[Doing it Right] Armin Van Buuren’s Post-Grammy Award Show

Being a California native, it takes me a little more than the average bear to get ‘starstruck‘; but, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.   Back when I was working in El Segundo for Internet Brands, I saw Gary Payton at the local dive bar and started shaking in my boots I was so excited!  It’s not everyday that you’re standing in front of a childhood idol, and there I was – jaw to the floor in front of ‘The Glove’ and I couldn’t even muster enough syllables to form a coherent sentence. When I worked at Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week in Los Angeles, I hugged and interviewed Christian Audigier of the infamous Ed Hardy clothing brand. Now, no – I don’t ‘love‘ his clothes, and you might have to pay me to wear about a third of what they produce – but absolutely nothing can compare to meeting an idol, fashion mogul and exceptional business brain.  A year ago this weekend, I started writing for The DJ List’ – an internationally respected, EDM webzine, and the number of opportunities I’ve had that take my breath away are simply magnificent.  What started as me wanting a ‘hand in the EDM cookie jar’ has catapulted to me with a foot in the door in the EDM world.  I’ve had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with the best and brightest, and have amazing memories to show for it.

Last Spring, my boyfriend and I met Markus Schulz and covered the details of his Scream 2 Album and Bus Tour.  Then, to throw a cherry on top of my musical ice cream sundae – this past December as a little belated birthday present from the world at large: I got to meet, touch and hug the #1 Trance DJ in the world, Armin van Buuren at an exclusive Press and Fan meet and greet opportunity at the House of Blues in Hollywood where he dished about his latest one man tour, Armin Only: Intense, as well as his first Grammy nomination for the smash single ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ featuring vocalist Trevor Guthrie. Fast forward to last week and I’m churning through my emails, trying to find a ray of sunlight in my bleak inbox – and stumbled across an email from his PR agent who I simply adore: Sound Nightclub was pairing up with Armin and Trevor to celebrate their Grammy nomination for ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ and they wanted me there.  What?!  This is one of the first, and only moments, that’s left me laughing historically, wondering who in the world I am and exactly how I’ve gotten so lucky?  Granted, hard work and dedication have paid off – I’ve penned almost 60 articles for The DJ List, which isn’t anything to sneeze at – especially when you consider my full time job, and penchant for wild and crazy fun, and inherent need to basically do everything under the sun.  I want it all, and somehow, I’ve managed to get it.

Last night, three of my favorite people in the world – my wonderful boyfriend, one of my best gals that I started Beatnet EDM with and my friend who pioneered the amazing EDM Event site ‘Music Alerts’ – strutted into one of the hottest, and newest Hollywood clubs for our first time to see the man, the myth, the Trance Legend – AVB!  The venue was small enough that it’s an intimate setting, and the party was small enough that there was room to shake your groove thing and get down with your trance arms wherever you felt necessary.  Most parties at Sound pack the place to the brim, but since this was Armin’s party – no real tickets were sold; the show was invite only and the crowd, as plastic as 80% of them looked, was having the time of their lives.  Unfortunately, Armin didn’t take home the Grammy for ‘Best Dance Recording’ but the category was chalk full of amazing singles, and could’ve easily been anyone’s ball game. The rest of the category played out like this –  This Is What It Feels Like was up against Clarity from Zedd and Foxes, Kaskade’s Atmosphere, Calvin Harris and Florence Welch for Sweet Nothings, and last but certainly not least, breakthrough smash ‘Need You (100%)’ by Duke Dumont, MNEK and A*M*E.  At the end of the night, the award was much deservingly given to Zedd and Foxes – and I couldn’t be happier with the choice.  As much as I was rooting for Armin, if I had to pick a single of his to be nominated – that would not have been it.  In and Out Of LoveFine Without YouVirual Friend – they each have an immense depth, heavy layers and ethereal vocals that build throughout the track and IMO, were much more deserving of a Grammy nod; but that was a different world back then.  I’m more than interested how EDM effects other, more mainstream genres and infiltrates both Pop Music, and our Pop Culture;  Dance Music has been on the rise over the last ten years, and I can’t wait to see how EDM pushes the musical boundaries next.

Armin 2


ARMIN2

[Doing it Right] HARD Summer 2013

‘It was deep, it was soulful , it was techno, it was disco – a kaleidoscope of sounds.’
A tribal beast of rhythm, a ceremony of sound, the gathering of the spirits that would lift us off the ground,
My vision was so clear, but it was still hazy in my mind;
I must have went to house heaven, because nothing’s that divine.

My Love

This Summer has been one of my busiest and best to date; but between the caliber of friendships that I’ve developed over the past year and the effervescent and ever-evolving music scene in Southern California why would I expect anything less?  This past weekend marked the annual mayhem and debauchery that is Hard Summer – one of the only multi-day EDM festivals left in the city of Los Angeles.  It’s taken a few days to recover, but somehow and somewhere between the laughs, the stories, the ‘did-you-guys-see-that?!’ moments and our tired joints we’ve managed to detox from one hell of a wild ride and revel in its glory.

One of the best things about the way HARD has transformed in the past year is that you could get fresh and funky one minute and dirty and dubstepping the next; with acts like Disclosure, Alex Metric, Oliver and Claude VonStroke‘s DirtyBird crewJ.Phlip and Justin Martin in the ‘Underground’ tent you could take a break from the ear thrashing bass (not that I don’t enjoy a good rage sesh every now and again) and groove to something different.  All in all, we couldn’t have asked for better company, weather, food trucks, people watching and amazing acts to see.

On the flip side my friends and I walked from the event with a few legitimate concerns about the safety of the set-up and layout of certain areas like the location of the food trucks, merchandise tents and the ‘Underground’ stage. The vending areas were in an incredibly central -read: profitable – area and disrupted an otherwise pleasant flow to the grounds. The biggest problem for me was having a tented off stage with closed sides. The Sahara and Gobi tents at Coachella created a similar relaxed, shady atmosphere but the addition of sides on the tent made the crowding unbearable and trampling a definite possibility. I was there for Disclosure and so thankful we escaped – the lack of oxygen was pretty brutal!

HARD works hand in hand with Los Angeles: when you purchase your ticket, you’re granted free access to the Metro systems in the city for the entire weekend.  It makes so many things absolutely easier on all of the festival go-ers – driving, traffic, parking, the possibility of accidents and DUIs; the list is endless and we didn’t have to fret about any of it! Once we hit Union Station, we were a mere hop, skip, jump and a ten minute walk to LA Historic Park.  On the way there was an amazing vendor handing out deliciously flavored, and might I add free, fruit-infused waters to all of us so we could fend off our impending dehydration – thank goodness!

Especially compared to the last few HARD events I’ve gone to (last year’s HARD Summer + Day of the Dead), the lines were so much more manageable this year and we barely had to wait; the addition of metal barricades between the lines was absolutely necessary and completely welcomed.  After a friendly little frisk by the security team, we were on and through to the other side: lights, camera, action – here we go!

I had-had-had to make sure we were inside by the time Keys n Krates hit the stage and rightfully so – I guarantee you one thing, they are part of an EDM revolution with the likes of Modestep, Infected Mushroom and the old Pendulum live sets.  There’s just something so damn magical about live instruments – especially the evolution and pairing of them with modern forms of electronics and technology.  It’s giving me a braingasm just thinking about it!  We bounced around between the stages essentially the entire day, because we have severe forms musical ADD and after Tommy Trash tore the city a new one the main stage never really sounded the same.

Day 2 was a whole horse of a different color when compared to the first day; chalk it up to people on Sunday needing to go to work on Monday (or, conversely, people on Saturday who planned on partying for 36 hours straight) but the vibe was a lot more low key and I heard lots more people interject with a “Sorry!” or an “Excuse me…”.  It was like we all got some unwritten memo about chilling out, and we did.  If the aggression of the first twelve hours dissuaded anyone from coming back to another HARD event I surely hope they let the second day change their minds.  Like usual, I came out of this festival with more friends than I went into it with; but, I’ve been doing one thing differently as of late that I hope everyone employs at festivals sooner or later: turn off your phone.  Not just the mobile network but the entire thing!  Sure, in emergencies whip that shit out and find your passe but while you have one: enjoy the moment and focus on the friends that are next to you instead of concerning yourself with people that aren’t around.   You’ll find your entire experience so much more enjoyable; trust me!

Justin Martin

Miau!

Zedd

For an excellent way to bounce through your day, peruse these fine sets from my favorite acts at Hard Summer; enjoy!

The Audiofiles: Manic Monday – No Gloom in My June

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” ― Oscar Wilde

Though I’m sure my parents would readily disagree with this statement – I don’t consider myself much of a whiner or a complainer; the fact of the matter is that I’m an only child – and twice over at that with divorced parents.  But that’s totally a story for another day – bottom line: the only type of wine I like comes in a glass and is paired with cheese.  That said – BLAAARG: <y Aunt has been at Mass-Gen with some rare, tropical illness that no one’s ever heard of or knows how to treat and – this isn’t me exaggerating to get my point across, or get your sympathy – she would’ve died last week if it weren’t for the quick thinking and overwhelming concern from a family friend. When ten of the best specialists in the world are running around like chickens with their heads cut off asking for “Dr.House” you know you’re in for a hell of a ride; thankfully, my family is rock solid and we’re sending all of our energy to get her better. To boot,  I’ve had a whale of a time dealing with a misanthropic apartment “manager” on various different issues and it literally makes my head want to explode and implode simultaneously. So this is me; trying to be calm, content and in the present.  This is me being constructive and moving forward.  And this is me, understanding that I can only control what is in my power; the universe has it’s own plan for all of us. 

So, that being said – I’ve been in search of an escape.  Most people view escapism as something external: somewhere you go or a new place to rest your existence.  But, why limit yourself?  To escape is to literally break free of confinement, control and convention – did you ever stop and think that all those mechanisms exist in your mind?  This weekend ended up being about an internal escape, a sort of manifest-destiny of the mind of you will.  I had great company, good food, roamed the streets in the sunshine and had at least 8 hours of sleep each night; suffice it to say, I forgot how amazing detoxing can be! But now that we’re here – at Monday – again, I need something to pick me up. I was diagnosed with a fainting disorder a few years ago so with no caffeine in my diet, I leave it up to music to soothe my soul – here are some of my go-to, feel-good jams that make you just want to dance, love and break things (in the best of ways, of course!).  Enjoy, and I hope your Monday is just as manic as you need it to be.

 

Playlist:

  1. Depeche Mode – Soothe My Soul (Steve Angello & Jaques Lu Cont Remix)
  2. Empire of the Sun – Alive (Zedd Remix)
  3. SubFocus ft Alex Clare – Endorphins (Tommy Trash Remix)
  4. Above & Beyond – Walter White
  5. Disclosure ft Eliza Doolittle – You & Me (Baauer Remix)
  6. The Partysquad – Lighterman (Krafty Kuts Skank Remix)
  7. MitiS ft Collin McLoughlin – Born
  8. J Majik & Wickaman – Life Me Up
  9. Duke Dumont – Lean N Bounce
  10. Armin van Buuren ft Trevor Guthrie – This Is What It Feels Like (W&W Remix)
  11. Maison & Dragen – Wet Dreams
  12. Hard Rock Sofa & Dirty Shade – Collapsar
  13. Submatik – Stories Can Wait
  14. Will Sparks – Ah Yeah (TJR Edit)
  15. Wallpaper. – Good 4 It (Laidback Luke Goes Melbourne Vocal Mix)
  16. Benga – Midnight
  17. Oliver – MYB
  18. Sleepy Tom – Hit Em
  19. Skrillex ft Alvin Risk – Imma Try It Out

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

Music Monday: Mixin’ It Up

One of the unfortunately side effects of a stellar weekend – or in my case, past week – is something I like to call “Hot Mess Mondays”: your  brain might be functioning, you might’ve had enough sleep; but chances are that it’s not, you didn’t and you’re currently paying for it handsomely. Though the weather wasn’t as stellar as we would like, we realize that living in LA beggars certainly can’t be choosers; and spoiled weather brats can’t expect it to be sunny all the time!  There’s a great quote that says that you can’t get a rainbow without a little rain and I more than ascribe to that train of thought.  This past weekend turned into a typical, friend fueled, debauchery filled weekend for me and just for y’all, I’ll let the kitten out of the bag – I’m definitely having one of those days!

Photo

On Tuesday night I cruised down to Orange County to hang with my good friends and Beatnet co-founders and hit up some Dusky action at Focus.

For a Tuesday night in the OC that little place can get pretty rockin’!

Apparently Dusky is two guys? The more you know! Lol.

Dusky’s Essential Mix:

The best thing about the Dusky show was that I took Wednesday off so I could enjoy the show in it’s entirety – and a week later found out that one of my closest and dearest friends and her home crew from Portland were flying into San Diego that same week and had a few days free; serendipity, indeed! Every time I kick it with these kids I have the absolute time of my life, and Wednesday was no different.  We drank, frolicked, caught up and got weird: success!

My bitch =)

Breakfast of champions 😉

A-Team.

And that was just the mid-week festivities: over the weekend, there was definitely some bottomless brunching and boozing going down during the day, Blond:ish that night and Culrpit’s Season Opener at the Standard yesterday with Miguel Campbell.  So yeah, I’m wiped out!

#SweatbandSaturday
We don’t fuck around.

The lovely Blond:ish

Blond:ish from Playa Del Carmen:

And yesterday, we braved some rain at the Standard to kick off the Culprit Pool Parties – the weather was beyond lame but we tried to make the best of it!  Popped some bottles, caught up with some friendly and familiar faces and made some new cabana friends!

A little mix from the main man of the day, Miguel Campbell:

Making it rain > rain.

Even though my taste in music is pretty diverse, over the past month I’ve had more than my share of Deep, Tech and Minimal house shows – which are great for enjoying the atmosphere and breathing in the music, but going out to Exchange to see Ferry Corsten and Dim Mak studios for some Drum & Bass Hospital Records style I realized how much I miss the thumping bass, sick drops and the electric energy coming from the dance floor.

What do you get when you put three of the top Trance DJs and Producers in the world in one room?  You get Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten, New World Punx at Armin van Buuren’s ASOT 600 in Madison Square Garden.   Their name, which is a play on Schulz’s “New World” and Corsten’s “Punk’d” is like a 3 on the scale of 1 to awesome DJ names but that’s besides the point; I watched a bit of the live stream and was hooked immediately.

SubFocus rocking the stage at Ultra:

This new track from Boys Noise is hauntingly gorgeous:

Swedish House Mafia might be done for* but that doesn’t mean they’re done individually; Steve Angello graced the BBC Radio 1 decks this past week with an epic essential mix:

Duke Dumont is one of my favorite new Deep House producers (yeah, I tried being over the genre but some stuff it just stays with you…) and his last two hits “The Giver” and “Need U 100%” are phenomenally produced and expertly mastered.  This remix is no different:

Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy Radio is a surefire way to get me through my Fridays, and this past week they had the House legend Sasha as their guest: