Snowboxx 2015 is in its third year on the slopes and I’m pretty damn excited. My main focus for this post is the music, and looking at the lineup for this year it’s something to behold. If you’re coming out to play I’ll be knocking around the bars in town for the entire festival as I’ve put my shoulder out and can’t ski. It will be a pleasure to meet some new people, so don’t be afraid to come find me and say hello! Throughout the week I will be live tweeting (@maxalfordsancto) so keep up to date with what’s going on.
I’ve put together a comprehensive list of all the headline acts, my artists to watch and a link to the Snowboxx Artists List page on this site of all the other acts (as I couldn’t find anything like it online or on the Snowboxx website) so you can be constantly in tune with who to look out for during the festival. The page outlines all the genres those artists play, where they’re from (just for fun) and links to their music through social media, so you can easily find out about them. I tried my utmost to be accurate with my findings, and there was only one act of about fifty I couldn’t find online (my bad). You can find that link right…here.
For those of you who haven’t been before or can’t make it, this year the festival has moved from Arinsal, Andorra to the Alpe D’Huez in the French Alps, which Wikipedia tells me is “one of Europe’s premium skiing venues”, so you know it must be good. Having been to the festival every year since its glorious conception, I’m interested to see what the reinvented Snowboxx has to offer. But first, a brief history…
I loved Andorra. Even if there weren’t a festival on there I would still go back. Arinsal is a quaint town with a vibrant nightlife and thanks to its tax haven status the booze was dirt-cheap and I mean, really cheap… four Euros for a litre of gin… which is the best.
The Arinsal pistes made for exhilarating skiing and there were more mountain bars than you can feasibly get drunk in during one sitting. And lest we forget the main reason we all culminated in that magical land, the wholly incredible and undeniably sensual range of music on offer. Free toasties with every drink at the main bar El Cau was also a nice touch. It was perfect. And I was fortunate enough to DJ that venue in the second year, the highlight of my career to date.
This year, after a business investment from Dragons Den guru Piers Linney, Mainstage Travel have a new direction to take the festival in and a change of venue is just one of the ways in which they’re showing it. The music for this year is going to be something else. Here is my look at how the range of acts has changed in the last few years and what to expect in 2015.
IN YEARS PREVIOUSLY…
The last two years have seen some excellent up and coming artists as well as established acts hit the slopes for the festival. In 2013, Roses Gabor, The Other Tribe, Gorgon City and Pedestrian headed up the mountain party and it was the best gig I’ve ever been to, except for the same event the second year, which kicked even more ass.
It was the first time I’d seen Gorgon City, back when they were producing mythical sounding music appropriate to their name and before they broke onto the commercial market with radio accessible songs like ‘Ready For Your Love ft. MNEK’. The whole gig was an introduction to a new wave of British talent. Toddla T, Snakehips, The 2 Bears, T.E.E.D, The Golden Boy, Charlie Banks (he played in 2013 and will again this year as well) Monki and FKJ were some of the big names to play at the festival in 2014. Special shout out to Gold Teeth, because they know I like their style.
2014 was an eclectic mix of electronic artists, DJ’s and producers and a fierce bill all round. Hands down it was the most incredible week and it went off on the mountain party second time round. One thing I did notice last year was there was a significant amount of Disco flying every which way, which made going anywhere super funky. How will this year match up to those leviathan lineups? We shall see…
THE HEADLINERS OF 2015
This year, the music is going to be extremely diverse. Here’s my run down of some of the main acts.
A seven-piece band with a really full sound. Their colourful harmonies and feel good attitude are reminiscent of 70’s funk and soul. From watching their sessions on KEXP in Seattle they’re an exciting live act.
2 Many DJ’s
Two brothers with a ridiculously broad range of tastes and a killer set of mashups and edits. They blend everything from raging techno with 80’s synth pop vocals to funk and disco samples layered over The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’. Expect never to be bored and more than often surprised.
Eton Messy is a YouTube channel and DJ collective that needs no introduction. They were instrumental in my transition into House and other electronic genres when at university, and it really is a platform for ‘organically grown fresh young talent’ to flourish. They have exceptional taste so this is a DJ set to watch out for. It’ll be my fourth time seeing them play out, from Nottingham to Andorra, and Glastonbury now to the Alpe D’Huez and I’m still excited. My advice… go and see them. You won’t regret it.
Blonde is one half Eton Messy founder Adam Englefield and the other Bristol based producer Jacob Manson, a duo with ‘sonically uplifting’ and unashamedly pop and ‘tropical’ influenced House. They have hit their stride by producing songs with a radio friendly verse-chorus format. This discovery, that Disclosure’s hit ‘Latch ft. Sam Smith’ has reminded everyone (because it’s always been there), is something that the electronic artists of today should take note of.
On that particular point (a topic for another blog post, yes) this transition that producers are undertaking from mainly instrumental tracks with choppy vocals to vocal led songs is not a new formula but it’s one that works. For fear of making a rushed argument, I would say this is the best way for underground artists can reach a mainstream audience (if that’s your goal of course), and Blonde have done that well. They have succeeded in creating music that appeals to a mainstream audience that isn’t out of place in underground dancefloors. Seems simple, no?
Championed by Eton Messy, TCTS has stayed true to his bass heavy roots whilst transitioning into the aforementioned style of featuring polished, vocally led songs, much in the same vein of Blonde. This is also a man who has moved in a creative direction that young producers should be aware of. I’ve been a massive fan since I heard one of his first tracks ‘Feels So Good’ a few years ago. Sure to smash it.
Horse Meat Disco
These guys are groovy. Enter their meaty equestrian Discotheque time-machine if you feel like stepping back into your platforms shoes and becoming an extra on the set of Saturday Night Fever.
TIEKS is a serial remixer and a straight up House kind of guy. His productions are always centred on clean vocals. His remixes of TCTS’s “Games ft. K. Stewart and Rudimental’s ‘Powerless ft. Becky Hill’ have shot him onto the scene, but his own tracks pack a memorable punch. Some of his stuff reminds me a bit of MK, which is a good thing!
Brighton based duo Anushka cross over electronic styles. Their music shows touches of jazz influenced electronic beats contrasted with flashes of aggressive bass. Whatever they produce its soulful, especially tracks like ‘Atom Bombs’ where the atmospheric vocal cut straight through the heart. If they play live as opposed to doing a straight DJ set it will be will be an excellent set. It will most likely be excellent, whatever they choose to do.
THE ONES TO WATCH
To give you a brief summary, if you love Deep and Tech-House, and a smattering of Techno, you’re in for a real treat! Here are a few particular artists I feel are ONES TO WATCH.
I met Jimmy, based in Manchester, at the first Snowboxx and have been following his career ever since. He’s playing at We Are FSTVL in May on a bill of incredible acts… if I get the money together I’m hauling ass over to Upminster for that. He’s a boss, there’s no doubt. And his beard is fierce. Definitely go and see this man for all your Deep and Tech House needs. He surely won’t disappoint.
This duo are fast establishing themselves as serial remixers. Their latest release, ‘Duke Dumont Feat A*M*E – Need U (100%) Boean Bootleg’, is a sensual twist on the original dancefloor hit. Their own tracks are perfect summer vibes and the classic synth bass sounds they use on tunes like ‘I’ll Be The Rhythm’ make their music easily translatable into a club setting. Exciting London talent.
This guy comes out with delightfully dark tunes with a UK Bass flavour. 3am Tech heads will love him. A ravers choice, as anyone from Southampton will be well aware. Can’t wait to see bitr8 in action. I like his style, and you probably should too.
Four London DJ’s providing the House, Techno, Electronic and Disco vibes. A versatile mixing style and they’ve got the groove. Check out their Soundcloud for the wealth of guest mixes and artist remix showcases that are available for free download.
With a host of soulful remixes, most recently ‘The Dealer- For A Night (Panda Remix)’ featured on Pete Tong Play, and their own deep tunes out on labels like Black Butter Records, these guys will smash it I’m sure. Another act that Eton Messy have fronted and rightly so.
THE OTHER ACTS
For fear of rabbiting on in this piece, I decided to separate out the other acts just to narrow the focus. Its not because they’re not important! As I said it above, I thought if you’ve followed me this far you deserve a second chance. Here is a complete list of all the remaining artists and DJ collectives that will be playing throughout the festival (and there are a lot), with links to their music and social media/websites where available. All genre definitions are found on those sites so I assume they’re accurate! Click here for the file.
SEE YOU AT THE BAR…
This year is going to be quite different to anyone returning like myself, and I see it being a good change of pace. For all newcomers, expect to be entertained! The headliners generally have a commercial edge, with some artists enjoying chart success (oh and Jungle’s ‘Busy Earnin’ made it onto FIFA 15, the universal tastemaker) and there will hopefully be live performances from some of the acts. This will be a big change for the main event as in the last few years everyone has done a DJ set, save for Roses Gabor and The 2 Bears who sang their lyrics live. There are too many talented artists coming this year for them not to attempt it so fingers crossed! I look forward to seeing you there. You’ll find me propping up the bar no doubt.
Peace, love and chicken
About The Electric Attic Blog
This weekly blog is all about music. I will share my discoveries of new artists, great tracks and mixes I think you should check out, mainly on electronic music but also other genres. I will also touch on the more technical aspects of music production and sound engineering. It’s all about a musician at the start of his career and the highs and lows of forging a path in the industry. If you would like to be a part of my journey, please subscribe.