Starting this month, we’ve created a poll on Facebook that lets you decide which song will kickoff our monthly party, BLISS, at U Street Music Hall. Take a listen to the tracks here and choose for yourself! We’ll announce the winner before the party, then come out and dance to it with us!
The next party is on December 28th with Eats Everything, Henry Krinkle and Jacques Renault.
This Saturday, November 23, BLISS hosts residents Will Eastman, Ozker and Baronhawk in celebration of Will and Baron’s birthdays. In conjunction with the party is The Illest Ingredient Allstyles Dance Competition presented by Urban Artistry. Contestants must register at 11 PM to battle for the $200 cash prize. Click here for more details.
Doors at 10pm, 18+ (18-20 by advance ticket only) $10; free before 12am for 21+
Catching us by surprise last week was news of Kele Okereke, front man of alternative rock band Bloc Party, reinventing himself as a DJ and producer. Okereke has three EPs signed for release by Crosstown Rebels and major promotion planned around his upcoming club tour starting sometime this winter.
Okereke cited his motivation, saying “I’ve always loved the inclusive and spiritual nature of house music, so the opportunity to make music for the most iconic and influential house music label in the UK is a dream come true for me.” Yet, some within the Blisspop camp still met his change of pace with skepticism, eliciting two main questions: Is Okereke bandwagoning the electronic music trend and what does this mean for the electronic underground?
Within the context of outsider infiltration (most notably by the mainstream market) of electronic dance music, such critical response to Okereke’s new trajectory is not completely unwarranted. Electronic music and its communities continue to become overexposed and such saturation incites a palpable tension between sincere artists and trend-seekers who produce for profit. Yet, considering Okereke’s musical history both as a solo artist and with Bloc Party, there is little reason to see him as a complete outsider. His new path may be surprising but it is not random: His solo releases, first the LP The Boxer and then the EP The Hunter, glided along the electronic music spectrum, albeit not quite touching deep house territory. Likewise, Okereke’s work with Bloc Party often infused elements of electronica, which in my opinion made for some of their most catchy and dynamic songs.
The more interesting aspect of Okereke’s transition is the decision to sign and promote his releases with London-based Crosstown Rebels. The label self-identifies as a purveyor of alternative and unique underground music but it is difficult to see how Okereke’s music fits under that umbrella. Speaking for myself, the first listen of the Heartbreaker EP was pleasant but not particularly inspiring. The first tracks, “Heartbreaker” and “God Has A Way” both flush with intense energy and nod toward classic house styles with their staccato riffs and looped vocals in the way that many producers have done before and continue to do. On “Get Up,” Okereke’s cut and reverberate voice plays background to a paced and crunchy pulse somewhat reminiscent of mellow, progressive house.
Aside from the major promotion planned for Okereke’s debut, he is on equal footing with any other producer aiming to create music of substance. Perhaps the two EPs to follow Heartbreaker will better translate as underground, but for the moment, his endeavors merely scratch the surface of the electronic underground bubble.
Heartbreaker drops on November 25th on vinyl and December 9th on Beatport. His previous mixes are available to stream via Soundcloud.
UK producers Mia Dora are shaping up to be one of the finest names in the game. With releases this year on MadTech and Moda Black and with support from the likes of Mary Anne Hobbes and Giles Peterson, the duo seem to have hit the ground running and haven’t stopped since. Blisspop was fortunate enough to have a brief conversation with the young artists on the heels of their latest effort, the You In The Future EP, which has proven to be another fine addition to their already stellar catalog. Read the pair’s thoughts on their development, influences and creative processes below.
How did you decide on Mia Dora as your name, assuming you’re not just avid fans of women’s fashion?
It’s pretty random actually. It started off as Theodore, for no reason other than he was my favourite one of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Over time it just gradually changed into Mia Dora.
You’ve had a really big year with a Pete Tong essential tune and releases on Moda Black and Mad Tech. What were your personal highlights?
Essential new tune was definitely a big one for us. Also having the opportunity to release an EP on MadTech. We’ve had the chance to travel to a lot of other cities to play some great gigs. We played Fabric twice this year which was really exciting. When we played Room 3 in September the atmosphere was brilliant. Playing the Slam Tent at T In The Park was probably the biggest highlight. The 12,000 capacity tent was full to the brim. At the time it was the largest crowd we’d ever played to by about 11,500 people. It was terrifying at first, but such a buzz.
Can you give some insight into your rock background? How do you find that informs the music you’re making now?
When we first met I was the singer in a metal band and Rob was writing house and techno. We thought it would be interesting to try writing music drawing in both our backgrounds. I still listen to a lot of metal so when I sit down in front of the keyboard quite often something pretty dark or gothic will come out. It’s definitely been a positive influence on the music we write, it keeps our ideas outside of the box.
Your music has a wide range of influences, and even between “Clear” and “You In The Future” there’s everything from house to garage and bass stylings. Do you produce with these styles in mind or just develop them as they come?
We always sit down to write with a totally open mind. It’s the best way to work if you want to write something interesting. We’ll maybe start by messing around with some ideas on the keyboard, then when something sticks we’ll try and develop it with percussion or a bassline. I think if you write without any preconceptions about what the finished product will sound like you come up with your best ideas.
As a duo, what’s the songwriting process like? How do you deal with compromises when they arrive?
We always sit down and write together, we’ve very similar ideas about what we want to do with our music so the songwriting process is quite natural. When two of you write together there’s bound to be points where you disagree about a part of the track. The most important thing is to be patient, if the other person is adamant that something will work and you disagree then you just give them time to roll with it and see if it works out.
Where do you think electronic music stands right now? Where do you want to see it go?
I think it’s a really exciting time for electronic music, It’s great to see it appreciated so much by the masses and make it into the charts. Moving forward people need to keep pushing the boundaries of what they do. So many really exciting artists are really moving things forward by disregarding what their peers are making and putting out really creative electronic music. Labels like Bpitch, L.I.E.S, Thema, 50 Weapons, Innervisions and Pictures never stop impressing with their explorations further and further into electronic music.
Fresh out of Switzerland, newcomer Delakeyz offers his first collection of tracks in the form of the Inner Peace EP–a deftly executed seven tracks demonstrating a mature understanding of garage-leaning house. The songs are full of jazzy chords, soulful vocal snips, and a modest straddling of the line between chill and danceable. They have enough bounce to play out but also manage to have the restraint of a Sunday headphone session. “If You Want Me To” is a good example of what the EP has in store, beginning with a modest and playful mesh of melancholy chords and pitched vocals over a light shuffle before kicking into an upbeat UK house groove. Lead single “How You Love,” which was recently featured on Eton Messy, is also a strong contender for best track echoing ‘how our love should be’ over an airy house beat and and muted sub bass. Make sure to get wise to this now and grab the EP on Delakeyz’s Bandcamp for an easy $4.