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Music Tea w/The Values

If there’s one thing that Philly is absolutely fabulous for (besides cheesesteaks and Super Bowl rings, of course), it’s that its local entertainment scene is truly like no other.

Whether you’re a performance artist slaying in the FringeArts festival, a DJ serving up deep house at one of the many, many nightclubs around or a drag queen serving the runways of the Gayborhood, all walks of entertainment thrive on the City of Brotherly Love dance floor. 

Another performance genre that is certainly soaring in Philly (although some of you kids might not know how big it truly is), is that of the “basement” genre. Or, we can think of it as a small intimate musical gathering in the basement of your Mom’s house, designed for bands with a darker, edgier sound who’re built for more intimate crowds for their talents to be seen and their voices to be heard…and that they most certainly are. 

Thanks to venues like The Barbary and “house party” hot-spots like The Waiting Room and Hubris House, the basement genre is more alive than ever before, which is why Brooklyn based duo The Values are finding no trouble fitting into it all

With their eccentric mix of pop, indie and thunderous beats, The ValuesMason Taub (vocals) and Evan Zwisler(synths & the rest of it)–have not only made a name for themselves on their native NYC local entertainment scene, but right here in Philly while creating an ever-growing fan base that follows their every move.  With Ms. Taub’s dark, defining vocals on top of Zwisler’s pulsating production, these two certainly know how to serve up the heat while keeping it all light and groovy. 

Speaking of keeping things light and groovy, Mason and Evan stopped by Philly Mixtape for a spot of music tea, where they broke mugs about their humble beginnings, recording sessions and everything else in between….including their love for The Boss. Take a sip and enjoy! 

And for much, much more tea with The Values, check this out. 

Hey, guys! Thanks for stopping by the Philly Mixtape music tea table!! First up, spill for everyone about how The Values came to light…..Mason:When I met Evan in 2014, he was already working on the first iteration of The Values with some friends of his from college. He actually invited me to their first show that was happening the next day. We started dating and eventually I joined the band, and since then we’ve gone through lots of changes, learned a lot, and seem to have found our best sound yet as a duo. Evan: Every iteration of the band before this really didn’t feel right. I feel that when it’s just the two of us we have the freedom to really make and perform the music that’s in our heads. I’ve never been more excited to write new music.

Okay, let’s break some mugs about your unique sound. I’m feeling a lot of genres with it……a little EDM, a little new wave, and perhaps a touch of goth vibes? How would you kids best describe it? M:We usually put ourselves under the umbrella of synthpop, but there are lots of influences that we each bring to the table. My vocals certainly don’t sound like a lot of synthpop bands out there, and we slip in some rock and post-punk stuff in a few of the songs with Evan’s guitar. E:Sexy synth sounds that make you want to move your booty. Mason also writes amazing lyrics that are so vivid. It’s one of the reasons I love her so much.

Which musical artists inspire you both? M:I feel like the best way to answer this is with some of the music we listen to on the road: there’s a lot of Prince and Bruce Springsteen, LCD Soundsystem and Donna Summer. I also definitely find myself inspired by female pop artists like Janelle Monae, Grimes and Robyn. E:Recently it’s been a lot of Prince, I think he’s so bad ass. I think the sound design in Maggie Robert’s hit song ‘Alaska’ is really good and I think Lorde is just killing it, ‘Green Light’ is one of our favorites. Bruce Springsteen was the person who taught me what it means to be American and his music has helped get us home when we’re driving back from a road gig after one am. Other members of our One AM Club include: Sly Stone, Holy Ghost!, LCD Soundsystem, and Slyvan Esso.

You guys have also played quite a bit in Philly. Which venues have been your favorite places to rock out at so far? M:We’ve actually played a lot of Philly house shows, which is an incredible scene. We love Tralfamadore! In terms of above-ground venues, The Barbary also treated us really well. Shoutout to their bouncer Bear, who helped keep an eye on our mini pitbull and tour pup, Honey while we played! E:We love the house party scene in South Philly. In the coming months we’re going to play Tralfamadore, The Waiting Room, and Hubris House to name a few. There’s something about playing a basement packed with thirty or so other people all shoulder to shoulder that’s just electric.

What do you both think is the one thing that you think any new artist should keep in
mind when they first hit the scene? M:Things will change, whether that’s your lineup, your musical interests, whatever, and to be ready to handle that with as much grace as possible. E:Don’t be a dick. Most people are pretty nice so in addition to that I’d say that there are a ton of amazing bands in Philly so try to do something unique that you’re passionate about. People are super accepting and supportive in Philly so if it’s your dream to perform operatic baroque pop music performed acoustically with only your voice and a ukelele, go for it!!! People would rather watch you struggle to make something amazing, unique, and personal than have you do the same thing they’ve seen 100 times.

Spill a little about your recording sessions. What’s the general mood like? What do you do if there are any disagreements? That is, if there are any….M:We try to make recording fun for us, which isn’t too tricky because we’re both kind of music nerds. Some of the first recording sessions we ever did we had a bunch of friends over hanging out in the control room. Evan and I are pretty good at keeping the vibe upbeat and respecting each other’s ideas and trying things out when we’re recording or mixing. It’s just not productive for us to be at odds when there’s so much to do. E:The mood [is] good! We both love being in the studio so it was pretty great. I gotta give major props to Oliver Ignatius and Holy Fang recording. He really helped us get great synth sounds from his amazing collection of synths. We used an Oberheim Matrix 6 for a lot of the pad sounds on ‘Mass Destruction’ and it sounds fucking sick. Oliver knew exactly where to As far as disagreements go, there was only really one time I got upset. We were starting to record our cover of ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and Mason and Oliver decided to basically to scrap our demo and go for a much moodier take on the song. I felt kind of blindsided and was totally thrown off balance. I didn’t yell or scream like a psycho, but I wasn’t thrilled to change our demo which was working, but thank god we did. Pretty quickly into working on the new version I realized that what we’d been doing was pretty bland. We really wanted to drive home the ennui and frustration the lyrics conveyed. I trusted Mason and Oliver, I think they’re far better musicians than I am, and while there was friction I think the song was galvanized into something much stronger.

One last sip……..the one album that each of you simply cannot live without would be…..
M:This is a really tough question for me! Maybe….LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver.
E:Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen. Great Album, great album artwork (love me some of that Brucey Booty)

Cover photo courtesy of Mixtape Media, LLC

Get down with their hot-to-headphones cover of “Dancing in the Dark” right here! 

 

 

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Rewerk Wednesday/Marshmello

Although he’s only been owning the dance music scene for a short time, DJ/producer Marshmello has certainly made his mark on dance floors and dance charts across the globe.

But perhaps his greatest attribute is the fact that in comparison with fellow beat maestros Deadmau5 and Daft Punk (and maybe Sia?), nobody really knows the person behind the grooves as Marshmello dons a crossed out marshmallow helmet during shows to conceal his true identity. 

Maybe you can figure it all out when he takes over Festival Pier this weekend alongside Armnhmr, DROELOE, and Loud Luxury, which means we better get ready for one hell of a dance par-tay down by the river. 

Okay, so, who the f@#k is Marshmello

Born Christopher Comstock (allegedly?) right here in the City of Brotherly Love, Marshmello began to pursue his career here in the city, but soon moved to L.A. to jump into it full-time. Getting his true start in 2015 after releasing some of his high-powered tracks (go here) online, the rising star quickly blew up and would soon find himself working with Zedd, Noah Cyrus, Logic, Khalid, Juicy J, Anne-Marie and many, many others. This was all while the red-hot dance floor destroyer was making himself even more known by performing  at hot-spots like New York’s Pier 94, Miami Music Week, Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival and Mad Decent Block Party.

It also doesn’t hurt that the superstar DJ earned a cool $21 million last year and was named in Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid DJs. Yeah, it’s like that. 

