10 Must-See Artists at Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival This Weekend
This weekend the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival once again descends upon the northwest corner of Williamsburg for the sixth year running, and it's expanding from two nights to four for Veteran's Day, including a pre-party Thursday at Output. This year's lineup promises another eclectic mix of established and up-and-coming artists, from "cosmic disco" pioneer Todd Terje and constantly evolving dubstepper Skream to sample-based experimentalist Lamin Fofana and Kanye West-approved beatsmith Evian Christ. As with most festivals, it's tough to decide who to see, what to skip, and when to wait in line, especially when that means leaving a rapidly warming space for the near-freezing outdoors; fortunately, festival founders and organizers Katie Longmyer and Jen Lyon have somewhat alleviated the fear of missing out (and hypothermia) by booking venues within walking distance of each other.
Rather than trample a field in the middle of nowhere with an audience of 40,000 and a practically supersonic sound system, the two masterminds behind MeanRed Productions "opted to grow a little more slowly and stay a little bit smaller as we go so we can keep the purity of the artists we're working with," says Lyon. Even though the size of some of the venues is a little larger than last year, she adds, "We thought about how to grow, and we talked about how to do that in a way that maintained tight curation." To draw both fuzzy-booted ravers and more demure head-bobbers in the back, the two collected artists from a diverse platform, including big-tent bangers like Nadastrom and Lithuanian top dog Mario Basanov. "I like to think that people who like dance music are liberated," says Lyon. "It's an exploratory genre," and BEMF's lineup definitely reflects that.
To get the most out of the experience, it's best to go with the three-day festival pass. Even though $125 seems like a hefty price tag, you'll ultimately save more money that way than if you purchase tickets for individual nights. That doesn't mean you shouldn't aim to arrive early if there's someone you really want to see (the all-ages show at 285 Kent headlined by Jessie Ware and Gold Panda affiliate Star Slinger, for example, will probably fill up fast), but with a festival pass you can move freely to catch as many artists as possible beforehand. The three-day festival pass also includes admission to the official RINSED after party on Saturday night, lineup and location to be announced. In the meantime, check out our list of 10 artists you won't want to miss. For the full schedule, visit BEMF's official website.
Dubstep innovator Skream is an easy choice: he headlines Skreamizm, the official BEMF pre-party that's also the only show on Thursday night. The producer born Oliver Jones was a formative member of South London's dubstep scene and one of the first to mix the dark, UK garage-pumped sub bass of predecessors like Horsepower Productions with washes of lighter melody (check the flute in "Rutten"). As EDM has grown to dominate the airwaves in the past few years, however, Jones has taken his sets in the opposite direction, starting with his Skreamizm tour last year; his drop-addicted US audiences got so hostile that earlier this year he issued a warning via Twitter: "YES I WILL BE PLAYING TECHNO/HOUSE/DISCO AT ALL FUTURE SHOWS," he wrote. One audience member was even thrown out for aggressively requesting dubstep. So if you do go, don't be that guy.
Skream performs Thursday at Output with MK, Oneman, Curses, Route 94, and Sgt. Pokes.
Publicity photo by Doug Coombe.
"She's an exceptional DJ, not just an exceptional 'female DJ,'" said Fabric Records' manager Leo Belchetz in a recent New York Times article about women in electronic music, a perennially hot (and fraught) topic. He was talking about the DJ Cassy, but he may as well have been referring to Erika. One of only two women in BEMF's lineup, the Detroit-based DJ, composer, and founder of record label Interdimensional Transitions grew up in a science-centric household, running her own bulletin board system at age 11 and building her own computers in high school. This attention to precision and symmetry–the video for "North Hex" is derived in part from a WWII submarine oscilloscope–is reflected in her work, which borrows its elegant switches and simmering beats from hometown heroes like Carl Craig.
Erika performs at 285 Kent on Friday, November 8th with BMG, Carlos Souffront, Patrick Russell, Mike Servito, Outer Space, and Bryan Kasenic.
When considering dance music, it's often more useful to consider tracks above albums and artists; and that's especially the case with "Ordinary Things," the breakout from UK producer Rupert Taylor (a.k.a. xxxy). Released in 2011, it's simply arranged–an urgent, skittering beat and the title repeated in a sped-up vocal sample from Deborah Cox's 1999 song "It's Over Now"–but that's what xxxy does best. For what it's worth, at times Taylor's output recalls a less aggressive version of Disclosure, especially this year's Got Me So EP. But he's no one-trick DJ: Taylor hops genres as quickly and easily as he does record labels (he hasn't stuck to an imprint for more than one release), dabbling in anything from minimal techno to Baltimore breaks.
xxxy performs at Cameo Gallery on Sunday, November 10th with Lotic, Lamin Fofana, Max McFerren, and Blacky II.
List continues on the next page.