Archive for March 2013

Preview: Bal en Blanc 19

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For a preview of the MAIN ROOM, click here.

For a preview of the TRANCE ROOM, click here.

And now, a word from foreign correspondent Fred:

    Like most of you know, I'm currently in Europe and I won't be able to attend this year's Bal en Blanc. I've checked the prices for plane tickets, but all of them were over my poor little student budget of, well, not much. This doesn't mean I didn't check the lineup and let me tell you, you guys going to BeB this year are going to have fun! Whether you prefer house music or trance, Playground Productions has made sure you’re going to enjoy your night.

     Be sure to come back to the blog in the days following Bal en Blanc for some extensive coverage from the event. Until then, Happy Easter and have a great Bal en Blanc!

MAIN ROOM: Bal en Blanc 19


For a preview of the TRANCE ROOM, click here.

To return to the preview post, click here.

Main Room

     Experience and subgenre and two aspects that are subject to extreme variety in this year’s main room. From the age difference between, Stef Agostino and Dubfire to the genre difference between Calvin Harris and Nicole Moudaber, this year’s mainstage has a wide array of styles covered.

20.00 – 22.00 Stef Agostino

atef agostino

Styles: House, Progressive, Electro House, Progressive House

One track he’ll most definitely play: Stef Agostino – Galaxcity (Original Mix)

Stef Agostino - Galaxcity *PREVIEW* by Stef Agostino


Fun Fact: He graduated from Concordia’s Electrical Engineering program in 2006.

Booking Grade: B-

     The opening slots are always reserved for the most active local DJs, so we can’t really fault or applaud Playground for this one.

22.00 – 23.30 Franco Fabi

Styles: House, Progressive

One track he’ll most definitely play: We don’t have the slightest idea…


Fun Fact: Franco is an expert in Jouanglais, as evidenced by his use of the word “BAA-TROO-MUH” (bathroom).

Booking Grade: B

     One of the better known DJs in Montreal and a resident at Circus Afterhours, Fabi should feel ease in preparing the crowd for the following performer.

23.30 – 01.00 Sultan & Ned Shepard


Styles: Progressive House, Electro House

One track they’ll most definitely play: Sultan, Ned Shepard & Fedde Le Grand – Long Way From Home (Original Mix)

Fedde Le Grand & Sultan + Ned Shepard - Long Way From Home (OUT NOW!!) by Fedde le Grand (Official)


Fun Fact: Sultan insists on cutting Ned’s hair. He later uses the clippings to elongate his dreads.

Booking Grade: B+

     Their set at BeB 17 still in our minds, the dynamic duo from Montreal is back for another of what is sure to be a memorable performance. Great job by Playground, slating Sultan & Ned Shepard’s true progressive house sound between a housier opener and the king of commercial house.

01.00 – 03.00 David Guetta


Styles: Pop, Electro, Progressive House

One track he’ll most definitely play: David Guetta – Play Hard ft. Ne-Yo & Akon (Albert Neve Remix)

David Guetta - Play Hard feat. Ne-Yo & Akon (Albert Neve Remix) by Active Melody


Fun Fact: Now that the dust has settled from the incessant “Harlem Shake” videos, Guetta has begun to use the song in his sets…

Booking Grade: A+

     Back off haters. Say what you will about David Guetta (trust me, I agree), the man is the most recognizable name in dance music, maybe even today’s music in general. Bal en Blanc consistently being the largest dance music event Canada has had to offer for the past 18 years, it seems fitting he should be in attendance.

03.00 – 04.30 Calvin Harris

calvin harris

Styles: Synthpop, Electro, Progressive House

One track he’ll most definitely play: Calvin Harris & Example vs Sandro Silva & Quintino – We’ll Be Coming Epic


Fun Fact: He once hooked up with Ke$ha. I think that’s hilarious, Scottish stereotypes and all.

Booking Grade: A

     Not that it’s necessarily a good nothing, but Harris’ level of success is slowly creeping up on Guetta’s. His radio-friendly tracks have enamored people the world over, while he still keeps a toe in the underground pool through his eclectic sets and his label, Fly Eye Records. Again, admirable time slotting by Playground as the Scotsman seems to be a solid buffer between his predecessor and the techier part of the night. 

04.30 – 06.30 Peter Rauhofer

Styles: Progressive House

One track he’ll most definitely play: Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child (Rauhofer Big Room Anthem Mix)



Fun Fact: Back he was known as Club 69, he released an album entitled “Let me Be Your Underwear.” He also runs a label called Star 69.

Booking Grade: B-

     I really don’t know much about Peter Rauhofer, but having taken a listen to the tracks on his SoundCloud page, I can safely assume that he’s one of those DJs who frustrates mainstream EDM lovers with slight variations of popular anthems. He teases with vocals from the original, builds-up, builds-up some more, than drops some horrible brostep-electro-pop rework. I hope you prove me wrong Peter!

06.30 – 08.45 Nicole Moudaber

Styles: Techno, House, Tech House

One track she’ll most definitely play: Nicole Moudaber & Victor Calderone – The Journey Begins (Original Mix)

Nicole Moudaber & Victor Calderone - The Journey Begins (Original Mix) [Drumcode] by Nicole Moudaber


Fun Fact: Same as Sultan and Ned Shepard, but with Carl Cox.

Booking Grade: A

     Not being much of a techno fan, I don’t know much about Nicole Moudaber either, but I get the distinct feeling that I’ll be crucified should I write anything even remotely passive aggressive with regards to her. So instead, I’m just going to remind everyone that her rapid ascension into the upper echelon of her genre is supremely impressive, her recent set at Stereo is one of the most beloved in recent memory and Montreal has accepted her as it’s Queen of techno. More than enough validation for me.

08.45 – 09.15 SHADED

Styles: Techno, Minimal

One track he’ll most definitely play: Shaded – Love Bug (Original Mix)

LOVE BUG o.g. mix by SHADED_formerly SHDWPLAY


Fun Fact: He continues to advance his career as Shaded, despite the enormous popularity of his alter-ego, Richie Hawtin.

Booking Grade: A+

     More techno, more cluelessness from moi. Here’s what I know: his real name is Skyler Taugher, he’s a good surfer, he’s an exciting member of Dubfire’s Sci-Tec and Playground was smart in placing an artist who favors minimal between sultry, tough techno and the aforementioned Dubfire.

09.15 – 12.00 Dubfire


Styles: Techno, House, Tech House, Minimal

One track he’ll most definitely play: Dubfire – Octvs (Original Mix)


Fun Fact: Dubfire was once denied access to a “trendy” club in South Beach where Deep Dish was supposed to perform. He was not on the list, thus coining the term “Dubfired.”

TL;DR: Dubfire was dubfired at the door.

Booking Grade: A+

     Having performed at Bal en Blanc in the past as a member of Deep Dish, Dubfire should feel right at home. Slotted in the last performance of the show, the crowd at his stage should be comprised mainly of extremely knowledgeable diehards, which I’m pretty sure would sit well with any artist. Great find for the last of Bal en Blanc.

     Before we part ways, make sure you brush up on the following tracks as they’re certain to get multiple plays come Sunday.

Lana Del Ray – Summertime Sadness (Cedric Gervais Remix)

Hard Rock Sofa – Rasputin (Original Mix)

Dimitri Vegas, Moguai & Like Mike – Mammoth (Original Mix)

TRANCE ROOM: Bal en Blanc 19

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For a preview of the MAIN ROOM, click here.

To return to the preview post, click here.

Trance Room

     Once again, this year’s trance room is filled to the brim with the international titans of the genre, as well as popular locals and extremely promising up and comers.

21.00 – 22.00 Mike McCarthy


Styles: Trance

One track he’ll most definitely play: Meridian – Pressure (Solid Stone Remix)


Fun Fact: He’s a fan of the Washington Redskins.

Booking Grade: B-

     I’ve seen Mike play at BeachClub and at the Imperial Room, and I was pleasantly surprised both times. One of the sets was opener; the other a closer, so I can attest to his understanding of set construction based on a specific time slot. He seems quite deserving of a spot at this year’s charade, so I suppose my hat goes off to Playground.


22.00 – 00.00 Project Offset


Styles: Trance, Progressive House

One track they’ll most definitely play: Ummet Ozcan – Here & Now (Original Mix)


Fun Fact: Their radio show, “Crowd Control,” is named after Canada’s leading retractable belt stanchion and wall mounted barrier specialist.

Booking Grade: B-

     Van & Nick have been Offset for nearly as long as they’ve been best friends. During that time, they’ve managed to secure a residency at Circus, they’ve built memorable sets (such as their Odyssey 2013 performance) and they’ve christened friend of the blog Rob Naylor’s new track with it’s first club play. Needless to say, these guys are two of our favorite locals.

00.00 – 02.00 Cosmic Gate w/ special guest Emma Hewitt

Emma & CG

Styles: Trance

One track they’ll most definitely play: Cosmic Gate & Cary Brothers vs Porter Robinson & Mat Zo – Wake Your Mind Easy (first 4 minutes of the recording below)

Live @ A State of Trance 600 Kuala Lumpur - 15.03.2013 by CosmicGateOfficial


Fun Fact: Nic Chagall is really tall.

Booking Grade: A

     Cosmic Gate will go down as one of the best duos in electronic music history. Joining them this year is Emma Hewitt, who is pretty easy on the eyes. That’s taking audio visuals to a whole other level, well done Playground.

02.00 – 05.00 Armin van Buuren


Styles: Trance

One track he’ll most definitely play: Armin van Buuren – This Is What it Feels Like ft. Trevor Guthrie (W&W Remix)


Fun Fact: He studied law in University.

Booking Grade: A+

     Do I really need to explain why it’s a good thing that Playground booked Armin van Buuren? The world’s number 1 DJ holds that position for a reason.

05.00 – 08.00 New World Punx, or Markus Schulz b2b Ferry Corsten

Ferry Corsten B2B Markus Schulz at Mansion Miami Tickets Sun. Mar. 24th 2013!

Styles: Trance

One track they’ll most definitely play: Markus Schulz & Ferry Corsten – Stella (Original Mix)


Fun Fact: NWP is also New World Pasta, my all-time favorite pasta maker.

Booking Grade: A+

Justin’s Bal en Blanc 19 Spotlight artist: New World Punx

     I’ve heard of producers coming up with new artist names to designate a collaborative partnership, but never have I seen DJs do the same for live performances.

     New World Punx. Honestly, I hate the cutesy ‘x’ they replaced the proper plural of ‘punks’ with. Grammatical mischief aside, this alliance is one of grandeur. Both of these men having been part of Bal en Blanc for the past few years, Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz know exactly how to entrance Montrealers. Individually, they are both beasts behind the decks and I can only imagine what kind of originality will emerge when the subtle difference in their styles intertwine in their back to back set.

08.00 – 10.00 W&W


Styles: Trance

One track they’ll most definitely play: Zedd ft. Foxes – Clarity (W&W Bootleg)


Fun Fact: If you listen to “The Code” backwards, you can hear AC/DC reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Booking Grade: A

Fred’s Bal en Blanc 19 Spotlight Artist: W&W

     For you trance music lovers, ravers, and all of that good stuff, the trance room this year will be quite entertaining. There is one thing that I don’t like and that I have to admit: the set list is extremely similar to last year’s and I’m a guy who loves hearing new artists every year, so it would’ve been a little disappointing for me, but hey, last year’s set list was nuts, so it’s not too bad. The only great addition this year is, in my opinion, W&W. Never mind the hate that their Mexico set received during the early stages of ASOT 600. I promise this will be a million times better live. Make sure you DO NOT miss their set, everyone I know that has seen them live told me they were fucking amazing.

10.00 – 12.00 Andrew Rayel

andrew rayel

Styles: Trance

One track he’ll most definitely play: Markus Schulz & Armin van Buuren – The Expedition (Andrew Rayel Remix)


Fun Fact: Ferry Corsten called him the best DJ from Moldova. Name another DJ from Moldova.

Booking Grade: A

Nikhil’s Bal en Blanc 19 Spotlight Artist: Andrew Rayel

     I must say, when the lineup for the trance room was released months ago, I was filled with excitement, and in all honesty, who wouldn’t? For God sakes, when you put AvB, W&W (debatable amongst pure trance aficionados), Cosmic Gate, Markus Schulz with Ferry Corsten, and Andrew Rayel in the same room, there is something for everyone.

     Personally, if I was to show up, shall we just say that I would be getting a good night sleep, for Andrew Rayel is getting on at 10:00 in the morning. Another option would be to pop a molly; let’s go with that, bring on the sweat, and pure ecstasy. With all the noise he has made this year, as well as the anthemic tonality of his releases, I can hardly imagine how awe-inspiring it would be in such a large room, surrounded by people who share the same love for music (the tickets are expensive for a reason; in other words, trance lovers only). Did I say I was going to show up? How late is fashionably late? Ten o’clock it is!

     Before we part ways, make sure you brush up on the following tracks as they’re certain to get multiple plays come Sunday.

Betsie Larkin & Ferry Corsten – Stars (Alex O’Rion Bigger Room Mix)

BT – Skylarking (Original Mix)

Kyau & Albert – Gluhwurmchen (Original Mix)

Lesser and Definitely not Equal To

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     These next weeks should be fun. While Montrealers observe Mother Nature’s and Father Time’s heated dispute over when winter is supposed to end, we lust after Miami. With the annual Winter Music Conference in full effect, the Floridian city can only laugh at the rest of us as they monopolize electronic music for a few weeks. Thankfully, artists like Nina Kraviz and Huxley are in town to lessen the blow, as well as the myriad live sets that should be coming through the interwebs as you read this. Do us a favor, before you go looking through your favorite forum, check out the tracks we’ve got lined up for you this week.

the rebirth

     I have the distinct feeling this song is telling a tale. I haven’t given it enough thought to postulate on whether the hero lives or dies, but the message is clear: Bedrock Records is awesome. Despite his advanced age relative to his profession, John Digweed still has the musical prowess that has kept his label at the forefront of the house scene for years. The evidence is in Oniris’ and Pat Brooks’ latest, “The Rebirth.” The nine and a half minute marathon song is populated by a shy bassline, multiple piano and violin tracks and the quaint percussion sounds of wood blocks and maracas feigning wind. The tune seems to be separated into different acts, an alignment more complicated than the usual song structure. There is an intro, an outro, a breakdown and a climax, but the track seems to be divided in such a way that a narrative should be present. Enough of this storytelling mumbo jumbo; it’s just conjecture anyways. Have a listen and I hope you understand what I mean.

Oniris ft. Pat Brooks – The Rebirth (Original Mix)
Released on March 11th on Bedrock Records

Oniris, Pat Brooks - The Rebirth (Original Mix) [Bedrock Records] by Gonzo Bim

     Germany has played an integral part in the development of electronic music. From the influential tunes of Kraftwerk, to the beginnings of trance and to the rich techno underground of today, Deutschland seems to have an important inspirational effect on its inhabitants that manifests itself in the most beautiful of ways. Adding his genre to the short register listed prior is Rowpieces, a Drum & Bass pseudonym of Munich’s Robert Schmidbauer. “I Got a Story to Tell” is a wonderfully soulful piano-driven track who’s summery feel seems to perfectly coincide with the alleged end of winter. D&B is one of the genres that I am not a big fan of. However, when I do find such a tune that I enjoy, I worship it. This happens to be one of those rare occasions and I simply cannot get this track out my head.

Rowpieces – I Got a Story to Tell (Original Mix)
Released on February 18th on Fokuz Recordings
BeatportJuno Download

     I’ve been a fan of Craving since their first release on First State Deep. In the past, I’ve preferred their remixes to their original productions as their tweaking of “Craters of the Moon,” “Right Back” and “Timide” easily overshadow all else. After a long absence from the studio the Russian duo is back with “Legacy,” an epic return to form with a balance of traditional and 2.0 trance aimed at the dance floor. Like in their rework of W&W’s “Manhattan,” Craving opted for the relatively tame intro, breakdown and outro to overload with contrast the overly climactic drop. The piano synths and pulsing bassline explode at the 4:45 mark as they join the more electro elements to drive home the feeling of exhilaration the track is obviously going for. This is a great release that I sincerely hope to hear at this year’s Bal en Blanc.

Craving – Legacy (Original Mix)
Released on March 18th on Beat Service Audio

Craving - Legacy (Original Mix) by Ahmet K.

     This happens way too often; I was slated to go see Hot Since 82 last week, but a teensy snafu with the ticket office and an error of judgement on my part made me miss his visit. I heard it was a solid performance, which did nothing but sour my mood. With all the free time I have nowadays, I consulted a few forums and decided to teach myself how to use the djay app for iPhone with a selection of tracks from his recent sets. In doing so, I revisited his Hot Jams Volume 2 from a month ago. Below is “Don’t Be Afraid,” who’s eerie synths, dark spoken word and simple bassline make it my favorite from the release.

hot since 82

Hot Since 82 – Don’t Be Afraid (Original Mix)
Released on February 11th on Noir Music

Hot Since 82 - Don't Be Afraid by Hääääänk

     RiFF RaFF fascinates me. The Houston-born rapper is one of the most eccentric figures in today’s music. I won’t pretend to know anything about rap or about him, but from my vantage point, he seems to be a male Caucasian, probably born and raised in the suburbs that displays a strong desire to emulate African American hip-hop culture and style through “bling” fashion and generally accepted “thug life” guiding principles. For those wondering, that’s Urban Dictionary’s definition of “wigger.” Pursuant with these types’ general disliking among “normal” people, I find his popularity and record deals utterly incomprehensible. Here’s an interview Pitchfork conducted with JODYHiGHROLLER in August of 2012.

     I just had to give you a link to his Twitter feed; it’s as nonsensical as he is.

We Jelly Bro.

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     Editor Fred is currently spending a semester studying abroad, surely experiencing Europe like the underground electronic music gold mine that it is. I’m not sure what it’s like in France at the moment, but in Montreal we’ve entered that time of the year when everything sucks. Spring Break is ending, the snow is melting, slush is accumulating, hipsters’ scarves don’t make sense anymore, etc. To further twist the knife, Fred just took a trip to Amsterdam, which he described as: “Amazing people, amazing city and well, weed and whores.” We jelly bro.
bringing you down
     Sometimes I wonder how French Express turns a profit. The constant stream of tracks they sell for nothing doesn’t seem conducive to a financially successful label. Added to the group of giveaways this week is Jonas Rathsman’s latest, “Bringing You Down.” First introduced through Rathsman’s and Perseus’s Essential Mix, the track features variations on two brilliant basslines, contortioned vocal cuts and a high sustain soft synth that covers the whole of the song. The sound of wind seems to have an important influence in this piece, as evidenced by the use of cymbals and hi-hats in combination with what sounds like a cabasa, as well as the white noise that punctuates many of the introductory portions of the tune. This unique mix of French, deep and Swedish house is a must-have. Did I mention it’s free?
Jonas Rathsman – Bringing You Down (Original Mix)
Released on March 5th on French Express
Jonas Rathsman - Bringing You Down by FRENCH EXPRESS

     Next up is a remix by German producer Dave DK. Signed to Future Classic, his vocal take on Panama’s maiden release “It’s Not Over” has Balearic qualities coming out of it’s rear end. Apart from pointing out that simple fact, there’s nothing more I can say about this song. This is one of those rare releases towards which it is impossible to take an analytical approach. Every time I try to, my blood pressure lowers, endorphins are released and I drift into a state of relaxation and contentment. It’s aural masturbation, really.

Panama – It’s Not Over (Dave DK Vocal Mix)
Released February 4th on Future Classic
Panama - It's Not Over (Dave DK Vocal Remix) by maawill

     The hype surrounding the Pryda Essential Mix has finally settled, but we’re not near ready to stop talking about it. Sure, Eric Prydz displayed his mastery of the decks, but we’ve known he can do that for a long time. The real entertainment came from his literally awesome transitions, his great song choices and the track below. Sandwiched between Pryda’s “Warrior” and “Games” is this beauty, a new ID to add to the vast arsenal of unreleased Pryda tunes. All throughout the mix, when Prydz reached the end of one song, he would tease listeners with a familiar sound, then mix into the song he would actually play. This technique of using interludes is becoming much more prevalent in today’s electronic music circuit. When the track below began playing, I was fully expecting a wholly different tune to follow. Then it dropped and my mind blew.
Eric Prydz Essential Mix 2013 ID

     This past Monday, Broadwalk Records released a long-awaited 2-track EP from teammates Julio Bashmore and Hyetal, who together make up Velour. “Speedway” and “Dial” follow in the footsteps of past Broadwalk tracks; it’s house that doesn’t sound anything like what you’d imagine house to sound like. In other words, it’s creative, out of the box thinking music. I couldn’t choose which of the cuts I liked best so for lack of a tiebreaker, here’s a remix the duo did for BenZel’s “Fallin’ Love.”
BenZel – Fallin’ Love (Velour Remix)
BenZel - Fallin' Love (Velour Remix) by Velour

     A little more music than you’d usually expect from me this week. To cap off my selection of tunes is the latest from Mike Shiver with his contribution to the 10th instalment of Anjunabeats’ flagship compilation series. Amidst the cacophony caused by the rampant trouse on this year’s edition is Shiver’s offering, 7 minutes of veritable delight constructed with muted piano synths and the murmuring vocals informed by the song’s title who both slowly grow and reach maturity in an explosion of sonic beauty. If you only get one song from this year’s compilation, I highly suggest you make it Mike Shiver’s “Ohh. “

Mike Shiver – Ohh (Original Mix)
Released on March 4th on Anjunabeats
Mike Shiver - Ohh by Anjunabeats

     Finally, here’s is this week’s video, an informative trailer for “Back in the House,” a documentary about house music in NYC expected to be released later this year.