Tag - Sunset Music Festival

Christian Alexander at Sunset Music Festival 2017

Christian Alexander - Sunset Music Festival 2017

It’s 4PM on Day 1 of Sunset Music Festival 2017 and local DJ/producer Christian Alexander has just wrapped up his first set of the weekend: a short set that serves as a precursor to his main performance on the Sunset Stage of Day 2. The 22-year-old artist and resident DJ at The Amphitheatre/The Ritz moved from New Jersey to Florida at the age of 12, where he started playing the piano. His interest in dance music stretches back even further, to about the age of 6, thanks to his two aunts from Miami. He recounts a particular experience when he was at their house in Miami: “They were playing Ultra 2004 the DVD. I was so little at the time, I was like ‘What is this? This is amazing!’ ‘This is Ultra, it happens every March in Miami.’” That was enough to capture Christian’s interest. When he turned 13, his two aunts took him to his first music festival experience. “I loved it. You know, Ultra was all-ages back then, so anybody could go. I guess 13 was an ok age.” He’s careful to point out that the setting was a little bit different back then. “It wasn’t as crazy as it is now. The biggest stage was the main stage, and that is where the live stage is now,” referring to the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre.

Although Christian took an early interest in dance music, he’s quick to point out that punk rock has a big influence on his creative style: “I went to Warped Tour in high school. I loved it,” noting that one of his favorite effects to add to his tracks is a guitar pluck, which he says helps maintain the flow of the track and keep it unique. Some of his biggest influences are Fall Out Boy and Blink 182, with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket being one of his favorite albums. If you catch one of his sets, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a little punk rock thrown in the mix.

While punk rock and the guitar play important roles in his tracks and DJ sets, he’s confident that the piano is the most critical element of his songwriting process. “The first thing I do is write chords for every track on the piano. I write chords, record them into Ableton, and then I’ll build the song out from there. I would say the piano is definitely the biggest part of my creative process.” In addition to Ableton, Christian also mentions how he enjoys working with Sylenth, a virtual analog synthesizer, and Serum, a wavetable synthesizer. However, Christian also notes that he’s been fortunate to work with a local mastering engineer, KC Gilmore. As a result, he’s come to appreciate “that analog sound is very important.” Although digital tools like Ableton, Sylenth, and Serum have had a big impact in shaping his creative process, he adds: “there’s still nothing better than a nice analog studio.”

Christian has been spending time both in his personal studio at his apartment and KC’s home studio in preparation for some new releases, including “Do Not Disturb” ft. Athrs and “I’m Free,” two songs that he debuted at Sunset Music Festival and that will be available on his Soundcloud and Spotify accounts in the near future. He mentions that he’s been hard at work producing new tracks to showcase his production skills, admitting that “one thing I’ve been lacking over the last couple of years has been posting original music on my Soundcloud, which is why I’ve been working so hard in the studio the last couple of months, trying to get music out there for people to realize I’m not just a DJ, I’m a pretty good producer as well. I want to show that.”

On top of his new music releases, you can also hear him live at upcoming shows, including an opening set for ATLiens on July 7 at Myth Nightclub in Jacksonville, FL. This will be Christian’s first Jacksonville show. “I’ve never partied with the Jacksonville people, so I’m excited. I heard they go in.” In addition to his upcoming set at Myth Nightclub, Christian Alexander regularly performs on Saturday nights at The Amphitheatre/The Ritz, while also venturing to Orlando to play at Gilt Nightclub and Miami for Miami Music Week. He’s previously opened for artists like Slander, Shaun Frank, Kygo, Galantis, Tritonal, Jauz, and more.

When asked what draws him to Tampa, he emphatically says: “The people. There’s nothing like Tampa people. They go in. It can be the slowest house show ever—there will still be 1000 people there jamming no matter what.” That connection to the people is the same aspect that he enjoys about playing at a club like The Amp or Gilt. Compared to playing the main stage at a major festival like Sunset Music Festival, he says: “I really like the intimacy of the club vibe, you’re right there, you kind of hear them yelling sometimes, but you know, nothing beats a good festival crowd.” The intimacy is particularly evident in Orlando: “At Gilt, I’m 4 feet away at the most, right behind the subwoofers. So the crowd is right there. They’re a very educated scene. Every time I play in Orlando, I prepare a lot for that set, making sure that I’m opening correctly for the artist.”

Christian Alexander Performing at Sunset Music Festival 2017

Christian Alexander Performing at Sunset Music Festival 2017

Just like the proximity and connection to the crowd holds Christian accountable while he’s performing, the modern age of social media reinforces an artist’s connection to listeners, presenting benefits and challenges to succeeding. “I think one of the biggest challenges is being a musician and a marketing specialist, because you have to use social media 24/7.” It’s an added challenge for an artist like Christian, who already has his hands full as he works towards completing his undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida Tampa in Biomedical Sciences. He would have already completed his degree, but decided to pursue an additional minor in Biomedial Physics, which he will complete in December 2017.

He balances his workload with a strict time management regimen using his calendar on his phone. “Everything by day is broken down by time.” He breaks down his days between studio time, homework assignments, live performances, class, and everything else that comes his way. “That list is my life. I stick to it, I don’t deviate from it, and if it wasn’t for that, or just having time management skills, I would get lost in everything. I would have flunked out of school, maybe would have been lazy with my music.” With his schooling almost complete, Christian will have more time to focus on his music, where he hopes to expand his reach. Some festivals on his radar that he would like to perform at include Imagine Music Festival in Atlanta, GA and Okeechobee Music Festival in Okeechobee, FL, two independent music festivals that put a heavy emphasis on visual and performance art, and supporting local talent.

