This is ‘The Spotlight.’ Many artists pass through D.C. on a weekly basis, but this column highlights one specific artist who happens to be playing in the district during the week. That way, you may join their journey in influencing the house music landscape.
Duke Dumont‘s rise to fame over the past few years has been meteoric. Having gained a reputation for being a go-to, crowd pleasing DJ with ample respect for the roots of dance music – and often working with the clichés of those roots in his own works – he has become a household name in his native U.K. and is on the road to that same level of success here in the U.S.
Starting from humble beginnings under the tutelage of Switch, a producer known for working with a variety of artists including Santigold and M.I.A., Duke Dumont got his start remixing pop songs for various labels before eventually landing the EP Regality on Tiga‘s Turbo Recordings label. This would lead to two other EPs on this label, For Club Play Only Vol. I and For Club Play Only Vol. II, which got airplay from Annie Mac. These releases featured the singles “Street Walker” and “The Giver” respectively. His track “The Giver” would go on to become ubiquitous with the UK sound that would go on to define the current trends in dance music we’ve been hearing stateside for the past 18 months.
In early 2013, Duke Dumont released “Need U (100%)” featuring vocalist A.M.E. which received high praise and support from the Ministry of Sound, BBC Radio One, and artists such as Amtrac, Dave Edwards, and Disclosure. “Need U” would also lead to Duke Dumont’s first Grammy nomination. After this release, he quickly gained momentum on the international club and festival circuits in addition to being named a Future Star by dance music legend Pete Tong. 2013 also saw the creation of his label, Blasé Boys Club, which would go on to sign a deal with Virgin/EMI.
And then 2014 hit. Duke Dumont released “I Got U,” a colossal hit featuring Blasé Boys Club signee Jax Jones. “I Got U” would go on to earn him a second Grammy nomination, another chart topping hit in the UK and the US, and continued support from the biggest names in dance music becoming an anthem for the dance music festival circuit and the summer season in Ibiza. Last year also saw Duke Dumont on a sold out, headlining tour where he hit some of the world’s finest dance clubs including Washington, D.C.’s own U Street Music Hall. Later in the year he would release the equally monumental “Won’t Look Back,” which matched the success of his previous singles, as well as plans to perform as a live act (something which has already gone underway to rave reviews).
In 2015, Duke Dumont has plans to release his first full-length album and has already showcased a reprise of his now classic track “The Giver.” With a constant touring schedule and a relentless work ethic in the studio, he is easily one of the hardest working producers in the game today: a testament which clearly shows given the amount of success he’s had in such a short span of time. And he will continue to move forward at such a speed if he continues to deliver dynamic performances, authentic sounding tracks, and brilliant branding as a tour de force DJ to be reckoned with.
This week, he will be DJ’ing at the 9:30 Club with an opening act by Blisspop founder Will Eastman. You can find event details here.
Disco Made Me Do It is one of DC’s best emerging dance parties, featuring some of the city’s brightest DJs in the underground music scene. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we suggest you give it a look. Tonight is the perfect night to do so, because you can hang with the Blisspop crew!
Hop over to the event page via the RSVP link below for detailed info and artist biographies.
The break-up of LCD Soundsystem left a lasting impression – and a hole in the heart – for many. Since the final show at Madison Square Garden, the good people of LCD, namely the band’s patriarch James Murphy, have dedicated much of their time giving back to those who have felt like they lost their way in the post-LCD era of DFA Records; a notable attempt at fan service which, so far, has included a vinyl box set of the band’s final show and the exceptional concert documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits.
Resulting from these ripples on the fringe of mainstream culture, Murphy’s career as a DJ has seen a resurgence in the past few years and, in many ways, has seen Murphy come full-circle. His sets have become a temple of sorts – a safe space – acting as an opportunity to replenish the soul in a similar fashion to how Murphy’s live act did: by appreciating good music and making memories with good people.
