I think a lot about the future. Maybe that intrigue with the future leaks into all corners of my life, including music.
Electronic music has peaked in popularity recently and it’s not falling down anytime soon. As time ticks and the clock twirls, this connection with the future and the electronic music becomes more evident than ever. From production to consumption, electronic music is influenced by this connection.
This idea of Futurism is something often subconsciously ingrained in electronically produced music but for many producers, it is an important aspect for their creative process. “Techno isn’t about dancing, it’s about the future,” Jeff Mills, Detroit Techno legend, comments to The Skinny. Mills often discusses how space, time and the future influence his music. While not all artists are so defined by this inspiration, I think it is deeply-rooted in every creative artist.
Technology connects a producer to their bank of sounds, the listeners ears to the mp3 on their computer, the sound waves from a speaker, and the way music is distributed. Technology is changing the music industry and the way music is made. But for electronic music, technology was the foundation for a whole new world of sounds. The new advances in music technology created electronic music. Technology is the vital bridge to electronic music. The two have a symbiotic relationship. As artists progress, new music technology is developed and as this new tech is utilized, new variations of electronic music are produced.
This reliance to technology for music production is an ode the changing of times. When producing digitally, the only limits an artist has are the limits of their own skill and creativity. After the exciting generation who was raised exploring the fairly new digital musical realm, there are high hopes for those to come. The newest generation of producers, with so many genre already explored, are more aware of the unlimited nature of their musical expression.
Festivals around the world are beginning to commit to these sounds of the future and change is near.
Tucked in the northern Italian city of Torino, Club to Club Festival is a hidden gem. The city itself is industrial and historically a hub for underground electronic music. The experimental and avant-garde lineup pays tribute to the city’s atmosphere. Club to Club spans over five days and different venues, but mainly took place at the Lingotto Fiere, a spacious convention center that’s reminiscent of a warehouse with the high ceilings of its main stage. Down a long hall of bar stands and wandering festival goers was the hazy Sala Gialla. Hosted by Red Bull Music Academy, Sala Gialla was a smaller stage that provided a more intimate experience. Both stages presented impressive sound systems that paired perfectly with the diverse range of artists.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to see every set, these are what I consider to be the leading performances of the weekend.
Mura Masa, the young producer and multi-instrumentalist also known as Alex Crosson, delivered a strong and dynamic set at Sala Gialla. Rapper and vocalist Bonzai generated unmatchable energy as she utilized the space and connected with the crowd in the way a DJ can’t. Together they worked off each other, strong vocals tied into Mura Masa’s unique blend of hiphop and future electronic beats. Each song was distinct and the audience rippled in response. Mura Masa dropped quite a few fan favorites and got the crowd singing along at some points. He and Bonzai had the crowd dancing with their combination of drippy beats and powerful vocals.
Listen to the popular What If I go?
Dutch producer Bas Bron under his alias Fatima Yamaha played my personal favorite set of the weekend. The energy was unparalleled. Almost ethereal, the performance was uniquely his own. Every moment of his set was recognizable by his soft beats and synth riffs that carried the performance song to song. The set was sonically interesting with the dance floor foundational techno beat but each moment shook with sounds that brought the music further, almost floating away. He perfectly guided the crowd with his slow-burning, hypnotic rhythms. Fatima Yamaha ended his set with the underdog What’s a Girl to Do and continued to do the unexpected. As the unmistakable melody of the “low-key classic” began to mix seamlessly in, everything slowed and melted down as the captivated crowd swayed. Almost unaware, the audience swooned to the electronic grace of the synths and emotion of the vocal sample. And just as he’d managed to seduce us into the slowed rhythm, the tempo came bouncing back for the last few moments of the set.
Listen to What’s a Girl To Do
The Canadian producer and vocalist Jessy Lanza together with Jeremy Greenspan from Junior Boys gave a dreamy performance that felt at times.experimental. Touching traces of R&B, the femme fatale jerked and soothed the crowd and no once knew what to expect. A highlight of the set was when Jessy Lanza dropped the summer favorite Kathy Lee. Jessy Lanza melodic voice was shrouded in reverb as the bouncy track hooked the crowd. It was one of the most danceable and strongest moments of the performance. The sparkly yet glitchy electronic pop was perfectly in tune with Club to Club’s futuristic feel. The set was excitingly different and truly memorable as the night progressed.
Motor City Drum Ensemble (MCDE), the moniker of the world renowned German DJ and producer Danilo Plessow, kept the crowd grooving till the sun literally rose early Sunday morning. MCDE’s unique blend of soul and his instinctual understanding of what makes us dance is truly what pushed his set apart from the rest of the weekend. Rooted in funk, his performance awoke the crowd from the 4am low. The set built in energy and MCDE proved his mastery of the turntables has he spun us into a fun filled oblivion.
Here’s a taste of MCDE
While Club to Club attracted a small international audience, it consisted of a mostly Italian crowd. According to a few festival goers I spoke to, the festival is really one of the most important electronic events in Italy. It brings so many artists to the region, where because of the lack of festivals, might not otherwise include Italy on their tours. Torino, much like Detroit, is evolving and electronic music events are becoming one of the leading touristic attractions to the city. Club to Club is known for it’s devotion to futurism and the 2016 lineup confirmed the festival’s progressive reputation.
Resident Advisor is an online music magazine and community that is devoted to electronic music. This year RA In Residence is a project to showcase the dance floors keep club culture alive and thriving. RA In Residence will be hosting events in 12 of the best clubs around the world. This October, all eyes are on Rome’s very own Goa Club.
Goa has been dedicated to playing avant-garde music that ignores the mainstream club sound repitoir since it’s establishment in 1996.
Silent Servantis an American techno producer, DJ and co-founder of the label Jealous God. Silent Servant prides a rare sound; one deeply influenced by industrial and warehouse techno yet infused with a fearless modern style.
The London native producer and DJ, Daniel Avery stays steadily secured on Resident Advisors “Top DJs” list for now several years. His sound seems naturally construed on his wildly successful debut LP Drone Logic. An ambicious strain of acid infused techno creates a new world on the dance floor.
Catch the perfectly paired Silent Servant and Daniel Avery at Goa Club this Thursday from 11:30 till sunrise.
Headlining the RA in Residence Rome events is Detroit’s Jeff Mills, one of the most distinguished American techno artists. Formerly known as “The Wizard”, Jeff Mills is a founder of the late 1980’s Detroit collective Underground Resistance. Mills went on to pursue a solo career with much success. He worked with various labels around the globe and eventually created his own label, Axis. Jeff Mills transcended the realm of electronic music that he reigns to participate in numerous contemporary art collaborations. Jeff Mills most recent project is combining classical music and his niche of techno with various orchestras around the world creating innovative symphonies that are distinctly his own. Jeff Mills club sets are dark, fast and science fiction inspired.
Opening for Jeff Mills is the Roman Neel, lesser known but uniquely complementary. Neel’s musical creativity is present in all of his discography. He brilliantly combines ambient textures with rhythms to produce an other-worldliness. Simple yet abstract his beats mesmerize.
Originating from the UK, Scuba is a DJ, producer and label owner of Hotflush. Scuba’s most well known for his dubstep days but today, Scuba’s music explores genres. Scuba’s genre-agnostic style has aided his growth within the electronic music scene as his dance floors draw bigger crowds.
Warehouse Rome’s opening party of the season will be featuring the French producer and DJ Gesaffelstein.
Gesaffelstein quickly emerged from the underground after his debut album ALEPH. Now having produced for names like Kanye West and Daft Punk, the French artist quickly caught the center stage. Gesaffelstein’s dark and industrial strain of techno is paired perfectly with the simple and shadowy venue, Warehouse, that is widely known for its events hosted by Rebel Rebel.
The Chicago house and deep house master Marshall Jefferson will be spinning his dance anthems at Lanificio 159 on Saturday. Marshall Jefferson was essential to the creation of the Chicago house sound from the 1980’s to today. His classic “Move Your Body” was the first house music sound to feature piano and the track became widely influential to the genre. The Chicago native is now based in the UK and continues to DJ around the world.
Earlier in the night catch Marco FIMP. Italian Marco FIMP boosts a similar love for rhythm and groove yet fused with techno influences.
Lanificio 159 sports a retro yet minimalist rooftop vibe.
In the 1990’s Rome, like many other cities around the globe, was influenced by Detroit’s techno revolution.
Detroit techno is characterized by its jazz influenced central rhythm, simple vocals, the ever essential bass drum and the backbeat of a snare, clap or hi-hat. These dark electronic beats are deeply rooted in retro synthesizers, drum machines and futurism.
The young italian Lorenzo D’Angelo aka Lory D, inspired by the emergence of Detroit techno and deterred by the stagnant club anthems of the 80’s, went on to define the underground electronic music of his home city Rome. The track Sound Of Rome and his creation of the very first techno record label of Italy, Sounds Never Seen, changed the Roman dance scene forever.
The industrial and avant-garde records, a concoction of European and American elements, was not accepted immediately by clubbers but gradually gained popularity in warehouses, away from the small clubs that once reigned.
In an intensive exploration of Roman Techno, Redbull Music Academy explains the concept of the sound. “What Lory D, Anibaldi, Benedetti and Vatta were searching for, and slowly developing, was a sound that was as abstract and experimental in outlook as it was overwhelmingly dancefloor-friendly.”