Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
The BPM Festival 2012
The word ‘Mainstream’ is thrown around a lot these days, and not necessarily for the right reasons. Any Droppies who follow us closely might remember Isobe’s post last month ‘Oh! My God It’s Techno Music’ which was the first time the Drop Media really went out of its way to support Tech House, as opposed to what Isobe labeled ‘Pop House’ which consists of the majority of music we post, and listen to on a more regular basis. After attending a festival like The BPM Festival, your opinions on house music will certainly be changed. January 2nd to the 8th, The Drop Crew was granted media access to this festival, and we took full advantage of the media privilege. Not only did we spend time in the DJ booth filming incredible videos and interviews for you guys, but we were able to have phenomenal side conversations with DJs, checking out their friends’ sets, meeting leaders in the music industry and asking their opinions on the industry and how it has changed. Nick Curly, owner of Cecille Records, and I discussed being in Miami the week before where he proclaimed “Don’t try to do a gig in Miami on the same night that Kaskade is playing Liv, unless you are Kaskade, because he stole my business.” The fact is that in America a lot of the artists attending and playing the BPM Festival have come to appreciate that they are the minority right now. In comparison to the ‘Mainstream House Movement’ currently taking place, the clubs that these pioneers of the industry decide to spin in, may sit in the shadows. We live in a world where everyone and their kid think they know what ‘House Music’ is. Mark Knight’s tour manager, Emma Hoser from AM Only proclaimed “My niece is 14 and she knows who Skrillex is and can name at least three of his songs”, which seemingly is a great thing for the EDM industry, but Mark wasn’t so sure. The true pioneers of the industry live with a certain amount of fear that the music they created 20-30 years ago will be lost to Afrojack produced Paris Hilton albums, and Will.I.Am featured Wolfgang Gartner tracks. Before we go on, we do not mean for this article to be a shot at popular house. Yes, we all love it (or at least the good parts of it), but this article was created to urge you to balance out your 3000 plays of “Levels” with some more intelligent and unfortunately under appreciated house artists/genres.
The BPM Festival is an event that cannot justifiably be described in words, but we’ll give it our best shot. The festival is set in beautiful Playa Del Carmen, Mexico (about forty minutes south of Cancun) amongst the turquoise water and beautiful sunshine in early January. The festival integrated different sponsors such as Dos Equis, Jack Daniels, Sennheiser, and many more to help make the event as beautiful as it was. BPM is more than just an Electronic Dance Music festival, however, it is an event that encapsulates everything there is to know and feel about classic European dance music. Some of you may be scratching your heads and thinking of EDC, Electric Zoo and Ultra and come to the conclusion that these guys simply made up a festival! Oh how wrong you are. Craig Pettigrew, co-founder/creator, along with the rest of his directors of The BPM Festival, set out on a dream mission five years ago to re-create that euro-feeling lost by other festivals. We spoke with Craig often during our week down in Playa Del Carmen and we commented that this festival was unlike any we had ever felt, and so we had to ask what his mission was with the festival. His response was that he wanted to recreate Winter Music Conference 10 years ago before the mainstream took over, and combine that with the feel of Ibiza 10 years ago under the same conditions, and essentially create the Tech House Music Conference.
BPM runs from December 30th through January 8th, shutting down nine of Playa Del Carmen’s hottest day and night clubs and turning them into the festival grounds. Instead of entering one common five stage grounds every day, BPM festival attendees explore the beauty Mexico has to offer going in between parties and clubs from 10AM-8PM and then again from 10PM-6AM. It is non-stop madness, and considering Ultra passes are 300 dollars for a weekend and BPM VIP passes are 300 for a week, perhaps you should reconsider your investment next year. When you think of a music festival, I am sure your first thought goes straight to Ultra, EDC or Tomorrowland, but BPM is unique in that it brings together groups of artists from all over the EDM spectrum. Not necessarily David Guetta or Deadmau5, but more underground artists like Dubfire, Richie Hawtin, John Digweed, who have been key players in their respective genres of music for years now. And yet, no one in the United States seems to know who they are. Well, this fact just stands to make this festival so much more special and astounding in its own right. Some of you may have seen Deadmau5′s 12 minute youtube rant about how he refuses to play. Ultra this year since he refuses to compete with Tiesto for a one hour time slot to prove how good he is. Well at first I wasn’t sure how much I agreed with Joel, but after seeing a festival like BPM, we want to take a moment to tell him to pack up his ‘Unhooked’ gear and book a time slot for BPM 2012 – 13. Headliners for BPM have the option to play as long or as short as they want, but considering every artist at the BPM festival is hand selected by Craig, they all want to play for a while. Also every artist at BPM pays for their own airfare and hotel, the gig being all they are getting paid for. So they really want to be there, most artists play between 1-3 parties and stick around for the week to support their friends.
BPM is a true DJs festival. As many listeners and fans have heard, a lot of famous DJs are sometimes unfriendly or think they’re too popular to be nice to fans, but we want to dispel that generalization. At BPM, every artist from Richie Hawtin to Steve Angello was ready to shake our hands and discuss the music. This was the best house music experience our lives, it topped Ultra, Electric Zoo or any past festivals we’ve attended. We’re really not sure how any festival in the future, short of BPM 2013, is going to compare. The festival’s essence gave off a feel for EDM as a form of culture rather than a form of music. Compare this to the hippie generation of the 60s without the crowds of wide-eyed druggies and belligerent drunks. The festival draws a group of people that love the music and do not feel the need for neon clothing or to fill their mouths with sparkle pacifiers and lollipops, all now seemingly associated traits of popular EDM events, reminiscent of nineties raves.
BPM continues to set itself apart from those with its special sense of timing. There is a clear distinction between daytime parties and nighttime parties. The vibe is just completely opposite in terms of the tempo, the people, and the intensity. You come take your ten minute walk over to Kool Beach stage, with people relaxing out on the shore feeling free to enjoy the music from outside the gates for free, or have the ability to roam around in the beautiful sunshine with pools, drinks, and all the beautiful women and dance music you can dream of. The Drop Crew worked side by side with the main media provider for the festival, OneBeat.tv They allowed for us to help them with shooting the festival and gave us full VIP/Booth access. This experience allowed the four of us at The Drop to experience “a more personal side of the DJs” as Cuervo said before, and gave us a better understanding of how technical and strenuous DJing and producing can be. You forget sometimes that guys like Steve Angello or David Guetta are not just standing on stage trying to look good, they have their sets down pat on a technical standpoint and truly breathe their music. For example, seeing Steve Angello in the booth opened my eyes up to his mastering of the turntables. The guy used NO HEADPHONES whatsoever, and he truly just felt out the sound and knew exactly what was right to play and when too. Incredible is really the only word I can use to describe it, the amount of musical talent along with technical genius and precision these guys have demonstrates the real reason why not just anyone can be up on stage doing what they do.
Below you can find a breakdown of the days of the festival including interviews, track lists, and some new music and names we hope we can help you appreciate! Also stay tuned for some of the members of The Drop Crew writing individual posts for some of the specific events of the festival. We just think we can provide you with a fuller perspective of some of the sets and the festival in general, so KEEP ON THE LOOK OUT!
Tracks to download below: