Paris is Always a Good Idea

When your friend asks you if it's crazy to take a last minute vacation, you say "No! I'm coming with you." That's exactly what I said when my friend wanted to plan a last minute trip to Paris. My friend is currently working full time and working through her Master's thesis and so she needed a vacation and something to look forward to. I had been feeling pretty burnt out myself and so within the week, we booked our flights to Paris. And to make things better, a third friend joined our crew. So the three of us flew from Washington, DC to Paris to squeeze in a four day break. 

To me, the best thing about Paris is its cafe culture - when you can just order a coffee and sit for hours without anyone rushing you. The wine is cheap and delicious everywhere. And I was thrilled to practice my French. We also walked 9 miles everyday going around to visit sites around the city and took a day trip to Versailles to see its luxury. Check out the photos below. 

Miami Always On My Mind: MMW 2017 Quick Recap

Miami makes all my stress go away. When I'm stressed or anxious, a trip to Miami is the ultimate cure. I land in the humidity and breath a sigh of relief. It's a jewel of a city to me. 

We stayed at the Marseilles Hotel right on South Beach and walking distance from almost everything we needed.

We stayed at the Marseilles Hotel right on South Beach and walking distance from almost everything we needed.

The best part of Miami is that I have a reason to travel there at least once a year for Miami Music Week aka Christmas for dance music lovers. Sun, heat, beach and good music - there is nothing better. Miami Music Week 2017 was consumed mostly by Above & Beyond or Anjuna parties (I have a friend who is their #1 fan so it's inevitable to hit up at least 2 Anjuna parties). 

Night #1 was Above & Beyond with Eric Prydz at the outdoor RC Cola Plant in Wynwood. My friend was determined to push the button and so she arrived early to get that front and center spot. It paid off because she got on stage and triumphantly pushed. that. button. 

Day #2 was brunch, pool lounging and then Mark Knight's Toolroom party at the Raleigh Hotel. All the other parties we were planning to attend were Anjuna and so this was a nice change of house music. That night we checked out the The Broken Shaker at the Freehand Miami Hotel, which has a beautiful outdoor space and amazing cocktails. 

Day #3 was brunch and beach time (obvs) followed by an evening at Gramps for the Anjunadeep party, my favorite party of MMW. The highlights for me were Luttrell, Yoto and Kidnap Kid. Unfortunately Moon Boots didn't make it on. We finished off the nigh at THE BEST taco spot on South Beach called Taquiza. Seriously amazing tacos and definitely get the totopos (puffy tortilla chips) with guacamole. Heaven heaven. 

And day #4, we brunched and did some pool-side lounging before ending our MMW at the Anjunabeats party at the Raleigh Hotel. It got off to a bumpy start with a super long wait to get into the party and the fear that we might not make it in at all. But all worked out in the end and we danced the day away to wonderful trance music. Highlights were Andrew Bayer playing with Ilan Bluestone as well as Cosmic Gate. Since we got in too late, I unfortunately missed seeing Sunny Lax. 

Andrew Bayer and Ilan Bluestone at the Anjunabeats party at the Raleigh Hotel. 

Andrew Bayer and Ilan Bluestone at the Anjunabeats party at the Raleigh Hotel. 

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Before heading to the airport and leaving the most wonderful, music-filled Miami - we made one last stop in Little Havana at Versailles for some delish Cuban food. I love this city. 

ALSO shoutout to The Social Club restaurant at the Surfcomber Hotel for the most delicious chicken and waffles I have ever had. Seriously the best ever. 

Till next time MIA. 

Felt extremely satisfied after killing those chicken and waffles. 

Felt extremely satisfied after killing those chicken and waffles. 

Appropriate brunch attire. 

Appropriate brunch attire. 

Aruna Shows Her Versatility in "Ready to Go"

*Post originally published on RockDaFuqOut blog

If you follow trance music, Aruna is a known staple of the genre – lending her breathy, soft vocals to uplifting  tunes and showcasing her writing and production chops to numerous songs released via Enhanced Recordings. Aruna has collaborated with the finest of trance including Armin van Buuren, Cosmic Gate,  Myon & Shane 54 (when they were still together), Ferry Corsten…the list goes on.

That’s why Aruna’s latest release is a surprising, unfamiliar venture yet it works so so well. She teamed up for some drum & bass vibes with Rameses B on the song “Ready to Go”and the result is a mellow musical composition served extremely chilled. The song doesn’t use Aruna’s vocals, which is another surprise,  but her song writing style is present in the lyrics and accented synths of the production. Is progressive drum & bass a thing? Probably not, BUT I can always get behind laid back drum & bass tune.

This isn’t the first time that Aruna has ventured outside of trance. She collaborated before with house artists Laidback Luke and GTA and has written pop songs. However “Ready to Go” has to be one of her more unique projects. Rameses B is responsible the distinct drum & bass sound and KINGDØMS’s vocals seamlessly complement the beat. Listen  to “Ready to Go” here: https://soundcloud.com/monstercat/aruna-rameses-b-ready-to-go

Gryffin is a 'Next Up' Artist to Watch

*Post originally published on RockDaFuqOut blog

Last month, Billboard Magazine and W Hotels brought their Next Up series to Washington, DC to feature another rising artist who is beginning to make their mark in the music industry.

Set against the most picturesque views of Washington’s monuments, LA-based producer and musician Gryffin played a blend of original songs and remixes to an intimate yet packed room of enthusiastic fans. It was a night of vibrant music set to a stunning, glittering background of cityscape in DC’s swankiest hotel. Not too shabby.

Gryffin is not an artist to be boxed into one genre. He describes his style as “melody-rich style of house music that fuses indie with dance in tasteful fashion.” Gryffin shatters the notion that electronic artists aren’t “real” musicians. His Next Up set was a fusion of computerized beats and riffs over which he layered live keyboard, drum and electric guitar to compliment the synths. When the sound is a blend of house with a side of acoustic, it’s something that can be appreciated by both EDM enthusiasts and pop aficionados.

Fans were treated to Gryffin’s most known tracks which included “Whole Heart” and “Heading Home” (check out Le Youth’s remix of this song) as well as his signature remixes of “King” by Years & Years, “Beggin for Thread” by BANKS and Maroon 5’s “Animals”. What sticks out about Gryffin’s remixes is that he molds the songs to become these upbeat, infectious tunes that remind you of summer and get a crowd dancing. Which is exactly what he did at the W Hotel venue.

Gryffin is definitely one to watch – check out his SoundCloud here: https://soundcloud.com/gryffinofficial

The BPM Festival 2016 Highlights

As I write this recap, there's a giant snow storm engulfing everything in site on the East Coast. It's quite the opposite scene of a week ago, when I was in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the BPM Festival. 

I don't know if I was more excited to be in Mexico and a warm place or the festival itself. I had never been to Mexico and was dying to see Playa del Carmen. So when a friend of mine said she was going, I was like...yep getting my ticket now! 

We went for the closing BPM weekend to catch the last three days of parties and then stayed an extra day to relax.

Some things I liked most about BPM:

1) It was in beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico (duh). I also got to put another stamp in my passport which I was pretty excited about. 

2) The wristbands. Rather than buying separate tickets for various parties, you pay a flat fee for the weekend or days that you're attending and then get a wristband to wear for the duration of the festival. That wristband granted you access to every and any party as well as easy reentry. It had a scanner on it so you go to the door, get scanned and then boom you're in. Easy system.

3) Relaxed vibes. The atmosphere of BPM was pretty low-key compared to other big festivals. The music is not EDM noisy bells and whistles, so don't attend thinking you're going to hear big room electronic music. The festival showcases mostly techno DJs that have a minimal, percussion-based style. Think less melodic, more beat driven. This more toned-down mentality translated to laid-back day parties near the beach  and night parties with moody, deep beats. Personally, techno music isn't my favorite genre of dance music (it's not melodic enough for me) but I appreciate BPM's deep tech glory and I always love exploring new artists. 

4) Free wi-fi. This feature was especially nice since I was in a foreign country and didn't pay for an international phone plan. 

During our first night, we started at a club venue called the Blue Parrot to see Luciano. We got to Blue Parrot WAY too early and so we had a drink there and then went to another club called La Santanera for the Octopus Recordings party. Oliver Huntemann's slightly dark, downbeat set was definitely a highlight, giving us a taste of Germany's techno sound.

En route back to Blue Parrot for Luciano, I noticed that my wallet was no longer in my purse. Sooo that was basically the end of night #1 for me. 

In La Santanera after my wallet disappeared! Still had a good time though. 

Leave your sins at the door of La Santanera. 

Day #2, we hit up the RUMORS day party at an outdoor venue on the beach. We caught the tail-end of Behrouz's set and then witnessed Bob Moses' breathtaking showcase. The Canadian DJ-duo paired live vocals with balmy music and it was honestly the best performance at BPM in my opinion. There was something about Bob Moses' airy vocals and dreamy beats in the whimsical, warm setting....ahh heaven. Amazing amazing. I was so thankful to see them live finally. 

Bob Moses at the RUMORS BPM day party.

That night we were at The Jungle. Known as the "festival within a festival", the YA'AH MUUL party was amped with multiple stages, tire swings, various outdoor seating lounges and a massive headphone structure. See photos below. 

For the last day of BPM (Day #3), we checked out the Yoshitoshi day party at Wah Wah Beach Bar. We caught the last few minutes of EDX's set and my ears warmed up to his melodic house sound that I love - a nice alternative from the previous bass driven, tech DJ sets. Sharam was the main act, unleashing his deep house sound mixed with a bit of techno. 

EDX at the Yoshitoshi party during the BPM Festival. 

We were behind the decks for Sharam's BPM Festival set. 

Sharam at the Yoshitoshi party during the BPM Festival.

For BPM's closing night party we got in the MOOD for non-other than the Queen of Techno, Nicole Moudaber. We were exhausted from the Yoshitoshi party but it was the last night of BPM and I'd never seen Nicole play, so we dragged our butts over to Blue Parrot. At 3am, Nicole finally made her appearance in her edgy, deep techno glory laying out the darkest, moodiest of beats. I only lasted till 4:30am but she played non-stop till 6:30am delivering her much anticipated techy set to the BPM crowds.  

If you were at BPM, I hope you enjoyed the festival and Mexico as much as I did! Below I've posted some more photos of our trip. We stayed an extra day in Mexico and made a side trip to Tulum to see some Mayan ruins and swim in a cenote, a natural swimming hole that had the clearest and most blue water. 

The view from our hotel rooftop in Playa del Carmen. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Cacao. 

Another hotel rooftop view.

Mayan ruins in Tulum. 

Scenic Tulum. 

More Mayan ruins. 

Article by Layal Brown

Photos by Layal Brown with contributions from Kim Mancini



  

Kyau & Albert "Bend Girl"

If this isn't trance love, then I don't know what is. Kyau & Albert consistently deliver the goods and their newest song "Bend Girl" is no exception. These two have a way with melodies that leaves the ears eager to hear more, whether it be the next chord or the next song. If you're not listening to their Euphonic Sessions podcast, you need to do so immediately. Check out "Bend Girl" and their Euphonic Sessions podcast for January 2016 below. 

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/kyauandalbert

Burning Man 2015 Recap

Each year thousands of people from all over the world descend upon a dried-up prehistoric lake in Nevada to celebrate human connection, self-expression and self-reliance. They collectively form Black Rock City, home to the event known as Burning Man.  

Burning Man is the kind of magical place free of judgment where you can let your freak flag fly in all its glory, meet others of your kind and have a chance to relieve yourself of the traps of the 9-5 grind. It is the closest thing you can get to utopia. An adult Disney fantasyland full of possibilities that renews your faith in mankind and generosity and the creativity of others. 

There are countless activities and workshops available to you - temples, art installations, mutant vehicles, lectures, light shows, fire-breathing mechanical octopuses and snakes. The collective and creative energy of Burning Man’s attendees is breathtaking. 

Nothing can quite prepare you mentally for what Burning Man throws your way. 

First held in 1986, this once-small San Francisco beach gathering has grown drastically over the years. The organizers behind the event deny any affiliations of being a “music festival,” but for all intents and purposes, this is the wildest music festival in the world. 

The event has hosted its share of high-profile DJs, many of them by the currently-out-of-favor Opulent Temple, a sound camp that regularly draws thousands with its unforgettable stage and next-level sound system. 

Sound camps are formed to provide dance floors with a specific focus on the expression of music and dance. Although these areas play various genres, electronic music is the dominant sound. It is also imperative that sound camps must all provide their own equipment. This is in accordance to one of the ten guiding principles of Burning Man; radical self-reliance. 

The more widely known sound camps include the Opulent Temple, Distrikt, Disorient, Bubbles and Bass, Sacred Spaces Village and Camp Question Mark. These spaces have hosted hundreds of DJs including old-school international superstars such as Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, and Paul Oakenfold, EDM-era titans like Bassnectar, Skrillex and Diplo, break-beat regulars such as Stanton Warriors and well-respected dance music veterans like Marques Wyatt and Francois Kevorkian.

This year, Opulent Temple took a step away from their typical stage build for their popular Wednesday night “White Party.” Instead, there was a commutative stage consisting of multiple art cars from other camps. Various cars from other camps outfitted with large speakers met them at a specific location in the center area of Burning Man and linked up wirelessly to form a makeshift half circle dance floor. 

Around 1AM, the caravan of art cars announced a special DJ performance by both Carl Cox and Diplo. 

This special performance was an exception to the new rules of Burning Man this year. The organizers this year specifically designed Dance Music Zones for art cars with not one, not two, but three levels of sound. The DMZs were located a mile away from The Man in the opposite direction of the camp grounds. Given the popular surge of electronic music and acts like Above and Beyond, they figured this was the next best option to accommodate the select crowds. 

Dance music populated most of its pages, but there was something for everyone. There was flamboyant excess at the Liberace Karaoke and Piano Bar at Disorient. There was a rare and innovative instruments session at Kamp Suckie Fuckaye. Planet Earth gave 80s fans a Depeche Mode Tribute while the Rootpile worked on fixing your fiddles. Reverbia threw psyfolk gospel rock performances. 

Tuesday was Tutu Tuesday. The Distrikt during the day had DJs Derek Hena and Ejagz spinning french house and electro swing. At one moment, Thomas Jack appeared with his fellow Aussies. This was nothing unsurprising. And that’s the beauty of Burning Man. It didn’t really matter where you came from. Status or prestige or fame also let down its guard. 

In the midst of the dust storm that hit Tuesday night, there was the Kalliope Art Car at the far end of the camp ground. Tony Pink and other DJs kept it steady and played a fusion of disco, funk and house to liven up the mood despite the 1930s dust storm that lasted a few hours. 

Wednesday’s annual White Party hosted Carl Cox and Diplo in the inner playa. We then headed to the Deep Playa, which was past the boundary lines of Burning Man. This is where the DMZ (Dance Music Zone) was located. Situated far outside the camp grounds to isolate the loudest Art Cars noise levels. By far the most popular art car was the Robot Heart, which played mostly minimalist techno and tech house. Tycho returned this year to follow-up with his signature Sunrise Sermon, a downtempo masterpiece that started around 6am. 

Early Friday morning David Hohme unleashed an amazing set at Bubbles and Bass that we sadly had to miss, but the recording is one of the best sets posted online. The last night out we mustered up enough energy for the West Coast Bass Party at Sacred Spaces Village which featured tribal bass legends Beats Antique and glitch hop beast Phutureprimative. Friday was packed with the best acts out there, including Camea at Disorient, Mikey Lion and Lee Reynolds at Distrikt and Marquess Wyatt at Bubbles and Bass. At this point, we were losing steam from the week and enjoyed the Burning of the Man on Saturday. 

Despite rumors, Burning Man wasn’t only centered around techno. As an added bonus for exploring, it offered the most eclectic sounds in electronic music, as long as you were willing to explore. (Article and photos by Alex Grabowski)

(Photos and article by Alex Grabowski)

Movement Festival Brings a Glimmer of Life Back to Detroit

“Techno is the story of jazz as told by machines, written by the mechanics.”

Detroit was a city that was once one of the largest metropolises in the U.S. and the “Automotive Capital of the World”. And most importantly, its musical legacies influenced the generations. 

Detroit is now known for its urban decay and suffering the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history. Half of the population has moved out. Empty apartment buildings and distressed skyscrapers line the streets. But there is also techno. And its helping revitalize the greater downtown area…

On Memorial Day weekend, Detroit’s Hart Plaza hosted the annual Movement Festival (AKA DEMF for the purists), steadily defining itself as America’s key techno showcase and drawing fans from across the globe. 

Movement is a celebration of love, pride and hope that captures the resilient spirit of Detroit by championing the do-it-yourself attitude of turning a grassroots idea into a reality. Though it’s hard to ignore the city’s economic woes, it’s impossible to forget Detroit is the birthplace of techno. 

Instead of chasing chart-toppers, Movement's organizers, Paxahau Promotions, dug deep into electronic music’s progressive underground and exposed audiences to a sophisticated bill of pioneers and rising stars. In a world filled with EDM festivals that are less about sound and more about commercial image, Movement was genuine and unpretentious as it zeroed in on what mattered most: the music.

The festival catered to all types of electronic sounds. If one was looking for a quick reprieve from the suffocating basslines of Cell Injection, Rodhad or Matador in the Underground Stage, then Maya Jane Coles, Hot Since 82 and Henrik Schwartz were ready with the tech-house and fresh air at the sun-drenched Beatport Stage. 

The Red Bull Stage was the most diverse stage. Hip-hop performers such as People Under The Stairs and Detroit native Danny Brown shared the Red Bull Music Academy Stage with Disclosure and Eats Everything among other house djs. Red Bull also hosted techno and drum n bass artists such as Squarepusher, a crowd favorite known for his audio-visual performances that combine jazz, drum and bass and acid house. Method Man and Snoop Dogg were also among the hip-hop acts. While this might come as a shock to electronic die-hards, the musical diversity has played a role in exposing larger audiences to local talent, both classic and new. 

Few festivals pay tribute to the legends like Movement Festival, which made sure to give recognition to the greats where it was due. On the first night, the Thump Stage paid tribute with a “Detroit Love Showcase” that invited legends like Stacey Pullen and Carl Craig to delight the audience. Among other notable acts was Kerri Chandler, who played a soulful Chicago-house style set reminiscent of Frankie Knuckles with classics such as Marshall Jefferson’s Move Your Body. 

Other notable performances included Dog Blood, a collaboration between Skrillex and Germany’s Boys Noize, who delivered a bona fide show for a young audience that left the plaza spent. Henrik Schwartz helped deliver an incredibly diverse tech house set. And Seth Troxler went back to back with the Martinez Brothers as the “Tuskegee.” 

Toronto house duo Art Department played one of their last shows together. They announced they would be going separate ways, with producer Jonny White continuing under the moniker and his partner Kenny Glasgow pursuing solo material. The impending split didn’t get in the way of a seamless interplay between the two onstage. 

The experience was truly underground. And you couldn’t help but feel inspired by the community that hustled to put Detroit back on the map. 

Check out Detroit photos and prominent songs from Movement below. (Article, music selections and photos by Alex Grabowski)

Le Youth Brings California Cool to Washington, DC

Le Youth is hands down one of my most favorite producers. His brand is all cool California vibes and his music matches the image. Beachy beats, echoes of old school sounds and a delicious blend of deep house, R&B and hip-hop makes Le Youth have a distinct sound of his own. Check out his social media pages and Soundcloud. Below is a photo from his show at 9:30 club in Washington, DC opening for Robin Schultz. 

Le Youth’s Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook 

Hello Las Vegas!

This is a way overdue post but I've finally been able to take the time and write it out. The month of March is always crazy with a client event at the end of the month and another one in April. So as a pre-stress release I traveled with two of my closest girlfriends and my sister to Las Vegas!

We stayed at the opulently decorated Wynn/Encore, by far the most luxurious hotel I’ve ever been a guest at. The butterfly motif weaved throughout the hotel was just beautiful with butterfly mosaics within the marble floors and glass mirrors, carpets strewn with color and decadent red light fixtures in the casino.

We spent three nights in Las Vegas and really…that was all we needed. Tiesto was first on the list to see at Hakkasan, which was a club that I hadn’t been to before in Vegas. The last time I was in the city, Hakkasan was just opening so I was interested to see what all the hype was about. When in Las Vegas, clubs and casinos are part of the sights to see as each is elaborately decorated and has its own theme. Hakkasan wasn’t as visually pleasing as clubs like Marquee and Tao but we had an awesome view  and a table in a great spot. 

A lot of people hate on Tiesto because he’s deviated from his roots however I thought his set showcased his versatility as a DJ and knowledge of his audience. He threw down a wonderful mixture of trance, deep house, big room and wedged in an Iggy Azalea vocal just for fun. My trance-devoted friends weren’t the biggest fans but to me Tiesto showed why he’s arguably the most famous DJ in the world. He can piece together tracks from all different genres and knows how to please and surprise a crowd. 

The next night was Kaskade who I was so determined to see because he’s been my #1 since I first got into dance music.  He played at XS Nightclub, which was right inside the Wynn. Kaskade stayed true to his softer, dream-like classics while mixing in deep house and then laying out louder bass lines and synths to complement the Las Vegas party scene.  I don’t know why his music reminds me of glitter. Glitter, dreams and nostalgia people. That sums up Kaskade. 

Last but not least was the one and only Lil Jon who spun at Surrender. He threw down by far one of the most fun parties in Vegas and reminded everyone that he still holds the crown of crunk. He hyped up the crowd, having everyone jumping to hip-hop, trap and house and he made sure to sprinkle in plenty of raspy YEAHs and OKAY and LET’s GO in between songs. The best were his east coast, west coast shout outs in which he mirrored the music to represent each coast. 

Check out more photos from the trip, including our hike in Red Rock Canyon, which is about 30 minutes or so outside Las Vegas. I highly recommend taking some time to get away from the city’s craziness for some peace and quiet amid the desert. 

The view from our amazing room

Red Rock Canyon