music industry

The Film Playlist: We Are Your Friends

It’s been a while since I wrote about a film for The Film Playlist series I created two years ago. I meant to add this one sooner too. I saw it almost a year ago. I won’t give you a ton of excuses as to why I didn’t write about this sooner but needless to say, it’s better late than never.

We Are Your Friends was released in late summer 2015. Then it made it’s way to DVD by later that year. It stars Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Jonny Weston, and Wes Bentley. It was directed by Max Joseph of MTV’s Catfish. Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer also wrote the screenplay that was based off the story by Richard Silverman.

We Are Your Friends is a drama that focuses on the electronic music scene and is set in Los Angeles. Efron plays DJ Cole Carter, who is looking for his big break in the electronic music industry. While playing a gig as an opener at a small club, Cole meets James Reed (Bentley), a once big-name DJ who’s headlining the show. Reed and Cole connect over music and Reed invites him to a party. After a night of drinking and drugs, Cole wakes up the next morning to find himself at Reed’s house where his girlfriend and personal assistant, Sophie (Ratajkowski), also lives. From there Cole’s career begins to blossom with the help of Reed.

Out of all the films I’ve seen that involve music, this is one of the only films that really explores electronic music and the type of rave scene involved with it. From the LA setting to the partying and drug usage, this film really shows the culture that surrounds EDM. It even shows the characters attending EDC Las Vegas, which is the most largely attended music festival in a one weekend period in the United States. All it’s missing is some hard core PLUR action. The film itself received average reviews and rightfully so. It’s no Academy Award winning film by any means. The thing that makes it stand out though is that it explores a type of music that has become huge in today’s world.

As for the soundtrack, it is fantastic…that is if you like to dance and are into electronic music. It includes the song by Justice and Simian that the film was named after “We Are Your Friends” as well as songs and remixes by Hayden James, Kygo, AlunaGeorge, Deorro, Gryffin, Years & Years, and Tchami amongst others. Many of the songs on the soundtrack are featured in the film.

If you’re a fan of electronic music or a fan of music in general, this film is definitely one you want to check out at some point. The film might not be the greatest as far as movies go, but its focus is what makes it unique and worthy of your time. There’s no question We Are Your Friends is a great addition to The Playlist though.

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Music is Sacred

I honestly don’t know or remember what I wanted to write about this week. All I’ve been able to think about since waking up Monday morning is what happened in Las Vegas Sunday night.

There are tragedies that happen every day. Some are uncontrollable like natural disasters. Some could be prevented if the proper procedures and legislation are in place.

Since last November, I’ve been deeply upset about the state of our nation. I never cared as much, but leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election, my support for a certain democratic candidate was stronger than ever. I actually began to follow some politics. So naturally, when favored candidate (and of course my favorite candidate), Hilary Clinton, lost the election to become the first female President of the U.S., I was crushed. The only good that came out of it was that I became more in tune with political issues.

Flash forward to January. Upon the day of the Women’s March on Washington and the previous day of the Presidential inauguration, I was still ready to fight for my beliefs going forward. Then somewhere along the way I lost my thunder. I got busy. I went to Southern California for two weeks to work at the festival I fell in love with 2 1/2 years ago. Work started to pick up and more opportunities arose. I made new friends. Got closer to others. I worked at concerts, festivals, and a comic con in different cities all over the country all while enjoying one of my lifelong passions, music. I had the time of my life. Then Labor Day came as it does every year. Work began to slow down. I wasn’t traveling as much. Plans for work changed due to uncontrollable circumstances as well. Nevertheless I began to reflect on what an incredible year it’s been, but at the same time I still felt bummed that festival season was coming to a close. I tried to combat those sad feelings though. In the past few weeks I booked new work opportunities, enjoyed some amazing live music experiences as a fan, and planned to attend a few others in the coming months. Then, I woke up Monday morning to news that shattered me.

22,000+ people affected. Several hundred people injured. Over 50 people killed. But it was where it happened that made the biggest difference to me. It happened at a music festival, a type of event where happiness and being carefree is the norm, a type of event that people come together to have a good time and experience the magic of live music, a type of event that I frequent regularly, a type of event that I one day aspire to be in charge of planning.

Music is everything to me. I love it. I’ve loved it since way back. I even wrote a blog about it this past year. It’s important to many others too. It has an ultimate power to cause a range of emotions and feelings. There’s even something more special about hearing the music you listen to being played right in front of your eyes by the musicians and artists who created it. I’ve always felt that. I always found shows, concerts, and festivals to be special places because of that. To have someone destroy those incredible moments that happen at a concert or festival is devastating and infuriating to me. I know it’s happened elsewhere in the past. Paris. Manchester. I definitely was upset about both of those situations too, but this one is different.

It’s different because it happened in the country that I live in and in a city that I’ve visited where I now know someone who lives there. It’s also different because I watched snapchats from the festival throughout the weekend because a friend of mine was working there for the week. That friend of mine was working at the festival Sunday night and had to experience what happened. That friend of mine will have to live with that memory for the rest of their life along with so many other friends of my friends. Not only is it my friends and my friends’ friends, it’s 22,000+ people, who attended, played at, or worked at a music festival, that have to live with it. That’s why it’s different and that’s what hurts the most.

It could have been me working. It could have been more of my friends. And the fact of the matter is that it still could be any of us because in this country our laws indicate that it’s okay for this to happen again and again. But the thing is….it’s really NOT okay. It’s not okay for it to be legal for someone to own weapons that could cause mass casualty or to buy enhancements that would make other weapons capable of the same. It’s not okay for someone to be able to walk into a gun show or go on the internet and purchase a gun without any difficulty. It’s not okay for someone who has a disregard for human life to hurt or kill as many people as possible with a gun because there are poor excuses for human beings in charge of creating legislation, who refuse to do it, that allow this to happen.

I know it’s been a few months since I had a fire in my heart ready to fight the establishment, but it’s back with a vengeance. This was a wake up call for me to get as fired up as I was in January since I was too focused on my work all summer. It’s just unfortunate that it took hurting my office, my work family (because that’s what we are in the music industry), and the music lovers I try to bring joy to on a daily basis for the fire to burn brighter again.

I’m sorry for being a little off topic on my blog this week, but I needed to get it off my chest. It’s been on my mind constantly. If you read this blog and are a music fan, I urge you to find a way to get involved in trying to create change in legislation that lowers the chance for these disasters to happen at concerts and festivals. Whether it be as simple as calling your representatives and demanding change, donating to causes that support gun control, attending a peaceful protest or gathering, or simply joining an organization like Everytown.org that are trying to fight the lack of gun legislation in America. It’s easy to become complacent but we need to keep going and keep fighting to make the places we love as safe and enjoyable as possible because live music events are special and music is scared.

 

I Love Music

So this week, I’m gonna take a little break from previewing Coachella bands and artists. I honestly figured I would write another preview, but I just wasn’t feeling it this week. Instead, I’m gonna write about myself, which I usually incorporate into each post, but only in limited capacity. This started because I got distracted from writing by wanting to play music. So I played music for an hour. The whole time I kept thinking that I should just write about my love for music instead of doing a Coachella Band Preview that I didn’t feel like writing. Well, I decided to go for it so if you’re expecting this to be about something in particular, stop reading now and if you wanna know more about me, here it goes.

Music has always been a big part of my life. It has made me feel a range of emotions. It has been there in good times, in bad times, in sad times, in mad times (look at that rhyme skill). It has inspired me. It has pissed me off. It has made me laugh. It has made me cry. Most importantly, it has always been there for me through everything. It’s like a friend, who up until this moment I never realized was actually like a friend.

My mom likes to credit my love for music from when I was in her tummy. She used to take aerobics classes when she was pregnant and at the classes they did the aerobics to modern music. I guess I was into it. When I was young, my mom would play the piano for me when we visited my grandparent’s house because the apartment we lived in was too small to hold the piano. I used to enjoy trying to play too and singing along to whatever songs she played. She would also play records for me. I distinctly remember being a fan of two songs from the Footloose soundtrack, the title track “Footloose” and “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”. I also liked the song “Ghostbusters”, the theme from the Ghostbusters movie.

In Kindergarten, besides being into the Power Rangers, I loved A Goofy Movie, especially for the music in it. I had the soundtrack on cassette. One time at a friend’s house, we put the cassette on and decided to jump around on his bed and all over his room while listening to the song “Stand Out”.

In 1st through 8th grade, I mostly listened to the radio and I liked pop music. I didn’t have any one super cool in my life to play me anything different. The first CD I owned was the Men in Black soundtrack, followed by OMC’s How Bizarre, Smash Mouth’s Fush Yu Mang, and Chumbawumba’s Thubthumper. After that, I forget who came next because a lot did.

In 5th grade on the bus to our yearly middle school camping trip, my whole class sang along to “All-Star” by Smash Mouth as we pulled into the camp. I remember having so much fun in that moment. I also had a brief interest in good music in 5th grade thanks to the video game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Well, at least I was exposed to some good music because I was only hooked on 1 song from the game, “Superman” by Goldfinger. I also saw my first concert between 5th and 6th grade. It was Britney Spears. I went with my best friend Michael, his mom, and my mom. I only knew a handful of songs, but we stood on our chairs in the very last row of the amphitheater and sang along anyway.

I started writing my own Weird Al parodies to songs in 6th grade and it became a hit in my class. In 7th and 8th grade, I got really into basketball and started listening to more rap music than just “The Real Slim Shady”. Although, most of the rap music was on the radio anyway. 9th grade is when my whole music life changed. I wrote about it once so you can check it out here. That’s when I really got into good music though, high school, and from there music became one of my things. It was the same in college and right before I graduated I started listening to music that was part of a different scene than what I was listening to for the previous 8 years. I wrote about that too. Again check it out here, if you want to know more. I’ve been listening to that type of music ever since and even branching out further into the electronic spectrum recently.

So what’s the point in me giving you a life synopsis of my music life? Well, it’s to prove my love for music. I have a pretty good memory. I remember a lot of shit people might normally forget. Sometimes I even pretend to not know things because it might seem strange to remember so much. I have a great memory of time and place because I can visualize memories, but even so, after all these years I even forget a lot that’s happened to me from when I was younger. The point is that we remember things that are important to us. Going through and thinking about all the music in my life and remembering things about it reminds me that I have memories of music from when I was little because music has always been important to me. I also have a lot of memories involving music from high school and beyond, because that was the point that it started to rule my life in a way. In general I guess a lot of my favorite memories and life moments involve music. Being in a band, going to shows, playing and listening to music with my friends are all part of my collection of favorite moments.

I started this blog as a means to write for fun about my favorite things, which are music, sports, movies, and television shows. Let’s be real though, if you’ve read my blog continually since I started it, you’d know music has always been my number one. Honestly sports are probably number two, but I’ll get into that another time. It’s about music today. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to study in college, I basically settled for something that I found interesting. After I graduated and took a few grad school classes, I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. Sure I found that subject interesting, but it wasn’t what I wanted to spend my life doing. Thanks to an amazing group of inspirational women I decided I should go after what I’m most passionate about, but initially I couldn’t figure out what that was. It took going to Coachella to make everything click. It was music. It was always music. If I had enough confidence and motivation to go after it sooner, I probably would have. It’s never too late to chase your dreams though. So I decided to pursue the music industry as a career and I know that no matter what I do as long as I’m passionate about it or as long as it involves music, I’ll love what I do. That’s part of the reason why I keep up with this blog. I do enjoy writing, but it’s much more fun to write about something I love.

So thanks for reading this specific topic-less blog post. I needed it as a reminder today. Then again, I think wanting to play music instead of write in the first place was a reminder in itself. And just FYI, if you ever want to talk music/play music/write music with anyone, I’m your girl because I love music. Duh.

The Film Playlist: Begin Again

Around the time that I decided to start “The Film Playlist” blog series, I just returned from a last minute trip to my cousin’s house in Maryland. While on the trip, we decided to watch a movie on demand one night. The movie we selected was a decent film that had a plot surrounding music and the music industry. The week after I returned I decided to begin this blog series after seeing Kate Hudson on a talk show and being reminded of her greatest role ever in Almost Famous. This movie also played a role in the decision to start the series too since I had seen it so recently when recalling a number of movies about music. The film was called Begin Again.

Begin Again premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival before being released in theaters in the summer of 2014. The film stars Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, James Corden, and Hailee Steinfeld and was written and directed by John Carney. It tells the story of singer/songwriter, Gretta James (Knightley), who recently broke up with her rising-star boyfriend Dave Kohl (Levine), and struggling A&R rep/producer/record label executive, Dan Mulligan (Ruffalo) when they decide to record and produce an album together on the streets of New York. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song “Lost Stars”.

The film begins in the middle of the story when Dan hears Gretta performing at a club one night. Then the movie alternates between showing the back stories of each character and present day at the club. The audience learns about Dan’s industry life, ex-wife and daughter Violet (Steinfeld), and his struggles to not find new talent in years. You also find out about Gretta’s romance with Dave and how that comes tumbling down as Dave makes his way on the path to stardom. I’ll admit I was getting frustrated at one point during the first half of the movie wondering if they’d ever make it out of that club performance scene. Finally the story moves along though. Once Gretta agrees to make an album with Dan, the magic happens. At first they decide to try to produce the album with Dan’s former record label, but they get turned away. As a result, Gretta agrees to self-produce and record the album with Dan in one of the coolest ways. Along with the help of Gretta’s friend Steve (Corden) and the band they recruit, they record the album in various locations throughout New York City using the atmosphere and city sounds as parts of the recordings. During one of the recording scenes, they even get a group of city kids to sing on the track they’re making. The recording scenes are worth all the frustration relating to never making it out of the club in the beginning of the movie for sure.

As is true with most, if not all films, the story lines for the main characters, Gretta and Dan, as well as the overall album recording story line get resolved by the end of the film. However, I feel like each resolution isn’t super predictable. They’re not twisted or stretched by any means, but they’re also not as cliche as you would expect making what I believe to be a more realistic ending.

As far as music goes in the film, the entire soundtrack is original. The songs are very much a soft type of pop/rock. The styles remind me of Ingrid Michaelson’s music and many of Dave’s songs, of course, remind me of Maroon 5. The entirely original soundtrack is impressive though and made the list of several music charts throughout the world including peaks at the number 1 spot on Billboard’s U.S. Top Soundtracks and the Korean International Albums chart.

If this blog series were an actual playlist, I would probably place this movie somewhere in the middle. It’s not that heart pounding, upbeat first song(s) (films) that really gets you into the playlist, nor is it that last song that takes you out on a strong note making you realize what a great mix of songs (films) you just listened to. It fits in the middle. It’s not a terrible film by any means, but I don’t rank it along with the likes of Almost Famous. Like I said, it’s worth it to see all the recording scenes throughout the streets and rooftops of New York City.

Here’s a few songs from the movie that I recommend you listen to first though:

  1. Lost Stars (the Keira Knightley version)
  2. Like A Fool
  3. Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home (Rooftop Mix)