meta-scriptWatch Backstage Interviews At Ultra Music Festival 2023: Carl Cox, Charlotte De Witte, Joel Corry, Subtronics & More | GRAMMY.com
Watch Backstage Interviews At Ultra Music Festival 2023: Carl Cox, Charlotte De Witte, Joel Corry, Subtronics & More
Ultra Music Festival 2023

Photo: Rukes

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Watch Backstage Interviews At Ultra Music Festival 2023: Carl Cox, Charlotte De Witte, Joel Corry, Subtronics & More

Relive the thunderous celebration of electronic music with exclusive backstage interviews with several acts on its 2023 lineup: Carl Cox, Charlotte De Witte, Joel Corry, Subtronics, and other leading lights.

GRAMMYs/Mar 27, 2023 - 03:18 pm

That's a wrap on Ultra Music Festival 2023, where many of the top-flight innovators and tinkerers of the global electronic music scene assembled to deliver a festival to remember. While the performances alone were vastly memorable, the talent's backstage expressions were also compelling. Immerse yourself in the interviews below.

Hannah Wants

Sam Devine

Charlotte de Witte

Carl Cox

Deorro

Dom Dolla

Subtronics

Joel Corry

DJ Charlotte De Witte Talks Exploring New Sounds In Belgium Lockdown, Her Rise To The Top & Sexism In The Industry

Charlotte de Witte

Photo: Marie Wynants

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DJ Charlotte De Witte Talks Exploring New Sounds In Belgium Lockdown, Her Rise To The Top & Sexism In The Industry

"I never would have dreamed of being where I am now. I mean, no one can fully grasp what has happened," the Belgian DJ/techno producer said

GRAMMYs/Jan 28, 2021 - 05:34 am

At 28 years old, Belgium-born DJ/producer Charlotte de Witte has firmly established her place as techno royalty. Soon after discovering her love of underground dance music at 16 years old, she began DJing local clubs. Just two years later, in 2011, she won a DJ competition to open the main stage at the massive Belgian dance festival, Tomorrowland. She's been on a roll ever since.

After taking over her home country, she swiftly made waves across Europe in 2016, including in dance club hotspots Berlin and Barcelona. That same year, she played her first stateside shows—in Brooklyn, of course. By 2017, she was one of the most buzzed-about new underground DJs in the U.S. scene and played both EDC Las Vegas and Detroit's iconic Movement Electronic Music Festival in 2018.

In addition to her in-demand tour schedule, she's released hard-hitting techno banger after banger, launched a label, showcased her effortless style in a collab with TOMBOY, and cultivated her ever-growing fanbase on media content (she currently has 1.7 million followers on Instagram).

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And while 2020 meant much more time at home in Belgium than she's had in years, it was still a triumphant one for the powerhouse producer. In November, she was named DJ Mag's No. 1 Alternative DJ, and the following month she celebrated the one-year anniversary of her label/event brand, KNTXT.

GRAMMY.com recently caught up with de Witte to learn more about her journey to the top, what the 2020 slow down felt like for her, her experience with sexism in dance music, and more.

You were named DJ Mag's 2020 No. 1 Alternative DJ, what does that recognition feel like for you?

It's a pretty big milestone to hit, especially in the year that's as weird as 2020. It felt like a massive hug from the scene and from the people out there. [It felt like they said], "Hey, thanks for being connected and thanks for sharing the music." Carl Cox was always No. 1 since the beginning of this alternative list [in 2018]. So, to knock someone like Carl Cox off the throne is really massive. And I mean, there are so many incredibly talented people on there, so it's still pretty surreal actually when I think of it. It's incredible.

You're the first woman to get to the top of the list and while it does feel like things are shifting a bit, I'm curious what you think needs to happen within the dance industry to keep lifting up more women, and people of color, to the top?

Well, I'm a firm believer that the dancefloor and the dance scene should be a place of total freedom, a place where you can express yourself no matter your gender, your color, your beliefs, your sexuality—it doesn't matter, it should be a place of freedom. I think there's still a lot of work when it comes to equality and fighting for those rights. I think you can always do more things, and it's very important to keep an open mind and to keep an open conversation about these things.

I can speak a lot about gender inequality because obviously, I've been having these questions since I started DJing. I don't think there should be necessarily a 50-50 equal division on the lineup, but there should be equal opportunities and equal chances, and you should treat people the same. So I think there's still work to do, but it's getting better. You see more and more female DJs popping up as well and getting a lot of opportunities same as male DJs, but there's still a lot of work. It's important to keep an open mind and keep the conversation going, always.

