Sep 25

Porter Robinson [Interview]

Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson

Porter Robinson has taken plenty of risks in the last year – he’s changed his ever-popular “EDM” sound for something more emotional, focused, and personal, as evident by his most recent album Worlds, released this past August. I had the absolute pleasure of interview Porter during some (very rare) downtime on his Worlds Tour and got a look into the intricate, articulate mind of one of the industry’s most creative and involved music-makers.

TBM: Your music, and especially on this new album (Worlds), seems different than a lot of what’s out there today, including your own previous work. I have a quote from you saying “I think that if you’re making any kind of art you have to keep the receptions out of your head, make a real effort not to think of what dance fans would make of it, or what your biggest fans would make of it, or whether people who write about music professionally would think it was cool… I’m trying to do stuff that’s personal, honest, and sincere.”  Could you speak a little to this statement in regards to the new album?

PR: Yeah, absolutely! In retrospect it doesn’t seem as scary, but the concept of going from what I was doing before, which was just such a sure thing, and to doing this new material, it’s risky by nature. I knew that this was the kind of music I wanted to write, so it was important for me to be able to do my best job in writing it. I needed to keep considerations of how it would be received out of my head, it was the practical thing to do. Anything that would make me stray the course is a negative influence. As a self-conscious person I had to make a concerted effort to not think about reception.

TBM: After listening to Worlds a few times as well as and seeing the videos, it’s apparent to me, anyway, that it’s a concept album. Would you agree with that? If so, what’s the story you’re telling?

PR: To me, Worlds is not like a rock opera, it’s not itself a story, but I think rather Worlds is supposed to be an appreciation of stories and it’s about stories in general. The album takes on the aesthetics of fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, and imaginary media that people have made throughout history. That stuff is very dear to me; as a kid I don’t think there was any bigger influence on me and my taste than video games. So, I wanted to write music that I hoped would evoke those kinds of feelings – feelings of escape and imagination. While I think that there’s some points of the album that kind of suggest a story, I really feel the directive is that it’s about stories, and is not a story itself.

TBM: There’s no doubt that the music you’re making is awesome, but your music videos are also really cool. Do you have any creative input when it comes to the videos?  Can you speak a little bit to their creation?

PR: When it comes to video, visuals, tour visuals, concept art for the record, cover art, I couldn’t be more involved without actually physically wrestling the pencil and making them myself. It was super important to me that my idea for what this album looked like be understood by every single artist I worked with. So, before the album was even done, I created two documents to share with every visual artist I’ve worked with. The first was just like a mood board where I compiled a lot of imagery that evoked the feeling of the album – so like certain anime stylings, a particular kind of landscape, and a certain sensibility. It just became a list; like 200 images combined into a nice little PDF, to show people, to say, “Hey, this is what the album looks like. Choose these kinds of colors, lots of purples and blues.” I was showing them Dungeons and Dragons concept art and magic cards! The second document was a written style bible, which was a 15 page written document that I wrote up for these artists. Like, here’s an example of what this sort of thing talks about: I talk about surrealism; in the surrealism category I talk about how there’s a particular kind of surrealism that I enjoy that’s inspired by little weird idiosyncrasies in video games and glitches that are not ever meant to be trippy or psychedelic.  When I would tell people I wanted them to make surreal, they would just send me some Alice in Wonderland bullshit, so it was just needed for me to be super super clear in my direction; in part because of just self-consciousness, but also because I’m kind of misunderstood.

As far as the music videos go, I was super super close to them, and I initiated this concept art project where I reached out to 50 of my favorite net artists and I could get commissions from all of them to draft up concept art for the album and my skeleton is in every single part of the visuals. It’s so important to me that it be right. For example, I started a short film that was supposed to accompany the album. It was wildly expensive and I didn’t like it, so we threw it away. That’s how critical the art direction is to me and how close it is to me.

TBM: You’ve incorporated a lot of the live element into this tour, between the sampling and live vocals. What was the drive behind that decision and what do you think it adds to the show?

PR: Funny thing is, if anything, I think I first wanted to call the show “Porter Robinson Live” because I wanted to distinguish it from my previous DJ sets. This needs to be named something else, otherwise people are gonna come in expecting me to do the DJ work I had done in the past. The show is really integral to the idea of the album. From there it became “Well shit, how do I actually make this thing live?” First, I experimented with playing lead parts on keys and incorporating live synthesizers, singing, and I just loved it, so I embraced that. It was just like let me make this the bare minimum thing I can do to call it live, just so I can distinguish this from my former shows, but then it really became a passion project for me. I really enjoyed it; it’s more exciting for me, and it just adds a certain improvisational element. There are some nights where I just wanna play out the vocal of a song with no instrumentation behind it… if the feeling is right. If people are being loud and expecting a big party and they would totally just talk over a more sensitive piece, I’m able to make those kinds of considerations on the fly. I can change the chord progression on whatever I’m playing to influence the feeling of the whole atmosphere of everything if the situation calls for it. I think it just kind of switches on this feeling that helps me enjoy the show more.

TBM: I’ve seen you play live twice, once at a club in Las Vegas and once at Bonnaroo 2013. Those shows consisted more of your DJ set work, so can describe the process for engineering an appropriate set based on where you’re playing or the crowd?

PR: Well I think that DJ sets can be a little more easily catered to an audience because you’re just literally selecting songs and that is really the extent of the challenge – picking the right music and it is what it is.  In the live show, it’s more just brute force approach where I’m saying “Hey, I’m only playing my songs, you’re only gonna hear Porter Robinson music tonight, and you can like it or you won’t.” I think that, like the album, it’s a more bold approach to a live show because you definitely run the risk of disappointing people, and you’re not just free to pander, so I like it.

TBM: What can fans expect from your show at the Myth in St Paul?

PR: Uuuuuhhhh feels. Just lots of feels. I guess it’s just emotional. But it’s also not afraid to be loud at times, and I think it’s really quite exciting for people not to expect it to be a party and not expect it to be a rave, it’s definitely not that. It’s a concert, a show where I’m singing and playing instruments. People who like my music should go and see it!

TBM: I can say that I’m insanely excited to go; I can’t wait. I’ve been looking forward to this since your album came out!

PR: That’s so awesome, I’ll see you there!

 

See you tonight, Porter. I’ll be in crowd, waiting for the feels.

 

PorterRobinson1

 

Porter Robinson

The Myth

3090 Southlawn Dr, St Paul, MN 55109

Tickets

Tickets available online until 4:00PM CST 9/25. Some tickets will be available at the door.

 

Article by Lauren Dargus

Photo Credit: Rachel Epstein (Local Wolves)

Music Videos Compliments of Porter Robinson

 

Sep 12

Filibusta w/ Pleasure: Awakening Tour @ The Loft 9/6/14

September 6, 2014 The Beat Mpls and 10K Lakes Entertainment hosted Filibusta at The Loft in downtown Minneapolis. Playing direct support were Pleasure, Mike Daum, Adix, and Dappa Dan. A second stage, curated by the University of Minnesota’s Electronic Dance Music Club, showcased Kub, Butterbawlz, RSKY, DJ Poolboi, and Metica. Helping to create a fun and festivalesque atmosphere were visual artists Madmiral Media, Merceded Knapp, and Tom Janssen. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to peruse merchandise from the foot forward fashion label Brims and Tounges.

 

Following are a few pictures from the night taken by Minneapolis based photographer Carter Dick. For more of Carter’s work check out and follow his Instagram and Tumblr accounts.

 

Carter’s Instagram: http://instagram.com/carterwdick
Carter’s Tumblr: http://carterwdick.tumblr.com/

 

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Article by Alex Stahlmann

Photos by Carter Dick

 

Sep 02

Mike Daum [Interview]

Official Facebook Event – RSVP!

Official Facebook Event – RSVP!

