Future-Proofing Festivals: CAA Vet Alex Becket on Why EDM is the Sound of Success for Coachella and More

Imagine it’s 2013. Skrillex’s brostep is decimating crowds, Avicii is triggering spiritual dancefloor awakenings, a 17-year-old Martin Garrix drops “Animals” and the retina-searing lasers of Ultra are changing eyeballs forever.

While that EDM serotonin rush still remains, the industry looks different over a decade later, when its consumers often prioritize the intimate, walk-on-air euphoria of a dark warehouse rave over the regurgitated frills of a major festival. From a cultural standpoint, the chasm between those two formats keeps growing—but for its artists, the road between the two is paved with uncertainty and hardship.

So where exactly do DJs fit into this industry in flux? And what challenges do they face?

Without the peace of mind that comes with blitzkrieg marketing offensives and veteran negotiators like CAA’s Alex Becket, most must navigate choppy waters solo as inflationary pressures hike the rising costs of touring to unsustainable levels. For those artists, it’s a lonely masterclass in DIY hustle.

Becket is the powerhouse agent behind—among many others—RÜFÜS DU SOL, Bedouin, Monolink and G Jones, the lattermost of whom was recently named by EDM.com as one of the world’s best electronic music producers. He has been with CAA for nearly two decades and became the firm’s first electronic music agent in 2012 before nabbing a spot in Billboard’s venerable “Dance Power Players” list in 2019.

It’s no secret that leading agencies like CAA wield industry tentacles to curate prime festival real estate as a means to nurture the eggs of their mainstream golden geese. In other words, the stages of major festivals are the ultimate slingshots for new albums. Meanwhile, their electronic artists—as well as those repped by independent bookers across the nation—are left tasting the dust of their hip-hop and pop contemporaries.

But if there’s any silver lining, blue-chip agencies and festivals today are acutely focused on unearthing and booking EDM talent, according to Becket, who tells us he expects to see more dance acts on big stages in the near future.

Alex Becket, a music agent at CAA, one of the world’s most influential entertainment and sports talent agencies. 

c/o Creative Artists Agency

Once relegated to the fringes of the festival circuit, dance music producers are now commanding top billing and drawing massive audiences to marquee mainstream events like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, all of whom tapped ODESZA to headline last year.

Meanwhile, Coachella’s organizers in 2023 approached the trio of Skrillex, Fred again.. and Four Tet to close out the world’s quintessential music festival in lieu of a spurned Frank Ocean. Prior to their last-minute headlining set, Coachella counted only Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia—themselves replacements after stepping in for Kanye West in 2022—as their only other DJ headliners in the last decade.

Now, after a year teeming with unforgettable EDM moments, Coachella is introducing a brand-new stage to serve as the festival’s de facto epicenter of rave music. The ambitious stage, Quasar, will feature three-hour DJ sets by RÜFÜS DU SOL and a cancer-free Michael Bibi, among other deeply influential dance music artists.

Ahead of Coachella’s return this weekend, we caught up with Becket to discuss Quasar as well as the evolving relationship between major festivals and the electronic dance music community.

EDM.com: After Coachella made the decision to blend Sahara’s lineups with more mainstream artists, it seems Quasar is the festival’s new epicenter of electronic dance music. Why now?

Alex Becket: The way “underground” house and techno music has become so popular in recent years, and arguably is now the mainstream dance music of the day, the traditional home at the festival for that sound, the Yuma Tent, has become too small to service all the demand. It’s a great sign for the health of our industry that the festival needs a stage like Quasar for this growing audience.

EDM.com: Take us behind the scenes of your discussions with your artists about Quasar. What about the new stage was so appealing to them?

Alex Becket: Coachella has been such a pioneer for dance music over the years and they’ve done it again with Quasar. The opportunity to play an extended three-hour set is unheard of amongst multi-genre contemporary festivals and represents the core culture around DJs and raves. It’s exciting for these artists to have the freedom to take fans on a journey without the constraints of 60–75-minute sets that are typical at the festival.

EDM.com: We’ve seen a surge in EDM bookings at festivals like Coachella. Can you elaborate on the strategic advantages—beyond pure popularity—that booking EDM artists brings to major festivals?

Alex Becket: Coachella has been booking electronic artists for decades but it’s true this year feels particularly dance-heavy. For whatever reason, I think other genres are down right now and electronic is filling up a lot of that void on festival lineups. Dance music appeals to a broader audience than a lot of other genres, and that drives mass appeal.

EDM.com: What role, if any, has technological advancements in live production and stage setups played in making EDM acts more appealing for festival organizers? And to what extent does this focus on live spectacle factor into a festival’s decision-making when executing lineups?

Alex Becket: Festivals want big shows and big moments so it factors in a lot for them. Big production was an essential part of the “EDM” boom in the early 2010s and has always been a big part of the EDM experience. “Underground” shows with no production emerged in response to that, and now you’re seeing the pendulum swing back the other way in many cases with underground artists building big shows. In this way we’re seeing big productions with better music and it’s a winning combo.

EDM.com: Are there any particular up-and-coming artists or sub-genres that you anticipate will gain even more traction in the festival circuit in the near future?

Alex Becket: Hard techno is definitely having a moment with younger generations, and we’re having a ton of success at CAA in the minimal tech and minimal deep tech space. Our new colleague Julian Teixeira has a lot of the best up-and-coming artists in this world like Chris Stussy, Dennis Cruz and Ben Sterling.

Part of Alex Becket’s roster at CAA, RÜFÜS DU SOL’s Jon George and James Hunt will DJ at the debut of Coachella’s new Quasar stage in 2024.

Michael Drummond

EDM.com: What challenges or obstacles do EDM artists face when it comes to securing prominent slots at major festivals dominated by more traditional rock, hip-hop and pop acts?

Alex Becket: DJs and electronic artists have been sharing the top lines at festivals with rock, hip-hop and pop acts for years. In the past, relatively few dance artists headlined hard tickets and their value was closely tied to VIP sales (still does) which is harder to quantify and not public information. That’s a different metric that made direct comparisons difficult and worked against dance artists for prominent slots or billing, but many dance artists live in the hard ticket world now and it’s not much of a thing.

EDM.com: How do you see the festival landscape evolving in the next five to 10 years when it comes to the representation of EDM and other electronic music genres on major lineups?

Alex Becket: The sky’s the limit! One of dance music’s greatest strengths is diversity, both of the audience and the music. I expect to see more dance acts on big and small stages alike, and different music thrives in different settings.

I love the variety of experiences Coachella offers in this way. You can go see an insane visual spectacular like Anyma at the Sahara Tent, then pop over to the Do LaB for the best dance party at the festival, then head to an immersive experience with RÜFÜS DU SOL (DJ SET) at Quasar, then end your night with Adriatique at the Yuma for a true nightclub experience in the middle of a festival. The options are incredible!

The Duality of Mau P: An Underground Advocate Becomes a House Music Vanguard

Mau P‘s journey didn’t begin in pursuit of the spotlight’s glare—it unfolded in the dimly lit corners of the underground, where the energy is raw and ambitions run deep.

Fortune had different plans for the breakout DJ and producer, who, despite his underground inclinations, has released a slew of major commercial hits in short order, beginning with the infectious anthem “Drugs From Amsterdam.” Since then, Mau P, whose real name is Maurits Westveen, has become nothing short of a seminal figure in the electronic music landscape as he bridges the gap of house music’s past and future with unparalleled finesse.

Mau P.

Tommy Reerink

In the heat of Miami Music Week, EDM.com caught up with Westveen for a sit-down interview at The W Hotel. He shared insights into his musical journey thus far, which has oscillated between the allure of commercial success and the raw, unfiltered essence of underground dance music with each intriguing chapter.

There’s perhaps no better illustration of this dynamic than Mau P’s latest Beatport #1 hit, “Beats For The Underground,” which has not only dominated charts but also blitzed the world’s warehouse parties and club dancefloors alike—all after evolving through six different versions.

“The fun thing was that people were noticing small changes I added in each version of the song,” Westveen recalled of the track’s unique trajectory. When he noticed the rips on YouTube alone were garnering hundreds of thousands of views, the decision to ultimately slate it for an official release was a no-brainer.

With a background rooted in the stylings of big room house music under the umbrella of his former alias, Maurice West, Westveen’s transformation into Mau P started as a daring plunge in the throes of the pandemic.

Indeed, the artist’s shift from the festival-friendly sensibilities of Maurice West to the underground panache of Mau P has not been without its ironies. “Drugs From Amsterdam” catapulted him into the limelight far beyond the smoke-filled rooms of the underground scene he’d come to cherish.

“They wouldn’t let me be underground,” Westveen jokes, reflecting on the track’s unexpected success. “We wanted to dive more into the underground sounds and with the first track we’d already messed it up.”

Despite the whirlwind of success, Mau P remains immensely grateful for the journey and the choices with which it has afforded him. However, the rapid growth was not without growing pains.

“Nobody knew what Mau P was and what we wanted to accomplish here,” Westveen says of the time immediately following his breakout success. “We had to be so careful about picking the lineups, and which parties to play and what remixes to do.”

Ultimately, he believes that navigating these opportunities has been a privilege, allowing him to craft his path with intention and authenticity. “It’s easier to have that problem [of choice] and be able to say ‘no’ to a lot of things than to have to do it all over again starting small from an underground perspective,” he adds.

Mau P.

Tommy Reerink

Mau P’s success is emblematic of a cultural recalibration, one that seeks to honor the rich history of house music for loyalists while propelling it forward through a modernized lens for the next generation of producers. In his unique position at the intersection of these worlds, he is both a beneficiary and a catalyst of that shift, appealing to a desire for authenticity and depth that the dance music community has been yearning to revisit.

“The most interesting thing for me, ever since I started doing Mau P, is that the genres and sub-genre borders in-between have faded away,” Westveen says. “I feel like a lot of people don’t know what to label songs anymore.”

The blurring of stylistic lines is an indication of a broader evolution. And it’s in this melting pot of genres that he finds rhythm with an audience who is increasingly indifferent to labels, yet deeply connected to the essence of what makes dance music resonate across generations.

This ethos extends into Mau P’s live performances, the arena where he truly shines in sharing his passion and unique vision for the future of underground dance music. He says that despite initial expectations for him to deliver a set of Beatport Top 100 hits, his true determination lies in showcasing the unheard. It’s here, amidst the energy of the crowd, that he thrives in his craft, educating and elevating audiences with sounds that defy conventional categorization.

Fortunately, he’s earned increasingly more visible opportunities to do exactly that. Mau P was recently booked to perform at Coachella’s ambitious new stage, Quasar, marking another milestone in his broiling career.

He also just announced the largest outing yet in his “Baddest Behaviour” party series at Brooklyn’s Under The K Bridge Park, where a marathon open-to-close set promises an unforgettable experience for nearly 7,500 attendees. Tickets to the show, which is scheduled for September 13th, are on sale now.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Follow Mau P:

X: x.com/realmaup
Instagram: instagram.com/maupmusic
Facebook: facebook.com/maupmusic
Spotify: spoti.fi/3vHLn9Q

Creative Tips From Kelly Badak, the Artist Translating Real-Life Rave Imagery Into Graphic Design

For Kelly Badak, the primal beats and retina-searing lasers of raves are more than just a backdrop for partying. They are the raw material fueling her creative process.

Armed with a vast mental sketchbook unrestricted by spiral binding, Badak is a graphic designer translating the palpitating energy around her into digital brushstrokes for clients. She has garnered hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, where she unearths rare fonts that harken back to DIY punk and rave posters of yesteryear—a lost art after the advent of the digital era.

After moving from Miami to The Big Apple three years ago, Badak enrolled in the Tribeca-based New York Law School, where she’s studying IP and trademark law. Ahead of her graduation in May, she’s studying for the grueling New York State bar exam and managing the balancing act of driving the business of her own creative design agency.

It’s a familiar struggle for many in her field. Client revisions, creative roadblocks and the gnawing pressure to deliver fresh ideas can leave even the most passionate designer feeling deflated. But for Badak, the frenetic energy of a rave is her antidote.

Back in her home studio, the afterglow of the rave galvanizes her creativity. The kaleidoscopic visuals become a mesmerizing flow chart in her mind’s eye and the faces—a mosaic of unfiltered joy—become the bedrock for her next project’s mood board.

Badak traces her love of dance music back to 2013, when she watched Avicii and Hardwell rock the stages of Ultra Music Festival in performances now considered iconic. Over a decade later, she prefers the more ferocious, industrial sound of techno music, which she finds “soothing” while she works because it facilitates a full-blown descent into a stream of consciousness without the distraction of lyricism.

View the original article to see embedded media.

A lot of her work, she says, is inspired by the visuals she sees at shows. A performance by South African dance music icon Black Coffee was a particular touchstone, his sultry rhythms weaving a latticework with live visuals in ways she’d never seen. The same goes for a show headlined by the renowned Âme duo, whose visuals featured a spinning chrome ball that now serves as a wellspring for her own aesthetic.

Badak isn’t just replicating what she sees—she’s attempting to capture the uninhibited movement and shared euphoria we all feel at raves but can’t quite explain to our families at Thanksgiving dinner. And in that sense, her work is a testament to the transformative power of rave culture, a chrome-plated bridge between the unrestrained world of electronic dance music and the structured domain of graphic design.

We caught up with Badak to peer through the looking glass of her creative process. In her own words, here are some creative tips for graphic designers to find inspiration in their work from the weird and wonderful world of electronic music.

Immerse yourself within the atmosphere

Next time you’re at a rave, try to study the visual effects and lighting and notice how it connects and matches with the music. Lighting designers and VJs inspire me so much.

Appreciate the visuals

There’s nothing wrong with recording at a show for the sake of the beauty of the moment. I record mainly for the visuals to draw inspiration from later on when I’m working on my art.

Try to recreate one visual as practice from a show you attend

Really, the best way to improve your work is to practice. By recreating an artwork, with the addition of your own personal touch, you’ll be able to really hone the skills you already possess and gain an understanding of the original artist’s thought process.

Practice by creating visual narratives

Every track tells a story to evoke a certain emotion from its listeners. Try to come up with a design that complements a song you enjoy listening to by translating the emotions you feel into your artwork.

Appreciate the sub-genres of EDM

Whether it’s industrial techno, trance, gabber, hardstyle or house, understanding the differences will help you design artwork more effectively for events regarding that specific genre. Pay attention to frequent color schemes, motifs and recurring imagery in the music’s artwork.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Gather inspiration from event flyers

Take notice of their use of fonts, color, imagery and overall tone of the artwork and how it aligns with the genre of music it’s promoting. There are tons of websites with archived rave flyers from the 90s that I use to influence my work.

Stay in tune with trends

Keep up with relevant blogs, social media accounts and other artists to stay informed about rising trends in the works and visual artworks of DJs. I like to attend shows regularly to observe how both DJs and their visual artists are improving and upgrading their work.

Stay true to your own style

It’s important to be innovative in the work you produce, and it’s equally as important to stay authentic to the energy that the music emanates. Try to avoid clichés and trite artwork elements, and aim to create artwork that resonates with its intended audience with the addition of your own personal flair.

$50 Tickets and Melting Vinyl: A Look Back at the First Coachella Festival In 1999

Ah, Coachella. The only place where you can pay $10 for a bottle of water and still feel like you’re getting a good deal.

Believe it or not, Coachella wasn’t always a giant Instagram filter. Before it was the marketing metropolis it is today, it was a rough-and-tumble romp in the desert on October 9th and 10th, 1999. Devoid of helicopter Uber riders and Walmart yodelers, Coachella’s humble beginnings are crucial to its legacy as a pioneer in the festival space.

Coachella now annually rakes in well over $100 million in revenue. And its impact on the local economy is even larger, with last year’s festival providing a $400 million boon.

But it wasn’t always the golden goose of Goldenvoice. After the inaugural Coachella in ’99, its organizers crumbled under the weight of the pitfalls of running a first-year festival. They lost roughly a million dollars that year, nearly bankrupting the company.

Heavy is the head that wears the flower crown.

“To break a brand-new festival sixty days away is financial suicide,” Paul Tollett, Coachella’s co-founder, told The New Yorker in 2017. “But we didn’t know that.”

The iconic ferris wheel at Coachella.

Brian Rapaport/EDM.com

Today’s Coachella tickets start at $549 before fees and VIP passes will ding you $1,049. How much were tickets back in ’99, you ask? A meager $50, less than 10% of today’s cost.