"I'm a firm believer that the dancefloor and the dance scene should be a place of total freedom, a place where you can express yourself no matter your gender, your color, your beliefs, your sexuality… So I think there's still a lot of work when it comes to equality and fighting for those rights."

One thing I think about a lot is the term "female DJ." Do you have instances where people say, "You're my favorite female artist?" How do you deal with that? I'm sure that that can be pretty frustrating.

It is, it's incredibly frustrating. And it happens all the time. A very annoying thing that happens as well is, when people online tend to compare DJs, 99 percent of the cases, it is between two female DJs. And indeed, they refer to you as a female DJ or "DJane," that's also a word.

I've been DJing for 11 years now and it's bad to say that I sort of got used to it. Not that it doesn't give me the chills, I mean, if someone in my close surroundings would say something like that, I would probably say something about it, but I realized that this mindset is a very slow one to change in people. Also, people don't fully realize what they're doing with saying those things—that doesn't make it right—but there are much worse things you can say than referring to someone as a female DJ. I mean, there are a lot of other battles to fight.

Read: Aluna On New Album 'Renaissance' & Making Dance Music Inclusive Again

I remember you getting a lot of buzz in 2017, and, from the outside, it's seemed like you've had a steady, rapid rise since then. What has the journey to where you are today felt like for you?

It's always sort of fascinating to look back at it myself because indeed everything has been a massive rollercoaster from where I was 11 years ago. How I started, I never would have dreamed of being where I am now. I mean, no one can fully grasp what has happened. In the beginning, it was really the tiny clubs in a tiny area where I used to live and then just massively going with the flow and doing what [felt] right. And I think having a lot of luck and being surrounded with the right people and doing things at the right time together with the right kind of motivation and ambition that you need.

I think those aspects really made the difference and got [me to the next level] in Belgium, first of all. And then things just started heading off on a worldwide basis. And indeed, for the past three years, minus this year, I've been touring non-stop and I've been probably one of the DJs touring the most in the world. And it's incredible. So it's been a rollercoaster, but touring really made me happy as well. It gave me so much energy. It was extremely exhausting, but it shaped me so much as a human being.

What has it felt like to finally have some time at home and off the road to reflect on all of it?

Well, 2020 has been a bit strange. I was lucky to be with people that I really love, very close to me. I think without them, I would have fallen into a black hole. There is no doubt about that. Even now, mentally, it's not easy, but that really kept me going. Also, having the time to have a normal pattern in my life, a normal sleep cycle, healthy food, because you don't have to eat shitty airport food again, [has been good]. So I'm trying to be productive. And [I'm] resting a lot. I did realize that my body and my mind could both use the rest at the beginning of the lockdown, so we rested.

I think it's been a very interesting year to work towards the future, but it's confusing because no one really knows what it is—I don't want to [get] too philosophical or too depressing. But I think it's been a year to be productive and to really clear minds, and take the experiences from the past and try and shape the future.

<iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/1058120362&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true"></iframe><div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/kntxtmusic" title="KNTXT" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">KNTXT</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/kntxtmusic/sets/kntxt007-rave-on-time-ep" title="KNTXT007 - Rave On Time EP" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">KNTXT007 - Rave On Time EP</a></div>

You released a couple of EPs in 2020—including Return To Nowhere and Rave On Time—and some remixes and singles. Did you work on those before or after lockdown?

I made them at the end of 2019, so everything was already scheduled. When everything happened, we were thinking of holding back the [label] release of Return To Nowhere and Rave On Time until a time where we could go to clubs and festivals again because they're made to be played at those places. But we just decided to go for it. It provides some music in these times.

I made the Bob Moses [and ZHU] remix in March and that one just got released [in December]. So that's the only thing that had a short time span [from when I made it], but all the others were made before. Now we've made some new music that's coming out in 2021, so hopefully we'll be out of lockdown.

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Related: How Will Coronavirus Shift Electronic Music? Maceo Plex, Paul Van Dyk, Luttrell, Mikey Lion & DJ Manager Max Leader Weigh In

I talked to a couple of DJs at the beginning of lockdown. If you're used to making music for the dancefloor, it's like, "Well, what do I make now?" Some artists talked about not feeling motivated to make dance music when they didn't know when that space would return. I feel like any time good dance music comes out it is a good thing, we need that release of moving our bodies, wherever we are.

I get it. But it is strange to make dance music [in lockdown]. In the beginning, it was still OK because the memory of the dance festivals were still fresh. But after 10, 11 months, when I'm sitting in the studio, it's really tough to make something with a strong kick. I'm experimenting a bit towards more ambient stuff, which is nice as well, to have [during] this time of experimenting. I completely understand what they said, it feels so strange even listening to new music or trying to find new techno tracks. It started to be very strange. I think it makes sense. You're just so distant from it, but you have to keep it alive. [Laughs.]

To that point, what are you most looking forward to when you get to return to the dancefloor?

I think the entire experience. Stepping on to your flights—preferably without a mask by then—arriving at your country of destination, going to restaurants there, the conversations you have with the people there, the promoters, the club's hard-hitting bass—the volume, the loudness that we all haven't heard in such a long time—and the energy, the sweating, everything. I'm sure it will be very magical once it comes back because we will not take it for granted anymore. It will be a new era, we just have to be patient.

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It's going to feel weird.

It is. And I think there's going to be so much energy on the floor and the explosion is going to be massive. Like every single show will be—it already was unique, but it will be incredibly unique and very intense. Hopefully, by then we can look back at it as a healthy reset because people don't take it for granted anymore. I think that is a good aspect. And people are also starting to realize the importance of having clubs and festivals around and nightlife culture—because nightlife culture has always been the ugly sister that no one wants to talk about. Everyone just regards it as drug-filled and dirty. And it is, but [it's not just that]—nightlife is really important. I think we still have a very long way to go [in order] to convey this message to people and for people in charge to realize that we matter a lot.

Recently in Germany, they declared that techno was music.

That was cool.

Now, German nightclubs can get the same funding and tax breaks that other venues do. We've seen the nightlife community come together to ask for relief funding for clubs because otherwise many are not going to survive. You're right, it matters and not just to "ravers," it's important to so many people, including those who work in it and keep those industries alive.

Exactly. There's so much more to it than what an unknowing person thinks. I think it's important that people are made aware of that. We still have a long way to go. I mean, why at the main stage [of a festival, do] you never really have DJs? You can have electronic music acts, but when you talk about a DJ, they are never fully considered a musician. That's a never-ending discussion. So, I think the fact that Germany did state that techno is music is a good start.

You just celebrated the one-year anniversary of your label, KNTXT. What was your goal when you were launching the label and what is your vision with it going forward?

Basically, to find a creative platform for my music, but also music from other artists—that was the main thing, to release good music. And to organize parties, that was also a very important part of it. We did a couple in New York, Milan, Barcelona, and London. They were going very well and we are going to start again as soon as we can.

Besides that, we just want to be a creative place and connect music with other things. For instance, I'm a big foodie, so we are trying to see how we can connect music with food or chefs because a lot of chefs are also big techno fans. It's a very interesting platform to discover things from. And now we had the collaboration with the headphone brands AIAIAI . That was a very cool one. We had a fashion collaboration too. It's just a bit of putting out your arms towards the other creative industries. It's nice, it's very cool.

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To celebrate the anniversary, you released a vinyl box set that includes the new track "Lighthouse." Can you tell us a bit more about the sonic elements and mood of the song, and what else you have in store for the White Label?

Well, "Lighthouse" is the first White Label release. White Label-wise, we still have to explore what direction we want to go with it. I think our main focus is to release EPs like we've been doing, but I think "Lighthouse" was a very nice addition to this collector's box set. I also made that track a while ago.

It's very dancefloor-oriented, it has an acid line in there. Fun fact: in "Lighthouse" you hear a voice saying some things; it's my voice saying the definition of context, and I reversed it. I like reversing things because it makes things sound less common or cheesy. The definition of context is in there. So, you're getting context on context, basically.

Reversing parts of audio is somewhat common in hip-hop—Kendrick Lamar used it a lot on DAMN. Producers will play a drum loop or something backward and it feels like you're like falling backward or dreaming.

Yeah. Some things just sound more interesting in reverse. And I have the feeling that, especially with vocals, it makes things a bit more alienating. If I would just have said the definition of context, it would be a bit lame.

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What do you think are the essential elements of a great techno banger?

It's always a tough one when they ask you to define music because I can give you a Wikipedia-type definition, but in the end it's also very much of an emotional experience and what is best for me, is slow for someone else. But I think techno is a very functional 4/4 beat. It's not necessarily happy, it's quite undeground and it can be quite repetitive and loopy and can be quite stripped. So it's not chaotic or not happy sounding. That's how I would describe it to an audience. It's not like EDM where you can put your hands up in the air. I mean, you can put your hands up in the air, but not because they tell you to.

"I am drawn to sort of the 'less is more' aspect of [techno]. You don't need a lot of very audible elements to give you a lot in return. It speaks to me in its emptiness, in a way."

What specific elements are you typically drawn to in a techno track?

I am drawn to sort of the "less is more" aspect of it. You don't need a lot of very audible elements to give you a lot in return. It speaks to me in its emptiness, in a way. It just gives space to a lot of the elements that you use. And that underground side, which is just more interesting to me because it makes me think about those things and wonder.

When did you first start listening to techno? And at what point did you know that you wanted to start producing music yourself?

I started going to these underground clubs where I went to school at the age of 16, 17. I think that's where I first got in touch with electronic music, but also the more underground side of it. Electro was quite big in Belgium back in the days, but it also started getting me in touch with techno music. So, my initial step into electronic music was electro, which you don't hear that often nowadays.

Gradually, by digging deeper into this world of electronic music, I found techno and I'm still there. I think I started producing a couple of years later. I also started DJing almost straight away because I fell in love with the music and I wanted to do something with it. Initially, it was just for me, like I was mixing tracks at home, to listen to on my iPod when I was going to school and never thought of putting them online.

But at some point, I did [put mixes online] and then things just started rolling. Music-making started a couple of years later because I felt a need to not only play other people's music but also to explore this world of beat making myself. Because it's a whole world and it's extremely fascinating to delve deeper.

You dove in, that's awesome.

Yeah, sort of. And I could—my parents were always supportive, they just let me do me. I mean, I wasn't harming anyone with it. They just saw that it made me happy, so they just let me be. It was cool—I was lucky as well. A crazy path.

What are your release plans for 2021?

I've been working on some stuff to release on my label, KNTXT, in 2021. Also, we have a remix that's coming out. I think a lot of people will release a lot of music in 2021 because everyone had so much time. I have stuff coming and I'm very happy with the results.

I really look forward to playing it on the dancefloor and seeing the reaction of the crowd. I've been playing some of the tracks on [live]streams [I've done] but having six cameras pointed at your face—even though millions of people are watching—can not compare with the crowd. So I really look forward to that moment.

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ARTBAT On New CamelPhat Collab, DJing In The Clouds & Loving L.A.

ARTBAT at Cercle in Rio de Janeiro

Photo: Raul Aragao

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ARTBAT On New CamelPhat Collab, DJing In The Clouds & Loving L.A.

"For a Feeling" is the Ukrainian duo's latest dance release to top Beatport's charts and their seventh track in a year to be selected by Pete Tong as his weekly Essential New Tune

GRAMMYs/May 9, 2020 - 01:02 am

Back in 2015, Artur Kryvenko and Vitalii "Batish" Limarenko, both successful DJs in their native Kyiv, met at a club and joined forces to create ARTBAT. It wasn't long before their deeply emotive brand of melodic techno made them one of the biggest names ever out of Ukraine and had them playing shows at major clubs like London's Printworks, Berlin's Watergate and Blue Marlin and other Ibiza hotspots, along with big events like Amsterdam's Awakenings and Brooklyn's City Fox.

In the global underground electronic scene, 2019 was undeniably the year of ARTBAT: they made their BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix debut, DJed for Cercle atop Rio de Janeiro's Sugarloaf Mountain and their fire releases earned several No. 1 spots on Beatport's charts, eventually closing the year as the top-selling artist on the platform.

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Their latest release, "For a Feeling," is a collab with GRAMMY-nominated duo CamelPhat and vocalist Rhodes and has been No. 1 on Beatport's Top 100 for the past two weeks. Calling in from Kyiv, the dynamic duo caught up with the Recording Academy to talk about the new track, what it was like playing on that magic mountain top, and the support they've gotten from Pete Tong and other big DJs. We also dove deep into their lifelong love of electronic music, the rich techno scene in Ukraine and how much they love love Los Angeles.

You guys just released "For a Feeling" with CamelPhat, which is already No. 1 on Beatport. I'd love to learn more about how the collaboration and the track itself were born.