 

Mike Daum, Night Phoenix (Roster McCabe)’s former guitarist, has been working relentlessly on his solo self-titled project since his band split a few months back. Since the project’s birth Mike has explored his style, grown exponentially, and performed for audiences at several festivals and clubs. Expect big things to come!

Filibusta: Awakening Tour w/ Mike Daum

The Loft

711 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

TICKETS

 

 

Mike talks about his new solo project, the incorporation of his guitar, and his upcoming set in support of Filibusta:

TBM: You played lead guitar for Night Phoenix (formally Roster McCabe), and currently have a self-titled solo project. Tell me a little bit more about Mike Daum.

MD: Well, the band split up, which was kind of a surprise, because our drummer left sort of on a whim to play with a band called Cosby Sweater. There were a couple of festival and club slots that the band had booked. I had just finished a solo set where I could perform by myself only a few weeks prior. I think I had done one show by myself before the band split. I was still very underprepared and the project was still brand new. I wasn’t really planning on releasing the project so quickly. My plan was to continue playing in the band for a while – we didn’t foresee us breaking up. This was supposed to be a side thing that I wanted to do for fun. When we broke I was basically like, “Well, I don’t have another project. I don’t want to start another band.” I took the songs that I had done so far, threw em up on Soundcloud, and contacted the clubs and festivals. Told them I was still down to play. It’s been really fast.

TBM: Night Phoenix / Roster, if you had to describe them, contain elements of rock, electronic, and reggae. What would you consider your solo project?

MD: What I’m attempting to go for if my own form of electro house. It lets me touch on a lot of different stuff without being specific to any EDM genre. Something I really don’t want to do is tie myself down to house, dubstep, or whatever. I want to be able to explore stuff and do things in my own style. With my songwriting I’m accustomed to having a singer and having these songs formed with choruses, I want to get into that more going forward. I have been working with some vocalists, but that whole side of the project hasn’t come to fruition yet. I want it to be a big part of it, but right now it’s mostly instrumental, electro house stuff with bass drops and guitar over it.

TBM: Cool. Well, you are obviously a guitar player, and a good one at that. Tell me a little bit about the incorporation if the guitar into this project.

MD: I like using it because it’s something that I can do, and it differentiates me from other guys who are standing behind a computer or DJ booth. It’s a different look, a different thing. I had it really dialed in with the band. I had my place and we had been working on it for years. Now that I’m writing these new songs on Ableton, I’m just trying to dial it in. I can use it with some heavy distortion and add sort of a rock n’ roll riff creating a dubstep feel. During more chill house beats I can use it as a solo lead instrument – which is really convenient. I can do a little bit of improve and bring some human touch to the show. I’m also trying to be weary of not oversaturating the music with all guitars. I want to play songs in which I don’t play the guitar and are more vocal based – recorded from electronic singers.

TBM: How do you actually approach your songwriting and music production?

MD: I try and make beats that I like and that other people will like. I open up Abelton, get inspired by a synthesizer riff that I’ll come up with on the piano, or a riff on the guitar. Basically what I’ll do is put in a kick n’ snare n’ high hat and get a tempo that I like, then I just play it on the keyboard. I perform the guitar live, but I do the bulk of my writing on the keyboard as it is a little bit easier to use with a computer and arrangement wise. Putting in bass notes. Basically all my ideas will germinate from that – a simple beat, riff, some piano chords that I really like, and I form that into a three or four minute song.

TBM: Where does your inspiration come from?

MD: Inspirartion! Yea, just making fun beats and having fun performing it right now. With the band there was a lot of expectation because the band was a certain way, or the band was a certain genre. We had four guys and only two would agree on a new song. “This is our style,” “our fans are going to like this,” “our fans aren’t going to like this,” or “let’s change it up.” You’re caught in one path that you’re kinda expected to follow. Your fans are expecting you to write a certain way, or write a certain type of song. With this project, it’s so young; I’m just trying all these different things. I’m completely limitless in what I can try. That’s what’s really inspiring. Just opening up a blank Abelton project and being able to put in whatever I want. It lends to me experimenting a lot and creating a lot of different beats – just helping me to find out what I’m really trying to do, what I like, and what works for me when I’m performing.

TBM: You’re based out of the Twin Cities. What are some of your favorite things to do in Minneapolis and Saint Paul?

MD: Definitely going out to shows. If I have a free night I’m probably going to go down to the Cabooze, maybe go check a show out at the Skyway, hang out at Whiskey Junction. Most of my friends and almost everyone I know in Minneapolis is kind of based out of the festival and the heady jam band scene. I have a lot of friends in the electronic scene as well. I just like to immerse myself in music when I can. Since the band broke up I’ve been doing nothing but working on beats and going out and seeing music.

TBM: What can we expect from your set the night of the Filibusta show?

MD: I saw Filibusta’s show this summer, and I got a feel for what he does. A lot of cool stuff – he plays some funky heavy bass music, but he’ll jam some keyboards, and he’ll also rap over it. It’s a pretty cool lineup, and I’m pretty excited to jam some guitar. I think a lot of the people there are excited to see some live instruments incorporated along with the beats.

 

Mike Daum 2

 

Article by Alex Stahlmann

Photos Compliments of Last Triumph

Music Compliments of Mike Daum

 

Aug 28

Dappa Dan [Interview]

Official Facebook Event – RSVP!

Official Facebook Event – RSVP!

 

Dan Crittenden, who plays under the moniker Dappa Dan, is one of the hardest working and most involved persons within the Twin Cities electronic dance music scene. Since his first electronic show a few years back Dan has immersed himself within the culture and started to make a name for himself as an accomplished DJ. His sets are primarily based in deep house, but he has been known to excitedly explore a variety of genres. Dappa Dan will be layin’ down some funk heavy jams to get the Awakening Tour in Minneapolis movin’, so make sure to get to The Loft when he goes on at 9:00 PM.

Filibusta: Awakening Tour w/ Dappa Dan

The Loft

711 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

TICKETS

 

 

dappa dan loft

 

Dan Crittenden, a Beat MPLS contributor, has delivered interviews from TAGRM, Late Night Radio, Eliot Lipp, and Michal Menert. As he is playing in support of Filibusta, it only seemed right we turn the tables and chat with him. Without further ado, our interview with Dappa Dan:

TBM: Dappa Dan is a relatively new project. Could you speak to how it came about?

DD: Well I’ve been mixing songs in my bedroom for a couple years now, but I finally got some gear and decided to take things a little more seriously. I was able to get a couple gigs playing out at Tacos and Techno, and opening the night for Haywyre, and it was such a great experience that I decided I had to do whatever I could to keep it going.

TBM: What makes Dappa Dan so dappa?

DD: It’s a way of life, really. You can’t have smooth grooves without a smooth nature.

TBM: Tell me a little bit about how build your sets.

DD: Each set calls for a different feel, and I try to be conscious of the predominant genre of the night. For example, for the upcoming Filibusta show I know that the night will have a funk motif, so I found and compiled several hundred of the best funk/mid-tempo songs I could. From there, I listen to each one carefully and pare it down to only the best from that selection. I also try to keep my selections a little more low-key, since I frequently play early in the night and it’s not my job to go super hard right off the bat.

TBM: What are some of your avenues for discovering music?

DD: Whenever I find an artist that really grabs my attention, I like to go on Soundcloud and look at who they’re listening to. Quite often, that yields some really fantastic results. Otherwise if I’m looking for a certain genre that is less familiar to me, I’ll ask a friend who is more expert in that area to point me in the right direction.

TBM: Who are your greatest inspirations and why?

DD: I’d say what inspires me the most are all of the locals who have achieved so much. To name a few, Vaski, Manic Focus and Boombox Cartel are all supremely talented local DJ/Producers who I’m delighted to see are getting the attention they deserve. Seeing Vaski with his successful residency at the legendary First Avenue, and Manic Focus and Boombox Cartel masterfully rocking out crowds of thousands and collaborating with some of my favorite artists really makes me proud of our musical climate and inspires me to do more and try harder. Also, even though he’s only partially local, let’s not forget Haywyre. His immense talent and humility blows my mind every day.

TBM: What are some of your career highlights thus far?

DD: I’ve gotten to play at almost all of the reputable clubs in the Metro area, and each one is a different experience. Each gig is it’s own highlight, and I cherish every moment that I get to play my favorite music stupidly loud for my friends. That being said, I think the best moment I had was at the March Madness DJ contest at Bar Fly this spring. I only played ten minutes, and I got crushed in the second round, but I think that first round was the most enthusiastic crowd I’ve had, and I think it gained me a little more notoriety.

TBM: You are fairly active within the electronic community in the Twin Cities. How would you describe the scene here? Describe your involvement.

DD: I believe our scene here is truly unparalleled. The people who curate our shows here are so passionate and really work their hardest to bring us the best new acts and ramp up productions.

I’m happy to have my hand in a few different areas of the music scene here. I proudly promote for Hydrive Shows, I write the occasional article for The Beat MPLS, and I also work at Bar Fly, which as some may know is the same establishment in charge of the Skyway Theater, Studio B and the Loft. My friends always seem to have some interesting project in the works as well, so I gladly help them out whenever I get a chance.

TBM: Where do you see Dappa Dan in the future?

DD: DJing has been a tremendous amount of fun, and sometime in the next year I’d like to earn a direct support slot for an artist I like. My biggest goal in the short term, however, is to hone my production skills to the point where I can release some music that I’d be proud to put my name on.

TBM: What can we expect from your set on 9/6?

DD: I plan on touching on a few different genres, but first and foremost I look forward to bringing a healthy helping of funk!

 

dan c logo

 

Check out Dan Crittenden’s past involvement with The Beat: Dan C’s Interviews, Reviews, and More!

 

Article by Alex Stahlmann

Picture by Alex Stahlmann

Music Compliments of Dappa Dan

 

Aug 25

Panama [Interview]

 

Hailing from Sydney Australia, Panama has been igniting both the indie and electronic worlds. Their trademark anthemic music is written and produced by Jarrah McCleary (lead vocals / keys / guitar), and performed as a three piece which includes Tom Marland (Keys / guitar) and Tim Commandeur (drums). Tracks “Strange Feeling” and “Always” have found their way to the top of hype machine charts, accrued millions of Soundcloud plays, and onto Sirius Alt Nation’s rotation. Panama recently finished their first US tour and has begun a leg of European festivals.

Jarrah took some time towards the end of Panama’s tour to speak with us about his various projects, the band’s stay in Minneapolis, and what he misses about home.

 

TBM: You recently had a show at the Triple Rock here in Minneapolis. How was your stay while you were here? What did you think?

Jarrah: It was cool actually. It was a good vibe in Minneapolis. A nice city. It had a little bit of water as well. We weren’t sure in Minneapolis would have any bloody water or not [laughter], quite a bit of water that we were surprised by.

 

TBM: Yea man, “land of ten thousand lakes,” that’s what they call Minnesota. You’ve had a couple of previous projects, but you are currently experiencing a bit of success with Panama – which is pretty awesome. Could you speak a little bit to the previous work you’ve done, and maybe to how it has contributed to the current project?

Jarrah: I’ve spent a lot of time writing with bands in the past. I contribute it a lot to just writing all of the time for many years, and working on all different things, different genres. I’ve always been interested in different music. In Panama, I think the reason why sounds the way it does is because I explored new wave in previous indie rock bands – it kind of comes into Panama. Being a keyboard player I guess, and Panama having more of a focus on keyboards, in a way it just kind of grew into that. The band kind of grew into its sound. It’s just an accumulation of my song writing over the years. Crossing genres and playing around with different things that I like. Really its just creatively whatever I want it to be which is the band I’ve always wanted to be in.

 

TBM: Cool. On your last couple of EPs you’ve worked closely with Eric Broucek, and you’ve spoken to that in a couple of different interviews. I would assume he’s been very influential. My question is: moving forward do you plan on cutting more records with him?

Jarrah: It was really cool working with him. Giving me the confidence to strip things back and go to the core of the song. In the past I’ve had the tendency to kind of overwork an idea. He kind of directed me to treat a song in more of a minimal way, and that way certain parts stand out more. Yea, I have a tendency to over think things, and he helped me with that a lot. So yea, now that we’ve done the two Eps I’m in the stage of writing another record.  I’m not sure yet who I’m going to work with. Obviously Future Classic record label has certain writers as well as other people to collab with, so this at stage I’m not sure. I’m just kind of writin’ and tourin’.

 

TBM: Any plans to release that full length soon?

Jarrah: Not anytime soon. I’m still working away. Still going to be a little time off as far as writin’ and sortin’ out things I want to do with sounds. Some things I’m happy with. I’m just sort of experimenting at this stage, looking into different equipment that can achieve the sounds that I want. I’ve been researching different instruments and seeing what’s applicable to Panama.

 

TBM: You’re producing the material, but Panama is a three piece. How did Tom Marland (keys, guitar), Tim Commandeur (drums), and you come together?

Jarrah: We came together at the start of the year. We wanted to take some songs in a different direction, strip things back. There were a lot of things on the record being played before that wasn’t supposed to be there. We kind of stripped things back and went back to serve the song. It’s been great ever since. It’s really positive. It’s great having instrumentalists who can switch between instruments. It is also great having three of us on stage. You get some intimacy and interplay between us on stage.

 

TBM: You guys are currently traveling cross country together. What is the dynamic like on the road?

Jarrah: Pretty positive actually. All of us are actually quite similar, which is good. We’re all tech minded and we all kind of vibe on the same thing, so it works out well. Tim, our drummer, is really into photography, and Tom and I really get into different types of keyboards and also the tech side of music production. Our mix engineer on the road is also really big into the live aspect and talking about production. Yea [laughter], we talk shop a lot.

 

TBM: Sounds like a good environment to be in. To grow and whatnot.

Jarrah: Yea! Exactly. Exactly.

 

TBM: Anything that you took away while you were here? Anything that screamed Minneapolis?

Jarrah: When we first came in, for me, I was really blown away the audience. I didn’t really know what to expect. All I had really known about Minneapolis is that Prince is from Minneapolis.  We in the band really like Prince [laughter]. We really wanted to check out the venue that he played at, but we didn’t end up doing that. We ended up running out of time unfortunately. It’s a beautiful city. The audience was really great as well. It’s a place we’d love to come back to.

 

TBM: This is your first American tour. Looking back, how has it been so far?

Jarrah: It’s been fantastic. I’ve never realized how much space there is in America. There’s a lot of space in Australia as well. It’s quite amazing driving through the middle of America and seeing how much farmland there is. It’s incredible. We didn’t know what to expect. The experience has been extremely positive, and now I feel like the canvas has been painted so we know what to expect when we come back next time. It was a bit nerve racking before, but now that we’re into at, and kind of hit the ground running… I think we had five shows straight off the bat. Straight up show to show.  I wasn’t sure how my voice was going to hang, but its ok.

 

TBM: You’re towards the end of your tour now, and after you have a series of European festivals. There has to be a certain element of home sickness kicking in, but maybe not. What I really want to know though is this: what is the first thing you’ll do when you finally arrive at home?

Jarrah: I’m feeling extremely inspired, you know? I’ll probably fire up my old keyboards. I’ve been really keen to write on the road, but its proving difficult with my laptop which is struggling technologically. I’m usually writing every day Monday through Friday. If I don’t do that for a couple weeks I start to get this feel to get back and do that. I’m definitely keen to get back there and do that.

 

Photo Cred: Mclean Stephenson

Photo Cred: Mclean Stephenson

 

Article by Alex Stahlmann

Music Compliments of Panama

Photo Cred: Mclean Stephenson

 

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