In 2023, that will buy you chicken tenders and an oat-milk latte.

In retrospect, it was nothing short of highway robbery to pay $50 for a festival headlined by Beck, Rage Against the Machine and Tool. Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, who co-founded the iconic Lollapalooza festival eight years prior, played a solo set on opening day.

Electronic music was a lynchpin of Coachella from the outset. The Chemical Brothers, Moby, Fatboy Slim, A-Trak, Underworld, Thievery Corporation and Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra were just a few to appear in ’99.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Before it became a dance sanctuary for EDM fans at Coachella, the Sahara Tent started out as a techno tinderbox. The first-ever Sahara lineup featured pioneering artists Richie Hawtin, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, among others, who set the stage for many totemic performances in their wake.

Who could forget Daft Punk’s legendary pyramid show of 2006?

https://youtube.com/watch?v=fJFgYYfPhIs

While early techno music walloped Sahara, Amon Tobin, Nightmares on Wax, Kid Koala and more performed over at the Gobi Tent. But the structure couldn’t protect them from the blistering desert heat.

The sun at the Empire Polo Club was vicious, beating down on the dust bowl with a 100-plus-degree fist. At one point, Koala said, his vinyl began to melt.

And so did Coachella’s prospects. After taking a loss in ’99, Tollett planned for a turn-of-the-century rebound in October 2000. He ultimately canceled, however, and instead partnered with Pasquale Rotella to produce Nocturnal Wonderland at the Empire Polo Club in September, strengthening its EDM bonds.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The poster for the inaugural Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 1999.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Follow Coachella:

X: x.com/coachella
Instagram: instagram.com/coachella
TikTok: tiktok.com/@coachella
Facebook: facebook.com/coachella

How a Team of Creatives Developed Excision's Most Baffling Ultra 2024 Visuals

This is a guest column written by Gordon Droitcour, a co-founder and executive producer at COUR, a multidisciplinary creative house. He also is the co-founder of Syne Research, a brand that celebrates the visual side of the listening experience through digital album artwork displays.


Late last year, the Excision and Immanent VJ team approached COUR to handle the creative and execution for five songs of Excision’s newest tour, “Nexus,” along with Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

Elevating the tracks “Bass to the Dome,” “1 on 1,” “Death Wish,” “End of the World” and “Kern Happy Die,” COUR sought to create five distinct worlds that would seamlessly merge with the music. Aware of Excision’s reputation for creating electrifying performances, the team knew they had to deliver a spectacle that would not only enhance the music, but also leave the audiences wanting more.

The COUR team began work in December 2023, working with Excision and creative/video director Matt Medwid to develop the visuals for five tracks during the performance. Excision and the Immanent team were entirely responsible for the creative concept behind the Ultra Music Festival set and wanted the performance to be visually striking and appear as if the visuals were popping out of the screen towards the audience.

Alongside Matt, COUR drew inspiration from intense twists on nature, the pulsating beat of internet culture and the quirky realms of computer futurism to breathe life into the performance. We came up with unique concepts to accompany each of the five songs.

During “1 on 1,” the team wanted to create a Tron and Tetris-inspired architectural wonderland for Excision that would match the perspective of the stage and extend it. It was a pretty special moment. Lasers were dancing across a wireframe landscape, revealing intricate geometric shapes against the night sky. It was architecturally-led but felt like a fast, rhythm-based cube-crusher game.

Excision’s Visuals for “1 on 1” at Ultra Music Festival 2024 (0:30)

Matching the futuristic bass beats of “Bass to the Dome,” Excision wanted to bring the performance to life with pulsating cubes of lasers rolling and crashing into the earth while unleashing a barrage of pyrotechnics, shockwaves and digital signals. During the track, the sides of the cube begin to fall away, revealing a futuristic bass speaker inside.

Excision’s Visuals for “Bass to the Dome” at Ultra Music Festival 2024 (0:30)

As the show progressed and the energy of the set increased, the team wanted to create an exciting moment for the audience that would match the energy of “Kern Happy Die.” During the track, a laser is emitted from the center of an LED wall, and a reactor core is activated in the centre of the screen.

As the core began to fire up, a bright green backlight slowly began to fill the screen, illuminating a vast array of people standing on a multi-story scaffolding structure. As the song builds, the people on the scaffolding begin to convulse and move frantically.

Excision’s Visuals for “Kern Happy Die” at Ultra Music Festival 2024 (0:30)

Another concept the team developed was a futuristic computer interface that visualized a cybernetic overlord’s voice through a stunning 3D lattice structure during “End of the World.” The computer interface was a thin glass with intricate HUD visuals displaying data.

As the song darkens, the overlord leaves the computer interface, breaking the frame and extruding towards the audience. This moment fully demonstrated Excision’s unparalleled creativity and technical prowess as artists at the top of their game.

Excision’s Visuals for “End of the World” at Ultra Music Festival 2024 (0:30)

Alongside Matt and Excision, COUR transformed the stage into a rocky, hieroglyphic-filled cave for “Death Wish.” An ominous “X” emerged from the darkness, accompanied by bursts of fire, lasers and the chilling proclamation “Time to Grant Your Death Wish” splashed across large screens, which engulfed the audience in an unforgettable sensory experience.

Excision’s Visuals for “Death Wish” at Ultra Music Festival 2024 (0:30)

Though COUR specializes in video content, they pride themselves in being a multidisciplinary creative house handling things from creative direction to design to content. The Ultra Music Festival performance was a testament to Excision’s raw talent and creativity to deliver one of the most forward-thinking and innovative live music experiences.

“Things Had to Change”: WORSHIP on the Drum & Bass Revolution in the United States

Drum & bass has functioned as the heart and soul of the UK electronic music scene for decades, but we’ve only recently seen it blow up in the United States. Why has its emergence taken so long?

Enter Dimension, Sub Focus, Culture Shock and 1991 of WORSHIP, a supergroup of influential drum & bass artists redefining the genre for a new generation of fans. We caught up with the collective and their manager, Sebastian Weingartshofer, to discuss the genre’s stateside boom—and its longevity within the electronic music scene.

“For a long time, a lot of drum & bass artists were drawing huge audiences around the globe, then traveling to the U.S. and playing to half-empty clubs,” Dimension tells us. “Artists were left demotivated. I had the same experience. After a bad show in New York, I remember phoning Seb and we agreed things had to change.”

“I remember the moment of driving back to the airport in New York City with Rob [Dimension] and saying, ‘It shouldn’t be like this,'” adds Culture Shock. “We then really made a conscious effort to put our heads together and present the music the way we thought it should be. We’ve had to invest a huge amount but it really feels like it’s working and the momentum is building.”

Amid drum & bass’ volcanic rise in the U.S., the group developed a master plan. They saw major potential in North America, Dimension says, to “create something fresh” by joining forces.

“Our goal was to help bring the genre back into vogue by encouraging a fresh, young, inclusive community of fans into the genre through investing heavily in production and creative, while working with top venues and promoters,” he explains. “It’s been unbelievably humbling seeing a new community of fans grow, with crowds and venues increasing in size. We like to think we’ve played a key role in this growth.”

1991, Culture Shock, Dimension and Sub Focus of WORSHIP.

Sam Neill

When it comes to each of WORSHIP’s members, it’s clear they believe drum & bass culture is a priceless part of the electronic music zeitgeist, and its spirit simply can’t be captured anywhere else. They’ve always lived and breathed the genre, and they’re now positioning themselves as lynchpins of today’s movement.

“I got into drum & bass pretty much at its inception, as it morphed from jungle,” Sub Focus recalls. “It means so much to me to now be a part of its story. I love how it’s like a secret subculture that we are all a part of.”

“My love for drum & bass started around 15 years ago,” 1991 adds. “What largely drew me to it was how much of a rogue genre it is. It’s not always been the coolest genre, but it’s certainly the most fun. For the most part, it’s an inclusive scene where anyone is welcome. I think that’s why I’ve always stuck by it. It feels like a family.”

Taking the necessary risks

Ever since drum & bass first piqued their interest, Culture Shock, Dimension, Sub Focus and 1991 have spent years climbing to its upper echelon at breakneck tempos of over 174 BPM. Getting to the top, however, was only the beginning of their widespread influence.

While their dedication to the culture is an important factor, many risks needed to be taken in the States for drum & bass to have real staying power.

“Big homegrown acts are a big part of what leads the scene to thrive in different areas,” says Sub Focus. “There’s Pendulum and Luude from Australia, Netsky from Belgium, Camo & Krooked in Austria and many more examples across the globe. Homegrown drum & bass acts from the U.S. flourishing will help the scene no end here.”

As artists like REAPER, Kumarion, AIRGLO, Justin Hawkes and so many more lead the charge in the U.S., the growth of drum & bass has continued to skyrocket. WORSHIP are doing their part too as their current tour continues on as one of the electronic music scene’s most in-demand.

Sam Neill

They’re immensely grateful for the stateside promoters who took a chance on them in the beginning.

“We’ve been building this project for four years now,” Dimension explains. “I remember for the first tour we literally had to create a presentation explaining who we are, what country we were from, and list everything we were doing differently in order to make the tour tickets sell. We had to put ourselves out there with the very real possibility that the whole WORSHIP tour could be a complete failure.”

“Deep down, all of us really believed in the idea, but in hindsight, it was the promoters and agents that took on the most risk,” he continues. “The North America drum & bass scene was in such bad shape that we arguably had nothing to lose, but the promoters and agents deserve a massive amount of gratitude for backing us and believing in our concept.”

Keeping the drum & bass revolution alive

Ultimately, WORSHIP did become a key player in drum & bass’ growth in the region—but their work isn’t done yet. Trends, especially in electronic music, can be hot and cold.

However, something as addictive as drum & bass has major staying power for a multitude of reasons.

“The energy of the genre is addictive and unparalleled, whilst constantly pushing boundaries and setting the standard,” says Weingartshofer, WORSHIP’s manager. “Generally the demographic of the genre remains young, which helps refresh engagement in consumption and event attendances over many generations.”

Culture Shock agrees, calling the energy of drum & bass crowds “unmatched.”

“As an artist, it’s a really fun genre because you can incorporate any style you like,” he says. “I feel like other genres within electronic music can be more restrictive and don’t allow for as much expression.”

WORSHIP North America 2024 Tour (0:17)

The unbridled energy of drum & bass isn’t its only cornerstone—its origins are just as pivotal. The underground is crucial to any genre of music, considering its artists challenge boundaries when things above become stale.

“Drum & bass is completely on its own in terms of style and speed—there really isn’t any other genre like it,” says Sub Focus. “It’s got a rich history and a fertile underground scene, which has given it huge staying power. Whilst it has had moments of commercial success, it has always had a large group of people pushing its limits and boundaries away from the glare of the spotlight.”

Hitting the road (again)

With a great deal of both experience and passion, the WORSHIP collective are flying the flag of drum & bass in the States. It’s their third collaborative North American tour, which culminates in their biggest show to date on March 30th at Los Angeles’ famed Hollywood Palladium.

A few months later in May, the entire crew will return for one of the most anticipated performances at EDC Las Vegas, one of the world’s biggest electronic dance music festivals.

“Being part of this tour has been one of the most satisfying projects I have had the pleasure of been involved in,” Dimension gushes. “It’s been so rewarding seeing the community explode. I’m predominantly a solo artist, so achieving something together with your friends has made it extra special. Personally, I would love for fans to walk away from our shows feeling that a drum & bass party can be a crazy amount of fun for anyone. Everyone is accepted.”

“The more people who enjoy what we do, the more fulfilling and inspiring it is for us as artists,” 1991 adds. “I’ve left the two previous WORSHIP tours feeling inspired to come back bigger and better, so that’s all I can really hope for again this time around.”

View the original article to see embedded media.

While WORSHIP’s crusade to embed drum & bass into the American electronic music terrain has been a long and tortuous uphill battle, 2023 was a breakthrough year for the genre. And we’ve only seen it take off further in the early months of 2024—a trend Weingartshofer believes is here to stay.

“We’re now seeing both fans and DJs who are more open-minded to the genre, as well as other genres in dance music in the post-dubstep/EDM boom,” he explains. “Headliners like Tiësto, John Summit, David Guetta and Dom Dolla are playing drum & bass in their sets and getting great reactions.”

Weingartshofer also credits grassroots artists and brands in North America for propelling the scene forward with unabashed passion.

“Brands like Brownies & Lemonade are creating culture on the ground with their DNBNL series, exposing impressionable dance music fans to the genre,” he continues. “Record labels like Deadbeats and Monstercat are getting behind the music and supporting artists from around the world. A decade ago this infrastructure didn’t exist. It’s great to see more confidence towards drum & bass in all areas.”

You can purchase tickets to WORSHIP’s North American tour and find out more about the collective here.

Follow WORSHIP:

Website: worshipartists.uk
Facebook: facebook.com/worshipartists
X: x.com/worship_artists
Instagram: instagram.com/worshipartists

Rain Battered and Shut Down Ultra—But Not Before We Captured These Incredible Images

Not even a teeming onslaught of icy rain could stop the Ultra family from doing what they do best: rave.

Ultra Music Festival diehards paid no mind to the torrential downpour, which forced an evacuation on Friday night. Drenched in euphoria and lost in trance-inducing beats, a luminous diaspora of audacious ravers sparked to life across Bayfront Park, their hair whiplashing in the rain.

Undaunted by Mother Nature’s soggy tantrums, legions of neon warriors turned puddles into makeshift stomping grounds as Tiësto and SLANDER soundtracked the tempestuous mayhem.

We were on the ground to capture the one-of-kind festival experience prior to its cancellation. Check out our exclusively gallery below. All photos for EDM.com by Kelly Knisel.


View the 19 images of this gallery on the
original article

Gryffin Took Flight—Now He's Returning to the Nest for His Most Personal Album Yet

Gryffin has been airborne for a long time, soaring as a musician for nearly two decades. As he prepares for his next migration, he finds a pulse of inspiration at ground zero.

“There’s just nothing like the energy you get being at a show, festival or club,” Gryffin reminisces in an exclusive interview with EDM.com. “Feeling the music pulsing. The production that’s going on around you. The people that are there and the energy and love that’s in the crowd. I just don’t think there’s any genre of music that has the same energy and love in the room as dance music. That’s really why I fell in love with it.”

Gryffin is warming the engines for his third studio album Pulse, set to release later this year. If Gravity channels the cosmos and Alive highlights the human experience, Pulse evokes the enchanting essence of electronic dance music.

It was during the isolation of the COVID-19 lockdown period when Gryffin pined most for how dance music tethers people together. Flying solo reminded him how uplifting a flock can be.

“It slowed things down for me and deprived me of being with people and having that energy in the club or festival energy and sort of yearning for that,” Gryffin says of the pandemic. “I think that had been building up for a while.”

“I hit this huge wave of inspiration where I really wanted to make this album high octane and energetic and almost like you feel the pulse of the music breathing and living as you’re listening to the album and experience. That’s the birth and ethos of it. It definitely still sounds like me. It’s still very melodic with a lot of emotion within the album, but I think people are really going to feel a difference. It’s going to feel like an adrenaline shot.”

Gryffin performing at Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Juliana Bernstein/Get Tiny

Pulse is in many ways a collaboration between Gryffin and Dan Griffith, the college kid with a newfound captivation for EDM. Griffith’s discovery flipped the switch from electrical engineer to electronic music producer—he forged a new destiny and never looked back.

Pulse provided an opportunity for Griffith, now 36, to reconnect with himself before Gryffin took flight.

“It didn’t make me fall in love with dance music against—because I never lost the love for it—but it kind of brought me back to that earlier spirit of me, going to raves and falling in love with it,” he says. “When I’ve been making this album, I’ve just been thinking and recalling back on my experiences as a fan and a raver, not just as the guy who is behind the decks now.”

“I’ve been trying to find that love and spirit again. That’s why I think it’s been so fun for me, honestly, making this album. I’m remembering and recalling all of my experiences and what made me fall in love with it.”

Griffith found a treasure trove of memories stashed in the back of his mind. Box after box of catalogued souvenirs to source for self-expression. One such memory dusted off was a performance by deadmau5 at HARD Haunted Mansion in the late 2000s.

