Category: PREviews / REviews

Electric Feels And So Much More – An Interview w/ Andrew Nilon of Electric Family

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life
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Imagine for a moment that you are the recipient of the EDM community’s magical embrace and that you would like to give something back as a show of appreciation. You’ve been thinking long and hard and your solution for this task involves getting artist cooperation and establishing a readily-identifiable brand to coordinate multiple cross-promotional platforms. With the respective cooperation from participating artists, additional avenues are able to be explored and a more diverse and thorough impact can be made, not only within the EDM community but the world as well. You have now stepped into the shoes of the founder of Electric Family, Andrew Nilon. I had the opportunity to catch up with Andrew to discuss how he harnessed the positive energy of his own “electric family” to create one of the EDM industry’s most recognizable clothing brands.

A’Damaged Pro – Where did you grow up?

Andrew Nilon – Northern California. Bay Area.

A’Damaged Pro – What were your earliest musical influences and do you have a fondest musical memory growing up?

Andrew Nilon – I’ve always appreciated a lot of different music growing up. I was a huge fan of rap as well as different styles of rock. The biggest thing now is definitely electronic. I went to EDC when it used to be in Los Angeles.

A’Damaged Pro – At the Coliseum?

Andrew Nilon – Yes, and to this day it’s still the best event I’ve ever been to. I don’t know if it’s because it was my first taste of the scene, but it really got me very interested in EDM and the dance music scene.

A’Damaged Pro – Were there any specifics about the atmosphere that stood out for you? The production value has gone up tremendously since the EDC LA days so I’d bet the exposure to the music and the people had to be illuminating.

Andrew Nilon – I think it sticks out because the energy in that stadium was just amazing. I haven’t been able to match it anywhere. You’re kind of in an enclosed area and the huge boom of the current scene hadn’t really happened yet so it just kind of opened my eyes to this whole community where people are extremely accepting. You’re standing next to people that you might not normally have spoken to or growing up you might have even looked at them with judgement. The atmosphere was like a clean slate. Very refreshing. That was the first time I had experienced that on that big of a scale, and that was very special to me. I’m sure people would say similar things about their first experience at a, whatever you want to call it, “rave” or “production experience.”

A’Damaged Pro – That’s something I wanted to ask about. The difference between a “rave,” “festival,” or “massive”…who makes the definitions? Who’s the ultimate authority on the subject. When I think festival I think multi-day event. With “massive,” is there a population cut-off? If you have a small venue, packed with a thousand people it seems ridiculous but you can have three hundred thousand people in the LV Speedway…

Andrew Nilon – I like the term “festival.” It’s not because I personally have judgements on the word “rave” or the scene, but because of the outside perception. If you go to some old person and say you were at a rave last night, there is instant judgement. Their mind immediately goes to certain things regardless if they know what it means. I try not to use the word “rave” because it’s been made into this taboo thing where all this bad stuff happens. It’s so important to Electric Family and what we’re trying to accomplish to sever that stigma and show the positive elements this community is really about.

A’Damaged Pro – Do you think there is a way to orchestrate a paradigm shift, of sorts, about how people view these terms and it turn undercut the attached stigmas and re-open the horizon of possibilities? Words will quit becoming taboo as people become more educated on the subject.

Andrew Nilon – It goes deeper than just the words. You can get every major news source in the world to put a revised definition of “rave,” on their Twitter, and that’s not going to change anything. Our ultimate goal is to shift those underlying messages and how people feel about these things. Educating in creative ways. How can we show people? Telling people something isn’t really effective. You have to show people through action. An example would be what we did at our “Do Good” event. Adventure Club asked some of their fans to come out to a food bank in Los Angeles. We got about two hundred people to come out and volunteer their time. They got to meet AC. We shot a video, and that was to inspire people that this community is more that just a group of partiers and that these kids can make an impact. They care about their community. That is what’s going to shift social perception. By showing that this community is not all about drugs and partying, that’s going to be what makes the difference.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s the mission statement of Electric Family? How did you make the progression into the music/entertainment/apparel aspect of the industry?

Andrew Nilon – We have a few missions. One of them is to inspire positive action. We’re trying to create a platform and a company that provides a cool product that promotes a positive message. Imagine a company being supported because of the impact they are making in communities.

A’Damaged Pro – You mentioned the term “platform.” Do you think that artists have an inherent responsibility because of the reach they command to lock onto a cause and try to positively motivate their fans?

Andrew Nilon – I do. Personally, I believe that every person on this planet has an equal responsibility to look out for and protect every other person on this planet. Those that are in a position of reach and have the capacity to make an impact should be doing just that. If you wanted to take a business approach to this, because that makes more sense to some people. Some artists make a lot of money and in order to continue to do so they need to promote causes that will ensure the longevity of the scene. The only way the scene will continue to be profitable and to sustain itself will be if it no longer has this “other side.” If we keep have these deaths and other bad things, it’s kind of a ticking time bomb. We need to have these artists speak up. You don’t need to get messed up every time, or any time for that matter, that you go to one of these events. The message needs to come from a source that people respect, so, yes, they have the ultimate responsibility. That’s also why we are providing that medium through our artists’ bracelets.

A’Damaged Pro – Is there a particular method that you’ve honed in order to bring new artists into the EF fold? Do you seek them out or do they reach out to EF?

Andrew Nilon – It’s a little bit of both, actually. We reach out and it’s not easy, by any means. These artists are so busy. Their touring schedules are unbelievable. There’s no other type of music that has seen artists touring like they do now. For instance, Steve Aoki did, like, two hundred and seventy shows a few years back. I was just blown away when I heard that stat. That’s a show almost every single night, five nights a week. That’s unheard of. Reaching out to them and getting a hold of them is extremely difficult. To be honest with you, there isn’t a cookie-cutter way to make it happen. We just try to get in contact an align our values with theirs and just go from there.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your position and responsibilities with Electric Family?

Andrew Nilon – I am the CEO. My job is to communicate our message, internally and externally, making sure that our mission and our goals are known to the public and the media, and making sure that we are on track. Devise a plan, put it in place, and make sure that everything is in order so that we can execute and follow through on all of our goals. That’s a very shortened version

A’Damaged Pro – What is the most rewarding part of your job? Most challenging part?

Andrew Nilon – It might be kind of an easy response but it’s definitely the truth…the most rewarding part is definitely our fans and our customers. They are so unbelievable. We have THE BEST fans. It’s crazy. There’s so much support and positivity. There are thousands upon thousands of messages, emails, and comments on social media. “Love what you guys are doing.” “Thank you SO much!!” I think it’s something really important to recognize in life that if you’re doing what you love and what you believe in, other people will support that because there are other people that feel the same way. I think it’s a testament to always knowing what you’re doing is right in your heart. Everything about managing a start-up company is challenging. You know, nothing is guaranteed. You have to make sacrifices.
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A’Damaged Pro – What’s the creative story behind taking these ideals and making a company with them?

Andrew Nilon – We were a group of friends that went to shows and it might be kind of corny but we were the “Electric Family.” That’s just what we called ourselves. We really just wanted to make a company out of it. We grew up loving fashion and electronic music, so we combined those passions and we decided to start a company. There wasn’t a real “aha” moment, but just us following what we loved to do.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your take on the potential therapeutic and healing properties of music, given what you’ve seen and more experienced?

Andrew Nilon – I know everyone’s experience is very different. Music is very therapeutic. That’s why we’ve loved it for thousands of years. There is something tangible there. I think it allows people to really be in the moment and lose all of their thoughts, “I’ve got bills to pay” or “I’m having relationship issues.” Endless endless issues that people face daily in life. I think that music helps them clear their heads of that and that IS therapeutic. That is something that should be cherished and valued in society. We spend all day thinking so being able to clear our heads is very therapeutic.

A’Damaged Pro – In the spirit of safety, some events and festivals are including a rough code of conduct into their presentation. Do you think there is a way to speed up the “activation” of attendees, making them more empathetic as well as acting out of concern for their fellow citizen?

Andrew Nilon – There’s a lot of different factors that contribute to safety and that’s why it’s such a complex issue right now in dance music. On one hand, there’s a major factor that some people don’t realize and that’s business. Insurance companies are telling these big festivals that they can provide assistance to people because they’re not going to get this kind of coverage if they provide this type of service. This is just an abstract example but let’s say if you treat someone inside of the festival and it falls under “such and such” guidelines, you’re not going to be covered for that. You have to take them out in a third-party ambulance and they have to get treatment at a local hospital because that’s where the insurance is at. So, there’s a huge issue starting right there. For some reason, these factors, that center around money, are considered more valuable than human life. That’s one issue. From there, what we can do is educate people on a wider scale. I can’t talk too much about it or give to much away but we are working on some pretty big projects with some big companies to get the message out there in a cool way. What we are trying to accomplish with Electric Family is to create a “cool” company that kids will look up to and listen to. In our society, the youth look up to and listen to whatever is in and they will mimic that. We’re trying to create a platform and inject the positive messages. So, we’re trying to align ourselves with the big players in the scene, who have the attention of the global audience, and partner the Electric Family brand and what we stand for with their ability to target a large global audience. We feel that this can help address some of these real-world issues. It’s not going to outright solve them, but it’s a step in the right direction.

A’Damaged Pro – Are there any specifics charities that you hold in high regard? You just illustrated the business prospects and the reach potential of the EF brand, but are there any particular charities that you would like to align yourself with in the future?

Andrew Nilon – Really as many as possible. We allow our artists to choose the charity they want to work with, so whatever specific issues they are passionate about will get the necessary attention. Our goal is to work with as many different organizations as possible. We want to raise awareness for many different issues. The more that we can work with, that are targeting various issues, the better for us and everybody concerned. We want to be able to touch and help as many people as possible.

A’Damaged Pro – What are three global issues that you believe require immediate attention and what are your potential solutions for addressing them, regardless of how far-out your solutions may be?

Andrew Nilon – The number one need, I wouldn’t say it’s an issue per se, I would like to see addressed is a comprehensive raising of social consciousness. There is such a lack of care and empathy. We have created such a society that is broken down into “us” versus “them,” and it’s just terrible to see that. The way I view it is that everybody on this planet is ONE. Everybody is connected as one living being and I think that we have forgotten that. So, the way to help some of these social issues, health issues, wars, and all of this other terrible stuff that goes on is to raise the level of social consciousness of each person on the planet. Each person will, in turn, care more about each other and will act accordingly. Just targeting one specific thing can, to some degree, almost create another issue. If every person took it upon themselves to gear every thought and action, in every moment, towards being the best for every one involved, we would instantly solve a countless number of issues. The world would be such a better place.

A’Damaged Pro – Given what you just mentioned about the need to raise social consciousness, what changes have you noticed in the scene from when you first got involved? There are more lasers. I’ll give you that one

Andrew Nilon – It’s kind of sad to say, but I think it’s kind of gone in the opposite direction that it needed to go, with the commercialization of EDM. In some areas, we’ve kind of abolished some of the core values, like P.L.U.R. It’s kind of mocked now in this culture. In reality, what it stands for is a fantastic message. On a positive note, a lot of people in the industry are more conscious about improving these issues. This conversation we’re having right now. Making sure that the proper values are being communicated to the fans. I think people within the industry are trying to make steps to combat the negative aspects.

A’Damaged Pro – What goals have you set for yourself and Electric Family over the next year? 5 Years?

Andrew Nilon – We want to be recognized as THE premiere clothing brand within the industry. We think there is tremendous opportunity. We want to continue to spread the message to every continent. We want to continue to grow and partner with bigger and bigger companies. We would like to take our “Do-Good” events to the next level. We would like to exemplify what we feel this music stands for and have these values recognized and extend that beyond the dance floor.

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

I must stress that this exchange was not orchestrated to spark a discourse on semantics, as the guiding principles of the scene, that inspired Andrew, transcend definition. He saw something that lies within all of us…the ability to care about something greater than yourself and the power to make a difference. While in attendance, I know I’ve personally given out countless hugs, high-fives, chest bumps, ear plugs, bottles of water, and pieces of gum because I thought it would help the person or persons around me safely enjoy the experience more. These simple tokens of connectivity and compassion might seem minuscule, and in the grand scheme of things, are probably essentially just drops in the bucket. They are; however, representative of steps in the right direction. With every new consciously-aware supporter the Electric Family will continue to grow, as will our collective capacity to positively influence the way we think and conduct ourselves. Once inspired to take action, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. “Electric Family” is more than a name. It’s more than a brand. It’s what we are.

Connect with Andrew Nilon: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Time To Wake Up And Rave – An Interview w/ Annie Fabricant and Harry Inglis of Morning Gloryville

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life
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Unless you live in the rarified air at the top of the “layer cake,” most of the world has to go to work. Regardless if it’s to support: family, vices, travel, or just the basic needs to sustain life, the fact that most goods and services have a cost, is inescapable. Anyone with student loans or a mortgage can definitely attest to that last part.  A powerful tool and coping mechanism is directly bred out of recognition of this product-to-price connection. For the sake of providing a standardized baseline, despite the factors of subjective logistics and temporality, we shall dub this tool “The Morning Ritual.” Some go to the gym. Some drink coffee while they read the morning paper. Some sit outside and watch the sun rise. The point is that most require some preparatory process to prepare them for the rigors of the workday. If everybody was always happily bouncing to a job that they love, phrases like, “I’ve got a case of the Monday’s,” would have never been coined. Even if you love your job and the commute, if applicable, is manageable, even you might need a little something to shake the cobwebs free to get you ready. Enter the power of the beat, in an open, community-styled atmosphere, but with a unique little twist. The premise behind the Morning Gloryville concept, which originated in London, is quite refreshing and remarkably simple to grasp…an early morning electronic dance party, with entertainment and amenities galore, to help invigorate the mind and the body before you have to go to work. I was lucky enough to speak with MGV Ambassadors, Annie Fabricant and Harry Inglis, that were instrumental in bringing this innovative concept stateside.

