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A Few Words about the Future of EDM and Porter Robinson's New 'Sea of Voices'

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People often ask me what I think of the surge of EDM in America. Will it last? Is it just temporary? Is the global EDM movement just a big bubble that's about to burst? My answer to those questions is simple: Dance music is here to stay and will continue to dominate the U.S. charts for a long time to come. In fact, I believe the rise of EDM will cause fragmentation and open the door for many house music sub-genres to flourish. A whole new generation of kids is growing up to the sound of the EDM drop and they will be eager to discover more and deepen their love for dance music.

Disclosure is a great example of that. Besides from putting out superb music, I think it's safe to argue that part of the group's embrace by the mainstream is the public's renewed interest in dance music and a hunger for new discovery. As a result of their success, Disclosure has paved the way for many other deep house producers to find success in America including many artists that have been making deep house for years.

Traditional EDM DJ/producers are broadening their horizons as well to keep their fans hungry and to satisfy their own creative urges. Avicii was one of the first mainstream DJs to to leverage his EDM fame and infuse his brand of house with an exciting new twist. He premiered "Wake Me Up" at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, FL last year that had many fans up in arms  — they did not understand the point of "that bluegrass-dance song." Now, almost 12 months later, "Wake Me Up" is one of the biggest dance hits in recent history and Avicii's bet paid off big time.

Porter Robinson is another great example of a popular EDM DJ who is looking to step beyond "the drop" and try something new without alienating his core fanbase. After crafting mighty trance tunes in his Chapel Hill, NC bedroom, Robinson surged to the top of the EDM pack with original tracks like "Unison," "Spitfire" and countless remixes. I chatted with Porter years ago at Virgin Mobile FreeFest and I was struck by his passion for the DJ craft. I figured it would only be a matter of time before a big pop star would scoop him up and ask him to produce her or his record.

But instead of going pop, Porter decided to pursue a different artistic direction. He turned down countless offers to spend a year devoting himself to a process of reinvention. "I only had the inkling of the idea that I wanted to do something different," Robinson explains in a press release. "I needed to do something that was honest and real."

He adds, "I figured that one way to develop a unique identity as an artist would be to combine all my favorite things in music — it would result in something that is really personal, a collective expression of my taste and experience. Something nobody else has."

That vision led to his forthcoming debut album, titled worlds, that he announced earlier this year with a 10-hour cryptic video and mysterious kaomoji characters. The first track Robinson shared from his new album is the fantastic "Sea of Voices" that brings his vision to life. It's nothing like the stomping beats and the mighty drops that marked his work to date. Instead he goes for a sound that is more introspective and experimental that has a lot of artistic value to it.

Check out the original version of Porter Robinson's "Sea of Voices" and the RAC remix of the song that ups the track's poppy sensibilities. His new album worlds is expected later this year. 

March 19, 2014 | Permalink

Hot New Pop Alert: Rixton Unveils Debut Single 'Me and My Broken Heart'

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Rixton is without a doubt one of the biggest pop things to emerge on the music scene this year and the reason for that is simple. Their music is incredibly catchy, totally pop and utterly well-crafted, and it will have you hooked the moment the moment it hits. Guaranteed.

Their debut single, titled "Me and My Broken Heart," is a perfect example of that. It has a glossy, radio-ready quality to it that Maroon 5 and many other top 40 alumni would salivate over to record.

The dynamite quality of Rixton's music should come not as a surprise. The British group of Jake, Charley, Danny and Lewi has been collaborating with hitmaker Benny Blanco who has taken the group under his wing and worked with them on the group's debut LP. Pop aficionados among you know that Blanco previously wrote and produced hits for artists like Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Kesha and many others.

Rixton is being managed by savvy talent impresario Scooter Braun who has big plans for the group. In fact, the group is signed to School Boy/Giant Little Man/Mad Love/Interscope Records that is a partnership between Scooter Braun, Benny Blanco and Interscope Records.

With "Me and My Broken Heart" Rixton starts things off on a high note. I've heard other tracks from their forthcoming records, and boy, these five are on to something big. It's time to tune in. Listen to Rixton on Beats Music now. 

March 17, 2014 | Permalink

A Few Words about Why Snapchat is my Favorite New Social Sharing App

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There are a dozen of great social media services and photo sharing sites out there. I focus most of my social updates on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and sometimes Vine. I thought that these four covered it all until I tried the new version of Snapchat a few weeks ago that has me completely hooked. In fact, even though I love Instagram and Twitter, I'm obsessed with Snapchat. It has become my go-to app for sharing friends and followers what's happening in the world around me.

Most of you probably think of Snapchat as the service for preteens preoccupied with taking selfies, but Snapchat has a lot more to offer. Last summer, Snapchat introduced a killer new feature, called "Snapchat Stories," that lets users post Snaps (photos or brief videos) to create a chronological narrative that you can share with friends. Every Snap that you add to your Story will remain visible for 24 hours before it disappears to make room for a new story. Your Snapchat Story cannot be like, shared, repost or commented on. 

After using it for a few weeks know, I must conclude that I find Snapchat completely liberating. Sharing candid moment and experiences is quick, fun and easy. Photos do not have to be perfect, there is no extensive palette of filters to beautify a moment, and there are no hearts and thumbs up for viewers to give their opinion about whatever you posted. In other words: Snapchat lets you capture the world around you as it happens without glamorization and judgement. 

For the last few weeks, I've been using Snapchat Stories (username: arjanwrites) to share behind-the-scenes moments from my life at Beats Music. I capture quick snaps of artists that come by the office, concerts that I see around Los Angeles and other exciting things to give people a unique glimpse at what's happening in my life as a blogger, music blogger, traveler, gym enthusiast and the other things that make up me.

The service's ephemeral quality with Snaps only available for a limited amount of time makes it even more fun and, quite frankly, like life itself.

I find that Snapchat Stories lets me create more personal relationships with people that tune in to what Stories I share. It's not a public stream of consciousness (like Twitter or Facebook) that everybody can see and share to the Nth degree. Snapchat stories feels more direct and personal, and it encourages me to be more candid.

I'm still trying new things out with Snapchat, but there are three best practices for everyone who is curious to give it a try:

Redbullet  Don't make it perfect, make it real: Snapchat Stories is much more about capturing life in the moment than trying to document a moment and putting the perfect frame around it

Redbullet Tell stories: Take advantages of the chronological ordering of your Snaps in Snapchat Stories to tell compelling stories about your daily adventures. I went on a bike ride this weekend and snapped all of the great street art that I saw along the way, which ended up being a great story.

Redbullet Use the Snapchat tools: Scribbles notes and other doodles on your photos and videos to make your Snaps even more personal and unique.

If you're not a Snapchat user yet, make sure to give it a try. Download the app and follow me on arjanwrites to catch my Stories. I will follow you right back!

March 17, 2014 | Permalink

Swedish House Mafia 'Leave The World Behind' Documentary Film Premieres at SXSW in Austin [Review]

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Swedish House Mafia's compelling new documentary film Leave the World Behind tells many different stories. Its tells a tale about the global rise of EDM, the deep passion of house fans, the importance of dance music festivals and the pressures of touring around the world for months at the time. But most of all the film tells a story about three Swedish friends who bonded over their love for house music and ended up conquering the world. Their unparraled success turned out to be both a blessing and a curse as it ultimately caused their friendship to unravel.

Leave The World Behind received its world premiere last night at the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas with many of the people that worked on the film in the room, including director Christian Larson, executive producer Amy Thompson and second-unit director Carl Lindstrom. Many of their family and friends had shown up as well to cheer on this very special new film that truly is the final statement Swedish House Mafia's Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell and Steve Angello make about the group in public.

The 95 minute documentary depicts Swedish House Mafia's final "One Last Tour" that kicked off in Sweden in November 2012 and ended with the group's final performance at Miami's Ultra Music Festival in March 2013.