Well, we really like CamelPhat's production but it's a little bit of a different style from our work. We had a lot of good chats and a good connection with them. We played together and decided to try to combine our styles and do something new.

The CamelPhat guys gave us a vocal and some ideas and we really liked the vocal [sung by Rhodes], especially the meaning of lyrics. The meaning felt special for us because we like to feel the music and everything around us, we like to feel that it's deeper. We decided we needed to make something really beautiful with it, for both the dancer and the listener.

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So the starting point of the track was built from the vocal?

Yes. The vocal and some of the rhythm. We worked on it two or three months together. Then we tried it out and people started to love it. Other DJs asked us about the track and we shared it and got some very good feedback from big producers—like Tale Of Us liked the track very much.

So it already get some love on the dancefloor before quarantine?

Yes, of course. We made it last summer and we played it the whole autumn and winter and a little bit of March. It's actually one of our favorite finishing tracks. And as I said, Tale Of Us, Adriatique and other DJs played it for about half year. That's why people already knew this track and were waiting for its release.

Pete Tong recently named the track his Essential New Tune, which I think makes your seventh one. What does that recognition from Pete, as well as the other DJ support and everyone downloading it on Beatport, mean to you two?

We're very thankful to Pete for having his eye on us. He's said wonderful things about us and has liked some of our songs and presented them as essential tunes; for us it's a big honor. 20 years ago, when we were young, Pete Tong was one of our big inspirations. So, the support from him brings us a lot of happiness.

And with Beatport, when we see that people are downloading and buying our tracks, we understand that we are making something which helps people enjoy life, something for their feelings. And when we see this support of our tracks, we feel like we're on the right path. It also helps us find more inspiration in the studio to deliver the emotion, that energy on all that sides that music can bring in.

As we are all feeling pretty isolated right now, it must be really powerful to know that your music is still touching people even when you're not able to share it in person.

We're receiving a lot of videos, Insta stories and posts with our music as people are listening and playing it at home. It's our little inspiration for our current work in studio. It's not an easy time now because we cannot share our music live and we cannot meet people. Everything is on pause now, but some time it will start again and continue as it was when everything was good.

<iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/650620472&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true"></iframe><div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/artbatmusic" title="ARTBAT" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">ARTBAT</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/artbatmusic/artbat-essential-mix-bbc-radio-1" title="ARTBAT - Essential Mix (BBC Radio 1)" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">ARTBAT - Essential Mix (BBC Radio 1)</a></div>

Speaking of Pete Tong, you released your debut BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix last year—what did it feel like for you being a part of the iconic series? Were you nervous going into it?

It's a big honor for us of course. We are music diggers and lovers and for two decades, maybe more, we've been listening to Essential Mixes from all the big DJs and electronic bands, like Daft Punk. To be part of it, and on the list of artists who've made Essential Mixes, is a big privilege for us. We are very thankful to Pete Tong for giving us that opportunity. From producing tracks, the other side of our lives is DJing, and the Essential Mix is a big step in DJ life.

I cannot say that we were nervous but we were very picky while picking out the tracks, to find the balance between old and new tracks, and we were very excited for it. Essential Mixes are one of the main, important mixes in the DJ catalog. It's a big recognition.

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Also in 2019, you played an epic Cercle set atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. What did that experience feel like for you two, and what was the energy was like playing in that beautiful setting?

It was one of the best experiences in our lives. We had wanted to be a part of Cercle, but we understood the guys pick the artists out themselves. And then they invited us to take part in a Cercle event. We wanted to do it in Kyiv because we live there and love our country very much and show people our country. But the email proposed the venue [Bondinho Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf Mountain Cablecar] and when we saw the mountain we agreed.

When we arrived in Rio de Janeiro, there was a very big storm, so we were very lucky that we had one more day there. The Cercle guys moved the event to the next day, which was very good weather. You can imagine our feelings when we arrived to Rio de Janeiro, it's like a 15-hour flight, and when we landed, we learned that we couldn't have the event today because the weather is rainy and stormy. It could've been canceled because of that, but the guys had time and we could stay for one day more.

It was actually so hot the next day, we were afraid it would be hard to play because we were coming from winter to a very hot summer. But we were lucky because there was a very good breeze on the mountain. When we started to play, we were even under the clouds sometimes, playing for people who knew us and like our music. They were smiling and it was a very close atmosphere because there was just 250, 200 people. It's not a big venue and everyone was very friendly and happy.