The sun has set on another successful Sunset Music Festival, which boasted increased stage production, a world-class lineup, and upcoming local talent like Christian Alexander. If you missed Christian at Sunset Music Festival, you can catch him playing regularly in the South Florida area and beyond as he expands his reach.

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Sunset Music Festival 2017 Artist Preview

Sunset Music Festival 2016

Sunset Music Festival takes places this Memorial Day Weekend at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, May 27-28, 2017. If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, single-day and weekend GA passes are still available, however, VIP passes are now sold out. As you gear up for Sunset Music Festival, check out some of the artists we are excited to see.

Goldroom (Live)
A multi-instrumentalist originally from Massachusetts, Josh Legg is an LA-based songwriter and producer performing under the alias Goldroom. He credits his inspiration to his childhood, where he spent countless hours sailing around New England with his dad, listening to music. As a result, his style is serene, yet energetic. He performs on Sunday, May 29 from 11:00PM-12:00AM at the Horizon Stage.

Dusky
This duo hailing from London began performing under the name Dusky in 2011. Since first breaking into the underground UK music scene, the duo has pushed their sound forward, becoming a household name. Their wide-ranging musical influences include everything from Polish orchestral music, to soulful jazz, French house, and everything in between. They perform Sunday, May 29 from 9:30-10:45PM at the Horizon Stage.

G Jones
This California native has been crushing the bass music scene lately, having opened for and collaborated with artists like Bassnectar. He credits his growth and influence to the bustling music scene of the internet. His style can be described as dark genre-bending bass music. G Jones plays on Saturday May 28 from 7:30-8:30PM at the Eclipse Stage.

Yotto
This talented artist from Helsinki, Finland has music in his blood, having started his musical career at the age of 12. The son of an ex-rocker, he grew up listening to blues, classic rock, and disco. He lists his inspirations as artists like Moby, The Chemical Brothers, John Digweed, Royksopp, and more. Yotto will be playing on Sunday, May 29 from 7:00-8:15PM on the Horizon Stage.

San Holo
This Dutch songwriter/producer refined his craft at Rotterdam University, where he studied guitar and music production. In addition to his San Holo music, Sander van Dijck also runs the record label and artist project, bitbird. 26-year-old San Holo has been injecting the dance world with his unique brand of uplifting music. He will be performing Saturday, May 28 from 6:30-7:30 at the Eclipse Stage.

While we’re particularly excited to catch these five artists, Sunset Music Festival features a full lineup of great musical talent that you don’t want to miss. As you prepare for the festival, make sure to check out the festival guide, wristband information, and schedule.

Sunset Music Festival 2017 Lineup & Info

Sunset Music Festival 2017 Lineup

Sunset Music Festival returns to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL this May 27-28, 2017. The lineup includes artists like Major Lazer, RL Grime, Above & Beyond, Zeds Dead, Cedric Gervais, Dusky, Gareth Emery, G Jones, San Holo, MaRLo, Slander, SNAILS, Aly & Fila, Kill the Noise, Louis the Child, Yellow Claw, and many more. Tickets are currently available with 2-day GA tickets going for $159.95 (plus fees) and 2-day VIP tickets for $259.95 (plus fees). Included on the ticketing website are various other merchandise and offers, including locker rentals. Make sure to also check out SMF’s info pages, including their guide, safety, and location information.

Sunset Music Festival 2016 Takes Over Tampa

SMF 2016

Last weekend, approximately 30,000 patrons per day took over Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for Sunset Music Festival, leaving behind the bitter-sweet memories of a weekend packed full of music and dancing.

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Take us back #SMF16

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When Sunset’s lineup was released, I was a little disappointed to see that there were a lot of repeat artists. However, I think I was a little quick to judge, because once I got into the festival, I was reminded of why I always have so much fun at SMF: carefully crafted stages that cater to different styles of music. SMF is by no means the only festival that does this; they just seem to do a particularly good job of balancing the stages with great headlining artists for specific styles of music. On both days, the main stage naturally attracted the more popular and mainstream styles of dance music, artists that are more likely to be played on the radio. Over the weekend, the main stage had performances including 3LAU, Hardwell, Galantis, Borgeous, Jack U, The Chainsmokers, Cash Cash, Jauz, Marshmello, and others. Regardless of your tastes in music, it’s healthy to see big names like this at a festival like Sunset. The big names attract a large crowd and allow promoters to make the entire event a much bigger spectacle. There’s a trickle-down effect, so that when patrons pay to see big names at a festival, the other stages that showcase less-popular, but still immensely talented artists, benefit. Speaking for my own personal preferences, this is something that I love to see. Even though I don’t spend much time at the main stage, I still appreciate the presence, because that means I can spend my days and nights dancing and marveling at the side stages.

Day One of the Eclipse Stage targeted the trance crowd with artists like Pierce Fulton, Andrew Bayer, Ilan Bluestone, Tritonal, Ferry Corsten, and Seven Lions. It’s always a pleasure to see veterans like Ferry Corsten. He put on a spectacular show, and his decades of experience as a DJ and producer were evident with the way he captivated the Eclipse Stage.