“deadmau5 came out and had his first helmet with the Xs. He [figuratively] killed himself onstage or something like that. He took off the helmet,” Gryffin recalls. “I was so into the culture and falling in love with it back then. It was the shock value of it all. I remember the first time his helmet lit up.”

Working on arguably his most intimate project has encouraged Gryffin to free-fall into the creative process. The streaming era of music—like everything—is a mixed bag. The unparalleled accessibility to music allows fans to discover artists like Gryffin. It also encourages artists to chase metrics and cater more to algorithms than people, a very real stress that ruffles feathers. Gryffin managed to shed those worries on Pulse.

“Trying not to overthink things is something that’s really helped me this year,” he says. “I kind of stopped thinking in my head, ‘Are people going to like this? Are my fans going to like this? Will the streaming crowd like this?’ I would get those thoughts in my head and I’ve been able to shut it off while making this album.”

The artistic tailwinds have the chart-topping dance music star cruising toward the finish line, but the creative process isn’t always so smooth. Music is naturally a major source of inspiration for Gryffin, but turbulence is nothing new for him.

“I just got in it and made music that made me feel something. It got me excited,” he continues. “Me happy and fulfilled as a creator. When that lightbulb went off in my head, everything else started flowing out.”

Gryffin.

Grant Thompson

When asked to name a few quintessential albums or artists that every music fan should listen to, he named Daft Punk’s Discovery or Homework, Disclosure’s Settle, Jamie xx’s In Colour and projects by M83 and Explosions in the Sky.

Gryffin’s sonic appetite was always insatiable. The conversation about music spurred a funny memory of an 11-year-old Griffith pleading with his parents to purchase a copy of Dr. Dre.’s very explicit and probably not kid-friendly sophomore album, 2001.

“That was the first explicit one I had. I got my dad to hook it up on that one,” Gryffin says with a laugh. “My dad is the one where I’m like, ‘Yo, I really, really want this.’ He’s the one who can cave. I don’t even know if my mom knew that I got that album.”

It’s a matter of time before Pulse sticks the landing. The project is tabbed for a release sometime this year. While Gryffin keeps a tight beak on the release date, he did confirm that a teased collaboration with Armin van Buuren will be on Pulse.

“It’s going to be released through Armada [Music] because I wanted it to come out through Armin’s project. That was always the goal,” Gryffin says. “But it’s going to come out on Pulse as well because it weirdly fits what I’m doing now and where I’m going with my sound, and it’s a very state of trance Armin ethos to it as well. So it’s going on both.”

Watch the full interview with Gryffin below.

Follow Gryffin:

X: x.com/gryffinofficial
Instagram: instagram.com/gryffinofficial
Facebook: facebook.com/gryffinofficial
Spotify: spoti.fi/3gl5Jg1

Inside the Ambitious Quest to License Daft Punk's Music for “Beat Saber”

Meta Quest gamers are experiencing a whole new level of “Digital Love” after Daft Punk‘s music joined the illusory realms of Beat Saber.

From the iconic vocals of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” to the ageless melodies of “One More Time,” Daft Punk have finally sliced their way into the beloved VR rhythm game. The legendary robots were “hands-down one of the most requested artists from fans to add to the Beat Saber lineup,” per Meta.

The ambitious effort to activate Daft Punk in Beat Saber took over two years, according to Vickie Nauman, founder of the Los Angeles-based consultancy and advisory firm CrossBorderWorks.

“The collaborative effort was between Beat Saber core team, Warner Music in London and Daft Punk crew,” Nauman tells EDM.com. “This probably involved 10 main people across the three parties over more than two years and it included a lot of back-and-forth about which songs Beat Saber wanted in the game, the music rights involved, and what songs the artists wanted.”

Nauman has worked with the title’s developer, Beat Games, to execute the company’s licensing deals since its early days as an independent gaming studio in Prague, a role in which she remained after Facebook (now Meta) acquired the studio in 2019.

“As a rhythm game, Beat Saber has specific requirements for what will work in the game and our beatmapping process led to some last-minute changes, but everyone was very accommodating as we all wanted it to happen,” she continued. “We’ve wanted Daft Punk in the game since the game started in 2018! Then the band broke up and we thought there was no hope until the Warner UK team rekindled the idea. A real multi-team effort.”

A collaboration between Daft Punk and Beat Saber had been a latent dream, but the pie was never in the sky. Tim Miles, Warner Music Group’s Senior Vice President, Sync, tells us his team had an unwavering belief that there was a “genuine and authentic fit” between the two, but the timing needed to be right.

The stars aligned in 2022, when they were brainstorming for the 25th anniversary of Daft Punk’s influential Homework and Alive 97 albums. It felt like the perfect time, Miles said, to leverage their relationship with Meta.

“After working on other gaming projects with The Pokemon Company and Ubisoft, we were incredibly sensitive to the vast amount of time and resources it takes to create gameplay—and in the case of Beat Saber, beat-matching the visuals to the music,” Miles explains. “With this in mind, we were extremely thoughtful about what the experience would be for fans and this is why it’s the first Beat Saber pack to include live versions of songs and the graphics during the game. The pack also showcases Daft Punk’s iconic helmet, which isn’t a million miles away from what the Meta Oculus VR headset looks like, so clearly it was meant to be!”

Available as of March 7th, the official Daft Punk Music Pack is somewhat of a watershed moment for Beat Saber. The release has led to the game’s first-ever live tracks and mashups as well as its longest song, “The Prime Time of Your Life (Live 2007).” That record clocks in at 10 minutes and 23 seconds, dethroning Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” and building forearm muscles everywhere.

View the original article to see embedded media.