Of course, most of Marshmello‘s good fortunes stem from his 2017 collaboration with Selena Gomez–the life-altering, “Wolves”–which is still taking Billboard charts all over the world by storm. You don’t have to be a fan of dance music to appreciate the bounce that’s served all up in this now classic dance burner. But indeed it’s all going to be on display on the stage at Festival Pier weekend, so get those tickets while you can and of course….may you forever respect the DJ. 

Let’s get rewerked. 

For much more with Marshmello, go here. 

Marshmello cover photo courtesy of tealcheese.com 

 

 

 

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Rewerk Wednesday/Avicii

Although the whole entire world is still in disbelief, there’s simply no denying that it feels like there’s now a giant empty space present in the dance music scene ever since globally renowned Swedish DJ and music producer Avicii suddenly left us last Friday, April 20th, at the oh, so young age of twenty-eight. 

An electronic genius, EDM sensation and now music legend in his own right, the Billboard dance chart superstar first burst onto the scene in 2008 as a friend and “student,’ if you will, of fellow DJ and dance floor destroyer, Laidback Luke. It was from their budding friendship that Avicii would learn to hone his unique craft by serving up a buffet of remixes that would eventually lead to his first breakthrough banger–the 2011 global smash, “Levels.”

Born in Stockholm in 1989, Avicii (real name…Tim Bergling) began brainstorming beats and making music in his late-teens while up in the bedroom at his parent’s house (as all future DJs do), which also became a place where he would upload them on the web for headphones across the world to pay attention to…and that they certainly did.

With his unique blend of tribal vibes and divinely thunderous influences thanks to the likes of Steve Angello and Daft Punk, Avicii’s elegant ear worms not only caught the ears of, like, everyone, but DJs from all over, one in particular being Tiesto who brought Avicii on to slay a weekly residency at red-hot Ibiza hotspot, Privilege. Yes.  

If you’ll also recall (really, how can we f@cking forget?), it was also right around this time that Avicii’s dance floor co-stars Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, Otto Knows, and what seemed liked millions of others, made their dance floor debuts right around this time, which made it all that much more shimmering and special.

So, Avicii‘s now legendary collection of now classic grooves–really, where the f@ck do we begin? “Seek Bromance,” “My Feeling’s For You,” “I Could Be the One” with Nicky Romero, “Siilhouttes.” “Collide” (Leona!), “Fade into Darkness,” “Superlove”(Lenny!) “You Make Me,” of course, “Levels,” and “Hey Brother,” all of which will now be embedded into our dance floor souls forever.

But if there’s one track that truly takes it to the next, um, level, it’s the country-meets-EDM-meets-life Billboard chart owning 2013 banger,”Wake Me Up,” Avicii’s collaboration with Aloe Blac. A bulldozer of a radio groove, the energetic anthem-for-the-ages not only nestled itself inside the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, but became a true shimmering piece of dance music history, and we’ll forever be most grateful for everything “Wake Me Up” has to offer. 

But then of course….there’s the rewerks. Oh, brother, how Avicii’s many, many remixes for what’s certainly dozens of music artists from all walks of life will hold their own through the disco sands of time. Among his list of standout pairings during his decade long career are Wynter Gordon, Little Boots, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Felix Jaehn and Richard Searle, just to name a few. By the way, Avicii’s final studio offering, 2015’s excellent Life, will indeed give you the life you never thought you had. It’s that good. 

Although Avicii decided to give up touring a couple of years back due to impending health concerns, his love for the craft and truly remarkable body of werk outshone anything else that was going on in personal life, which is something we should never forget. Avicii’s unique vision carved itself into time where EDM was actually EDM–perhaps the last great wave of a genre that stays just under the mainstream surface except for a standout few, with him always being a true player on top of his game. 

Rest in Peace, Avicii and may you forever wake us up on the dance floor of this crazy little thing called life. 

Avicii cover photo courtesy of Consequence of Sound