And when we were playing, I looked back at the mountain and I thought "thank you my life, thank you energy, that you bring me, with music, to this mountain." It was the best DJing experience. With the beautiful nature, the quality sound system and happy people, I never had an experience quite like that. We will remember it for all our lives.

And actually, when we watched the video [watch for yourself above] after, we couldn't believe that it was us playing there. It's so beautiful. We knew how beautiful it was, but from the other angle of the drone, and the blue sky, blue water and green nature, it's like the best natural combination of colors, music and clouds. And the guys from Cercle also said that it was their favorite location. I think it's one of the best experiences of our DJ career and we know it's very hard to repeat this.

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What do you think are the key elements of a great dance track?

You know, dancing comes from inside you. For some people, one thing gets them moving, and it's something different for others. But, I think for a great dance track, it should be balanced between groove and melody. Sometimes melodies get in the way of dancing because you're starting to really listen to it instead. It's hard to say because every time is different, but I think the key is to find the good balance between uplifting and building. And the melody can't be very long, so you can catch the flow. Of course, rhythm is the dance mover. So good rhythm is most important for the dance track. We dance with the rhythm.

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When you guys are playing a club set, what are you looking for in the crowd? For example, what do you do if people aren't dancing?

We start to find the people who you can tell came to dance. Some people maybe just came to party or to listen to music but not to dance, so we're searching for the people we see have a lot of energy, who want to dance and seem happy. So we're trying to first make the flow that keeps them in good mood. We're looking for happy faces and trying to keep them happy and smiling.

But our music is not always happy, sometimes it's kind of deep. So then we're searching for people who are really engaging with it, getting deep in to the music. If they feel it and catch the flow, you can watch them, and if everything is good you see if them dancing and you understand you're doing good.

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When did you first start listening to electronic music? What artists made you want to start DJing and producing yourself?

We both started to listen to electronic music very young. I started when I was eight or nine. First it was ['90s] European dance music, like Dr. Alban, maybe you remember him. So it was like '93, '94. For my whole life, I've lived in headphones. I'd spend all my money on new music, buying cassettes, then discs.

And in 2003, I started DJing and I gained a deeper interest in electronic music. Then, I found electronic German records like DJ Hell and then Tiefschwarz. I also listened to DJs like Paul van Dyk and Armin Van Buuren to Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, and also Stephan Bodzin was the one of my favorites. So all the famous DJ that you know, I listened to them. Some of them inspired me in some styles and others in different ways. I really liked how Stephan Bodzin made his own style with Oliver Huntemann, as well as Carl Cox's techno, for its power.

And of course, Batish and I listen to a lot of electronic bands like Orbital, Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Depeche Mode. Also, I like Pink Floyd a lot.

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How did you discover all this music? Was there a good record store where you grew up—how were you listening to all this cool music from such a young age?

No, it started from cassettes, like I told you, when I had some lunch money from my parents for school, I tried to save it and every week I'd buy two or three new cassettes. And then in 2002, we had internet and I searched different forums for music and where to download it. It wasn't good, but there were the peer-to-peer sites and you could search for the track and the artist. And later, when I went to work, it was a very small salary, but I had good internet there and I could download a lot of music for my DJ sets in clubs.

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How old were you when you started DJing?

I started in 2007, so I was 24, 25.

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What was the house and techno scene like in Kyiv then and now? Were there a lot of other DJs then or was it a close-knit community?

Ukraine is a very musical country, people like music here very much. Of course, we have Soviet experiences here and it was not easy for the culture here because of economic hardships. The scene's growth depends on the economy, so when it started to be better from 2014, the scene started to grow also. We have a very good techno community here. In Ukraine, we have a lot of fans of house music and melodic techno, the music that we make. We have very quality clubs that we can compare with the best clubs in the world for sure.

We don't have a lot of festivals. There's a few, but they're not very big. Festival culture only started here, maybe five years ago, in Kyiv. But for music, people are very educated about it. And everyone is waiting for this quarantine to be finished, waiting to get out of our homes especially in summer. We should have had few good festivals here this summer but they're canceled.

Read: How Will Coronavirus Shift Electronic Music? Maceo Plex, Paul Van Dyk, Luttrell, Mikey Lion & DJ Manager Max Leader Weigh In

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Have you guys been spending more time in the studio during quarantine? Have you been making or even just listening to more music?

Yes. Our last gig was March 8th or 9th. After that, we arrived to Kyiv and put ourselves in self-quarantine for two weeks at home. We actually had some symptoms of coronavirus, so we stayed at home, then got tested after to make sure we were not spreading the virus. It was negative then, so we started to go to the studio. Now we're in the studio three, four, maybe five days a week, trying to find some ideas to make tracks. We actually already made some tracks. But you can understand it's not easy time in terms of inspiration.

Somedays you have inspiration, some days you don't because you're tired from this situation and the restrictions. Sometimes it's hard for the mind, especially when our gigs are canceled. It's not an easy time now. But, like I told you, we're getting good feedback from people, people playing our music and sharing emotions with us. And we're releasing music! Now we've released "For a Feeling" and we also have for one cool track to release in summer, I think.

And we're preparing music for our new sets when the quarantine is finished. We will be ready to show people the new stuff and we always love to play music and enjoy life together with people.

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Why did you decide to form ARTBAT together, and what does the project mean to you, as a duo, with the music you're putting out?

Before we met, I think we had like six or seven years of DJing. And it was the period when we played a lot, maybe in all of the clubs [in Kyiv]. I needed some new stuff. I started to search for a person with whom it would be fun to create music with. And faster, more quality, because when you're alone it takes a lot of time deciding if it's good or not and just searching for ideas.

We met in the club, our friends connected us, and we decided to spend one time in the studio together and try it out. In our first studio session, from the first hour, we learned that we can make good music that we both like, that we can make it fast and we like the process together. We can spend all day in the studio and joke, have fun and talk, which doesn't happen when you're working alone. Together, we're sharing a good time and playing music and finding good ideas.

So, we made one track, then two tracks and started to realize we could continue with this. We started to do DJ sets as a project and we searched for the names, for two months actually. Then the idea came from our names; ARTBAT is Artur and Batish.

Now it's like our life, for sure it's the best that can be in in our social, creative life. Our project is everything for us. We live like one family and we're very close. Our passion and our project is almost the same. And we're very picky about the tracks, about everything, because we're very connected to our creative name ARTBAT. It's kind of a dream that came through and now it's all of our life.

Obviously, you guys had a huge 2019. Is there a dream, something you hope will happen, for ARTBAT next year?

Yes, yes, we have our next step, we can't really say now because it's still a baby, we're making it, filling it with ideas. I can't tell you now but, hopefully in few months. But one dream for us is, of course, to play big festivals to share music with big crowds because we like this energy and the feedback from people. Also, we like to represent Ukraine in the music world. We like that people know we are from Ukraine, and a lot of people know us here, but doing gigs around the world is a big pleasure for us, to be people who bring our country in to the music scene

ARTBAT in Los Angeles | Photo: Courtesy of artist

Where do you live now? [Artur asked interviewer.]

I live in Los Angeles.

It's our favorite city in the world. We have been almost all around the world, but L.A. is one city where we really want to try to live someday. One of the first feelings when we came to L.A., you feel this freedom, like freedom for your mind. The atmosphere of freedom is everywhere. I think it's the best city in the world.

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Sónar 2020 Lineup: The Chemical Brothers, Channel Tres, James Murphy, Eric Prydz, Jayda G, Mura Masa & More

Channel Tres

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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Sónar 2020 Lineup: The Chemical Brothers, Channel Tres, James Murphy, Eric Prydz, Jayda G, Mura Masa & More

The "music, creativity & technology" festival returns with its flagship Barcelona event June 18–20

GRAMMYs/Jan 17, 2020 - 02:55 am

In contrast to the all the colorful music fest lineups with big-font headliners we've seen over the past few weeks, Sónar just dropped a beige, all-lowercase, one-font-size lineup for their June 2020 Barcelona event. Despite the simple layout, the list is filled with an epic artist offering, including The Chemical Brothers, along with rising rapper/producer/dance hero Channel Tres, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, '00-and-beyond house & techno innovator Eric Prydz, environmental scientist/disco queen Jayda G, "Love$ick" producer Mura Masa and many more.

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The "music, creativity & technology" festival returns with its flagship Barcelona event on June 18–20. Oft Björk-collaborator Arca, emerging French producer/director duo THE BLAZE, along with worldwide house and techno legends The Black Madonna, Charlotte de Witte, Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin and Laurent Garnier, will also perform.

According to Sónar, current 2020 GRAMMY nominees The Chemical Brothers will be making the Spanish debut of their acclaimed live show, which they toured in 2019 alongside the release of their GRAMMY-nominated No Geography. THE BLAZE will be performing their only live show of 2020 at the fest. Both acts are a great representation of artists celebrated by Sónar—cinematic, unexpected electronic music elevated by the stunning visuals/technology of their live shows.

While Sónar is beloved for their expert curation from within the eclectic electronic music rainbow, they also celebrate left-of-center acts in other areas, particularly in the hip-hop. Channel Tres, whose self-made beats are infused with '90s G-funk, is an artist whose music lives within both worlds. Afro-Latina rapper Princess Nokia, who marks her return to the fest this year, also uses the medium of rapping to incorporate and celebrate diverse sounds and identities within her music.

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U.K. rappers Dave, AJ Tracey, Headie One and Conducta, will bring Britain's prevalent trap Grime and drill sounds to the iconic festival. The newer SonarXS stage grows this year as it "expands its mission as a springboard for local and international talent from the fringes." Now in its fourth year, the newly revamped stage "presents Spanish trap and reggaeton from Morad, Afrojuice195 and Miss Nina, as well as unclassifiable strains of street derived music from the likes of Chenta Tsai - Baobae, Califato ¾ or Kaydy Cain."

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Tickets are on sale now; visit Sónar's website for more info as well as the complete lineup.

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Ultra Miami 2020 RESISTANCE Lineup: Maceo Plex B2B Carl Cox, Amelie Lens, ANNA, Dubfire, Richie Hawtin & More

Maceo Plex B2B Carl Cox at RESISTANCE Ibiza 2018

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Ultra Miami 2020 RESISTANCE Lineup: Maceo Plex B2B Carl Cox, Amelie Lens, ANNA, Dubfire, Richie Hawtin & More

Ultra Music Fest's dark and moody house-techno offering is preparing for another lit year, with The Martinez Brothers, CamelPhat, Cirez D, Nicole Moudaber, Tale Of Us and many others also slated to throw down

GRAMMYs/Dec 20, 2019 - 06:29 am

Today, Ultra Music Festival revealed more exciting details for its upcoming 2020 flagship Miami event: the phase one lineup for its darker house and techno RESISTANCE offerings. Longtime underground icon Carl Cox will be performing three times, including a first-time B3B set with The Martinez Brothers and Jamie Jones, as well a B2B with "Mutant Disco" king Maceo Plex; their first North American joint DJ set.

Drumcode founder Adam Beyer and Cirez D, the darker techno alias of Eric Prydz, are also slated to bring the B2B fire to RESISTANCE Miami 2020. Also on deck for collab sets are GRAMMY-winning house legend Dubfire, rising techno queen Nicole Moudaber and longtime Spanish club staple Paco Osuna. Another Spanish legend, Dennis Cruz will pair up with rising U.K. act Michael Bibi to represent European tech-house.

Techno heavy-hitters Richie Hawtin, Tale Of Us, Amelie Lens, ANNA and Pan-Pot will also bring their explosive, warehouse-filling DJ sets to RESISTANCE. On the more housey side of electronic music rainbow, the lineup features past GRAMMY-nominees CamelPhat, along with Ukranian duo ARTBAT, British pair Gorgon City, Manchester duo Solardo and Tunisia's Dice Corleone a.k.a. Loco Dice.

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Previously announced Ultra Miami acts include Gesaffelstein, GRAMMY winners Flume and Zedd, past GRAMMY nominees Above & Beyond and Armin Van Buuren, and many more. Additional acts will continue to be revealed for both the main Ultra stages as well as RESISTANCE as the festival approaches, with a handful of major surprises being unleashed at the event itself (Swedish House Mafia famously surprise-reunited after a five-year break at Ultra 2018).

The 22nd edition of the beloved electronic music festival will return to its longtime home at Bayfront Park, after changing locations in 2019, March 20-22, 2020. This year's event saw a much-buzzed-about second iteration of RESISTANCE at the fest, after the Ultra united their growing house and techno offerings as RESISTANCE in 2018 and brought many of the DJs on this year's lineup to Ibiza and other hotspots over the past few years. (You can check out Maceo Plex and Carl Cox's epic 2018 RESISTANCE Ibiza B2B in the above video.)

Tickets for Ultra Miami are on sale now; visit their website for more info and the complete phase one lineup.

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