Collaborations in Electronic Music; My Dream Wish List !

What’s up everyone? I haven’t written a column that has required some thought in quite some time since I’ve just been bombarding you with new tunes that have caught my attention or just plain old hot tracks that have been in my rotation. Apologies, as I’ve been holding back. Anyways, time for me to get to a subject that I have been wanting to write about for quite some time. So here it goes…

This year in electronic music has been amazing! Trance, house, DnB, Dubstep, Techno, you name it…all have had some groundbreaking tracks that will change the landscape of new music to come in 2011. That being said, this year also brought along some collaborations that have been classic: Above & Beyond vs. Kyau & Albert, Above & Beyond w/ Gareth Emery, Tiesto & Diplo, Paul van Dyk & Armin van Buuren & Paul Oakenfold, Deadmau5 & Wolfgang Gartner, etc. On the flip side, some collaborations have left us scratching our heads: Tiesto & Kaskade “Only You”, Armin van Buuren w/ Ferry Corsten “Minack”, etc.

Collaborations can be a hit or miss. Depending on the artists, how well their styles come together, their work ethic, their humility (collaborations are an equal opportunity playing field), their knowledge of the other’s work, and their respect of each other all play important factors as to whether the collaboration will turn out successful or not.

I’ll go on a bold statement here (so don’t kill me if you disagree) to say there are really two kinds of collaborations that I can see in the electronic music world. The peas & carrots collabo and the ketchup & mustard collabo. Now before you think I’ve lost my mind because of my food references, let me explain:

The peas & carrots collaboration (insert two other foods of similar origin that go good together if you hate vegetables) in a nutshell describes two artists coming together from similar backgrounds and similar styles (or tastes lol…get it?) to make a collaboration track that harmonizes and blends so well you would think it came from just one producer on a workaholic studio binge. Just like peas and carrots are both vegetables and don’t necessarily taste too different (but go well together), many times the artists are so similar the track just makes perfect audible sense. The ideal example that comes into mind for me is Deadmau5 & Wolfgang Gartner’s recent collabo with “Animal Rights”. These two electro house heads are both synthesizer geeky computer nerds at heart and love experimenting with obscure synth sounds and notes that don’t quantize too well all while keeping in perfect groove with the backbeat which usually incorporates some raw thumping bass. If you take a listen to that track even with a close ear, it’s pretty hard to tell apart each producer’s contribution to the track. I really can’t tell, and that’s what makes it work so well. It all comes together like peas and carrots.

Check it out:

Now the ketchup & mustard collaboration to me describes a collaboration that on paper makes no sense due to the completely opposing nature of the artists and their styles, however ends up creating a concoction that tastes so well to our ears. Much like ketchup is relatively sweet and mustard is awfully sour, opposite un-related artists can be very capable of coming together to create a track that comes together surprisingly well. Much like a yin-yang relationship, different style artists can fill each others’ voids on a track. While one could be good at creating obscure synths & sounds that usually don’t keep a rhythm, the other could bring the beat and organization that will keep it on tempo and create the proper groove for a structured song. Example: think of Tiesto & Diplo’s “C’Mon”, easily one of the biggest summer anthems this year. It was played at 90% of electronic events around the world I’m sure. Tiesto is known for being one of (if not the biggest) names in trance music and a pioneer in his genre. Trance is structured and follows an arrangement. You have your intro DJ friendly part, your buildup, your breakdown, another buildup, the climax, a calming, and an outro. Tiesto has become a master at this. Diplo on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily follow rules or guidelines. Much like he doesn’t necessarily have one style you could confine him to, his songs don’t necessarily need follow a pattern or arrangement. However, he’s been able to create some insanely unique sounds that would sound great with a structured home. Cue in Tiesto. How did these two come together? Who knows. All we know is the bi-product of this yin and yang relationship is a track that will ring in our heads for years to come. Opposite tasting ketchup and mustard coming together well on the hot dog that is a sequencer.

Take a listen:

Now this brings me to what I’ve been wanting to write about all along: my dream collaborations! We had some great ones in 2010 like I talked about, now these are the ones I would love to see happen in 2011. Will they happen? Probably not. But hey a dance head can dream right? This is my wish list:
TOP 10 COLLABORATIONS I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN THE FUTURE
10. Paul Oakenfold & The Prodigy

Now I know this one is far fetched, but imagine what kind of beautiful insanity this track would provide? Well, really…you couldn’t. And that’s what makes the premise of it seem so great. Nobody could have predicted the Tiesto & Diplo (ketchup & mustard style) collaboration to work so perfectly, so whose to say this one wouldn’t work. I’m a huge fan of both these legends and my prediction is that their differing styles could compliment one another. Prodigy brings the ruckus while Oakenfold brings the atmosphere. The combining efforts of the two would most likely yield a journey into sound that our sensitive ears probably wouldn’t be able to handle. It is however, a shot in the dark, as most of these type of collaborations usually are. I would have faith in it though. Brits seem to understand one another pretty good. They’re both veterans of their own style. So it begs the question…why not?