A’Damaged Pro – How did you get introduced to the scene? Where did you grow up?

Annie – I was born and raised in London. I moved to New York about three years ago. I go back to London every December for Christmas holidays. That’s when I discovered Morning Gloryville. I was invited by a friend. The whole concept was conceived there and the inaugural event was hosted there in May of 2013. Basically, two friends wanted to calm down their partying habits. It was one day following a big bender that they thought, “this isn’t sustainable… How can we revolutionize the fun…?! (and get your music fix at the same time)

It started as a safe haven for ex-ravers and those from all walks of life that had been in the festival scene and welcomed the chance to recreate healthily and break up their working week, and grew organically into a movement. This is great for people working in the city. Shake off the stress and inhibitions, infuse some wholesome fun into their lives, get them into their bodies and relax their minds. I think in the beginning some people thought it was a trend or a fad and it’s showing that it’s actually quite sustainable.

A’Damaged Pro – When did you get introduced to this scene?

Harry – I moved to New York in Mar/April of last year. It was right around whenever they hosted the first MGV in London. I’ve always been passionate with my dance music.

A’Damaged Pro – Favorite artists? The UK is a global powerhouse after all.

Harry - It’s quite amazing. Living in New York we get amazing DJs that are coming through to play all the time. I didn’t really realize how big of a part of UK culture dance music was until I lived other places. It’s not uncommon for a #1 track, on our equivalent of the Billboard charts, to be, like, a deep house track. You wouldn’t think anything of it. You’ll hear it all day everyday on the radio. Kids will know the lyrics but they won’t think of it as a “house” tune, but it’ll just be a big song. It’s when you step away that you notice these things.

A’Damaged Pro – Domestically, we’re too eager for compartmentalization and genre distinction. It’s not for “purity’s” sake, but just for making another list that someone can top.

Harry - In my travels, I’ve discovered that when you go to another city or a new country, all you have to do is explore the local EDM scene and you will find good people because it’s an instant bond. Some of my friends told me that I needed to check out this “morning party” that started in London. It’s a completely sober time before work.

A’Damaged Pro – What was your role in bringing the MGV concept to New York?

Harry - When I saw this, I phoned them up and talked to Samantha. I told her that if they are bringing it to the states, I would love to be involved, in any capacity. I went back to London in December of 2013 and we had a meeting. They put me in contact with Annie, who had also reached out to them. Me and Annie met up and we got together and got it going. It wasn’t that simple. Before things got going Sam made sure that we had the right mindset and the right ethos to lead this project. In terms of the “franchise” tag, there is definitely a process to make sure that the right people are getting involved with each new location. We try and put everybody at ease. We realize that people aren’t quite awake when these events start but a little silliness and the greeting seems to help people warm up to the experience. People come for a variety of reasons. Some are there for the music. Some come for the openness and the sense of communion. Some of the artists that we’ve had DJ have offered their services for a fraction of their normal fee because they simply fell in love with the concept. It’s pretty powerful.
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A’Damaged Pro – From what I’ve read, it’s catching on…

Annie - Morning Gloryville has actually launched in a dozen cities. New York was the first international outpost. A franchise model had expanded including: New York (of course), Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Zurich, Dublin, West London, Brighton, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Sydney. Bangalore is set to launch at the beginning of September. Expansion has also been initiated in Melbourne, Berlin, and Vancouver. Hundreds of people getting in touch from around the world about the expanding the concept and the beauty behind it is truly a humbling experience.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s the origin of the name? Was it coined in a sublimated haze?

Annie - It was originally Morning Glory. Obviously, it’s in the morning and it’s going to be empowering and there’s the cheeky expression playing on “Morning Glory.” The “ville” had to be added because of trademarking reasons..

A’Damaged Pro – I think the “ville” denotes the community aspect that you guys are going for as well.

Annie – Exactly. Considering it’s become a global phenomenon it adds to the identity of the event.

A’Damaged Pro – You mentioned that the locations outside of the London home base are tagged as “franchises.” Is there a central set of guidelines that each of these use to govern themselves in order to fly under the Morning Gloryville flag?

Annie - Yes. Everything is written in a sort of fun, creative way. Each new franchise is provided with the “Glory Code & Guide” Every event producer, or “Glory Agent” as they are called, must go through the training that is made available for them, which we ensure covers all aspects of managing these events.

There is a large team involved in each event with the core focus being that everyone who comes to the event feels welcome, comfortable, and celebrated. I mean, the attendees are sober, it’s in the morning, and most people hate mornings. So, there’s a very carefully selected team of people designated to greet and welcome guests as they come in the door so they feel at ease when they walk into the space. I was reminded by the London Central Team that the focus should not be on the DJs (securing top-tier talent). The music is very important and integral to the experience but it isn’t about big names. It’s about the overall experience. We have a wide array of talent that comes to entertain the guests. We don’t want a stage with performers and no one participating. We want everyone to get up on the stage and participate.

A’Damaged Pro – Is it possible to get some insight into the “Glory Code” or is it, like, a trademarked secret?

Annie - Yeah, that actually is confidential, but it essentially outlines Morning Gloryville’s principles, ethos and vision. There are some powerful quotes in there too. Morning Gloryville HQ also emphasize that they are there 24/7 not just to provide professional support, but emotional support too. There is a familial atmosphere for sure.

A’Damaged Pro – Given that people have trouble with the morning time? Are these on Mondays?

Annie - No. Ha. These events are on Wednesdays.

A’Damaged Pro – Ah. Gotcha. Give em something to look forward to so the rest of the week coasts.

Annie – I mean it’s called “Hump Day,” right? Having it on Wednesdays also rules out it being viewed as an after-party. (Touché.)

A’Damaged Pro – Harry, do you have trouble getting up in the morning?

Harry - I’m actually ok with it. Well, I go through cycles. If it’s something exciting I can definitely do it. I’m not an actual morning person. Just being in New York, I thought that there had to be something like that in New York. This is where a lot of aspects of dance music have their roots. It’s very much in the city’s DNA and people are always looking for a new fitness trend, so I figured that it would make so much sense to have something like that here. I work in marketing and I noticed that a lot of my friends were dropping out of the dance scene. Some were getting married, having kids, whatever. It just seemed impossible to keep up with the weekend lifestyle.

A’Damaged Pro – Are these all-ages events?

Annie - Very much so. Everyone is welcome. That’s a key pillar of MGV. Everyone, regardless of age, gender, and demographic, is welcome. It helps create an atmosphere and attitude of non-judgment and acceptance.

A’Damaged Pro – Kind of unity without the addition of chemistry?

Annie – Yeah. Completely safe and open. Our vibe is inclusive. In New York right now we’re getting over 300 people through the door, but this will grow when we secure our permanent, and very large, venue. The London events have 800 people attend each month. That’s a lot of people getting up early in the morning to make an event before they have to go to work.

Harry - Now, we sell out each time. The tickets sell out weeks in advance.

A’Damaged Pro – You can’t get that many people together for a company picnic. That’s really respectable.

Harry – It’s become like a club. Some kids have used it to identify and form a bond with others that are part of the community. It requires some effort and dedication because if it starts at 6am you have to be leaving wherever you’re coming from at around 5am to make it in time. It’s reminiscent of going on holiday when you have to get up extra early for the adventure you’re about to go on. Something new and exciting.

A’Damaged Pro – Since it’s a drug-free and alcohol-free environment, do you have to have medical personnel?

Annie - Not as such; we take out event insurance for each event. Our July bRave was at a location called the Brooklyn Zoo. It had an Olympic-standard trampoline built into the floor, so it was an absolute jungle of fun for adults, though we did have some kids there as well. There were people swinging off of ropes, like monkeys, into foam pits. We had everybody sign a waiver before they enter. We do recommend that everyone warm up on the dance floor before trying any aerial-type activity.

A’Damaged Pro – What excites you most about being a part of MGV and where do you see it going?

Annie - I feel very inspired and blessed. This is actually everything I believe in and I represent a lot of the core groups that attend. I can consider myself an ex-raver. I’m definitely into my house music. I am fascinated with holistic health and various mind/body healing modalities. Over the last year, I’ve become very subtly spiritual. Not in a crazy hippie way but believing in more subtle energetic happenings.. So when I see the magical, positive energy that spreads through the MGV events, it’s pretty amazing. I could chalk that up to quantum physics and how we’re all made of energy. I’m also very excited about the feedback that we’ve been getting. Sometimes, people want to hang on the phone for hours just to talk about the experience they’ve had. I see the potential, definitely, for it to grow into its own inclusive lifestyle brand. Business-aspect aside, I can see the community growing as people are inspired by what they experience at MGV, and that subtle inner shift infuses into their day-to-day lives. As our cities become more and more tech-saturated, and people become increasingly stimulus addicted, there arises a growing desire for meaning and fulfillment; a desire to unplug, and to engage in human experiences. That’s where MGV comes in…!

A’Damaged Pro – With every successful business-model, it goes with the territory that people will try to emulate, whether it be out of respect or to jump into the industry. What does the MGV team plan to do in order to remain distinct and unique?

Annie - We’re not worried about other similar concepts being created. Take “Daybreaker,” for example, in San Francisco. They are another morning-time event. We believe that we will end up feeding off each other and other events will actually help spark the overall movement that we are trying to achieve. We would like to be friends with them and possible collaborate with them in the future. We feel that there are enough MGV-specific elements within our program that keeps us distinct. We’re all about authenticity being unleashed!!!

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

The popularity of Morning Gloryville is growing and people appear very receptive to using music and dancing to start their day off properly. Seeing the geographic and demographic diversity of the proposed expansion locations proves that the power of music and positivity transcend cultural and socio-political differences. These are more than just isolated events because the effects of them resonate. People are able to take a little piece of it with them and if and when somebody feels subjectively incomplete, MGV and its “Glory Agents” delight in adding something to them out of the sheer spirit of “I would like to see you happy.” Upon receiving this complementary gift, their attitude will adapt and bring this newfound positivity into the world. The ultimate beauty and simplicity of this structure is that there is no limit to what can be accomplished by people, united in music and community, growing towards a more positive reality.

Connect with Morning Gloryville: Website | NYC Facebook |  NYC Twitter

The Tightrope of A Circus Recordmaster – An Interview w/ Flux Pavillion

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

A pioneer of dubstep. A true BASS-music virtuoso. His family and close friends might call Mr. Steele by his given name, Joshua, but the massive crowds that his music draws know him affectionately as “Flux Pavillion.” I was fortunate enough to get the chance to sit down with Josh to discuss his personal journey into electronic music, the founding of Circus Records, and his intentions for the evolution of the Flux Pavillion concept.Flux_Pavillion_JBrasted-0520
A’Damaged Pro – Where did the moniker “Flux Pavillion” come from?

Flux Pavillion – Do you mean the name itself or just the general idea of “Flux Pavillion?”

A’Damaged Pro – Just the name itself, but if you feel inclined to explore the concept as well, I won’t stop you.

Flux Pavillion – The name just came out of nowhere. I used to be in a band with another guy and Doctor P, when I was 13. We wrote a bunch of band names on a guitar. One of them was Flux Pavillion.

A’Damaged Pro –  You and Doctor P grew up in the same town, right?

Flux Pavillion – Yes, we did.

A’Damaged Pro – I would probably butcher the name. Towcester.

Flux Pavillion – Yeah, Doctor P started making drum-n-bass. I gave it a go and started producing hip-hop beats but more like Mr. Scruff and Quantic. That kind of hip-hop, trip-hop really. So I needed a name for that and that’s where Flux Pavillion comes in.

A’Damaged Pro – You guys hadn’t formed Circus Records at this point, right?

Flux Pavillion – No. I was still at university at this point. I was playing in bands and stuff. Singing and playing guitar. Just having fun with bands and then I heard dubstep. I already had Flux Pavillion as a name so I started writing dubstep. I actually had two MySpaces, right. One was “The Lighter Side of Flux Pavillion,” which was my hip-hop and one was “The Darker Side of Flux Pavillion,” which was my dubstep one. So, for like the first year of my career, my name was “The Darker Side of Flux Pavillion.”

A’Damaged Pro – That doesn’t fit as well on a t-shirt

Flux Pavillion – It got to the point that almost no one was listening to the lighter side anymore. Everyone was asking for my website and I was, like, “It’s forward slash the darker side…” and people were like, “I can’t possibly remember that. Me and Doctor P thought I should probably shorten it and that’s how “Flux Pavillion” started.

A’Damaged Pro – What motivated you guys to start Circus Records? For a lot of artists, troubleshooting how you establish your own record company proves too overwhelming.

Flux Pavillion – It was a free-for-all, where a whole bunch of guys had labels. I was writing beats. So, what you do write loads of tunes, be in contact with all these labels, and send all your tunes to everyone and hope they get signed. I had one track signed to a label in Seattle. I had two signed to Excision’s label, and I two signed to N-Type’s label. I was constantly pushing to try and get my tracks out there. Then I did a remix of one of Doctor P’s tracks that was signed to someone else and he didn’t want to release it. If you finish a song you want to get it released, whatever it is. If I have ten songs, I must have ten releases. So, this was the only song that I had written that hadn’t been released. I was, like, what the fuck? The guy who ran the label and wouldn’t release it said he didn’t want to release a dubstep track on a D-n-B label so Doctor P, myself, and this guy called Swan decided to start a dubstep label. That’s, basically, why we started Circus, just so we could put out that remix.

A’Damaged Pro – Is that track posted prominently in the Circus HQ?

Flux Pavillion – Yeah, we have the test press vinyl in our office. I was still trying to sign people to the label. Doctor P, well Doctor P wasn’t Doctor P until Circus started. We went into the studio to do a collaboration, literally so we would have something on the other side of the record. “Shit, we need a B-side.” We made something in about four hours. Cool, there’s the B-side. He was known as DJ Pinkton. He was, like, “Fuck, I need a name.” Boom. Doctor P. He said that’ll work, I guess. Then we started realizing that all of the tracks that we really liked were the ones that nobody else wanted to sign. Well, we’ve got our label so we can release anything we want to now.

A’Damaged Pro – The Digital Age kind of changed things, in respect to releasing tracks…

Flux Pavillion – We did vinyl for, like, the first twelve releases..maybe the first nine or so. The idea was that we can make whatever music we like because we don’t have to try and sign it to any label because we’ve got our own now. That was the real meaning of Circus…not having to deal with any of that bullshit anymore.

A’Damaged Pro – You spend a lot of time traveling, on the road and in the air.

Flux Pavillion – Probably at least seven months out of the year.

A’Damaged Pro – With such an accelerated lifestyle, how do you schedule your “you” time?

Flux Pavillion – You spend a lot of time on flights, waiting on flights, and in hotel rooms and such. I take my Playstation with me so I can plug it in wherever I go.

A’Damaged Pro – Are you a specific type of gamer?

Flux Pavillion – I’m into fantasy and role-playing, sci-fi type games. I’m really into comics, too.

A’Damaged Pro – Do you plug in your own soundtrack while you play?

Flux Pavillion – Nah, not really. I don’t really listen to much music. I listen to music when I’m out playing shows, but in my down time. I make enough music that I don’t really need to listen to it while I’m relaxing.

A’Damaged Pro – Who’s somebody that you would like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet? Whose style would complement yours well? Since genres are fusing so who would merge well with you, artistically?

Flux Pavillion – There’s quite a lot of people, really. That’s the thing. Electronic music to me isn’t dance music. It doesn’t have to be dance music. There doesn’t have to be a DJ. It’s just music that has been made electronically. I really want to work with people that could bring something fresh to electronic music, like, Jonsi  from Sigur Rós” or Sigur Rós, in general…Bon Iver, doing a deep track with Bon Iver. I want to hear Bon Iver on a massive base. You can design the platform so you can define the structure. Well, that’s the music that I like and go for. I don’t really go for big drops, in terms of this has to have a drop, it just has to feel like it drops in some way. So does a Strokes record or an Arctic Monkeys record. They still have the same feeling but it’s done in a different way. Imagine like Josh Hawk or The Queens of the Stone Age but everything’s been produced 100% electronically. Imagine the potential and the directions that things could be taken. It would be totally different than anything else.

A’Damaged Pro – Do you feel like the “maestro” or a composer when you’re up there behind the decks?

Flux Pavillion – Well, I’m not a DJ. I’ve never been a DJ. I only do it because it’s the only way to play my music. I’m a composer and a producer, first and foremost. That’s what I do. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it.

A’Damaged Pro – What are some of your favorite places that you’ve toured so far?

Flux Pavillion – South America was pretty intense. I played in Santiago, in Chile. I’ve never really seen anything like it before. It’s like they were jumping up and down to my foot steps as I was walking out. Like they were ready. The energy was there from the very beginning of my set and didn’t fall until after the set ended. That was pretty insane. I was shaking after that show.

A’Damaged Pro – That’s got to be pretty humbling. Is there a venue that you would like to see your music played or that you would like to play?

Flux Pavillion – Red Rocks is amazing. I played there and it was great. I’d like to headline a pyramid stage in Mexico.

A’Damaged Pro – Did that inspire some of the visuals for the set you just threw down?

Flux Pavillion – I haven’t really gone there with my show yet. Over the next couple of years, I’m going to be building up the live show to include singing and guitars and stuff. I’m putting out a new record next year, which is geared towards the idea of not electronic dance music but electronic music. It can still punch you in the face but it doesn’t have to be known as electronic dance music (EDM). You know what I mean? Sex Pistols didn’t call themselves dance music but you can dance your ass off to them. That’s the direction I’m looking into.

A’Damaged Pro – How do you propose to help redefine the terminology that people are using that only allows a dichotomy of “this” or “that” when what you’re proposing is a duality?

Flux Pavillion – Personally, what I like about DJing, is that you can present the music in a way that the crowd may not have ever heard it before. So you can play two tracks together and generate an entirely different energy than the way the track was intended. So, blurring the lines is definitely an interest of mine.

A’Damaged Pro – Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

Flux Pavillion – Flux Pavillion – I’d like to be happy like anybody else. What I’d really like is to just be a producer. Build a studio and like I was talking about earlier have bands and acts and artists come live with me for, like, two months and work on something special. They go off and do their thing and I work with someone else and then someone else and so on. To be skilled enough to do that I need to learn my craft better so, for the next five years I need to learn more about production and composition to give people the proper platform. I need to work on my own platform before I can help be the platform for others.

A’Damaged Pro – How do you recommend that you do that?

Flux Pavillion – Keep focused on the task at hand. For me, with Flux Pavillion, the task at hand is to make people feel something in here (touches heart). Everyone is different and experiences something a little different but as long as they are feeling something from the music, that’s what making a record is all about. Not necessarily trying to be a genre or a specific sound, just trying to capture that Flux Pavillion feeling.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s one thing that you’ve never mentioned in an interview before?

Flux Pavillion – I suffer pretty hardcore from anxiety. I have panic attacks on stage sometimes and I just swallow it down. No one ever knows that that happens. I’ve never really told anyone about that before.

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

There’s no denying that there are obstacles to achieving success in the music/entertainment industry. For an artist, there are an extensive list of contributing factors that must be identified and overcome in order to move to the next stage of the game. While some wait for that magical handshake or for their tracks to catch the right powerhouse’s ears, Josh made a proactive choice to bring the music he loves to the masses. I don’t think he’s ever looked back since the formation of Circus Records. I mean, really, why should he? We know he isn’t stopping there and that he is driven to further hone his craft and form a unique “Flux Bridge” between electronic music and live instrumentation. Although some contemporary artists are already establishing their own brand of hybrid platform, I’m extremely excited to see Flux’s vision for his future sound manifest a new dimension in the musical landscape.

Connect with Flux Pavillion: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Photo Credit: Joshua Brasted

An Electronic Awakening For The Collective Consciousness – An Interview w/ Andrew Johner

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life
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What do you call the feeling when you lose yourself in the music, and are you truly ever lost if you belong to a community of your peers? What distinct advantages are there to recognizing the transcendent qualities of an environment and culture that promote individuality as well as harmony as a group? Andrew Johner, the creator of the film “Electronic Awakening” and a founding member of the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA), hopes to unlock the mysteries of possibility that reside within electronic music and transformational culture. I spoke with him to discuss: the origins of his groundbreaking project, his personal experiences within the electronic community, the shamanistic roots prevalent in contemporary “rave” culture, and the potential spiritual and metaphysical impact the global electronic presence can have on the world.

A’Damaged Pro – Where did you grow up?

Andrew Johner – I grew up in Decatur, Illinois. It’s a Midwestern version of Billy Joel’s Allentown; economic depravity, abandoned factories, a deep Springsteen mentality- the few of us that made it out had no other option but to be eccentrically artistic.

A’Damaged Pro – What were your earliest musical influences?

Andrew Johner – I grew up listening to Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, the Dead- a lot of early, mostly unheard of psychedelic music from the 1960s. I would research these early experimental psychedelic bands- like the 13th Floor Elevators- and then go hunt them down in record stores and libraries.  I was always seeking something different, something I thought was nonexistent in my generation….once I found electronic music I felt as though it was the sound I had been searching for.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s your fondest musical memory from growing up?

Andrew Johner – I remember reading about Grateful Dead fans, and the concert experiences people were having. The Dead would ‘play the room’ as they identified their jam genre. At first, I wasn’t into the music as much as I was interested in the group culturally. To this day I still haven’t been to a single one of their concerts. I was curious from a social perspective- what was happening to the audience at their events?  I read everything I could about them. When I first started listening to their bootleg tapes, I started to realize something deeper was happening at the events. Little did I know that right around that same time the whole rave phenomenon was happening….I wouldn’t discover it until much later. However my previous armchair research into the Deadhead movement certainly served as a foundation for my later exploration of electronic music events.

A’Damaged Pro – What inspired you to get into the music/media business?

Andrew Johner – I wasn’t a fan of electronic music when I first chose to investigate the culture. To me it sounded like a storm of 8-bit noises. At first, I was interested solely from a research perspective. I attended my first EDM event armed with a camera and notebook to begin my investigation into the spirituality of the culture.  While trying to retain an outside perspective- the music immediately drew me in. Almost overnight I found myself bonded with the community through a shared passion for the music and the experience. The music is the greatest souvenir of all my years in the field, one that will stay with me the rest of my life.

A’Damaged Pro – How has the scene changed from when you were first introduced?

Andrew Johner – The transformation of the culture has been tremendous in terms of not only its commercial expansion and influence on pop culture, but in solidifying an identity- both as a musical genre and as a culture. Ever since the culture’s emergence in the 1990s- and downfall- it was for the most-part nameless and underground; known only to those who were truly dedicated to the music and community built up around the events. I began researching the scene while it was in this period of incubation. The first individuals whom I interviewed were foretelling a future expansion of the culture into a mainstream phenomena. At the time, it was yet esoteric and ghostly. The sense of prophecy and transformation has been a strong undercurrent of the EDM community over the last decade- now we are seeing how some of it has actually played out. EDM is now a massive multi-billion dollar industry. Group ecstasy is now a mainstream leisure for the next generation of youth. While many of the old-school devotees complain the new movement has become too big, watered-down, cookie-cutter and commercial- they are overlooking the fact that the central core of the event has remained unchanged- the moment of oneness and unity on the dancefloor. Early rave culture reached a similar peak of commercialization, mainstream popularity, and lost meaning- inevitably leading to its decline. However, when looking at EDM from its full and complete history, we know a seed had been planted way back then. Many of those involved with that moment in the 1990s are the ones leading the transformational movement now. From watching their accelerated change over the last decade I would surmise the new commercial EDM scene must undergo a comparative trajectory; over time interjecting wellness, community, and celebration back into society.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your position and what are your current responsibilities within your company?

Andrew Johner – I am creator of the film Electronic Awakening. I am also the owner of the production company Federation of Earth Productions.  Electronic Awakening was the first big project to go out under our label. Beyond my film work, I am an author and ethnographic journalist. I write, research and speak on topics of electronic music cultures, spirituality, and transhumanism. (For more information, or to book a presentation visit my webpage here)

A’Damaged Pro – What is the most rewarding part of your job? Most challenging part?

Andrew Johner – Seeing Electronic Awakening come to completion all the way from my initial conception was by far the most rewarding. A part of that reward, is hearing back from someone that the film helped solidify deeper feelings they may have had about dance music and had yet to find a way to express it. Believe it or not, the project was conceived on the dancefloor- during my first electronic music event. Call it a bolt of lightning, or pink laser beam from God- I felt called to make a film which expressed exactly what it was people were experiencing in that moment. The anthropology and research came easy, making a film however was a whole new experience. I was working in a whole new medium- coming from a background in writing, the crossover was challenging. Financing a film of this nature was the most challenging, and time-consuming part of the process. I spent the first few years applying for grants, sponsorships, and investors- to no avail. Like most first-time independent filmmakers I had to build the film a little bit at a time from my own paychecks. There is no doubt that Electronic Awakening was a labor of love in this regard. Luckily I was also able to find dedicated support from other production crews, Keyframe-Entertainment, Advanced MultiMedia Operatives, Yerba Buena Films, Gallixsee Media, and our editor Drew Martinez who brought us to the finish line.

A’Damaged Pro – Can you walk me through the creative process for “Electronic Awakening?” What were you hoping to accomplish with this film?

Andrew Johner – Electronic Awakening began as a research paper called ‘Disco-Shamanism,’ which gave a comparative analysis between contemporary rave events and traditional shamanism- namely ecstatic trance dance experiences. As I began researching the topic I was surprised to learn that the culture was based upon the core elements of shamanism- trance and ecstasy. As trance and ecstasy were highly sacred, ritualized techniques for shaman, I immediately questioned the role spirituality played in the electronic community. Throughout the course of my initial field research, I continuously encountered stories of life-changing experiences happening on the dance floor at these events. As an outsider to the scene, I was deeply intrigued to discover that the deep spirituality I proposed to unveil was incredibly prevalent within the community. I thought this connection to the sacred was what lay at the core of EDM culture and was the explanation of its evolution as a community.

From those first few weeks of my fieldwork, I knew that I wanted to make a feature-length film and full book ethnography on the subject. With the film, I was hoping to express the fundamental role spiritual experience has played in the formation of the culture, and in its transformation into a movement of revitalization as we are seeing with Transformational Festivals, Burning Man, and the growing Global Tribe of Psytrance (see Graham St John’s book).
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A’Damaged Pro – What was the research process like when deciding what festivals you wanted to include into this project? Were there distinct elements that you were hoping to capture, as each festival has its own pulse, vibe, and heart?

Andrew Johner – As I began research as an outsider to the scene, I knew nothing of the events. I couldn’t distinguish a difference between EDC and Burning Man.  I read about all there was to read about EDM, but nothing can prepare you for visceral immersion. I was interested in seeking out events that were incorporating elements of religion, ritual, and ceremony. This was long before the birth of the ‘Transformational Festival’ label. I was seeking out any events that advertised spiritual symbols, theatrical ritual, or spiritual workshops into their line-up. Today, I wouldn’t have to look too far- however back in 2006 when I began filming and conducting my first field research, these elements were just starting to sprout up as popular features of festival events. Initially, I hoped to explore the mysticism erupting within the community, however my exploration was paralleled with the community’s own first-time exploration into these ideas and themes. Soon I realized what I was capturing with my film was something yet in a process of autogenic growth and cultural revitalization. I wanted to capture it as it was happening.

A’Damaged Pro – Has your viewpoint on the spiritual and mystic elements addressed in the film changed since the project was concluded?

Andrew Johner – Since the release of Electronic Awakening, I immediately began work on my book Electronic Revival. The book is a further exploration into the subject as the film- however from a broader theoretical perspective; the role of spirituality in our biology, the function of religion in the building of community, and the future role of technology in the evolution of sacred practices.

A’Damaged Pro – How would you describe “Electronic Awakening” to someone who has never heard about it?

Andrew JohnerElectronic Awakening is an ethnographic documentary which explores the spirituality of electronic music culture, why it’s there in the first place, and what role it has played in their transformation as a community.

A’Damaged Pro – How did you become affiliated with the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA)? What potential did you originally see in the EMA? What are some of your proudest achievements as a member?

Andrew Johner – I first became affiliated with EMA just after the release of the film. I was invited by Janine, the founder, to host an Electronic Awakening booth at one of their events. Throughout the production of Electronic Awakening, I had higher aspirations to see an allegiance of the global community come together. After first learning about the EMA, I felt as though I had found the organization that was a carter of that same vision. From that moment I was immediately on board, and dedicated to assist in whatever I could to help the organization achieve that vision.

A’Damaged Pro – As you’ve seen the organization grow, how has your view on the EMA’s potential to incite change evolved?

Andrew Johner – I am proud of the organization, not only in its initial vision- but in what it has achieved in a short period of time. The EMA has become a voice for the culture, one that speaks up for the improvement and empowerment of the dance music culture. EMA seeks to link the momentum of the community with charitable causes. Myself, and the EMA included, believe that Electronic Music Culture is a powerful vehicle for change in the world. The EMA is making a profound move towards enabling the full potential of the momentum of our movement. Electronic Music is a powerful game-changer for the culture of our generation, and its going to be groups like EMA that help organize and steer it in the right direction.temple10.2.11.091
A’Damaged Pro – The media has reported and, in some cases, sensationalized incidents that involved a breakdown in the compassion and attitudes of some festival goers for their friends and contemporaries. An example would be people sending their friends, that need medical attention, home from festivals instead of pursuing helping them. Besides for providing empirical evidence for the press to note that these behaviors are being addressed, what trends can you see emerging as more people adopt a code of conduct along the lines of the EMA’s “Party Pledge?”

Andrew Johner – Unfortunately, before groups like EMA, and DanceSafe came along- improving party codes of conduct was left up to a lot of trial-and-error. We cannot overlook the fact that raving is like any other extreme sport- while transformative and invigorating, you’re going to get a few broken bones on the black diamonds every once in a while. It’s sad to think that popular culture finds it cool to abuse alcohol, yet shun drug use at electronic events. The sensationalism of the media is not going to last for long. The appeal of psychedelics is in too deep now.  What is likely to advance is our maturity surrounding the use of such compounds. This will happen through the creation and dissemination of values relating to use. EMA’s Party Pledge is an excellent example of what is being done to help create those new value-systems that will help guide the rest of the community. Right now EDM is in place to be a role-model for the rest of the world in terms of incorporating ecstatic experience into community, so we have to set a good example.

A’Damaged Pro – What are some direct benefits that you can foresee of events and festivals incorporating the “Party Pledge” or a variation into their respective safety programs?

Andrew Johner – I think the best example of a similar dissemination of specific values into an event is Burning Man. The whole Burning Man experience is built around their core values. They are not hidden within the fine print, they are front and center. The majority of Burners can recite most of them by heart. The values organize experience. The same could be true of the rest of dance music culture if such a pledge was put in place, and popularized by the community. I think its great the EMA is striving to make this happen.

A’Damaged Pro – What are a few focal points of change that you would like to see instituted into the global EDM community?

Andrew Johner – I stand behind the values of the EMA and would like to see them further integrated within the rest of the global dance community. I would like to see more attention be given towards safety at events- more from the patrons themselves than from the organizers. EDM is long due for an upgrade in collective values. The transformational festival community is a great example of a group’s ability to create new social-guidelines and propagate them throughout an event or community- however they are a bit extreme and can create more division than inclusivity through their rigid ethos-structuring. The global EDM community needs to find a good middle ground between these two extremes.

A’Damaged Pro – How do you feel that different forms of media (whether film, print, or social media) can be utilized best to encourage people to adopt a more caring and ecologically-sound attitude?

Andrew Johner – The media generates and regulates culture; especially now, in a society driven by social media memes. I think those who are involved in media arts with the intention of activating or progressing our social attitudes are going to be the ones to make some of the most profound changes in our culture.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your take on the potential therapeutic and healing properties of music?

Andrew Johner – I think that sound is moving into a whole new paradigm of science and technology. It will have a more profound role to play in our daily lives; for healing, meditation, and the transfer of information. I see the Electronic Music Culture as a metaphor for where the world is going once new sound technologies are available.

A’Damaged Pro – Are there any other projects that you are working on now that you can talk about?

Andrew Johner – My next project is my book “Electronic Revival: Religion, Technology, and the Rise of Electronic Dance Music.” The book covers the conscious evolution of EDM from a leisure culture into a movement of revitalization. More than exhibiting the biological core of spirituality through the ecstatic practices of dancing, music, and entheogens- electronic music and the transformational festival culture display the fundamental role spirituality plays in the organization and evolution of culture. The book is an ethnographic and theoretical exploration into dance music- incorporating such concepts as the perennial philosophy, complexity, rhythmic entrainment, cosmocultural evolution, and the significance of ecstatic dancing in our evolution as a species.

A’Damaged Pro – What are a few charities whose causes you hold in high regard?

Andrew Johner – I am a strong supporter of the United Nation Foundation, NPR, and the Boy Scouts of America with whom I was involved with directly for several years and was able to see preform positive change in local low-income communities where I was growing up.

A’Damaged Pro – Please list three global issues that you believe deserve immediate attention and your potential solutions for addressing them.

Andrew Johner – 1. Access to information. While I live in the United States where it is relatively easy to gain access to a computer, the internet and social media, countries in economic depravity, or the third world do not share this luxury. I believe that the core of this problem is in providing easy access to technology for communities in the third world, remote areas, or in areas under economic or political hardship.

2. Energy consumption: I see this a more of an affordability problem than anything else. While its great to see affluent groups embrace sustainable energy, the majority of the world lives below the poverty line and are more concerned with basic survival needs than switching to new sustainable technology. Beyond the propagation of awareness of sustainable energy, our political systems need to play a more intrinsic role in making clean and sustainable energy accessible and affordable.

3. The lack of funding for anthropological research. From my perspective the study of humanity and culture is the most valuable in our understanding of how we operate as a society. The structure of our social, economical, and religious systems should come with this knowledge in mind first and foremost.  We have Smartphones, why not SmartSocieties. The DIY culture-construction of Burning Man is a good example of what can happen if we infuse more cultural knowledge into the arrangement of our social systems. For me, anthropology is the source of much of that understanding.

A’Damaged Pro – What goals have you set for yourself for the next year? 5 years?

Andrew Johner – In the next year I plan to complete both my book Electronic Revival, and complete my Masters degree. In the next five years, following completion of my book, I plan to complete my next film and book project, “The Simulated Man: Virtual Reality, Social Media, and the Transformation of Society.” The film and book will give a comprehensive look at how virtual reality will play an intrinsic role in the basic functions of our society allowing for a new and more complex form of culture to emerge.

A’Damaged Pro – Is there anything else you would like to share about your yourself or projects that you’ve worked on?

Andrew Johner – I would like to thank the EMA in all of their efforts in mobilizing, activating, and unifying our global dance culture. I would like to thank all of our partners who made Electronic Awakening available to the masses; Keyframe-Entertainment, Advanced MultiMedia Operatives, Drew and Mark Martinez, our Kickstarter supporters, all of our fans and the electronic music community on a whole. I also would like to extend a thanks to Electronica Life for taking the time to conduct this interview and helping connect the work of many in the dance community to the growing culture.

For more information visit our film page at: www.electronicawakening.com

To find out how to book a presentation of “Electronic Revival: Religion, Technology, and the Rise of Electronic Dance Music” visit: www.acjohner.com

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

It’s disheartening to acknowledge that society has certain parameters for acceptable means of perception imposed on it through calculated manipulation of both government and mass media. Andrew Johner, and individuals who share a similar vision, are motivated to help recalibrate our “traditional” model of normative behavior. Exploring the connection between the transformative elements of electronic music culture and the potential implications of an “electronic awakening” strikes me as an ideal way to usher in a next evolution of collective consciousness. If we are destined to move beyond the confines of our present state of mental stagnancy, we must look to the power of the music, comprehend its potential, and capitalize on what we are capable of learning from one another.

Andrew Johner is a founding member of the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA)

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Connect with EMA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

 

 

Tough, Sexy House Music – An Interview w/ Robbie Rivera

*written by Shimmy for Electronica Life
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With a career spanning 3 decades, Robbie Rivera’s success isn’t attributed to a simple radio single; it is the result of hustling and grinding in an era before this digital boom. Despite the many changes in the dance music scene over the years, his signature groovy sound has stayed honest and relatively the same — a rarity for many of his peers.

Born in Puerto Rico, you can definitely hear the Latin influence to the sexy beats coming out of his decks. Perhaps one of the biggest house names to now call Miami his home, it is not uncommon to associate his sound with Miami Music Week and Winter Music Conference. Nonetheless, even with his huge presence in South Beach, Robbie Rivera’s legendary Juicy Beach party was recently cut from Nikki Beach’s 2015 lineup after 12 years! It’s unfortunate and obvious that the dance scene is radically different nowadays, but setbacks aren’t slowing Robbie down. Now in the middle of his “Get Juicy” Tour, the house producer took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for Electronica Life:

Shimmy – You founded the record label “Juicy Music” with your wife many years ago. What is meaning behind the name and how do you manage juggling being a DJ and a labelhead?

Robbie – Early in my career I could not get any label to sign my music so I decided to create my own label when I was still in college. Monica came up with brand name. Juicy Music is “Tough, Sexy House Music”

Shimmy – You recently released a reboot of the track “100% Pure Love.” Originally released in 1994, it’s definitely a classic. What motivated you to give that classic house track the Rivera remix?

Robbie – Crystal Waters and Armand Pena sent me their mix and I signed it because it’s such a classic tune and I was dying to remix it. I took it the bigroom tribal house. I love my mix!

Shimmy – The “Get Juicy” Tour kicked off recently in Los Angeles and then Miami, two of your most popular North American cities. What do you love most about playing in those 2 areas?

Robbie – Well I like the fact that there are a lot of latinos and an international crowd.  I like performing to mixed crowds as you get a better reaction to your sets I think. LA was sick! I had never performed at Create.

Shimmy – How is the electronic music scene different in your native country of Puerto Rico? What made you decide to become a DJ and producer? In Puerto Rico people love electronic music.

Robbie – When I was 13 years old I was mixing music with 2 turntables and a battery operated mixer jajaja!  By the age of 16 I was editing music and sequencing beats and grooves on drum machines. I was always djing on the weekends on house parties or school events. By the age of 18 I left to study music production at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale so I learned how to be a recording engineer. I knew I wanted to work in the music business so it all kind of fell into place.

Shimmy – Being a veteran of the dance music scene yet still feeling youthful was an underlying theme of your last tour “Forever Young.” What is the inspiration behind your “Get Juicy” Tour and how is it different than any of your previous tours?

Robbie – This tour is about being underground and raw on my sets. I have no commercial music on my usb drives. Only House, tech House and JUICY music.  It’s all about “dancing” on this tour.

Shimmy – While some DJ’s have altered their sound to cater to what is popular with the public, you have remained true to your groovy, sexy yet thumping style. What are your thoughts on the increasing popularity of your genre of music recently and how some typical “EDM” DJ’s are flirting with a deeper or more tech sound?

Robbie – Yes DJ’s and producers do change their styles to go with the trend. It is very obvious on some of the bigger “EDM” producers. I find it annoying.

Shimmy – Do you have any advice for any young DJ’s or producers?

Robbie – Yeah stop listening to all those tracks that sound the same and produce some original grooves. It’s not about getting drunk and acting like a superstar by playing the same tracks everybody listens on the radio. Have the courage to be a little original so you can stand out from the rest. I know it’s hard these days

Shimmy – What’s up next on your “Get Juicy” Tour?

Robbie – Dallas, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Panama, Costa Rica. We add new dates every week.

Shimmy – One last question… can you tell our readers something they’d be surprised to know about you? Perhaps something you haven’t mentioned in any other interview?

