WBEZ | EDM http://www.wbez.org/tags/edm Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The rise of EDM festivals in Chicago is a return to local musical roots http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/rise-edm-festivals-chicago-return-local-musical-roots-107462 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3496_316349445146476_1856269964_n.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="(Photo courtesy of Wavefront Music Festival)" /></p><p>Something beautiful rises out of Chicago. Chicagoans know and understand this, but it is only recently that others have begun to see this as well. If Chicago is best in the summer, then the past five years have reaffirmed this truth. Chicago continues to surprise culturally, especially during the summer when the musical arts are given a chance to rise with and compliment the architecture, parks, waterfront and history of Chicago. For many, this is best found in the festival.</p><p>Although produced locally, Chicago&rsquo;s music festivals continue to draw national and international performers and audiences. Not only have music festivals in general found a home in the city, electronic music festivals in particular have begun to take root. With the rise of EDM (electronic dance music), it was inevitable for more genre-specific festivals to rise within the US. But Chicago has taken on a more direct role, with local promoters and organizers creating their own festivals to showcase local acts as well as internationally-acclaimed producers, DJs, and musicians.</p><p>One such festival vying for local prominence is the <a href="http://www.wavefrontmusicfestival.com/" target="_blank"><strong>Wavefront Music Festival</strong></a>, now in its second year. Running from July 5-7, talent producer and principal producer Dino Gardiakos indicated that the rise of EDM signaled the right time to begin their festival.</p><p>&ldquo;If we didn&rsquo;t get into it now, we knew [the city] would be saturated,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Indeed, beginning with last week&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://electricdaisycarnival.com/Chicago/" target="_blank"><strong>Electric Daisy Carnival</strong></a>, Chicago will also welcome&nbsp;<a href="http://www.springawakeningfestival.com/‎" target="_blank"><strong>Spring Awakening</strong></a>&nbsp;at Soldier Field and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.northcoastfestival.com/‎" target="_blank"><strong>North Coast Music Festival</strong></a>&nbsp;at Union Park. Although each festival includes electronic music acts, each has found room to separate themselves from the rest. For Wavefront, this includes a combination of location (right on Montrose Beach) and performers.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re the most diverse,&rdquo; Gardiakos said. &ldquo;We have a bit of everything from house to dubstep to disco and with the pioneers who started the music as well.&rdquo;</p><p>Other festival acts include Fatboy Slim, Jacques Lu Cont, and a DFA Records-heavy roster with sets by James Murphy, Nancy Whang, and Pat Mahoney, among others.</p><p><img alt="Matthew Dear at 2012's Wavefront Music Festival" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/31541_316350025146418_1990496521_n.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="(Photo courtesy of Wavefront Music Festival)" /></p><p>In many ways, this rise signals a return to some of Chicago&rsquo;s musical roots, specifically as the birth home of house music. Originating in the early 1980s, house continued to spread throughout the world, spawning a variety of different subgenres such as deep house and Detroit techno. The abundance of these subgenres, fusion genres, and regional scenes quickly spread throughout the 80s, 90s, and aughts. This year&rsquo;s lineup includes &quot;House Comes Home - The Chicago Heritage of House Stage.&quot; Scheduled performers include Frankie Knuckles, Derrick Carter, and Jamie Principle.</p><p>Although finding sporadic prevalence in the mainstream throughout the 1990s, in the United States, electronic music has only recently taken a dominant position among music fans. Although many newer fans are only familiar with acts on major labels or pop artists who have incorporated the use of dirty synths and a 4/4 drum kick beat, the rise of EDM could also introduce audiences to more underground or subgenres. Fans interested in attending any of the local festivals, especially Wavefront, will find such varying degrees in the acts.</p><p>&ldquo;I do respect all of the genres,&rdquo; Gardiakos said. &ldquo;I want the festival to be as dynamic as possible, with what is the most underground to what is the most accessible.&rdquo;</p><p>Genres produce scenes and cultures of their own. Scenes can mean different things. They are often problematic, exclusionary, and usually temporary. But they can also provide an idea of normalcy. And as a scene rises, so too does its place in the personal consciousness.</p><p>&quot;When I was in college, house music wasn&rsquo;t big,&quot; Gardiakos said. &quot;Those DJs were outcasts and now if you go to any college campus, the music people listen to is something electronic.&rdquo;</p><p>This idea is inherent in the term EDM itself, which sums up everything without being specific. In the media, EDM can be used to describe genres, sub-genres, and micro-genres to audiences who might not be familiar with the music.</p><p>But perhaps it also represents something stronger culturally: collective public dancing, the use of synths, and a desire to escape on a grand scale. It would make sense for the festivals to rise, to respond to this growing cultural popularity that can mean different things to different people.The trend may be a fad or a real sign of the changing musical landscape, one that understands the diversity of musical listeners and the access to different and abundant quantities of music.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-05/rise-edm-festivals-chicago-return-local-musical-roots-107462 EDM has grown so popular, the dance music is hitting the campaign trail http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/edm-has-grown-so-popular-dance-music-hitting-campaign-trail-103568 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TeamBaysideHighAtTheMidOliverPangbornPhotographer.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 400px; width: 600px; " title="Team Bayside High at The Mid (Photo by Oliver Pangborn)" /></p><p>First came disco, then house music and then raves.&nbsp;Now there&rsquo;s a new generation dancing to the latest incarnation of EDM.&nbsp;The acronym may sound more like a disease to puzzled parents.&nbsp;But EDM, or electronic dance music, has grown so popular, some political campaigns are using it to woo young voters. And&nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s playing a major role in that scene.</p><p>Over on the Southwest Side, scores of teens are dancing wildly into the wee hours.&nbsp;They&rsquo;re scantily clad, wearing knee-high fake-fur boots in all colors of the rainbow, and some are draped in neon shorts, bracelets and bikini tops. Others wield glow sticks.</p><p>They&rsquo;re dancing in a bare-bones vacant space with a DJ booth and pulsating lights.&nbsp;The beat is unrelenting and throbbing.</p><p>&quot;Right now we&rsquo;re throwing it in a burned out arcade,&quot; says the 20-year-old underground promoter throwing this illicit rave, who goes by the name of Sub Vice. &quot;There&rsquo;s only four decent venues in Chicago, and the cops know about all of them. So it&rsquo;s either a crackhouse or some large box that the cops know about before you&rsquo;ve put it up on your infoline.&quot;</p><p>&quot;What people don&rsquo;t realize is like this is their Nirvana,&quot; says Zach Partin, publicist for the well-known EDM promoter React Presents. &quot;This is their &lsquo;90s, you know, that was going on at the time. This is their alternative culture.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GlowKidsTwoOliverPangbornPhotographer_0.jpg" style="height: 266px; width: 400px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Glow kids (Photo by Oliver Pangborn)" />And much like grunge in the &lsquo;90s, EDM has moved beyond the underground and exploded into the mainstream, topping charts the world over.</p><p>Massive festivals such as Chicago&rsquo;s North Coast and Spring Awakening and the Ultra in Miami attract hundreds of thousands each year.&nbsp;Established venues like the Congress, Metro and The Mid sell out DJ-oriented shows in Chicago.&nbsp;EDM artists are even tapped to do commercials for companies like HP and Kmart.</p><p>A friend, DJ Greg Corner, says the craze started taking hold a few years ago.&nbsp;Corner helped launch Dark Wave Disco, one of the first indie-electro parties held at venues.</p><p>&quot;It probably started in 2008,&quot; Corner says. &quot;I would say the next wave started kinda taking over, and it&rsquo;s the biggest it&rsquo;s ever been, hands down. It&rsquo;s never been this big.&quot;</p><p>Back in the day, in the &lsquo;80s, if you wanted to hear house music you had to venture underground to warehouses and private homes. Very few venues booked DJ acts as headliners outside of some exceptions like Smart Bar.</p><p>&quot;Back then, it was very renegade,&quot; he says. As a teen, to avoid age limits at those clubs, Corner started DJ&rsquo;ing parties in his home.&nbsp;Some locations at the time were even deeper underground, as he learned from a promoter:</p><p>&quot;I go to South Michigan Avenue, and I&rsquo;m like &#39;Where&rsquo;s the party?&#39; He&rsquo;s like, &#39;I don&rsquo;t know yet.&#39; I&rsquo;m like &#39;What do you mean?&#39; ... So we went into this office complex. Took an elevator up and they&rsquo;re going, using a screwdriver, opening doors to like these office rooms, and they found one with electricity and it&rsquo;s like, &#39;This is where the party is&#39;.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KidInMaskOliverPangbornPhotographer.jpg" style="float: left; height: 233px; width: 350px; margin: 5px;" title="Young people wearing elaborate makeup and neon are part of EDM culture. (Photo by Oliver Pangborn)" />Nearly 20 years later, EDM is so mainstream, DJs are playing it for politicians.&nbsp;In&nbsp; 2011, Corner was asked to DJ President Obama&rsquo;s 50th birthday, and later, events for Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton.</p><p>Some political campaigns are even turning to EDM to attract younger voters. Along with videos by actors, musicians and politicians, the Obama campaign&#39;s YouTube site features a PSA by DJs. The group in the video, DJs for Obama, includes noted artists like Steve Aoki, and they&#39;re holding events and Tweeting, too.</p><p>DJ Mikul Wing of Midnight Conspiracy thinks the music&rsquo;s popularity is a reaction to the current economic and political climate.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s just a good, fun thing,&quot; he says. &quot;It&rsquo;s like an escape from the realities of the world that&rsquo;s out there ... and that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s driven the direction it&rsquo;s really gone.&quot;</p><p>What&rsquo;s also helped the music go viral is the internet.</p><p>Rick Carrico of the Chicago DJ/Producer duo Team Bayside High says artist often give their tracks away for free on the web, where they&rsquo;re easily discovered and shared. The duo&nbsp;posted their remix of Matt and Kim&rsquo;s &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s Go&rdquo; and got 15,000 plays within a week.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RaveKidsNeonOliverPangbornPhotographer.jpg" style="float: right; border-width: 5px; border-style: solid; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; height: 250px; width: 375px; " title="Rave kids (Photo by Oliver Pangborn)" />Carrico says the web inspires fans to try it themselves.</p><p>&quot;Everybody can throw an event now, via the internet, promote it, and anybody can create a track. So you&rsquo;ll have people everyday figuring this out and starting to do it. You&rsquo;re going to have tons of people &hellip; It allowed the masses to do what at a certain point only a few were able do.&quot;</p><p>The promoter Sub Vice is a good example. He started going to parties at 13 and then threw his own events, like this Southwest Side rave. He says the music and party vibe are what make this so important.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s just sounds terrible to old people and that&rsquo;s always a plus,&quot; he adds.&nbsp;</p><p>One of the people here dancing is a 19-year-old woman who goes by the name of Gizmo. She says she hits EDM parties like this weekly.</p><p>&quot;You get to come a big group of people that you know, and they&rsquo;re your friends. I mean, friends isn&rsquo;t even the right word for it &ndash; it&rsquo;s family.&quot;</p><p>She takes one quick breath before she jumps back on the dance floor.</p><p><em>NOTE: Music in this story included &quot;Steve Jobs,&quot; featuring Angger Dimas, by Steve Aoki (from Wonderland album); &quot;Circus&nbsp;Bells,&quot; by Robert Armani; &quot;Earthquakey People,&quot; featuring Rivers Cuomo, by Steve Aoki; &quot;Sentinel (Original Mix),&quot; by Midnight Conspiracy; and Matt and Kim&nbsp;-&nbsp;&quot;Let&#39;s Go (Team Bayside High Remix)&quot;, by Team Bayside High.</em></p></p> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/edm-has-grown-so-popular-dance-music-hitting-campaign-trail-103568 Bassnectar pumps it up http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-05/bassnectar-pumps-it-98734 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Bassnectar.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title=""></div><p>Though it should be needless to say electronic dance music never has gone away, forever mutating and evolving in sometimes rewarding and sometimes redundant ways, these sounds haven’t been such a focus for the corporate music industry since the late ’90s, when they bubbled up from raves to draw the attention of optimistic major-label execs who expected the likes of Aphex Twin, Orbital and Moby to become “the next big thing” as alternative rock waned.</p><p>Only Moby got there, sort of, and more in an <em>O Brother Where Art Thou?</em>/soccer-mom way than as any true reflection of underground dance culture. Now, “EDM” is once again drawing the big-time culture sharks—witness this front-page canonization <a href="http://www.billboard.com/features/skrillex-diplo-a-trak-the-billboard-cover-1006087352.story#/features/skrillex-diplo-a-trak-the-billboard-cover-1006087352.story?page=2">in the music-biz Bible, <em>Billboard</em></a>—and we’re seeing artists like Deadmau5 and Corey Feldman lookalike Skrillex all too eager to be their chum, headlining big-money festivals and posing and preening on the red carpet at the Grammys.</p><p>Ethically, culturally and most important, musically, Bassnectar is a welcome alternative, and his new self-released <em>Vava Voom,</em> the ninth full album amid a flurry of EPs and singles in a prolific career dating back to 2001, is an impressive example of a talented visionary drawing connections to the genre’s past while breaking ground for the future. There is much more to this guy than the spleen-rattling bottom end so beloved of many of his peers and hinted at in his own stage name.</p><p>From his hazy roots at Burning Man, San Francisco-based Lorin Ashton has become one of the biggest stars in EDM, a touring juggernaut who has made enough money from ticket sales to dedicated “Bassheads” to donate a quarter of a million dollars to charities supporting public education and Net neutrality, on top of traveling with his own state-of-the-art sound system and compassionate security team to assure fans the best experience possible (though the only time he’s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">made an issue of the latter</a> was during a recent return to the troubled Congress Theater). But his biggest strengths are a wicked sense of humor and a wide-ranging and inventive sonic palette unequaled in this field since the devilish Richard D. James, coupled with a flair for dramatic dynamics and killer riffs and melodies that underscore his earliest musical days as a stone cold metalhead.</p><p>If on first listen the 11 tracks on <em>Vava Voom </em>sound so diverse that you’re tempted to think they’re the work of different artists—flirting with dub, garage, hip-hop and punk amid the pounding rhythms and gurgling electronics—the ebb and flow of the album begin to make much more sense as you live with it, allowing Ashton to take you on a thrilling rollercoaster ride. From the pulsating, high-energy peaks of “Ping Pong,” “Ugly,” the <em>Blade Runner</em> punk of “Pennywise Tribute” (a reimagining of that band’s “Bro Hymn”) and the Lupe Fiasco-enhanced title track, to the beautiful, lulling, chill-out valleys of “Butterfly” (with gorgeous vocals by Mimi Page), “Nothing Has Been Broken” and “Laughter Crescendo” (a giddy and unforgettable new version of a track from 2005), this is a breakneck trip guaranteed to thrill even if you’d never be caught dead gyrating under the phosphorescent strobes.</p><p><strong>Bassnectar, <em>Vava Voom </em>(Amorphous Music)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p></p> Wed, 02 May 2012 08:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-05/bassnectar-pumps-it-98734