What you could expect: I have absolutely no clue. A beautiful melodic mess perhaps?
9. Mr. Pit & Phynn

The boys of Coldharbour…why hasn’t this happened? Mr. Pit should need no introduction. 2009 and 2010 were huge for him. He has produced some of the biggest anthems I’ve heard recently. It is no wonder why Markus Schulz uses him as the right hand man for his DJ sets. Listen to “Sky Traffic”…wowww! It is an absolute trance roller coaster. There is so much going on, and that’s kind of become a staple for his sound. Phynn (a name that hasn’t really reached my attention until this year) reminds me a lot of Mr. Pit. Not only are they in the same label family, but Phynn has gained the trust of Mr. Schulz himself by completely owning the remixes of his tunes. Much like Mr. Pit, his songs can go all over the place. His remix of Markus’ “Rain” completely won me over. Yes Mr. Pit has remixed one of Phynn’s tracks recently, but it’s not enough! Come on Markus, you’re their boss, make it happen!

What you could expect: A fast paced, high octane, trance roller coaster.
8. Sander van Doorn & Marco V

These tech trance geniuses both create anthems that sometimes leave me scratching my head when it comes to being able to classify them. Can I even call it tech trance? I’m not sure, because it’s housey too. What am I trying to say? Honestly, I have no idea (and that’s a good thing). That’s how success is measured with artists such as these. They are generally revered within the trance community, but it has the ability to be appreciated by all. Their productions are so intricate and incorporate such different production elements that sometimes go unnoticed. Take a listen to any song by these two with a good set of studio headphones, otherwise you don’t get the full effect. They are both so unique masters of their craft. It is no wonder that they are so highly respected. Why did I choose these two? Listen to SvD’s “Daddyrock” in conjunction with Marco V’s “Reaver”. Sounds kinda similar no? Two totally different producers, but both have the potential to work and sound very well together. I would love to hear what these two could come up with together!

What you could expect: A crazy catchy dance-able tune that would be almost impossible to classify.
7. Avicii & EDX

The older generation meets the new. Although EDX is in no way old, the Swedish progressive house prodigy Avicii (aka Tim Berg aka Timothy Bergling) has been completely taking off this year with leaps and bounds and he’s only 21 years old?!? Unbelievable! The big room anthems that this young man creates has the ring of a veteran. Once again…unbelievable. Since he’s one of my new favorites of progressive house, I thought he could naturally work well with one of my all time favorites of progressive house: EDX. EDX is without a doubt the progressive house juggernaut. Everyone realizes this; even the trance heads. EDX tracks can be heard all over the place in everyone’s sets. We got a taste of their power with Avicii’s remix of EDX’s “Shy Shy”. It gives me chills to think about the big room sound that these two could produce together. It could even make the most loyal trance fan join the house side.

What you could expect: An amazing progressive tune as intricate and emotionally moving as any huge trance anthem.
6. Arty & D-Mad

Exploding onto the scene in the past couple of years, these two have worked very hard to cement their names into the trance world. Remix after remix, production after production, both of these guys have created a body of work that has been appreciated by all the big names and veterans in the scene. Without a doubt, Russian trance is coming up BIG in the world and these two are at the forefront of it (along with Bobina). The elements that these two put into their songs actually create a distinct brand of trance that can actually be recognized quite easily, especially Arty. Russian brand trance…who would have thought? I’m a big fan of these two and they are clearly no strangers to each other (Arty has remixed D-Mad’s “She Gave Happiness”). I’m a huge fan of that track and is definitely a sign of the future of things to come in regards to trance music. I would be very interested to see what these two would put down in the studio working jointly.

What you could expect: A trance track unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Vodka for your ears.
5. Dada Life & Wolfgang Gartner

Anyone that knows me well understands my love for Dada Life. Simply put, their brand of electro house is what I think is the perfect embodiment of the genre: PURE ENERGY! If you have ever seen Dada Life live then you know what I’m talking about. You could be tired as hell from the night before but they would be able to get you PUMPED! Their productions are raw and dirty, as electro house should be. Listen to their new single “Unleash the F**king Dada!”. The bass and synthesizers are so deep and obnoxious that they demand a dance floor. Much like the style of Wolfgang Gartner as of late; a man that has won me over in 2010. Like Dada Life, his production style is based around odd (and almost random) synthesizer effects. His songs can almost be called controlled chaos, only controlled by staying on tempo. His collaboration with Deadmau5 left me hungry for more. I also know that they are huge fans of each other. Both’s style of electro house is raw, dirty, loud, and in your face. Make this happen!!

What you could expect: One of the dirtiest, filthiest electro house beats produced by any group of human beings (or aliens for that matter).
4. Paul van Dyk & Cosmic Gate

This is one of those dream collabos you think about and wonder why it hasn’t happened because it almost seems like a no brainer. We heard a taste of what they are capable of with Cosmic Gate’s remix of PvD’s “Home”, but I’m sure them actually working together would produce a track all too hypnotic. Both have a penchant appreciation for techno which always rings prominent in their productions. As for PvD, while much of his uplifting tunes have a trancy ring to them, they are hardly ever full on trance. There is much more to them than that. His blend is all too complex. Listening to the incredible In Between album is a testament to that. And while the trance flavor is subtle, it rings true when spun during a set that is full trance. Cue, Cosmic Gate. I think they could enhance the trance elements of what PvD would bring to the production and supplement each other very nicely. It would still be techy, but Cosmic Gate would certainly turn up the trance volume. It would feel like Berlin on any dance floor. Sidenote: to date my favorite trance song is Paul van Dyk’s “Crush”.

What you could expect: A very complex trance tune with some techy flavor that could hypnotize you on the dance floor.
3. Deadmau5 & Kaskade



I know what you may be thinking: “Haven’t we heard this already?? On TWO tracks??”. Well yes…and no. Everyone remembers the collaborations from these house giants. The singles “I Remember” and “Move For Me” were the house anthems of 2008 that were played on everyone’s ipods, car stereos, computer speakers, and rave events until you couldn’t bear to play them again. Classic songs, no doubt. However, the reason I say “no” is because these two producers have grown quite a bit since 2008. 2010 saw the release of Kaskade’s monster album Dynasty and will soon see the release of Deadmau5’s 4×4=12. Their productions have certainly evolved and they have become more opposite than ever. Kaskade has taken more of a turn for the pop side while Deadmau5 has gradually taken steps more to the full blown electro side of things. We haven’t heard that much progressive style from the mau5 lately. Then again we haven’t heard much from the mau5 lately. However the point stands, they are very different two years later. I think it would be really interesting to see what they could come up with now. They are a good embodiment of the ketchup & mustard style collaboration and they compliment each other well.

What you could expect: Another summer anthem for 2011? I would surely hope so.
2. Gareth Emery & Ashley Wallbridge

These two have so much in common, that a collaboration only seems natural and necessary. Both are Brits, both are trance heads that yearn for bigger classification, both have huge support from the bigger DJ’s (friends in high places), and both have had monster take offs in the last two years. Every single that Ashley Wallbridge drops ceases to disappoint. It almost seems like the man is incapable of failure. The same could be said about Gareth Emery, whose album Northern Lights completely blew my mind. I think their style of trance is actually very similar if you look at some of the elements. Listen to “Walk On Water” by Wallbridge and then “Sanctuary (Club Mix)” by Gareth. Very melodic, very euphoric, incredible build up, lots of reverb, no synth is too stand out or obnoxious, both use a lot of piano, and both have a HUGE thing for gated vocals (especially Wallbridge who does it on almost every track. Kind of becoming his signature). They are almost too similar that they could be cousins (maybe we should track down their family lineage). Both of them easily were 2 of my absolute favorite producers of 2009 and 2010 and deserve incredibly huge props in my book. Get the proper vocalist, and this track would be an absolute showstopper!

What you could expect: One of the most euphoric vocal trance anthems you would ever hear.
1. Tiesto & Armin van Buuren & Ferry Corsten

The original Dutch master trio of trance…these three are who I’d most like to see collaborate on one track. It is likely? Probably not. BUT…these three are no strangers to each other. Tiesto is a huge reason why Armin and Ferry have enjoyed such success this past decade. They have all 3 helped and supported each other in the early years of their career and heave learned much from each other. We hardly see them together on the same bill anymore due to career and business politics, which is sad, but understandable when each of them are trying to build their own brand and earn respect in their own right. Each one is an absolute master of their craft and have catapulted themselves into the fold so well that each could fill any stadium around the world on their own. Neither need any introduction. Anyways, what made me think of this one was the successful collaboration between Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk, and Paul Oakenfold on “Remember Love”. It is rare to see a 3-way collaboration. Seeing these three names on paper at first filled me with doubt since each have differing styles and egos could come into play. However they didn’t, and created an amazing tune. I also think of the collaboration between Rank 1, Nic Chagall, and Wippenberg on “100” this past year. Definitely confirms to me that if business could be set aside and the right cause called for it, a Tiesto, AvB, and Ferry collaboration would sound absolutely positively A-MAZING. I don’t even think there would be a word in the dictionary to describe what it would sound like. Please guys…do it for the #TranceFamily. (Or in our case #TranceFamilySF).
What you could expect: …I have no idea. I would be speechless. It would probably melt your headphones.
So there it is.  Did I dream big enough for you? I think I could probably come up with some outlandish ideas but within reason (somewhat), this is my dream list. If any of these are possible and should happen within the next few years, my musical appreciation would know no bounds. I think that’s what makes our precious electronic music so great: the power of collaborating ideas for the greater good of musical exploration. Even though some of these seem completely far fetched, I believe the right motivating parties would raise eyebrows for the artists. As long as respect and appreciation is in place, anything is possible in the world of electronic music. The connection between fans and artists surpasses any other musical demographic in the world.
What do you guys think? Did I miss any essentials you would like to see happen? What would your ideal collaborations include? Or more so….have any of these already happened that I don’t know about? Thoughts please! Let me know what you think! Post a comment in the comments section and let me know if you liked this read or if I have gone completely crazy. As always, one love to the electronic music community!
Ciao,
Mark

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