My Current Obsession: “They Don’t Know Us” by Borgeous

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I try not to be that person that says, “I liked *insert artist’s name here* before they blew up!” But in the case of Borgeous, I will proudly proclaim, “I LOVED Borgeous before he blew up!”

If you’ve read any of my posts, tweets, Facebook statuses, etc. since last spring, it’s likely that you’ve seen mention of my love for Borgeous somewhere. Here’s a quote from a post I wrote about the DJ Mag Top 100 for EDMVIP.com last fall:

“I would have liked to see Borgeous up a bit higher. Somehow DVBBS is at No. 20, while Borgeous comes in at No. 87, and really, wasn’t it the same song that made them famous (ahem – Tsunami)? And then, Borgeous went on to make Invincible, Wildfire and my current favorite, his remix of My Sweet Summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love DVBBS too, but Borgeous holds a special place in my heart. Seeing him perform, you can tell how much he loves what he does. And he is by far one of the most interactive DJs with fans on social media.”

All of that still holds true, but I’m now a proud member of the “Borgeous Army” (as he calls his fans) more than ever, because Borgeous recently released what has become, and I believe will continue to be, one of the biggest EDM anthems of 2015: “They Don’t Know Us.”

This song is literally the epitome of a feel-good, wave your hands in the air, puppies and rainbows, PLURtastic progressive house track. The vocals are amazing, the hooks and drops are on point and the lyrics 100% capture the spirit of EDM culture. The second I heard it, all I could think of was my Rave Tribe and how much love we all have for each other and how much fun we have. And I know that people who don’t understand the appeal of dance music and culture may not truly get the bond I have with each of the people I’ve met through EDM. But, if you’ve taken time to read this far, you probably do get it, so hearts and puppies and rainbows to all of you ❤ I can’t wait to be raving with you to this track under the Electric Sky at EDC in June!

Either way, listen to this song because it’s freaking amazing. AND, if you haven’t yet, go check out the rest of Borgeous’ stuff because he’s awesome and is definitely one of the best producers in the game right now. Fingers crossed I’m in the same place as he is soon- I’d love to get an interview!

So here it is, my current obsession:

“We’re not lost We’re all just wanderers
In the lights we are discovered
Yeah cause they don’t see the way we dance
And they don’t see the way we love
And they don’t see the way we lose ourselves in the moment
They don’t know us.”

I really love this stripped down “piano version” too:

Follow me on Twitter: @HeyItsAfrocat || http://8tracks.com/afrocat || Writtalin.com || EDMVIP.com

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Why you need to see “Under the Electric Sky”

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Last night I watched the documentary about EDC 2013: Under the Electric Sky (we’ll call it UTES). Yes, you read that right, I stayed in on Halloween and watched Netflix. A documentary not to mention!

Here’s the deal- I recently moved to a different part of the country and I don’t have a ton of friends here yet, so I had a pretty quiet night. But really, I’m so glad that I finally decided to watch a documentary that I’ve been meaning to see since it came out.

It’s pretty clear that I’m EDM obsessed, but so many people don’t get why, and really, it’s a hard thing to explain. But UTES did this effortlessly.

The documentary follows a number of different individuals and friend groups on their journeys to Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) 2013.

*For any of you that don’t know, EDC is held annually in July at the Las Vegas Motor Speed Way. It’s a three-day festival devoted solely to dance music and draws thousands upon thousands of people.*

Anyways, UTES does this amazing job at explaining what dance music has done for each of the people featured, how the genre has changed their lives for the better. And although I’ve never been to EDC, I was able to connect with every one of the stories. Each person told a tale of how EDM has lifted them up, made them better people, connected them with people, things, experiences, feelings that they never would have been connected to without it. And that is 100% what it has done for me as well.

I know many of you may not buy into the PLUR (Peace Love Unity Respect) thing or believe it when people say that EDM isn’t just a type of music, it’s a lifestyle, but that is exactly what it’s become for me. This doesn’t mean that I necessarily wake up every day and want to rave my face off, but I do listen to the music everyday, I have some kind of interaction daily with people that I’ve met through it and I try to live by the mindset behind PLUR. Because essentially PLUR is just encouraging you to be the best you that you can be. EDM has made me less self conscious, less judgmental, more open to all kinds of people and situations and more thoughtful in general. I  am who I am today large in part due to my love for the music and the scene.

Still not buying it? Let me give you a real life example of how EDM has changed my life for the better. I moved to Denver after I graduated from college. I lived there for a year without having any friends that would go to EDM shows with me. Then, a friend introduced me to one of her friends from college, Johna. Johna and I were introduced and less than a week later, we were seeing Zedd together. Then two weeks later, Mat Zo, then Adventure Club and Dyro and Fedde Le Grand– I won’t go on or else I’ll name most of next year’s possible EDC lineup. Johna introduced me to her friends and all of a sudden, I had a little EDM posse. It was only four of us, but four was better than none. Then last spring, our group was at Beta (the main dance club in Denver- I definitely have a love/hate relationship with it) to see Thomas Gold. Somehow, Johna and our friend Bri started dancing with a group of guys (not with like grinding, with like next to). They were the BEST. They were fending off the creepy guys and singing “Save the World Tonight” at the top of their lungs with us. The best. At the end of the night, I exchanged info with one of the guys. And somehow, we stayed in touch. And months went on and we talked about going to Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks in July 2014 together. I of course wanted it to happen, but I didn’t really think it was actually going to. But low and behold, Johna and I met up with the four guys we had met at Beta in the spring (Adam, Alex, Colton and Dan) and spent all of Global Dance Festival with them and some of their friends. And in the end, we formed a giant rave crew (it fluctuates from about 4-20ish people at any given show). Then in September after moving to the south, I drove up to Kansas City and went to Dancefestopia (a smaller, but still awesome EDM festival) with Adam. And I saw the rest of the rave crew in Denver when I was there last month for a wedding. These people are now an integral part of my life and I wouldn’t know any of them if it weren’t for dance music. AND, we’re trying to make EDC 2015 happen! Fingers crossed.

Okay, so now that my dance music/PLUR preach is over, do yourself a favor and watch “Under the Electric Sky.” Even if you aren’t an EDM fan, it will give you some insight to what the movement is all about and why people like me love it so much. For all of you that are into EDM, you will be touched and may, like I did, cry tears of PLUR through the last 10 minutes (or longer).

My Current Obsession: “Surrender” by Cash Cash

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Okay, let’s try this whole personal blogging thing again… For my first post back in the blogosphere, I present my current obsession: “Surrender” by Cash Cash.

Life has been getting me down lately. I’ve done a number of things to try and put some “pep back in my step” if you will, but it’s been tough. Most recently, I made a playlist on 8tracks.com called “EDM Power Anthems” in an effort to turn my mood around. It’s helped immensely, but one song in particular on the playlist has me obsessed: “Surrender” by Cash Cash.

I first heard of Cash Cash last year around this time when “Take Me Home” (feat. Bebe Rexha) was released. Now if you don’t love “Take Me Home,” there’s something wrong with you. I mean, there are few catchy, upbeat vocal hooks more addicting than the one in that song. After “Take Me Home,” I heard Cash Cash’s remix of Rudimental‘s “Free” (feat. Emeli Sandé) and the rest is history. Sadly, I have yet to see the dynamic (and not to mention totes cute!) DJ trio that Is Cash Cash. I almost got to see them in Denver this summer, alas, it was not meant to be. But I’ll hold out hope to see them sooner rather than later!

“Surrender” is great because it’s one of those songs that really makes you want to (if I may take a page out of Calvin Harris/Kelis’ book) put your “hands to the sky and throw your head back.” The hook is soaring and uplifting and the vocals will inspire you to take on anything that your life may throw at you.

This quote from Cash Cash’s SoundCloud page says it all:

“Working on this song definitely brought out a lot of amazing emotions. I hope it means as much to you all as it does to us. Surrendering is usually seen as something negative or a sign of defeat, but this song shows a different side of it. Sometimes it’s the fight that kills you. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’re fighting for. Sometimes surrendering can set you free.”

So here it is, my current obsession:

 

Follow me on Twitter @HeyItsAfrocat || http://8tracks.com/afrocat || Writtalin.com

8-25-14: The Night I was Supposed to Interview The Chainsmokers

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Note: I write these events as they happened from my vantage point. My friend Johna can validate the Boulder part of my story as she was there to witness it all. I write this with no judgment of any parties involved and leave the facts up to reader interpretation. 

 

It has taken me almost four months to figure out how to tell the story of my almost interview with the now somewhat infamous DJ duo, The Chainsmokers… I fought with myself about how to best relate the tale. But after all this time I figured, why not just explain things how they happened from my perspective? So here it goes…

It’s April 2014 and I’m at home in the mountains for the weekend, taking a break from my hectic life in Denver. I get a text from Ascher (owner of Writtalin) saying:

“I have an opportunity for you. Gonna be a huge interview. I need you to do this.”

He then sends me the YouTube link to #SELFIE by The Chainsmokers. I flip.

I may be the only person on this planet to admit it, but I LOVED #SELFIE when it first came out. As a UCSB grad and former sorostitute who loves EDM and the culture that surrounds it, the song was basically made for me. Yeah, the vocals are a bit over the top and the drop isn’t EDM magic, but I loved the tempo and satire-laced words. I mean, I’d be lying if I said I’d never uttered something along the lines of:

“Can you guys help me pick a filter? I don’t know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia. I wanna look tan.”

So I jump at the chance to interview the guys behind this hit. Another thing- I was a pre-#SELFIE Chainsmokers fan. I have been listening to them since fall of 2013, eating up their remixes of mediocre songs like “We Own the Night” by The Wanted.

The night of the interview comes and my friend Johna and I rave ourselves up and drive the 30 minutes to Boulder. It’s a pretty warm night for early spring so we’re in tank tops.

Once in Boulder, plans start to fall apart. We haven’t heard from The Chainsmokers’ management since the day before, so I don’t know if I’m on “the list,” where to meet the guys for the interview, or even if the interview is going to happen.

But then, around 9:30 p.m. (The Chainsmokers are supposed to go on between 11 and midnight), I get an email from their manager assuring me that if I get in touch with the stage manager at the Fox Theater, she will make sure the interview happens.

I text the number he sent me and get a less-than-enthused answer from the stage manager who clearly has NO idea what I’m talking about. After 15 minutes or so of passive aggressive texts, she assures me that I am on the list, but she can’t promise me that I’ll get to talk to Alex and Drew (yes, I am on a first name basis with these guys now… Don’t worry, the meat of this story is coming).

Johna and I go to the show, get our #SELFIE on with the young Boulder crowd (and when I say young, I mean YOUNG. There were 14 year olds there, I KID you not) and when the last song is done, I make my way to the stage. As the crowd thins, I tap Drew (the younger of the tw o- 24 I think) on the shoulder and say,

“I know this sounds crazy, but I’m supposed to interview you guys. I have the emails from your manager. I promise it won’t take longer than 15/20 minutes.”

Surprisingly, they both seem to welcome the idea of the interview. I let out a sigh of relief, believing it is all going to happen smoothly… How wrong I am.

 

15 minutes pass, then 20 and the guys are still taking pictures and schmoozing with fans. Drew makes it very clear that he is no longer pumped on doing the interview, but Alex (28 I think) keeps assuring me that they will answer my questions in “just a second.” But then it turns into “Well, just come with us to this after party, we’ll do the interview there. Promise.”

I protest – “Really guys, this will only take a little bit of your time. I’d rather just get it done here.” – To no avail.

So then, it’s 1 or 2 a.m. (by this point I’m delirious and just want to get the interview done and go to bed) and Johna and I are following Alex, Drew, and a crowd of CU kids to a house party on The Hill, passing frats and sororities as we make our way. A journey to my past, it would seem.

The house we walk into is straight out of my college memory – there is very little furniture, it is lit entirely by black lights, the back wall is a bar, and there is bad top 40, rap, and EDM blasting from huge speakers…

Drew disappears, but Alex stays close. All the girls are fawning over him – “Ohmigod- your set was SO good!!” they gush. “I know this is so cliché, but can we get a selfie with you?”

But Johna and I just stand there, indifferent. And it is my belief that Alex is kind of into how “meh” we are towards everything. He jokes with me, flirts maybe. Dare I say I develop a bit of a crush?

But after awhile I become irritated and start to bug Alex every five minutes or so about the interview. He actually is being really nice and keeps assuring me it is going to happen.

Then, while we wait, Johna turns to a guy that’s near her and asks,

“What year were you born?” To which he replies: “1995.”

It takes all we have to not bolt right then and there as Johna and I are both 1989 babies.

Around 2 or 3, Drew appears and the duo exclaims that they are ready for their interview. We go outside and sit down on an old, worn out, dirty couch. The order is Alex, Johna, me…then Drew lays down across the top of us, clearly more than a little intoxicated.

A bit thrown off but not surprised, I start with my questions:

“Will you give me a little bit of background about how you guys started?”

Before I have the chance to explain that I know The Chainsmokers’ origin, but Writtalin’s readers may not, Drew shouts, “No! We will not give you any background!”

I won’t type it all out here, but in a nutshell here is how the rest of the attempted interview went: I ask a question and they say something along the lines of “that’s the worst question ever.”

As someone who has been told by EDM great Fedde Le Grand that I ask “really great questions” only weeks before, I have to admit my confidence is shaken.

After this back and forth a few times, Drew and Alex take matters into their own hands, asking me questions like:

“What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?”

And then the ever classy:

“What’s your favorite sex position?”

Five minutes of lewd gibberish later, and Drew is back in the house taking handle pulls of Burnett’s creamsicle-flavored vodka. Alex is left to shrug and offer a lackluster apology. Somehow though, I wrangle them into a couple pictures before they leave to go straight to the airport. And, I make them promise that if they come back to Denver, they’ll do a real interview with me. Heck, I even get a hug from Alex!

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A few days later, I send a professional, albeit bitchy, email to The Chainsmokers’ manager. He replies promptly, apologizing for the misunderstanding and assures me I’ll get my interview the next time they are in town, which will be fairly soon.

But as the new date to do the interview approaches, it again becomes clear that it is not going to happen.

This time, their manager is upfront about the guys not being reliable enough to get the interview done after their show due to “possible exhaustion and intoxication.” But I do get on the VIP list and the manager promises that Alex and Drew will take a better picture with me. He also says that we can schedule a Skype interview for sometime in the near future.

Again, I wait until the end of their set to bother them. But when I approach the stage and say to the guys, “Hey remember me? You owe me a picture!”, the roles of the two are suddenly reversed. Drew is polite and Alex immediately blurts, “The worst interviewer ever!”

I get my picture, but, needless to say, I’m still waiting on that Skype interview.

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This story finally told, I must make a few things clear. I do NOT hate The Chainsmokers. I’m actually quite a fan of their work. Their remix of “Goodness Gracious” by Ellie Goulding is one of my jams. And though I’m still not totally decided, I think I like their latest single “Kanye.” I don’t regret trying to speak with them and I don’t take back my former enjoyment of #SELFIE (although I’ve over-listened to it at this point).

So Alex, Drew, management, etc., if you’re reading this, I’m still up for an interview!

 

7-19-14: A Chat With Genre-Breaking DJ Duo GTA

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NOTE: This post was originally written in July 2014 

I arrive at the Hotel Teatro around 8 p.m. and the sun is just setting. Colorado’s elusive summertime is finally here, so it’s still incredibly hot. I’m a bit flustered and flushed, but it isn’t due to the temperature. This will be my fourth DJ interview, and yet, I’m anxious, knowing that I’m about to chat with one of the biggest up and coming DJ duos in the industry right now.

GTA or “Good Times Ahead,” is made up of Miami natives Julio Mejia and Matt Toth. Funnily enough, Mejia and Toth were introduced on Facebook. They started messaging, met up, and the rest is history. Things have gone from zero to sixty for the pair who has played some of the biggest EDM festivals in the country (Coachella, Ultra and EDC Las Vegas) in the last year and collaborated with Diplo on the dance hit “Boy oh Boy.” And their latest single “Hard House” is already seeing heavy play.

I’ve listened to their EDC set pretty much on repeat since it was posted on SoundCloud and I’ve watched the video they put together of their time at the Las Vegas festival— both convey a wild trip, to say the least. So I almost expect their hotel room to be in a state of party. But instead, when the door opens, I find two polite, well-spoken guys, passionate about what they do, ready to break any and all stereotypes people may have about dance music.

 

Cat: I’m always interested to know how DJs settle on their names… GTA stands for “Good Times Ahead,” what brought you to that name?

Matt: It was originally “Grand Theft Audio,” but we didn’t want to have any association with the game [Grand Theft Auto]. So we were going back and forth. At the time we were talking with Laidback Luke and he suggested just “GTA.” And We thought, ‘oh man, that’s a cool idea!’ So we just ran with it. And then after a while we knew we should come up with an actual meaning for the acronym and it was just “Good Times Ahead.” And that just felt so right.

 

Cat: You play a wide variety of genres in your sets – who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences?

Julio: I like Pharell a lot. Guys like Diplo, Major Lazer, Crookers, Laidback Luke…

Matt: We listen to all kinds of stuff. I was listening to trance for a while, I liked Arty—he has some really cool stuff. Mat Zo. Recently I like Porter Robinson’s new stuff.

A lot of hip hop stuff, but we also grew up listening to salsas records since we’re from Miami. And we really love that.

 

Cat: Your single “Hard House” recently came out – tell me the story behind that song.

Julio: It was pretty much an idea that our friend from Dallas, Juyan Sebulba, sent over. And we loved the melody. So while we were on the Rihanna tour last year, we just tried a trap idea with it and it actually sounded really crazy, super hyped. So we decided to collaborate on it with him. And it ended up being one of the biggest records in our sets.

 

Cat: The word “trap” keeps coming up and I think many people would jump to label your music as “trap,” but you guys live by the mantra: death to genres. Tell me about that.

Matt: It came to be because it’s what we feel. People shouldn’t try to label someone as one genre and pigeon hole them into one thing. We grew up listening to all kinds of music, no matter what it was—hip hop, rock, metal, salsa, whatever. We just really loved all of it. We want to get people away from thinking that we can only make one type of music.

 

Cat: Your new album is also called “Death to Genres.” What can we expect from it?

Julio: Just a bunch of different stuff. We really wanted to try and make everything. We’re fans first in music, so we just wanted to try and emulate the greats.

 

Cat: Any collaborations?

Matt: Yes. Actually, just now we’re finishing up the collab with Martin Solveig. We have other collaborations with Skrillex, Flosstradamus, Diplo— we’re doing a lot of different stuff.

 

Cat: Speaking of collaborations- one of your first big tracks was “Boy Oh Boy” with Diplo. What was it like working with him?

Matt: it was really fun. Just as you see on his twitter and his instagram and all that, he’s just a very crazy, weird guy. Weird in a good way, ya know? It’s really fun working with him. Just to see that he’s kind of all over the place, he has so many ideas. And it’s non-stop craziness.

Julio: He’s really creative too. He has a bunch of really cool ideas and we’re also influenced by him. So just being in the studio with him was a cool moment. Every time we get in there with him we try to bring our A game and come up with crazy stuff. He’s a cool dude and he always has good input.

 

Cat: Is there anyone that you haven’t collaborated with that you’d love to do something with?

Matt: Martin Garrix!

Julio: Yeah, Martin Garrix.

Matt: Yellow Claw.

Julio: Yellow Claw would be dope. Just Blaze too.

 

Cat: You recently played EDC Las Vegas – what was that experience like?

Matt: It was unreal. It was the biggest festival we’d ever been to. It was just mass chaos, but in a non-chaotic kind of way.

Julio: It was crazy too because we didn’t really expect for it to be so insane. We played at like 3:15 in the morning and we thought- “yeah right, nobody is going to come out. It’s the last day, everyone is gonna be super tired.”

Matt: But everyone was raging like crazy. There were at least 10,000 people at our set.

 

Cat: I’ve listened to the EDC set and think it’s awesome. We’re in the same age group and I love that you guys do a bunch of 90s and early 2000s throwbacks in your sets- like Nelly’s “Hot In Here.” Does that just come to you?

Julio: I just think about my 8th grade prom and what was cool.

*they laugh*

Matt: Our EDC set was really special. We were so nervous. Sometimes for some of these bigger sets, we kind of plan it, but that set we completely had no idea what we were gonna do. So that was crazy.

 

Cat: The last year has been a big one for you- you’ve played Ultra, Coachella, EDC Las Vegas, etc., but you still have a string of high profile events in front of you- The Light in Las Vegas, Lollapalooza, Amnesia in Ibiza, TomorrowWorld… What can the world expect from GTA in the next few months?

Julio: A lot more music. We’ve been trying to tour a bit more lately, but at the same time, we’ve just been in the studio as much as we can. So in the next few months, you can expect a lot more releases. Jut like you said before, we had “Hard House,” which just came out, so we’re gonna try to follow that up with some cool stuff.

 

Cat: Many of our readers aren’t necessarily fans of dance music. What would you say to those people skeptical of listening to your music?

Matt: Well if you’re trying to pump up at the gym or if you need to just get hyped up, then listen to our music. If you want to cry of joy and happiness, you can also listen to our music.

*We’re all laughing*

Julio: Yeah, we have a track for that too!

*He grins*

Matt: And if you want to remember your 8th grade prom, you should also listen to our music.

 

Cat: You guys have this whole “death to genres” thing, but how would you describe your sound?

Matt: I’d say it’s just an energy really. Every song that we pick that we play has a certain energy that just brings out an organic hype-ness.

Julio: Some songs will make you wanna party, some will make you wanna dance…

Matt: There are different songs, different tempos, but they all have the same overall feeling.
GTA’s set at Beta Nightclub following this interview was upbeat and all over the place in all the best ways. True to their mantra “Death to Genres,” they played everything from house to hip-hop to trap to rock. As I mentioned previously, the duo is on a pretty extensive tour right now, so see them when you can! Check them out on social media (the guys love interacting with fans on Twitter and Facebook) and be sure to give their latest single, “Hard House” with Juyen Sebulba, a listen here:

3-27-14: A Chat With EDM Legend Fedde Le Grand

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NOTE: This post was originally written in March 2014 

I start to panic when my friend and I walk up to Beta Nightclub in Denver. My interview with EDM veteran Fedde Le Grand is supposed to start in seven minutes and I still have to get through a long line of eager ravers. It takes some time and I get some questioning looks when I tell door people and bouncers that I’m here to do an interview with the headlining DJ, but we finally get inside and get let into the Green Room. It’s empty.

So here we are, sitting, waiting for one of the biggest EDM producers out there; a guy who has been known in the dance scene for the last decade; someone that I saw with thousands of other EDM enthusiasts at the Sahara Tent at Coachella last spring. I feel calm as I wait, but when it’s Fedde that walks in first, his crew in tow, I can’t help being a little starstruck.

Fedde Le Grand has been a staple in the dance music scene since 2006, when he released “Put Your Hands up for Detroit,” he has played some of the biggest festivals in the world (Ultra and Coachella, to name two) and he’s collaborated with a veritable roster of EDM legends. With so much success, I’m worried that the Dutch producer might not be thrilled to talk to me less than an hour before hitting the decks. But I’m immediately proven wrong. Not only is Fedde willing to chat with me, he seems eager to answer my questions.

The DJ’s answers are thoughtful and insightful, giving depth to a genre that has been branded “mainstream” and “commercial” by many.

“How was Surrender?” I attempt at smalltalk as I’m setting up my recording device and getting myself together for the interview. I know he played at the Encore club in Vegas the night before.

“Good fun!” Fedde’s tone is light. “We ran into a really, really old friend of mine. He runs a couple of clubs and he’s kind of the first person that gave me a job. So yeah, it was really fun.”

I finally have everything set up and dive into the questions I’m really here to ask.

Johna, Fedde, Cat

Cat: What’s your favorite non-electro track right now?

Fedde Le Grand:   I’m not sure that I have one track specifically, but I really like what Bruno Mars is doing. I think it’s so different from anything else and I like the whole style of the things he does. I thought his performance at the Super Bowl was absolutely awesome.

Cat: Because not all of our readers are particularly familiar with EDM, could you give me a little bit of background on your career? How you got into EDM, how you got your start, that kind of thing.

Fedde Le Grand: I got into EDM before it was called EDM, so a long time ago.

*he laughs*

For me it kind of started with doing my own label and doing my own parties back in Holland. I already had quite a good career in Holland before I went international. But I knew when I made the track “Put Your Hands up for Detroit,” that that was kind of the start of my international career. Back then, it spilled over to America, but it wasn’t Top-40 material here yet. Back then, I don’t think radio played any dance-related things at all.

But there was a good scene in the US already, so I came over here a lot. My next big things were the Coldplay remix I did and “So Much Love.”

Cat: Again, for our readers that aren’t that familiar with dance music, how would you describe your sound?

Fedde Le Grand: I think in my case, it’s a little bit different. The way I see it – you kind of go through different phases, and I think it’s important that you keep evolving and not stick to the same five sounds your whole life.

But I think usually my tracks have a very forward drive. And, as of late, my sound has become very melody driven. And I always love doing vocal tracks.

Cat: You kind of touched on this already, but you’ve been in the dance music industry for quite a while now – how would you say it’s changed since you dropped “Put Your Hands up for Detroit” in 2006?

Fedde Le Grand: Obviously a lot has changed. In my opinion, every two years, something new pops up. So that’s a general change. But I think the biggest change is American pop artists getting interested in dance music. I think that has had a huge, huge impact on the world.

Before that, you had Madonna, who already did dance music a little bit. But I think of David Guetta and the Black Eyed Peas in the beginning, just embracing dance, that just made such a huge impact. And that has had an effect on the world. EDM is just big worldwide now.

I think that’s the biggest change. And with a certain genre getting really big, it will automatically get more commercial. But I think the good thing about dance music is that it has such a solid underground base and it always has. Because guys like Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin – they’re still huge as well. So I have to say, in general, I’m quite happy with everything that has happened.

But it’ll be interesting to see what happens from here because I think EDM is at its peak now, maybe a little over already. I don’t think it’s going to disappear overnight. To be really honest, the first dance tracks that crossed over into pop, I didn’t like that much. But I think now, I personally quite like what Avicii is doing and I think Calvin Harris is doing a lot of really good stuff as well. As long as there’s good music, this scene and this music genre will stay strong.

Cat: I did an interview with Dyro last month – and of course, you and he and a number of other extremely successful DJs are Dutch. What do you think it is about The Netherlands that breeds EDM producers?