The developers at Beat Games didn’t stop there. With the pack comes a new in-game environment inspired by Daft Punk’s fabled pyramid stage, on which they performed their totemic Coachella set back in 2006.

It all paints a picture of a paradigm shift in the way music is licensed for games. The technological terra firma beneath gaming’s feet is growing at a rapid pace, empowering developers to transcend the constraints of music alone and use it to build multi-sensory dreamscapes.

Miles believes we’re seeing a broader scope of music’s capacity for storytelling to enhance the gaming experience. The upshot, he says, is a “huge opportunity” for artists and writers.

“Traditionally music in games would be used as a part of an in-game radio—look at GTA or Far Cry for example,” Miles explains. “We also had great success with karaoke and rhythm games, like Guitar Hero and WeSing, back when they were en vogue. Nowadays though, the space has evolved to include opportunities for artists to score and create songs for triple-AAA games and fit straight into the game’s narrative. For example, we worked with Stormzy for Watch Dogs: Legion in the form of bespoke DLC, and Ed Sheeran for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet where Ed’s ‘Celestial’ plays on completion of the game.”

“Gaming is definitely an alternative channel for music consumption, and how artists and developers engage with it is still in its infancy,” he continues. “The exciting part is the number of opportunities are increasing, developers are becoming braver and more agile and record labels like Warner are leaning into the space with an open mind. The process is also similar to how we place our artist’s music across Film and TV, and how we work with top-tier Hollywood productions.”

Beat Saber players can secure the Daft Punk Music Pack for $12.99 or purchase individual tracks for $1.99 each. New Meta Quest owners who want to add the game can bundle it with the pack for $39.99.

Riot Games, Monstercat and Noisestorm Reveal What Went Into Bringing “Crab Rave” to Teamfight Tactics

Ever wonder how EDM keeps finding its way into your favorite video games?

Out now on Riot Games‘ popular auto battler, Teamfight Tactics is the final patch of their “Remix Rumble” event, which features numerous character and gameplay adjustments. While we won’t get into the finer details, interested players can watch the complete rundown from Gameplay Director, Stephen Mortimer, here.

However, one portion of this update has given dance music fans a reason to check out the game if they already haven’t.

One of Teamfight Tactics‘ most infamous creatures with which to do battle is a giant crustacean dubbed “Crab Rave.” At the time of the creature’s launch, there was no special in-game music for this EDM-inspired NPC. Now, after the latest update, players will be able to jam out to Noisestorm’s incredibly popular and ultra-memeable 2018 single while the giant crab decimates your team.

This, of course, is far from the first time we’ve seen electronic dance music invade video games, like with Riot Games’ League of Legends and VALORANT as well as Monstercat’s contributions to Rocket League. But how exactly did these partnerships come to life?

We spoke with some of the minds behind Teamfight Tactics as well as the Monstercat team and the creator of “Crab Rave,” Noisestorm, to find out.

One must ask what considerations go into selecting music for a video game. For this instance, “Crab Rave” was the obvious choice since the character was already inspired by the song. Considering the fact that the current season of the game features a music festival theme, Peter Whalen, Senior Game Director of Teamfight Tactics, says the most important factor was simply making players smile.

On the label side of things, Monstercat’s Director of Sync and Partnerships, Gavin Johnson, said they caught wind of the NPC inspired by one of their releases and they actually reached out with an offer to include the single.

Now, most importantly, you may be curious about what the creator of the track thinks about including his music in games.

“I like to make sure that the game is one I play or would like to play,” Noisestorm explains. “In this case, it was apparent from community feedback and from watching gameplay that it’d be a great fit for the game! The high-quality animations paired with the song would be a really fun crossover, especially considering the portal name is ‘Crab Rave.'”

Digging a little deeper, we asked the group to speak a little more about how the artists are involved in the process. Whalen took us behind-the-scenes with their recent collaboration with Steve Aoki at the start of the in-game season. Aoki plays the game himself, Whalen said, and was very involved in many of the pieces of the partnership.

“[Aoki] helped with the trailer, the musical vibe for the set and on a new character, Scratch, our blue DJ squirrel,” he explained. “Scratch needed to capture Steve’s essence, so we had a few sessions where we’d talk through some concepts and make sure to capture his preferences and ideas. The track Steve developed had to incorporate metal, jazz and classical as part of an epic DJ showdown, so we worked together to line up the visuals with the music.”

On the more technical side of things, Teamfight Tactics‘ Sound Design Manager, Alison Ho, explained how crucial it was for Noisestorm to send over stems. “Noisestorm and the Monstercat team graciously sent us some individual pieces alongside the track, which made it easier for us to incorporate the music into the separate rounds of the game.”

The fact that the song is almost six years old now is something that made this collaboration a bit different than their previous releases, including the event featuring Aoki.

“Typically, these musical collaborations happen before a project begins, and the music created is for a specific part of the final product, whether it’s in game or a cinematic piece,” Ho says of the new update. “‘Crab Rave’ was created by Noisestorm years before, so the collaboration took a different approach.”

Noisestorm and Johnson themselves caught wind of the character named after one of the label’s flagship releases and saw the buzz online, which led to them reaching out to Riot Games. Whalen, of course, was happy to ink the partnership.

“For Teamfight Tactics, we lean more whimsical and light-hearted, so having something with as much meme potential as ‘Crab Rave’ is a wonderful fit.”

The final result of this back-and-forth is what we have on our monitors today: the all-new “Crab Rave” portal featuring the sounds of Noisestorm’s hit of the same name. You can learn more about Teamfight Tactics and start playing the game for free on desktop or mobile here.