Tag - phoenix lights

Happy Ears with OTOjOY at Phoenix Lights 2018

Pictured above: Gramatik at the Invasion stage, photo by Phil MacDonald

Earlier this month, Phoenix Lights touched down in Chandler, Arizona, April 7-8, 2018. The festival name is a nod to the original Phoenix Lights incident of March 13, 1997 when there were widespread reports of UFO sightings in Phoenix, which were later identified as flares from military aircraft. The two-day music festival pays homage to the original incident with its extraterrestrial-inspired stages, dancers, and décor. This year’s event featured artists from a spectrum of genres, like hip-hop acts Gucci Mane and Travis Scott, to dubstep/bass artists Zomboy and Seven Lions, instrumental-infused sets like Gramatik and Goldfish, and EDM artists like Diplo and Martin Garrix, just to name a few. It was the first time Phoenix Lights took place at its new venue, The Park at Wild Horse Pass. In addition to the new venue, festival producers Relentless Beats welcomed a service designed for people who are hard of hearing, provided by a company called OTOjOY. The goal of the service is to provide better listening experiences at festivals and beyond, a relevant goal as the world celebrates International Noise Awareness Day today.

Founder Thomas Kaufmann and Outreach Specialist Micah Thomas at Phoenix Lights

OTOjOY Founder Thomas Kaufmann and Outreach Specialist Micah Thomas at Phoenix Lights

OTOjOY Founder Thomas Kaufmann and Outreach Specialist Micah Thomas were available to fill in the details of the service:

The technology is known as an assistive listening system. This particular one is called a hearing loop. It was originally meant for people who are hard of hearing – either people who were born hard of hearing or people who have lost their hearing throughout their lives – to enhance their experience. They really need that clearer sound and they need amplification that hearing aids provide for their specific hearing pattern. With this technology we’re getting a direct feed, direct audio signal from the mixing console and we’re sending that to people’s ears. 80% of all hearing aids in the market today and all cochlear implants are compatible with this type of technology. People can use their existing devices and just press a button on it and they’re tapped right into the sound system. They essentially get better sound quality than anybody who just uses their ears and loudspeakers. It’s interesting because it was meant for people who are hard of hearing, but it can really provide a benefit to anybody who has ears. We’re in the process of making that shift towards serving the general public with this, and not just people with hearing loss.

OTOjOY Accessible Area at the Mothership Stage

OTOjOY accessible area at the Mothership Stage, photo by Thomas Kaufmann

Attendees with hearing aids or cochlear implants are able to connect to the OTOjOY hearing loop within about a 10-yard radius of the sound booths for the two largest stages at Phoenix lights, the Mothership and Invasion stages. Headphones are also available for anyone without a hearing device wanting to listen in. Thomas elaborates on the wireless technology used for the hearing loop:

The way it works is we have an amplifier that connects directly to the mixing console and gets that direct feed. From there, we have a wire that is embedded in the ground and acts as an antenna. The current that flows through the wire creates a magnetic field that emanates into the space. As soon as you’re in that zone inside the wired area, you can pick up the signal. It’s very directional. You essentially have perimeter control over the sound. Once you step outside of it, you don’t hear it anymore. You can even create areas that are relatively close to each other and you can step outside of one and the sound fades out, you walk into the next one and it fades in.

While using OTOjOY’s technology, one of things a listener might notice is that there is no latency between the audio from the stage speakers and the OTOjOY hearing loop. Thomas mentions that the reason for this is the tried-and-tested technology he’s using that dates back decades:

The fundamentals of this technology have been around since the 1930s. The first patent for an audio frequency induction loop system was filed in 1937. That’s how long this stuff has been around. Not with the fidelity we have today, but in essence the same principle. The actual transmission from our amplifier to the hearing device or the wearable headset receiver is analog. That’s why we don’t have any latency. Whenever you go to a digital transmission, you need to encode the signal, you need to have data packets and then you’re potentially crowding the frequency space and might end up with interference with other devices, connectivity issues, and latency. If you strip it all the way down to just the analog audio transmission, there is no delay whatsoever. You put on the device and then you just melt into the sound.

The concept of OTOjOY might sound somewhat similar to another feature common at festivals: silent disco. At a silent disco, attendees enter a fenced off perimeter where they are handed a pair of headphones, connecting them to the audio feed of the artists performing. The only audio output available are the headphones; no speakers are playing. Thomas describes the difference:

At a silent disco event, you’re somewhat isolated in your bubble with your headphones on. You can’t really communicate with the people around you, whereas with this, depending on the device you’re using, you still perceive your environment like you usually would. Then, you get this augmented layer of clear sound on top of it. That’s really what makes the difference. We call this an “open fit,” where your ears aren’t plugged up or what we call “occluded.”

In addition to the augmented audio, users of the OTOjOY app have access to real-time closed captioning via automatic speech recognition provided through the app. For an example of OTOjOY’s technology in action, including the real-time closed captioning, take a look at one of their videos.

The vision Thomas has for OTOjOY’s future is providing experiences where an event could have the volume of the loudspeaker system turned down slightly, but augmented with individual hearing devices. This would have the benefits of protecting people’s ears from being damaged and solving the issue of audio bleed-over between stages, all while giving listeners more personal control over the volume and equalizer settings to customize  their experience. It also has the added benefit of potentially solving noise ordinance issues with local communities, as a result of the lowered main volume.

Originally from Germany, Thomas founded OTOjOY because of his extensive background in music and physics, getting involved in the world of electrical engineering when he was only 7 years old: “I built my first electromagnet when I was 7. My dad is an electrical engineer. That fascinating experience fueled my passion for electronics. I started soldering circuit boards when I was 12 or so. Then music came into play.”

He started DJing at parties with friends around the age of 13, landing his first paid gig when he was 15 years old. When he was 18, he started his own DJ booking agency and began performing at corporate events for companies like Audi, IKEA, and T-Mobile. Physics, electronics, and music began to mesh for him once he studied at the graduate level, completing a graduate program in physics at the University of Bonn in Germany, spending a year of research on magnetic resonance. He later moved to Santa Barbara to pursue a PhD in chemistry, continuing his work on magnetic resonance. One and a half years into his studies, he started OTOjOY, and half a year after that, he decided to leave the PhD program with a Master of Science degree in chemistry instead in order to run OTOjOY full-time. Thomas credits his international background as being a motivation for his work in the United States:

It’s interesting having that international background and the perception of how this technology is widespread in Europe and how in the US, we’re so behind on that. The infrastructure is a lot more established in Europe, leading to a bigger market for our consumer products. In comparison, here in the US, there are lots of opportunities to transform the market. Not just in the music world, but also in audiology when it comes to hearing aids. In the US, hearing aids are sold in a medical environment, where you make an appointment with a doctor in a medical suite and people feel like they’re being treated for a disease. In Europe, especially in the Netherlands and German-speaking countries, it’s all in a retail environment. You walk into a store that has the appeal of an Apple Store and it feels much more like purchasing a lifestyle product, something that enhances your quality of life. It’s a completely different perception and approach.

He breaks the US audiology market down into three segments: health — hearing aids and cochlear implants; lifestyle — personal sound amplifiers and smart earbuds, which can be similar to inexpensive/introductory hearing aids; and entertainment — headphones and earphones. He sees these markets merging into one, so that eventually, they will all provide a similar set of features and experiences. He notes that the convergence between the medical and entertainment worlds is already happening. For example, some high-end hearing aids can now stream Bluetooth audio from smartphones or media players. On the other hand, his LoopBuds incorporate features that were traditionally only found in hearing aids. However, one of the biggest hurdles Thomas sees is that hearing loop technology needs to become more widely adopted and available throughout day-to-day life:

