[Artist Spotlight] MNEK + Sam Smith

There aren’t many male vocalists that get me choked up, but over the past year a handful have popped up on my radar much to my excitement.  Each time I hear a new song featuring Sam Smith or MNEK, my heart stops until I press play – and what I’ve found with each artists, is that I’m addicted to their soulful sounds.

Sam Smith, named the BBC Voice to Watch in 2014, has  slowly but surely etched a permanent place in my heart.  I first heard his breathtaking vocals when he lent them to Disclosure for the feel good crooner ‘Latch’; if that single doesn’t take your breath away, try your hand at the acoustic version:

Then, he does it again on the Nile Rodgers x Disclosure Collaboration ‘Together.’

So far, you’ve gotten an earful of Electro – but Sam Smith’s original work is something closer to Indie Rock with a sexy, bedroom twist:

Not to mention, his voice just remixes so pretty! MK does the jam ‘Money on my Mind’ excellent justice by infusing his remix with some signature deep house grooves.

This morning when I jumped on my mandatory morning music safari, I found a new singles under the man’s belt and I’m beyond excited to share.   ‘Make it To Me’ – has me wrapped up in all of the feels and almost in tears; his vocal prowess is so beautifully honest and refreshing, and that high register – hot damn that sounds phenomenal:

Stay up to date with Sam Smith across his socials: Webpage | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter

Another vocalist that I can’t get enough of is MNEK. Every time I find a new MNEK (pronounced Em-En-E-Kay) cover on Hypem, I’m absolutely enthralled by how he refixes the song by ignoring the original format and laying down his own, silk smooth notes. There has been a host of singles over the past year that I’ve heard MNEK re-do, and each and every one is beautiful and unique in it’s own right. 19 years young, MNEK has the vocal power of an old soul;  time after time, he infuses his sultry R&B vocals into deep house rhythms to perfection and I simply can’t get enough.  One thing I really enjoy with the singles he’s released, is playing them back to back with the original; if you want to understand the man’s genius, it’s a great jumping off point – so I’ll get that party started for you:

[Original]

[Re-Fix]

[Original]

[Re-Fix]

[Original]

[Re-Fix]

[Original]

[Re-Fix]

And then of course, there are the original tracks he’s lent his stellar pipes to – like with Rudimental, SubFocus and DEVolution – proving that his voice is so much more than just [Deep] House, it’s an instrument that producers across the genres love playing with.

Keep tabs on MNEK across the interwebs – Webpage | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

[The Audiofiles] 2013 – A Year In Musical Review

Looking back at my posts from the last year, one that stands out the most to be is my 2012 Year in Musical Review.  Partially, because it’s catalyzed my writing career on multiple fronts – but mostly because music, especially kickass live music, is something I truly care about to my core.  Music influences our moods, our personalities and even our daily interactions.  Unless there’s something highly important and technical that I have a deadline for, I’m literally submersed in music 24/7 – from the time my alarm and I wake up, to my morning runs, to the drive to work, you get the picture: I more or less have provided myself with a soundtrack to my life.  With my attention span as short as it is (…squirrel!…), I constantly refresh my collection of original jams, remixes and singles and try to take in as much live music as I can.

I’ve been leafing through the ticket stubs and reminiscing about the excellent year in music that I just had.  From attempting to co-start a music forum site and to with The DJ List, my daily extra-curricular activities have always circled around new music, fresh artists and the latest and greatest they have to offer.  Somehow, even though I’ve managed to be busier than I’ve ever been I’ve definitely managed to fit in some quality R&R (Rave & Relaxation) into the mix. So, without further ado – here are my musical musings for 2013; enjoy!

Live Shows: Concerts and Festivals

Best Trance Show:

Above & Beyond @ Avila Beach,

Cosmic Gate @ Palladium (Runner Up)

Truth be told, I’m sitting here trying my hardest to even place Cosmic Gate in second place because Above & Beyond’s sunset at Avila Beach was just so spectacular!  It was a small crowd with unexpected surprises in store for everyone in my friend group – we each found someone at the event from out of town (LA, Riverside and SF) that we didn’t know was in attendance and were all simply wowed by the musical prowess the group possesses.  But Cosmic Gate is not a team to be underestimated, during the live show they brought out my favorite pixie blonde vocalist, Emma Hewitt, and Jonathan Mendelson who gave a phenomenal first live vocal performance during Nic Chagall’s ‘This Moment’.

Best D&B show: Modestep at the Nokia Club, High Contrast w. Camo & Krooked  at Dim Mak Studios

Best Deep / Tech House Show: Kaskade @ Focus OC’s 10 Year Anniversary

Best Progressive House Show: Eric Prydz / Pryda / Cirez D @ Create

Best Electro House Show: Gareth Emery @ XIV

Best Festival: Lightning in a Bottle

For the last six or seven years I’ve been a self-professed seasoned festival go-er and have a host of Insomniac, HARD and GoVentures events under my EDM belt (almost 40 if you want to get specific), but truth be told last year I only attended three festivals, one of them being Sea of Dreams on NYE. For as much as the lineup to  HARD Summer thrilled my pants off, the event didn’t…however, Lightning in a Bottle and Sea of Dreams surely did.  Each was musically right in their own right but on a more personal level, I truly felt bonded to the community that LIB and Burning Man cultivates and have actively been seeking out similar events ever since.

Best Festival Set: Keys n Krates, Dillon Francis, Alex Metric ((HARD Summer)) HeRObust, Pumpkin, Rusko, The Polish Ambassador,  Odeza, Andreilien ((LIB)), LowRIDERz, A-Trak, Thievery Corporation ((Sea of Dreams))

Best Venue: Sea of Dreams @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium | NYE was one of the most amazing musical experiences I’ve ever had, everything about the night was golden and a lot of that is due to the venue and soundsystem that came with it; top notch.

Weird but Rad Venue: Lightning in a Bottle @ Lake Skinner, Temecula, CA | I was tempted to give LIB the gold star for ‘Best Venue’ but after the all of the shenanigans with the county and residents of Riverside, I’ll wait until next year to grant the festival that award.  Basically, I want to see it shine in all of its glory; not just in my personal experiences but for the greater community in attendance as well.

Best Pool Party: Daylight

Best Party: Sea of Dreams

Best Up and Coming Venue: Sound in Hollywood

Favorite Reopened VenueCreate (previously, known as Vanguard)

Best CrowdDoLab shows – Avalon | If you only remember one thing about the music scene in LA, let it be this: the Do Lab will always do you right.  I always look forward to the art infused musical events they throw.  Whether they’re at the Nokia Club, King King or out in the middle of nowhere Riverside – they make sure to cater to all of your senses and the people who show up are some of the nicest friends you hadn’t met you.

Douche-iest CrowdXIV by Hyde, Greystone Manor, Sutra | I still hold by last year’s statement about Sutra, but now that I’ve finally attended events at Greystone and XIV I can easily bump those two to the top of the list.  Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with my appetite for all things Do Lab and underground, but I can’t wrap my head around wearing 3″+ heals to a club and cozy-ing up to people just snag an extra drink (or five).  I prefer the let-your-freak-flag-fly mentality of other events and prefer stomping around in flats to trying to maintain a proper demeanor in an outfit that’s definitely not meant for dancing.

Best Lasers: Create and Exchange have most definitely stepped their laser game up in the last year, far surpassing anything that Avalon has ever done (sorry guys – not knocking the place (it’s still rad!) but it’s true).

Ferry Corsten @ Exchange
Hit us with those laser beams
*pew pew pew*

Artists

Favorite Set/Act of 2013: Above & Beyond in Avila Beach

Best Surprise of 2013: Crywolf, Mitis, Kill Paris, Disclosure, Keys n Krates, Flume

So Glad I (Re-)Discovered: Bonobo, Emancipator, Shpongle, The Magician, 

Remixes So Nicely:  SubFocus, Flume

Best Remix-er: Boy Noize, Dillon Francis, Cazzette

Favorite Vocalists: Jonathan Mendelson, Alex Clare, Annabel Englund, MNEK, Chet Faker, Florence Welch, Emma Hewitt

Most Disappointing: Daft Punk everything; maybe because it was directly juxtaposed to Keys’n’Krates with their live instruments, but Duke Dumont was also pretty underwhelming live and looked like he was just pressing a button; last but not least, Cedric Gervais did absolutely nothing for me.