Director Larson expertly combines exhilarating, multi-camera live concert scenes with candid backstage footage that gives viewers an in-depth look at the group's life on the road. The movie also includes scenes of Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell and Steve Angello at home in Sweden and Los Angeles to give fans a glimpse into their personal lives that adds depth to their characters as depicted in the movie. The three are not only global house music icons, they are also husbands and fathers who have priorities far beyond Swedish House Mafia. Lastly, Larson also sat down with each one of Swedish House Mafia's members in confessional-type scenes to get their individual take on what caused the group to split.

Many fans may wonder if Leave The World Behind will explain why the group abruptly broke up after their meteoric rise to fame. It's a question that's been persistently asked after the group announced their break up before embarking on one, final tour.

The film shows some of the dynamics that caused the group's decision to end their run and go separate ways. When Ingrosso, Axwell and Angello are asked about the break up individually it becomes clear that what started back in the day as a fun project without real intent turned into something much bigger than they ever anticipated. That ended up impacting their friendship and ultimately their creative partnership.

They say a picture can tell a thousands words and in the case of Leave The World Behind that is very true. One of the most telling moments is when director Larson cuts in some vintage footage of Ingrosso (with spiky purple hair), Axwell and Angello when they first met years ago and are having wild fun together. Those scenes are a sharp contrast to some of the "One Last Tour" backstage footage of the three spending time together in hotels and backstage with nothing to say and each going their own way. 

During a Q&A after the movie, director Christian Larson was asked if he thinks that group will ever reunite and his answer was a firm "no." As someone who has been on the road with Swedish House Mafia for months on end, he's most certainly someone who can make a proper judgement call here. He also noted that he thought it was very respectful of the group to end on a high note. He smiled and added, "The film also shows you how guys sometimes deal with their problems, we're not always the greatest and talk about things. We rather just move on."

It's sad to see that house music's biggest supergroup decided to call it quits but Leave The World Behind does a superb job documenting what made this group so unique and truly a global phenomenon in the first place. Swedish House Mafia raised the bar for dance music forever.

Leave the World Behind will premiere in Stockholm, New York, London and Las Vegas today. No wide release in theatres has been scheduled at this time.

March 13, 2014 | Permalink

Hot New Pop Alert: Listen to Galantis 'You' [Review]

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Galantis makes seriously good dance-pop. And that should come as no surprise. Galantis are the duo of Christian Karlsson (of Miike Snow) and Linus Eklow (aka Style Of Eye) who combine their soundboard superpowers to create a fresh new sound that infuses their melodic pop sensibilities with gentle dance grooves. After unveiling their singles "Smile" and "You," the group unleashed the brand-new "Help" today that is taken from their self-titled EP that will be released via Big Beat/Atlantic on April 1.

To the uninitiated, Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklow have individually been celebrated for creating classic pop singles for other artists and their contributions to electronic music. Karlsson is not only a third of celebrated indie band Miike Snow but also one half of production duo Bloodshy & Avant who have helped reinvent pop stars from Madonna to Britney Spears. He co-wrote and produced "Toxic" for Spears for which he won a Best Dance Recording GRAMMY.

Eklow co- wrote and produced Icona Pop’s international No. 1 smash "I Love It" ft. Charli XCX and has left a singular stamp on electronic music, defying genre and releasing work on a diverse swath of iconic labels. "After admiring each other from afar, the pair set up a studio on a remote island in the Baltic Sea and Galantis was born," a press release explains about the group's inception.

Kicked off by a wistful piano melody, "Help" slowly builds into a soaring melodic production that is packed with hope and encouragement. It's another triumphant effort that puts the duo in pole position for breakout success. While we are enjoying Galantis' new music, the group is feverishly working on their big debut show at Coachella that is a pretty major look for this promising new upstart. 

[Follow Galantis on Beats Music]

March 11, 2014 | Permalink