Robbie – I can’t think of anything!
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Connect with Robbie Rivera: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | SoundCloud

Memories are Made Aboard the Groove Cruise LA

*written by Crystal Garcia for Electronica Life


It’s Thursday morning in Southern California on a warm October day, the sun is shining bright  and the skies are a pristine clear blue. The weather is perfect just as expected on any day in LA, but this is no ordinary Thursday. No, no, no, not at all..it’s the first day of THE GROOVE CRUISE LA. My partner in crime for the weekend Elsa, and I are cruising down the 101 highway as we discuss what we hope to experience over the course of 72 hours of non-stop music, friends and good vibes aboard the Golden Princess cruise ship. We almost miss our exit as we’re running late and beginning to stress out, but the moment we lay our eyes on the beautiful ship we’re about to board, all worries quickly fade away as uncontainable excitement kicks in.

Elsa and I are among the first “captains” to board the ship early for the media luncheon that Whet Travel, kindly hosted for us. Here we mingle with some industry friends and take a tour of the Golden Princess afterwards. The ship is so large that we decide to call it quits halfway through the tour, and opt for a power nap instead already knowing the little to no sleep that is to be had over the next few days. Power naps are a fail as not just one, but two different groups of friends come knocking on our cabin door within minutes of each other ready to get the party started. Oh well, guess naps were a logical but unfeasible idea. We roll out of bed and head to the all-inclusive buffet to fuel for a long night of who knows what’s to come.

It’s half past six, and for some reason the ship still hasn’t left the dock. Soon after, we begin to hear announcements calling the same names to the guest services desk over and over and over again. Carlos is one of the names requested as everyone quickly picks up that this is the reason we still haven’t set sail, and begins to ask Where’s Carlos? Apparently the problems resolved soon after and the Golden Princess is on it’s way, but “where’s Carlos?” quickly became the ongoing joke of the weekend throughout the ship.
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Night one begins as the sun sets over the pacific ocean horizon and the Groove Cruise has officially set sail. Branded as the “floating festival”, Groove Cruise is just that as shipmates dance the night away into the wee hours of the morning with 3,000 of their beautiful and impressively dressed friends to an assortment of electronic genres and a stellar line up including Morgan Page, DJ Dan, Borgeous, and Lee Burridge, to name just a few of the many DJ’s that rounded out the first night of festivities aboard.

I’m awaken to the sun peeking through the blinds on day two, and once I come to and remember “oh yeah, I’m on a boat!”, I immediately jump out of bed and tear apart the blinds. It’s a breathtaking sight to see nothing but ocean and clear skies on any day, but waking up to this after a night of partying is practically unbelievable. I couldn’t help but to think “Is this real life?”, in this moment and many memorable moments throughout the weekend.

Catalina Island is the first of two stops over the weekend for a private Luau themed beach party at Descanso Beach Club exclusively held for Groove Cruisers. Will Sparks properly warms up the early entrants, followed by Erick Morillo outdoing himself as the sun goes down and Dean Mason closing out the rowdy crowd. As we’re whisked away from the island in lifeboats, the dark skies are so clear that the stars twinkle and shine in a  dazzling display of lights that leaves everyone on board mesmerized.
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Once captains return to the ship, the night is in full effect at the CONTROL LA stage with Swanky Tunes and Sick Individuals. I was having a ball dancing with friends until I realized I need some deep beats in my life, so I said adios to my amigos in search. I roam the ship until I reach the very back at the open air INCORRECT MUSIC stage with Cocodrills spinnin as lasers dissect across the ocean water. The stage is packed and everyone looks to be in their own little world, I immediately know this is that somewhere I needed to be.

INCORRECT MUSIC label owner Anthony Attalla, is next to hit the decks for a set that left me speechless. I still can’t find the words to explain what,why or how it happened, but all I know is that Attalla took everyone in that crowd on a 2 ½ hour musical journey that night, or more like that morning. The bass was thumping and the beats were soulful, as I lost track of time and just about everything else. Daylight slowly began creeping in as the sun rose giving light to the world around us. I had an epiphany of sorts as I realized that I was in the middle of the ocean watching the sunrise as I grooved to the most amazing deep house. It dawned on me that moments such as these are what The Groove Cruise is all about, I now truly understood what everyone had been praising about for so long.

By 7 am my body was crying for sleep and warmth, but my heart just couldn’t bare to leave. At this point I had to force myself to stay until the very end of Attalla’s set at almost 8 am, but it was so well worth finishing out what ended up being my favorite set of the weekend. I don’t remember falling asleep that morning because it must have been immediate, but I do remember the permanent smile across my face on the walk back to the cabin and taking a moment to stare out the window at the sun kissed haze across the ocean horizon, while thinking this is an experience I will remember forever.
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I wake up to a feeling of refreshment and bliss, I’ve got that festival afterglow feeling I haven’t experienced in a really long time. I’m already stoked on life, only to realize that I just woke up in Mexico! The ship is already docked in Ensenada, and after much needed brunch and mimosas, we’re off to Papas & Beer for the Mexican Fiesta party with Deniz Koyu, Sultan + Ned Shepard, and Sex Panther. As expected after a day of drinking in Mexico, the rest of the day is somewhat of a blur, but I do know that our group made it back to the ship in time before it left us. I think you would agree with me that this achievement is really the most important part.

Feeling as though I’ve heard just about everything but trance all weekend, I chose to do things a little differently on the last night and stayed at the trance stage the entire night. Something I haven’t done in a really, really, really long time. After trying countless times to see Darude and continuously missing his sets, I finally had the chance to see this legend in action. As expected, he blew my mind and “Sandstorm” sounded even better live than I could have ever imagined. LA sweetheart Kristina Sky outdid herself this time by opening the stage, and returning for round around 4 am to close the night with uplifting and progressive trance, just as it had began. The best was most definitely saved for last.

Now in it’s 10th year, The Groove Cruise is an event like no other that can be thoroughly explained, but must be experienced to truly understand. To pull off gathering a few thousand people sharing the love and passion for the same music in the middle of the ocean, is just pure genius and magic. Don’t miss your chance to be part of the magic aboard the Groove Cruise Miami in January!
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Warm Vibes and Winter Wonderlands – An Interview w/ Scott Stoughton

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life561557_237258606425206_1279691686_n
Humanity has recognized the power of “the gathering” since the first nomadic tribes. The primary reasons for gatherings, on both tribal and “civilized” levels, have ranged from celebrating a bountiful harvest to honoring newly established diplomatic relationships, but, above all, they have been often used to simply promote the welfare of the members within their respective community. Music lover, humanitarian, and founding member of the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA), Scott Stoughton, embraces the notion that properly curated music festivals have an unrivaled capability for unifying the masses. We talked about how music has directly influenced his life, the healing properties of music, as well as strategies for maximizing the “activation potential” of music festivals.

A’Damaged Pro – Where did you grow up?

Scott Stoughton – I grew up in New Jersey, the Jersey Shore, actually.

A’Damaged Pro – What were some of your earliest musical influences?

Scott Stoughton – The writings of Marley were probably the first thing that really spoke to me.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s your fondest musical memory from growing up?

Scott Stoughton – Seeing my first Grateful Dead show. Not necessarily so much the music, itself, but seeing the community engaging in these drum circles. Everybody was encouraged to participate in this true, pure medium. That attitude is something that I’ve tried to incorporate into all of my endeavors, whether it be festivals or my own musical performance. It’s amazing…the power of the hand drum.

A’Damaged Pro – Taking that as your introduction, what inspired you to get into the music/entertainment business?

Scott Stoughton – I think it found me more than I found it. I was always drawn to the higher vibrations of “gatherings” where you could leave the normal confines of the tangible norm. When that started to light up inside me I started playing more music and I moved to Colorado. I got into the music here and then moved to L.A. and started experiencing so many different aspects of it. I toured in a band for years all around the country and got really enthused by what kind of positive influence we could have. I’ve always been about positive messaging: environmentally, politically, and socially. Environmentally is something that resonates really deeply with me. I was always drawn to and respected artists that would use their personal platform to do good. I’m not really interested in materialism or acts that just do it for the sake of “let’s get high, shake ass, high-five, and see how many people we can sleep with.” That influenced my producing world. I started playing these benefits and producing these benefits. I started putting on outdoor shows and gatherings and I got pretty decent at it. I opened a club in Vail and started to produce more and more bigger events when I wasn’t touring. I wanted to focus to be to draw people into these events and festivals for the right reasons. I embrace a really strong community outreach message. I hold fans and artists accountable for their actions. I don’t create parties for people to get fucked up in. I’ve done that in my past and it’s not my future or my present state. That’s kind of how I’ve rolled. From being a musician and someone who’s been on the road and grinding it out, sleeping in a van, to someone who has produced some pretty successful events that give back substantially to the community, the artists, and to the fans.

A’Damaged Pro – Would it be fair to say that you are trying to create environments that are the antithesis to the “bro-raver” element and mentality?

Scott Stoughton – Haha. Yes. It’s definitely more about giving back and a sense of community.

A’Damaged Pro – You coordinate several events in Colorado. Where did the idea for Snowball Festival come from and what vibe were you guys trying to achieve?

Scott Stoughton – The founder and my partner, Chad Donnelly, who runs the operations, had a vision to combine outdoor activities (in these cases snow sports) and a diverse spectrum of music, beyond what you normally see in the mountains. Kind of an urban, world-class music setting with cutting edge talent, surrounded by beautiful natural surroundings. People are allowed to “get off” however they see fit, whether it be snowboarding on the hill, skiing, and then coming in and listening to a variety of acts. It’s always been about having a wide variety of music available. Everything from deep house to house to dubstep to funk to disco to reggae to bluegrass. It’s been a really amazing platform and it’s got people really excited. I mean we’ve had everybody from Snoop Dogg to Bassnectar to Pretty Lights to Theory to the Flaming Lips. I think it’s pretty diverse and I think that’s one of the elements that people really like.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your position and what are your current responsibilities within your company?

Scott Stoughton – I launched a festival called Winter Wondergrass, which is like acoustic roots with local bourbon, wine, and food festival. We’ve had two events that have sold out, here in Colorado, and this year will be our third. Roughly about twelve to fifteen thousand people attended these past two years. This year we are launching in Squaw Valley. No corporate sponsors. Completely locally sourced: food, wine, spirits. Those events keep me really busy and then I have the 7th Annual Campout for the Cause, which is a fundraiser that I do. It’s a three-day event that brings camping, yoga, workshops, activists, and all types of family-friendly gatherings. Music creates a really great foundation for people to do truly beautiful things. It doesn’t matter what the event is. People want to have more love in their hearts.

A’Damaged Pro – What is the most rewarding part of your job? Most challenging part?

Scott Stoughton – The most rewarding part would probably be when I get messages after festivals. I got a message from a woman that is going through cancer treatment and chemotherapy and she wasn’t really happy that she made it to the event because she could feel the healing going through her body. She could feel her cells vibrating at a higher frequency, which certainly helps with the healing process. When people have a positive reaction to something that I put together…you can’t top that. If someone feels better about themselves or in some cases heals then that’s the change I want to create. The challenge is to walk the fine line between having a higher expectation of people attending my events and not preaching any messaging. Pushing forth a positive message without beating people over the head with it is definitely a challenge. I don’t want anyone to feel alienated. The key is getting them to feel welcome while getting the message, whether it be “leave no trace” or recycle, and have it seep into their psyche. Even if they aren’t prepared to take the necessary steps right now, I want them to feel welcome at all times.

A’Damaged Pro – How did you become affiliated with the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA)? What potential did you originally see in the EMA?

Scott Stoughton – When I was working pretty seriously with SnowBall and SnowGlobe in L.A., a few years ago, I saw a fan-base that I wasn’t normally exposed to and I was curious to see if anyone was tapping into it to promote any positive messages through that community. I got looped in with Janine, from the EMA, and when we met I was drawn to her spirit, her goals, and her attitude towards creating positive change. Even though it wasn’t a community that I was immersed in and entirely familiar with, I wanted to align myself with their central messages. In doing so, I also wanted to make a move to incorporate some of those elements into the events that I was already working with.

A’Damaged Pro – What is the local support scene like where you live in Colorado? Are you affiliated with any particular outreach programs that try to activate the youth and student populations in the community?

Scott Stoughton – My focus is on the community as a whole. I live in the mountains and most of my events are up here. I integrate with a lot of environmental groups and groups that support musical education for kids. There is a focus on the younger demographic, to about fourteen or so, with some music camps that we throw. We also try to do what we can to encourage music appreciation in underprivileged children. A lot more people are talking. A lot more people are becoming aware of global challenges. I’m seeing a very visible conscious shift from people coming just to get “fucked up” to becoming more and more aware and proactive. The messages seem to be resonating because people are bringing the positive attitudes home with them and sharing them throughout their own respective community.

A’Damaged Pro – The media has reported and, in some cases, sensationalized incidents that involved a breakdown in the compassion and attitudes of some festival goers for their friends and contemporaries. An example would be people sending their friends, that need medical attention, home from festivals instead of pursuing helping them. Besides for providing empirical evidence for the press to note that these behaviors are being addressed, what trends can you see emerging as more people adopt a code of conduct along the lines of the EMA’s “Party Pledge?”

Scott Stoughton – I think the awareness has been heightened. As festival organizers become more aware of their responsibility to educate their attendees, I’m seeing very positive trends emerge. We have a buddy program that we supported last year at SnowGlobe, which was absolutely incredible. They were there to support any need that someone might have from gloves to a cell phone to whether they were hungry or thirsty. I’ve seen more and more kids that want to get involved with those kinds of services. I think it’s the right thing to do and people feel good about doing it and, in my mind, it’s definitely saving lives.

