Category: August Brown

Jay Electronica involved in breakup of U.K. banking-dynasty marriage

Musician Jay Electronica attends the 6th Annual Roots Jam Session at Key Club on January 30, 2010 in West Hollywood, California.

It's been an intense time for hip-hop love triangles, and you may need a flowchart to unpack this latest one. It's a labyrinthine tale in which one half of a U.K. banking power-couple was caught in an yearlong affair with the American rapper Jay Electronica.

The story is pretty much a modern rap-world version of a "Downton Abbey" subplot: Kate Rothschild and Ben Goldsmith, each scions of insanely wealthy British families, married in 2003. Rothschild, heir to a major banking fortune, had her own career as a music producer when she met Electronica, a rapper on Jay-Z's Roc Nation label who had previously fathered a child with Erykah Badu. The two reportedly carried on an affair for a year before Goldsmith, a financier and clean-tech investor, got wind of the affair.

Continue reading »

Afrojack and Richie Hawtin on electronic dance music

Now that the winds of Las Vegas' Electric Daisy Carnival have died down, and the fluorescent furry boots have been packed away for another year, the conversation on electronic dance music can turn from the genre’s economics and festival culture back to the actual music. On June 9 at EDC, I talked separately with two major EDM artists, the English/Canadian/Detroit minimalist maven Richie Hawtin and the Dutch pop-inclined producer Afrojack. They each offered distinct, and sometimes competing, visions of the genre’s storied past and promising future.

In a lobby bar at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, Hawtin is hanging out in his usual uniform of a cut-off black T-shirt and messy blond bangs. For a guy who made his reputation pioneering the brittle, chilly and handmade take on electronica that defined the Detroit dance music sound, it’s a bit surprising to see him instantly encircled for photos by a gaggle of short-skirted Vegas party girls. But such is the reach of Hawtin and EDM today, when even the Vegas pool-mob scene gets a bit doe-eyed in his presence.

At the closing artist panel at the EDMBiz conference in Las Vegas on June 7, Hawtin was the lone curmudgeon, saying that he didn’t necessarily want dance music firehosed into mainstream America and that his introduction to the genre felt  individual and isolated, even in crowded clubs. In a way, he experienced techno the way Detroit experienced America.

“Detroit was isolated from the U.S. Unless you were in the automotive industry you had no reason to go there,” he said. “Detroit music had a lot of soul, but it was also futuristic and robotic and metallic. It’s music from an isolated city. So as we threw parties, it became about speaker worship. We’d transform spaces so people became detached from reality. As the scene has changed today, I often try to go back to that original place, finding the right room, the right warehouse.”

Continue reading »

Hair metal gods Bret Michaels, Erik Turner rate ‘Rock of Ages’

Poison, with singer Bret Michaels and musicians C.C. DeVille, Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall performs at the after party for the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures'

For Poison’s Bret Michaels, the love letter to the spandex-clad rock genre was "awesome." As to star Tom Cruise? He did a "great job," says Warrant’s Erik Turner.

In “Rock of Ages,” a love letter to spandex-clad guitar gods of the Reagan era, Tom Cruise plays a long-haired singer with a penchant for high notes a la Axl Rose. But what do hair metal experts think of his performance?

Poison singer Bret Michaels, who performed at the premiere party for the film, walked away from a private screening thrilled that the most maligned era in rock and roll was finally getting its due.

“The movie was awesome; it was exactly what I had hoped for,” he said a few hours before the Friday premiere party in L.A. “It’s the story of so many small town kids coming to L.A. with no idea what they’re getting into. And they really had fun with the genre, and didn’t have fun at its expense.”

PHOTOS: 'Rock of Ages' premiere

The film, out this Friday, features A-list actors including Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Malin Akerman and Paul Giamatti actually singing and covering the biggest rock hits of the decadent pre-grunge era. Its stand-alone soundtrack came out May 15.

Like Michaels, Warrant guitarist and songwriter Erik Turner, whose era-embodying power ballad “Heaven” is covered in the film, had praise for the sincerity and affection of the film’s soundtrack.

“It was great. I love the positive vibe, and the team of actors and producers was A+,” he said. “From my perspective, this sound never went away, and to hear it in a movie of this stature is great. I love these songs and I’m so glad to have been a part of this era.”

As Poison and Def Leppard gear up for a summer arena tour (Michaels’ own solo album, “Bret Michaels & Friends: Get Your Rock On,” is out around the same time) and Warrant continues its longtime road-dogging tours with such peers as Skid Row and L.A. Guns, perhaps it’s time to reconsider the era of teased hair, leopard-print unitards and guitar solos played with your snakeskin cowboy boot cocked on the stage monitor.