You can think of theaters, places of worship, and movie theaters, those are the obvious ones. But, you could also use the technology at airports for gate announcements or any other type of public transportation or at ticket counters. Really, any situation where you have a glass window and people communicate through a microphone and a little loudspeaker that I can’t hear well most of the time. You could use hearing loop technology at retail stores, bank teller windows, drive-ups for fast-food restaurants, check-outs at grocery stores, their meat counters, fish counters, customer service desks. You name it. Essentially, we could create this fully integrated experience into your day-to-day life, where you wear a “hearable” all day long. Whenever you walk up to a place that features the technology, you get that clean sound and not the distorted DMV experience. ‘Now serving G zero two five at window number 12.’ I think my vision lies something like 5 to 10 years in the future, when this could really become transformative on so many levels.

Watching Zomboy perform from an OTOjOY accessible area at the Mothership Stage

Zomboy performance from an OTOjOY accessible area at the Mothership Stage, photo by Victor Tranfield

Thomas sees the festival environment as a place to grow awareness and propel hearing loops into the mainstream. For now, the issue is that not enough people know that this technology even exists. Micah, the company’s Outreach Specialist comments:

If there’s an opportunity to make the system available on a larger scale, it would be fun to see how it would change things. Where we are now, not enough people know about it and people don’t know that they could have such a better experience at a concert. People put up with what concerts have become. They put up with the sound bleeding over from different stages. They put up with not being able to hear lyrics. They put up with having a ringing in their ears after a show. All those things are problems we can easily fix.

Thomas reiterates the importance of more awareness of hearing loops: “A lot of times, the need isn’t even perceived, because the people that need it aren’t aware of the technology and then don’t speak up to the promoters or the venue operators that would provide it.” He’s thankful for Relentless Beats’ early adoption and support:

Relentless Beats are one of the first promoters who are embracing and really pioneering this technology. They’re open to it, they see the importance of providing a better experience for the people who are hard of hearing and have the need for better sound quality and they’re really curious about seeing how this could be applied on a larger scale. They’re helping us push the boundaries and I think they are seeing the future.

OTOjOY has become a regular fixture at Relentless Beats events. After providing service at Phoenix Lights, OTOjOY made an appearance at ODESZA’s Phoenix stop of their 2018 A Moment Apart Tour. ODESZA have also been an early supporter of OTOjOY, and the service has made appearances at festivals like Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, and Bonanza Campout.

For more information on OTOjOY, checkout some example videos or read what Thomas has to say about his journey to creating OTOjOY.

Phoenix Lights Day 1 Photos
Phoenix Lights Day 2 Photos

Phoenix Lights Announces 2nd Round of 2018 Artists

Phoenix Lights 2018 Full Lineup

Phoenix, Arizona (January 31, 2018) – The marquee Relentless Beats festival, Phoenix Lights, has announced a second round of artists for the fourth annual event. Presented by Relentless Beats, the two-day music festival is taking place at a brand-new, custom-built, permanent venue- The Park at Wild Horse Pass, in Phoenix on April 7 and 8, 2018. The festival has added nearly 20 artists to an already massive roster, which includes: Diplo; Gucci Mane (AZ Festival Debut); Martin Garrix (AZ Festival Debut); Autograf; Bad Decisions; Beats Antique (DJ set); Chris Lake; Goldfish; Gramatik; Joyride; Kasbo; Kuuro; Melvv; Minnesota; Morgan Page; Oshi; Seven Lions; and Zomboy. Newly announced artists for the 2018 festival are: Travis Scott; Arius; ATLiens; Bear Grillz; Boombox Cartel; Brownies & Lemonade; Gerry Gonza; GTA; Krane; Metro Boomin; Midnight Tyrannosaurus; Ray Volpe; Soulection, featuring: Esta & The Whooligan; Um.. and Wuki.

Building of its 2017 festival debut, Relentless Beats’ premiere house, techno, and underground brand, RBDeep, will return to host a stage with performances by: Bruno Furlan; Christoph; Eli & Fur; Huxley; Lee Foss; MK; Umek; and Will Clarke. Recently announced special guest Green Velvet, along with Catz ’N Dogz and Dosem, will be joining the party to round out one of Phoenix Lights’ more stacked stages.

“The evolution of Phoenix Lights in four short years has been incredible to be a part of,” says Relentless Beats founder Thomas Turner. “To see names like Travis Scott and Gucci Mane up there with the likes of Diplo and Martin Garrix is a testament to how far Phoenix Lights, Relentless Beats, and most importantly the scene has come.”

Also returning this year is Relentless Beat’s First Encounters DJ Competition, where the grand prize is an opening slot at this year’s Phoenix Lights Festival. Details will be announced in the coming weeks at www.relentlessbeats.com.

Phoenix Lights 2018 First Encounters DJ Competition

The multi-stage festival will be held at The Park at Wild Horse Pass, a brand new venue experience, specifically created with Relentless Beats and its events in mind. The custom built park situated at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona, is being optimized in order to provide the best possible experience for the Valley’s biggest promoter of electronic dance music events. To be completed in a series of phases over the course of 2018, with the first event being Phoenix Lights, the park is situated adjacent to Rawhide Event Center, on a mostly grass plot able to handle the steady growth of Relentless Beats’ marquee events, including: CRUSH, Phoenix Lights, Global Dance Festival, Goldrush and more. Carrying the full support of the local community, The Park at Wild Horse Pass will provide an experience that will be devoid of the sound and size restrictions that were often a hinderance at previous venues. The park is set to open in April 2018.

General Admission passes are on sale for $159, before fees for a single 2-day pass. VIP passes will be available at two levels: Standard VIP, including everything that a GA tickets provides, plus express VIP entrance, a commemorative lanyard, access to VIP lounge, access to VIP viewing deck, premium restrooms and passed desserts in the VIP areas. Gold VIP includes everything that the Standard VIP pass includes, plus: complimentary drinks, side stage viewing at the main stage, access to artist hospitality lounge, steakhouse quality dinner, exclusive festival gift bag and festival concierge. You must be ages 21 and up to purchase Gold VIP passes. Single-day tickets are now available for Saturday and Sunday, for $89, before fees. All details and ticket types are available online at www.phoenixlightsfest.com and www.relentlessbeats.com. Phoenix Lights is an all ages event. Fans under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Phoenix Lights Festival is produced by Relentless Beats. Visit www.phoenixlightsfest.com for the most up-to-date information. Stay connected on Instagram and Twitter at @PHXLightsFest and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PhoenixLightsFestival.

Phoenix Lights Announces 2018 Lineup

Phoenix Lights 2018 Lineup

Arizona’s leading dance music and EDM promoter, Relentless Beats, has announced the return of Phoenix Lights Festival, April 7 and 8, 2018. Showcasing the dexterity of their team with an 11th hour venue shift in 2017, Relentless Beats has found a permanent venue for its marquee festival in the custom-built Park at Wild Horse Pass. Specifically designed for Relentless Beats and its events, this brand-new venue provides the ability to expand and create the best possible fan experience, with limitless possibilities for Phoenix Lights and much more.

“Phoenix Lights has and continues to be an amazing event for us, each year growing bigger and better,” says Relentless Beats founder Thomas Turner. “This growth has created the need to address our venue options so that we are providing a consistent foundation our fans can look forward to. It is in this spirit that I am excited to announce The Park at Wild Horse Pass as the location for Phoenix Lights 2018.”

Appropriately, Phoenix Lights will be the first of Relentless Beats’ marquee events to take place at The Park at Wild Horse Pass. Given that the event continues to outgrow its previous homes, it is no surprise that the lineup is reflective of this progress. Boasting over 25 artists, the first round of artists includes headliners: Diplo; Gucci Mane (AZ Festival Debut); Martin Garrix (AZ Festival Debut); and support: Autograf; Bad Decisions; Beats Antique (DJ set); Chris Lake; Goldfish; Gramatik; Joyride; Kasbo; Kuuro; Melvv; Minnesota; Morgan Page; Oshi; Seven Lions; and Zomboy. Additionally, Relentless Beats’ premiere house, techno, and underground brand, RBDeep, will return to host a stage with performances by: Bruno Furlan; Christoph; Eli & Fur; Huxley; Lee Foss; MK; Umek and Will Clarke. A second round of performers will be announced after the first of the year and will include national talent, spanning three stages.

The Park at Wild Horse Pass is a brand new venue experience, specifically created with Relentless Beats and its events in mind. The custom built park situated at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona, is being optimized in order to provide the best possible experience for the Valley’s biggest promoter of electronic dance music events. To be completed in a series of phases over the course of 2018, with the first event being Phoenix Lights, the park is situated adjacent to Rawhide Event Center, on a mostly grass plot able to handle the steady growth of Relentless Beats’ marquee events, including: CRUSH, Phoenix Lights, Global Dance Festival, Goldrush and more. Carrying the full support of the local community, The Park at Wild Horse Pass will provide an experience that will be devoid of the sound and size restrictions that were often a hinderance at previous venues. The park is set to open in April 2018.

General Admission passes for Phoenix Lights Festival are on sale Friday, December 22, 2017 at 10 a.m. for $119, before fees. VIP passes will be available at two levels: Standard VIP, including everything that a GA tickets provides, plus express VIP entrance, a commemorative lanyard, access to VIP lounge, access to VIP viewing deck, premium restrooms and passed desserts in the VIP areas. Gold VIP includes everything that the Standard VIP pass includes, plus: complimentary drinks, side stage viewing at the main stage, access to artist hospitality lounge, steakhouse quality dinner, exclusive festival gift bag and festival concierge. You must be 21+ to purchase Gold VIP passes. All details and ticket types are available online at www.phoenixlightsfest.com and www.relentlessbeats.com. Phoenix Lights is an all ages event. Fans under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Phoenix Lights Festival is produced by Relentless Beats. Visit www.phoenixlightsfest.com for the most up-to-date information. Stay connected on Instagram and Twitter at @PHXLightsFest and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PhoenixLightsFestival.

Phoenix Lights Returns in April 2018

Phoenix Lights 2018

As hints of an impending transmission began to trickle out over the airwaves, it can now be confirmed that the Lights will indeed return this April 7-8, 2018. Entering its fourth incarnation and coming off a year which saw Pollstar recognizing the festival for its amazing organizational dexterity (Phoenix Lights Shines In Rawhide), Phoenix Lights has emerged as the marquee event produced by Relentless Beats–nearly doubling each year and welcoming some of the biggest and most exciting talent the genre has to offer.

With the incredible support Relentless Beats saw from its fans this year, special pre-sale tickets for Phoenix Lights will be made available at the price of $109 for weekend passes, beginning Friday, December 15th at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available online at www.phoenixlightsfest.com and www.relentlessbeats.com. Phoenix Lights Festival is for ages 18 and over. Keep your eyes peeled as additional transmissions will be coming from Relentless Beats starting Monday, December 18.

Phoenix Lights 2017 Official After Movie

Phoenix Lights 2017

Last month, Phoenix Lights took over the Rawhide Event Center in Chandler, Arizona, with a stacked lineup featuring artists like Above & Beyond, Alesso, Tiesto, GRiZ, Zhu, Zeds Dead, STS9, Pete Tong, and more. We previously posted the unofficial Dancebreak recap video. In addition to the unofficial Dancebreak recap video, an official Phoenix Lights After Movie has been released, featuring the song “Traffic” by Loudpvck & Botnek.

Phoenix Lights 2017 Artist Preview

Phoenix Lights

Phoenix Lights 2017 takes place April 8-9, 2017, and this year’s line-up has a strong showing of talent. This event will take place at the Margaret T Hance Park in Downtown Phoenix and you can get your tickets from Relentless Beats. Here’s the break-down of some artists that are going to be there.

