The Audiofiles: One Last Tour with Swedish House Mafia

I know we’re not even halfway into the month, but I have to say – this is some of the loveliest early Spring weather we’ve had in a minute.  Even that little bit of rain last week, that was perfectly timed – the smog was cleared, the city was washed clean for a good few minutes and we got some amazing skylines, sunsets and rainbows to boot!

This past weekend, Swedish House Mafia cruised through Los Angeles and threw two epic nights of EDM whompage at LA’s State Historic Park; now, I wasn’t about to shell out upwards of $150 to see a bunch of acts I’ve already had the pleasure of rocking out to – but I got to send my friends off in style and then hear about it all at the after party.  Literally the next best thing to enjoying a mini-festival like these were is living the night vicariously through your friends.  Based on the stories, pictures and videos – I know they had a phenomenal time…and how could you not?! Besides getting a hat trick of Swedish House, there were stellar sets from the likes of Nero, Mat Zo, Sub Focus, Clockwork, Alesso, Zedd, Monsta and more!  To be fair, if I knew the supporting acts ahead of time – I would have most definitely bought my ticket – but all is fair in love and raving, and there will always be another kickass show with another phenomenal lineup.   That said,  if you happen to be going to either weekend of Ultra, the Masquerade Motel is not to be missed.

And to get you through the day, here are my favorite live sets from the main stage acts at Masquerade Motel; if you missed out, turn the world off, turn up the love and enjoy the ride!

Unless you’ve been able to strategically place yourself under a rock, you should be more than familiar with SHM – who are better known to the EDM world as Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello.  They’ve been busting basslines together since 2007 when they released ‘Get Dumb‘ with Laidback Luke, another favorite house legend, but didn’t officially form their supergroup until 2008.  Their first official single was ‘One’ in instrumentals and with a vocal version featuring Pharrell – both were amazing and catapulted their notoriety. Then came the success of ‘Save the World‘ which was coupled an the adorable, puppy infused video one can’t help but swoon at. As of late, they’ve teamed up with Knife Party (formerly, Pendulum) on the epic club banger ‘Antidote‘ and have been pushing this “One Last Tour’ for the last few months. Now, don’t get it twisted – they’ll still be touring solo and you’ll have a chance to hear them play the hits of SHM, but it sounds like they won’t be touring together for a hot minute.

If it sounds like SHM, walks like SHM but there’s only one of them – chances are you’ve stumbled across their up and coming protege, Alesso. First recognized for his innate remixing ability, the youngster released has released hit after hit on Sebastian Ingrosso’s label, Refune Records.  Alesso is best known for his remix duties on ‘   ‘ by the Starkillers and Alex Kenji with seductive vocals from the Queen of Trance herself, Nadia Ali (formerly the vocalist of Iio), Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Save the World‘ and DEVolution’s ‘Good Love‘ featuring Amy Pearson while his original singles ‘Calling’ and ‘Years’ both reached #1 on Beatport.

Being fresh on the scene isn’t a problem for Zedd.The first time he popped onto the scene was in 2010 after winning Beatport contests for Armand Van Helden’s ‘Witch Doktor’ and the classic Fatboy Slim track, ‘Weapon of Choice.’  He moved to the big leagues in 2011 by putting his mark on Skrillex’s ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” In turn, both artists recognized his talents and returned the favor –Skrillex released Zedd’s “Shave It”on his label OWSLA and Lady Gaga has enlisted him to produce her upcoming album, ARTPOP.  His latest singles, ‘Clarity’ and ‘Spectrum’ have both hit the #1 spot on the US Dance Charts and have garnered much support, as well as ample amounts of kickass remixes.

Speaking of ones to watch, Mat Zo is a DJ that you simply shouldn’t take your eyes off of.  Musically inclined since a young age when he first got his hands on an instrument, Mat Zo started off on the famed Hospital Records as a liquid Drum & Bass producer under the pseudonym MRSA; that influence is so easily seen in the effortless fusing of songs, and genres, in each one of his mixes. His hits like ‘The Fractal Universe‘ become instrumental journeys into the heart of trance music, while bumpin’ beats like ‘Bipolar‘ and ‘Stubby’ simply want to make you move your feet. And then, to top it off, he has vocal hits like ‘The Sky‘ with Linnea Shossow that just wow the pants off of you.  If there’s one DJ on this list that’s a must see, I’d say it’s Mat Zo.

Music Monday: Trance Around the World

I have way too many guilty pleasures; honestly, at times it seems like I just can’t help it!  Lately – and in no particular order – they’ve been: sparkly jewelery, suede riding boots, skinny pants in rich colors, pristine white t-shirts, one of a kind gaudy purses and music.  When I was driving back home last week for Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to go through my old CD collection; and when I say “collection” – I mean it.  There were some that dated back as far as middle school and freshman year of high school – and then through college and up to my years in Los Angeles.  What was supposed to be a cathartic six hour drive back to San Francisco turned into an assorted hodgepodge of the highlights of my childhood; what it drove home was how my brain and my ears evolved from loving the dirty basslines of old school hip-hop and gangsta’ rap, the soul soothing vibrations of the kick drum and the acoustic guitar and the effortless angelic vocals within folk rock.  For the longest time, I thought all of this had been lost on me – but now I realize that it’s been here all along, hiding in plain sight.  It’s in the timbre of drum and bass, the ephemeral qualities of vocal trance and the harmonic dissonance of dubstep and tech house.  But, no matter how I spin it, my heart will always and forever be in the hands of trance.

During the work week there are so many trance podcasts to pay attention to that it’s hard knowing just which one to listen to – I’ve bounced around from Ferry Corsten, Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and Max Graham – all equally talented, and offering something totally different than the others.  Lately, though, Above and Beyond have been pulling me back into their grasp – especially their Trance Around the World show from India.  In my opinion, they have some of the best, brightest and talented musicians on their label – and it shows in both their live shows and in the production quality of the hit-after-hit singles they release.  Above & Beyond’s latest show was in India, where they celebrated the 450th Episode of Trance Around the World with some of their favorite DJs.   So turn your volume up, tune the world out and get ready for a musical journey…

Trance: The Natural Evolution of Classical Music

Music, like math, seems to run in the family; both of my Grandmothers sang and played the piano.  My dad is a master of the guitar and the cello, which he brings out of the old closets every now and again.  My mom grew up playing the piano and still loves playing the guitar and piano as  hobby.  Growing up, the musical staples in the household were CCR, Johnny Clegg, Eric Clapton, U2,  the Jackson’s in any combination, and the soundtrack to La Bamba.

I picked up the flute when I was in 3rd grade; don’t let anyone tell you differently than this: it’s a difficult instrument!  I went from having a basic flute, to a silver flute, to a flute with open holes called the ‘French Model’. The older I got, the more modified the instrument became but my love for sports and physical competition outweighed my desire to play. (Fun Fact: The bone flute is the oldest recognizable instrument, coming in at 40,000 years old.)  Ironically, after I left the basketball team as a Sophomore I dove right into my music history class and joined the choir.

The more I studied the different periods of classical music, the more I picked apart modern music and saw it in context with society. The music genre says something very specific about the culture and era of the people that both produce it as well as absorbing themselves in it. The first CD I ever bought was Offspring’s Americana, my first mix tape was Hip Hop and R&B with the likes of Next, TQ, Nas, TLC and 2Pac.

By the time I was old enough to both understand what those rap songs were talking about and be annoyed by emo screaming, I’d gravitated towards electronic music and have dabbled in pretty much in subgenre, but Trance was my first love.

There were little to no vocals, and if they did exist there were sweet and delicate; much more pleasing to the ears. In my opinion, modern day trance is the natural evolution of classical music as a genre.  Songs contain harmony, modulation, and thematic development; they more or less follow strophic form and much like with classical composers, modern producers have essentially attained demigod status.

Most of my favorite DJs have a weekly broadcast on Digitally Imported Radio, which covers all genres of Electronic Dance Music – more commonly referred to as EDM.  I could go on and on and on about all of the different trance DJs and what they each bring to the genre, but I’d rather have you listen for yourself.  If you wanted to ask what my favorite trance tracks were, look no further than the Trance Thursday playlist below.  And if you still want more, check the links at the bottom for a few of the DJs and broadcasts I can’t live without.

Tracklist

  1. Lange vs Gareth Emery – This is All Out (Heatbeat vs Lange Edit)
  2. Andain – Promises (Myon & Shange 54 Summer of Love Mix)
  3. Tiesto ft Jes – Everything (Cosmic Gate Remix)
  4. Ørjan Nilsen feat. Neev Kennedy – Anywhere But Here (Radion6 Remix)
  5. First State – Falling (First State’s Stuck Parachute Mix)
  6. Maz Zo & Arty vs Oceanlab – Satellite Dynamics (Mat Zo Remix)

Podcasts: