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Jan 28

Meet Strangeloop, The Mad Scientist Behind Flying Lotus’ Visuals

Top photo by Theo Jemison.

It used to be that a concert was just a band performing on a stage somewhere. People would show up and enjoy the tunes, but things stayed pretty static when it came to the visuals. Then somewhere along the line concerts evolved to include visual art that could energetically complement the on-stage performances. Hoping to learn more about this intriguing world of “VJing," I caught up with the one of the preeminent names in live visuals. David Wexler, aka Strangeloop, has provided visual art for Skrillex, Daedelus, The Gaslamp Killer, Daddy Kev, and Samiyam, among many others. He also just completed the You’re Dead Tour with legendary performer Flying Lotus and the sex panther of funk bass icons, ThunderCat. Below is a clip of Wexler’s recent footage from the tour.

I asked Wexler about his ongoing contributions to Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label crew in hopes of learning more about the history that led him to a career in psychedelic cinematics. He traced his involvement back to a bond with college friend, Steve Ellison, at the San Francisco Academy of Arts, where they both studied film. Ellison would later become the Flying Lotus.

"We both had an affinity for avant-garde films [and] sci-fi anime. We became good friends, working on various projects together and introducing each other to different art, movies, and music that were inspiring us. When we both came back to LA, we lost touch for a while, and I was trying to get into film, but found my work consistently too bizarre and psychedelic to have any cultural context that made sense."
Finding a niche for his unique skills proved to be a challenge, and Wexler wasn’t sure of how to make home in the industry for himself.

"I felt like a failure. Most of my family was in cinema, and I couldn't find a context to really do the sort of out-there cinema I wanted to do. I had a few films in festivals, but I couldn't see how I could make a living from any of it."
Light finally chased away the shadows one fateful night when he ran into Steve again at Los Angeles’ own Low End Theory. Seeing the fiery devotion of the fans and the early magic of a budding Flying Lotus sparked something in Wexler. “I immediately felt like there was something really incredible going on, even if it was just in the process of being formed,” he stated.

The two reconnected, and over the next few years grew roots alongside three of the most experimental powerhouses in the contemporary LA music scene: Daedelus, the Gaslamp Killer, and Samiyam. “They were all blowing my mind,” said Wexler. “They had two key things in common: they were all playing at Low End Theory, and they were all being signed to Lotus' new label Brainfeeder.”

Photo by Sifr.

Before long, Ellison asked Wexler to join the Brainfeeder crew. After an experimental run doing live visuals at the first Brainfeeder event in Los Angeles, Wexler received an unprecedented response.

"The community around seemed baffled by the whole thing and really supported me. People like Daddy Kev, Sam Xl, gave me creative space to go wild and supported the idea of visuals being a big part of the show. Suddenly, I had a job, doing visuals for shows, primarily in Los Angeles. I was hooked. It was everything I wanted to do with cinema; it was spontaneous, there were no rules, and nothing was off limits. It was a way of turning people onto my favorite films and animations."
With space to experiment and grow, Wexler’s visual projects blossomed as an integral part of the live Flying Lotus experience and a signature of quality for many on the Brainfeeder roster.

Last fall, Low End Theory (LET) celebrated the seven-year anniversary of weekly concerts hosted by the artists on the Brainfeeder label. Wexler spoke on fierce loyalty of the Low End community, the residents, and setting the stage for LA artists to grow.

"Low End Theory is an incredible incubator for so many talents; it always has been. Daddy Kev is one of the most genuine people I've ever known. He creates an environment where people can experiment and try things out with the sort of freedom that is enhanced by what you see all the residents doing with it [onstage]. They take that freedom and run with it. No genre is off limits. Someone like Gaslamp is an inspiration, because he's there to inspire, not just to make money from the next generation; he's like a flailing mad lightning rod for cosmic energy. The whole residency creates, and has created, an environment where the next thing can bloom, where it's not just about what's trending--I love that.”
As an integral part of the Brainfeeder story, Wexler’s work has been key to the mind- bending nostalgia that’s become a staple in the LET community. When I asked what it all meant to him, he took a deep breath, sat back, and stared off as if to contemplate where the time had gone.

"It’s a great honor that we get to bring in some projectors every week, push pixels around, and create an illuminated space for musicians to perform."
For Wexler, it’s not about getting rich or famous. It’s about building and sustaining the community by creating a place for its champions to grow.
Jan 28

Enjoy Mr FijiWiji’s Latest With ‘Yours Truly’

Get ready for some Monstercat goodness headed your way. Taken off Mr FijiWiji's forthcoming album, Growing Up, the track Yours Truly features the alluring vocals of Danyka Nadeau and is set for a Feb. 13 release date.

The 18-year-old Mr FijiWiji makes a brand of music that is as unorthodox as his name might indicate. Yours Truly is quality work, no doubt, and you don't need to know much about music to hear its appeal. Though still considered an up-and-comer, Mr FijiWiji showcases his creativity by kicking things off with a pitch-bended vocal sample that gives way to Nadeau's airy, yet powerful vocals. Resonating piano chords give the track a somber tone while a minimal kick-and-snare combo adds a garage-esque feel to the track. Show some love for Mr FijiWiji and grab your copy via pre-release.

Click here for more on Mr FijiWiji.
Mr FijiWiji feat. Danyka Nadeau - Yours Truly [Monstercat]
Jan 28

CRSSD Fest Brings Amtrac, Lido, Maple & More In Phase 2 Lineup

FNGRS CRSSD and Goldenvoice announced a second wave of artists today to add to an already stellar lineup at the first ever CRSSD Fest March 14-15 on the San Diego shores.

The unexpected Phase 2 announcement satisfies electronic fans’ more underrated inclinations to add rising-stars George Maple, Lido, Trippy Turtle, and Amtrac into the mix. Also added to the lineup is a DJ set from LCD Soundsystem's own James Murphy and a set by Damian Lazarus (pictured) & The Ancient Moons, commemorating their first release together this past year and Lazarus' return to the Crosstown Rebels label.

Check out the Phase 2 lineup below, and be sure to head to their website to purchase your tickets and view the full lineup.

Phase 2 Line-up (alphabetized):
JAMES MURPHY DJ Set (DFA / LCD Soundsystem)

Jan 28

Tomorrowland Announces Surprise Headliner, Vinyl-Only Stage For 2015

Tomorrowland decided to shake things up with a surprise announcement that one of this year’s headliners will be none other than The National Orchestra of Belgium.

Billed under the name Symphony of Unity, the orchestra is set to close out the festival on Sunday night with Swiss conductor Stefan Blunier leading the group into “one musical world where two genres merge.” If the announcement video is any indication, the group will be performing pieces like Above & Beyond’s Eternal and hopefully adapting a variety electronic tracks for the orchestra setting, similar to what BT is doing with his previously announced Electronic Opus performance during Miami Music Week.

Festival organizers also announced that this year’s event will host a vinyl-only stage for the first time in years. The full lineup has yet to be announced, but the stage will be lead by vinyl guru Sven Väth.

Tomorrowland will continue to roll out more festival information in the coming weeks. Check out the announcement video below.

Jan 28

Ultra Europe Lineup Phase 1 Released

Ultra Europe is set to return to Croatia for its third year, and the sun-baked baby brother of Miami's beachfront behemoth is back with a lineup built to outdo itself once again.

Lucky party people headed to the shores of Split, Croatia July 10-12 will have the chance to see acts like Knife Party, Armin van Buuren, and UMF mainstay Carl Cox, in addition to a live performance by the UK's big beat legends The Chemical Brothers.

Scope the complete lineup announcement below, watch the video recap of 2014 at the bottom, and pick up three-day passes here while they last. More lineup announcements to come as they're announced.

Photo: Rukes