SONG OF THE DAY: Haji and Sheldon – Inception

Seamus Haji is one of those rare producers who lives in both the commercial and underground worlds. One moment he is reworking a big pop record by Foxes, The Saturdays, Usher, or Mariah Carey for the dance floor and the next he drops something much deeper, like “Inception.” This new collaboration with Sheldon is much more on the progressive house tip- not stadium, but big, expansive and experimental, with huge washes of synths leading a journey reaching gorgeous heights and down to deep valleys. When Danny Howard premiered this on his BBC radio show, he referenced Eric Prydz, and while there is definitely a section reminiscent of “Pjanoo,” it is neither a knockoff nor an update but more an experimental groove with a variety of influences. Although I am not normally a fan of progressive tracks, “Inception” is something special that could draw new people into the prog world as it really embraces you on an emotional level and takes you on a sonic journey with the many layers that build over its six-minute length.

Image courtesy of Trice Recordings.

SONG OF THE DAY: Patrolla – “Groovy”

Here is an inspired cover version. Many of us first heard the dark, folky “Reach Out of the Darkness” by Friend and Lover when Mad Men used it in an episode this past May. Next up was Jocelyn Alice & Right the Stars, who updated the classic with an indiepop, Pizzicato 5 feel, keeping the hooks in place – this is the “So Groovy Now” that Target is using in their recent series of commercials. Entering the scene is London group Patrolla, who have remixed the likes of Paulina Rubio and Agnetha Faltskog, who take the Jocelyn Alice version and give it a club/dance radio-friendly beat with a nice buildup in the middle. If you were around in the ’90s, this would fit the trend of ’90s house acts that embraced ’60s sounds- like Soho and Deee-Lite. The resulting track is quite sexy and groovy, with a funky feel that is retro and modern at the same time. Funny enough, I first heard this track when Seamus Haji dropped it in his mixtape and I was like, “oh cool, a dance mix of that Target song!” Seamus’ mix ups the BPM a bit, adding some more housy keyboards and builds, while keeping the full vocals in place for the drop out. The big beat elements he uses are just about perfection. Patrolla have a full album coming next year and I definitely look forward to hearing what they are going to sound like, as their website features old school hip-hop, old school house, and breakbeat mixes. On a side note, for the house heads, this isn’t the first time that “Reach Out of the Darkness” has been used in a dance record. Krush, the girl group behind the classic “House Arrest,” also sampled it for their 1992 single “Let’s Get Together.”

Image Courtesy of Universal/Island.


earplug-thereseToday was a really good day – a mix of fun stuff that I personally have loved for years, along with new favorites. I started the day meeting Matt Waterhouse, the British manager who handles many of the biggest UK commercial producer/remixers – Danny Howard, Cutmore, Seamus Haji, Moto Blanco, Cahill, and many more. Sitting with him was the lovely Therese (Swedish singer of “Put em High” with Stonebridge who has started her own label – Vixen records) and Ed of the Wideboys (garage/electro remixers who have done just about every major artist in the world). To say I was having a fanboy moment was putting it lightly, as those who listen to my sets know that I have an unnatural inclination to throwing the Wideboys in the mix and in my many years as a journalist they have always been a dream of mine to meet. So, I held it together, did both interviews – which were lovely, and left with the biggest grin on my face.

earplug-patrick-hagenaarOne thing about Amsterdam Dance Event is no matter how well-scheduled and organized you are, meetings get missed, people disappear, things happen – the secret is to just walk outside and look around and you will find someone else to chat with. I did just that with the lovable Patrick Hagenaar, who I have recently begun following closely. Not that he would be hard to miss – wearing a colorfully printed Adidas trainer jacket and Jeremy Scott-winged high tops. His mixes of Martin Solvieg “Hey Now” and Cash Cash “Take Me Home” are both corkers. It’s also great to meet people who are nicer and more humble than you expect – and that are truly good people. These are the ones that you want to support (and I want to write about). You just feel their energy and know they are coming from a good place.

earplug-seamus-hajiSimilar in vibe is Seamus Haji, who I didn’t know did A&R for Strictly Rhythm for a good while. It’s funny, because I was going to ask him about the big break in his discography and it ends up thats when he was working with Defected. You can always rely on Haji for a solid house mix, a rhythmic twist, and good energy; whether it’s The Gossip or Rihanna – he never fails to deliver. Chatting with him, we dug into some interesting topics that I can’t wait to post about.

Mighty Fools

It was then time for another press call where in secession I spoke to two party duos (Mighty Fools and The Party Squad) and two brand new and young producer/DJs (Erik Arbores and Martin Garrix). As more seasoned veterans, MF and PS (those initials sound a bit vulgar) were both full of energy and talking about their many projects was quite fun. With Erik and Martin, they are both so young (17 years old), I kind of felt like a father figure in a way. It seems like both have good teams around them who are helping guide and give them space to be teenagers as well. Erik was signed at 16 by Armin van Buuuren to Armada, and Martin has arguably the biggest club hit of the year with “Animal.” Both are surprisingly down to earth and friendly/charming in that playful Dutch way.

It was then time to head back to the Dylan for the Urban Ears drink because open bar is always the best time to get people to say stupid things on the record… Just kidding. Sort of… I was gifted with a mini plug sound card that allows two stereo line outs (one for Cue, one for sound system) so that you can DJ with an iPad/iPhone – quite an advancement from the mono splitter most iPad DJs use.

armin-a-breath-of-tranceRealizing it was 7pm and I hadn’t eaten all day, I suddenly got a craving for Wok to Walk- a European chain of fast asian food grilled to order- that I always hit when I finish the ‘dam. So good, so filling, and so decadent on a budget. From there, I was walking through Rembrandplein and was handed a pack of Mentos gum, which was perfect timing. Then I looked at the package and noticed that it was a special Armin van Buuren packaging .. I guess this would be called “A Breath of Trance.”

Julian Jordan and Martin Garrix

Popped into ABE, a club I had never been to before, for the Spinnin party. It was a meet and greet party, and sometimes these can be a bit dodgy because if you don’t already know a few people, it’s hard to network. The vibe here was quite good and I kept popping into people I knew or had just interviewed. Please note that while Martin Garrix and Julian Jordan may have done the track “BFAM” – Brothers From Another Mother – they might as well have called it “Twins from another mother” as the two look so much alike that they are easy to confuse. Running into both of them at the party made me realize that… Luckily they were wearing different shirts. (Note to gay readers – I said twins without a ‘k’ – get your mind out of the gutter.)

Around this time, I got a text about another social-y drink event, hosted by Sea to Sun down on Prinsengracht, a nice sprint to Wok off that last meal. Sylvia Tosun is as charming and beautiful as ever, as was David Vendetta. There were some quite interesting media guys there as well and I had a nice chat with Anthony Lopez of FG Radio US about what they are planning.

don-diabloThen it was time for the adventure. I got another text to come to Toren from Don Diablo. All he said is that it was in an artspace across the pond from Central Station. At the hotel, I asked them to look up the address and they point to me to an address so I got in a cab and went there. Address was horribly wrong, so I got back into the cab and said take me to Central Station. I got out and found the ferry boats and I felt like I was going to a ’90s-era underground rave – where you got a map or cryptic directions and you had to go on an adventure to find it. I chose the first boat, got on, and when arriving, I just walked around. I asked a few people where Toren was and no one knew. I popped on my phone hoping to find a WiFi signal and I saw a faint signal for IndeToren. So basically I treated my phone like a compass and just kept walking in different directions until the signal grew in strength until I ended up at the venue.

Don Diablo is a performer. When I first saw him perform years back, he was one of my personal inspirations – his energy on stage, how he engages the crowd, playing multiple genres and blending them in a unique style. Just yesterday, I wrote about how Quintino didn’t really beatmix and that it seemed odd. While Don doesn’t always beatmix, the way he jumps through styles (similar to open format), it would be possible to mix in the traditional way – you can’t go from electro to trap to dubstep to to mashups to house and back and forth, every few minutes and BPM it. The thing is that it flows so seamlessly that you don’t even notice. He was premiering the new Hexagon projection, a flying robot, and the upcoming Batman track. The visuals are a nice touch but honestly, Don is one of those performers who really doesn’t need it. At one point, the hexagon generator failed and the screen was moved out of the way so you could just focus on dancing with Don. The party got even better. If you ever get a chance to see Don Diablo spin, do it. It’s an experience and you will be sweaty when you leave.