Do you know who Al Walser is?

How exactly did he get nominated for the EDM Grammy?

The 2013 Grammy nominees were announced last week, with at least one surprise, particularly in the electronic dance music category. Along with the expected superstars like Avicii and Skrillex, there was a name unfamiliar to most in the EDM scene: Al Walser.

Who is Al Walser? Good question, one that many seasoned music journalists and fans of EDM struggled to answer in the days following the announcement. Walser, it turns out, is a DJ and producer and native of Liechtenstein.  As a relative unknown, his nomination has sparked controversy as to the reason he was nominated.

The most reasonable explanation comes from the Huffington Post where writer Dan Weisman suggests that Walser may have essentially spammed his way into the list of nominees. How? By using their own social site, Grammy365. This particular controversy is similar to that which erupted around the DJMag’s Top 100 DJs poll where Swiss DJ Miss Diamond apparently gamed the poll to secure herself a position in the list.

Weisman‘s Theory

Walser posts regularly to Grammy365, ensuring that Grammy voters recognize his name. The problem is that not many Grammy voters are familiar with EDM and when voting in the category may have voted on initial name-recognition alone. Most voters are older people with no interest in EDM or in most of the lesser known categories, so voting without knowledge of exactly what is being voted on is not unheard of.

Walser has denied the allegations and has threatened to call his lawyer in regards to the rumors. They are only that, just rumors and theories, but they do offer a convincing explanation of why a relatively unknown DJ/producer has been able jump ahead of so many EDM artists who have struggled to gain their followings. 

Richie Hawtin's CNTRL tour educates and entertains

The EDM old-timer teaches college students about the music's past.

Electronic dance music veteran Richie Hawtin wants to teach fans about the history of the genre. As the electronic dance music gains even more ground with the masses, he thinks that it is important to educate fans as well as to entertain them. The fact is that most of the people now listening to EDM are new to the genre and ignorant of its past.

To eliminate that ignorance, the Canadian-born DJ has launched his CNTRL tour, with friend Loco Dice, another DJ/producer. Together the two will travel to 17 college campuses across the U.S., teaching students about the roots of EDM and introducing them to the artists who built the genre, like Carl Craig, Josh Wink and Tiga among others. It is also about getting new people interested in the music and drawing them in.

Hawtin grew up in Windsor, Ontario and under various aliases like “Plastikman,” has been producing minimalist techno since the 1990s. He is also a co-founder of a record label called Plus 8. Yassine ben Achour, otherwise known as Loco Dice comes from a Tunisian family, but grew up in Germany.  

According to Hawtin, what is happening now with the EDM scene in the U.S. is similar to what occurred in the 1990s with raves. It appeared that EDM was going to be a permanently popular genre, but it did not work out that way. This tour appears to be about helping the genre to be more than just a passing fad.

Aside from Hawtin’s lectures on EDM’s history, topics will include Loco Dice lecturing on the use of old school DJ techniques with the technology available today, as well as Johannes Kramer (Hawtin’s sound technician) lecturing on the value of having good sound quality. The tour began in late October and is presently underway.


Underage drinking and helicopters at Long Island's Haunted Coliseum Party

Sebastian Ingrosso doesn't even get to perform.

The post-Halloween “Haunted Coliseum Party” in Long Island was supposed to include sets by Otto Knows, Alesso and Sebastian Ingrosso. However, Alesso only got 20 minutes into his set and Ingrosso never got a chance to perform. Why? The police, multiple underage drinkers and the attempt to land a helicopter on the grounds of the coliseum were the three main reasons.

The party, which was promoted by Lou B Industries an established (and by all accounts reputable) Long Island promoter, was open to concert-goers of all ages. According to Haunted Coliseum Party’s Facebook page, the ideal age was 16, but no ID was required resulting in concert-goers as young as 14. The promoter has also said that minors showed up to the event already intoxicated and that no one was serving alcohol to them at the venue.

The police were called out to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to deal with the underage drinkers with the result being that the event was cut short.  There have been rumors about shootings and stabbings similar to occurrences that marred Swedish House Mafia events in the summer; however, the police have said they have no knowledge of any such violence occurring at this event.

The failed event might have ended with the drunks being taken away and the Coliseum being prematurely emptied had it not been complicated by helicopter pilot, Michael Croissant, who attempted to land in the vicinity of the coliseum despite the pedestrians there. He was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment in addition to having his helicopter seized.

The Haunted Coliseum Party shutdown led to a stream of angry complaints delivered via Facebook. Concert-goers criticized the promoter's ineffective security measures. 

Stampede at Steve Aoki's Madrid show

Four fans trampled to death.

As of Saturday morning, four women have died after being trampled in a stampede at Steve Aoki’s Halloween show in Madrid, Spain. As a result of the incident, the DJ/producer canceled the following night’s show that would have been held in Bilbao. Aoki has stated that the cancellation is out of respect for those who had died in the Madrid show.

Aoki was performing at the Madrid Arena before a crowd of 20,000, however the venue was only approved for 10,800. In a statement released after the show, the concert’s promoter has denied that the venue was over capacity. The event was titled Thriller Music Park with a theme that involved the concertgoers dressing in costumes from the Michael Jackson Thriller music video.

The event’s promoter has also released an explanation of the events that led to the tragedy. A staff member set off a flare within the arena panicking the crowd and causing them to rush for the exits.  The trampling occurred because of a bottleneck at one of the venue’s 11 exits.

The blockage was reportedly due to people lying on the floor and vomiting in the hallway. Because the stampede was localized to just one of the exits, many of the other concertgoers were unaware that that the stampede had occurred. Paramedics arrived to find five people needing help, with two of them in cardiac arrest.

Attempts to resuscitate two them failed and the third died shortly after arriving at a hospital. The fourth died two days later, early Saturday morning. Aoki has released a statement offering his condolences and stating that he would have canceled the show immediately had he known that his fans were in danger.


Markus Schulz: German transplant DJ in Miami

The Miami resident's successful career and his Scream album.


Markus Schulz was brought to the U.S. when he was 13 years old and presently lives in Miami, which is also the home of the Ultra Music Festival. Schulz has wound up in DJMag’s top ten poll of DJs for the fourth year running and has released three albums under his own name as well as a number of mix compilations. Like another world-famous DJ, Armin Van Buuren, Schulz is also well-known from his radio program; his unique style is a blend of the house and trance genres.

His latest album is called Scream and features 23 tracks (including the four bonus tracks), 12 vocal and 11 instrumental. Its sound diverges somewhat from the genre with an unusual toughness and has gotten Schulz the nickname of “Unicorn Slayer” from his audience. The Scream album also features a cover photo of Schulz making a screaming face that has become iconic among his fans.

Markus Schulz comes from a musical background with his father being a drummer, though Schulz says that he got his strong self-discipline from his stepfather. He believes that while his musical talent may be due to his father’s genes, his successful career is due to what he learned from his stepfather. Thus far it has been a stellar career, with Schulz constantly touring and traveling to and from EDM hotspots around the world, including Ibiza, Brazil and the UK.

His present tour is all about promoting the Scream album, as well as an LP by his Dakota alter-ego. The Dakota name is one of the many alternate names he has used throughout his career. The music created under this pseudonym has been helpful in expanding his audience. 

Steve Aoki's new reality show

DJs get to win a VIP night with the EDM superstar.

Anyone who has been a fan of electronic dance music over the last couple of years will be extremely familiar with Steve Aoki’s name. Aoki is listed in the 15th spot on the controversial DJMag list of top DJs, and is fifth on the Forbes Magazine list of top-earning EDM artists, above such dance music icons as Deadmau5.

The cake-throwing DJ, producer and promoter has built a name and a brand from innovative beats and performing at more than 200 wild stage shows per year. Now he is about to venture into territory that no DJ before him has dared to enter: the world of reality TV.

The name of Aoki’s new show will be Chasing and the basic idea will already be familiar to anyone who has ever watched any reality contest show. As in everything from Survivor to The Amazing Race, it will involve people competing against each other to see which team can win enough points to get the big prize. What’s the big prize?

A night out with the man himself. The teams­, each consisting of DJs, will compete in a number of challenges to earn their points. The challenges will all be based on Aoki’s well-known party antics and consist of things like crowd surfing via an inflatable raft along with the inevitable throwing of cake.

Aoki’s popularity is unquestionable as may be gathered from the fact that he has more than a million Facebook friends, and has recently collaborated with artists like Lil Jon and the up-and-coming rapper, Chiddy Bang. It may be that the only truly new arena for him to conquer is television.

Chasing will available for viewing on the Internet at starting October 23rd

Dada Life has a new album

The Rules of Dada will be released on October 15

From their eccentric antics like inviting audience members in banana costumes onstage to balloon drops and spraying crowds with champagne, Swedish house group Dada Life has developed their brand around wild excess and partying with a sense of humor.

They have achieved a remarkable level of success in the last few years, from opening for Tiesto, to drawing thousands at the Electric Daisy Carnival. Now they are releasing a new album, The Rules of Dada. The scheduled US release is for October 16 and the album will have eleven tracks including a couple of their already-popular hits in “Kick Out the Epic Motherf*cker” and “ Happy Violence.”

Electronic dance music is presently very theatrical, with multiple artists using props and costumes to not only distinguish themselves from other artists, but to provide a unique experience for their audiences. From the Deadmau5’s mouse helmets to the Venom masks of The Bloody Beetroots, defining a brand and stage presence is the current trend.

Goofy antics surrounding banana costumes and marching bands are all a part of how Dada Life have chosen to express themselves, but in addition to that, they have shown that they are thoughtful and professional about their music and their creative process. This is exemplified in their plugin, called Sausage Fattener. The Sausage Fattener plugin is used by a long list of other DJs to replicate certain elements of the Dada Life sound. The list of Sausage Fattener fans includes Tiesto, Laidback Luke, Diplo, Hardwell and Kaskade.

Presently, Dada Life is touring the U.S. and Canada; they are approaching the end of the Midwestern leg and are about to start on the Canadian leg beginning in Winnipeg on October 15th and Saskatoon on the 17th.   

The Bloody Beetroots and "Chronicles of a Fallen Love"

Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo wants you to record it yourself.

While the name might sound like that of a band, The Bloody Beetroots is really the six year-old solo project of producer Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, an Italian producer. It is a separate entity from The Bloody Beetroots DJ Set, which is Rifo plus Tommy Tea. When performing along with a live band, Rifo has dubbed the group, The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77.

Coming off the summer hit “Rocksteady” Rifo is presently attempting to grab attention for the launch of the latest single, “Chronicles of a Fallen Love.” The gimmick is that fans of The Bloody Beetroots will have the opportunity to make their own versions of the song by downloading sheet music and recording it themselves. 

Providing vocal tracks for Rifo’s own version of the song will be Greta Svabo Bech, known for providing the vocals on Deadmau5’s “Raise Your Weapon.” The song will be released on October 23rd. Releasing sheet music is not new, Beck announced that he will be releasing the sheet music for his latest album by the end of 2012.

Rifo, like Daft Punk and Deadmau5, is known for his mask-wearing on stage. His main mask is of the Spiderman character, Venom.  Rifo got his start performing in Italian punk bands prior to starting The Bloody Beetroots 2006. He was eventually noticed by Steve Aoki and collaborated with him on a short tour of the US in 2008.

He has stated that his musical goal is to use punk to give electronic dance music a new sound. He also said that the release of the sheet music for “Chronicles of a Fallen Love” is really about getting the song’s meaning across to audiences and allowing them to play an active role in the creating the music.


More on the end: Swedish House Mafia

Or maybe not exactly the end.


There has been quite a bit of talk this past week about Swedish House Mafia’s impending retirement. Regardless of how anyone feels about Swedish House Mafia—and there is a pretty fair amount of love and outright hatred—the fact remains that this is EDM’s lone super group.

They are an international, massively popular entity that is (or was) one of the driving forces of the EDM. EDM fans generally fall into one of two camps: the ones for whom the SHM breakup and retirement is a tragedy and the end of some of the best years ever in music history, and those who have no idea what all the fuss is about. Those in the latter camp tend to see this as overblown marketing hype to quickly sell out the farewell tour and set the stage for a comeback in a few years or months.

The goodbye will take 26 tour-stops to complete, beginning in Dubai in November 2012 and ending up in Los Angeles in March 2013. According to Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell and Steve Angello, the retirement is largely the result of the fact that they are so popular. Their sound is being imitated constantly, and in the increasingly fast-moving world of EDM it is becoming difficult to stay ahead of the copycats. 

While their ability to do this thus far has led to their present level of success, the group now sees fit to part ways (at least temporarily) and pursue individual projects. Fans should note that they have not ruled out the possibility of a reunion and of working together under other names. The band considers Daft Punk to be their role models, and point to DP’s cycles of touring and creative seclusion. 

Electronic Dance Music stars deal with newfound fame and fortune

Has popularity gone to EDM's head?

As EDM continues to gain popularity with the masses, what are its effects of widespread popularity on the artists? How have artists who labored in obscurity until fairly recently handled their newfound fame? There are three examples in this week’s news:

  • Deadmau5 in a recent interview talked about the influence that the band KISS had on him and his own live shows. After making it clear that he is not a fan of their music, he went to compliment the theatrical qualities of their stage show. He also praised the spectacular aspects of Trent Reznor’s live performances. He went on to say that not only was bored with performing in front of legions of adoring fans, the only thing that still excites him these days is high stakes gambling.
  • Swedish DJ Avicii is one of new stars in this latest resurgence of the genre. He is presently among the highest paid DJs in the world according to Forbes Magazine. The 23 year-old recently opened for Madonna at Yankee Stadium and has stated that one of the results of his stardom is that he now gets to work with a wider field of talent. Avicii intends to make the most of his 15 minutes by collaborating with a variety of artists but states that he intends to remain true to his identity.
  • Perhaps in the most blatant example of EDM going mainstream, Skrillex is going to appear in an animated movie. By Disney, no less. The movie is called Wreck-it Ralph and he will be providing the soundtrack as well as making an appearance.

As EDM continues to shed its hipster image, will the genre become even more popular or jump the shark?