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Rezz SMF 2016

Rezz gets the crowd moving at the Horizon Stage

Day One of the Horizon Stage targeted House and Techno fans with artists like Rezz, Shaun Frank, J.Phlip, Mija, Justin Martin, and Claude VonStroke. I was not previously familiar with Rezz (shame on me), but she was the first artist I caught a glimpse of at the Horizon Stage. It’s been a while since I walked onto a dance floor and been completely caught off guard with the music, but Rezz did just that, in the best way possible. Rezz’s take on music feels a little dark. She blends different genres together, with the core element of her music seeming to be bass. Transitioning between dubstep-ish and bass-heavy house music with thumping beats, Rezz throws down tracks that sound like they come from an earlier, less pop-influenced time of dance music. Originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario, and with releases on deadmau5’s label, mau5trap, Rezz showed her support for a fellow Canadian producer by throwing in some older deadmau5 tracks like Right This Second and Raise Your Weapon; the nostalgia in me was giddy with joy.

As Rezz’s set came to a close, Shaun Frank took the stage and put down some more upbeat tracks with his signature wobbly house sound. The Tampa Bay area is no stranger to Shaun Frank, as he performed last summer at Shephard’s in Clearwater. It was nice seeing him back in the area in front of a larger crowd. After Shaun Frank, J.Phlip took over with some alien-sounding house music, which was followed by another female DJ, Mija. Mija had a great performance at SMF last year, so it was cool to see her progression as an artist, with her set being scheduled for later in the evening this year. It’s refreshing to see artists like Rezz, J.Phlip, and Mija, three females that have a fresh take on dance music, commanding the stage for a good period of time. I took a short break from the Horizon Stage to catch some other artists, but made sure to get back for Claude VonStroke. I had high expectations for this veteran, and I was not let down. His mastery of the DJ decks was evident as he closed out the Horizon Stage.

Day Two of the Eclipse Stage showcased bass-heavy artists like Team EZY, Party Favor, Funtcase, Bro Safari, Snails, Zomboy, and Borgore. Team EZY played a nice blend of Hip-Hop and electronic music. I really appreciated that at an early slot like 3PM, he played music that was upbeat enough to get the crowd dancing, but not so heavy that it wore the crowd out early in the day, a trait that other opening artists could take notes from. He fills the opening set appropriately, but with his technical skills, it’s clear that he is destined for bigger sets as his music gains in popularity.

Day Two of the Horizon Stage had a mix of Bass music early in the day with House music later in the night. Louis the Child, like Team EZY, injects a bit of Hip-Hop into their productions and sets. Throwing in some old-school Kid Cudi was a pleasant surprise. After Louis the Child, Jai Wolf took the stage and graced the dance floor with his cerebral sound. As the sun dropped lower in the sky, Jai Wolf transitioned into more appropriately rowdy music.

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Just a small Marshmello in a really big world 🌎 #SMF16

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After Jai Wolf, I made my way to main stage to catch a little bit of Anna Lunoe and Marshmello. Anna Lunoe was the fourth and final female artist to perform at SMF, and like the three that came before her, she did a stellar job. With the sun low in the sky, she played suitably groovy music to close out her set. Marshmello was up next. Although he produces some great music and can play a fun show, his set seemed far too similar to another Tampa set that he played at the Amp in Ybor in December 2015.

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#tbt @samfeldtmusic closing out the #horizonstage at #smf

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Back at the Horizon Stage, Lane 8 was playing his signature feel-good tunes that seem to cross between Progressive Trance and House. As he played “Midnight” with the sun beaming through the partly-covered Horizon Stage, I couldn’t help grinning ear to ear, knowing that the song was just getting me primed for the sun to go down and the music to kick it up a notch. Thomas Jack took the stage next and boy did he put on a show! Thomas Jack knows how to read a crowd and smoothly mix together a nice blend of Tropical House and House music, sure to get your feet moving. His complementary light setup is one that sets the mood through subtlety. Sam Feldt came up next, closing out the night at the Horizon Stage. Although his transitions are a little less subtle than that of Thomas Jack, he has a ton of fun with the crowd. He also brought along his live saxophone player, Justin Ward, which was a pleasant surprise as the sounds of the sax closed the night.

 

Unfortunately, SMF was not fun-filled for everyone. Tampa police said they made 25 felony arrests and 8 misdemeanor arrests. Additionally, 57 people were hospitalized, and two tragically passed away. 21-year-old Katie Bermudez of Kissimmee and 22-year-old Alex Haynes of Melbourne were both hospitalized, but ultimately perished. Toxicology reports have not been released yet, but heat was undoubtedly a contributing factor, as temperatures reached 93°F, with no relief from any rain this year. It’s always unfortunate to hear about deaths like these. An event like this should serve as an opportunity to educate patrons and improve the experience in the future. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn hopes that this spells the end for Sunset Music Festival, but ending Sunset Music Festival is a seemingly simple solution for a complex problem. It may be the politically expedient thing to do, but it’s not any kind of long-term solution that would do anything to end drug-related injuries or deaths, and ultimately results in events going underground, where rules and regulations do not apply.

Tragedies like this should act as a reminder that the best way to address drug-related deaths are through education and promoting safety and harm-reduction. Unfortunately, the 2003 RAVE Act makes it very difficult for promoters and venues to educate the public, out of fear that they would be punished harshly. Due to the language of the law, promoters fear being prosecuted if their venue appears to condone drug use by providing cool-down rooms, free water, glowsticks, drug testing, or other amenities that are sometimes associated with drug use. Oftentimes, drug-related deaths at large events like SMF are a result of patrons unknowingly buying and using adulterated drugs, a problem that could easily be mitigated by allowing on-site drug testing. On-site drug testing should not be seen as condoning or encouraging drug use, but instead, it is a realistic attitude that encourages patrons to be as safe as possible. The majority of Americans believe that the most effect approach to sex education is to realize that adolescents are going to have sex, so the best way to address the issue is to ensure that they are properly educated and have the tools so that they do it in the safest way possible. Why would we not take this same approach with drug use?

Sunset Music Festival goes to great lengths to ensure the safety of its patrons; they were not negligent in this regard. At check-in, there is police presence, drug-sniffing dogs, and TSA-style searches. Once inside the festival, there are EMS, police, and security patrolling the venue. Additionally, free water is provided throughout the venue, as are cool-down areas. Ryan Raddon, AKA EDM superstar Kaskade said it best: “Clearly, if the US Government hasn’t come up with the magic bullet to quell the problem of drugs in this country, it is not reasonable to expect an event promoter to pull this kind of trick out of his hat either.” Banning EDM events is a short-sighted solution that does a disservice to the public. If we truly want to address drug use in the US and the world, the most effective approach is a realistic one that understands that drug use is a social problem, not a criminal one, which calls for social solutions, like prevention, harm reduction, safety, and education.

The promoters running SMF care about its patrons and the local community. I am confident that if they work with local law enforcement, EMS, and politicians, they can come together to create a solution that allows Sunset Music Festival to continue to spread the joy of music in the area, while also maximizing safety and preventing issues in the future.

Sunset Music Festival 2016: Artist Preview

Sunset Music Festival is just around the corner (make sure to get your tickets!) and with that in mind, we wanted to let our readers know of artists that we’re excited to see. This year’s lineup is pretty star-studded with the likes of The Chainsmokers, Jack U, Galantis, Hardwell, and other big names. However, we like to shed light on some of the lesser known artists that are busy making fresh waves in the ocean of music. If you don’t already know about these artists, make sure to keep an eye out for them as their following only gets larger.

Team EZY

LA-based Team EZY AKA Drew Gold spent the last five years touring with Skrillex in various management roles. His debut single (Pretty Bye Bye) released earlier this year was a collaboration with Skrillex. Now he’s starting his own artist venture and Sunset Music Festival is one of his first stops. His music style ranges from chill and liquid to hard and raw. The influence from Skrillex and OWSLA on his music style is evident, yet he still brings his own special touch that brings his bass music to life.

Lost Kings

This duo consisting of Robert Gainley and Dr. No have been blazing their trail through the dance music scene over the last year, most recently inking a deal with Spinnin’. These make some really fun music and seem like they really know how to have a good time on stage.

Jai Wolf

Jai Wolf has been making moves in the dance world lately, having done official work for Alesso, Dirty South, ODESZA, and more. His style brings in hip-hop, pop, and bass elements, resulting in some smooth and euphoric tunes that fill the room and capture the moment. His remixes of Miss U, Heroes, and Say My Name are all great examples of his ability to take a popular song and put his unique feel-good spin on it.

Vanic

British Columbia native Vanic AKA Jesse Hughes has been absolutely crushing the bass music scene. With a wide selection of originals and remixes, his style is a nice balance of rowdy and euphoric. Vanic knows how to bring the party atmosphere, so definitely check out his set at SMF!

Louis the Child

This duo hailing from Chicago says their goal is to make music that makes people happy. With releases on Skrillex’s label OWSLA, the two have enjoyed widespread critical acclaim with their single “It’s Strange” having been featured on popular radio shows like BBC and Triple J. The two set the atmosphere with their chill bass beats.

Bonus: Claude VonStroke

Ok, so Claude VonStroke is not up-and-coming by any means, but he really needed his own little shout-out. He has been a dominate force in the house music scene for over ten years. This is one of those artists that knows how to produce, but if you ask me, he really shines while on the decks. His technical skills when it comes to DJing will leave you floored. His set will undoubtedly get the feet moving!

Sunset Music Festival 2016: Lineup & Info

Sunset Music Festival 2016

Sunset Music Festival returns to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL for its fifth year this Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday May 28 to Sunday May 29). This year’s lineup will see some familiar faces like Hardwell, The Chainsmokers, Jack U (Skrillex previously played a solo set last year, but will be joined by Diplo this year for Jack U), Mija, Claptone, Sam Feldt, Thomas Jack, Cash Cash, Borgore, Funtcase, and more. Newer names include Snails, Seven Lions, Vanic, Jai Wolf, Jauz, Matoma, Marshmello, Lane 8, Claude Vonstroke, CID, Louis the Child, and more. Additionally, although this is pure speculation, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Justin Bieber might make an appearance for Jack U, especially considering that he doesn’t appear to have any conflicting events booked for May 29. Check out the full lineup here.

The previous two Sunset Music Festival events drew crowds in the neighborhood of 40,000-50,000, in spite of some of the temporary weather difficulties the festival has faced. Expect this year’s festival to be, at a minimum, on par with previous years in terms of attendance and production value. Tickets are currently on sale with General Admission tickets going for $159 (plus fees), while VIP passes are $234 (plus fees). Make sure to check out Sunset’s information, including their guide, location, and safety. We hope to see you there!

Artist Interview | MaRLo at SMF

In 2015, we are now fully immersed in the digital age of music. As a result of the changing tools and resources available to DJs and producers, there are a variety of paths to musical stardom. At Sunset Music Festival, which took place during Memorial Day weekend, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Australian trance artist, MaRLo. From his humble beginnings living on two-dollar noodles, MaRLo has become a world-renowned trance artist. Take a closer look at MaRLo’s musical beginnings, his inspiration, travel experiences, and more in our exclusive interview.

Dancebreak commentary is in italics, while MaRLo’s responses are in normal text.

Thanks for taking the time to meet with us today and welcome back to Florida. How does it feel to be back?

Awesome man, it wasn’t that long since I was in Miami and the crowd in America has been so warm and friendly. I think I’m pretty new in the US. I’ve been playing all over the world, like in Europe, Asia, and Australia for quite some time, but I’ve only been playing in America for like a year or eighteen months, so it’s exciting for me.

Ya, you played at Ultra for the first time this year, right? Congratulations, that seems like a pretty big milestone.

It was big, ya, it was good.

That’s awesome. So far how does the Tampa atmosphere feel different from Miami?

I only just arrived. It’s a lot wetter here. A lot more rain.

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I think it could just be the time of year. This is your first time at Sunset, is there anything in particular that you’re excited for that you think would be different from other festivals?

I’m not sure. I’ve only just arrived, I don’t know what to expect. Gigs like that are the best, where you don’t know what’s going to happen. I haven’t even looked at the crowd yet, so when I’m up on stage, I’ll just go with the flow.

That’s fun, sort of like opening a new present on Christmas day.

Ya, sort of like that, so we’ll see what happens.

Are there any sets that you’re excited to see as a fan here or do you not really have time to do that?

A lot of these guys that are playing at these festivals, we tour all the time and I see them constantly. So I’ve seen most of the DJs I’d like to see play lots of times already, but of course it’s great hanging out with all your friends.

You’ve already mentioned that your wife, Jano, is not here with you. Your collaborations are great, it’s so cool that you’re able to work together like that.

Ya we’re actually working on a track together called The Dreamers, which I’ve played an intro/teaser version of at ASOT [A State of Trance]. But I’m working on finishing that as a whole track, so that’s going to be cool.

I’ve seen that you’ve previously talked about how Armin van Buuren was one of your earlier influences and now you’ve done quite a number of remixes of his music. How does that feel to go from having someone who’s one of your big influences become one of your peers that you work with quite a bit?

I’ve played at a lot of his events and would definitely consider him a friend by now with the amount of times we’ve seen each other and hung out and stuff like that. But he’s amazing, you know what he’s managed to achieve in the industry first of all. Not only as a DJ, but also I think he’s a real ambassador for the sound and for dance music as a whole, but also especially for trance. I think he’s definitely the leader and he’s very supportive of new talent. I think without him, a lot of new talent would never get heard, because he has a radio show with so many listeners, like millions of listeners every week, so when he plays your track, even if you’re an unknown DJ, suddenly you can create your own little buzz from the momentum he can give you.

I kind of get the feeling like he makes a big effort to try and play the up-and-comers.

It’s really simple, he plays what he likes. So he doesn’t care if you’re a big name or not, he plays the tracks that he likes.

I also read that you don’t prepare for your sets and you go with the vibe of the crowd. That’s great, how do you do that and what do you think of DJs that don’t do that, for example some DJs that might have a whole pre-recorded set.

I think everyone’s different and everyone’s performance is different. I’ve been DJing for quite a long time and I’ve played to a lot of different types of crowds and I’ve learned to adapt on the spot. For me, that’s very important, because every crowd is different and if I prepare a certain style and it doesn’t work—well, I need to have the flexibility to be able to change it up every track. I don’t even know what I’m going to be starting with today yet. I’ll just go up there and as soon as I’m plugged in, I’ll look for the first track. It also depends on what the other DJ finishes with. That’s the other thing, what if he plays two or three tracks that I had planned to play? Then I’m screwed, right? I try to do it very spontaneously and go with the flow.

Some of these artists that have more pre-planned sets, I think they put more of an emphasis on interacting with the crowd visually and vocally, but not as much with the music. What do you think about that? How do you balance the visual and vocal part, while still DJing?

I think everyone’s performance is different. I don’t think one is better than the other, or more valuable than the other. The actual mixing part, the actual part of getting two tracks to play at the same speed is not the hard part anyway. The hard part is creating a good atmosphere and getting the crowd moving. If you can do that with your pre-planned set or you’re comfortable that the DJ before you is not going to play the same tracks as you, why not? I don’t see the problem with it. It just doesn’t work for me though.

I think the line between DJs and producers these days is getting a bit blurred. Can you comment at all on the distinction between the two and is it necessarily important that a producer DJs and a DJ produces?

Yes, I do. It’s very, very, very difficult to just be a producer. There’s hardly any money in sales. Everyone either illegally downloads the music, or even if they do buy the music, it’s only for $1.99 on iTunes. In the old days, when producers would make tracks, a vinyl record would sell for $22 and the wholesale price was $10, so there was $12 profit to make between the label, the artist, and the distributor. So there was a lot more money from the start to go around. And sales, everyone bought the vinyl, so you could sell 50,000 vinyls no problem. So there was real money to be made as a producer without DJing. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to make a career—as in, not have another job—out of just producing, unless you’re also ghost producing for other artists and they’re paying you fees to make their records. They’re never going to recoup the money they invest in the track, but they’ll make it back on their gigs. So you need gigs to make a career out of music, you need to DJ to make a career out of music and quit your day job. And on the other way around, you won’t get invited to DJ at a big festival unless you do have tracks to your name. It works both ways. How I see tracks is a lot like a business card or a flier, where you’re sending them out around the world and people are downloading your music, whether it’s illegally or legally, whatever, but that actually doesn’t matter. If people are consuming your music, then they’ll buy a ticket to see you at an event. People wouldn’t know who I was if I didn’t have tracks. They’d have no idea, even if I was a great DJ technically. You need one to be the other. You need to be both.

Dance music seems to go through trends pretty rapidly now. But it seems like trance music has been popular for quite some time. What do you think makes trance different? How do you keep it fresh and interesting and maintain the connection with your older trance fans, as well as developing new connections with up-and-coming fans?

I think trance is such a broad genre. To me, the meaning of trance is that quite often it has a pretty emotional response. It’s quite an emotional genre. I think everyone likes feeling something, especially when they’re out at an event and it’s about unity, experiencing the moment together. I think trance is very good at bringing people together like that.

Were you always a fan of dance music? What were you listening to when you were young, like 10-16 years old? What was your taste in music?

At first I liked rock. Then I liked hip-hop for a while. Then when I heard some of The Prodigy’s early stuff and Aphex Twin and some of those top acts, I was like, oh this is cool. Even some of Daft Punk’s very early stuff. When I was old enough to go out clubbing myself, then I got into trance.

Who or what have been some of your biggest influences unrelated to dance music?

Like unrelated to music?

Well, anything really.

Aphex Twin was a huge inspiration. His music was so experimental and weird that I had no idea how it was made first of all. He makes a lot of his own instruments and stuff. It’s really out there. And that experimentation attracted me to try it myself. That you didn’t have to follow rules that you didn’t have to be able to sing, you didn’t have to be able to play guitar. Because I can’t. I can’t sing or play guitar. Electronic music was something that anyone can actually do. You can express yourself musically without having to be able to read notes or play an instrument, and for me that was really exciting.

Do you play any other musical instruments?

No. Well, I mean I play the keyboard, I know my chords and things like that, but no.

In your course of music, did you ever have an “Aha!” moment where you realized that you could turn music into a career?

I didn’t have an “Aha!” moment where I could, I had an “Aha!” moment where I said, this is all I want to do with my life. So it wasn’t like “oh hey I can do this,” it was more like, “I want to do this,” no matter what. Even if I was completely broke, I would have done this. I was for a long time. I was struggling to pay my rent, I worked shitty day jobs that I hated. But then as soon as I got home, I’d stay up to four in the morning every night, just working on refining my craft and getting better and better and better and playing more and more and more gigs on the weekend as a DJ and getting to know more people. My mom once asked me, “Marlo, what are you going to do if all this doesn’t work out? Like what’s your plan B? Are you going to go to university, are you going to learn how to do something else?” I looked her dead in the eye and I said: “Mom, my plan B is to try plan A again.” It took a long time before I could quit my shitty day jobs that I hated. It took a long time.

That’s quite a bit of perseverance. I know some people wouldn’t have the drive to do that.

I was living on two-minute noodles and borrowing money off my mom and my friends just to survive, just to pay rent. I was really broke. But there was never a question of maybe I should do something else, because this was all I wanted to do with my life and if I was still working crappy day jobs, I’d still be producing at home every day, like this is what I love to do.

You have a lot of great singles, but no album.

No album.

What’s it like being an artist in the digital age that’s focused more on music streaming? Do you feel pressure to make more singles?

I don’t feel pressure, I just enjoy making singles. I would like to make an album one time, but I’ve got really good momentum happening. With singles you have to make a track that everyone is going to play and that’s going to get people jumping. I’m enjoying doing that for now, so maybe in a few years I’ll sit down and do an album, but I’m not even sure if the album would be only tracks that make people jump up and down, because what’s the point of an album if you could just do them as singles anyway? If I did an album, it would be more like an artist album where I express a different side of me I suppose.

I like seeing that. You see artists that are quite different live and then they’ll put out an album that’s a different style; it’s a different mode of expression.

Exactly, it’s more for listening at home and listening in the car or for putting on when you’re going to sleep, not necessarily just for jumping up and down. An album would be a different thing for me.

You’re quite the world traveler these days. What’s been one of your favorite traveling experiences you’ve had while on tour, that’s not related to music?

The times where my wife does get to come with me are awesome. Last time she came with me to Mexico, after EDC Mexico, and we went snorkeling; we saw a barracuda. We’ve got a big aquarium at home, so we love snorkeling together. Experiencing things like that all over the world is definitely one of the big perks, and a huge luxury. Not many people get to travel to the opposite end of the world and get to experience that. And if they do, it’s like you save for a long time and then you go on your big trip once a year or once every two years. Whereas, because it’s part of work, I go there anyway. To be able to take advantage of those situations, where I’m in amazing places and I have to be there anyway, and then to get to do that stuff, it’s really cool.

How do you beat the exhaustion of traveling, playing at shows, and making yourself feel at home when you’re not?

I try to just sleep when I’m tired. You can’t keep up with the jet lag. The jet lag will beat you every time. You can’t say “I’m going to stay awake until 10 or 11” and then get up at 7 or 8. You can’t do that when you’re traveling as much as I do. I just sleep when I can. Whether it’s two hours or six hours.

We have one more question before we wrap things up. For me, I’m really appreciative of music. When I got into electronic music, I thought that was huge. It really was a constant force of positivity and I think that most of the artists that experience long-term success, they have a similar outlook. They’re not doing it for fame or for anything else in particular, they think it’s a powerful thing. That brings me to the thought that there’s not a lot of women in the electronic music world, other than dancers, servers, and bartenders and whatnot. Is that something that you’d like to see change. Would you like to see more women involved? What advice would you give to them?

I would absolutely. What I don’t really understand is—there’s some women involved, but they don’t really produce music themselves, and I don’t really get that because there’s so many songwriters that are female—like a lot. I think women like the creative process as much as men. I don’t think it’s a sex issue. I don’t understand why they don’t learn how to use the software and produce music themselves. There’s really not many that are actually sitting down, spending eight hours a day in front of a computer, learning the technical side of how to produce. I think if there was someone like that, they’d have great success. There was a female DJ that was asked a similar question and she basically said the door opens a lot easier for a woman. It’s easier to get a show in the first place, but you’re scrutinized a lot harder once you’re on that stage. If you made your own tracks 100%, and they’re good tracks, and they’re getting played by all the DJs, that door will open for you in the first place, you’ve got the substance and content to back it up. If you’re just a DJ floozy that’s using sex appeal only to get shows, that’s not going to last. It’s a hype based thing, and the hype never lasts. It’s like “Oh this girl’s great!” and then it’s on to the next girl or the next guy or whatever. If you have content, if you have a back-catalogue of great music, I think females could have it easier, actually, than men, because you are an exception, and you’re special. People like to see things that are special and different than what they’ve seen before. The fact that you mentioned it, a lot of other people will think this way too. And so, if you have somebody that says “This girl is actually really special and she’s one of the only one’s doing it,” she’s going to sell out shows everywhere.

You look at the Nervo twins, a lot of people say that sort of stuff about them. They like them because they’re different.

They’re great songwriters as well. The Nervo girls write a lot of tracks for a lot of other artists.

They also have a lot going for them—two blonde, good-looking twins.

(Laughter)

Ya, a lot of that stuff is the marketing side of things, but they also have the content to back it up. But there’s a lot more men. I don’t think there was a single woman playing on this stage today.

We saw Mija play earlier today on the Horizon Stage. She was pretty fun to watch. But you’re right, it’s definitely disproportionate.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because girls like singing more or writing songs more than they do the nerdy stuff. Producing music is very nerdy. It’s a lot of just staring at a screen and looping one kick drum for two hours, so maybe girls get impatient, I don’t know. I wouldn’t think so though.

You look at people like deadmau5, deadmau5 is a huge computer nerd. He started off as a nerd in IRC chats and moved to music production. He didn’t start as a musician in the traditional sense.

His music is amazing and his production is super tight. I think we are all actually nerds.

I love being a nerd. I embrace it. When people call me a nerd, I take it as a compliment.

It just means that something is really important to you. I think “nerd” gets misused in a negative way, but if you’re a nerd, you’re really interested in something. Like, you’re really into collecting comics, or you’re really into computer games, or you’re into producing music. It’s the same sort of thing, you get obsessive about it. And it’s all I want to do. I dunno, is that nerdy? Maybe. I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. A lot.

Thank you so much for your time, good luck tonight.

If you haven’t heard MaRLo’s brand new single, Atlantis, check it out on Beatport or iTunes.

Sunset Music Festival | The Rewind

While the 2015 Sunset Music Festival (SMF) has come and gone, the vivid memories of the music, lights, pyrotechnics, and eclectic outfits that took over Raymond James Stadium this past weekend remain. Although Sunset is a relative new-comer in the world of electronic music festivals, there is a lot to be said about this Tampa production.

Large music festivals that feature electronic music, like SMF, have a tendency to draw polarized criticism from a variety of groups, especially if the festival doesn’t carefully balance the many demands of interested parties. Electronic musical purists and fans of underground music often gripe about the commercialization of a genre(s) that was once considered entirely underground and far removed from the mainstream. Purists point to some of the changing demographics and attitudes towards electronic festivals, which now regularly attract average radio listeners. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise though, as electronic music has fully cemented itself into American (and global) pop culture. With the attention of a diverse audience at stake, festival promoters need to ensure that the music is popular enough to draw large crowds to remain profitable and allow the opportunity for growth, but underground enough to attract the dedicated fans that keep the life in the music when it’s not just a trend. At the same time, electronic music festivals have come under fire for their association with recreational drug use, and on top of that, the competition has been getting stiffer. With options for festivals growing, festival promoters are increasingly competing with each other over the market.

This year marked the first year that Ultra Music Festival Miami lowered ticket prices, after years of expensive tickets. That trend will continue in 2016 as ticket prices will be lower for the second consecutive year. The promoters claim that the decrease in price is a result of listening to fans’ criticisms, but it’s hard to imagine that increased competition didn’t play a role in that decision. Ultra Miami now competes with other wildly popular Florida festivals like EDC Orlando and Sunset, as well as other national and international productions. There’s quite a lot that goes into putting on a festival of such size and in the midst of such a balancing act, Sunset Music Festival appears to have found its balance. Last year’s SMF drew some pretty heavy criticism from fans. Although the music was great, the logistics were lacking. Security was unnecessarily harsh and inconsistent. While some fans didn’t have many issues, others reported security requiring attendants to remove their shoes, and in some cases, their socks. They confiscated everything from glow toys to personal items like gum, chapstick, and tampons, even in cases were items were factory sealed. As a result, security lines were long and personnel seemed particularly unhelpful. On top of that, water lines were quite long and attendants with VIP passes had issues of their own when one of the VIP platforms collapsed.

A photo posted by Dubco (@dubcomusic) on

SMF 2015, however, was markedly different. Festival promoters have a tendency to make claims of responding to fans’ criticisms, but sometimes one wonders if they even make any changes. Actions always speak louder than words, and SMF’s actions spoke loud and clear, in the best way possible. Will call and security lines were a breeze, water lines were strikingly shorter, and personnel seemed more willing to help out attendants in need. Security was more reasonable, allowing attendants to bring in personal items that would have been confiscated last year, glow toys were allowed for all the glow fanatics, as were hula-hoops and totems. There was a noticeable atmosphere of positivity that propelled fans into a fun weekend of dancing and enjoying music.
Even the extreme weather couldn’t stop the fun. Day 1 saw a short interruption in music due to a passing lightning storm, but in the midst of the weather, fans were still cheery. The interruption lasted about an hour from about 5:20PM-6:20PM. Ironically the storm blew threw as SNBRN was finishing up his set at the Horizon Stage. As soon as the weather cleared, the music started back up and so did the dancing; the fans didn’t miss a beat.

Just as the fans picked up where they left off, so did the artists at their respective stages. Where SMF excels is in having stages with coherent flow of artists and music styles that allow for a seamless experience. While the Sunset Stage was dedicated to the usual festival headliners and crowd pleasers like Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, Skrillex, etc., the Horizon and Eclipse stages had their own select genres.

Day 1 of the Horizon Stage was packed with House, Future House, and some experimental styles with artists like Duke Dumont, Tchami, and Cashmere Cat, while the Eclipse Stage was dedicated to Trance, with artists like Astrix, Andrew Rayel, MaRLo, and more. Day 2 of the Horizon Stage saw similar styles with House, Tropical House, and Deep House with artists like Robin Schulz, Thomas Jack, Sam Feldt, Viceroy, and an incredible closing live set by Porter Robinson, capping off an exceedingly successful weekend for the Horizon Stage, which had stunning performances all weekend. Day 2 of the Eclipse Stage was more bass and hardstyle oriented with artists like Flosstradamus, Headhunterz, Sub Focus, Keys N Krates, and more.

Like most festivals, Sunset is all about what you make of it, and the overwhelming feeling was that fans and promoters made the most of it. Despite some inclement weather on Day 1, the festival proved to be a fun experience for most, and it was nice to see the promoters follow-through with their promises of making logistical improvements. SMF 2015 certainly proved to be a success—now let’s see what 2016 brings!

A photo posted by Dubco (@dubcomusic) on

Stay tuned for a follow-up interview from this past weekend with one of SMF’s trance artists, MaRLo!

Sunset Music Festival 2015 | Artist Preview

Sunset Music Festival is just days away and if you haven’t grabbed your Tickets, make sure you do before it’s too late, and check out the daily artist lineup. As we gear up for some fun in the sun next weekend, we’d like to draw your eyes and ears to some artists that we are excited to see. While Sunset has some of your usual festival headliners playing like Tiesto, Skrillex, Armin van Buuren, Cedric Gervais, Flosstradamus, Showtek, The Chainsmokers, and more, we’d like to point out some of the guys that are making fresh waves in the dance music world.


Duke Dumont

British producer Duke Dumont could be credited as one of the artists that helped bring back the resurgence of popular House and Deep House in the United States. With songs like Need U and I Got U, you can expect Duke Dumont to bring some fun, feel-good, groovy house music to Tampa next weekend.


SNBRN

Coming out of LA, SNBRN is a relative newcomer to the festival scene, which is all the more reason to hear him play some new sounds at SMF this year. Producing feel-good music that could be described as House, Deep House, and Tropical House, his name seems to suite him appropriately as it draws connotations of good times in the sun.


Porter Robinson (live)

No stranger to the dance world, Porter Robinson has been making his rounds since 2011 when he seemed to explode on the scene overnight. You may remember some of his older bangers like Vandalism, but the Porter Robinson as of late is a new artist. If you’ve seen one of his DJ sets, but not his live show, you’re in for quite a departure from his original style. Last year he debuted his live show during his Worlds Tour and it was quite a spectacle. With a heavy emphasis on live instruments, live sampling, and complementary lights that set a magical atmosphere, his live show is something different that needs to be seen!


Claptone

Hailing from Berlin, Germany, Claptone is another European that has helped popularize House music in the United States in recent years. Make sure to check out his set for some fun music that you can undoubtedly find yourself getting completely lost in.


Sam Feldt

This Amsterdam native had an explosive rise to fame. In the course of just a year, Sam Feldt has become a dominate force in the dance music scene, rising to fame with his signature Tropical House sound with bubbly beats. Fresh off of a successful week at Miami Music Week in March, where he played at a number of pool parties, sharing the stage with the likes of Don Diablo, Oliver Heldens, Robin Schulz, Kygo, Thomas Jack, and many more, Sam Feldt is certainly someone you will want to pay attention to at SMF. Check out one of his latest songs, Midnight Hearts.


Sub Focus

Rounding out the list is one of the older and more experienced artists of this list, hailing from Britain is Sub Focus. Like some of the other artists on this list, Sub Focus has made big splashes in the American dance world, primarily due to his remix of Rusko’s Hold On, back in 2010. Though his music style has evolved quite a bit since his remix of Hold On, he still knows how to bring the energy. Make sure to catch Sub Focus’ set for what is sure to be nothing short of high energy!

Tickets are still available for purchase so grab yours so you can experience these and many other artists perform live at Sunset Music Festival.