my first music festival that summer and I actually caught part of Sigala’s set at it.

Flash forward a little over 2 years since then and Sigala’s debut album Brighter Days is out. It was released last weekend. I wasn’t even aware that he had a debut in the works, but after releasing new music over the last 3 years since he stepped onto the electronic scene, it was bound to happen.

Sigala, better known to the world as Bruce Fielder, from Norwich, Norfolk, England released his first single in 2015. The single includes samples from the Jackson 5’s “ABC”. It debuted at number 71 on the UK Singles Chart, then hit number 1 the following week. Sigala’s second single “Sweet Lovin'” reached number 3 on the chart. In 2016, Sigala began touring. He played shows and festivals throughout Europe with three appearances in the United States, Ultimate Music Experience, Ultra Music Festival, and Firefly Music Festival. He continued touring mostly in Europe in 2017 and 2018 as well. In fact his appearances at Ultimate, Ultra, and Firefly mark his only U.S. appearances to date.

His first full length album Brighter Days came out last week on September 28th. The album features 16 tracks and includes many of his singles from the last few years like, “Easy Love”, “Sweet Lovin'”, “Say You Do”, “Give Me Your Love”, “Came Here For Love”, “Lullaby”, “Feels Like Home”, and “We Don’t Care”. Every song on the album is one that makes you want to dance. Sigala’s signature house/trop house/dance-pop style is evident on each track. The new album already features a few new bangers like latest single “Just Got Paid” featuring Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor, and French Montana and “Ain’t Giving Up” featuring Craig David.

Sigala is briefly touring in the UK this month in support of his debut’s release, but there’s no doubt that the release should bring more touring for the English producer. Hopefully he’ll be back in the states soon and I’ll have another opportunity to check him out. I’m proud to say that I was at one of his only U.S. appearances to date. I only stuck around for a few songs though so seeing him again would be amazing, especially since I got more into his music after I last saw him perform. Sigala is definitely one of my favorite electronic artists so I’m telling you now to go check out his first album before he’s appearing in a city near you! It’s great music to dance to, chill to, drive to, and especially work out to. It has kept “me coming cause it’s all that I need” so it’s safe to say that it might for you too and you won’t be disappointed!

 

Cause That’s My Favorite Part

I know it’s been almost a month, but I spent 3 of the last 4 weeks traveling, adventuring, and working. August has been my favorite month of 2018 so far, and I feel so grateful for all the great times and experiences that came with it. So now that I’ve been home for almost a week and rested up, it’s back to blog business. I know I’d feel like a total failure if I didn’t write about this artist this year, because his song “NUMB” ft. GRAACE is one of my top two favorite songs of the summer and probably the year (even though it was released in late 2017).

Hayden James is an electronic music DJ and producer from Australia. He entered the music scene in 2013 with his single “Permission to Love”. He released his self-titled debut EP in August that year as well. Since then James has toured with Disclosure and Odesza, co-wrote songs with Katy Perry for her 2017 album Witness, and toured Europe and North America in addition to releasing new music consistently. Some of his singles include “Something About You”, “NUMB”, and most recently “Just Friends”. He is currently signed to Australian indie record label Future Classic, whose clients include the likes of electronic artists Flume and Flight Facilities. In 2015 and 2016 he received two ARIA nominations for Best Dance Recording for his tracks “Something About You” and “Just a Lover”, respectively. He has yet to release his debut album, but rumor has it that it’s in the works and releasing soon!

Hayden James plays a house style of electronic music. His downtempo style of sound gives his tracks an R&B type feel. It gives off a very sensual/sexual vibe. I would compare it to fellow Future Classic artist Flume, but it’s not quite as deep house as his style. At times, the sound does give off a Flume-ish energy though.

I first listened to Hayden James while working EDC Las Vegas. My best friend played “NUMB” for me while we were both hanging out in our team’s trailer. I loved it right away and encouraged her to keep playing the song on repeat. She did and we had a continuous impromptu dance party until I had to run an errand for our team. The song has since reminded me of EDC and some things that happened while I was out in Vegas. Despite the fact that Vegas wasn’t always the happiest of times, the song always gives me a good feeling, even if the memories associated with it aren’t the best and I love the song regardless.

Since May, I’ve been playing the song on repeat whenever I get the chance. “NUMB” also got me to check out more of Hayden James’ music and I’ve since become a fan. I was able to see Hayden James perform at Electric Forest where he played sets both weekends and played a DJ set during Weekend 2. I saw the entirety of his Weekend 1 set and was able to hear my favorite song live. I then heard it at both of his sets Weekend 2. I just happened to be exploring the Forest towards the end of both of those sets and went to listen to him purely just to hear my jam. It was dope.

I’m definitely looking forward to the release of Hayden James’ debut album. No official release date has been announced yet, but word is that it’s coming soon enough. If you’re into electronic music or house music in general, he’s definitely an artist to check out. His live set was a lot of fun too. He kept everyone moving the entire time. I guarantee you’ll feel the same way if you give his music a listen and who knows maybe you’ll be playing “NUMB” on repeat just as much as I have this summer.

Palo Santo: Album Review

It’s been 3 years since Years & Years released their debut album Communion. They’re finally back today with their sophomore release Palo Santo. Often, upon listening to an album for the first time, I’m not sure what to say about it. A lot of times it’s because the album needs to grow on me. I just started listening to this new Years & Years album about a half hour ago and I’m already in love though. It’s a gem. I had a similar feeling when I listened to Lorde’s Melodrama for the first time. That album was nominated for a Grammy for album of the year last year so as you can tell, I already have great expectations for this new Years & Years release.

A lot of times the sound on a second record might diverge after creating a solid debut. Palo Santo isn’t that at all. It’s an electropop masterpiece. Olly Alexander’s hypnotizing vocals make each track stand out. The beginning of the album has songs that make you want to get up and dance, while the middle is filled with songs that really create a soulful, electronic vibe. Those tracks almost remind me of something Banks or Bishop Briggs would put out. They just have more of an electronic dance feel than you’d hear from both female powerhouses. Then the album picks up the energy again and finishes with a bang. Honestly, there’s not one song I haven’t liked. It’s that good.

Lyrically, LGBTQ themes come to the forefront. With Communion, those notions were subtle. Palo Santo is the opposite. It’s almost a “coming out” of sorts even though lead singer Alexander is already an out gay man. Between this album and Hayley Kiyoko’s Expectations the LGBTQ community has plenty of music representation this year and honestly both albums are killer without that being a focus. It’s just a plus.

I didn’t plan on leaving my home today, but I might make an exception to go pick up a copy of Palo Santo. It’s one of the best records I’ve heard all year next to Vance Joy’s Nation of Two. I highly recommend it to everyone. Go listen on Spotify or Apple Music! Download a copy! Buy a copy! Just check this shit out. Years & Years have officially made a strong comeback in 2018.

Coachella Band Preview: Petit Biscuit

Hey! Hi! What’s up?! Coachella is this weekend!!! I’m not next level hyped or anything (<——— That’s a lie.) Last year I was pretty excited about Kungs playing Coachella. He was a slightly known, slightly up and coming electronic artist. This year I have similar feelings about Petit Biscuit, who is similar to Kungs in other ways as well. Both are French electronic DJ’s. Both are also pretty young. Kungs was 20 when he played Coachella last year. Petit Biscuit is a mere 18 years old.

Petit Biscuit is the DJ name for France’s Mehdi Benjelloun. He released his hit single “Sunset Lover” in 2015 when he was only 15 years old. Since then, the single has close to 285 million streams on Spotify and SoundCloud combined. Benjelloun played instruments growing up like the cello, piano, and guitar, but took interest in playing electronic music because of the variety of sounds he could create. He recently graduated high school and started university, but decided to take a leave to pursue his musical success.

His music style is a combination of electronic music genres. Spotify describes his music as being ambient, techno, and house. His background in classical instruments and his interest in electronic music allows him to express himself through the crossing of different genres.Vocal chops, which are fragmented vowels that act as melodic or percussive pseudo-vocal elements, are a big part of his style. His music reminds me of a combination of Odesza and Flume put together.

I first discovered Petit Biscuit while I was analyzing this year’s Coachella lineup. I never heard of him before that. As I was going through the lineup in January, I listened to his tracks and was pretty surprised by what I heard. I really liked it. Initially I had been listening to a lot of Odesza so I kind of got that vibe from the song “Sunset Lover”. Then after reading an interview with Petit Biscuit, where he described Flume as being influential to him as an artist, I was able to see that reflected in his music as well.

Coachella 2018 will mark his first major festival appearance. Petit Biscuit plays on Friday (Edit: He plays Sunday. Gotta fact check myself. Sorry about that!), much like Kungs did last year. Also like Kungs, I’m guessing he’ll play an earlier set at the Sahara Tent. If Sahara is your shit or you have an appreciation for electronic music at all, I highly recommend going to his set. He could be the next big thing in electronic music. I know you have zero time to listen to anything but here’s a few songs you should turn on if you plan on seeing him:

  1. Sunset Lover
  2. Memories
  3. Alone
  4. Waterfall
  5. Problems

As for me, I’m headed out to California tomorrow to work my second Coachella and be there for the third time. I didn’t think I would be back again, but after some positive peer pressure I decided to make it happen. I’m stoked and I hope I get to see some of these acts I’ve previewed the last 3 months. It should be amazing regardless. Happy Coachella and I’ll see you all on the polo fields!

Coachella Band Preview: the Neighbourhood, alt-J, BØRNS, Odesza, & Hayley Kiyoko

It’s only been 2 days since my last post, but that’s okay. This week I’ve decided to do two blog posts because there’s still a ton of bands to talk about and not much time left. So let’s talk about five bands who I’ve written about before that are playing the festival this year. Two of them are actually 3 of my top 4 must-see sets of Coachella 2018.

A lot of time has passed since I wrote about the Neighbourhood in the fall of 2015. Since then, there hasn’t been much news surrounding the band until late last year. In September they released their first new music since 2015’s Wiped Out!, the EP Hard. Then in early January the band dropped a second EP To Imagine followed by the release of their third album, The Neighbourhood, on March 9th. With a bunch of new music out, playing Coachella for the first time in 5 years seems fitting. They play on Friday. I’ve never seen them live and I’ve been obsessed with “Sweater Weather” since 2013. It was probably my favorite song of that year. There’s no doubt I’d love to check them out if I had the time making them 1 of the 3 bands on this list that are must-sees for me. If you plan on checking them out, here’s a few songs to get you ready:

  1. Sweater Weather
  2. Afraid
  3. Daddy Issues
  4. Scary Love
  5. Sadderdaze
  6. R.I.P to My Youth
  7. Cry Baby
  8. You Get Me So High
  9. Stuck With Me
  10. Let It Go

alt-J are no strangers to Coachella. They’ve played twice but haven’t been back to the Indio desert since 2015. Since their last Coachella, alt-J has released a new album. It came out last June. I reviewed it here. I’ve also written about alt-J two other times on this blog. Once previewing them for Coachella in 2015, where I saw them live for the first time and another time reviewing a concert I saw them play in Philly in September 2015. I really like alt-J and I love how different their music sounds from other stuff I like. They played Panorama last summer and I was able to catch part of their set. If it wasn’t for my work schedule and several other concerts I already spent money on in the fall, I would have seen them play again. They’re a band that I would rarely turn down if I had the opportunity to see, making them another one of my top choice sets for Coachella 2018 along with Haim and the Neighbourhood. They play Saturday and probably at night on either the Main or Outdoor stage. What would be the biggest heartbreak is if they overlapped with Haim. Here’s my recommendations for you if you decide to follow my lead and check them out:

  1. Left Hand Free
  2. Breezeblocks
  3. In Cold Blood
  4. Every Other Freckle
  5. 3WW
  6. Tessellate
  7. Fitzpleasure
  8. Deadcrush
  9. Something Good
  10. Hunger of the Pine

BØRNS is back at Coachella after a year break from the famous Southern California music festival. He just released his second album, Blue Madonna, back in January. The album features a collaboration with Lana Del Rey as well as plenty of new music from the “Electric Love” writer. I saw BØRNS play live in 2016. It was kind of a last-minute decision since my friend and I bought tickets about a week before the performance. It was a fun set, so I’d definitely want to see him perform again if I had the chance. He plays on Saturday as well. I would guess BØRNS would be a late afternoon-early evening set, but we’ll see what happens. These are the songs you need to prep for his set:

  1. Electric Love
  2. Seeing Stars
  3. 10,000 Emerald Pools
  4. God Save Our Young Blood
  5. Sweet Dreams
  6. American Money
  7. Past Lives
  8. I Don’t Want U Back
  9. Faded Heart
  10. The Emotion

I only got into Odesza about 6 months ago because of planning to see them in NYC with my friend, but getting into them definitely wasn’t a waste of my time. The concert we went to in December was incredible so I have no doubt that their Coachella set predictably on Sunday night at the now larger Sahara Tent will be just as good and a large draw amongst festival-goers. I would guess they headline the Sahara and overlap with Eminem as the overall headliner Sunday evening. Initially, I believed Odesza would be my Sunday night choice no question, but the inner early 2000’s middle-schooler in me has been fighting hard. Odesza will no doubt put on an incredible live performance, but I just saw Odesza. I’ve never seen Eminem nor do I think I’d ever buy tickets or choose to see Eminem, but I used to be a fan at one point. It’s definitely up for debate. What would be ideal is to be able to catch parts of both sets. However if you so choose to skip out on the Real Slim Shady, here’s a few Odesza tracks you should hear:

  1. Sun Models
  2. Higher Ground
  3. Across the Room
  4. Say My Name
  5. Falls
  6. Line of Sight
  7. A Moment Apart
  8. All We Need
  9. It’s Only
  10. Late Night

The artist I’m most excited for who is playing Coachella this year is Hayley Kiyoko. From seeing her a little over a year ago play a tiny venue in Philly that wasn’t even sold out to playing the most well-known U.S. music festival, my stoke level couldn’t be higher for Hayley Kiyoko. Her debut album, Expectations, came out today! Until this point, she’s only released EP’s, but those have gained a huge appreciation from her small, dedicated fan base. The new album builds on Kiyoko’s previous hits with bangers like “Curious” and “Feelings”. It’s got a mystical, feel good sound giving true meaning to Kiyoko’s dreampop style. As an openly gay singer, the theme in her music involves being in love with girls and complications that may arise with being gay and falling for girls. This new album is consistent with Hayley’s style that her fans have grown to love over the past few years. (I just had to give you a mini-album review here too.) She plays on Sunday at Coachella. I will definitely try my hardest to catch her set one of the weekends making her the 4th and final must-see for me. My guess would be an early Sunday afternoon set, but you never know. She may play later in the day at Gobi or Mojave. We’re a little over a week from the schedule release and probably a few days from the food vendor list, then the official planning can begin. In the mean time, check out Expectations along with these other songs:

  1. Girls Like Girls
  2. Cliff’s Edge
  3. Gravel to Tempo
  4. Palace
  5. This Side of Paradise

(On Expectations, pay special attention to “Curious”, “Feelings”, “Sleepover”, “Let It Be”, and “What I Need (ft. Kehlani)”)