I'm very excited about hosting a live audience interview with Dutch DJ icon Armin van Buuren at W South Beach on Saturday during the annual Winter Music Conference. Follow @wsouthbeach on Instagram and @wsobe on Twitter to find out how you can attend.
Report from Miami Music Week (Day 1): Kaskade Talks about the Importance of Passion and Authenticity in Dance Music
After weeks of preparations, I finally arrived in Miami early this morning all red-eyed but ready for Miami Music Week, the annual dance music fest in Miami that encompasses Winter Music Conference, Ultra Music Festival and lots of parties across South Beach. I checked into the breathtakingly beautiful W South Beach at 7 a.m. and started my final prep for my keynote Q&A at Winter Music Conference with Kaskade. (For all you music fans out there: There are lots of great things happen at W this week. Make sure to follow W on Twitter and Instagram for updates and behind-the-scenes photos.)
I've interviewed Kaskades a few other times over the years starting back in 2006 to talk about his fourth studio album Love Mysterious. It was great to sit down with him in person this time around and talk in-depth about his rise to fame, creative process, the EDM movement, balancing the music and visual aspect of his live performance and being an independent artist.
What truly strikes me about Kaskade is that in a world that is getting saturated with commercial, run of the mill house music, he has been able to stay true to his own sound. Deeply influenced by the Westcoast house sound of the late '90s, the Chicago-born DJ, producer and songwriter carved out his own unique niche by combining lush house grooves with acoustic instrumentation. Most notably on "It's You, It's Me" that truly launched his career as a musical artist.
What makes Kaskade different compared to many of his peers is that he approaches his creative process first and foremost as a songwriter. I went back to our 2006 interview and read him a quote from our chat back then. "It's not the style that people are connecting to, it's the song," he said. Seven years later, that point of view still rings true for Kaskade.
It's important for him to also drive the creative process entirely by himself. He doesn't like to let people hear what he's working on early. He also prefers not too work with a troop of topline writers unless it's something that is organic and not forced. He specifically mentioned his work with Skylar Grey on "Room for Happiness" as a collaboration that happened naturally and grew into a friendship for both.
Authenticity was the lingering theme throughout the keynote. He also advised many aspiring DJs and producers in the room to work towards something they really believe in - a sound that they feel truly passionate about without compromising. It's a powerful message that fits the true original Kaskade is.
If you're in Miami, make sure to catch him play one of his signature Redux shows in downtown Miami on Thursday, Ultra Music Festival on Friday and a club show in South Beach on Saturday. He's also launching a Pop Up Shop for fans to scoop up some limited-edition merch.
Recently my Beats Music pal Carl Chery wrote a lengthy blog post about the state of R&B and particularly the lack of new female artists emerging from the space. Artists like Janelle Monae are one of the very few female R&B stars who have carried the torch for R&B in recent years and pushed the genre into an interesting new direction. But even though Monae has garnered many loyal fans (in and outside of the U.S.) there appears to be a massive void in R&B left that's ready for a new generation to fill.
Enter Tinashe. She's a bright new R&B talent to get very excited about. She just released the music video for her new single "2 On" that features Schoolboy Q. It's a red-hot track that is intended for urban radio but has solid crossover potential. "'2 On' is meant to be fun. It's about celebrating being young, going out, being with your friends, and living it up. That was my inspiration," says Tinashe in a press release. "It's got a West Coast vibe with ScHoolboy Q and DJ Mustard, but it has my spin too. I wanted the visuals for the song to capture that mood."
Judging from her music and performance, Tinashe is primed for the big time with a pop-savvy R&B sound that could turn things around for R&B. "2 On" is the first official single off of Tinashe's upcoming debut album and is written by Tinashe herself, along with Bobby Brackins aka Redwine & ScHoolboy Q. The track was produced by mega producer DJ Mustard (Young Jeezy, Tyga, Kid Ink). The music video was directed by veteran video director Hannah Lux Davis (Lil Wayne, Ciara, Miley Cyrus) and choreographed by JaQuel Knight (Beyonce, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera).
W Hotel in South Beach (source)
It's that time of the year again! Next week, I will be heading to Miami on Tuesday to take part in the Miami Music Week festivities that are happening all over South Beach, FL to celebrate the annual Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival. Miami Music Week is by far the largest gathering of dance music fans and pros in the world that is a reflection of the growing popularity of dance music and all of its different shades and flavors around the world.
I will be staying at the gorgeous W South Beach right in the heart of South Beach to cover all of the events, meet and chat with artists, and enjoy a lot of great new music. W South Beach is the epicenter of Miami Music Week –– many of the artists visiting the city will be guests at the hotel plus W is hosting expertly-curated pool parties featuring the world's greatest DJs for fans to enjoy. I'm thrilled to share that I will be conducting some very exciting Artist#Talk events at the hotel as well.
On Thursday, March 28, I'm honored to conduct a Q&A with Dutch soundboard maestro Afrojack in conjunction with his official VIP listening party at WALL as he previews tracks from his forthcoming debut LP, Forget the World. Much more about this very special event very soon.
On Friday, March 29, I'll be moderating a panel at W South Beach that includes Swedish House Mafia and Refune Records founder Steve Angello, DJ Irie, Chris Barnes from EDM Magazine and Andy Senor, Jr., the artistic director and founder of District Stage Company in Miami. We'll be chatting about dance music, creativity and innovation.
On Saturday, March 30, I'll be sitting down with GRAMMY nominee Armin van Buuren, one of the world's greatest DJs, to talk about his current tour, the success of his most-recent album Intense and many of his other current projects.
Make sure to tune in to W South Beach's Twitter updates to find out more details about attending these events and to see exclusive photos and other bits.
Through the week, I will also catching up with Avicii, Hardwell and Martin Garrix plus newcomers The Chainsmokers, 3Lau, Audien, Blasterjaxx and Dutch duo W&W at the pool parties that are hosted at W. There's some amazing stuff happening at WALL Lounge as well including Steve Angelo's grand DECADE after-party that will feature Max Vangeli, Tim Mason and Junior Sanchez.
With so many great events scheduled, I'm hoping to find some time to enjoy a bit of beautiful South Beach as well, including some of the incredible amenities at W South Beach including Bliss Spa and WET, an outdoor heated pool. Tune in to Twitter and Instagram for all my updates from Miami.
Also for the all lovers of music and luxury, make sure to follow #WSOBEmusic for up-to-the-second updates, and check out W South Beach on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a behind-the-scenes look at the action.
Some exciting new pop hit the Beats Music offices today that had me sit up and immediately pay attention. Meet Canadian newcomer Allie X (born Allie Hughes) who has been stirring up a storm of attention with her soaring melodic synth-pop delights "Catch" and "Prime" that received a glowing endorsement of Katy Perry on Twitter. Not much is known about the sweet-voiced singer and that's very much on purpose. "I don't see a reason for there to be a ton of personal information out there about me," she explains in an interview with Billboard. She wisely lets the music speaks for itself. According to reports she has been working with producers like Cirkut and Billboard on her music. Her current tracks are released through Neon Gold Records and a mighty label war is brewing to sign her. Listen to "Catch" on Beats Music now.