Sun God 2012

    Listen along with our party playlist:
    Sun God 2012 Party Playlist by Guardian Hiatus on Grooveshark


    Silversun Pickups

    Those pining for a resurrection of the Smashing Pumpkins’ sappy and soaring ‘90s alt-rock found it in the Silversun Pickups’ 2006 debut, LP Carnavas. Driving single “Lazy Eye” was asunabashedly angsty and explosive as anything off Siamese Dream, lead man Brian Aubert’s whisper-yell delivery sounded uncannily like Billy Corgan’s and, not to mention, the bands conveniently shared the same initials. 

    But six years and two more LPs later, the Pickups are likely sick of the Smashing Pumpkins comparisons — particularly because they riddle each and every article, album review and press release about the band since their inception in 2005. 

    Their latest album, this month’s Neck of the Woods, certainly reflects the urge to embrace an updated sound. Allegedly inspired by the band’s love for horror films, the album is full of clean and brooding synth rock songs with eerie names (“Skin Graph,” “Bloody Mary,” “Mean Spirits,” to name a few) that sound less like shoegazey homage and more like Jimmy Eat World. 

    With the help of Bloc Party and Snow Patrol producer Jacknife Lee, Neck of the Woods has more production sheen than any of the Pickups’ previous studio releases — while keeping drummer Chris Guanlao’s motorik grooves and Aubert’s distinctive vocal intimacy intact. The album has already gained critical attention, receiving praise from Paste, The A.V. Club and Alternative Press.

    If last year’s parade of blunt-happy hip-hop headliners wasn’t your cup of tea, prepare to headbang the final hour of Sun God away to some triumphant, occasionally nostalgic jams.  

    — Ren Ebel
    Hiatus Editor



    Paul van Dyk

    He may be the old guy at this year’s Sun God Festival, but Paul van Dyk hasn’t seen many shortcomings to his dancefloor formula since he started mixing in Berlin way back  in 1988.

    Admittedly, it’s hard to ignore the fact that times have certainly changed since van Dyk first learned the ropes two decades ago. Though he reached international fame as a globe-trotting DJ and remixer in the mid-1990s — making van Dyk a virtual legend in the electronic dance music scene — youngsters like Skrillex and Deadmau5 continue to hog the spotlight today. 

    So this Sun God, don’t expect their kind of party; nah, expect a ‘90s revival with van Dyk bumping the kind of ethereal trance that made EDM a phenomenon, soundtracking the raves Dateline first worried would destroy a generation of adolescent pacifier-suckers — Electric Daisy Carnival be damned. 

    Paul van Dyk may be older, and RIMAC may not be an abandoned warehouse, but the smooth, stylish grooves of his debut single and mega-hit “For An Angel” might just bring us back to 1994. Not that van Dyk only has nostalgia to offer. The DJ-producer has been quietly chugging along as the second wave of EDM flourishes, releasing his sixth studio album Evolution this past April. 

    According to van Dyk, the album’s title reflects the diversity of the music. 

    “For me, electronic music is not about just house music or electro or trance or dubstep or techno — it’s about electronic music all together,” he said in an interview with The Vancouver Sun. “This is obviously what this album reflects real well because you find elements from all of those sub-genres on that album put together in a different way.” 

    Still, trance will be the name of the game. New tracks like “Verano” and “Rock This” mesh rustling, synthesized beats with catchy vocal hooks — the obvious makings of one raucous Sun God. 

    — Arielle Sallai
    Managing Editor

    Chiddy Bang 

    Few can deliver infectious alternative hip hop quite like Chiddy Bang, aka rapper Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and DJ/producer Noah “Xaphoon” Jones Beresin. After meeting at university back in 2008, the duo quickly achieved underground fame on the back of a collection of mixtapes on which they refined their unique style, consisting of playful rap delivered over a mixture of electro loops and indie rhythms. 

    Xaphoon and Chiddy, who currently holds the Guinness World Record for the “Longest Freestyle Rap” (9 hours, 16 minutes, and 22 seconds), have made rapid progress since the release of The Preview in 2010 — an EP memorable for some catchy reworkings indie-minded artists like Passion Pit and Sufjan Stevens. The mixtape’s most popular single “Opposite of Adults” — featuring an instantly recognisable sample of MGMT’s “Kids” — promises to be one of the most memorable highlights of this year’s festival.

