Music is my religion

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Funky Fresh

I tend to qualify Steve Lawler as generally consistent, but he made some interesting choices in this set. Loving the old school hip hop/r&b infusion, 45 min+ and 75min+ are particularly dope parts.

The BPM Festival Announces 2015 Dates

bpm

On January 9, 2015 The BPM Festival will return to the paradisiacal backdrop of Playa del Carmen’s Caribbean beaches. The lineup has yet to be announced but organizers have vowed to stay true to the underground, rebelling against the North American EDM festival scene and its decidedly unoriginal repertoire. For 10 days, parties will rage day and night assuring that there is a flavor for every taste.
Early-bird VIP wristbands go on sale on July 15th.

Paco Osuna at Verboten BK

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of Paco-related shit-talking. He bungled a show at Treehouse Miami in March, making unheard of rookie mistakes and mismatching beats. He apparently lacked passion at Movement Detroit last year contrasting with the other artists that brought straight fire.
But I have seen Paco only once, at a Verboten event in Manhattan last year and he was brilliant.
So since he hadn’t let me down before, I was optimistic about his gig on June 21st. After arriving at the Brooklyn hotspot I looked around at the crowd which was ready to revel until the lights came on, and I just knew he was going to murder it.
Words will never do justice to the meticulousness with which he layered complex details on details on details, at times isolating just a single recognizable detail or intriguing word from one track to weave into the flow. His timing was infallible and he displayed an effortless creativity. At one point throwing in a sample of: “You spin me right ’round.” It was so masterfully handled that the crowd couldn’t help but sing along, basking in the melancholy and laughing at the absurdity of this Spaniard bumping an American power 80’s hit.
His encore featured a melody so original and peculiar that I can’t possibly describe what it sounded like. But it truly was the perfect closer to his remarkable 4 hour feat of composition.
Paco Osuna your talent is unequivocal, fuck the haters.

Yours truly in the yellow top, caught in a moment of brilliance.

Yours truly in the yellow top, caught in a moment of brilliance.

Chus & Ceballos at Output BK

It is no secret that the club Output, in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood is my favorite place to be. Indeed I consider it one of the best nightclubs and music venues on the entire East coast (yes that includes you Miami!) Let me describe this slice of heaven for you.
Output boasts a Funktion One sound system, meaning sound flows through to your very core, seeping and vibrating in places you never knew existed. At the same time every detail is crisp and pronounced, you don’t miss a thing. (Don’t take my word for it, listen to the owner of Funktion One describe the reasons for their eminence: http://www.residentadvisor.net/feed-item.aspx?id=20640) Indeed, one of my deepest darkest fantasies is to fuck on one of their speakers while that hot bass blasts tight beats.
Aside from the audio orgasmic potential, Output has no VIP tables; not one. There are no table bros and hoes taking up prime dancing real estate funneling overpriced vodkas into each others mouths. The cherry on top? Photography is prohibited. You aren’t constantly dodging selfies, finding yourself barraged with requests to play photographer to an annoying group of girls, or declining the dreaded “nightlife/entertainment photographer” the paparazzi scum of the photography world.
So it’s just you, the darkness and the beats broadcasted on the most impeccable sound system you’ll ever come across in your underground adventures.
If Output were a man he could call me up at an ungodly hour in the middle of the night and say: “get that sweet ass over here bitch” and I would rush over with no more than a “Si papiiii.”

That being said, once I learned that Chus & Ceballos were playing my favorite spot I was both excited and immediately filled with dread.
You see, I came of age in electronic music with them about 6 years ago. Their bouncy “Iberican” house was not only accessible to a novice like myself but struck a deep chord with these Latina hips. Yet as infectious as their sound is, it does not mesh well with Output’s dark nasty vibe. So it was with trepidation that I bought my ticket.
Chus & Ceballos Output
I walked in with high hopes, as they have been experimenting with a different sound as of late; despite the fact that their attempts to depart from the beats that made them famous and beloved fell flat at The BPM Festival this January, and were ok at their pool party at The Raleigh during Winter Music Conference in March.
I arrived with my crew after midnight hoping to miss their opener, luckily they were already on the decks. Their energy was blasé bordering on annoyance. They had this attitude of “Ugh another fucking gig….” They sounded flaccid and frustratingly repetitive.
Needless to say, I was crushed. How could they disparage this opportunity to play at one of New York’s most authentic venues?
I wandered up to the roof to kill time still optimistic that the tide would turn.
After what seemed like ages I went back in and was pleasantly surprised. They changed tact and started bumping hard. Slowly you started to see a shift in their demeanor. Output was working its magic.
Their grimaces turned to toothy grins as the crowd grooved. My friend described a lot of their set as “disco” although I would say it was darker than their usual fare. They played until 5am despite the loud chants of “UNO MAS! UNO MAS!” (Carl Cox goes until 6am…).
Ultimately I can’t say I’m not overjoyed they fell in love with Output and it’s unmatched energy the same way that I have, as evidenced by their ecstatic facebook status the next day:
Output

But they still seem to be struggling with the new direction they’ve chosen. Their attempts at marrying techno with latin flavors can sound a bit messy at times. They truly are in uncharted territory but after decades of making music and touring I really can’t blame them for trying something new.
Judge for yourself.

Smooth and Saucy

Check out this set from Hector and Hot Since 82 from Winter Music Conference 2014. I am kicking myself I missed it. Unfortunately I succumbed to exhaustion on this night, following a marathon b2b set from Loco Dice and Marco Carola at Club Space.

The Cristoph track “Shelter” at 14 minutes is a particularly bad ass addition.

Exclusive Interview with Adam Beyer

Techno Titan Adam Beyer sits down with me during his label's showcase.

Techno Titan Adam Beyer sits down with Techno Tramp during his label’s showcase.

Skillful crowd mover, techno veteran Adam Beyer, spans 25 years in the game. He played two sets at The BPM Festival 2014, one alongside his equally talented wife DJ Ida Engberg for Richie Hawtin’s Enter event, and a second during the showcase for his label Drumcode. The showcase featured Engberg, Joseph Capriati and Alan Fitzpatrick taking turns moving the crowd with their gritty, industrial beats. Beyer spoke to us before his final set. This year will see him undertaking a grueling tour schedule while curating his radio show Drumcode Live and his hugely successful label.

In your opinion what makes The BPM Festival different from other North American and European Festivals?

From what I know and what I’ve have seen, it feels a little bit older and more mature, the main music is on the beach and warm, more focused on deep house and a little bit more relaxed music. In general you don’t see too much of the “EDM” like in the U.S. It’s deeper and more mature, which I really appreciate.

What do you think Mexico has to offer over more traditional epicenters for electronic music?

In terms of culture, it is quite different. Everything is different. I think people really appreciate coming somewhere warm which is pretty secluded. Everyone used to go to Miami, and now Miami has changed it’s big.
You feel it is more authentic?
Yeah in a way. Like I said it’s quite focused on deep house and tech house, kind of an Ibiza-type crowd. It’s good to have that here in North America.

One of the things that is interesting about BPM is that it showcases a lot of diversity in artists and sounds. Are there any other events around the world where you see the same quality in curating the lineup in this way?

There are a lot of big festivals in Europe which are quite diverse and big on different sounds. I don’t want to name a specific one, but there’s so much stuff in Europe going on. Maybe there’s not a festival with so many names. Here it’ s possible to do because there’s so many clubs and different spots, every night you have five different parties which obviously makes the lineup huge.
You said in an interview that playing in Ibiza warranted slower, longer sets where you really take your time. What is the approach here in Mexico?
I think it’s a little bit the same approach. Most people would probably know me for playing a bit more banging techno. That’s what I do mostly. But not only, lately – well the last 10 years -I’ve done other kind of sets as well. I think when you get to a beach and you play in front of a crowd in their shorts, daytime, you have to adapt, play a little bit more sexy.

You wear a lot of hats (touring, radio, managing multiple labels) did you always aspire to fill all of these roles, or did it happen organically?

Everything in my career has happened organically. I started so young, I started djing when I was 12. Obviously with the dream to be able to make a living out of it and live my life and do music. But apart from that everything has just been natural, I never forced anything. I have this philosophy… when I start something new it has to come to me and there has to be an opening which feels right. I never try things out and then fail. I’ve always taken my time with my career.

You showcase talented women on your label, why does it seem that women are a rarity in the industry?

Fortunately it’s changing. Being a DJ is kind of, or it was, a nerd hobby. It’s usually guys that become obsessed with things like that. So that’s why it has been like that for ages. Now fortunately it’s changing and there are a lot of talented women coming out. I think for me it’s been really important as well to bring women into Drumcode, into our family, because it changes the outlook. I don’t want it to be this all-male dominated techno brand. I like it to be a little bit more flavored and show diversity. I love the way Ida and Nicole are playing and what they bring in. They change the dynamic of the whole thing. I think a lot of people appreciate that.


When you are making music are there any other genres of music that you draw inspiration from?

I have been djing for 25 years, I think you are always drawing inspiration from everything you’ve gone through. It’s impossible to not be inspired by different times in your career and different sounds. Right now there is a lot of retro in techno for example. But I’m not really listening to rock music and getting inspired you know? I’ve been living and breathing this music so long, I think it’s more going back to different forms of house and techno and what’s been going on, and then all the way back to the originators, music in the ‘80s and ‘70s.

Describe the vibe and energy of techno in one word?

Intelligent.

What do you hope to accomplish this year?

We’ve been pushing the brand really hard the last few years and it’s been a steady climb with everything this year it seems to be like a lot of things going on. So I just wish to be healthy and to be able to go through all of the stuff we have coming up. Everything that’s going to happen this year is already planned pretty much. I just hope I will be able to accomplish it…Ibiza, radio, gigs. I’m just hoping to do well and we continue to inspire people.

Listen to Adam Beyer play back to back with label mate Joseph Capriati in an exclusive set for Mixmag. Their chemistry on the turntables is otherworldy.

Carl Cox at Output BK

Cox at Output April 2014 (Oops I broke the no photo rule!)

Cox at Output April 2014 (Oops I broke the no photo rule!)

A DJ friend of mine told me that Carl Cox never fails to walk into the booth and demand cocaine and whisky.
If that combination is what gives him the verve to play from 10pm to 6am, then let it snow baby!

I never really cared for the chubby exuberant titan but friends that saw him at Burning Man in 2012 urged me to accompany them to his Output debut last May. I of course went of my own accord this April.
At times his sets can border on cheesy, which is why I hardly ever listen to him. But live in BK he showcases such incredible versatility. One of my favorite moments from last year’s gig was him cutting the music, playing an excerpt from the movie Pulp Fiction: Samuel L Jackson’s thundering speech “And I will strike down upon thee great vengeance and furious anger those who seek to poison and destroy my brothers…” and then dropping a vicious beat.

I truly respect creativity, especially when artists draw from unexpected sources and blend them so successfully with their own style. I think electronic music in all of its manifestations lends itself to this type of Picasso-esque playfulness and experimentation.
More DJs should venture out of what they know and seek unexpected sources of inspiration.

The BPM Festival 2014

The past few years have seen electronic music emerge from the dark basements and warehouses of its birth to saturate the public consciousness of North and South America. Mexico and Latin America are welcoming the genre in all of its manifestations. Latino artists, including Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias and Wisin y Yandel have embraced the sound, playing on its percussive elements to enhance the caliente driving bass of their music. Both veteran and rising talents are making the rounds to the Latino epicenters around the world from Bogota to Miami.

The BPM mascots posted up at Mamitas Beach Club.

The BPM mascots posted up at Mamitas Beach Club.

The year kicked off with the highly successful 8th installment of The BPM Festival, a 10-day electronic music event in the Mexican Riviera. The festival showcased over 350 artists with sounds and styles as colorful and diverse as the tropical creatures swimming just beneath the crystal blue waters. Remaining loyal to its eclectic lineup and underground vibes, BPM brought together over 35,000 revelers from all over the world hosting over 70 day and night parties dispersed through one of Mexico’s most dynamic beach towns. As Director of Operations and Finance for The BPM Festival Alessandra Axelsson describes it: “Playa del Carmen is one of the most multicultural areas in Mexico, you find cultures from all over the world: European, Mexicans from all over Mexico, South Americans, and North Americans from Canada and the U.S. I think that is one of the biggest draws. It is such a charming and unique special town.” This cultural mosaic is superimposed on breathtaking natural beauty as the Yucatan peninsula boasts white sand, turquoise waters, and verdant jungle landscapes.

Against this idyllic backdrop, electronic music heavy weights in techno, tech house and deep house rocked the decks alongside breakout artists and underground darlings, even homegrown Mexican talent had a place on the lineup with artists Betoko and Hector. This year BPM focused more on showcases with copious day and night parties dedicated to the labels that kept crowds grooving all year. Vito Tomasicchio, one of the festival’s operational partners, said that a lot of the artists that normally play at the night events requested platforms to showcase the talent on their labels. Among some of the 50+ labels represented were Cadenza, Circo Loco, Desolat, Dirtybird, Drumcode, Enter, Innervisions, Kraftek, Music On, Toolroom Knights and Widsom of the Glove. The sheer number of high caliber events daily, each hosting several artists at their most raw and unyielding, pushed festival goers willingly to their physical limits. BPM is simultaneously a sprint and a marathon.

 Richie Hawtin extended his penchant for playing grassroots gigs to the streets of Mexico with an appearance at a taco stand joined by Dubfire. The last minute announcement spread quickly and revelers swarmed the area around the tiny El Fogon Restaurant for “Techno Tacos,” as it came to be called.

Richie Hawtin extended his penchant for playing grassroots gigs to the streets of Mexico with an appearance at a taco stand joined by Dubfire. The last minute announcement spread quickly and revelers swarmed the area around the tiny El Fogon Restaurant for “Techno Tacos,” as it came to be called.

The festival kicked into gear with some of the more well known names:  Green Velvet, John Digweed, Fedde Le Grande, Roger Sanchez, Art Department and Richie Hawtin. The Stereo daytime showcase on day three effortlessly matched the Latin Caribbean vibes; fresh and sexy, with each artist perfectly complimenting the last and making for a truly Ibiza-esque beach party. Arjun Vagale and Christian Smith kept hips churning all day followed by Rafa Barrios who infused heavy tropical and percussive elements into his set. Closers Chus & Ceballos experimented with a slightly different sound departing from their distinctive Iberican beats to more funky and soulful house.

Chus & Ceballos at the Stereo Productions showcase.

Soon after the opening weekend, marked by a lack of sun, heavy rain, and pushy crowds, the warriors emerged; house heads prepped for battle shifted the atmosphere. Soon enough, events started to feel distinctly BPM. DJ’s tore into their sets setting bodies into motion, from wall to wall heads nodding, torsos grooving, arms swaying and feet pounding the beat. Throughout the week one could encounter sounds for every taste as Dixon, Behrouz, Victor Calderone, Carl Craig, DJ Sneak, Nic Fancuilli, Chris Liebing, Nicole Moudaber, Solomun, Tale of Us and Claude Von Stroke took to the decks. Seemingly everywhere revelers experienced singular moments of elation where the music moves every living thing within earshot, breaking down pretensions and preconceptions, unifying everyone under the instinctive drive to physically express the plethora of passions that music arouses.

No one represents this phenomenon better than Loco Dice, who closed the Desolat showcase on the final Friday of BPM. Always masterful and relentless Dice interwove intriguing vocal samples, some in Spanish others from popular music including rapper Nas, over persistent heavy vibrations transforming the party into an indigenous rain dance ceremony: feverish and transfixing. The man must have a floor to ceiling collection of music, never failing to saturate his sets with eclectic subtleties and peculiar sounds. His closing track at last year’s BPM contained a bizarre yet infectious loop of a man’s laughter. Dice is undoubtedly the Beethoven of his domain although he is one of those artists that must be seen live to be truly understood. Do not be deprived of his singular brilliance and catch him live.

Hot Since 82 was one of BPM’s breakouts, fluid and consistent he skillfully hyped up the crowd for each of stylistically different closers: Dubfire and Pete Tong.

Hot Since 82 was one of BPM’s breakouts, fluid and consistent he skillfully hyped up the crowd for each of stylistically different closers: Dubfire and Pete Tong.

One attends The BPM Festival with a sense of melancholy, as word continues to spread about this high caliber event set in paradise it seems inevitable that it will be overrun with Cancun spring breakers and EDM “neon teens.”  But organizers say they are equipped to deal with the exponentially increasing numbers of attendees year after year. Luckily Playa del Carmen is also developing on par with BPM topping the list of the fastest growing cities in Latin America. With the arrival of Electric Daisy Carnival in Mexico City this March it is evident that Mexico is quickly becoming a mecca for electronic music events, holding its own beside its beachside counterparts Miami and Ibiza. The festival is also set to venture out of its Mayan haven spreading to South America or Europe; although organizers are tight-lipped on which cities they have been scouting. “Don’t be surprised if you see us in another place but our home will always be here in Playa,” said Tomasicchio.

The BPM Festival with its cool sexy vibes and hard-hitting, inclusive lineup is transforming how North Americans think about electronic music festivals: revitalizing the die-hards and giving birth to a new generation of beat addicts. Each year is bigger and better than the last with the number of artists, venues and attendees steadily multiplying. It is evident The BPM Festival will sustain its place as a world class music event for many years to come.

You can still catch many of the events on Be-At.tv, check out The Stereo Productions Showcase and feel the tropical vibes.
http://www.be-at.tv/brands/kool-beach/bpm-2014-presents-stereo-productions/arjun-vagale

Photos by The BPM Festival.com

Article for Periodico NOSOTROS, 2014