Vocalists Who Shouldn’t Perform Live with DJs: Danny Brown

People Who Should Be Reminded They’re Not DJs: Will.i.Am, Paris Hilton

Songs:

My Top 10 Songs of the Year

  1. Depeche Mode – Soothe My Soul (Steve Angello + Jaques Lu Cont Remix)
  2. Darkside – Papertrails
  3. Oliver – Night is On My Mind (Dillon Francis Remix)
  4. Disclosure – You & Me (Baauer Remix)
  5. Seven Lions + Myon & Shane 54 – Strangers
  6. Minnesota – Stardust Redux (Crywolf Remix)
  7. Maya Jane Coles ft Karin Park – Everything
  8. Thomas Jack – Booka Shake
  9. Flume ft Freddie Gibbs – Holdin’ On (LKids Remix)
  10. Lane 8 – Be Mine
  11. Mat Zo – Lucid Dreams – (M Machine Remix) [runner up]

Favorite Soundcloud Sets:

Show and Tell:

Best Hosted Web Show: BBC Radio 1 Diplo + Friends, Above & Beyond Group Therapy

Best Site for Discovering New Music: Hypem

Best Sites for Shows: MetroWize LA,Resident Advisor, The DJ List

XP Points:

Festivals Attended: Lightning in a Bottle, HARD Summer, Sea of Dreams

Shows Attended: All Day I Dream (/Lee Burridge), Donald Glaude, Richard Vission, Porter Robinson, Seven Lions(x2), Ferry Corsten, Krewella (x3), Modestep, Mimosa, Kill Paris, Crywolf, Markus Schulz, KhoMha, Jamie Jones, Jack Beats, Style of Eye, Gareth Emery, Kaskade, Skrillex, Bauuer, Eric Prydz (x2), Above & Beyond, Cosmic Gate, Candyland.

Parties Frequented: None (weird!)

[The Audiofiles] Required Listening for HARD Summer, Day 1

This morning I woke up, looked at my calendar and almost freaked out because this is the last week of July;  I’m sure I’ve said this a few times already this year but where the hell has the time gone?! Granted, I’m far busier than I’ve ever been: last November I started volunteering at an organization called the Kitty Bungalow: Charm School for Wayward Cats and was quickly named the Board Liaison for the organization.  During my time there, I lost track of a few very important mantras – like love yourself first, be cognizant of the way people treat those who are inconsequential to their lives and that with great power comes great responsibility.  Thank goodness I have an amazing boyfriend, support system and family to keep me in check – I was losing perspective, soul and my positive perspective; there was something sucking at my soul and I needed to breathe and figure out why.  Ultimately, I realized what was going on in that pretty little mind of mine – I was placing my dreams on the back-burner so I could go and chase someone else’s, and it was causing me the most strange kind of anxiety: that my dreams weren’t _____ enough to chase.  And just fill in the blank with whatever you will: good, valid, amazing, wonderful, solid, proactive, achievable, doable.  After a few weeks of minor anxiety attacks and frustrations, I realized that what I was forgetting/neglecting/ignoring was the most important part about these dreams: they’re mine.

I took a deep breath to re-evaluate my life’s trajectory and then I made a move: I left the organization.  I love cats, I love people and I love making lives better – but it’s difficult to remain affable and altruistic when at the end of the day I’m unable to help myself.   Beyond my dreams being deferred, the kicker was that owner of this amazing foundation built on the idea of saving feral cats couldn’t figure out how to treat people.  I took a moment and mediated on an adage from an old friend – you can’t win’em all, but you can surely throw the game; so, after toying around with e-mail drafts for two weeks I finally took the plunge and sent in my resignation letter.

It hasn’t even been a month since I’ve sent it – twenty days to be exact – but in my adult life, I can tell you one thing for sure: my soul feels free again.  I’ve had the chance to experience, embrace and cultivate so many new and exciting feelings within my heart, soul and head.  Each day, I fall more in love with my soulmate – the term ‘boyfriend’ doesn’t do it justice and the English language lacks the capabilities to aptly describe the way I feel inside.   He’s my biggest cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on and the best support system – and friend – a girl could ask for.  We’ve been able to spend more time together – and productive time at that: laying down the groundwork of our goals and converting them into possible realities.   He makes me believe – not just in myself, but in my dreams and the time I’ve invested into them;  it’s surreal and I can only hope everyone finds this type of counterpart in their life.

What’s even better is that my dad came into town this weekend and I got to introduce my favorite men to each other – it was so much fun!  We ate – oh, we ate – well, had wonderful conversation and I even got to introduce my father to Danny’s mom – best relaxing weekend I’ve had in a while!  On Friday we headed over to the Farmer’s Market at the Grove to have some Brazilian BBQ and Pinkberry; on Saturday we got our Eggs Benedict on at an amazing place called Tres at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. They had feta foam on top of the eggs; just process that for a second and try not to drool on your keyboard. During the day, we had an adventure to Universal Citywalk to catch Despicable Me 2 in 3D – if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out.  One of the cutest movies I’ve seen in a long time and probably the best sequel ever  Finally, we ended the day with some stellar Sushi and conversation.  Sunday morning was for the parents meeting – and that went phenomenally.  We all took a walk down to the Farmer’s Market and got some crepes – both sweet and savory – and the Waffles Versaille.  I was tres full!  Last but not lease we rounded out the weekend with some Abbey Road on vinyl – because why not!

Speaking of being a perpetual five year old trapped in the body of a 28 year old, there are certain things that will simply put never ever lose their meaning to me.  There are little bits and pieces of my reality that I covet and keep close to my soul; n no particular order: bubbles, cotton candy, sprinklers that create rainbows, tanlines, live music, miniature bottles of liquor, costumes and fabulous people.   There’s something uniquely special about each one of them to me, but if you throw them all together and put a little magic in it – you essentially get a music festival. And speaking of, we’re currently gearing up for one in LA right now!  HARD Fest is proud to present HARD Summer – coming up at LA’s State Historic Park. Last year’s event was absolutely ridiculous and this year’s shouldn’t be any different!  I’ve compiled a playlist of the Day 1 artists to get down to and I’ll hit y’all with a Day 2 playlist later this week =) enjoy!

 

  1. Knife Party – Internet Friends
  2. Duck Sauce – Barbra Streisand
  3. Dog Blood – Next Order
  4. DJ Fresh – Gold Dust (Flux Pavilion Remix)
  5. Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
  6. Major Lazer – Bubble Butt f. 2 Chainz
  7. SBTRKT – Wildfire
  8. Disclosure ft AlunaGeorge – White Noise
  9. TNGHT – Acrylics
  10. Tommy Trash – Monkey In Love
  11. Kill the Noise – My World
  12. RL Grime – Pockets
  13. Alvin Risk – SKYCLAD
  14. Destructo – Higher
  15. Oliver – Night is On My Mind
  16. Duke Dumont – The Giver
  17. Will Sparks – Ah Yeah (TJR Edit)
  18. Alex Metric ft Oliver – Motion Study
  19. Keys n Krates – Dreamyness

[The Audiofiles / Music Monday ] Keepin’ It Moving

In standard, normal, everyday time it’s really only been a week since I’ve been home from Lightning in a Bottle but truth be told it feels like another century ago; another me ago, even.  If you want to get down to brass tax – yes, in all honesty the weekend was absolutely transformational, mercurial and magical all at the same time.  I’ve spent the past week in a solid state of reflection about life, the universe…and literally anything and everything under the sun.

My love; my life.

Part of the reason Lightning in a Bottle was such a big deal for me emotionally was that it represented multiple turning points in my life.  First and foremost, back in 2010 I actually had a ticket for LiB – but because I was just diagnosed with Vasovagal Syncope  I sold my ticket to get my health back on track.  The year after, in 2011, was my best friend’s bachelorette party in Vegas and there was no way in hell I was missing that – so this year, my adventures to and at LiB seemed more than necessary and slightly overdue.  Then mix in equal parts falling in love with my boyfriend while two of my best girl friends leave LA for Montreal and Boston respectively, and I had a whole mess of a machine to figure out for myself. Phaedra and Jessica represent two different worlds of friendships to me, but are equally loyal and loving friends; it was a blessing to have them get to know each other last summer and as people have always said – how lovely it is that I’ve met two souls who make saying goodbye so difficult.

It’s not that I define myself by the friendships I keep, but I place a lot of value on their opinions and moral codes; then again, shouldn’t we all?  In the absence of both of them I’ve been doing some soul searching and emotional wandering with this mantra in mind: we’re all cups, full to the brim of emotion and with each interaction with others we’re constantly tipping out our emotions and being refilled by the thoughts and feelings of others; I’ve come out of my shell within the last two years and maybe the shape of my cup has shifted, or I’ve switched from still to bubbling water.  Either way, I’ve watched myself grow – mature – evolve – and I simply don’t have the same needs, nor the same amounts of patience, that I used to have.  Meaning a lot of introspection into what it means for me to both have a friend and be one.

Besides taking time to detox and emotionally decompress, this past week has been about intertwining friend groups and developing the framework for future plans and ideas.  Simply put, every since LiB there’s been a sense of passion, dedication, creativity and urgency from my group of friends – business plans, life goals, trajectory altering decisions – they’re being made en masse and I couldn’t be more impressed.  As my boyfriend put it – they didn’t call it the ‘Maybe Lab’ and they don’t call it the ‘Do Lab’ for nothing; we can’t wait to see what’s possible when we put our minds together for something positive!

Besides the introspection, we did manage to have a bit of fun over the past week:  last Thursday I discovered that one our of favorite DJs and Producers – Pretty Lights – was playing a free show at the Amoeba records in Hollywood so I went with a few of my guy friends and had an absolute blast! He even freestyled for us – so legit.

Pretty Lights gettin’ funky

And now, for the next two weeks, I’ll be doing absolutely as little as possible as I get ready for the ruckus and shenanigans of Hard Summer!  Just because I’m not out and about prancing to the beat doesn’t mean I feel like sitting still – so here are some jams to help you get through your Monday – your week – your whatthehellever – just dance!

Tracklist:

  1. TJR – Whats Up Suckaz
  2. Disclosure – F For You (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Remix)
  3. Skrillex & Damian Marley – Make It Bun Dem (Dead Battery Remix)
  4. Major Lazer – Get Free (Ft. Amber Coffman) (Andy C Remix)
  5. Fatboy Slim & Riva Starr – Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat
  6. Sound Remedy – Chiaroscuro (Original Mix)
  7. Boys Noize – Starwin
  8. Diplo ft. Mike Posner, Boax van de Beatz, RiFF RAFF – CROWN
  9. Mounties – Headphones (Sleepy Tom Remix)
  10. Neon Jungle – Trouble (Monsieur Adi Remix)
  11. Foreigner – Cold as Ice (A.Skillz & Nick Thayer Bootleg Remix)
  12. Major Lazer – Bubble Butt (It’s The Kue Remix!)
  13. Gareth Emery & Krewella – Lights and Thunder
  14. Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Kinetik Groove Remix)
  15. HeRobust x gLAdiator – We Are
  16. Rusko – Lift Me up
  17. Deadmau5 – Suckfest 9001
  18. Knife Party – LRAD (Erotic Cafe Remix)
  19. Calvin Harris feat. Ayah Marar – Thinking About You (Laidback Luke Remix)
  20. Krewella – Live for the Night
  21. Sleepy Tom – Let It Go
  22. Tommy Trash vs A Trak – Tuna Truffle (Tommy Trash Coachella Snack)
  23. Matthew Koma – One Night (Vicetone Remix)
  24. Smallpools – Dreaming (The Chainsmokers Remix)
  25. Capital Cities – Safe & Sound (Panic City Remix)

The Audiofiles: We Go Deep

 

For what was supposed to be a relaxing weekend, in true Amanda fashion – never a dull moment. Not like I need one – nor am I complaining – just saying, I’m exhausted and need some tunage to match my mood!  Thank goodness I’ve been collective some stellar deep house tracks over the last few weeks to keep me in a state of trance; hope y’all dig them as much as I do!

Tracklist

  1. Maya Jane Coles ft Karin Park – Everything
  2. Mark Knight – Your Love
  3. Hot Natured ft Anabel Englund – Reverse Skydiving
  4. Disclosure ft Eliza Doolittle – You & Me
  5. Hot Natured & Ali Love – Benediction
  6. Ali Love ft Kali – Emperor
  7. Steed Lord – Remember Me (Russ Chimes Remix)
  8. Duke Dumont – Need You 100% (SKREAMix)
  9. Pete Tong ft S.Y.F. – Dawn (Blond:ish Remix)
  10. MANIK ft Jeremy Glenn – Parasol (Climbers Remix)
  11. Russ Chimes – Back 2 You
  12. Storm Queen – Look Right Through (MK Dub III)
  13. HAIM – Don’t Save Me (Cyril Hahn Remix)
  14. Nate Dogg – Gangster Walk (SION’s Hipster Lean Remix)
  15. Disclosure vs MNEK – White Noise (Full Crate & FS Green Remix)
  16. AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It (Bondax Remix)
  17. FKJ – So Much To Me
  18. Solange – Losing You (Cyril Hahn Remix)
  19. Hot Since 82 – Like You
  20. Lee Foss & MK Ft Anabel Englund – Electricity
  21. Russ Chimes – Turn Me Out
  22. Betoko vs Mario Basanov vs Vidis – Control The Suspend