Pop & Hiss asked Michaels and Turner about some of their high points from the movie’s soundtrack, and how well the actors inhabited the era. Not that the era ever really ended for them -- “My daughters still party to this music,” Michaels said. “Bands of our genre and that era still sell out arenas. I think people absolutely still need rock and roll. It’s got a cult following that comes and goes, but when we play, there are no in-ears, no samples. People know it’s raw and real.”

Continue reading »

Second night of Electric Daisy Carnival thwarted by high winds

For the estimated 90,000 Electric Daisy Carnival fans at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night, there were very few things that could have kept them from hearing their favorite DJs. It appears that one of those things was blustery desert winds, however.

Around 1 a.m. last night, Electric Daisy's promoters and Las Vegas public safety officials decided to send all festival-goers off the field and into the stands as a safety precaution, given the high winds and the large temporary stages and structures that filled the infield. At 2:45 a.m., promoters decided to keep them in the stands for the rest of the night out of safety concerns, effectively cancelling much of the experience for ticketholders.

Fans arriving around that time were turned away at the gate by police, and those already inside could stay in the bleacher area until 5:30 a.m., around the time of the last listed sets. Sets by major headliners including Avicii and Tiesto were affected by the field-clearing, which promoter Insomniac said they only undertook with "an abundance of caution and with fan safety in mind."

The full statement from the promoters below, and we will update this post as we learn more about what happened.

Continue reading »

Kaskade, Richie Hawtin and Swedish House Mafia debate EDM's future

Fans dance and toss around a beach ball during Swedish House  Mafia's set during the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

The electronic dance music conference called EDMBiz in Las Vegas saved its star wattage for the end, when KCRW's Jason Bentley led an artist panel featuring several of the biggest names in dance music, some of whom are headlining the Electric Daisy Carnival this weekend. Kaskade, Steve Angello of Swedish House Mafia, Richie Hawtin, Above & Beyond and Rebecca & Fiona all dished on their introductions to dance music, the burdens of so much money and expectations sloshing around the scene and how new attention is affecting the genre's artistry. 

"As an American kid, growing up I always thought this music was a European thing," said Ryan Raddon, who performs as Kaskade. "Every EDC now, I still think: 'I can't believe how many people are here.' "

Hawtin, a decades-long electronic music veteran under several aliases (including the avant-garde minimalist Plastikman), was enthusiastic about the career potential all the interest in EDM affords. But as an artist, he maintains profound reservations about the music going massive, and that skepticism added a welcome bit of edge to a weekend that so far had been almost uniformly positive about the genre's future.

"It shouldn't go to the masses," he said."I remember going into [Detroit's] Music Institute growing up and just standing with my eyes closed. It wasn't a shared experience -- it was more that, sonically, this was what I was looking for, and there were people around me who identified with that as well."

Continue reading »

Beatport's Matthew Adell sells dance music to DJs at Electric Daisy


The most influential record store in electronic dance music is, by its CEO's admission, not really in the business of selling dance music tracks to dance music fans. He has a much more specific kind of buyer in mind.

"We don't sell to casual fans," said Matt Adell, chief executive of the dance music download site Beatport. "We sell to DJs. The question 'Is this a record people want to DJ with?' is very different than 'Does an audience want this track?' "

After hosting a panel discussion titled For the Record: Labels in an EDM World at the electronic dance music conference called EDMBiz alongside the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas on Thursday, Adell said that Beatport sales were a meter, but not necessarily like album sales. It's a temperature gauge for how many DJs want to play an artist's track, and a specialized one-stop shop for those hot singles.  

Continue reading »

Electronic dance business moving from field to arenas

As electronic dance music moves toward mainstream ubiquity, the logistics of EDM present problems -- how do you move music meant for fields of body-painted teenagers into sports arenas?

This post has been updated, as indicated below.

LAS VEGAS -- This July, Electric Daisy headliner Kaskade will do something unprecedented in Los Angeles. He's booked to play Staples Center, the first electric dance music (EDM) act to headline at that marquee venue for top pop, rock and country acts -- and the home of the Kings and Lakers.

It's a landmark in the genre's march toward mainstream ubiquity and large-scale commercial viability, but the logistics present their own set of problems -- how do you move music meant for fields of body-painted teenagers and trippy installation art into seated sports arenas?

Two events at this week's EDMBiz conference here tried to answer that question. The first, on Wednesday afternoon, focused on a conversation with Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino and dealt with the concert-promotion behemoth's efforts to incorporate EDM artists into its stable of venues and promotion contracts, and how the existing live-music infrastructure represents potential and challenges for dance acts.

Another, held Thursday afternoon, gathered a panel of booking agents, promoters and ticketers to assess the genre's transition from joyfully commandeering public spaces to being invited into the mainstream heart of the live-music business.

Continue reading »

In run-up to Electric Daisy, what is the future of live dance music?


This post has been corrected, as indicated below.

Steve Goodgold, the dance-music czar at the booking agency Windish, remembers the moment when agents had to take notice of electronica. "When Electric Daisy first did 100,000 tickets, it was the shock heard around the world," he said Wednesday on the "Creating the Experience: The Ascendance of the Music Festival" panel at the EDMBiz conference in Las Vegas. "But electronic music had been a big touring business for a long time."

That fact -- that dance acts had become an efficient live moneymaker -- was the biggest story in live music, especially after the 2011 Electric Daisy's inaugural turn in Las Vegas, which drew around  250,000 people over three days. But the sudden popular attention raised questions about how that new interest would play out.

The panel Wednesday tried to answer that question -- is the future in self-contained, immersive festivals, or in introducing dance music into an existing live infrastructure?

"Creating the Experience" was perhaps the most anticipated panel of the conference, as it featured the usually-reticent-to-press Insomniac and Electric Daisy founder Pasquale Rotella. Hosted by Goldenvoice Senior Vice President Skip Paige, it also enjoyed the last-minute addition of Shelly Finkel, the promoter who set a record in 1973 for the largest concert in American history (the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, N.Y.,  which pulled an estimated 600,000 people at $10 a ticket). Marian Goodell of Nevada's Burning Man event and Goodgold rounded it out, and they all seemed to agree that as long as it's done right, more venue options are always better for live dance music. 

Rotella, in particular, admitted a certain frustration with the spatial infrastructure of Electric Daisy. "There are obstacles in our venues, they're not built for what we do. Stadiums are for sports, speedways are for racing. I want to build an adult Disneyland for what we do."

It sounds as if he's interested in hand-designing a venue for future Electric Daisys, on par with the Empire Polo Grounds and how it's an inseparable part of the identity of the annual Coachella festival in Indio, Calif. And for him, he said that the venue and atmosphere are just as (if not more) important than who he books as headliners. "I never wanted to be a concert promoter. I went to one concert, and it was like 'I got my ticket, found my seat, I'm waiting to be entertained.' It was boring. I'm trying to create a show."

Continue reading »

Electronic Dance Music conference: How to break an artist

Listening to Swedish House Mafia at Coachella

This post has been updated, as indicated below.

Andrew Dreskin, the CEO of the online-ticketing firm Ticketfly and an old-guard rave supporter, remembers a time in the sepia-toned days of the early aughts when dance acts were a tough sell for talent buyers.

"It was a very lonely world for the last nine years buying electronica acts," he said at a panel on "Circuit Breakers: Breaking EDM Artists" at the EDMBiz conference Wednesday. As a founder of the electronica-heavy Virgin Mobile FreeFest and the head of the indie-ticketing firm, he's on the front lines of the changing booking climate for dance acts. "There were like four of us back then. Now there's inflated guarantees, and we're all fishing in the same pond. But it's great."

Joel Zimmerman, the panel moderator (and as the head of Global Electronic Music for William Morris Endeavor, he's arguably the most influential figure in electronic artist management today), got his drift. "If there was a movie about bidding wars in EDM, I'd probably be Darth Vader," he said.

Zimmerman's line got hearty laughs, but it underscored the welcome challenge that this panel tried to address -- with so much money and interest sloshing around electronic dance music right now, how do you break and establish an artist for the long term? 

Continue reading »

Atlantic's Craig Kallman talks on Big Beat, electronic dance music


This post has been updated, as indicated below.

Giving the keynote address at the inaugural EDMBiz conference in Las Vegas, a confab about electronic dance music, Craig Kallman of Big Beat Records said it was a thrill to see the music business come back around to the artistry of the DJ.

One of the biggest imprints in today's dance music, indie record label Big Beat was founded by Kallman in 1987 when he was an avowed house scene gadfly. It turned heads in the New York electronica scene before eventually folding into Doug Morris' Atlantic Records in the early '90s, bringing with it a roster of dance and hip-hop artists. Kallman eventually rose to become chairman and chief executive of Atlantic Records, and his ascent at the company dovetailed neatly with the popular rise of the electronic dance music that was his first passion.

So when Atlantic wanted an imprint focused on EDM in 2010, reviving Big Beat seemed an obvious answer. It clearly worked -- it's home to Skrillex, possibly the most vital artist in electronica right now, alongside a stable of cred-building dance bands (Metronomy, Chromeo) and singles-smashing producers (Martin Solveig).

"If you slice me open, I'm just a house DJ inside," he said. The return of Big Beat was "born out of the incredible innovation coming out of the electronic music space. The technology is so advanced and producers are crafting such exciting sounds. It's been such an interesting migration of creativity, and this was a moment to activate it again. The first person we identified for it was Sonny Moore, who became such a transformational artist as Skrillex."

Continue reading »

Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: