ULTRA!!!! Alright, I had to get that out of my system before I start. I wanted to first comment that the rainy weather in Miami and even home in Orlando today, had to be quite the appropriate climax to an amazing weekend I hope I never forget. I also have to comment about how this event sold out months in advance… the turnout was incredible. No wonder they could justify charging people $10 for a slice of pizza! As with any major music festival, the choices are unreal, and sometimes difficult to make. My experience at Ultra could be totally different from someone else’s. So, just keep that in mind. I know what I tend to favor in my electronic music, but I did take time to take in new experiences from time to time. That’s what attending a music festival is all about.
This festival and my own ambitions as an artist went pretty hand in hand, in a sense of developing my artistic concept as Chris Big Money. That’s why I have included it in this blog, as well as my own reflections from an intellectual conversation I had Sunday Night while I was in South Beach. It has changed much since I first started this concept. I’ll make it brief, but it is important to me, you may also skip this section where the actual festival review comes up right afterwards. Another thing I wanted to take note of, is how much my music tastes have changed since I really started to enamor myself in “le musique electronique” a few years ago. I fucking love this music, it’s culture, it’s people, it’s lifestyle, and even it’s cliches, oh and candy ravers are the shit thank you very much. I love how much electronic music has progressed, and how diverse it is. I thought I was quite knowledgeable of the genre, however I am still learning new things everyday, with all the new electronic songs I hear regularly. As a matter of fact it has become my life in many ways, although I’ve never been the type to frequent clubs or take drugs.
Since 2010, when I started work on the Sunset Beach EP, I began to get really into the independent music scene after realizing that I am also a full-on “do it yourself” artist who isn’t on a record label. I honestly do not think fondly of most big name labels or the deals that are struck on them. Since I’m not willing to compromise any idea of how I mold and envision Chris Big Money, it looks like independent music markets are my best avenue to travel. I’m also a huge fan of being artsy and experimental, even if many people tend to think “experimentalists” are pretentious or being over people’s heads. I love this stuff. I felt that my natural artsiness in my music/visual art is not encompassing to strictly one entity in the music community, but influenced from many. Honestly, I am more interested in being a songwriter and a visionary, which is different from many DJ’s/Producers who try to encompass a series of tracks (either their own production, or someone else’s) from various sources to create an overall mood. Note that I think both single songs, and DJ mixes are equally thrilling for me, they just have different objectives. It’s all music. My eclecticism is one that I like to look at as one of my biggest strengths, however I am starting to discover, that it is impossible to please everyone, and that sometimes specificity makes you stronger, than just dabbling in a little bit of everything. I just don’t like the idea of closing anything off. It’s something that was brought to my attention recently. Anyways, that’s the dilemma I face now. I originally started making music in 2007 wanting to be a techno producer DJ with no idea of where I wanted to take my sound. As I released bodies of work in 2009 and 2010, I have become interested in bringing back my rock influence and my traditionalist past back into the forefront. Now I see myself as a hybrid of artsy-fartsy hole in the wall type play indie coffee shops, mixed with candy ravers in dirty warehouses or something. Something has to give, because I honestly don’t see myself performing in upscale lounges or anything like that as Chris Big Money, a person who will always look to seek his identity, and constantly reinvent himself, and push boundaries. I am just babbling, but let me get to the point of the blog post.
Candy kids get your glowsticks out!!
I know I posted regularly on Facebook and Twitter, until overloading of phone servers prevented me from actively posting throughout the night like I would usually do. So I focused on dancing, although my feet were killing me the whole time. I did snap many pictures throughout which are showcased below.
Designer Drugs, Steve Duda, Holy Ghost!, CSS, Royksopp, Joachim Garraud, Pendulum, Carl Cox (some of it), Chris Lake
Future Sound of Breaks! Saw Dirty Phonics, Excision, and a bunch of breaks DJs.
Shit Robot, Steve Aoki, Carte Blanche, Skrillex, Simian Mobile Disco, Boys Noize, Skream & Benga (some of it), Rusko (some of it), Empire Of The Sun, Deadmau5
John Digweed at Vagabond. I left while he was 6 hours into his set that night. I had more Ultra to see!
BT, Drop The Lime, Daedelus, Cosmic Gate, Wolfgang Gartner (some of it) Fake Blood, Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Buuren (some of it), Crystal Castles, Beardyman, MSTRKRFT, The Chemical Brothers.
AfterParty: Wingin’ it in South Beach! Good times!
Royksopp- I have always wanted to see them since hearing them. They are also well linked with The Knife and Robyn, both artists I really adore. It was an excellent live show from a full electronic band, playing songs from Junior, and improvised jams that could fit in with Senior. It was a combination of dance music and avant-garde art that I love so much.
I heard about the Tiesto set that night (apparently he was testing more “experimental” tunes he plans on using in the European summer tour), and I probably would have liked to catch it. Although I really did not feel the Kaleidoscope album by any means, that was the show I saw when I went to see Tiesto about 2 years ago.
Unreal! I saw them at the Future Sound of Breaks party, it was a crazy set! They are a group of 4 guys who looked like they were in their early 20’s where there were 2 DJ’s, and 2 guys on live electronics. It was a combination of drum n bass, drumstep, dubstep, and even a little electro house for good measure. Loads of bass and unbelievable stage energy, where they four of them fed off each other. It was quite a treat to watch. I honestly think Excision should have opened for them, but instead it was the other way around.
I know he plays in Orlando all the time, and people have shared their stories about Aoki’s live sets with me. Knowing his style of hardcore indie electro he spins, I was surprised to see him in the Carl Cox tent where DJ’s usually spin there for 2 hours. Aoki held it the fuck down though! That tent was going crazy the whole time, much like an Aoki set would normally do. He has definitely climbed the ranks in the DJ ladder to play an area like the Carl Cox tent.
It was 4 in the afternoon, and packed the live stage to Tiesto/Deadmau5 sized crowds. It was intense! I can see him eventually playing the main stage at Ultra. His style of crazy cut up samples, and extreme dubstep/house mashings is gaining in popularity, and you can tell he really appreciates his fans. Not bad for a guy who used to sing in a screamo band. 😀
Empire of the Sun:
I love this band. It’s like everything you liked about David Bowie, Prince, and The Cure but experienced through astral projection. This show was very theatrical, complete with multiple costume changes, lights, dancers, and it looked very gay (at least in it’s presentation.) I loved every minute of it. Their music is quite magical, it’s very obvious I’m slanted towards this type of stuff. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, it’s literally like “Walking On A Dream.” We’re always running from the thrill of it, thrill of it!
After catching Empire Of The Sun, I managed to follow people, and snake my way up to the front of the crowd to catch Deadmau5, whom I at first kind of thought was a gimmick with the head and all the internet jokes. Now he is only the new superstar DJ, drawing the largest crowd at the festival, I think at least. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least 70,000 were watching his set Saturday night.
I have to admit, I have a mixed relationship with trance. I remember being into it to an extent, but i always favored the edgy electro music scene. I also started my electronic music journey listening to indie electro. With Ferry, I was just walking around with a friend where we stumbled upon the trance tent, where i watched some of Cosmic Gate earlier that day. Ferry was laying it down! You could tell he was playing a great show, where the crowd was really into it, and Ferry was too! The energy being exchanged between audience/artist was quite notable here. I think with trance music, it is not about being “hard or tough sounding” like other electronic music genre’s, instead it focuses more on being lush and emotional. Very different from what I’m used to but I like it. I do listen to a lot of ambient music now a days, where the “lush” factor comes into play for me, maybe trance wouldn’t be so hard to develop a bigger appreciation for.
Dopeness. That’s all that needs to be said about this guy who improvises all of his live sets using beatboxing and sampling equipment including a Kaoss Pad 3. The layered vocal beats with assistance from a keyboard bring a real unique flavor to Ultra. Beardyman introduced himself as Charlie Sheen, who likes to drink Tiger Blood. He kept with an uptempo set with all kinds of craziness, the energy was relentless. The crowd was small at first, but built up quickly as his set got more and more intense.
The Chemical Brothers:
I am a total sucker for nostalgia. I love it, love it, love it! I have centered Chris Big Money’s 2010 work around nostalgia, it influences me greatly. Anywho, that was also the case with going to see The Chemical Brothers, you know they are EDM legends. With their set, and an impressive array of analog synthesizers which made any gearhead’s mouth water was quite interesting. They played a lot of their hits, however they also had quite a few improvised jamming, and psychedelic visuals, which made some ravers leave their set. I thought it was awesome though. I love a good visual show. I also appreciate experimental art/music, which many people have a great dislike for. The show was very avant garde at times, which made me grin from cheek to cheek. David Guetta played right before them, so it was very interesting to notice a generational gap in-between audiences. Knowing how old the Chem Bros are and how they played their show/songs live, it was definitely for those old school live electronic fans. I thought it was great.