Dieselboy and Trollphace at Underground Arts

Back before EDM culture was mainstream, Philadelphia was a mecca of Drum & Bass music in America. Weekly events, like Platinum (at Fluid Nightclub with Dieselboy and a stable of top-notch MCs), and Concrete Jungle (at Skyline) packed fans in to see some of the biggest names in the genre like Roni Size, Goldie, Andy C, Usual Suspects, and Aphrodite. It was a special time here in Philly and one we miss dearly.

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Those nights, vibes, and venues may not be a part of Philly underground culture anymore, but on Friday, January 9th, 2015 we got to relive some of that magic, if only for one night. Underground Arts was the setting for the 21+ event that featured three fantastic sets: an opening set by Architekt, a blistering middle set by Trollphace, and a headlining showcase by Dieselboy.

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The night kicked off at 930PM with Architekt who didn’t pull any punches warming up the crowd. “Warming up” is a misnomer in this case, as he actually got things heated from the get-go with one basstastic track after the next. Architekt might not have the name recognition (outside of the Philly area) as the traveling DJs that made up the latter part of the show, but his track selection and talent behind the decks didn’t take a backseat to the rest of the night. In fact this was the best night of music, from start to finish, that we’ve heard in quite some time.

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We hadn’t seen a full Trollphace set in person before, but we’ll never forget our first. We were instantly transported back into our early days of electronic music by his blistering Dubstep & Jungle tracks. Bass fans that missed this one should be ashamed (and very disappointed) because this was gangbusters. We wish we could tell you a little more about his track selection but we were lost in the moment. We recall him mentioning a brand new track that ‘Snails’ had just sent him, but most of the rest of the set is a blur, a beautiful, beautiful blur.

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The headlining set was everything we’ve come to expect from Dieselboy: a bass music fan’s wet dream. His four-deck, 170 BPM, headlining set took the night from fever pitch to full-blown bass pandemic. The venue was full of people and nary a curmudgeon amongst them. Everyone was getting down. EVERY one. Every last one. Yes, that chick. Yes, that guy too. Dropping Drum & Bass, Jungle, and Dubstep, Dieselboy was a wizard behind the decks. The Jungle brought out the animals. The crowd went absolutely nuts and we were right there with them.

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Shows like this don’t need the bells and whistles because the music is worth the price of admission all on its own. When we see acts like Flosstradamus drawing big crowds by rolling out these massive stage sets, just so they can press play, wave flags, and play crappy trap music, we begin to wonder if anyone cares about the music anymore. Then we see Dieselboy drop an onslaught like this and we remember not only why we fell in love with the music, but why those who still care about the music will continue to seek it out, wherever (and whenever) it may be.

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This night was just what we needed to reaffirm in 2015 that EDM hasn’t killed electronic music and the underground scene, it has just weeded out the true music fans from the ones who care about flashy stage set ups over content and quality (and the ability to actually DJ). It was the perfect venue, age group (21+), crowd, and line-up to serve as a wake-up call to those who are doing things wrong, by showing them how to do things right.

[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

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Rage By The Pound Tour with SKisM, Mayhem, and Victor Niglio at The Troc

The ‘Rage By The Pound’ tour made its way to the legendary Trocadero Theater on Friday, March 7th for an action packed night of DJ sets. The tour, headlined by SKisM, also included Mayhem, and Philly native, Victor Niglio.

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To add fuel to an already fire line-up, the opening slots were filled by two of our favorite locals, Aaron Ruxbin, and Architekt.

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Despite the ability to give himself some prime time slots at his Actual Records events, Ruxbin isn’t one to thrust himself into the spotlight. He’d rather showcase his label mates and the slew of other talented DJs in and around Philadelphia. We chose to pay no attention to his checked ego and judge him solely upon the quality of his sets (and not the time slot in which they occur). Based on merit alone (track selection + use of vinyl) he’s become one of our favorite DJs to see playing across the city. Friday night was no different as he kicked off the Rage By The Pound tour with an all-Philly inspired set that was witnessed by few but deeply appreciated. Not only does he push local DJs into the spotlight, he rocked a set composed almost entirely of their productions. That’s Philly love.

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Peep the track listing below:

1. Gracie – In Humble [Bombe Remix] (Theta Operations 002)
2. Noncanon – Chemical Flowers [DJ Ruxbin + Shane Six Ten re-edit] (Actual Records 007)
3. Jack Deezl – Heart Murmurs (Actual Records 022)
4. Major Lazer – Lazer Theme (Mad Decent/Downtown)
5. DJ Jazzy Jeff + The Fresh Prince – Brand New Funk (Jive/Rca)
6. A cassette-taped sample from the TV show ‘Weeds’
7. Santigold – The Keepers (Downtown/Atlantic]
8. RCMP – Mustache Love (Young Robots 001)
9. Nico’s Gun – Dirty Girl [DJ Apt One Remix ft Sammy Bananas] (YR019)
10. Diplo – The Scrappy Chief (Money Studies 031)
11 Amanda Blank – Big Heavy (Downtown Records)
12. Hollertronix #3 – Stay Fly [Mad Decent Remix] (Money Studies 022)
13. DJ Yolo Bear – That Good Good (Lucky Me Records W003)*
14. Diplo ft Rye Rye – Wassup Wassup [DJ Sega Remix] (Mad Decent 087)
15. DJ Sega – Dig (Hollertronix 8/Mad Decent 084)
16. Dev79 – In Ya Face (Seclusiasis 017)
17. Starkey ft Trim – DPMO (Slit Jockey Records 005)
18. Baauer – Harlem Shake [Eliminate’s STFU Remix] (bootleg)
19. Atlas Genius – Trojans [Xaphoon Jones Remix] (Warner Bros)

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Up next, Architekt took over on the decks, and held the fort down for the locals, popping off some stellar tunes that set the tone nicely for the touring members of evening’s entertainment. Architekt seems to be everywhere at the moment; whether producing on his own, working with his Oddzilla project or with Glitch Squad label mates, or rocking out some sweet DJ sets, we can’t seem to keep his name off of our radar for more than a few hours at a time. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him returning to Philly soon as one of the touring members of a show.

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Speaking of locals who have made the leap to nationally touring acts, the one who had made the biggest leap in the shortest period of time is none of than Victor Niglio. It wasn’t too long ago that he was playing opening slots around Philly just for the exposure. Now he has some mega remixes and original productions under his belt, his played all across the country, and is Raging By The Pound night after night.

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For his hometown show, he brought out the entire Niglio clan including his mother and his grand-parents. Philly loves a hometown hero and Niglio is quickly becoming that to his adoring fans. If the place was somewhat empty leading up to his set, the floor was filled by the time he began his set. In addition to his DJ skills, his son skills were on display for all to see on Friday. Part way through his set, he hit the mic to alert the audience that it was his mother’s birthday, he then brought her up on stage with him behind the decks and played her favorite song “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. It was a sweet moment and one were were happy to catch.

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Atlanta’s Mayhem is always a pleasure to catch when he plays out and this show was no exception. We are thrilled at the resurgence of Drum & Bass love in the area and there was no shortage of it during Mayhem’s set.

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We wish we could name more of the tracks that he dropped on Friday, but, although we can’t name them, we can assure you that we, and the rest of the Trocadero crowd, were blown away.

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The headlining of the set was held down by the man, the myth, the legend: SKisM. We were simply in awe from the moment SKisM first stepped behind his four-deck set up and began to unleash his unique brand of bass-driven, mix-intensive, high energy, music.

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Not only were we highly impressed, but everyone from the kids in the front, old heads in the back, and DJs on stage were equally enthralled with his performance. He was joined on stage by MC Leaf Walker (Khadafi Dub) who only aided in hyping up the already excitable crowd.

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The man behind ‘Never Say Die’ Records is clearly a heavy-weight to be reckoned with and if this was the Rage By The Pound Tour, this night just about tipped the scales.

 [Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

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You can view additional photos in the gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):

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Sub Focus and Delta Heavy at Soundgarden Hall

On Saturday, December 7th, the latest edition of Steez Promo’s Bass Nation party took place at Soundgarden Hall. Headlined by UK Drum & Bass DJ, Sub Focus, the event also featured sets by Delta Heavy, Mojo Risin, and Elvis Suarez.

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Back before EDM culture was mainstream, Philadelphia was a mecca of Drum & Bass music in America. Weekly events, like Platinum (at Fluid Nightclub with Dieselboy and a stable of top-notch MCs), and Concrete Jungle (at Skyline) packed fans in to see some of the biggest names in the genre like Roni Size, Goldie, Andy C, Usual Suspects, and Aphrodite.

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Today’s electronic music fans in Philadelphia tend to gravitate more towards house, trance, dubstep, and trap, there is a new wave of artists producing and playing top-notch Drum & Bass music for those of us who adore the genre. While many people say that Drum & Bass is experiencing a resurgence as of late, aficionados will tell you it never went anywhere. All we know is, we were very excited for this event from the moment it was announced.

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Our hope was that the younger generation of Philly EDM fans would share our passion and make this a well attended event. At least 1,000 of them did and packed much of the dance floor and the 21+ area at the back.

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The openers, Suarez and Mojo, warmed the crowd up nicely on this chilly December evening. We spend a lot of time at Soundgarden Hall so we tend to get a pretty steady dose of the usual suspects amongst the local openers. That’s okay with us though, these guys are talented and always bring the proper vibe and energy to the beginning of the evening.

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UK duo Delta Heavy (Ben Hall & Simon James) has garnered a lot of attention within the bass music world for their original productions but especially for their top-notch remixes of artists from Avicii to Nero to Rita Ora. Dealta Heavy served up a serious dose of Drum & Bass to the Soundgarden Hall crowd on Saturday night. They had the place bumping while still leaving fans craving more.

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Sub Focus kicked off his 75 minute set around 1245am, sandwiched between two large digital screens. Joined behind the decks for much of his set by Delta Heavy, Sub Focus dropped some sweet bangers on those in attendance. While his sound as of late has drifted across genres as of late, his set on Saturday focused almost exclusively on Drum & Bass with several other sounds sprinkled in.

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He was also joined by MC ID for his entire set who hyped up the crowd in only the way a Drum & Bass MC can. Oddly enough the MC ID seemed to address the crowd as both “Philly” and “New York” at different times but we’re willing to overlook it because his vocals were on point.

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The night was a nice reminder of Philly’s strong Drum & Bass roots as well as a showcase of the talent that still rolls through our city. Please keep them coming!

[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

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Netsky Revives Drum & Bass in Philly at Soundgarden Hall

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We had excitedly circled April 10th  on our concert calendar the moment we learned that Netsky was bringing his live band Drum & Bass show to Philly (presented by Steez Promo).

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Back before EDM culture was mainstream, Philadelphia was a mecca of Drum & Bass music in America. Weekly events, like Platinum at Fluid Nightclub, and Concrete Jungle packed fans in to see some of the biggest names in the biz like Roni Size, Goldie, Andy C, Usual Suspects, and Aphrodite.

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While today’s electronic music fans in Philadelphia tend to gravitate more towards house, trance, dubstep, and trap, there is a new wave of artists producing and playing top-notch Drum & Bass music for those of us who adore the genre. Of those doing it, none do it quite like Belgium’s Netsky.

His rise to fame has been swift yet well deserved, earning him global praise from fans and peers alike.

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Hours before the doors opened at Soundgarden Hall yesterday evening, we learned that due to inclement weather, his live band gear did not arrive in Philadelphia in time for the show. Our brief disappointment was quickly replaced with the realization that a Netsky DJ set would still give us an ample fix of Drum & Bass we’ve been craving. The show must go on.

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The evening kicked off at 8pm with an extended set by local duo DFG. Playing on four turntables, they were given the duty of warming up the crowd and easily rose to the challenge. With thunderstorms moving through the area, we arrived a little later than intended but still enjoyed the part of DFG’s set that we caught.

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Up next was another local DJ, Mojo Risin, who took over for the next two hours and quite literally set the stage for the headliner with some sweet Drum & Bass selections. The crowd was one of the smaller ones we’ve seen recently at Soundgarden. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was because the event was held on a Wednesday, maybe it was the fact that it was a Drum & Bass event… whatever the reason, those that didn’t turn out to catch Netsky missed out big time.

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Joined on stage for the entirety of his set by Script MC, Netsky rocked SGH for two hours that we wished would never end. It was hands down one of the best, high energy sets we have heard in Philly in a long time.

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The added room on the dance floor turned out to be an added bonus for those in attendance as they were able to properly get down to the stellar track selection that Netsky offered up to the crowd. Mixing in hip-hop, bass music, and some funky throwbacks from generations past, the young Belgian worked the room like nobody’s business.

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Because he had been forced to play a DJ set instead of his live show, he extended his performance (which was originally scheduled to end at 130am) for an additional 30 minutes to the delight of everyone in the venue.

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When his set finally ended, he signed posters on stage and passed them out to the rabid fans at the front of the stage.

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We hope Philly can really get behind Drum & Bass music again and begin bringing back some of the biggest names in the genre from across the globe. We did it once, we can do it again.

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[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

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Concerts Interviews

Starscape Festival: Garden of Eden Discovered in Baltimore, MD

Independent Philly traveled down I-95 on Saturday, June 9th for the 14th annual Starscape Festival in Baltimore. Located in scenic Ft. Armistead Park, the festival (presented by Steez Promo) featured 16 hours of continuous music on five stages.

The weather was beautiful when the gates opened at 2pm and stayed that way until the party came to an end at 6am on Sunday morning.

The theme of this year’s Starscape was “The Garden of Eden” and many of the stages, VIP areas, and beyond were adorned accordingly with stunning visuals. Aside from the decorations, the backdrop of the park itself provided gorgeous views of the water, trees, and the stark contrast of the graffiti on the ruins of Ft. Armistead (which held the Fort Stage).

Thousands of fans, decked out in crazy outfits (and a surprising number of people nobbling on crutches) packed into the park, occupying every square inch of decent real estate from the water to the front gates.

We spoke to many party goers that had nothing but good things to say about Starscape. One girl (we assume her name was Kelly because she had it painted on her chest) told  us she would find a way to buy a ticket every single weekend if they held 52 Starscapes a year. That seemed a little excessive, but we liked her enthusiasm.

We were also interested in what the DJs thought of the event so we had a chat with two guys who have been staples of EDM for decades. Up first is DJ Dan (who played the Dance Stage at Starscape). Dan has been at the forefront of House Music for over 20 years. He has released countless House gems, played all over the world, and in 2006, he was named as one of the top 5 DJ’s on the planet by DJ Magazine. He’s definitely one of our favorite DJ/Producers year in and year out.

Independent Philly: What did you think of this year’s Starscape Festival (the music and overall experience)?

DJ Dan: I had a great time, I was very impressed to see the big numbers this year. There were some technical issues with power outages during mine and Kill The Noise sets but it was great to see the crowd totally cool and understanding the fact that it was out of our control. Overall I thought the event was a big success and look forward to seeing it grow bigger next year.

IP: If you had the chance to check out some other sets, whose did you most enjoy?

DJD: I absolutely loved Beats Antique. They put on an amazing show and I was really impressed with their vibe and the way they took many musical influences and made it their own. They really had the crowd mesmerized!

IP: You learned the DJ basics from Donald Glaude, do you guys still have a good relationship today?

DJD: Yes we are still great friends. As busy as things get we still catch up with each other regularly if we’re not playing together.

IP: You’ve been working as a DJ for over 20 years now. DJs have moved from the DJ booths at clubs to huge stage productions in the past few years. Do you think the quality of music is being sacrificed for bigger production value?

DJD: I think production quality has improved over the years on the bigger events. I do see DJ’s playing cheesier stuff because they feel like they need to do the obvious thing for instant crowd gratification and I think it comes off cheap because it’s the easy and most obvious thing to do. I believe that people come out because they want to be inspired, not patronized. Sure, there are many who love the familiar tune here and there but to throw the whole candy bowl at them is just offensive on all levels. There’s a lot of cool music out there, the crowd deserves to hear the best of the best!

IP: Overall, what do you think of the state of EDM in 2012?

DJD: Numbers wise, it’s great. Commercially it’s crossed over and it’s a good thing that we are getting more support from the mainstream. However, now it’s time to educate. If you have the audience in front of you, play some underground shit along with some dope classics….then throw a familiar tune in. That’s my feeling on it.

IP: What current projects are you working on for the second half of 2012?

DJD: I have had an amazing year of releases so far. I have had 8 tracks in the House Top 100 and I am almost finished with my new artist album for Guesthouse Recordings. Many of the previous releases will be on it as well as a bunch of new tunes. I am also working on a new track with my good friend TJR, as well as a new project with DJ Sneak.

IP: What other big festivals can fans catch you playing this year?

DJD: Burning Man is the one I am really looking forward to but I really wouldn’t call it a festival. There are many club dates coming up as well so just check my tour schedule on my Facebook page.

IP: Are there any up and coming DJs or producers that (perhaps) we haven’t heard of that deserve some attention?

DJD: Check out J Paul Getto, Dj Mes, David Glass, and Dimitri Max. These guys are all making tracks I really love right now.

IP: Would you like to give a shout-out to your fans?

DJD: Thank you guys for hangin’ with me on Saturday with power outage issues and all. I was really impressed with how passionate and supportive everyone was. The coolest thing was seeing how many people stayed in the tent patiently waiting for Kill The Noise to come on while the sound was getting sorted. Very cool to see the loyalty from the crowd. Respect!

IP: Tell us something that would surprise, or even shock our readers…

DJD: My studio is in the basement of my house and it was an old speakeasy during the 20’s. Then an Italian family bought the house and turned it into a pasta production room and sold the pasta to the first Trader Joe’s here in L.A. Now it’s my studio and the vibe is still hearty. Gotta love the Italians!

We also had the opportunity to throw some questions out to Drum & Bass legend Dieselboy (who played a B2B set with Bare on the Beach Stage at Starscape). Damian Higgin’s music has been featured in video games, television shows, and charted on Billboard. He helped champion some of the biggest Drum & Bass nights and tours in history.

Independent Philly: What was your overall impression of this year’s Starscape Festival (music, overall experience, crowd, etc)?

Dieselboy: It was packed to the gills. Crazy high energy. Lots of friendly faces. I had a blast!

IP: If you managed to catch any of the other performers sets, which ones did you most enjoy?

DB: I showed up fairly late because I was at a friend’s wedding in Philadelphia earlier in the night. but I did see half of Noisia and all of Zomboy. Musically they both were quite entertaining.

IP: You have a strong connection to the city of Philadelphia, what are some of your fondest memories of your time here? What do you miss the most about not living in Philly?

DB: My fondest memory is for my 6.5 year drum and bass weekly PLATINUM that was held at Fluid nightclub. I had some of the best shows of my career there. It felt very family-like with the owner, the security, bartenders, staff, regulars, etc. I miss not having that around anymore. Also, I miss my friends that are still living there.

IP: You’ve ventured out from Drum & Bass (recently) to include forays into Electro and Dubstep. Is that based on your own personal musical preferences or do you see EDM trending more towards these genres these days?

DB: A combination of both. I like all kinds of music but always felt like I could just play Drum & Bass and that was fine. As I saw EDM trending towards more diverse sets, I felt this opened the door for me to get a little more experimental and try to diversify my own (sets).

IP: EDM culture has exploded in the last few years. In many cases DJ’s have gone from the DJ booth to giant stage set-ups. Do you think that the music overall is suffering as DJ skills are being overlooked in many cases for production value?

DB: Absolutely. A lot of it has become style over substance. It is starting to feel like kids care more about seeing a crazy light and stage show then whether or not the guy on stage is actually doing anything live at all. I feel like it is getting to the point where promoters are going to put a Chuck E. Cheese style animatronic “DJ” on stage with a huge visual setup and then just hit play on a pre-recorded mix. I am joking…but seeing how things are now it is not impossible to imagine this could happen. I like knowing that an artist on stage is sweating a little bit and working for his paycheck, not trying to use anything and everything possible to make sure he never fucks up his “DJing”.

IP: We couldn’t agree more. What is your take on the current state of EDM culture?

DB: It is mainstream at this point and there is a lot of focus on it. I am curious to see how it rides it out and weathers the storm. I feel that the huge influx of new kids who don’t have roots in the EDM scene is unfortunately helping to dumb down what I just discussed with regards to performing. Hopefully things change.

IP: What projects are you currently working on?

DB: I have two singles ready to be released and two more on the way. I am currently running two record labels (Human Imprint and Subhuman) and we are on a release schedule of about every 2 weeks. I am also working on fleshing out our merch line into something more like a “lifestyle brand” of cool clothing; something beyond having a record label logo t-shirt.

IP: We had a chance to catch you recently at both EDC NYC and Starscape (both great sets by the way). What other festivals will you be taking part in this year?

DB: I just did EDC Vegas this past weekend. I know I have the GNARNIA Festival later this summer. I am doing some international stuff over the next few months including Belgium, Holland, Russia, Taiwan and Japan. I am also currently on tour with my Subhuman label artists and that is continuing through until July.

IP: Is there another DJ or producer that you’re dying to collaborate with?

DB: I would love to sit in the studio with Original Sin and bang out some hard ass jump-up. Also would be nice to do some work with the Rottun Crew (Excision/Datsik/Downlink).

IP: Tell us something that would surprise, or even shock our readers…

DB: When I am not at a club I never listen to electronic music. I listen to obscure/sad indie rock stuff or metal. Also, I am as obsessed with food and cooking about as much as I am obsessed with drum and bass.

We loved the insight from both DJ Dan and Dieselboy about Starscape, the state of the EDM scene, and their own lives.

From House to Drum & Bass, Dubstep to Trance, and several live acts, there was something for every EDM lover at Starscape. There was food, alcohol, and a slew of vendors selling their wares.

Once the sun set, out came the glow hoops, the lasers, and a silly amount of glow-sticks and light up toys. Eat your heart out Duracell.

With the moon hanging over the water, the party raged on all night long. Things came to an end shortly after sunrise, and then it was time for some well deserved sleep for those who had run the 16 hour gauntlet of EDM. Starscape 14 is in the books. We can wait to see what Starscape 15 has in store for us.

While we heard many excellent sets at this year’s Starscape (and missed others that we heard we’re amazing), the following ones really stuck out in our minds as some of the best of the festival: Dillon Francis, Zedd, Beats Antique, Dada Life, Bro Safari, TwoFresh, Dieselboy & Bare, DJ Dan, Donald Glaude, Alex English, Papadosio, J Rabbit, and Shpongle.

You can view a full photo gallery of the event below:

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