Fedde Le Grand: I think the fact that we’re such a small country is to our advantage actually, because we all know each other. I actually signed one of Hardwell’s first tracks. And me in my turn, I used to work in Tiesto’s record store. So we all kind of know each other.

And we share information at the same time. When one person gets better, we kind of all get better because we share information, and we’re not too afraid or in too much competition. I mean, in a way, you’re always in competition, but we’re pretty easy and friendly about it, so I think that’s why it works to our advantage.

Cat: Your music label, Flamingo, boasts a lineup of very young artists that are doing immensely well – what do you look for in artists that you’re looking to sign?

Fedde Le Grand: Of course there’s a certain quality that has to be there, but mainly I’m looking for people that aren’t afraid to stand out. I think Deniz Koyu has a very specific sound and he’s done very well. I signed two guys named Roul and Doors that kind of do a thing between old school housey stuff and EDM. I just think it’s really good and different. I think at the moment, there’s too much of the same. So everything that’s different, and still really good – that’s what I like to sign.

Cat: Talk to me about your radio show, “Dark Light Sessions.” Why do you like doing it? Where do you get your inspiration?

Fedde Le Grand: Before this, I used to do a radio show in Germany actually. That did very well, so this was kind of a natural thing to spin off of that. In a radio show, you’re not playing in front of an audience so you can go a little wider. That’s why I call it “Dark Light Sessions” because I want the songs to go from underground stuff to the songs that people expect from me. It’s a way to show myself in a broader way than people would normally hear me play. Because as soon as you’re in front of an audience, they expect something. And in a way, you have to give them that. So you have a bit less room to experiment and with a radio show, you can do whatever you like.

Cat: Let’s talk a little bit about 2014 – you released the remix of “Can’t Remember to Forget You” recently, “Don’t Give Up” is coming out on March 24, and you keep dropping hints on social media about new music. Can you tell me a little bit about your new stuff that’s coming out?

Fedde Le Grand: I think every two years, you have to reinvent yourself and think of something new to keep yourself happy and keep your fans happy. So that’s what I did. I took a few months off to just be in the studio and really get into it. And I was actually super, super productive. I probably have enough for two years almost.

*he laughs*

I’m dropping the album at the end of this year, so most of these singles are part of the album. I don’t really believe in releasing a whole album at once unless you do a more radio-friendly album. But I want to do both – I want to do a few radio tracks and a few solid dance tracks.

“Don’t Give Up” is the first one, the second one is called “Feedback”- the first few are all solos, then I have a few interesting collabs coming up.

*he sighs and thinks for a second*

Can I say anything about that? No—I won’t.

*he smiles*

But later in the year, there will be more collaborations. What I can tell you is that there will be one with Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike because it’s already in the Tomorrowland after-movie. But there are some more interesting collabs to come.

Cat: You have this string of shows in the US and then you’re heading to Ultra – tell me about the shows, tell me about how you’re feeling about going back to Ultra.

Fedde Le Grand: Ultra is always one of the biggest highlights in the year. I’m really looking forward to it. Also, because I’ve been doing it for a while so it’s kind of like a home away from home – you know everyone, which is great. For me, it’s extra special because it will be a little bit of an album preview at the same time. So I’m really looking forward to it. And all the gigs before kind of lead up to that Ultra experience, which is great. Because on a tour like this, you’re just finalizing your set, doing the last little bits, doing mashups and bootlegs on the plane, just to make sure your set is complete so it’s always dynamic and vibrant. It’s cool.

 

2014 is sure to be a big year for Fedde Le Grand. He plays at Ultra on Sunday and will continue to tour around the globe after that. His set at Beta last week was fresh and unique and I urge you to see him if you get the chance.

Check out his latest release “Don’t Give Up,” here:

3-14-14 Interview with Up and Coming Trap DJ Treyy G

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NOTE: This post was originally written in March 2014

It was a passing conversation that led me to an interview with Denver DJ Treyy G. I was talking to a co-worker about a shared love for EDM and he mentioned that he knew Treyy and I suggested doing an interview, and a few weeks later, here we are.

Trey Garrett is 20 years old. He has tattoos on every inch of his body (that I can see), and large gauges in his ears. Tall, but slim, he might look intimidating to some, but the second he opens his mouth, every preconceived notion vanishes. Trey laughs and looks down, as if embarrassed, when asked about how he got to where he is today.

“This question is so hard,” he laughs. “I don’t know, I just started making music.”

