tropical house music

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!

 

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: Kygo

Another week down means another week less to prep for Coachella 2018, but it also means it’s time for another band preview. I feel like I need to re-name this blog series. When I started it in 2015, I was mostly into bands. Since then, my taste in electronic music has grown. Also as you know, this year’s Coachella lineup has way less bands than in prior years. For now, just know that my band previews encompass singers and artists too, which includes this week’s preview as well.

Kygo aka Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll is a Norwegian DJ, producer, and musician. He started taking piano lessons as a child and continued until he was a teenager when he began to produce his own music using a keyboard and recording software. He was also halfway through a college degree in business and finance by the time he decided to pursue music full-time.

Kygo’s break-through hit came in 2014 when he released the single “Firestone” ft. Conrad Sewell. In the same year he was contacted by Avicii and Chris Martin of Coldplay to remix the Coldplay song “Midnight”. He then supported Avicii on tour.

In 2015 his music was featured in a trailer for the Ultra Music Festival, a well-known electronic festival that takes place in Miami, FL, as well as being a featured headliner for Lollapalooza. He also released 4 more singles that year which paved the way for his debut studio album to be released in 2016. His debut was released on May 16, 2016 entitled Cloud Nine. The album featured collaborations with several artists including John Legend, Angus & Julia Stone, Foxes, James Vincent McMorrow, Maty Noyes, and more. Kygo also played at the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In 2017 Kygo released two singles that lead up to an EP and his second full length studio album. The EP, Stargazing, included both singles “It Ain’t Me” ft. Selena Gomez and “First Time” ft. Ellie Goulding. Kygo’s second album Kids In Love was just released in November.

Kygo’s tropical house style originated from him trying to imitate his hero, Swedish DJ/producer Avicii. He eventually found his own sound by slowing it down into a dreamy, light synth type sound. He was really one of the first DJ’s to popularize the style which originates from deep house, a subgenre of house music.

I feel like I started listening to Kygo just because of my interest in his style of electronic music. Although he’s known as one of the originators, I discovered the style through listening to Matoma and Sam Feldt first. I’m not even sure when I first listened to Kygo. It was obviously sometime over the last 2-3 years and it was definitely the song “Stay” that I was into. I can’t even say I’m into that many Kygo songs. I was hooked on “First Time” last summer though. I honestly just think his Coachella performance will be fun because I like his style of music so I would totally want to catch his set if I was attending.

Kygo plays on Friday at Coachella. In my opinion Friday has the weakest lineup, but Kygo is one of the bright spots. He’ll probably close out the Sahara tent Friday night or he might even take to the Outdoor Stage as the last slot, which may overlap The Weeknd. Either way, there’s no question he’ll be a late night set. If you plan on catching him, I recommend getting there with plenty of time. No matter where he’s playing it’s sure to be packed. He’ll be setting the vibe for the rest of the weekend that night. To me, there’s something about tropical house being played in the SoCal desert amongst the palms that sets the mood. Here’s a few songs that will get you ready for that moment Friday night:

1. Stay (ft. Maty Noyes)

2. Stole the Show (ft. Parson James)

3. It Ain’t Me (ft. Selena Gomez)

4. First Time (ft. Ellie Goulding)

5. Kids in Love (ft. The Night Game)

6. Stranger Things (ft. One Republic)

7. Stargazing (ft. Justin Jesso)

8. This Town (ft. Sasha Sloan)

9. Firestone (ft. Conrad Sewell)

10. Raging (ft. Kodaline)

 

Coachella Band Preview: Matoma

We are officially 10 days away from Coachella 2016! Get hype! With the festival beginning next weekend, there’s only so much time to preview artists for this year’s event. I seriously hope you’ve been listening to your favorite Coachella 2016 acts for the last several weeks or more because it’s so much better when you know all of the songs during a set instead of a couple. I have more tunes for your Coachella prep this week and an in depth preview of an EDM DJ that I briefly spoke about in my Coachella 2016 lineup release post.

Matoma a.k.a. Tom Stræte Lagergren is an EDM DJ and producer from Filsa, Norway. He was involved in music from a young age as a classical pianist, but eventually wanted to get into some different aspects of music. After buying a computer and software for basic music production, he started producing his own music. He came on to the club scene in 2014 with a few remixes, but his biggest hit so far has been his remix of The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Old Thing Back”. The remix was a charted single in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and New Zealand. Since then, Matoma released his debut album, Hakuna Matoma, in November 2015 and has created plenty more remixed songs.

Matoma’s music fits into a particular category on the EDM spectrum, tropical house. Tropical house music is a subgenre of deep house and ultimately house music. The music uses synth and a 4/4 beat which is standard for house music. What sets it apart is the more uplifting, relaxing, airy type of sound. The instruments used have that island vibe hence the “tropical” aspect of it. It’s also a bit slower than deep house and doesn’t have the pumping beat associated with house music.

As I said in my earlier blog post, I first heard of Matoma because of his “Old Thing Back” remix. It was one of the first EDM style song in addition to RAC’s music that I actually enjoyed. I don’t listen to Matoma’s other stuff at all, but if I were heading out to Coachella this year, I would definitely want to catch his set strictly because his music fits the Coachella vibe perfectly. In fact, the tropical house style is the genre that captures the essence of Coachella best.

Matoma plays Coachella on Saturday. The set times and stages haven’t been announced yet, but my perfect version of a Matoma set would be as the sun is setting on an outdoor stage. With the palm trees, desert breeze, and the ambiance of the entire festival, I feel like that would be the perfect setting for his music. He’ll probably just end up in the Sahara tent though. Either way, I have a feeling his set will be fun, chill, and filled with dancing. To get you ready for the Matoma set, here’s a few tunes you should know:

  1. Old Thing Back (Matoma remix)
  2. Find Love (feat. Dboy)
  3. Running Out
  4. Knives
  5. The Wave (feat. Madcon)
  6. 2 AM (Matoma remix)
  7. Stick Around (with Akon)
  8. Feeling Right (Everything Is Nice) (feat. Wale and Popcaan)