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What Can Save Drum and Bass?

Posted in Note to Readers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2009 by worldromper

The article I wrote months ago has finally been published! Read it here in Covers Magazine.

Update October 8: I just noticed the magazine cut out about half my article including the end paragraph which sums up the entire piece. So, I am just going to post the whole thing here:

What Can Save Drum and Bass?

The only thing people seem to be saying about drum and bass these days is that it’s dying.

But how can a musical genre that so recently burst onto the scene with such power and aggression be dying, especially in a city like Los Angeles, which is the biggest stronghold of the DNB sound outside of the UK? What can save drum and bass? Moreover, does it need, or even want to be saved?

When people start declaring an artistic movement dead, it is usually because of a lack of innovators in the genre, which may be true for drum and bass as fresh young minds head towards other bass-heavy styles over the perceived-to-be-dying DNB. Drum and bass producers and deejays are defecting by the masses to dubstep, grime and electro or taking a multi-genre approach to their music, and in doing so they are finding an upswing of success. Drum and bass artists Infiltrata, Evol Intent, Ewun, Terravita, Gigantor, Orion and DJ Daniel now play out more often as 12th Planet, Treasure Fingers, Kill the Noise, Hot Pink DeLorean, Computer Club and LA Riots. Each performer has abandoned a strict drum and bass regimen in favor of a more eclectic approach, which in the past has been eschewed by many DNB fans who tend to avoid other genres like bad acid. It is often said that drum and bass heads play only for other drum and bass heads; that they are out of touch with the rest of electronic arts culture, too busy holding up their anointed genre as the end-all-be-all of the musical experience.

Some people blame the drum and bass heads themselves for the fatal wounds to their own genre. DNB is extreme music for extreme people, and the defiant sound has always attracted certain “harder-than-thou” permascowl, urban-warrior types who prefer an aggressive style in their music, dress and life. Most DNB heads are actually very nice, chill people; and some in the EDM community find this artifice of hostility to be more off-putting than actual antagonism would be. The overt machismo of the drum and bass sound as well as the über-exclusive nature of the DNB community exists in contrast to usual electronic music crowds, who are accepting, tolerant and anything but homophobic; anyone and everyone is welcome with their fuzzy backpacks and green hair. Wave a glow stick or make out with your gay boyfriend at a DNB show, however, and you just might get your ass kicked faster than the BPMs.

It is this exclusivity that has turned off many drum and bass fans who say that they now only listen to the genre at home, avoiding the contentious crowds, MCs and haterade that is too often served at DNB nights, which are decreasing in attendance and frequency in Los Angeles and across the globe. The “I Love LA” drum and bass-heavy event series threw its final night in June, and there seems to be a disturbing lack of action in the DNB crews around the city. At the time of this writing, LA’s biggest DNB crew Respect hadn’t updated the news on their website in six months, and other local music collectives like Bassrush, Tonz of Drumz and Ghettolife seem to be suffering from an acute lack of activity in social media sites and upcoming parties and shows.

However, DNB by no means stands for dead and buried. The genre continues to have a fairly large presence in many parts of the world, Los Angeles included. Drum and bass is still going strong in its drizzly birthplace of the UK, although multiple sources confirm that the shows are a mere shadow of the mad parties thrown five or ten years ago. DNB boasts many experienced producers such as Stunna and B Complex who are skilled in the sound production and harmonics characteristic of the genre and are still releasing innovative new tracks. LA’s biggest electronic music event, the Electric Daisy Carnival, devotes an entire stage to drum and bass, showcasing local and international talent in front of dozens of thousands of electronic music fans, from candy kids to jaded been-there-done-thats. DNB’s signature sexy sound can also be found at the local Scion House Parties, free events taking place around LA that feature DNB along with dubstep, electro and house. There is no room for bullshit in drum and bass; the genre has always been faster, harder, louder, angrier and darker. Perhaps it is just finally evolving past its trendy stage and the energetic core of DNB producers and deejays, all very experienced at this point, will be taking the reigns to slow what is only an ebb of the frenzied and forceful genre.

For many electronic music enthusiasts, drum and bass was a new and exciting niche genre, a fetish of sorts that had its time exposed in the sun and is now fading and receding to a nucleus of a few producers and fanatics: those DNB heads who lead and follow the sound with a religious intensity and will never, ever stop. These passionate DNB zealots were the ones whose fervent devotion made the genre and the community so special and inspiring, and it is now those same heads with whom the future of DNB rests. It is in their hands, and therefore, drum and bass will never die. However the days of flash popularity and main stage appeal are gone. Drum and bass is returning to the heads, and isn’t that exactly where they want it, and where it should be?

Drum and bass must save itself. If DNB heads want to end the downswing and attract fresh producing minds and enthusiastic fans, the genre needs a major breakthrough. To save itself, drum and bass must touch people again, which is kind of hard to do when it is so busy punching them in the face. The future of DNB is yet undetermined, but one thing is certain: drum and bass is not going down without a fight.

Since I submitted the piece in June, LA drum and bass crew Respect has started back up their weekly, held at the Dragonfly in Hollywood. It is the longest running night of dnb in the city and this week features Infiltrata vs. 12th Planet, aka drum and bass vs. dubstep!

Back in June, I asked my readers what could save drum and bass and received some great insight! Check out the comments at the bottom of the original post here.

12th Planet/Infiltrata

From the Front Lines: Ana Sia Cripples Shilo

Posted in Females in the Arts, From the Front Lines (Show Reviews) with tags , , , , , on April 10, 2009 by worldromper

Last night at the King King Ana Sia played EXACTLY the kind of music that I love. EXACTLY.

I go to a fat variety of EDM shows, from dubstep to house to techno to glitch to the occasional fucking rave; I like many types of music and want to write about my experiences to promote the electronic arts and support the community on the dance floor. If a night of music fills me up 75%, that is an epic win.

But last night filled me up to the very top. The sounds blasting out of the speakers from the hands of Ana Sia DID it for me, if ya know what I mean. I left completely satisfied, smile on my head, and a laugh in voice. And HUGE freaking blisters on my toes.

You might expect to get blisters if you dance once or twice a year, but I dance all the time to the music in my head which never stops. Around my living room, in the street, at the coffee shop, all the time. It takes some filthy fucking music to blister me up, and that is exactly what Ana Sia delivered last night: pulverizing waves of bass that make you dance down with your knees bent low, grinding yourself into the dance floor just as the beats are being crushed into your brain.

When I first arrived at the King King, house music was booming onto the floor and I thought: am I in the right club? Is there a King King in Venice or OC that my noob self doesn’t know about? But looking around at the crowd I could tell without a doubt that these were my people: the bass sluts.

Last night I heard three phrases outside the club which always make my heart sing:

1. “Looks like a total Burner crowd tonight- are those hoola hoops?”

2. “You know what music I’m really into these days? Glitch.”

3. “What did you come here for?”

Well as anyone knows, I came to get down; and down, down, down into the dance floor did I get.

Ana SiaAna Sia was getting down too, dancing so much I was wondering how she continued to even play. On the opposite side of her set-up was a table with drinks and water for the VIPsters, and cups were routinely being shaken off the edge by the bass, bass so sick and grimey and given so perfectly- well, this is the music I want pumping out of my tombstone. 

And don’t call her a fucking DJ (although I will, on my list 10 DJS I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS WEEK)- nothing was spinning but my head and she was tweaking the sound continually and masterfully through her whole set.

You know when you go out to hear someone you really love, and they play for about 45 minutes, and you’re like, well, that was good but I NEED MORE?

Yeah- that didn’t happen last night. Ana Sia rocked it for like two hours, two hours of some of the best music I have heard in LA, or anywhere. I am filled up to the top.

Thanks for the blisters, Ana Sia!


Read more about Ana Sia here.

CLP & Deru Destroy Vine Bar in Hollywood

Posted in From the Front Lines (Show Reviews) with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2009 by worldromper

Yesterday I experienced one of the best nights of music since I moved to LA dancing to CLP and Deru in a tiny little hole of bar that I have now fallen in love with with. Thank you. Thank you!

Hollywood is just ten minutes from my apartment and I arrived last night early, around 10, and DJ Howie was getting things started. I never mind being the only one on the dance floor, because that means the DJ is playing for you. People need to hire me out to start their parties, I swear.

The Vine Bar’s dance floor is tiny. Miniscule. It’s really just a bar where they turned the back room into a little stage with space for decks/laptops and a few standing speakers. But as long as there is room at the front of the dance floor for me, and there always is, I don’t give a shit. 

So I start rocking out, and soon Deru goes on and the dance floor fills up. Last night Deru restored my faith in LA. Not that I had lost it, per se, but I had begun to wonder as of late: where is the music that I love? Where are my people? Where are the sounds that do it for me, that have me screaming “yeah” like a fiend, that make my eyes roll around in my skull and sweat drip from my elbows?

I found all of them last night. Deru was awesome. His music was smart AND very dance friendly, like me. I love meeting people out who know me only from this blog, and I get to watch the gears turn in their heads as they try to reconcile the fact that this blond chick going nuts on the dance floor is also a writer. What? I love busting up stereotypes. 

CLP went on- I don’t know which one was CL and which was P, but they killed. That tiny little dance floor was going nuts, people falling down and shit. Screaming. Smacking people in the face with their flailing arms. What kind of music were they playing? I don’t know. GOOD music. Slamming, dance-crazy beats. When I have a hard time finding words to describe someone’s music- that means it’s good. If I can sum up an hour long mix in a three-second sentence, guess what? It sucks.

CLP did not suck, and I really don’t think the CLP mix that was posted on my Myspace profile fifteen times (and which you can find here) does them justice. The Factory Fresh mix is good, but their hybrid set last night rocked the stars and the Vine Bar, which was packed with good people. I did not meet a single asshole last night, and I was in Hollywood for the love of God. Also in the crowd- one Justin Boreta. It was one of those nights when 2AM hits and you are just like, what? Seriously? It’s over? Already?

I am inspired anew this morning through my hash browns and hangover, and have realized that although there is not the same sense of community in LA around the type of music that I love, there will be. That is why I am here.

SEATTLE! Get your asses to Nectar Lounge tonight to hear CLP! And get there early because my boys Noisemaker and PrEssHa are opening up with a tag set. That shit WILL be going off.

I was having WAY to much fun dancing my face off last night to take any pictures except this one of my new friend Olivia fucking with the “Federal Protective Service: Homeland Security,” who were just cruising around protecting things. Enjoy. And turn the music UP!


From the Front Lines: OOah, Kraddy, An-ten-nae & more in Hollywood

Posted in From the Front Lines (Show Reviews) with tags , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2009 by worldromper

Note to readers: this is not a proper Show Review, but ‘From the Front Lines’ which are more personal, informal, and in first-person; chock full of slang, curse words, and random observances about electronic music culture and the freaks who love it.

Friday night I headed down to Hollywood to catch another Glitch Mob show and being the super club-nerd I am, arrive around 10PM, park and start walking around trying to find the venue called The Green Door.

Bassing out of this one place is the same fatty dubstep track that I was just listening to in my car, and I walk up to the big bouncer and ask him, “Where is the entrance?”

“Anywhere you want it to be,” is his reply

“OK, how about right here?” And just like that the velvet rope lifts and Shilo is in.

I walk up to the pay-window next to a girl with a two-foot long white feather in her hair (*jealous!*) and the booth babe asks me, “Have you paid yet?”

“No,” is my immediate response. D’oh! Should have said yes! I always kick myself but ultimately am glad that my initial reaction is one of honesty.

So I pay and go in to a huge room packed not yet with people but with towering palm trees, a long meandering rectangular pool passed over by foot bridges, lots of tables, booths, and plenty of cubby spaces to get your nookie on. Half of the club opened into a whole other giant room with a spiraling central core where hot chicks were spinning glow-brite hoola hoops while shaking plenty of ass. Impressive. I make a loop to case the place out and throughout the evening I would check back into this second room three or four times, but never once even made it through the doorway again because the music pulsing out of it was total fucking crap.

Back in the main room I ask a bouncer what’s the average on people falling into the pool- one a night? Try three or four, he says. Oh shit. One day, it WILL be me, fair warning. I am 100% positive I will fall into that pool some day, I am too clumsy buck-sober around pools much less with a drink or two pulsing through my alcohol-system.

At the bar I buy a $7 Amstel Light. Delicious. Let me tell you a Shilo secret: when you meet a new bartender, tip them $2. They will not only immediately remember you, but they will instantly like you as well. If it is a gigantic club, like the Green Door, always go back to that same bartender. You get better service and stronger drinks- that $1 pays for itself over and over, believe me. If you start to frequent this bar, lay another $2 tip on the bartender now and again. Bartenders will love you, remember you, and keep an eye on you which is a good thing, especially for a single female.

Back at the dance floor where I had originally heard the dubstep song, these two beautiful girls are laying down sick breaks, some hefty slamming beats. And then it hit me: Am I in the right club? I had just heard the music and walked in, not asking or even looking for a sign. This is Hollywood and there is a dance club about every five feet and I have NO idea if I am actually in the right place or not.

Oh well, I don’t have enough money to get into another club. Guess I’ll stay and dance, fuck it. The two DJs getting the party started with the chunky breaks turn out to be Eva and Syrena, both of whom I met later. AWESOME people.

During their set, a big bouncer dude (is there any other kind?) walks up in front of the decks and throws about fifty one-dollar bills into the air, which flutter down to the dance floor amid a couple screams. Mad rush? Hardly. In fact, no one even picks them up! Piles of money are scattered on the ground and people just stand there like they are too good to lean down and pick up one dollar bills off the floor of a club.

Well I am not too good, I am a broke ass freelance writer and moments later, I am almost twenty dollars richer. Kind of takes the sting out of that $7 Amstel Light. I promptly go to buy another with my floor money and what do you know? The bartender gives it to me for free. Two dollar tip: anytime a bartender gives you a drink for free, tip two dollars, another patented Shilo secret.

So the next DJ goes on by his beats I immediately I know I am in the right club and breathe a sigh of relief. Braden was his name and I was loving his tracks, though how could I not? For about thirty minutes of his set he just played straight Modeselektor: Dancinbox, 2000007, the Dark Side of the Sun, Happy Birthday, seriously. The crowd ate it up of course. Nice track selection dude but I didn’t come to the club to hear DJ Press Play.

an-ten-nae comes on next and WOW! I had never seen him live and he is a new favorite of mine, winning my heart and my dancing feet with Super Curl (OH MY GOD, IT’S SO SHINY). His fat tracks had the crowd totally amped for the Glitch Mob to take over.

Which they did, of course. I will restrain myself from writing five more paragraphs about how OOah and Kraddy brought sound from the future and slammed it on all of our heads, how I danced in front of the speaker until I had blisters on my big toes, how they mixed Lil Wayne’s “Motherfucker I’m ill, not sick” with Kraddy’s own remix of Lupe Fiasco’s I Gotcha, how the people went bananas and how there was a practical orgy of near-naked ladies in front of the stage. Personally I would rather see chicks who can really get down with super sweet moves and actually dance (like the go-gos earlier in the night) rather than extra-gorgeous supermodel types who just wave their asses in front of the crowd like homing beacons, but whatever. I met quite a few of the ladies throughout the night and they were all very nice, friendly and welcoming, so wave on with your hot self!

SUMMARY: Glitch Mob kills yet again. An-ten-nae is AMAZING. Eva and Syrena are fatty breaks DJs in LA who deserve a look, female or not, and Braden plays music that I love so I really can’t complain. Open up the Green Door and you get LA: palm trees, a clear blue pool, $7 beers, the most beautiful ladies you have ever seen and a whole lot of guys with Edit hats on.

And then you pay for parking, jump on the interstate and fly home. I LOVE LA!

Peace and love from the front lines,