His most recent stop in D.C., this past Friday at the 9:30 Club, was a testament to this reputation as a DJ and tastemaker featuring an inspired opening set by local veteran DJ and Blisspop resident Ozker, over 3 hours of deep cuts, a sea of squirming bodies drenched in sweat and filled with starry eyes, and hazy lights providing glimpses into a bygone period of going out and being young and stupid. However, this is no shock to anyone privy to Murphy’s career as he’s built much of his image by being dominated by his influences from music’s past including Bowie, Eno, Byrne, disco greats like Donna Summer, and members of the 80′s new wave such as New Order or the Human League. And for that, his choices as a curator are eclectic and fresh allowing audiences to give themselves up to the music. But what really ties his parties together are the people, the majority of whom happen to be on a similar wavelength with Murphy both in mind and soul. These are the types of people who could give two shits about getting the perfect picture for their Instagram feed because they’re there to appreciate the art of music, going out, and the love of sharing that appreciation with others due to the magic it represents.
This is why the crowd bursted into euphoria when James Murphy dropped tracks like the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” and Fern Kinney’s “Love Me Tonight.” Or why there was practically an eruption into anarchy as he played out Rare Earth’s mind-melting drum number, “Get Ready.” It’s because Murphy is a master of manipulating the crowd even if he is in a makeshift booth hidden from sight in the wings of the club. He understands that music is universal. That it’s in the very fiber of our being: it allows us to feel; to love; to understand the idea of ‘home.’
It’s this element that made LCD Soundsystem so important, truthful, and real to so many people. And it’s important to acknowledge this imprint: for a great number of those in attendance, Murphy’s parties like the one thrown at the 9:30 Club are an act of trying to relive the moments that made the idea of LCD so tangible to them. For others, it’s the chance to see what it is like to be one of the few people who can say, “I was there.” But regardless of motive, rhyme, or reason, Murphy gets it because he, too, is a member of the pack. The misfits. The weirdos. The romantics. It’s a quality that has made his DJ sets so honest and sublime. The experience you get is one that reaches past borders like age, creed, or artifice.
Ultimately, his goal is to get you to feel something whether it’s by playing Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” or by exposing newcomers to the powerful vocals at the beginning of Montana Sextet’s “Who Needs Enemies.” It’s about inviting you to leave your baggage at the door to be a part of something inclusive and beautiful. To feel like you’re at the top of the world. And as the night winds down and the music begins to reverberate around the dancehall, you’re one of the last ones left with friends by your side and Murphy humbly turns on his microphone to thank you because, let’s face it, not everyone gets the opportunity to play other people’s music and become famous for it, you momentarily see the beauty in what’s around you.
Going to see James Murphy spin is about going out to dance yourself clean which, perhaps, is the best kind of legacy – and purest experience at a dance venue – one could ever hope for. This is what dreams are made of.
2014 was an awesome year for music, and 2015 is guaranteed to be interesting at the very least. To celebrate the shift into a new year, Blisspop’s Caleb L’Etoile has cooked up a mix of his favorite tracks of 2014. It ranges from house to indie dance and deep house but always maintains it’s attitude of Bliss. Listen below and if you’re in town New Years Eve head to Looking Glass Lounge to see a Blisspop Family New Years with Ozker, Caleb L’Etoile, and Philco. No cover, shots at 12, and killer music. What’s not to like?
Win tickets to see The Juan Maclean, Nancy Whang, and Cut Copy’s Ben Browning at U Street Music Hall
Those of you who read Blisspop know about the legendary BLISS parties that we throw. Beats. The haze under the mirrorball. Bodies moving together as a collective. Needless to say we are all about it. We also happen to be all about Nancy Whang and The Juan Maclean who are coming in hot after their stellar album In A Dream was released by DFA this fall. And don’t even get us started on Ben Browning who is part of the killer dance ensemble Cut Copy.
Which is why we are super excited about the upcoming BLISS party on 12/27 as these stellar performers DJ at the one and only U Street Music Hall. And guess what: we want you to come! We are giving away 2 free tickets to see The Juan Maclean, Nancy Whang, and Ben Browning on 12/27 and all you have to do is this:
- ‘LIKE’ the Blisspop Facebook page.
- RSVP on the BLISS feat. The Juan Maclean, Nancy Whang, & Ben Browning event page.
- Tell us your favorite dance music DJ/act of 2014 on the Blisspop Facebook page along with your e-mail or Twitter handle.
The winner will be chosen at random on Christmas Day.
We hope to see you dancing on 12/27 and feel free to browse some awesome set lists by these talented artists after the jump.