This week in dance music: A shooting at Beyond Wonderland at The Gorge last weekend reverberated throughout dance music, with Insomniac Events’ CEO Pasquale Rotella responding to the incident, Electric Forest ramping up security and the artists and brands speaking out in the aftermath. Beyond this tragedy, the week also saw a flurry of lineup announcements, with Shaqhille O’Neil announcing his first ever festival, Miami’s III Points releasing the full lineup for its festival in October, Georgia’s Imagine Music Festival dropping its phase two lineup and Fred again.. announcing a historic eight-night run at Los Angeles’ Shrine Expo Hall. Elsewhere, Sam Smith and Madonna made moves on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, and we caught up with the founders of club night HE.SHE.THEY.
Is there more. Indeed. Let’s get into it.
Madeon, “Gonna Be Good”
The Artist: One of our tres favorite Frenchmen, Madeon.
The Label: Mom + Pop
The Spiel: The producer returns with his first single of 2023 — a bonafide anthem that builds slow and gets big before paring back down to the same spare percussion it opens with. The video plays off his the cinematic texture of Madeon’s acclaimed Good Faith Forever live shows.
The Artist Says: “It’s a song about restless hope. It’s about saying the things we wish were true, like an incantation,” Madeon says. “It’s about caring for people we love and promising them things we couldn’t promise ourselves. It’s the final single from the Good Faith era (that started all the way back in 2019), but also hints at what’s to come. I think it’s my favorite production and perhaps my favorite song I’ve ever released – I’ve already made so many special memories performing this song live over the past year, and I’m so happy you can take the song home now, I hope it’ll mean something to you too!!”
The Vibe: Levitating into the weekend.
The Blessed Madonna Feat. Jacob Lusk, “Have Mercy”
The Artist: The Blessed Madonna, on a hot streak, with vocalist (and American Idol alum) Jacob Lusk, co-production from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
The Label: Warner Records’ recently launched Major Recordings.
The Spiel: “Have Mercy” taps into the religious fervor of a peak dancefloor experience with the slick, funky and ultimately ecstatic house production serving as a foundation for Lusk’s smooth as hell vocals and an exclamation point of an assist from the House Gospel Choir.
The Artist Says: “I’m interested in the dichotomy of the sacred and the ordinary in songwriting,” The Blessed Madonna says. “Agony and ecstasy. A song about love and heartbreak can still be a deeply spiritual piece of work. I began by thinking about what love is for me in my life and arrived at the simple idea that it was at its core a promise not just to live but to forgive. Love is Mercy. Over many revisions and with the developments that came from working with Jacob and the rest of the many people who came together to make this record a reality, the idea deepened, and we found exactly the sweet spot between the church and the dancefloor that I was looking for. The gospel influence is intentional and undeniable. I thought in particular about the sculpture The ecstasy of St Theresa which is an incredibly rich image that feels as carnal as it does holy. This is my conception of god: those moments where we are humbled by a love so big that we can’t imagine being worthy of it or worthy of the kind of acceptance and mercy we feel.”
The Vibe: Amen.
Galantis, “BANG BANG (My Neurodivergent Anthem)”
The Artist: Swedish duo Galantis.
The Label: Big Beat Records
The Spiel: The title here isn’t just being pithy or glib, with the slick up-tempo pep Galantis has always delivered here carrying a message about Galantis’ Christian Karlsson actual ADHD diagnosis. “I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was an adult,” he says in a statement, but had known for a long time that I was wired differently. The knowledge brought clarity to the chaos, yet it also led to a period of self doubt and confusion. My brain has the motor of a Ferrari and the brakes of a bicycle, and the only way I had been able to sustain was by keeping it activated non-stop with music. I quietly began a long trial and error process of medicating, trying to find a solution that worked for me – ‘Pharmacy’ wasn’t the name of the first Galantis album by coincidence.
The Artist Says: “Eventually I learned more about neurodiversity, and found myself to be part of a community that was living through experiences similar to my own. Every day I’m learning more about who I really am and how my brain works, it’s a comfort to be connected with people who are on that same journey. Neurodiversity encapsulates all the different variations of the human mind, none of us are alone or less than… I called ‘BANG BANG!’ my neurodivergent anthem because like the chorus echoes, ‘it’s in my head.’ These thoughts, these questions, these stigmas we work to erase. Letting go of what we’ve been conditioned to perceive as ‘normal’ and embracing our own unique identities. It’s the prescription I’ve been looking for.”
The Vibe: Serotonin rush.
a.k.a skips, “My Only Mistake”
The Artist: Los Angeles-based trans producer a.k.a skips, formerly known as Ducky.
The Label: Play Nice
The Spiel: With his debut release a.k.a skips goes for a decidedly vibe, with the track winding up to a place of industrial frenzy and the only lyrics stating “my only mistake was loving you.”
The Artist Says: “I feel a shift in my creative process away from the results, away from people’s perceptions, and towards saying what I believe with my whole chest. This song is an exploration of areas I might not have dared to go in the past – from the unconventional song structure and darker mood, to the more dramatic visual aesthetic, exploration of sex, and visible queerness. a.k.a. skips is rave music, and raves are for the freaks. Enjoy!”
The Vibe: 4 a.m., in the dark, in the warehouse.
Surf Mesa, “Manzanita”
The Artist: Seattle-born, Los Angeles-based producer Surf Mesa, in collaboration with Norwegian singer/songwriter Elsa Søllesvik and Zurich-based producer Benji Alasu.
The Label: Astralwerks
The Spiel: The producer born Powell Aguirre has come a long way from his viral Tiktok days, trading the dreamy, pop-oriented mode of his breakout hit “ily (I love you baby), for a slinky, sophisticated textural dancefloor vibe that marks some of his best work to date.
The Artist Says: “’Manzanita’ is a track I’ve kept exclusively for the dancefloor for a while,” says Surf Mesa. “The texture and atmosphere this song makes me envision a rainforest in the future. It resonates with me so much as I begin my next chapter of music.”
The Vibe: If trance and tech-house had a baby in Ibiza.
Aphex Twin, ” Blackbox Life Recorder 21f”
The Artist: The one and only.
The Label: Warp Records
The Spiel: The producer returns with his first new music since 2018, the more or less soothing “Blackbox Life Recorder 21f.” The track is the lead single from a four-track EP, Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / In a Room7 F760, dropping July 28.
The Vibe: A welcome return.