It's January, so it's time to start obsessing about Shambhala. A Wishlist.

2017 brings the 20th Anniversary of the legendary Shambhala Music Festival. It will be my fifth and the second for Rags Music. As the calendar turns, it's time to start obsessing about who we're all going to get shake our asses to. The following are acts that have been in my ears constantly throughout the past year and, apart from Wick-It, acts that haven't appeared on the Farm before (As far as I know, at least). It doesn't really matter what I say, the Shambhala family has impeccable taste, year after year bringing the tastiest grooves of all kinds from around the globe. But whatever. I'm still going to throw my voice into the void and cross my fingers. So, here it is, my wishlist for Shambhala XX.

(Tickets are completely sold out, but keep your eyes open and you might be able to find yourself one. Please, use caution when buying resale tickets though!)

Fractal Forest – Jimi Needles

There is no one I want to see at Shambhala more right now than the mighty Jimi Needles. The guy is damned near untouchable. His production is top-notch, his song selection is of unqualified taste and his scratching is totally on point. His Needlewurk mixes have been staples of my listening diet since I first heard them, his singles are never-ending glory parade. Following in the footsteps of my DJ hero, Featurecast, Jimi Needles is doing thing that I admire most in a DJ – all of the things. He moves between genres with liquidy ease, seamlessly blending any ideas and sounds he sees fit. It might be good if Jimi Needles doesn't appear in Fractal Forest, because there would be so many melted faces, but I'm still rooting for it. With all of my heart.

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5 Questions with Rags #42 - Gibbz

Like a lot of people I discovered Gibbz from his work with Gramatik. The first time I saw him live I couldn't get over the unprecedented swagger the guy had on stage. Who the fuck did this guy think he was? But more than that, the overwhelming thought of the night was, “This brother can sing the shit out of some songs.” Luckily, since then Gibbz has been on a tear, releasing a constant stream of sexy, fun tremendously dancey synth-pop. Near the end of 2016 he released the stellar Oh My God EP and if you haven't got that into your earholes, you definitely should. I was lucky enough to get ahold of him at home in New York as he prepares for his first-ever residency, at the famous Knitting Factory, before heading off on his first full headline tour – just him and drummer, driving in a van, working the road. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing the supremely talented singer/producer/gangster of love, do yourself a favour and get out to one of his shows.

1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

Yeah. I went to a store that was called The Wiz, way back when that was a store. It was kind of like Best Buy. “Nobody beats the Wiz,' was their catchphrase. I went in with my own money. I bought three records. I bought Busta Rhymes – “Dangerous” single on cassette, Usher - My Way on cassette and I got my first compact disc ever, which was Britney Spears – Hit Me Baby, One More Time.

Of the three, which holds up the best for you?

Well, Dangerous is such a badass song. But I got the Britney Spears because it came with a poster. You could pull out the booklet and it folded out into a poster and I was like, “Sweet!” I wanted Britney Spears on my wall. I didn't really give a fuck about the music, so I bought it just to put a poster of a chick up on my wall. I remember my parents were like, “No, that's not gonna happen.”

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5 Questions with Rags #41 - Stickybuds

A master of all things funky and groovy, Stickybuds has that thing that I value most in a great DJ - the ability to do all of the things well. Straight-ahead funky breaks, drum ‘n’ bass, glitch-hop, big reggae vibes – Sticky’s got you covered. And it’s all delivered with such blatant skill and love for the craft that it’s pretty impossible to ignore. The legendary Shambhala Music Festival is a good barometer for where your talents are as a DJ. It’s a festival of incredibly discerning ears and Stickybuds has been front and centre for 12 years and counting. Rarely does my crew plan to be at Stickybuds annual destruction of Fractal Forest, but every year, there we are, getting our ears dominated by the mighty dude. If you started your electronic listening diet anywhere around the Canadian west coast, you probably have had Stickybuds as part of your listening diet, and your musical taste is probably healthier for it.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the homey live, Hallowe’en weekend is a good time to get your funky spook on. I can attest to the absolute delightfulness that was last year’s "Breaks-O-Ween" in Vancouver.

As always, keep up with all the good sounds over at ye olde Soundcloud and all other things Stickybuds at the Facebook.

1. What was the first album you remember buying with your own money?

The first albums I bought with my own money were through Colombia House CD mail service out of some magazine, I believe I was in grade 6... (1996/1997-ish) The ones I remember that stuck out were, Wu-Tang Clan - 36 Chambers, Rage Against The Machine - Evil Empire, Collective Soul - Self Titled and Offspring - Smash.

I still actually love all these albums to this day, and I think I still have them all in a CD pile in storage somewhere. They are all great songwriters and musicians in their own right. I think I connect the most with RATM's album now. When I was 14 or whatever when I bought them I liked the anger in their music, and I'd sing the words, but I didn't understand what the songs were about. Now that I'm 32, and have been around the world a few times and pay attention to the global atmosphere, police brutality and decay of our rights and freedoms through corrupt governments and those who control them, I get and connect with their songs much more.  

2. Have you ever seen or felt a ghost or ghost-like presence?

Nope.

3. Can you think of a book or movie that had a genuine effect on the way you saw the world?

I read George Orwell's "1984" when I was in High school. It kind of stuck with me, and it's a real shame that it was a fictional book that turned out to be non-fiction.

4. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Having trouble remembering things I've done for the first time, but I went Scuba Diving for the first time on one of my Australia tours 2 years ago in Cairns, it was awesome. 

5. Immortality…Ever think about it? Do you think you’d enjoy it? What’s the one completely ridiculous project you’d complete if you had unlimited time?

I don't think I'd like to live forever, but It would be cool if I could live for a few hundred years, maybe we'll even get there the way things are going. I would try and learn how to play every instrument I could imagine. 

6. The Guest Question comes from Victoria producer/performer BOUSADA… You just found out that you have 24 hours to live starting right now. How do you spend your last day on planet earth?

I'd spend the whole day with the people I love the most, and hopefully they wouldn't know I was about to die so it wouldn't be sad. 

5 Questions with Rags #40 - BOUSADA

If you've been taking in music on and around Vancouver Island in the last year you've probably encountered the smooth tsunami that is BOUSADA. Homie has been near-inescapable over the last little while, hitting festivals, supporting huge acts like Katchafire and headlining his own shows. Dude's brand of silky-smooth grooves, thoughtful and warmly delivered lyrics, and an unyieldingly positive stage presence is an addictive formula that keeps ears peaked and waiting for more. His shows are seriously joyful dance parties, built to help the audience forget everything but the groove. If you haven't got Bousada into your regularly listening diet yet, you might want to start rethinking some of your decisions.

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1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

I think that it may have been Blink-182 Enema of the State. It might have been a different album but that's the first one I remember getting into.

When's the last time you listened to Enema of the State. What songs were even on there?

I have no idea. “What's My Age Again?” “Adam's Song.” I do go back and listen to some Blink-182 because they just got back together to play some shows and...uhhh...<laughs> Their live sound is terrible too. Their such terrible singers, but that album was pretty good.

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#festivalseason - Ragslandia: Rifflandia gets groovier than ever.

Every year in Victoria, Rifflandia is the highlight of the music calendar. Bringing hundreds of artists from different genres and aesthetics, Rifflandia has established itself as a celebration of music like nothing else in the area. This year's Rifflandia had me excited like past years haven't. I'm all about groove and this year the pool was deep, overflowing with hip-hop and electronic tastiness I'm constantly on the lookout for. Here are just a few of the highlights I was lucky enough to get into my ears this year.

Jurassic 5, De La Soul and the importance of world-class Djs.

Part of the delay on the release of this piece has been the need to let things lay fallow in my mind for a bit, to see how they stick with me when I’m no longer a prisoner of the moment. Since some of the Rifflandia smoke has cleared from my mind, I can still say that Jurassic 5’s Rifflandia set was one of the finest sets of music I’ve ever seen. I assume this is the standard festival set they’ve been playing since their reunion a couple of summers ago, and why would it be anything different? Everything the group did was so well-done, so on point. “Concrete Schoolyard” (Complete with kazoo interlude), “Freedom,” “Jurass Finish First,” “Quality Control,” the whole set was hit after hit. Their Four-MCs-As-One, synchronized rap thing was as fresh as ever – as lively and crisp as any of the songs’ recorded counterparts.

Even more impressive than the four MCs and their interchangeable raps were the beats, the music, delivered with the utmost imagination and dexterity by two of the great DJs in hip-hop, DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist. DJ desk, turntable-guitar, vest of music (I don’t know a better way to describe this)...This wasn’t just two DJs laying beats for rappers. The show wouldn’t have worked the same without them.

A similar thing happened a couple of nights before when De La Soul took the stage at the Phillips Backyard stage. Pos and Dave could get an crowd amped on their own, for sure, but the amount of attention Maseo commands behind the decks while his cohorts are doing their thing out front is kind of staggering. Throughout the trio’s stellar set, Maseo proved once again that he’s a real director of the party, the man all the energy flows through. Dude can rap something nice too. I was more than thrilled when he stepped out from behind the wheels to take Redman’s place during “Oooh,” a personal favourite of mine. It’s just further proof as to how important the DJ is the landscape of hip-hop, even when you have world class MCs there rock the party.

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