In the late ’90s, electronic music was poised to obliterate all real musicians and organic instrumentation. The process has by now been nearly completed, but at one point laptop music fans doubted the takeover would ever really play out, because DJs and their ilk were considered not as marketable as traditional bands. The DJ’s draw is not what they show you visually, but what they make you do; you aren’t supposed to simultaneously watch them and dance. Skrillex has become an unlikely rock star, providing assorted magazine flacks some sort of PR template. But despite its overwhelming popularity, electronic music still feels largely faceless.
Perhaps this is because most of Voodoo 2012s Le PLUR stage acts look like they were pulled out of the audience at a Saturn Bar show (maybe on the day before laundry day) to have their press photos taken. They look, almost unanimously, just so, so ’70s — meaning, more moustaches than not. You’d think some of them had won a contest to play Voodoo; little exists about them on the web save a few YouTube clips where thousands of people are going crazy for their downward-aimed heads bobbing behind a giant stack of electronics.
OffBeat took on the task of putting faces to many of Voodoo 2012s underground superstar knob twiddlers.
From: New Orleans
Genre: Dance music suited to every crowd: electro, dubstep, hip-hop, house music, even rock ‘n’ roll, if you need it. Skillz even delves into turntablism.
Bio: Originally from Shreveport and DJing for almost a decade, Skillz won third place in 2011s New Orleans DMC turntablist competition. Along with her regular residency at Club Ampersand, Skillz has shared the stage with artists such as Skrillex, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Steve Aoki and MSTRKRFT.
Appearance: Attractive southern girl.
Stage show: With an extensive background in battling, Skillz is known for garnishing her DJ sets with scratch routines.
Genre: Filthy dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass, with a noted heavy metal influence.
Bio: Asaf Borgore is the trained jazz musician and former metal drummer who claims to have “ruined dubstep.” He’s created original tracks and remixes for M.I.A., Britney Spears, LMFAO, and Passion Pit, among others. Borgore’s calling cards are fast triplet drum patterns, and fits of Ludacris-style explicit rapping.
Appearance: Somewhere between Eminem and Ali G.
Stage show: A dude operating digital turntables and a sampler. His wild musical selections carry the day.
From: New Orleans via Washington D.C.
Genre: Funk-influenced electro pop.
Bio: Twenty-year-old songwriter, producer, and DJ Christoph Andersson attended NOCCA, and has worked as a recording assistant for Dr. John. More notably Andersson helped found the now world-touring TKVR monthly dance music party. His own original music combines contemporary indie electro and French house music.
Appearance: A character in a mumblecore film.
Stage show: Very young office worker doing cardio at his laptop.
Genre: Mean girl rap over Euro techno beats.
Bio: Co-signed by teen rap sensations the Cataracs, Dev is most famous for her cameo on Far East Movement’s “Like a G6.” Her own single “Booty Bounce” is typical of her smack talk: “I’m not too pretty to smack a hoe / and all you girls talkin’ shit, you should hit the back doe.”
Appearance: Second-tier Suicide Girl.
Stage show: Girl on stage with microphone compelling the crowd to dance while not really dancing herself.
Genre: Glitchy, hyped up house music.
Bio: Twenty-year-old producer, DJ, and remixer Dallas Koehlke, known to electro fans as DallasK, is best described by one of his YouTube commenters: “Electro-house has been my grind lately and this kid has a lot of Wolfgang [Gartner] influence, while keeping it nice and whobbly [sic] at the same time.”
Appearance: A character in a mumblecore film set in Florida.
Stage show: Stands amid high-tech digital projections while dancing and pointing at the crowd.
Étienne de Crécy
Genre: Authentic but progressive French house and soul.
Bio: Since the mid-’90s de Crécy has made original electronic music part of the duo Motorbass with Philippe Zdar (whose 2003 album Pansoul is considered a classic), in addition to Super Discount and Tempovision, projects released under his name.
Appearance: Dave Matthews crossed with Dave Attell.
Stage show: De Crécy is interested in live electronic music, strange new instruments, and real-time art, so expect visual trickery and interesting musicianship.
Filthy Warm Up featuring DJs Carmine P. Filthy, Unicorn Fukr and Rekanize
From: New Orleans
Genre: Mostly dubstep and other bass music, but are known to add elements of house, techno, new disco, and anything else that fits.
Bio: This three-man crew drags their own PA up the stairs of the Dragon’s Den every Sunday for their Church residency, where they play electro-disco and much more. “It’s almost silly to put tags on it these days,” says Erik Browne, a.k.a. DJ Unicorn Fukr. “The music is evolving quicker than the genre tags. When I get the opp to play on a massive high-end audio like at Voodoo,” he continues, “I use it as a chance to play stuff people don’t know, but with the nice system it’s easier to get them into it.”
Appearance: “The focus is about the music we’re putting through the speakers,” says Browne, “but maybe we are cool-looking video game nerds?”
Stage show: Browne warns, “I might wear a disco vest.”
Force Feed Radio
From: New Orleans
Genre: Bass-heavy music, anything goes: southern hip-hop, techno, punk rock, plus their own original songs, edits, and remixes.
Bio: Starting as a DJ and production duo in high school (not terribly long ago), Kid Kamillion (Bryan Normand) and Money P. (Patrick Bowden) have grown up manning the decks at anything-goes open-format electronic music parties. As a result, their original music sounds like an amalgam of everything they might play at Republic, Ampersand, and various bottle-service clubs. “We built this tight network and have been living off the fat of the land,” says Normand. “After years of DJing, we got really into our sound and creating things, and we went into a real studio — and now we’re playing festivals!”
Stage show: “We’re really into film,” says Bowden. “Our show is about sound and visuals. It’s all these videos we’ve sampled, projected live in a cut-and-paste style.”
The Gaslamp Killer
From: San Diego
Genre: Noisy, disjointed dance music.
Bio: This resident DJ at California’s famous “Low End Theory” party has a big personality and stage presence, much of it stemming from the way he whipped his giant mane of curly brown hair, which he has since shorn. As punk as electronic music gets, GLK rams aggressive beats together in seemingly sloppy but in fact ingenious ways, as evidenced on his latest album, Breakthrough (Brainfeeder).
Appearance: Former hair farmer à la Hillbilly Jim, now looks like either a skinhead, a Hasidic Jew, or a member of House of Pain.
Stage show: GLK goes crazy to his own music, like some cross between a raver and a guitarist from a thrash band.
JFK of MSTRKRFT
Genre: Rock-influenced electro and house.
Bio: This will be a DJ set by multi-instrumentalist Jesse Keeler, first the bassist for “dance punk” group Death From Above 1979 (who reunited in 2011), then his electronic duo MSTRKRFT with Alex Puodziukas (Al-P). MSTRKRFT landed on the late night television circuit and at every big festival in the world. With toes in both electronic and rock, Keeler has helped remix everyone from Katy Perry to Justice and The Kills.
Appearance: Black moustache and bangs. Hipster version of the killer from No Country for Old Men, smoking a cigarette.
Stage show: DJ bobbing up and down while twiddling knobs.
From: New Orleans via San Francisco
Genre: Eclectic and heavy.
Bio: Another young New Orleans bedroom artist getting national love before we even realize he’s here. A description of Jim-E Stack’s new “Bubble Boy,” from The Fader: “rubbery woodwinds mimic a thousand expanding party balloons, while his ricocheting synths sound like what would happen if you fired a ray gun from inside an impenetrable sphere. Stack also incorporates swirling space-goddess vocal samples, sometimes manipulating them into his trademark choppy stutter.”
Appearance: Somewhere between Ad-Rock and Tom Hanks’ rapping son, Chet Haze.
Stage show: His only YouTube video shows wild animation projected onto festival-style video screens across the DJ platform.
Genre: An aggressive mashup of disco, funk, and house.
Bio: The French Grammy-winning electronic music duo of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have done remixes for artists from Daft Punk to Britney Spears. The duo’s use of compressed distortions give their music a heavy metal flavor. They are notable for being unafraid of slap-style basslines.
Appearance: Disco modern, i.e. a couple of thick moustaches.
Stage show: Awesome towers of analog equipment flanked by Marshall guitar stacks, with a giant lit-up cross in the center.
Bio: Over the course of a decade, Ryan Raddon has released seven studio albums, beginning with ’03s It’s You, It’s Me (featuring the single “What I Say”). His press release credits him for opening doors for Deadmau5, Tiesto, and Skrillex, and he’s done remixes for the likes of Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. Claiming the influence of ’80s New Wave bands, Kaskade’s housey dance music utilizes a lot of female vocals and dramatic melodies.
Appearance: Like a handsome but self-effacing sitcom star with a soul patch.
Stage show: Eighty-foot wide, three-stories tall LED screen that blares images synced with the music while strobe lights scan the crowd.
Genre: Creative hip-hop turntablism.
Bio: It may seem strange that a DJ would perform right after the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the Pres Hall stage, rather than at the Le PLUR stage, but Ninja Tune artist Kid Koala collaborated with Pres Hall in the past and even recorded his own version of “Basin Street Blues,” — utilizing a particular trick he divined wherein his turntable sounds like a drunken trumpet, as also evidenced on the song “Drunk Trumpet,” from Koala’s 2012 album 12 Bit Blues.
Appearance: Asian guy, likes costumes and superheroes.
Stage show: Wacky beat-juggling off of which you can’t take your eyes.
From: Near London
Genre: Live dubstep, with forays into soulstep and rock singing.
Bio: Brothers Tony and Josh Friend are dubstep producers and DJs, but are also so cute and well-coiffed they are often mistaken for a boy band. Their press release is a defense of their underground electronic music cred, going so far as to mention that other people feel the brothers are “cheapening the true spirit of dubstep.” That being said, they play their own music, and sing their own songs, and might be the closest thing to a band you will see on the Le PLUR stage.
Appearance: The alternative Jonas Brothers (if one of the Jonases died).
Stage show: “Live band with a drummer, and Tony alternating between decks and guitar.”
Genre: Girly house music.
Bio: Australian twins Mim and Liv Nervo have written songs for Ke$ha and the Pussycat Dolls. Nervo, as they call their duo, opened for Nicki Minaj and Britney Spears on their Femme Fatale arena tour, and even won a Grammy for their work on a David Guetta and Kelly Rowland song, “When Love Takes Over.” More recently they’ve been signed to sophisticated electronic label Astralwerks and collaborated with DJs from Kaskade to Deadmau5.
Appearance: Two Civil War marching band Barbie dolls from Hot Topic, one with short, spikey hair (Mim), one with long (Liv).
Stage show: Liv is supposedly more into the music production than Mim (meaning Liv looks down) while Mim entertains the crowd (she looks up, and points at you while mouthing lyrics).
Q-Bert & D-Styles of Invisibl Skratch Piklz
From: San Francisco
Genre: Wild hip-hop turntablism.
Bio: Over-the-top-of-the-top scratch routines influenced by ’80s hip-hop, built in the ’90s, but that still sound futuristic today. The Skratch Piklz won the DMC World Championships so many times they invented a DJ Hall of Fame for them. Along with the X-Ecutioners, the Skratch Piklz build up basslines and drums and then deconstruct the “song” in hilarious and fun ways.
Appearance: Two hip-hop Filipinos. Q-Bert wears a cap.
Stage show: Hip-hop’s Harlem Globetrotters.