    Chiddy Bang will arrive for their Sun God appearance almost half way through the most important year of their career. February saw the release of their first full-length record Breakfast, which
    see the duo continuing the accessible rhymes and genre-crossing beats of their earlier work. The group’s performance at RIMAC on Friday will be just one of many throughout a hectic summer of touring, which will include festivals across the United States and Europe and an enticing set of shows with Wiz Khalifa and Kendrick Lamar in August. Sun God offers an ideal opportunity for this notoriously energetic and interactive live act to justify their escalating reputation.
     

    —Piers Barber
    Staff Writer


    Ra Ra Riot 
    (Interview)

    Despite their sunny, indie-pop disposition, the members of Ra Ra Riot are no strangers to adversity. With the tragic loss of founding drummer John Ryan Pike in 2007 (inspiration for the band’s poignant 2008 release The Rhumb Line), and the departure of cellist Alexandra Lawn earlier this year, the band has had a rocky — albeit critically celebrated — career. 

    Yet they show no signs of slowing.  

    Ra Ra Riot consists of vocalist Wes Miles, bassist Mathieu Santos, guitarist Milo Bonacci and violinist Rebecca Zeller — all of whom met during their time at and around Syracuse University in New York. Though they graduated six years ago, the band’s college spirit remains intact. 

    “The band is really excited to play at Sun God,” Violinist Rebecca Zeller told the Guardian in an interview last week. “We expect students to be somewhat intoxicated and enjoying themselves.” 

    The band is known for its punchy and organic rock grooves reminiscent of Vampire Weekend, supported by sweeping orchestral cello and violin arrangements in the vein of Arcade Fire.

    “I always saw myself playing violin as I got older, but never in a rock band,” Zeller said.

    This transition from modest indie club rock to epic festival anthems was particularly evident on 2010’s The Orchard, whose triumphant title track opener fed into the breathlessly exuberant lead single “Boy.”

    Currently, the band is back to work, writing and recording for an as-of-yet undisclosed project.

    “We just got out of the studio, and there is a possibility of some new material,” Zeller said. “It’s not a guarantee but a possibility.” 

    — Manuel Flores
    Contributing Writer

    Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
    (Interview)

    For the last decade or so, Macklemore, aka rapper Ben Haggerty, has been releasing the kind of reflective rap music that makes semi-educated social commentary listenable. His tracks touch on topics as diverse as the prevailing acceptance of cough syrup abuse in the rap industry on “Otherside” (featuring a great Red Hot Chili Peppers sample of the same name) to the negative effects of consumerism in “Wings,” an ode to avid sneakerheads everywhere. 

    Despite addressing these issues, Macklemore makes a conscious effort to avoid preaching in his songs.

    “I’m not trying to tell people how to live their lives,” Haggerty told the Guardian in an interview last week. “A lot of the time, I’m talking to myself on these songs, dealing with issues that I have.” 

    One such issue, the staunch anticonsumerism Haggerty advocates on the aforementioned “Wings,” admittedly presents a challenge for the Seattle-bred underground rapper-turned frat party sensation. 

    “Right now I’m sitting in a Cadillac wearing Jordans,” Haggerty said.  

    Macklemore’s music is refreshing in its Yeezy-esque mix of honesty and self-contradiction. But that’s not to say that Macklemore can be relegated to the ranks of “conscious” rappers that insist on social statements at the expense of making fresh, listenable pop music. 

    Much of Macklemore’s work is made with producer Ryan Lewis, who will be accompanying Haggerty at Sun God. The two mix traditional rap production with violins, pianos and trumpets, creating a full sound that blends well with Haggerty’s passionate flow. Both Haggerty and Lewis hail from Seattle, and Macklemore credits the city’s diverse musical history — he cited Quincy Jones and Nirvana as influences — with giving his music a distinctive sound. Though Haggerty asserts that “there’s a fine line between emulating and biting,” he said he’s currently inspired by Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q, as well as Kanye West.

    If this range of musical influences seems incredibly broad, it’s by design. Macklemore says that his next studio album, slated for release in the fall, will be “a mixture of lots of different sounds.” This conscious aim for diversity is true of Macklemore’s performances, too. 

    “Expect a range of emotions, lots of high energy, and an engaging show,” Haggerty said. “It’ll be hella fun.”

    —Sebastian Brady
    Contributing Writer

    Tokimonsta

    With her subtle blend of playful, unassuming melodies and bass-heavy hip hop beats, Tokimonsta has quickly risen to the upper ranks of Los Angeles’ fertile electronic music scene. Currently signed to Flying Lotus’ influential Brainfeeder Records, Toki has spent the last several years steadily releasing music, most notably on her debut album Midnight Menu for Japanese record label Art Union. Her style, while firmly rooted in LA hip hop culture, possesses a sense of melodicism uncommon to artists of that genre — a fact that should come as no surprise — given her background in classical piano.

    According to Jennifer Lee, the woman behind the stage name, she began listening to hip-hop as a way of differentiating herself from her punk-listening upper-middle class peers while growing up in Torrance, Calif.  

    Recently, Tokimonsta (“toki” is Korean for rabbit, while “monsta” should require no explanation) released Creature Dreams, an excellent EP of smooth, down-tempo songs often featurin
    g, for the first time, the artist’s vocals. Don’t let that record’s nocturnal hip-hop lullabies fool you, though: when she DJs, Toki goes hard. Her DJ sets often combine her own gently psychedelic productions with heavy hip-hop tracks of all kinds. 

    —Andrew Whitworth
    Associate Hiatus Editor


    Dia Frampton

    Like yesteryear’s Michelle Branch and Sara Bareilles, Dia Frampton’s Sun God performance will provide the allotted bubbly acoustic female set scheduled to give your addled brain cells some happy afternoon downtime.

    Beginning her career with older sister Meg under the Meg & Dia moniker, Frampton self-promoted her band via MySpace (back in 2005, when it still made a difference), landing the duo on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour lineup. Meg & Dia released two full-length albums in 2007 and 2009, and were eventually dropped from their Warner Bros. label in 2010.

    Last year, however, Dia auditioned for the TV singing competition “The Voice” and ended up the first season’s runner up, under the wing of coach Blake Shelton. And though Meg & Dia now perform under the name Dia Frampton, Meg still supports her sister on the back-up guitar on stage. Frampton released her anticipated solo debut, Red, last December.

    Self-described as “indie folk-pop with a lemony twist,” Dia Frampton’s pretty pop melodies are sure to go down as smooth and sweet as the setting sun. With an early evening set, Dia Frampton’s doe-y eyes and bubblegum voice will be a pleasant precursor to the messy debauchery that the night will bring.

    —Amanda Martinek
    Senior Staff Writer


    Tommy Trash

    A recent press release claims that L.A.-via-Australia DJ Tommy Trash is “rescuing the world from dance music apocalypse.” While this is unlikely, Tommy Trash is an excellent electro-house DJ who is certainly no stranger to the world of electronic music. From remixing artists like Kaskade and Armand Van Helden to mixing two volumes of Mf Sound’s reputable Electro House Sessions, Tommy Trash has stayed busy in recent years, at one point simultaneously holding the #1 and #2 positions on the Aria (the Australian equivalent of the Billboard Charts) Club Chart.

    Tommy’s quickly growing stature in the American house music scene (he’s recently put out records on labels like Dim Mak and Deadmau5’ aptly named Mau5trap Records) is likely due to his hard-partying, big-room-ready sound, which he promises to bring to Sun God Festival’s Dance Stage in great quantities. On his current tour, Tommy Trash will be playing sets comprised almost entirely of his own music, which should ensure a riotous electro-house experience that’ll doubtless leave you ready for Dance Stage headliner Paul Van Dyk.

    —Andrew Whitworth
    Associate Hiatus Editor


    Clockwork

    Gaining online fame with his homespun remixes and dance music at just 18 years old, Los Angeles’ Clockwork is a true product of the digital age. 

    Clockwork’s career took off when DJ kingpin Steve Aoki caught wind of “Squad Up,” an original Clockwork track that was circulating in the electronic music blogosphere, and signed him to the prolific Dim Mak roster. 

    Since then, Clockwork has kept busy with both official and bootleg remixes of electronic work from Aoki and Avicii to Dimitri Vegas. His sound is self-described as having a “bass-heavy, big room sound,” reminiscent of DJ Tiesto and Steve Angello. More recently, Clockwork has made himself a festival staple, with a well-received performance slot at Hard Haunted Mansion Festival 2011. Clockwork’s Squad UP EP is set for release this year on Dim Mak records. 

    —Ren Ebel
    Hiatus Editor

    OLIVER

    OLIVER is, in actuality, two Olivers: Vancouver’s Vaughn Oliver (aka U-Tern) and San Fernando Valley’s Oliver Goldstein (aka Oligee) — the former, a producer at the forefront of modern electronic music’s recent surge of disco revival, and the latter, a beatmaker and self-proclaimed “overlord of third millenium romantifunk.”

    Together, the duo has turned heads in the club world with their cleanly produced nu-disco gems seated proudly in the shadow of Daft Punk. With an arsenal of warbling synths and vocoder riffs, OLIVER has remixed the likes of Foster the People, Childish Gambino and Chromeo, in addition to their own original dance tracks fit for any proper boogie night. 

    —Ren Ebel
    Hiatus Editor

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