#festivalseason - Atmosphere Gathering - Eclectic grooves and community vibes.

Nestled right in the middle of beautiful, tiny Cumberland, BC in Comox Valley on Vancouver Island is one of BC's music festival gems, The Atmosphere Gathering. It's a place where community can flourish, a family-friendly camping festival that's quickly established itself as one of the most sonically diverse musical events this side of the Rockies. It seems like an oxymoron, but the Atmosphere Gathering is a laid-back rager – perfect for those who wanna dance in the day and get to bed at a reasonable hour, or those who wanna dance their faces off late into the night. If you're looking for the perfect cap for the summer festival season in BC, there aren't too many better choices than Atmosphere. Last week the festival released its first line-up announcement, featuring 20 acts, live and electronic, crossing genres but keeping its roots in rhythm and groove. There's a lot for a music-lover to get excited about but here are the first four acts that jumped out to my groove-seeking soul.

Atmosphere Gathering takes places Aug. 18-20 in Cumberland. Tickets and more lineup details HERE.

Applecat

I had heard and seen the name Applecat popping up at events all over the West Coast, until I finally got the chance to see her incredible set at Rifflandia 2016, here in Victoria. I hadn't heard anything like it and I don't think I have since. It was an enthralling set of dense, earthy bass music that at the time I couldn't describe. Frankly, I still don't think I can do her music justice. It needs to be experienced. All the Soundcloud tags say “dubstep” but her music is more atmospheric, theatrical and sexy than any dubstep I've ever heard. It's impossibly deep and shadowy sounding music – I imagine that if smoke pouring through a keyhole could make music, it would sound like Applecat. The worldbeat flourishes she uses to pepper her music help her beats stand out, leap out of the speakers with an intensely unique flavour.

Slynk

I've lost count of how many times I've seen Slynk. I've also lost count of the number of times I've been utterly impressed with Slynk. (Take this, for example, from the first ever time I saw him rock the party.) Over the last few years he's evolved from his Ghetto Funk roots, adding more and more influences and weapons into his arsenal. Just stroll through and sample his already ridiculous output from 2017 – a hard hitting drum 'n' bass track “People Get Up” (w/ Granular Sumo), a straight-up old-school hip-hop track “So Cool” (w/ Illvis Freshly), the ultra-slick nu-disco groover “Disco Operator,” to name just a few – and you'll get a glimpse of the scope of the good homie's many talents. On any given night a Slynk set will traverse a staggering array of genres, but it'll always be funky and bouncier than a trampoline. There's a strong possibility of this being the most straight-up fun set at Atmosphere this year. Do not miss this.

CloZee

Hands down, CloZee is the most exciting glitch-hop producer on planet Earth right now. Her tracks and mixes are sure-fire body-movers, across the board. The French producer is an expert at mining for the deepest of grooves. There are few DJ sets I've seen that have engaged me so quickly and easily. Watching her engage with the music as she moves and sways behind her midi-board, pounding out those groovy, thumping, tribal beats is something indescribably special. Her debut performance at the legendary electronic-Mecca Shambhala was the most captivating thing I saw at the festival last year, a set that I've been sending to anyone who will listen. Pick an EP, a single, a mix...it doesn't matter. If it's got CloZee's name on it, either your body is swaying or your head is bobbing. If you listen to CloZee, you will move.

Astrocolor

In life and in music, I am a big supporter aggressive weirdness. Hence, I'm a big supporter of Astrocolor. I mean, how many times do you become aware of a band because they put out an album of all-original Christmas music? A Christmas album that sounds great at any time of year? What even is that? The Victoria outfit makes live, vibrant yet atmospheric dance music, perfect for those of us who enjoy the rhythms of electronic music but the engagement that comes from watching a live band. This is an enormously talented group of cats together making utterly unique, completely enthralling and ridiculously slick dance music.

#festivalseason - Shambhala dropped the lineup for Year 20. I am immediately discombobulated with excitement.

Deep in the Kootenay mountains, on the Salmo River Ranch, Shambhala Music Festival has grown from a small party to a six-staged, laser-reinforced party Voltron, powered by the thousands of beautiful, open-minded, peace-seeking dance enthusiasts that flock to it every year. About to celebrate its 20th Anniversary, Shambhala has once again put together an over-stuffed lineup of the finest in international and local electronic artists, covering nearly every imaginable nook and cranny under the “electronic/bass music” umbrella. With two of the six stages set to under from-the-ground-up reconstruction, the physicality of the festival is ready to take a change, even after some really nice upgrades from last year (ie: Next-level lasering and that huge garden upgrade right in the middle of the Festival. Lovely.).

Photo by Joffrey Photo.

Photo by Joffrey Photo.

There are a lot of familiar names coming back to celebrate the big 2-0 and really, I wouldn't have it any other way. Familiar faces like STICKYBUDS, EXCISION, JPOD the BEAT CHEF, NEON STEVE, SMALLTOWN DJs and SLYNK return back home for their annual throwdowns, while old vets like KRAFTY KUTS, DEEKLINE, STANTON WARRIORS, MARTEN HØRGER and ED SOLO all make triumphant returns to the FARM. Fresh faces like REZZ and HAYWYRE (Okay, they both debuted last year, but that's still pretty fresh considering we're at year 20), POMO (The man responsible for the beats on “Dang!” and “Am I Wrong?,” two of the best songs of 2016) and, the dance gods have looked down upon me and blessed me with my #1 Shambhala wish for 2017, THE POLISH AMBASSADOR finally makes the trip up to the Farm to hold court for all us deep-groove seekers. To help make things just a little bit easier, Rags Music has compiled a short playlist to help power the early steps of sonic research, or really, just some tunes to get you groovin' and in the mood. This list will surely continue to grow in the coming weeks and months. Only the top of the pyramid has been revealed thus far.

Your Shambhala 20 Headliners... More artists to be announced when stage-by-stage lineup releases start on April 17.

Tickets are sold out, because they sold in a mere 16 hours last September! If you are buying resale tickets please be careful and take precautions to avoid scammers! And Good Luck. If you were lucky and smart enough to get your tickets back in that short window, GET YOUR DANCING SHOES READY. IT'S GONNA BE A SPECIAL YEAR.

Photo by Xavier Photography. 

Photo by Xavier Photography

I see BOUSADA yet again. Have you seen Bousada play? You should really see Bousada.

There's an epidemic breaking out around Vancouver Island right now. An organic dance virus is sweeping around stages everywhere, taking hold of everything in its path. But this is a different kind of virus. Instead of depleting and weakening its host, the virus soaks its way into the bloodstream of its victim, filling it with spirit and moving the host to uncontrollable, soul-lifting dancing. Fuck The Walking Dead, this is The Dancing Living. Patient Zero, the source of the infection is called BOUSADA. (Just look at these groovy victims, succumbing to the infectious virus, bravely documented by Front Range Films.)

I see a lot of live music in and around Victoria. In these musical journeys it is common for me to run into a hot act over and over again often to the point of staleness. I've seen Bousada perform five times in the past few months (Including killer sets at Tall Tree and Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest) and not once have I picked up even the slightest whiff of I'm-bored-I've-seen-this-before. In fact, it's the exact opposite. Each time I see the good homie do his work, shimmying behind his gear as he builds his ridiculously smooth beats from scratch and layers his soulful vocals over top, I'm more impressed and more drawn to the infectious groove. To keep me coming back for more so often is a feat that I cannot overstate.

Seeing him at Logan's last week (Friday, July 15) was further proof that each and every time Bousada takes the stage, he's stronger than the last. From the moment he took the stage hips on the floor started moving and there was no let up for an hour straight. Right in front of the stage to the back room, it didn't seem like people really had a choice: their bodies were going to move, no matter what.

When he plays Bousada is a human energy conductor, feeding energy into the crowd, taking it back in and pushing it back through his equipment. His voice is silky and warm, singing uplifting, positive lyrics, often in a calmingly repetitive way, as if he's saying, “This is it. Here is what you need to let your mind rest.” And every once in awhile, the energy builds up so much that Bousada jumps back from his equipment and lets out a deep, visceral YAWP! It is the most gloriously human, wholly cathartic sound and by the end of the set a swath of the packed house was yelling right with him. I don't know the song titles, there aren't traditional song breaks and sometimes the music takes me to such a relaxed, trance-like state that I forget to even hear the words – it's frankly an experience that is hard to describe with words, try as I may. I've encountered nothing quite like Bousada. He's making deeply soulful, highly positive and intensely soothing music that gets into your blood and demands your dancing sacrifice. If you haven't seen Bousada, go see him - your soul will thank you for the nourishment. If you've seen him, go see him again - because, well, you know. 

5 Questions with Rags #33 - DOUBLE BILL w/ MARTEN HØRGER & Funkanomics!

People often say that I’m lucky, but it’s really just a matter of trying. I’ve been trying to hook this up with Marten Horger for awhile now, and as luck would have it he’s on the road in my wonderful home country of Canada and he’s touring with another favourite of mine, the appropriately and greatly monikered Funkanomics. And because they’re both apparently very rad people, we got answers from both for this very special edition of the 5 Questions!

Both of these cats bring the funky goodness but both feed different needs in my bass diet. My nights dancing in my girlfriend’s laundry room start with the lighter, groovy Funkanomics aesthetic and when it gets late Marten Horger is there to bring that slightly more menacing Punks music aesthetic. Guy is a straight up killer. His Beats. Vol.3 Mix was one of my most played mixes of 2015 and the Funkanomics Chillax mixes rank among my most played mixes of all-time.

Go catch them on their Canadian tour if you get a chance. The good homeys in SkiiTour are also helping them out on this. If you like dancing, this is not a show to be missed.

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1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
Marten Horger: Yes, it was Michael Jackson – Dangerous. It was #1 in Germany at the time. That cover was so damn good and the riff of “Black or White” was just epic.

FxFarmer aka Dan of Funkanmoics: My first album was AC/DC Flick of the Switch on Vinyl, yes I still own this record and I listend to it over 1000 times!!

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All hail the ruler of Wicked City, King Krafty Kuts!

For years Krafty Kuts represented the great divide between one of my greatest friends and I. He had stolen my friend from the comfortable groove of the classic hip-hop and reggae that formed much of the basis for our friendship and dragged him into (What I perceived to be) the cold, ruthless clutches of electronic music. All I heard about was how great Krafty Kuts was. He stood at the gates of my aural Mordor, along with Stanton Warriors, as the guards to some terrifying hellscape, waiting to pierce me in the ears and take away my great love in life if I dared to venture too close. Also, the guy goes by Krafty Kuts. Read that three times. Think about it and realize what an easy target that is to make fun of. It's nearly impossible to discuss something you're afraid of with such a ridiculous name and not bring attention to it.

(Mixes, tracks and photos abound within.)

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