For Those That Just Don’t Understand Electronic Music…You’re Not Alone.

I’m sure there are many people out there who don’t understand electronic music and all of the fuss that is made over it. Why is it such a big deal? How do you even get into it? What’s to like about it? Isn’t it just a bunch of noise?

So, honestly, I used to hate electronic music. My freshman year of college, I still didn’t get it. It wasn’t until my sophomore year and my second year of living in San Francisco that I was introduced to it in a more positive way than before. I started going to shows, downloading music, having favorite artists, researching DJs, and buying tickets in advance for shows that were coming to town. I was officially obsessed. But I still remember the time when it just sounded like noise and made my head hurt more than made me want to get up and dance around the move.

Meet Graham.

He is a fellow San Francisco State University student who has lived for San Francisco for about three years and knows that there is a big electronic music scene here. As hard as he tries, however, he just doesn’t get it. I don’t want to say that Graham is completely hopeless in understanding electronica but he is definitely having a hard time with it — a much harder time that I had when I was trying to tap into the scene.

Take a look at Graham’s story. For those of who that just don’t get electronic music, know that you are not alone. Enjoy.

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The Original Burning Man Takes a Look at the New

So lately, all of my friends have been talking about Burning Man and planning for this year’s festivities because a rumor has been floating around that this could be the last year it will ever happen. Whether this rumor is true or not, I’m really not sure.

I’ve never been to Burning Man myself, and I thought I knew the history behind it and kind of what it was all about, but not really. Whenever I heard about it, people only talked about rave-like dancing to electronic music, camping for a week and bringing your own supplies, naked people running around, and making it an excuse for a week-long drug session.

I mean, I love electronic music. Win. I live in San Francisco and if I cared about naked people running around, then I definitely would need to move. Win. I like camping and although I havent been for a week, I could try it. Win. But the thing about everyone surrounding me constantly being on drugs freaks me out, to be honest. Not that I’m totally against them, just don’t want to have to deal with it, really.

Anyways with all these burning questions in my mind if Burning Man is really what everyone says it is, I decided to go to the source and find out for myself.

I sat down with Jerry James and Mike Acker in Jerry’s Mill Valley home to talk about what started Burning Man. For those that don’t know, Jerry James is the original cofounder of Burning Man alongside Larry Harvey, and built and designed the first man in 1986. Mike Acker came along after he was hired by James in 1988 to build the third burning man at Baker beach.

We talked about them building the first original burning man, what they think of the event now, and how much it has changed over the years.

Listen to the audio story and enjoy!
It’s always good to know what something orignally was intended to be before diving into how it is now.

To see what Jerry and Mike are up to today, take a look at these websites and acknowledge their current work.

Jerry: http://www.frjames.net/

Mike: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1300927580/the-boyes-hot-springs-post-office-centennial-celeb

-Alicia

A Festival Dedicated to the Wobbles and the Weird

It’s that time of year again. Well, I guess if you live in San Francisco that time is about every 2 months or so. But this Sunday, May 1st, is the date for the 12th annual How Weird Street Faire in downtown San Francisco.

How Weird 2011 Poster by Brad Olsen and digipop

Many San Francisco residents are familiar with the crazy, electro-inspired festivals and parades that call San Francisco home every year – events like Gay Pride, LoveFest, Pop, etc. But I feel like How Weird doesn’t get as much publicity as the others. Maybe that’s because it isn’t as crazy as those, and hasn’t been labeled as a danger to society….yet.

How Weird kicks off San Francisco’s street fair season that goes into October, so it has to be good. But How Weird isn’t just a dance party like LoveFest or, for people not apart of the gay community, an excuse to run around naked like Pride. It showcases the city’s art and diverse culture, as well as its fondness for electronic music. Electronica, Dubstep, Electro, House, Techno, Drum & Bass, are among the many different types of music that will be performed live at the event.

The stages are setup by local music organizations, many of which put on events throughout the city, such as Temple, Groove Garden, Symbiosis, and Rebel Bass Collective, just to name a few. It’s electronic music in all its sub-genre glory. Click here to see the full lineup!

While the music is the main reason I would go, it definitely isn’t the only. How Weird has to have gotten it’s name for a reason. Along with the subculture of electronic music that will be present, how weird celebrates everyone’s inner weirdness, encouraging people to dress up, lose inhibitions, and have a good time while taking a break from the real world outside of Howard and 2nd Street. How weird attempts to create a different realm of reality – a place where people can come together and make it a “place where our differences and unique perspectives are appreciated as things of beauty, rather than causes for conflict.”

Map of How Weird by Brad Olsen

The How Weird Street Faire is a fundraiser for the local nonprofit World Peace Through Technology Organization, and states that it “uses music to bring many different kinds of people together and create a common bond. We have found that dancing knows no boundaries or political affiliation. Music, more than any other form of communication, is able to transcend differences between people. It is through music and art that peace is always possible.”

So this Sunday, May 1st from 12pm to 8pm, get out, get downtown, and get weird.

YouTube video by Temple Television

Watch Flux Pavilion Live from London

[View the story “Flux Pavilion Performing Live for the Masses Online” on Storify]

How to Dance Safe to Electronica

I have posted a lot about different artists, events, and electronic music in general over the past couple of months. What I have been meaning to post and discuss are a couple of things that are associated with electronic music culture. Well the time is now to discuss those things. Whether you see them as good or bad is up to you.

In the 80s through the 90s, the uprising of the club kids created an entire trend of club culture. With that brought a lot of drugs into the mix, and a lot of younger people were introduced to drugs for the first time. Today, it is definitely easier and seemingly more acceptable to take drugs while either at raves or nightclubs or just listening to electronic music. to I’m not here to criticize or even say that I’m all for drugs. I choose to not take a side but know that you don’t need drugs to enjoy electronic music. What I am here to talk about is how to dance safe.

Photo copyright DanceSafe

There is a nonprofit organization called DanceSafe that was created in 1999 to help people who were going to do drugs know what they were actually taking and ensuring that it was ‘safe.’ While the organization knows that you are not completely safe unless you don’t take drugs, they also state that most people don’t know what they are taking, or they only think they know. As quoted from their website, DanceSafe is a harm reduction organization promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community.

Photo copyright DanceSafe

But DanceSafe isn’t only about drugs. “Our volunteers staff harm reduction booths at raves, nightclubs and other dance events where they provide information on drugs, safer sex, and other health and safety issues concerning the electronic dance community, like driving home safely and protecting one’s hearing.”

Their philosophy is simple:  to create successful, peer-based educational programs to reduce drug abuse and empower young people to make healthy, informed lifestyle choices. The organization goes on to say that while drug resistance programs are good and somewhat preventative for some adolescents and children, DanceSafe believes that trying to scare them away from experimenting with drugs often has the opposite effect. Adolescents and adults will ultimately do what they want, even if they are aware of the consequences of their decisions. That’s where DanceSafe comes in. They aren’t here to judge or tell you that you are wrong, but to help make sure that you are fully educated and know what is being done to your body, and then leaving the final decision up to you.

Photo copyright DanceSafe

The organization operates through young volunteers who have experienced or been directly involved in dance culture. DanceSafe states that, “while many organizations exist that provide services to drug-dependent individuals, few groups address the needs of the majority of non-addicted, recreational users. We hope to fill this gap. When needed, we will always refer people to appropriate treatment programs.”

With the 2011 EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) coming up in June, DanceSafe is concerned about people being safe and responsible with their bodies. A documentary called After EDC is being released the summer of 2011 about the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival – which had the most number of people in attendance than any other past EDC or electronic music festival in North America, and also had the most injuries, drug-related medical emergencies, and the death of a 15-year-old girl from an alleged ecstasy overdose. The film is being released by White Lotus Media, who is comprised of the writing, editing, directing, and producing talents of former San Francisco State University film student Le Sheng Liu, and shows how festivals like EDC are fun and can bring people together, but that people also need to be careful and responsible while partying. Watch the trailer below!



YouTube video by White Lotus Media

Going along with DanceSafe and White Lotus Media’s philosophy’s, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health collaborated with DJs such as Kaskade, Steve Aoki, and A-Trak (just to name a few) and released a Public Service Announcement about taking ecstasy and being safe if you do decide to take it.



YouTube video by White Lotus Media

So there is nothing wrong with partying and having a good time, as long as the good time doesn’t end dangerously. Remember to Dance Safe!

Photo copyright DanceSafe

Phantogram Merging Electronic and Rock

It seems like the electronic/rock duo Phantogram has been popping up everywhere.

The two who hail from Saratoga Springs, New York created their band in 2007, but have just started to take notice after performing at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. Phantogram is interesting because they could be considered alternative rock, or they could be considered electronic. I like them because they combine both, which are my favorite genres of music, and even if you don’t like electronic music you can get into them with some of their songs.

YouTube video by BBE Music

They consist of Josh Carter on guitar and vocals and Sarah Barthel on keyboard and vocals. They released their first EP, Phantogram, in March 2009, their second EP, Running From the Cops, in May 2009, and finally released their debut album, Eyelid Movies, in February 2010, which features songs from both EPs.

I feel like Phantogram is the perfect band for people that want to get into electronic music, but are a little afraid to dive in or don’t really know what is good or what to listen to. If you aren’t already submerged into the electronic music scene, I admit it can be a little intimidating to find the style you like and then find all of the artists that you can really get into.

YouTube video by Barsuk Records

Now, Phantogram is making major appearances at Coachella this weekend in Indio, California, and also at this year’s Outside Lands in San Francisco, whose lineup was posted on Monday, April 11.

Michael Fiebach, previous merchandising manager for DJ Shadow and creator of new company, Fame House, that helps artists, labels, and managers build, manage and market their online assets, saw Phantogram at SXSW and was instantly one of his favorites. “Phantogram brings a unique sound and presence to electronic music with live musicianship, and a woman lead singer,” says Fiebach. Which may seem similar to other bands like Crystal Castles, but they have a more funk and soul feel to them, while still incorporating the synthesized beats of electronic music.

Image copyright BBE Music and Phantogram

In a recent interview published by BBE Music, Phantogram describes their music saying in terms of what happens and how you feel when you are dreaming. “We ran across a description of dreams somewhere that used the phrase ‘eyelid movies’ – and it really struck us both as something that fit our music,” says the duo. “Daydreams, the spots you see moving around when your eyes are closed tight, and even the shapes you see in the world all surface when you feel your way through a Phantogram song.”

Be sure to check out Phantogram’s music and to look out for when they come to your town. Their April 15 show at the Independent in San Francisco is already sold out. 🙂

Also thanks to Michael Fiebach of Fame House for a quick interview.

Copyright Fame House Management

Electro spins into Disney’s California Adventure with the help of TRON

A couple weeks ago in one of my earlier posts I said that I wanted to write about electronic music and culture because it seems like it’s becoming some type of trend lately. Well with Disney’s new installment in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at California Adventure, it kind of affirms my suspicions….in an awesome way.

I’ve always loved Disneyland since I was little, and took my boyfriend there last Easter. He is from Portland, Maine and had never been so I was excited to show him around. But after our trip he said it was a little lackluster for him – things looked old or he thought it would be me interesting than it really was. I kind of agreed that there isn’t very much to do for people over 21, but now I think there is.

Disney’s California Adventure has always been more modern than the original Magic Kingdom (well, because it’s newer), but it still tried to gravitate towards people that are over the age of 15. With the help of the new TRON movie that debuted in theaters December 17, 2010, Disney created a whole other electronic experience in their park. It’s called elecTRONica. Good name, I think, because while it is about the movie TRON, at night it also has DJs spinning techno and dance music, as well as one of the only places in Disneyland that serves alcohol. It has a whole club vibe, which definitely attracts a 21+ crowd.

elecTRONica concept art, copyright Disney

I asked someone who works in the elecTRONica section how it’s been going so far, and what he thinks of it. Patrick O’Rourke, who works in a few of the elecTRONica stores, describes the scene as a rave without the drugs. Disney-friendly rave. “They kick off this event by giving the back story to the first Tron movie and do a little dance to go with it,” he says. “They also brought over Flynn’s Arcade over from Comic-Con and theyre all old school video games from the 80s that all cost 1 token. I would say that its very popular with people 21 and over cause I think of this as a club atmosphere only its outside. They even serve alcohol.”

copyright Jeremiah Daws, Disney

He says that overall, the response to the club-vibe area of the park has been positive, although he has noticed a few drunk people walking around. He recalls a time after elecTRONica first opened when he first noticed it. “I was working in Flynn’s Arcade and this family walked up to me and they asked where Soaring Over California is so I told them and they didnt hear me so I told them again and thats when I realized they were drunk,” he says. “At one point while im talking to the parents one of the kids brings me closer to him and says ‘i think theyre drunk.’ After that happened it made me think that some parents probably don’t care about the club atmosphere as long as they get to drink. California Adventure is the only place at disneyland that serves alcohol so anyone 21 and over really take advantage of it.”

Video by: Asianjma123, YouTube

This section of the park opened in October 2010, before the movie was in theaters, but has started to take off and become more popular since the release of the movie. Some of the music I’ve heard the DJs playing are remixes of Daft Punk, Swedish House Mafia, and Deadmau5. I’m sure there’s more big names that they’re putting out there every night.

Q&A with DJ LabRat, Travis Egner-Williams

With all of the local talent in the Bay Area at events and clubs like Ritual, Redline, 1015 Folsom, BlowUp and Mezzanine just to name a few, I wanted to get to know what it is like behind the scenes for a native Bay Area DJ just emerging into the electronic music scene.

Let me present to you DJ LabRat. Travis Egner-Williams, the man behind the music, was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. Known to the music scene at LabRat, he has just started performing in clubs and getting his music out to the public besides Internet communities like SoundCloud.

He talked to me about what it was like growing up in the Bay Area, getting into electronic music, how the scene has changed, and what the Bay Area needs to become an even more amazing place for electronic music. Check it out.

Q: What first got you into DJing?

A: I actually started making hip hop beats just for fun when my friends when I wasn’t into electronic dance music. Then I went to Earthdance Laytonville and heard dubstep for the first time and have been trying to produce it ever since. I’ve only started DJing recently as a result of seeing a lot of DJs who don’t produce their own music. I feel that DJing is an art but I also feel live DJ sets are opportunities for producers to showcase their work.

Q: Did you immediately start with electronic music?

A: I played guitar in a metal band called Crucifornication for a few years but when that kinda deteriorated I was looking for musical release, so I started playing around on some programs and have always been trying to progress since. I love the freedom of making music on computers.

Q: What was the club/music scene like as you were growing up?

A: I don’t know if it’s all I was listening to but it seemed primarily punk and reggae shows were what was available, and there were many. When I was in high school that’s what everyone went to, and now it seems like electronic music is where it’s at.

Q: Has the scene changed?

A: Well I wouldn’t say electronic dance music has taken over but has definitely made a presence. Not only are there more shows, bigger names are coming through Santa Cruz all the time. It also seems that a lot of younger kids have hopped on the electronic dance music bandwagon.

Q: What do you aspire to be, a DJ like Rusko and touring the world or someone who will stay true to their home area? What do you want to be known for?

A: I just want to get my music on pat with what I like and I know my stuff isn’t there yet but I’m not going to stop until I’m satisfied. My goal is just to be able to play festivals. It’s where I first heart electronic dance music and to this day I will say it’s the best way to experience it.

Q: What artists do you look up to or inspire you?

A: I’m a big fan of early Jazz-fusion like Chick Corea and Al Di Meola, but as far as who I look up to in the electronic dance music world, I would have to say Tipper (UK), bar none. I absolutely love his music and every time I hear it I wanna make music. I’m also seeing big productions from Opiuo (Australia), Dodge and Fuski (UK), Roksonix (UK), Pendulum, Stephan Jacobs (SoCal), Builder (Santa Cruz) and Doctor P (UK).

Q: Has it been difficult to get into venues and get your music out?

A: I’m in no rush to push my music because I feel it’s only going to get better. I put all my music up for free downloads on my SoundCloud and thats mostly how people hear about me. So no, it hasn’t been hard to get my music out although it would be nice to get on a label and get some official releases on Beatport and whatnot.

Q: What was your first show like?

A: My first show went pretty well. I played at my friend’s birthday party and everyone loved it. I was nervous as hell but I didn’t have any technical difficulties, which I’m always deathly afraid of.

Q: Is the Bay Area a good place for electronic music to thrive?

A: I think the Bay Area is a great place for electronic dance music. I think there just needs to be a place online where Bay Area DJs, producers, and promoters can come together and trade ideas and make connections. If that happened I think it would grow at a much faster rate.

Maybe he should consider creating this community? I think so!

Here is a song, not yet featured on SoundCloud, that LabRat is working on:
Ellie Lights

LabRat will be performing at 1015 Folsom this Wednesday, March 16, along with other local DJs including CARRIER (San Francisco), Carly-D & Dr. Knobz (Oakland), Johnny5 (Oakland), and Smizzle (San Jose).

Designer Drugs Take Over the Bay

I know I talk a lot about BlowUp, but it seems like it really is one of the best places for people of all ages to go and have fun, without needing to worry about passing security. All 18+ people rejoice.

I, however, just celebrated my 21st birthday. I may or may not have been attending 21+ shows for the past 2 years, but a giant weight has definitely been lifted off of my shoulders not having to worry if I will be able to get in or not and potentially lose the money I spent on my ticket. But with that said, I know I will keep going back to BlowUp. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe they actually have some amazing DJs at a college-student price.

This weekend, March 11, Designer Drugs will be headlining the BlowUp stage. I saw them one other time when BlowUp was at Rickshaw, and another time at Live 105’s 2009 Subsonic Spookfest. They always put on a good show, get the crowd involved, and make everyone have an effortlessly good time.

Designer Drugs are two guys, Patrick Nelson and Theodore Nelson, that hail from New York but have travelled all over the world to promote their music and get people to dance. They are known for their countless number of remixes and mashups, but on February 22nd, 2011, released their debut album HARDCORE/SOFTCORE.

The album has dance-pop tunes with vocals like Crazy For You, and other harder stuff like Face Melter.

Video By: clemlToulousian, YouTube

On top of their BlowUp performance at DNA Lounge, the electronic duo will also be performing at the ASI Rhythms Music Festival at San Francisco State University, on Friday, March 18th. It takes place in the Cesar Chavez student center, starting and ending different times each day. The festival goes from the 16th to the 18th and has other headliners such as Del the Funky Homosapien, who performs Thursday, March 17th.

Here is another taste of a Designer Drugs hit. Enjoy!

Designer Drugs – Drop Down

Mardi Gras, Le Castle Vania Rock The Mezz

Well-known Atlanta DJ Dylan Eiland, also known as Le Castle Vania, will be returning to San Francisco for a show at the Mezzanine this Friday, March 4th. Early bird tickets are sold out, but you still have two days left to buy advance tickets here.

The pale-skinned, super-blonde-haired Le Castle Vania is familiar to the Bay, performing at many Blow Up events and also Live 105’s Subsonic Spookfest.

Video By: LingdumIUNA, YouTube

This time, Dylan will be joined by DJs Fuckkk Offf, Realboy, Fabian Campos, Robot Mafia, and Mikeyydrops

Video By: SalemDaHousecat, YouTube

Fabian Campos – Beatport Tech House Mix

As for the rest of the weekend, it’s Mardi Gras!
I’ve been seeing signs and posters around the city for Ruby Skye’s Mari Gras bash that is going on Friday AND Saturday, but The Mezzanine is hosting one of their own as well. WhiteNoize, Pam the Funkstress, and DJ Zaq will be providing the beats. Pre-sales are sold out, but you can still get tickets here.

WhiteNoize – The Underground

DJ Zaq – Sound Reaction

Like I said, Ruby Skye is hosting their big Mardi Gras thing all weekend. DJs Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden will be spinning (known together as Gabriel & Dresden).

Gabriel & Dresden

Have a good weekend everyone!