[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

[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