electronic DJs

Decco

Back in April, I was checking new music on my Release Radar playlist on Spotify. I was stoked to see that Kygo had released a new single and even more excited to listen. The song was alright but I was very intrigued by the artist singing on the new track because I was into his voice. The artist was named James Gillespie. I decided to check out his page and sample a few of his songs, which is where I found my latest music discovery, the electronic duo, Decco.

Decco is the project of songwriters and producers Joacim Persson and Sebastian Arman. Both spent years writing and producing for artists such as John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, and Selena Gomez before teaming up to form Decco. Their first single, “Shooting Stars” featuring Mapei, came out in 2016. Shortly after the duo released remixes of the Alex Vargas song “Higher Love” and Dua Lipa’s “Thinking ‘Bout You.” Throughout the last five years the producers have been releasing new singles here and there with their latest being “I Didn’t Know” featuring James Gillespie which was released in September 2020. Although they’ve been releasing music for the last five years, they have yet to perform a live set.

Their music style fits in the tropical house genre of electronic music, but slightly less tropical/island vibes than what you might get from Kygo, Matoma, or Sam Feldt. Their tracks have a very vibey type of sound. Despite their limited discography, I feel like each song that they’ve released gives off a different feel and uses different elements/instruments. It’s not quite unique to the genre but it’s always cool when an artist can create a sound that is signature to them yet still unique in its own right.

Usually when I discover a new artist, band, or group, I get excited for their new albums or their tours/festival appearances, but with Decco I’m not sure what to expect. This project seems more of a side hustle for Persson and Arman with singles coming out every so often. I feel like they’d be more likely to appear as Decco at a festival than to go on tour so I’m hoping that can eventually happen, especially with music festivals and concerts finally making a comeback this year! We’ll see what the future holds. In general though, Decco is great. I’ve been listening to them constantly since I found them in April and I highly recommend them if you’re into electronic music.

Daft Punk ISN’T playing at my house, my house

I knew I wanted to make a post today, but I didn’t expect it would be something Coachella related. Here we are though! As of this morning, Daft Punk (my way, way, way late music discovery of 2020) are no more. The iconic electronic duo have called it quits after 28 years together. They posted a video entitled “Epilogue” to their website which includes a scene of one of the robots blowing up followed by an image of two robot hands formed into a triangle (a representation of the pyramid they used on their Alive Tour in 2007) with “1993-2021” written beneath the image. Many media outlets reported the news with confirmation from the group’s publicists saying they are in fact retiring. Big sad!

About 10 months ago during what was dubbed as “Couchella” because of the panny d related Coachella postponement, I took an interest in Daft Punk and proclaimed that I’ve become one of those people who want them to headline every year. When my friend sent me this news earlier today, I was shocked and heartbroken for a solid…oh I don’t know 5-10 minutes? The reason being….retirement isn’t always forever. Reunions happen and there’s a certain festival FAMOUS for reunions. What festival is that? Coachella! Duh! Even if the reunion never actually happens, or it takes years and years, there’s still hope that we get to see Daft Punk live. This isn’t something to be devastated about. Obviously take it seriously because as of right now, yeah, they’re serious about it. Appreciate Daft Punk for what they gave for 28 years. Appreciate them for their impact on the electronic music world. Appreciate their music that you love because you know you’ll still be playing it for years to come. But do NOT be sad about this! Things change. Reunions happen. Bands get back together. Your odds of seeing them live now are just about as much as they were yesterday before this announcement. I swear. These guys do not tour often.

Anyway, if you’ve learned anything from the last year, it should be that anything is possible! Both good and bad, but let’s think about the good instead because no one like a Debbie Downer. I’ve been all about a few mantras this year and I’m gonna give them to you (and also relate them to music for the sake of the blog)…..

  1. “2021 Energy” – The point of this is to get out of that negative 2020 mindset. Bad shit always happens. Last year was very bad, but this year will be better. Stay hopeful! Stay optimistic! This year isn’t last year and it will be better. Just start believing it. I’m a firm believer that I’m going to be back working music related things at some point this year. I already was able to work again once which although was not at a concert or festival, was something and one of my goals for 2021. Small things matter. Baby steps matter. That brings me to the second mantra…
  2. “Transition” – See this year as a transitional year. It’s not going to be the exact life we want quite yet, but we’re slowly getting back to it. Baby steps. Small accomplishments. We’ll get there. One step at a time. And before you know it we’ll be back at Coachella!
  3. “Panny D” – Change the name of the game. Pandemic felt so damn serious and scary and yes of course it’s still happening. We’re still working on those vaccines. People can still get sick. People are still dying! So yeah it’s serious. But this name changing is more of a mental thing. I feel like last year we let the pandemic own us. This year let’s own it. By changing the name, it feels less serious (mentally). It’s more casual. I know you’re probably worried that making it like this might make people take it less seriously literally, but you know what, everyone was already doing that anyway. Stop worrying and trying to control everyone else. You can’t do it. What you can do though is take care of yourself. Put yourself first. If changing the name isn’t for you, then so be it. Don’t do it. But it’s helped me get out of that negative mindset and you just gotta do what works best for you. That’s not saying to not be safe. Be safe when you need to be, cause we’re getting there. But you can still, be safe and not let it get you down.

That’s it. Those are my big three so far. There might be more on the way, but until then this is all I’ve got. It’s the mental set and it’s helped me refocus this year. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we can see it. I promise. Concerts will be back. Festivals will be back. Coachella will be back. Daft Punk will be back. See what I did there?! Ha!

So for now, spend the rest of the day listening to Daft Punk, dream about hearing them play live again because guess what? It’s still possible. As long as Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, are “alive” and well, it can happen. Maybe they headline Coachella in a few years as a reunion set. Maybe they bring out LCD Soundsystem as a surprise guest and they perform “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” together. I mean I can dream right? Maybe they don’t? Who knows? But anyway…robots can be rebuilt and anything is possible. So stay positive and keep the vibes up that maybe we’ll “get lucky” enough to hear them perform “one more time” because if you know Daft Punk you know that their “work is never over!”

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 Band Preview: Illenium

I swear the 3 months between the lineup release and Weekend One of Coachella always fly by. Now, once again, here we are just over a month away from the festival. As always once March hits, time is winding down. I’m sure plenty of attendees have begun the planning process of fashion and travel. It’ll be a few weeks before the set times and food vendors are announced though. I hope your planning process also includes jamming to some bands and artists playing the festival this year, otherwise why am I even posting this?! Regardless, at least you’re finding some info out about the music world, I guess? But let’s be real, I hope you’re using these to prep for Coachella. This week I’m previewing an electronic artist that hopped on to the scene around 2013. Since then he has quickly rose in the EDM rankings.

Denver’s Nick Miller, better known to the world by his DJ alias, Illenium, has made a notable impact on the electronic music scene recently. He was inspired to start recording music after he saw Bassnectar perform at Red Rocks in 2012. He released his first EP in 2013 and his debut album, Ashes, in 2016 under his own record label Kasaya Recordings. Ashes peaked on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums Chart at number 6 and on the Billboard Top Heatseeker’s Chart at number 19. About six months ago, he released his second album, Awake.

Illenium was originally a melodic dubstep/trap artist, but his latest album strays from that a bit. Several songs are more downtempo and have an atmospheric type sound similar to what you might hear from Odesza or Gryffin. It’s a definite progression from his debut, but still incorporates his signature sound. He’s stated that he plans on straying from that dubstep/trap sound in his live performances as well by sticking to more of his own music and playing less of others’.

I first heard of Illenium last year when I heard his collaboration on the track “Feel Good” with Coachella 2017 performer Gryffin and vocalist, Daya. After the release of his latest album, I spent a week or so listening to it as part of my work out routine, eventually downloading and adding a few songs to my typical work out playlist. I really liked his more recent sound and I definitely felt like he was an artist I would want to check out at a festival over the next year. Luckily that might happen!

Illenium plays on Sunday at Coachella. I’d guess his set to be at the Sahara Tent. He might even play there before expected Sunday Sahara headliner, Odesza, plays. If I’m free, I’d definitely want to drop in to his set for a bit. The only conflict for me would be if Portugal. The Man plays around the same time. Honestly, I’d probably go see Portugal. The Man. But if you’re trying to maximize your Coachella experience, you may want to catch a little of both sets. If you want to check out Illenium’s set, here’s what you need to hear first:

  1. Feel Good
  2. Fractures
  3. Sound of Walking Away
  4. Crawl Outta Love
  5. With You
  6. I’ll Be Your Reason
  7. Don’t Give Up On Me
  8. It’s All On U

Coachella 2018 Lineup Release

Not 48 hours into the new year and the Coachella 2018 lineup drops. Last night at 4:15 PT Coachella released their lineup on social media and as always people have opinions, me included. Since last year I expected the 2018 lineup to be the best since 2014. If you know me, you know that I believe 2014 had the best lineup to date and every year after has  been incomparable. 2018 had so much potential. There were so many bands who released new music in 2017 that did not play the festival plus a handful of other greats expected to release new music this year. But when rumors spread just before Christmas about the headliners, I knew this year wasn’t going to meet my expectations.

Going into 2018 everyone knew Beyoncé was supposed to headline. She was supposed to headline last year but dropped out shortly after the announcement of her twin pregnancy paving the way for Lady Gaga to take her spot. The biggest question was who would accompany her on top of the poster. On December 20th, Consequence of Sound reported that Eminem and The Weeknd were slated to join Beyoncé as the 2018 headliners, much to my dismay. Here’s why. The Weeknd headlined Coachella in 2015. Was he supposed to be a headliner? No. However he played in the headliner spot. Jack White, the headliner for that night, took an early spot for whatever the case may be leaving The Weeknd to close out the night.

In my opinion Eminem is a pretty cool choice for a headliner. He fits that formerly popular/still popular angle. He’s a rapper and for the past few years Coachella has plugged that genre (or R&B) into one of their headlining spots. Plus he just released a new album. Here’s the issue: Beyoncé already filled that genre spot this year. I mean come on! The entire headlining lineup is rap/R&B. This is the first time in the history of the festival that a rock band isn’t headlining. Disappointing.

In fact, looking at the lineup, rap/hip-hop/R&B has taken over the festival this year. I think Louis Tomlinson’s (of One Direction fame) reaction on Twitter summarizes my feelings exactly. He stated, “Just seen the Coachella lineup …. Where the fuck are all the bands!? It’s a festival!?” Yes Louis, you’re right. Where are all the bands?! All I see are rappers, R&B singers, or electronic DJ’s. As I went through the lineup last night making a list of who I would see for my annual Coachella preview, there were names lacking for each day and more “possible” acts to see than definites. For Friday, I only listed 4 acts. Four. It’s a headshaker, for sure, given that this year had some high expectations. Anyway, let’s get down to this lineup analysis.

The Headliners: The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Eminem

I already summarized my thoughts on all these acts above. So re-read that.

The Other Highly Billed Performers: SZA, Kygo, Jamiroquai, St. Vincent, the War on Drugs, Vince Staples, Haim, Tyler the Creator, David Byrne, alt-J, Post Malone, Fleet Foxes, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, Migos, A Perfect Circle, Cardi B, Miguel, Soulwax, Jean-Michel Jarre, Daniel Caesar, Kali Uchis, Los Ángeles Azueles, Deorro, Chromeo, Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, BØRNS, Louis the Child, Angel Olsen, Jungle, blackbear, MØ, King Krule, Illenium, Kamasi Washington, French Montana, 6lack, Vance Joy, Russ, LANY

As always, there’s a few names in this group that I’m pretty excited about. If I were attending this year, I’d definitely be hitting up Kygo, St. Vincent, Haim, alt-J, Fleet Foxes, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, BØRNS, Illenium, and LANY. There’s a few that I’d definitely check out here too if there were no overlaps like David Byrne, Post Malone, Chromeo, Jungle, MØ, and Vance Joy. I’m mostly excited about Haim and alt-J. Even though I’ve seen both live before, they’re fantastic and two of my favorite bands. Odesza is an incredible electronic act and I can attest from seeing them live last month. I’ve seen BØRNS live before as well and it was so enjoyable. After working St. Vincent in November and listening to her VIP Q&A, I’ve gained a new respect for Annie Clark and her music. I was able to stay for half of her show but would love to see her again. The others I’ve never seen live.

As I said in my 2017 music recap blog post, I would be reviewing Portugal. The Man soon. It might now be even sooner than I thought. I’ve been stoked on their latest album since buying it on vinyl in NYC and I’d love to see them live especially since knowing about them since college. Since getting into electronic music, I’ve always been partial to tropical house, making Kygo an artist I would love to check out. I also got into Illenium’s latest album for a short time two months ago making him another electronic act I’d want to see. I’ve listened to LANY a few times over the past few years so they’re a group I’d love to see too. If you’re looking for the most indie band at Coachella this year, I’d have to say that would be Fleet Foxes. I’ve liked them for a while now and would definitely want to see them live.

As for the others that I’d like to check out, I’ve seen Jungle and Vance Joy before. Both played in 2015 when I attended and I made it to both sets. I even saw Vance Joy at Panorama last summer. They’re always a solid set. I was super hyped about Jungle in 2015, but this time around they’re not a definite for me. They’ve got new music out, which I plan on checking out soon They just didn’t make a huge impact on me last time. I’ve casually listened to Chromeo and MØ so I would casually see them. Post Malone is burning up right now. I’m not into rap, but Post Malone has a song that is more indie than rap that I enjoy. I think I’m solely interested in seeing this dude play live because of the hype surrounding him right now. David Byrne is the most intriguing to me. Honestly I had no idea who he was until I did a little research. After I found out, it felt like I failed at music so excuse me for that one. As the lead singer and guitarist of the Talking Heads, I would love to hear his set. He’s got a solo career going, but you know he’ll be playing some Talking Heads covers. Who knows maybe there’s a reunion in store?! I mean who doesn’t like the Talking Heads?!

The Rest: Maceo Plex, Alan Walker, the Neighbourhood, Alison Wonderland, Kelela, REZZ, Bleachers, Black Coffee, SuperDuperKyle, Justin Martin, Belly, TroyBoi, Dreams, Perfume Genius, PVRIS, Moses Sumney, LÉON, Greta Van Fleet, Tank and the Bangas, Cash Cash, Whethan, Skip Marley, Elohim, Detroit Love (Carl Craig, Kyle Hall, Moodymann), Benjamin Clementine, Carpenter Brat, the Blaze, Knox Fortune, MHD, Slow Magic, Avalon Emerson, Fazerdaze, Moon Boots, HITO, Helado Negro, the Buttertones, the Regrettes, Boogarins, the Marias, Señor Kino, Tash Sultana, BROCKHAMPTON, Marian Hill, Alina Baraz, First Aid Kit, Snakehips, Highly Suspect, Wizkid, Jorja Smith, Alvvays, the Black Madonna, Tom Misch, Django Django, X Japan, Benjamin Booker, Flatbush Zombies, Ekali, Yaeji, Party Favor, Big Thief, Jason Bentley, Oh Sees, Sigrid, Busy P, the Bronx, AC Slater, Sudan Archives, Jackmaster, Otoboke Beaver, Chloe x Halle, Sir Sly, Hundred Waters, Pachanga Boys, Bedouin, Cherry Glazerr, Mild High Club, Priests, Ron Gallo, Declan McKenna, Bane’s World, KITTENS, the Drums, Aminé, Jessie Ware, Jamie Jones, Kamaiyah, San Holo, FIDLAR, DeJ Loaf, Petit Biscuit, Ibeyi, LP, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Princess Nokia, AURORA, Noname, Jacob Banks, Chris Liebing, Jidenna Hayley Kiyoko, Barclay Crenshaw, LION BABE, Giraffage, Talaboman, THEY., Cuco, Joseph Capriati, Hannah Wants, Nothing But Thieves, John Maus, Kölsch, Japanese Breakfast, MAGIC GIANT, Omar-S, Michael Mayer, Westside Gunn + Conway, Buscabulla, Peggy Gou, Snail Mail, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, B Boys, the Delirians

My favorite name that showed up on the Coachella lineup this year is in this group, Hayley Kiyoko. As you know, I saw her last year in what I consider to be one of the most epic nights in music for me, seeing 2 shows in one night. One of those was Hayley Kiyoko and she played in a small venue in Philadelphia. I was beyond excited to see her name on the poster and so stoked that she’s playing Coachella this year in time with releasing her debut album. Another band that’s on my must see list is in this group too, The Neighbourhood. I’ve been digging The Neighbourhood since 2013 and I’ve never seen them live. They’re a must-see for sure. There’s a few on this list that I’d want to catch if I had time too. Bleachers, Tash Sultana, Sir Sly, Declan McKenna, and Marian Hill are the big ones among that bunch.

As a whole I feel like this is the smallest group of bands I’ve been interested in since starting my Coachella previews in 2015. I had such high hopes for this year’s festival and it all came crashing down last night. Some names I would have liked to see on this year’s lineup include Arctic Monkeys (as a headliner or part of that second line of acts), Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Foster the People, Lana Del Rey, Cold War Kids, Halsey, Phoenix, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, ARIZONA, the 1975, Sigala, Cigarettes After Sex, Passion Pit, The Kooks, AWOLNATION, and either The Killers, Arcade Fire, or Kings of Leon as a headliner (most likely The Killers though). There’s probably more bands as well, but those are a few off the top of my head.

I started doing a bit of research on this year’s lineup compared to my favored 2014 lineup. I plan on editing this post later today or tomorrow with my findings. Until then, you should start listening to some bands on this lineup. There’s plenty I know nothing about and a few that I do. Maybe you’re stoked on this lineup. Maybe you’re not. The fact is that Coachella is in 3 months and the prep officially began yesterday. One thing is certain though, regardless of who is on the lineup and the amount of complaining done, people are still gonna go to Coachella. It’s the festival to be at. It’s Coachella. You’re bound to have a great time because although I strongly believe music festivals should be about the music, Coachella is more than music. It’s art. It’s atmosphere. It’s good food. It’s being with people you care about and have a good time with. It’s hot days and cool nights. It’s palm trees, and mountains, and desert. It’s fashion. It’s celebrities. It’s social media. It’s sponsors. It’s ferris wheels and hip merch. Mostly it’s the best kind of positivity and vibes you’ll ever experience. So Coachella 2018, I’m ready for you! Here’s to hoping I can be part of the magic again.

(EDIT: I spent the last hour or more doing some research and the numbers I came up with are unreal. I analyzed the 2014 Coachella lineup vs. the 2018 Coachella lineup. I looked at the first 3 lines of each poster plus the headliners and I grouped performers in 4 categories, Rap/R&B, Electronic, Pop, Rock/Indie. In 2014, out of the 165 acts, there were 71 featured on the first 3 lines of the poster including the headliners. Out of those 71, 14% were Rap/R&B, 28% were Electronic, 6% were Pop, and 37% were Rock/Indie. In 2018, out of 165 acts, there are 69 featured on the first 3 lines of the poster including the headliners. Out of those 69, 33% are Rap/R&B, 25% are Electronic, 9% are Pop, and 33% are Rock/Indie. Compared to 2014, the number of Rap/R&B acts have more than doubled. Is Rap/R&B back on the rise and I didn’t know about it? If you asked me, I would tell you no. So what’s the deal this year? What’s even more shocking is that I also compared the number of Bands to Artists for each year. I defined “Band” as a group or single performer with a backing band that plays classic instruments (guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, etc. as opposed to electronic equipment). Artists included rappers, R&B singers, electronic DJ’s, and pop singers. In 2014, out of 71 acts, 55% were Bands and 45% were Artists. In 2018, out of 69 acts, 30% are Bands and 68% are artists. To me those numbers, are staggering. Louis Tomlinson noticed it and he’s right. The bands have decreased this year in favor of the artists. So seriously Coachella, WHERE ARE THE BANDS?! And why are you straying from what made you amazing in the first place? #Coachella2018thefestivalthatcouldhavebeen)

The Film Playlist: We Are Your Friends

While at my cousin’s house over the weekend, we watched another movie that easily makes The Film Playlist. It’s been a while since I wrote about a movie for this series so let me explain. The Film Playlist is a blog series I started about movies that are about music. It’s been about a year since I added anything to it, but as soon as we started watching We Are Your Friends this past weekend, I knew I had to write about it this week.

The 2015 drama stars Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, and Jonny Weston. It was written by Max Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer based off a story by Richard Silverman. Joseph also directed the film which marked his directorial debut. The movie is about an electronic music DJ named Cole Carter (Efron) who is trying to work his way up in the music industry. It’s also partly a coming of age story because Cole and his friends are young adults trying to figure out their lives in the midst of partying at night clubs, selling drugs, and being part of the electronic music scene. While booked to play a gig at a club one night, Cole meets the headliner, who was once a hot commodity in the electronic music world, James Reed (Bentley). Reed in a way becomes a mentor for Cole once he realizes his talent and helps Cole to understand how to create music that doesn’t sound like every other electronic song.

As soon as we started watching this film Friday night, I knew I would love it. The plot is average though. It’s nothing out of the ordinary or exceptional. I strictly loved it for the fact that it was about music and electronic music in particular. I’ve never seen another film that surrounds the electronic music scene. It was cool to see scenes about creating electronic music and also scenes featuring EDC Vegas, which is an electronic music festival done by one of the leading electronic festival promoters Insomniac Events. The soundtrack for the film was excellent. Its feature track “We Are Your Friends” by Justice featuring Simian is where the film got its title from. It also features songs by Years and Years with Gryffin, AlunaGeorge with Tchami, Seinabo Sey with Kygo and Deorro ft. Erin McCarley.

If you’re expecting an award winning film, that’s not what We Are Your Friends is. It’s really just a fictional coming of age film that surrounds the electronic music industry. If you’re at all into electronic music, I suggest you check it out. It’s a film you don’t have to think much about and can purely enjoy, especially if you have a love for music, especially electronic music.