A’Damaged Pro – What can festivals do in to provide more of an incentive for their patrons to be socially responsible?

Scott Stoughton – I think, for me, we can’t do it all, nor should we. There has to be an equal desire on the part of the attendee to want to be responsible. I think offering incentives can be effective. I think we just need to set the bar higher for ourselves, in general. This goes for organizers, attendees, and artists. You get back what you put out there. In my mind, I wish more artists would push positive messaging within their fan bases, but I understand why they don’t. It comes down to marketing and image and their “rock star-dom,” but I don’t buy into all that. I think you can make a greater change by having a little more balls.

A’Damaged Pro – Does that imply that there is definitely a social construct that creates a battleground for the intrinsic responsibility an artist has to use their platform for something positive?

Scott Stoughton – I think so.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your take on the potential therapeutic and healing properties of music?

Scott Stoughton – My take on it is that it’s a reality. People have been playing music since the dawn of time, gathering around the fire to share stories and to heal. The vibrations from music vibrate the cells in your body and that controls so many parts of your life. There’s incredible healing properties and opportunities within music, whether it’s silently listening to heavy laboratory-type sounds or what you feel when you go to a gathering of fans that are supporting an artist that they are all really into. Often when people have something to say but they can’t find their voice, they look to an artist and their music to help them heal.

A’Damaged Pro – What are a few charities whose causes you hold in high regard?

Scott Stoughton – I’ve been working with All Hands a lot. They are a 501 (c)3 NPO that did a lot work in Haiti after the most recent massive earthquake. They mobilize volunteers around the world to go into disaster-stricken areas. They get into the situation and get their hands dirty. They clear rubble, establish safe zones, assess structural damages,  and figure out a way to support clean water delivery and filtration systems. They go to the poorest of areas and live in the harshest of conditions. We all worked six days a week from sunrise to sunset. They’re domestic. They’re international. I very much support them.

Love, Hope, Strength is another amazing NPO that I totally support. Their mission is to get people to register to donate bone marrow. They have saved hundreds and hundreds of lives by matching people up. I also try to work with local NPOs wherever I go.

A’Damaged Pro – Please list three global issues that you believe deserve immediate attention and your potential solutions for addressing them.

Scott Stoughton – Our reliance on fossil fuels is a situation that is certainly going to propel us into even more chaos. That’s obvious. The solution is alternative fuels but the primary solution should be personal responsibility on personal consumption. You can control what you do. The more you can control what you do, the more that will create a greater change outside of what you do and who you are. Saying “Fuck Big Oil” is great, but how do you change that? I put that responsibility on each and every person to take care in respect to their own energy consumption.

I believe that the war, the global war, that is going on right now is a big problem. Some might say it’s religious and some might say it’s territorial. I think that is something that is on top of my list of global concerns and crises. The solution for that, I believe, is education, travel, and understanding one another. Having the ability to have an opinion and have a belief structure but also being able to listen to another person’s point of view. You don’t have to agree with what I’m saying but you’ve got to listen to what I’m saying and make an attempt to understand what I’m saying. If people can do that, we can solve that problem. So many people are caught up in their own minds and their own lives. We need to have more empathy.

My third concern, which is of great importance and definitely ties into the fossil fuel issue, is our environment. The rivers and the ocean, I mean, that’s our blood. We don’t live on the Earth. We live in it. If we don’t do everything that we can to support the vibrancy of life, it will eventually go away, at least at the rate we’re going. It might not happen in our lifetime, but in our children’s lifetime. If you look at the rate of deforestation in the rain forest, the mountain of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, overfishing, genetically-modified organisms and other things that are being tainted to “sustain” food sources, people need to be more aware. I don’t want to preach those things. I want to discuss those things. If we don’t understand our role in our environment, we’re doomed. Take a look at the rise in cancer and the rise of GMOs and various processing methods and it’s an exact tie-in. We’ve been creating problems and then throwing money towards trying to find solutions. All of the issues are related. They’re all the same thing. You can’t separate them.

A’Damaged Pro – What goals have you set for yourself for the next year? 5 years?

Scott Stoughton – Really walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I’d like to make the conscious decision and the right decision. I don’t mean the right decision, in the moment, for my personal gains, goals, or financial windfall but making the right decision to help with all of the issues that I just mentioned. If you live in a manner that you know is true in your heart, change will happen. It’s a challenge that I put forth to myself every single day.

A’Damaged Pro – Is there anything else you would like to share about your organization or yourself?

Scott Stoughton – I’m just really really really really grateful and feel really blessed and honored to be in a position where I can speak with you. I could get on stage and speak to a crowd or I could MC an event and have an opportunity to connect with people. I would be able to let them know that I am completely full of love and compassion and want to understand each and every body, every color, every race, every religion, every political belief..I think those are part of us, but they don’t make us who we are. First and foremost, we are all human beings and we’re all connected at the most basic level. It’s something I’m grateful for every second.

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

The old adage is that “no good deed goes unnoticed.” However, the power behind this dime-store philosophy grows exponentially when an individual is truly motivated by a selfless intention to enrich the lives of those they encounter. Scott Stoughton has managed to fine-tune a comprehensive approach that merges his love for music with the opportunity to create community-oriented atmospheres that benefit the participating individuals as well as Mother Earth. Acknowledging that the power to incite positive change, in others and the world around us, exists in all of us is a vital step in humanity actualizing a state of global harmony. Can you think of a good reason not to be the sound of change? I thought so…

Scott Stoughton is a founding member of the Electronic Music Alliance

rsz_ema_logo-300x214Connect with Scott Stoughton: Winter Wondergrass | SnowBall Music Festival | SnowGlobe Music Festival

Connect with EMA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Photo Credit: Lani Michelle Photography

Exploring Your Ultimate Place of Knowing – An Interview w/ Kate McCallum

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica LifeKate-McCallum-1-248x300We, as individuals, are faced with a perpetually infinite number of decisions to make in our lifetimes. These choices manifest, metaphorically and sometimes literally, as forks in the road. The degree to which, the dichotomy between subjective and objective realities, is utilized, is integral in determining how equipped an individual is in illuminating their respective life path. Transformational media guru and founding member of the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA), Kate McCallum, has dedicated her personal and her professional endeavors to explore and cultivate methodologies that are designed to increase the efficacy and reach of the individual and the creative arts. I spoke with her about: the evolution of transformational media, the role of subjective “creative consciousness,” and what the future may hold as these avenues are explored.

A’Damaged Pro – Where did you grow up?

Kate McCallum – A small town in southwest Michigan called Vicksburg.

A’Damaged Pro – What were your earliest musical influences?

Kate McCallum – Wow…the raw truth? The pipe organ, hymns and Sunday school songs we all sang together in the protestant church I grew up in from early childhood. Then it was Americana favorites and classical music I played while in the band and orchestra as a flutist, and as a soprano singer in the church and school choirs. I started singing in choir when I was 5. As I got older I listened to a lot of old 78rpm records that my family owned and found the music fascinating – songs like the Irish Washwoman, etc. My parents didn’t own a lot of 33 rpm records but I recall a Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream album, Brigadoon and the Sound of Music which I played a lot. I also bought my own Hermit and the Hermits album which I loved and listened to top pop on a little transistor radio I owned. But I think that it really was the music I performed and played in choir, band and orchestra that impacted me. Singing lessons at 15 also impacted me as my elder wise teacher had me singing and performing operatic arias by Mozart, Verdi, and others.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s your fondest musical memory from growing up?

Kate McCallum – Belting out the song “Climb Every Mountain” as the Mother Superior in our high school musical version of the SOUND OF MUSIC in 1974. But I also remember the night the Beatles performed on Ed Sullivan and was transformed while watching it. I think the girls screaming influenced me as much as the band! I didn’t quite get it but I got it, you know?

A’Damaged Pro – What inspired you to get into the “transformational media” business? How would  you define the “transformational media world” for those that are not privy?

Kate McCallum – I’ve basically walked two parallel paths my life – one of the deeply esoteric as a student of life’s mysteries, spirituality, metaphysics, meditation, comparative religion, philosophy and human consciousness, alongside my exoteric career path in the arts, media and entertainment industry. I spent twenty years in the studios – Paramount and Universal – then 2.5 years at LA Opera, and now 6+ years as an entrepreneur and philanthropist running my own company and a 501c3 social benefit organization concurrently. When I started working in the studios in1985, I also discovered and began attending classes at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Feliz. The PRS was founded by Manly P. Hall and was set up like a modern day mystery school. They offered classes on a quarterly basis taught by an amazing array of teachers.

So — by day, I worked on big American TV shows like EQUALIZER, MIAMI VICE, LAW & ORDER, CHARLES IN CHARGE etc. and — by nights and weekends I was taking classes at the PRS, and I also studied a very in depth 7 year course their called NATURE OF THE SOUL. The NS curriculum had a great deal of emphasis in meditation techniques, esoteric anatomy and history, the chakra system and the four fold self – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. At the completion of this course, we were to choose to teach it or pursue a service project that came from our own unique gifts and talents. When I meditated upon what I was to do – I got a vision of a building that appeared very clearly in my inner eye. The building had a sign on it that read – The Center for Conscious Creativity. What I realized was that this center was a place where my two life paths merged — artists and media makers could interface with the wisdom traditions, teachers, scientists and experts to create and tap contemporary discoveries, and the timeless teachings and wisdom, to effect greater meaning in the design and execution of their art and stories – ultimately resulting in catalyzing evolving consciousness in the viewer/audience — humanity.

In 2002, I went back to school to pursue an MA in Consciousness Studies and my master’s thesis was the creation of a template for an MA in Transformational Arts and Media. I believe that media and the arts have the profound power to advance human consciousness and transform us on a personal, social and global level.

As a producer and VP of Development, I discovered and or developed several projects that had deep thematic storylines, especially designed to affect the audience at a visceral level while still maintaining an “entertainment” oriented quality.

A’Damaged Pro – How has the social landscape, in respect to media, evolved, given the influx and reliance on technology, from when you were first introduced? Was the Center for Conscious Creativity (C3) a response to this evolution or part of the evolution itself?

Kate McCallum – I laugh when I tell colleagues that when I started in the industry there were only four networks and HBO and Showtime were these radical new outlets called cable TV. Wow.  Times have certainly changed and what we experience now is the extremely radical democratization of media and communication. Never before has it been better to be an artist as there are no long barriers to entry. No excuses not to create and make your projects. How to monetize them is another topic but at least you can now get your work out for budgets that are affordable.

In 2004, a small group of us got together to launch the c3 — ten years ago. At that time, the internet had taken root and was evolving quickly. We launched a simple website and a Ning platform just as FB was starting to emerge and the response was amazing. We enrolled about 1000 people in a few weeks and it helped us create a global community of artists interested in the topic in a very short time. We then co-produced the Southern California Writers Conference in the Fall of 2004 called NEW STORY PARADIGM AND THE FUTURE OF CONTENT to discuss the power of transformational creativity and media. We were focusing on getting these concepts and ideas out to the broader community.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your position and what are your current responsibilities within your company?

Kate McCallum – I’m the President of Bridge Arts Media, LLC www.bridgeartsmedia.com which is my production and development company. I bill out my services under this banner as a Producer, Writer, Consultant, Speaker and Teacher.  My specialty is Transmedia Narrative Design and Storytelling and I have been teaching this lately and loving it! My responsibilities to my clients range from designing and producing Entertainment Business Conferences, speaking, teaching, developing an array of media intellectual properties and or producing them in a variety of platforms such as 360 fulldome, books, music albums, feature screenplays, TV bibles, magazine columns, etc.

I also serve on the National Board of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and am a Board Delegate for the New Media Council and am a member of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) TV Executive Peer Group.

Additionally, I serve as the Founder and Executive Director of c3: Center for Conscious Creativity www.consciouscreativity.org, an educational and arts organization dedicated to creating a better future through arts and media. For the c3 I oversee and producer our initiatives, run the day to day operations and manage the financial and operational activities of the organization, including grantwriting and fundraising.

A’Damaged Pro – What is the most rewarding part of your job? Most challenging part?

Kate McCallum – REWARDING: Creative development. Coming up with or discovering ideas then bringing the best teams together to execute the projects. Then watching or experiencing them being presented or performed and moving people. Incredibly intoxicating.

CHALLENGING: Day to day business operations and admin. I am not so great at the nuts and bolts and raising funds yet.

A’Damaged Pro – Can you explain the connection, as you see it, between transformational media and creative consciousness? Is the relationship symbiotic or are they both catalysts in their own right?

Kate McCallum - Well, one might say that creative consciousness creates transformational media.  Or conscious creativity results in transformational media. Deliberately designing media and or art to effect transformative qualities in the telling and or sharing. Moving the audience to respond, interact, be inspired or act upon the messages in your work.

A’Damaged Pro – Can you please explore your personal thoughts on the interconnectivity of the potential of human thought and perpetual actions based on subjective observations, specifically citing any personal responsibility that we may have to observe the world as it truly is and create based on this objective reality?

Kate McCallum – This is a great request and a profound one at that. I believe in this idea of narrative modeling. That as artists and storytellers we can create scenarios or character arcs that reflect that which we aspire to as humans. If we can visualize, portray characters who respond in enlightened manners, show worlds that are more ideal and evolved than what we struggle with we can truly effect deep meaning in our work. We have a responsibility as creatives to be mindful of what we are putting out to the worlds’ audiences. Does the story or piece inspire, enfire, enrage or dumb down the participant or audience? If the purpose of the piece is to bring awareness to a challenge does it also offer suggestions for solutions or does it leave the viewer feeling hopeless, apathy and desperation?

A’Damaged Pro – What have you created, lately, from your ultimate place of knowing?

Kate McCallum – As a producer I created a unique arts and music label, The Art of Sound, www.theartofsoundgallery.com that specializes in 360 arts+music experiences. So – lately I’ve been working with artists, musicians and 360 technical wizards on a series of 360 visual music events that are designed to create states of experiential awareness for the audience. I’m passionate about the synergy of immersive art and music to induce a reflective awareness of inner space and experience.

As an artist/writer, I am working on a story about a young teenage girl who has the ability to perceive the invisible worlds. I’d like to launch it as a YA novel and then a series but for now I’ve been writing her story on a Facebook page I’ve yet to make public. It’s a fun exercise.

A’Damaged Pro – I heard about an event at the Vortex Immersion Dome in L.A. that featured “Light Glove Theater, an immersive art performance by Aaron Axelrod, and a performance by Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method. What are your personal reflections on this event, in respect to creation, coordination, and execution?

Kate McCallum – We produced that event back in the summer of 2012 and called it AMPLIFY. Amazing how time flies. Aaron created a piece called Melting Rainbows which he did as a film first, then he performed his technique live accompanied by Ken Jordan while painting with multi-color paints on a Lucite bubble mounted with a Canon D5 underneath that allowed him to project the painting on the 50 foot fulldome screen. Very trippy and cool!  Janine hooped and another participant performed with light gloves. I loved it and so did the audience. I hadn’t attended an EDM event in some time, so the light glove art was new for me.

A’Damaged Pro – How did the “State of The Arts” annual event come to be? What factors influenced your decision to bring the EMA in to co-sponsor one year?

Kate McCallum – The STATE OF THE ARTS was developed in cooperation with The Millennium Project, a global futurist think tank www.millennium-project.org. I became the Chair of the Global Arts and Media Node of the organization in 2009 and launched the Arts and Media Node. We enrolled c3 as a partner with the MP to bring awareness of new trends in arts and media to the constituency of over 4500 futurist oriented professionals around the world and to bring awareness of the incredible work of the MP to the creative community in hopes of sharing information. The MP publishes an annual document called STATE OF THE FUTURE, so we felt STATE OF THE ARTS would be an annual event designed to bring awareness to trends in the creative community and how these organizations could work together to effect transformation.

Janine Jordan and I got together and discussed several challenges that were taking place in the EDM movement. We felt that it would be great to bring our organizations together with the Millennium Project to bring more awareness to a broader audience about the power of the EDM culture and the ability in this extremely popular and powerful artform to harness attention to critical issues facing humanity amongst the younger generation in particular. Fun with a purpose.

A’Damaged Pro – How did you become affiliated with the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA)? What potential did you originally see in the EMA?

Kate McCallum – I was introduced to the EMA by Janine. I believe that EMA and the EDM culture has tremendous potential to garner awareness and activism around world issues.

A’Damaged Pro – As you’ve seen the organization grow, how has your view on the EMA’s potential to incite change evolved?

Kate McCallum – I think it’s super exciting and the EMA is poised to do some fantastic work. I especially like the support that they are providing to make gatherings and festivals safer. It’s not easy managing 1000’s of people having a great time! Smiles…

A’Damaged Pro – The media has reported and, in some cases, sensationalized incidents that involved a breakdown in the compassion and attitudes of some festival goers for their friends and contemporaries. An example would be people sending their friends, that need medical attention, home from festivals instead of pursuing helping them. Besides for providing empirical evidence for the press to note that these behaviors are being addressed, what trends can you see emerging as more people adopt a code of conduct along the lines of the EMA’s “Party Pledge?”

Kate McCallum – I think this is fabulous work on EMA’s part.  Simple guidelines and resources like free water, etc. can make all the difference in how people care for themselves and each other and also respond to trauma or emergencies. Simple messaging that everyone adopts makes it easy to set standards of practice and EMA can help accomplish implementing these tactics. Like Burning Man’s “Leave No Trace….” BTW, aren’t there more injuries and physical damage in football games then EDM gatherings?

A’Damaged Pro – What is your take on the potential therapeutic and healing properties of music?

Kate McCallum – TOTALLY believe that music can assist in wellbeing. We’ve had music therapy programs in our colleges for years.  It’s a known agency for healing but with the continued sophistication and evolution of neuroscience and our ability to decode the brain, the science of music for wellbeing will become more and more refined. Recent test studies in elder care have been interesting too — whereby they’ve shown that non responsive patients become animated and display positive emotions and recall when listening to favorite musical pieces.

One of Ed Lantz’s projects is the Digital Spa. This grew out of his work with The Harmony Channel, the VoD channel we launched back in 2006 on Comcast. The HC was created to showcase visual music categorized in 7 different mood zones. You could choose the mood you wished to experience from the 7 different categories. We were on the air for 6 months but couldn’t get funding to market so we were replaced by The Fear Channel!

We’re working on 360 fulldome music/arts experiences to create a state of wellbeing and that’s super interesting to me.

A’Damaged Pro – What are a few charities whose causes you hold in high regard?

Kate McCallum – Peter Gabriel’s WITNESS, Kathy Eldon’s CREATIVE VISION FOUNDATION, Jill Gurr’s CREATE NOW, RED CROSS (they came through for me big time after a fire), DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS, WWF, GREENPEACE.

A’Damaged Pro – Please list three global issues that you believe deserve immediate attention and your potential solutions for addressing them.

Kate McCallum – EDUCATION – Without advancing our approach to education, other global issues will not be addressed as efficiently. I believe we need new revamped educational systems implemented asap that will provide individualized learning paths, critical thinking skills, overview thinking (long range, futurist skills/scenarios), empathy skills, and self regulation skills using whole system awareness (physical, emotional, mental and transcendent) and planetary/universal thinking skillsets as “global citizens.” Much of this can be implemented through computer access/program design, but universities and teachers must be trained as well to design and implement how to guide a new approach to teaching.

Educate the whole system – physical (exercise and diet), emotional (empathy and good psychological health), mental (how to learn and self educate) and transcendent (considerations of the great questions – where did we come from, what is death, life purpose and meaning, etc.).

Use storytelling, the arts and media to also help educate by creating content designed to enlighten and teach as well as entertain.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY – We must get the carbon levels down and create alternative energy options that support the reduction of carbon. Directly related to this is the need for more efficient travel and transportation options. Mass transportation using energy efficient fuels will help, especially in our cities (LA!).

EMPOWERING WOMEN – Assist in supporting women around the world to become educated and empowered, and if they have children, how to parent well. Mothers are one of the most powerful teachers and their influence has a life long effect on their children.

Create global resources to reach women at all levels of society via the internet, actual centers and through media.

A’Damaged Pro – What goals have you set for yourself for the next year? 5 years?

Kate McCallum – As a 57+ year old woman I am looking at the “third act” of my career and considering what to focus on. As a life long entertainment and arts professional, I feel that there is so much potential in the arts and media to assist in educating and advancing our consciousness and I plan to work with others to continue developing and producing content that contributes to the evolution of humanity. I’m also committed to continuing to grow the c3: Center for Conscious Creativity so that the organization can provide education and support to those in the creative community also dedicated to using the power of arts and media to create a better future.

Personally, I have a few books I’d like to write, I’d also like to continue traveling, speaking and teaching both Transmedia Storytelling and meditation as well.

A’Damaged Pro – Is there anything else you would like to share about your organization or yourself?

Kate McCallum – Our goal for the c3 is to find and or build a dedicated public space/building where we can build a brick and mortar fulldome theater, a showcase space and lab spaces for R&D into the study and use of emerging entertainment technologies, content and narratives that effect evolving human consciousness.

Kate McCallum is a founding member of the Electronic Music Alliance
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Connect with Kate McCallum: Bridge Arts Media |  Conscious Creativity | The Art of Sound | Millennium Project

Connect with EMA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Dress Yourself In A Dream – An Interview w/ Raymond Stone, CEO of RaveReady.com

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life
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There is one element of the electronic music scene that easily stands out as a vehicle for self-expression and that’s the attire. A quick visual scan at any EDM-centric festival or gathering will, undoubtedly, yield a wide-ranging spectrum of readily identifiable articles of clothing. Some have become so prominent, achieving an almost-iconic status, that they are unofficial staples of the scene. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a festival that didn’t involve tutus, headdresses, and t-shirts of cats shooting laser beams out of their eyes. I caught up with Raymond Stone, the CEO of RaveReady.com and a member of the Electronic Music Alliance‘s (EMA) Board of Directors, to discuss the soundtrack of his life, how he established himself as a cornerstone in the “rave” apparel industry, and what impact the global dance community can have on the world.

A’Damaged Pro – Where did you grow up?

Raymond Stone – I grew up in a really small town, Durham, Connecticut.

A’Damaged Pro – What were your earliest musical influences?

Raymond Stone - I had this job that started like two hours after school and I had just turned 16. So I’d hang out at this little record store. It was run by this guy, Arun, we’d hang out and he’d teach me about music, break dancing and life in general. He eventually hired me to work at the record shop while he was away and I’d help him do odd jobs at events he was throwing. I was just 16 and he had me in clubs that were 18 and 21+. His head was in it though, he taught me about drugs and alcohol and all that stuff that I needed to stay away from and made sure that I was hanging out with good people. To his credit I never even had a drink until I was in my mid-20’s. I can’t say enough good things about him, without him I would be someone completely different. He definitely changed my life.

As for specific music of artists that influenced me – there are so many it’s tough but off the top of my head:

John B “Up All Night,” it’s still one of my favorite albums of all time, it’s what I learned to mix with.

At 16, I was big into coding and computer “networking.” I’d be talking with the CT2600 guys in an IRC channel while blaring ‘Vegas’ from The Crystal Method or some Hixxy and Darren Styles while working on projects all through the night while my parents thought I was sleeping. I loved Keoki, Icey, Reid Speed, Paul Oakenfold, The Prodigy, Moby…man the list goes on. It’s something that I don’t think about often now but these artists all influenced these little specific moments in my life, they are my soundtrack.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s your fondest musical memory from growing up?

Raymond Stone - Arun was throwing a small event with John B and the person who was supposed to pick up John bailed on the day of. I got to pick him up from the airport and we listened to some of his new music that he had literally just finished. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to a 16 year old kid that was mind blowing.

A’Damaged Pro – What inspired you to get into the music/entertainment business?

Raymond Stone - It really was a culmination of my entire upbringing. There wasn’t a specific moment where I decided that this was going to be my life. I was sort of dragged into it because of my love of the music and the people. I started in the record shop and breakdancing, taking photos at events for RaversOnly.com, then I started helping staff events, then I started throwing events, then finally RaveReady.com…it’s the snowball effect.

A’Damaged Pro – How has the scene changed from when you were first introduced?

Raymond Stone - I think the scene that I started with is still there, and pretty much the same. The parties go on every weekend. You see the same people at every party and you learn their name. With no money in marketing you need to know someone to be invited, so it’s almost like the attendees are vetted in. It’s definitely more of a family vibe that exists, and PLUR is still alive and well here.

With the big festivals there is no secrecy, anyone with the money can show up, and there is a lot less PLUR. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’ll be the first to admit I love EDC, but it’s a different kind experience…and it’s new. There are too many people to have that same intimate family vibes, but that crowd also allows over production and really big lineups.

There is a lot of give and take for both kinds of experiences and I think instead of people trying to compare them, or break down their evolution, it’s best to look forward and try to make what we have better.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your position and what are your current responsibilities within your company?

Raymond Stone - Officially, I’m the owner of RaveReady.com. My responsibilities change on a day to day basis, I never get bored. It’s pretty rare for me to put in less than 12 hours a day doing different tasks like programming, photoshopping, ordering from our manufacturer’s, packing orders, and even cleaning.

When I was in the military I was expected to produce technologies that didn’t exist on a constant basis from people who didn’t understand or care about the technological limits of the time, it was really insane. I found it difficult to respect people that didn’t do anything other than blindly order others around. That experience really taught me that there is no job that I am too good to do.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s the story behind RaveReady being founded?

Raymond Stone - The one moment that directly brought RaveReady.com into existence was a conversation with my old boss, he became an unknowing mentor. I had left the military and was hired by the owner of large military/police supply website to handle their magazine advertisements, web design, and some other things. One day we were talking about how he started his company he explained that in life you either work for yourself and do what you want, or you work for someone else and you do what they tell you.  That was the day I decided I was going to find something I loved and build it, just like he had done. Raves and underground parties were already a part of my life so once I realized that there were no “rave” stores and there was a need it was easy.

A’Damaged Pro – What role do you think your military background has played in your prevailing attitude towards business? Are there any particular skills that you acquired in the military that you feel have been instrumental in your success?

Raymond Stone - I have to give all the credit to my parents. My mom worked three jobs and my dad worked and was always finding ways to do side jobs in construction. They taught me about hard work at a young age.

I can credit the military with my bluntness and my strong attitude.

A’Damaged Pro – What is the most rewarding part of your job? Most challenging part?

Raymond Stone - I think getting the right product in our warehouse is the hardest thing right now, and it relates to the maturity and growth of the mainstream markets.

There are so many companies starting up that they are just saturating the market with poorly made products. We spend a lot of time curating our products and it’s increasingly difficult to find the “good” stuff. We’re constantly searching for the brands who are rooted in the community and who are trying to do something a little different.

Also, merchandising is such a new concept with this type of music that very few artists (djs, producers) are interested in it beyond putting it on their own websites. It really is a way for artist to share themselves with the audience, who already loves them, in a new way.

The most rewarding parts are when we overcome those challenges and eventually see that stuff on the dance floor. There is more than one product or brand that we have helped grow so when we see it out there it’s really exciting to me.

A’Damaged Pro – How does it make you feel when you see people in your wares at an event/festival?

Raymond Stone - It’s really amazing! I really don’t have the words for it.

A’Damaged Pro – How did you become affiliated with the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA)? What potential did you originally see in the EMA?

Raymond Stone - I think it all came together because Janine and Ken saw my love for the music and people, and I saw theirs. I’m not sure why they chose to bring me on, but I am extremely honored.  Any time you get a group of passionate people together there is an opportunity to make positive change. EMA was started because although we can all see the positives in this thing we love, we can all see areas that can be improved upon.

A’Damaged Pro – As you’ve seen the organization grow, how has your view on the EMA’s potential to incite change evolved?

Raymond Stone - I was lucky enough to be introduced to all the founders before EMA was officially formed; each and every one of the people involved cares deeply about all aspects of their community. You can’t quantify the potential of good people doing good things.

A’Damaged Pro – Can you tell me about the EMA’s first event “Launch?”

Raymond Stone - Launch was this great event that we did at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles a few years ago. We only had about 10 days to pull it together so in that respect I’d have to say it went pretty well. Paul Watson, from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, came out which was pretty amazing.

A’Damaged Pro – The media has reported and, in some cases, sensationalized incidents that involved a breakdown in the compassion and attitudes of some festival goers for their friends and contemporaries. An example would be people sending their friends, that need medical attention, home from festivals instead of pursuing helping them. Besides for providing empirical evidence for the press to note that these behaviors are being addressed, what trends can you see emerging as more people adopt a code of conduct along the lines of the EMA’s “Party Pledge?”

Raymond Stone - I think there is an overall problem within the “news” segment of the media. These companies profit by getting readers, so boring headlines just don’t earn them anything.  As EDM/raves/festivals/whatever-you-want-to-call-it grows it’s become a catchy phrase for them to leech off of. I try not to focus on what they are saying and look towards what we can do. There are a few people out there battling the news media head-to-head, Kaskade and Tommie Sunshine have written some great stuff, but for everyone who doesn’t have that reach our collective actions mean something. Every time this community gives something back, whether it’s a Beach Cleanup Day like we had October 18th in Venice, or a $25,000 check to the Boys and Girls Club, it becomes harder to criticize us.

A’Damaged Pro – In the spirit of “Leave No Man Behind,” do you feel there is any merit to speculation that the EDM community could benefit from an organized hierarchy to help instill core values in the newer members?

Raymond Stone - I think the thought is unrealistic and counterproductive. Part of the experience is attending an event where you aren’t judged in any way. That alone means that no “hierarchy” can exist. Trying to install some sort of pseudo-government of education would be counter-productive. Education should be readily available for people at festivals, but not forced down their throats.

I don’t believe that new ravers are any less intelligent than older ones. In my experience many of the older ones use their age as an excuse to screw up just as much as younger ones. Core values are instilled by upbringing and education. Two massive problems the country is dealing with right now.

A’Damaged Pro – What is your take on the potential therapeutic and healing properties of music?

Raymond Stone - I think anything that keeps your brain and body active is healthy, music does that. I know that I am not the only one that can sit down on the couch, listen to a track, and just feel goose bumps.

A’Damaged Pro – I’ve heard you like to travel. What are some of the more exotic places you have visited? Have you been able to draw any corollaries between the attitudes present at music festivals in these areas and the respective quality of life in those communities?

Raymond Stone - I’m going to have to check my Facebook security permissions after this, haha. Yes, I travel quite a bit. I guess my list of most “exotic” would be Qatar, the Philippines, and India. Everywhere I have been in the world is the same; the music ends up being what matters. Everyone who is there is because they feel something in the music, and it doesn’t matter what class they come from in the real world. There are always some cultural differences, some interesting dancing…and a lot of smiles.

A’Damaged Pro – What are a few charities whose causes you hold in high regard?

Raymond Stone - Two local organizations that are close to my heart are the SPCALA (www.spcala.com) and NKLA (www.nkla.org).  And although it isn’t a charity I would tell people to take a look at Kiva.org.

But if you actually care and want to make things better.  When someone has a flat tire, pull over and help them. When you see a stray dog, bring it to the shelter.  If you see a hungry child, feed them. Just do one awesome thing today for someone you don’t know.

A’Damaged Pro – Please list three global issues that you believe deserve immediate attention and your potential solutions for addressing them.

Raymond Stone - The world is so filled with issues that picking three above all the others is kind of difficult. All of them are so heavily intertwined with one another that they need to be addressed collectively. There are no magic bullets to fix world issues and I’m not going to pretend to have solutions for any of them.

The Middle East. There is unfortunately no solution that I can think of. There is a segment of the population who are willing to do unthinkable things to innocent people all because of their interpretation of what is written in a book. It’s easy to blame it on one side or another but these issues have been happening, literally, since the beginning of recorded history.

Pollution. It’s such a huge topic in and of itself that I guess I’ll just tackle one small aspect. One of the most interesting things I’ve found while traveling is that even in third world countries soda, chips, and candy are served in plastic wrappers. These counties don’t even have the infrastructure to dispose of human waste, never mind synthetic non-biodegradable trash. These populations relied on fresh vegetables and meat. Waste was composted. Suddenly big companies popped up, giving them plastic that they have no way of disposing of properly. Countries (and shareholders) really need to be asking companies to have some sort of assistance plan before entering or growing in these markets, unfortunately it is too late at this stage for most places. We need to spend some money on developing more sustainable biodegradable packaging.

Family Planning. The worlds population is growing at an enormous rate, it’s completely unsustainable. Our planets resources are finite and our technology just isn’t advanced enough to properly take care of everyone right now. I’ve found people around the world that didn’t necessarily want a large family it “just happened” because of the lack of education and protection available to them. The US gives away billions of dollars in aid every year, and a condom costs just 2 cents to make. There is a real cost to growing a large family, both financial and environmental and I think that needs to be taught in schools across the world. A little education and a piece of rubber can go a long way.

A’Damaged Pro – What goals have you set for yourself for the next year? 5 years?

Raymond Stone - To keep doing our thing! We’ve got a pretty complicated inventory because we carry over 10,000 products so we’ve spent all of 2014 getting that in place. We still have a little bit more to go until it’s perfect, but we are definitely getting close. Once it is we’ll be able to guarantee shipping within one business day on everything in the store. It’s a huge goal but we’re setup to make that happen. You’ll also see a new RaveReady.com being released in late 2015 or early 2016.

A’Damaged Pro – Is there anything else you would like to share about your organization or yourself?

Raymond Stone - Don’t let any company tell you what you need to wear at a party.  Don’t let any DJ or promoter tell you what you can’t wear to a party. Dress comfortably, smile, and dance hard.

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

Generally speaking, festival atmospheres provide a vital outlet for people to express who they are, what they love, and how they feel. The power of the music, that curates the gathering experience, resonates in the hearts of all those in attendance. Finding a way to address your personal needs for happiness is a tricky business, and it’s quite remarkable when your search is fulfilled by helping others maximize their own happiness. This connection is compounded further when the fruits of these pursuits are utilized to give back on an even larger scale. It’s sort of an “I would gladly help you so I can ultimately help them” scenario. Raymond Stone loves what he does because he appreciates what hard work and determination can accomplish and he would like to help make the world a more vibrant and hospitable place. That kind of forward-thinking positivity is electric. There’s no present timetable for us to be living in a utopian world with a killer soundtrack, but it’s comforting to know that people are striving to activate their peers for such pursuits.

Raymond Stone is a founding member of the Electronic Music Alliance
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Connect with RaveReady: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Connect with EMA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

BLVCKOUTS, Big Slap & Major Lazer – An Interview w/ Joey Massa

*written by Crystal Garcia for Electronica Life
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Swedish DJ and producer Joey Massa received his big break early on in his sprouting career when Major Lazer premiered his debut release track “BLVCK” on the Diplo & Friends BBC Radio 1 show. The future only looks bright for this rising young star as he continues to work on new music while developing a web miniseries and plans for a North America/ Europe tour. We caught up with the DJ known for wearing all black to discuss his claim to fame and the foreseeable future.

Crystal –  I read that growing up you dreamed of becoming a master pianist, but once you were introduced to the local club scene, you realized that DJ’ing better suited you. What was it about the music that prompted you to pursue a drastically different musical outlet?

Joey Massa – Yes! That’s true. I’ve been playing the piano since I was a very young boy, but as I grew up & started to listen to electronic dance music like Daft Punk at the age that I could go clubbing, and I discovered a whole new world. It just felt so right at the time for me. It seemed like I could entertain more people in this generation age by DJing rather than playing the piano. I liked the whole uptempo lifestyle & the amazing techniques some DJ’s exemplified.

Crystal – Considering that you’ve had a passion and love for music since early childhood, did you grow up in a musical household or was anyone in your family a musician?

Joey Massa – Actually, No. I grew up in a tough household where education & typical 9-5 jobs was the top goal in life. The reason that I started playing the piano was mostly because I was a thin, weird kid and I wasn’t suited for sports etc. My parents  weren’t very supportive of the whole DJ idea at first, actually no one was. Which is what makes me so motivated, it’s the strive to prove people wrong. Thankfully, today my parents are one of my biggest supporters.

Crystal –  Who are your biggest electronic and also non-electronic musical influences?

Joey Massa – My biggest electronic musical influences are artists who like to stay out of the box. Artists like Eric Prydz, Diplo & Steve Angello. With them it’s not just music, it’s all about making a whole concept that stands out.

My non-electronic musical influences can vary from time to time and the kind of mood I’m in. I like to listen to everything but electronic music during my free time. Right now I’m hooked on artists like James Blake, A$AP Rocky, Banks, Fever Ray & many more.

Crystal –  Recently your first single release “BLVCK” was played on Diplo & Friends BBC Radio1 XTRA. How did it feel finding out that your track was supported by Diplo and played on such a well respected radio show heard by millions of people around the world?

Joey Massa – It was unbelievable. I was actually listening to the BBC show randomly as a regular fan. When my track came on I literally jumped up and down like a 5 year old kid high on cocaine on Christmas eve. I could never imagine getting my music supported by Major Lazer & Diplo, let alone being played on BBC Radio 1 at this point in my career. This was something I expected to happen in a year or two, at least.

Crystal –  How did it come about that Diplo got a hold of your tracks?

Joey Massa – It all started randomly when I was at Amsterdam airport on my way home from ADE last year and I got an email from Jillionaire ( Major Lazer) with the remix stems to “Jet Blue Jet.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading, that I actually emailed back asking what I was supposed to do with that pack. After that remix I was invited to Major Lazers show in Copenhagen. Everything else took a pretty natural course after that.

Crystal –  What was it like performing in your hometown of Malmo, Sweden this past summer at Big Slap Festival with headlining DJ’s such as Afrojack, Steve Aoki, and Arty?

Joey Massa – Performing in my hometown is always something special. It’s extra special when I haven’t played there in a while & get to do it at such a big festival in front of 15.000 people. I rarely get nervous, but when I saw the crowd during Afrojacks set I almost s*** my pants knowing I was next. It was incredible!

Crystal –  The first episode of your new mini series entitled “BLVCKOUTS”, which follows you backstage and on stage at Big Slap Festival,  is only a short minute and a half. It left me thinking “that’s it?” While also wanting to see more. So I have to ask, was that the point? haha

Joey Massa – That’s exactly the feeling I’m trying to achieve with the series. When you think of a typical DJ Aftermovie you see a big house track, some cool effects, some cool talking before going on stage & stuff like that. I wanted to do something else. My idea is based on the name basically. BLVCKOUTS. It’s built like a big blackout. short frames, dark music & just an unclear vibe of the whole thing. Leaving you with the feeling of wanting more.

Crystal –  What was the inspiration behind “BLVCKOUTS”, and what else can we expect to see in the series?

Joey Massa – The inspiration is basically from every big DJs after movie. Taking one cool idea from here and another from there to build my own thing. But mostly the whole inspiration comes from the name itself & the vibe I wanna give away as an artist.

Crystal –  Where did the name behind the series come from?

Joey Massa – Easy! It came from my track BLVCK. Pretty convenient actually. I’m trying to build my concept as an artist around that.

Crystal –  Can we expect any tour dates in the US and/or LA anytime soon?

Joey Massa – Hopefully yes! We’re trying to sort everything out with the visa & promoters etc. So Yes! BLVCKOUTS TOUR is coming to the US & the rest of Europe!

Crystal –  What are your plans for the rest of the year, and the new year?

Joey Massa – Just to make as much music as I can for now! So you can expect a couple of hot releases in the near future.

Crystal –  Tell me one thing that you haven’t told anyone else in an interview that you think people should know.

Joey Massa – Everything I do is ghost produced. Including this interview. It’s actually not even me on the photos of me. It’s my black evil Siamese twin!

Crystal’s final words…

It’s clear that Joey Massa is an upcoming force to be reckoned within the industry and I’m very excited to see what the future has in store for this inspiring talent and his brilliant “BLVCKOUTS” brand.
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