Saturday Lineup
Above & Beyond • Asadi • Bro Safari • Codeko • Dr Fresch vs Bijou • Ekali • Felix Da Housecat • Grum • Hucci • Illenium • Jax Jones • Josh Wink • Keys N Krates • Loudpvck • Low Steppa • Pete Tong• Sacha Robotti • Said the Sky • Shaun Frank • Sirus Hood • Tchami • Tiësto • Tiga • Vindata • Wingtip • Zeds Dead

Asadi
Young Columbus, Ohio Dj, producer, singer, songwriter, and musician Daniel Asadi is just starting to perform for big crowds. Don’t let that fool you though Asadi absolutely knows how to work that DJ booth. He also has some big shows coming up this year: Electric Forest, Euphoria, and Elements Lakewood Camping Festival to name a few. He makes Persian trap sound amazingly flawless. Some artists that have influenced his sound would be Travis Scott, Mura Masa, and Kendrick Lamar. It will be exciting seeing what this young man has to perform at Phoenix Lights.

Illenium
Denver resident Nick Miller, better known as Illenium, began making EDM in early 2008, but didn’t become passionate about releasing his
own work until after he saw Bassnectar in 2012 at Red Rocks. Some music influences are Bassnectar, Adventure Club, ODESZA and Porter Robinson. Nick actually launched his own label, Kasaya Recording, to release “Ashes” with Seeking Blue. In Illenium’s live shows, he engages fans with his with future bass originals and he has a hybrid set up of drum pads, keyboards, and CDJs. He loves to incorporate as many live elements to his shows as he can. This live show will be something to see and hear.

Tchami
French producer and DJ Martin Bresso, known as Tchami, is the pioneer of Future house. Tchami began using this stage name in Africa and became recognized after releasing a remix of “Go Deep” by Janet Jackson. He was the first to start using the term “future house” in his SoundCloud post tags which eventually become recognized in the electronic music industry. He launched his own record label, “Confession”, in 2015. Tchami is bringing a stunning church stage with a live choir, which will bring another level to his stage presence at Phoenix Lights.

Sunday Lineup
21 Savage • Alesso • Billy Kenny • Cashmere Cat • Coyu • Crizzly • Ganja White Night • Go Freek • Griz • Helena Legend • Justin Martin • K?D • The Knocks • Lane 8 • Manila Killa • Oliver Heldens • Pig & Dan • STS9 • Thomas Jack • Tokimonsta • Unlike Pluto • Viceroy • Vince Staples • ZHU

Thomas Jack
This Aussie DJ is known for his tropical house fusion. Thomas Jack’s music makes you feel like you are lost in an endless summer. Some inspiration for his sound is Enya, Pleasurekraft, Jack Johnson, and Paul Kalkbrenner. For Jack’s music he likes to use live flute, saxophone, piano, and guitar. You expect to feel like you are having some Sunday fun, some where in the warm sunny of some gorgeous beach when you hear him perform.

ZHU
Steven Zhu is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and electronic musician. Zhu remained anonymous until mid-2014, he asked to be judged for his music. This Chinese American choice to release his music anonymously, because he believed race played a role, saying: “Some of us don’t even know the limitations of our own prejudice. Rather than put those limitations to the test, we’ve created an engaging way for fans to focus on the music rather than who’s behind it.” Zhu has a dark, moody, dreamy, and sometimes cinematic vibe to his live performances.

This weekend don’t forget to stay hydrated things will be heating up in Downtown Phoenix and as always have fun at Phoenix Lights.

If Phoenix Lights isn’t enough for your music fix, there are several after-parties that will be happening this Saturday and Sunday.

April 8: Hannah Wants – Dark Matter at Monarch Theatre
April 8: Illenium + Crywolf – Supernova at Monarch Theatre
April 8: Josh Wink – Stargazer at Bar Smith

April 9: Keys N Krates + Crizzly – Supernova at Monarch Theatre
April 9: Coyu + Pig & Dan – Dark Matter at Monarch Theatre
April 9: Griz – Planet X at Shady Park