Originally from San Jose, CA, Trey has been in Denver since he was 12. He started making music, primarily hip hop, when he was eight, but then stopped when he was 17 because he thought creating music for a living “was just a dream that would never come true.” But then two years ago, Trey jumped back into music and decided to start making dance tracks with his vocals over the top. It was all up from there – Trey got contacted by multiple producers to do vocals on their EPs, then his first 10 original releases charted on Beatport. Trey’s most lucky break came when he was approached by Contiez to do vocals on the producer’s track, “Trumpsta.”

“I put the vocals off for five months,” Trey told me. “And then one day, Contiez was like, ‘you can do the vocals or not.’ And so I sat down and wrote them in five minutes.”

And good thing he did. Trumpsta has gained international fame over the last year, and the music video that was released two weeks ago already has hundreds of thousands of views on You Tube.

The young DJ may not be a household name yet, but that will likely change very quickly – he was recently signed to EDM label Ultra Records and just got back from his second stint touring in Northern Europe in 2014.

I sat down with Trey just two days after he returned from Denmark to chat about his ever-growing career and his hopes for the future.

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Cat: How would describe your sound?

Trey: I don’t know

*he laughs*

It’s unique, it’s never the same. I know two words that describe my music pretty well – “bang bang.”

 

Cat: I like that! Is that kind of your music philosophy? 

Trey: Yes, just “bang bang,” that’s how it goes.

 

Cat: You kind of bridge this gap between EDM and hip hop in your music- where do you pull your inspiration from?

Trey: I mean, I listen to really good music, and I want to make my own really good music. And then there’s specific songs that every producer has that inspire me. But I’m always looking to make things completely my own.

 

Are there any producers or artists that have been key in shaping your sound?

Trey: Yeah, Calvin Harris is my favorite producer. His career is similar to what I’m trying to do- he produces, and DJs, and does vocals on his own music. And it’s pretty crazy, because doing all that isn’t easy.

 

Cat: I know you do a lot of remixes- are you working on any original music right now?

Trey: I have a bunch of original music coming out. I’ve just been keeping it to myself for a while. But I’m going to release it really soon.

 

Cat: So, Trumpsta is signed to Ultra Records – how did that happen?

Trey: Last spring, Trumpsta started signing to some big labels. And then Safari, the label that distributes tracks to other labels, told us that there was interest from a big label in the U.S., and it just happened to be Ultra. And it just went from there.

The song recently started being played regularly on the radio in Miami and I’m sure it will start playing other places soon. Two months ago they put Trumpsta on Pandora and it’s getting really popular on there too.

 

Cat: Talk to me about the traveling you’ve been doing lately.

Trey: I played all over Denmark- I played in Copenhagen a few times which was awesome, and in Germany once. I did over 25 shows and I still have another European tour coming up soon.

 

Cat: But Denver is your home base – how do you think the music scene here has formed who you are as an artist?

Trey: It’s awesome here. Colorado has helped me a lot. Three of my most influential mentors are in Denver. First, Alan Endorfun told me that if I never produced and only DJed, my career would never get off the ground. So he really encouraged me. The second one is Vinnie Maniscalco – he really was the one who got me into EDM. And last is Au Hau who owns Crowdsurf Concerts.

 

Cat: Have you played most of the big venues in Colorado?

Trey: Yeah, I’ve played Red Rocks, Beta, Vinyl, basically everywhere.

 

Cat: What’s your favorite?

Trey: Red Rocks.

 

Cat: What are some future goals of yours?

Trey: Long term, I want to own my own company. Probably a recording studio for underprivileged youth that can’t learn how to make music on their own.

This may sound really ridiculous, but my ultimate goal is to be the best, honestly. It may sound crazy, but I shoot for the stars.

As far as festivals and venues go, I would love to play Ultra, anywhere in Ibiza, the Gorge, and Hakkasan.

 

Cat: You’re playing Trap Fest on Saturday – talk to me about that.

Trey: I’m pretty excited. It’s my first show in Colorado since 2013. I’m looking forward to playing for all my Colorado fans – they’re like my family. It’s awesome. I have a ton of original music I’m going to premiere there. So that’s exciting. This set is going to be all bass.

The lineup is great and it’s at the Fillmore this year, which is a fun venue.

 

Cat: Is there something special about Denver crowds?

Trey: I’ve never played anywhere like Denver. Nobody else gets crazy like the Denver fans. They get so wild, I don’t know what it is.

 

Trap Fest is sold out, and if that’s an indication of how Trey’s career will go, 2014 will prove to be a huge year for the young DJ. Check out the Trumpsta music video here: