Snowball Festival Recap

Despite the early hour, a substantial crowd filed onto the grass field to see Portland’s
STRFKR on Saturday. In typical fashion, sound check pushed them past their scheduled start time of 4:10pm. They were worth the wait. From the look on their faces, they weren’t too happy with their slotted time, but they warmed as they played and ended up delivering a solid performance. In my opinion, this band belongs in a dark, crowded, sweaty-elbows venue, and while they were a bit off the standard electronic Snowball Fest fare, their coy and catchy tunes, like “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” got the crowd hustling in no time.

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Two words: Trippy Turtle. This guy must drink his Red Bull with a shot of juiced kale and seaweed. He exudes vitality. And I might have a crush on him. Apparently, I’m not alone. People loved him. On three separate occasions, people grabbed my arm and emphatically pointed at Trippy Turtle, shouting variations of “this guy is the shit.” I couldn’t agree more. Go see him if he ever comes to your town. Amend that – go see him wherever he’s playing, wherever the town. And, oh yeah, his music. If there’s an electronic dance tent in heaven, this is what they play. They call it Jersey Club with a splash of hip hop/RnB? I don’t care what it’s called; sign me up.

trippy turtler

Another bouncing, crammed tent housed West Coast duo Caked Up, who, no surprise, admitted to being (oh no!) drunk and high while shredding away on their laptops. Watching Caked Up – correction – watching Caked Up’s crowd – is like watching a python eat a baby rabbit. There’s something wrong about it, but you just can’t look away. Full disclosure: I’m a 35-year-old introvert with a five-month old baby at home. However, had I not been carrying fifteen pounds of expensive camera equipment, you would have found me in the middle of this twerking, surging throng, rehabilitating my post-pregnancy core.

Kill the Noise. No killing involved, the noise was very much alive. They were loud and the beat was deep. Pacemaker deep. I think my heart stopped and restarted about fifteen times. I felt like I was standing in front of 747 engine at takeoff. It doesn’t really matter if this isn’t your favorite sound, you will be taken over. Possessed. Sorry, but them’s the breaks.

I want to hang out with Aidan Kennedy. The genius behind Bagheera, named after the panther in the Jungle Book, played in the Heat Hut at 5:40pm. The crowd was small, but happy. Very happy. No pretense, no drama, just good dance tunes spun right.

snowball crowd

Minneapolis-based hip hop artist Brother Ali took the main stage at 5:30pm Saturday and the captivated the crowd with his self-deprecating banter, tight lyrics and powerful stage presence. He referred to himself as an “ambassador for albinos” – Ali was born without pigment in his skin and hair and is legally blind—and joked, “I’m cool with having unpopular opinions,” in reference to the fact that he doesn’t smoke weed. He’s no newcomer to the big stage, having played with the likes of Guru, Mos Def and De La Soul. Consider me a follower of Brother Ali.

Jeremy Malvin’s Chrome Sparks provided a nice respite from the bass-heavy twerk tents and blaring main stage speakers. His mellow, complex rhythms would make a good traveling partner while driving some desolate highway at night.

As night crept in and the temperature started to drop, Yeasayer took the stage. By the time they finished opener “Sunrise” they’d won the band-most-likely-to-win-you-over award. Their sound was crisp and professional while maintaining a gritty, raw heart. Vocalist Chris Keating is a charismatic performer and while his voice isn’t quite my style, it sounded like a good friend by the end of their set. Energetic and passionate, their music just feels good. If I could go back and see one performance again, this would be it.

yesayer

Pretty Lights sounded amazing no matter where you were on the festival grounds. I enjoyed the show from the press pit as equally from the taco stand line on the other side of the festival. The light show was especially noteworthy. He, Derek Vincent Smith, killed it—up, down and side-to-side.

Unfortunately, they also sounded pretty good from the tent where Twin Shadow, aka George Lewis Jr., was gearing up to begin. This was the tragedy of the evening—that he was slated to play at the same time as Pretty Lights. When I first scanned the Lineup for the festival, Twin Shadow was my must-see set. I love the guy. However, when he took the stage in the Ballroom Tent at 9:15, the crowd subsisted of about ten people. I made eleven. There was a collective cringe when the eleven of us realized what was happening. I was afraid Twin Shadow would bail altogether, not just because of the small turnout, but because the pavement in the Ballroom Tent was shaking from Pretty Lights even though they were playing on the opposite side of the grounds. But Twin Shadow appeared unfazed and took the stage with a red cup full of gusto (or vodka) from the get-go.

twin shadow
All in all, a fantastic time despite the occasionally dreary weather. So when it comes around again next year, don your neon get up, faux fur, Mad Hatter hats and stick a daisy behind your ear. Guaranteed good time.

- Mariah Raymond


Created with flickr slideshow.

So you want to create a Producer Event?

BA Wilson wrote up a 3 part series on how to reach out to artists and find ways to make the most of your plug.dj events.

Create a producer event

Today I will outline some really key points in how to create a producer event. Most events that are successful are well thought out and have been planned for a good amount of time. You should never try and rush an event because there are so many unexpected things that happen in the magical life of what is to be a producer.

The 1st key Point: Keep it organized.

The last thing you want to be doing is sitting there and emailing multiple different producers and not relaying the correct info to the right person. I have found that if you give yourself an adequate amount of time to plan the event and give yourself the opportunity to speak with each producer individually, then you should not have nearly as much issue with time frames. Timing is really key to being efficient and being able to accommodate the artists to their schedule. Remember they are busy just like any other person!

The 2nd Key Point: Boundaries.

Some artists are bound by contract and will not be as easily contacted without going through management. Always remember to respect the decisions of either their management or the producer themselves on their commitment to an event. Being courteous and respectful the first time may give you the advantage with the next event you want to host.

The 3rd Key Point: Take Initiative.

This one is major; one must be willing to take the time to be available to answer any questions that may be arising from the artists or even the fans that are going. The worst thing that the Host (You) can do is be distant and not available to answer questions. Promoting the event is YOUR duty as the host and you need to show the community that you want this as much as they do. The real part of this is making sure the date you have is set and the time you want it to start is going to work for everyone in their respective time zones. As you should already know plug.dj is an international site and time zones are the real limiting factor in an event. Taking the initiative to incorporate a good time for your event will surely add to its success.

The 4th Key Point: Artist Consistency

When creating an event you want to make sure that you create one that can really highlight each of the producers’ individual talent. We all know that some producers can be bound to their genres as others may be experimental on a daily basis but that can make for a great event and some producers flow better with others. Try to make it so that you can keep the music consistent, but that one artist’s music can complement the others. Keeping a consistent flow of music can really accentuate the event and make it truly something that can be enjoyable to everyone and to be remembered.

The 5th Key Point: Strategy

Strategizing with the community staff should also be of uppermost priority. For any type of event you have to expect the unexpected you never know how many people will show up, so making sure that you have staff members there throughout the event is key to having a smooth successful event. Make sure that the staff is aware of the event and can be there to help control the chat for any type of displeasing behavior. The worst thing to happen at your event is for people to come and start flooding the chat with rude and unnecessary comments. For one it looks bad on you (The Host) and the room (The Community) itself. No producer is going to want to come back to your room for an event if they feel that it is going to be filled with bias hate or ridiculous chat spam.

The Final Key Point: Enjoy

You do not want to make this so much of a struggle that you just cannot enjoy the event because you are worried that some people may not show. This should be your pride and glory, something that represents your true love for music and bringing together people for the common purpose. A producer event should create new connections and harbor true genuine love for music. There will always be a new day for a new event so just be happy and enjoy your hard work in action!

To our awesome community members,

maintenance_bunny

First and foremost, we are sincerely sorry for the numerous issues you have been experiencing on plug.dj these past few weeks. It’s very frustrating for us as well when we’re not able to provide you with a stable plug.dj so that you can enjoy, share, and discover music with your favorite communities. We’ve been working extremely hard to fix all outstanding issues.

Because we have been working tirelessly, we haven’t had a chance to talk to you, our loyal community members.

Here’s what has been going on:

tl;dr

Challenges:

  • The Heartbleed exploit created many problems for everyone on the web, not just us
  • There are some scripts and extensions that people have released that spam our servers, which have caused stability issues
  • Original plug.dj backend code was not built efficiently enough to support the scale of the community we have today, and this has caused stability issues
  • Facebook, Twitter, and Google logins can be unreliable, especially when you delete or change your account information

Status:

  • Heart Bleed exploit: None of your sensitive information was exposed through plug.dj
  • We have a new, experienced team in place including backend developers and a graphic designer
  • New features, avatars, improved community search function, private chat, and backgrounds are coming as soon as we stabilize the site so that you can enjoy all the new, awesome features without any interruption

Over the past week, the Heartbleed bug has received much press. The Heartbleed bug created many problems for everyone on the web, not just us. None of your sensitive information was exposed through plug.dj. We took extra precautions anyway. As part of this fix, you may be prompted to re-login to plug.dj. Please make sure you remember which login option (Facebook, Twitter, Google) you use. Your security will always remain a top priority.

In the past few weeks, we’ve noticed issues with some user scripts and have been actively searching for scripts that are spamming our servers. We’re happy to support scripts developed by the community as long as it enables us to keep the site working for all to use. You may notice that certain scripts will stop working soon and we will provide a list of scripts we know are safe to use.

For the past year, you’ve helped us dramatically grow our positive community of international music fans. We’re super thankful and excited about this growth, but it’s become clear that the amount of usage and community members we receive cannot be supported by our original backend code and architecture. It’s been an extremely challenging time for both you and us while we work to improve your experience on the site.

We have done our best to make improvements over the past year, and we have made significant strides, but it’s become clear that these challenges are a bit bigger and more time consuming than we thought. This has inhibited us from adding features you want.

We are fixing major components of the backend and moving to a more stable database. New features, avatars, improved community search function, private chat, and backgrounds are coming as soon as we stabilize the site so that you can enjoy all the new, awesome features without any interruption. We know how important these new features are to you, and we’re moving as quickly as possible to release them.

In the near future, we will be adding email and password login so it will be much easier to recover lost account information. We know that some of you have been waiting for us to respond on account issues. We read all support requests that are submitted through our help desk and try to resolve issues as efficiently as possible.

We are working hard to make plug.dj the best it can be and we have some amazing things in store for the next year, so stick around.

Don’t worry! plug.dj will still remain up and running while we rework the backend code and deal with any major issues that arise. We thank you for your continued patience and understanding during this time. We have an amazing team in place and are looking getting past these technical challenges and continuing to provide an awesome service for everyone around the world to enjoy.

Things are getting better, we promise!

Sincerely,
Steven

Check out the Portueguese translation here.

Heartbleed Update

To our wonderful community,

We want to let you know that the safety and security of your account on our site is always a main priority for us here at plug.dj.

Our SSL has been updated to protect all of our wonderful community members from the Heartbleed bug. Because we have taken extensive measures to protect your account, you will have to refresh your cookies in order to access plug.dj again. You can read more about the bug here: http://heartbleed.com./

Thank you for being patient during down time today and we’re so happy for your continued support.

Chance Waters Interview

We had a chance to interview Chance Waters about everything from music to his inspirations. Be sure to read the interview below and check out his site here
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1. You have a unique way of genre-hopping, crossing your signature rap with all sorts of different styles. Was that always a conscious decision or did it just naturally happen?

I think it was primarily organic – I definitely enjoy the challenge of mixing genres and it’s something I consciously like to incorporate into my music, but I think I went down that road because different styles of music naturally appeal to me and I don’t really view myself specifically as a hip-hop artist. My producer One Above is also great at pitching me musical ideas he probably wouldn’t hand to other hip-hop artists and so it creates a bit of a feedback loop that takes us in some interesting directions.

2. At plug.dj, we’re all about forming music communities. Where did you find your first music community?

Probably in highschool, our school was extremely musical and I fell into hip-hop because of the influence of the people around me, both in the years above and in my own friendship group. It was something we did for fun during lunch breaks and it slowly grew into something a lot of us took more seriously than that. My first musical years I worked almost exclusively with people I grew up with, and it wasn’t until after highschool that I branched out and found my own thing.

>3. What are some artists you draw inspiration from?

There’s obviously hundreds – often I answer this question with a couple of artist who have been persistantly in my life for a long time, people like Death Cab For Cutie, Metric and Jeff Buckley, but I go through musical phases where I’ll listen to huge amounts of content from one particular artist and during those stages I think those musicians contribute a lot to what I’m working on. Right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Ocean, Drake and Basia Bulat.

4. How do you personally get in the mood for songwriting?

Usually it’s just a matter of putting on the skeleton for a piece of music in the background and opening something to write with. I like to sit with a beat for a really long time and write in a linear fashion from start to finish, I’ll often comb over the same sections of music hundreds of times tweaking small bits of phrasing, so by the end of the process I’ve usually memorised the song by the time it’s finished. There’s a kind of creative mode you enter when you sit with something for long enough, around the one hour mark my mind really opens up and I find the ideas and progression come much more steadily – although you’ll hit patches where finishing a particular verse or stanza or even line might take an hour in itself.

5. You’ve been described as a “militant vegan.” Do you ever notice your activist interests crossing over into your music?

Hahaha, I don’t know if I’d call myself militant! I’m definitely passionate about animal rights issues but my approach to veganism is really more about impact than anything else, I view it as a flexible framework, although I’m very happy to argue a point about the importance of a practice and the impact of our habits with anyone. I think my passions always cross into my music, I’ve written songs about food practices and animal rights and will probably keep doing that – I like to write from a personal space and my opinions form the basis of a lot of my songs and ideas so it makes sense that they cross over whenever I’m writing.

6. With your past videos, you’ve given us everything from in-depth character studies to crowd-sourced clips to hard-hitting modern dance routines. What are some video dreams of yours that you’ve yet to tackle?

I’d really like to make a viral video clip! Usually I view the song as the vehicle for the clip, or more accurately some kind of symbiotic relationship where you make a great clip and people appreciate both elements, but the drive to watch the video usually comes from the song. I’d love to make something inverse where the song gets a lot of exposure because of the clip, and not vice versa, I think that just takes the right idea.

7. What can we look forward to with your next album?

I honestly think it’s the best work I’ve done, it’s a more light hearted (but still typically sarcastic) record than Infinity and I think we’ve really pushed some boundaries in regards to the production style. There’s some really cool features as well and Sarah McCloskey, the artist who provided the amazing illustrations for Infinity has come back on board and done some really cool water colour work for the cover and booklet. I’m really happy with everything so far and can’t wait to finish it!