Ah, Coachella. The one time of year influencers are thrust into the wild open desert and unashamedly mouth the wrong words to the headliner’s music. Coachella is like the Met Gala, just slightly less exclusive because you, too, can get a ticket and experience the weekend-long music festival. (Or just watch it on Instagram courtesy of a million boomerangs.)
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Photos by Meghan Marshall
Interview by
Jordan Edwards

VNSSA is at the top of her game. The SoCal native just played Coachella (with some sick visuals), she has a ton of big sets planned for the summer, and she just released an EP, Music4TheMasses, on Diplo's Higher Ground label.

We talked to her right before she headed to the desert.

You have a busy summer coming up. In general, do you prefer outdoor festival gigs or indoor club sets?
I don't have a preference. I love both. They are both such different vibes. With outdoor festival gigs I usually tend to go for a more disco, fun, house vibe. Whereas with indoor clubs, I can get a little darker. A little more techno. Both are fun in their own different ways.

Tell me about your recent single “In The Dark” and your association with Femme House.
Femme House had told me they were doing a comp for International Women's Month and I had been sitting on "In The Dark" for a minute. It was a great fit, and I'm truly honored to be on such a rad compilation with so many amazing women!

You just released an EP on Diplo’s house label, Higher Ground. How did you become acquainted?
The first release on Higher Ground was my track "Rave Grave" with Walker & Royce, so I have been part of the Higher Ground family since day one. It feels great to release with them again, because it's such a cool label. They're always putting out great music, and I'm happy they wanted to sign this EP.

You grew up in Newport Beach, which makes me picture surfboards and BMWs. What was your childhood like? I know you were really into music at a young age.
For me, it was surfboards and surf rock, not BMW's. I grew up riding my bike to the beach and surfing everyday, then going to rock shows in skate warehouses or wherever we could find them at night. I grew up playing the cello, and then played clarinet in the school band up until high school. Ditched my clarinet and took up drums. I was taking drum lessons every week and eventually started a band with some friends. It ended up not really working out, and my music taste started shifting towards electronic music. I started going to festivals and clubs, and the rest is history.

Your music has a darker edge, but there’s usually some element that gives the track a little levity. Do you ever scrap songs or mixes because they’re too dark?
I don't really release any of the really dark ones. I just think, "Man this is depressing and would totally kill the dance floor." But I also believe there is a time and place for everything. So who knows, you may hear them eventually.


When someone gives you a track to remix, where do you start?
I usually skim through the track to see if I hear any parts I definitely want to use, but a lot of times I only use the original vocal. So I'll start with a simple drum beat and then create a bass line. From there, I'll add the vocal parts I want to use, then add some synths/melodies.

What’s your favorite way to discover new sounds to use in songs?
I usually just play around with my synths and plugins. Right now, my favorite synth is my Novation Peak and my favorite plugin is Diva by U-he. There's at least one of those in every single one of my tracks. I've also been sampling a lot more lately.

What are you listening to right now?
Right now I'm Listening to the Tasty Techno Volume One comp that just came out on Trick. Every track on the comp is so good.

For more from VNSSA, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Culture News

Why Is San Diego Comic-Con Already Being Canceled?

Three months out from the event, it has already been canceled—with good reason

On Friday afternoon it was announced that this year's San Diego Comic-Con, scheduled for July 23-26, had been canceled.

The world-famous event has been held annually for the last 50 years and draws more than 130,000 attendants to the San Diego Convention Center to meet their favorite celebrities and artists and show off their elaborate cosplay. No doubt a lot of people were already looking forward to events like this, with the expectation that life will be returning to normal this summer. So why—with New York beginning to move past the worst phase of the pandemic, and Donald Trump already pushing for various states to be "liberated"—is Comic-Con being canceled more than three months in advance?


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Frank Ocean has made two songs and their remixes available exclusively via vinyl, which has some fans praising his innovative approach to music distribution—while other fans (say, those who don't have record players) are feeling slighted.

Ocean premiered the tracks for the first time back in October on his Beats 1 radio show "blended RADIO" and announced the vinyl release months ago, and now the songs have finally arrived. Fortunately, fans who didn't order the singles can sate their thirst through a few clips that several anarchist fans posted online. The songs, entitled "April" and "Cayendo," can be heard in part thanks to a few posts that have managed to gain immortality through digital shares.



Frank Ocean - Cayendo (Sango Remix) www.youtube.com



Ocean was supposed to headline Coachella this April, an event that was postponed to October. Still, his headlining gig had fans thinking that 2020 would see Ocean releasing new work, and even his first LP since 2016's Blonde—an album that topped many best-of-decade lists and continues to resonate as strongly as ever, especially in uncertain times.

For a while, thanks to that album's success, Ocean seemed to reach a kind of godlike status in the music industry. He was reclusive, mysterious, and untouchable, a genius in the truest sense. But his more recent efforts at PR, like the PrEP+ club event he hosted in New York, fizzled a bit as fans criticized the event's lack of inclusivity and sensitivity.

"I'm an artist, it's core to my job to imagine realities that don't necessarily exist," Ocean clarified in a Tumblr post about his intentions behind the event.

Most likely, Ocean's decision to release new songs via vinyl is just another part of his great vision of a better or different world. Unfortunately, visions of a better world are always disconnected from the actuality of this world, and Ocean's vision means we'll all have to wait for the privilege to stream the songs until an indefinite date. Knowing the artist (or rather, knowing the reflection he wants us to know), it'll pay off at some point—we're just operating on his time.

MUSIC

How to Help Musicians in the Age of the Coronavirus

South by Southwest is canceled and Coachella is postponed, but smaller artists don't have sick leave.

The World Health Organization recently declared that the coronavirus had spread enough that the outbreak can officially be considered a pandemic.

The impact of the virus isn't just physical; self-containment advisories mean that music festivals are taking the hit. Many events have been canceled in the wake of coronavirus.Austin's South by Southwest, the Australian Bushfire Relief Concert in Melbourne, and Ultra Music Festival are just a few that have been called off entirely, while Coachella and its sister country festival Stagecoach are being postponed until October. Though it's better to be safe than sorry as the coronavirus ravages the U.S., musicians—primarily independent touring artists—are taking a huge hit.

Because streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music pretty much pay artists in pennies, many smaller bands rely on live events for their income, from ticket sales and merch profits to exposure that'll hopefully reap benefits in the future. As "festival season" becomes virtually festival-less and artists also cancel tours due to coronavirus-related fears, a vicious cycle ensues: You have to make money to be able to tour, but you have to tour to be able to make money (not to mention artists often don't have health insurance or paid sick leave from their day jobs).

As fans, we can help! Here are a few small ways that can help out your favorite band during these trying times.

Buy Their Music

This is a no-brainer. According to CNBC, artists typically earn between $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream on Spotify. That means that one hundred streams of your favorite song earns that artist less than a dollar. Streaming has done wonders for artist discovery, but in order for those bands to actually make music, you have to go about it the old fashion way: actually buy their music. Googling the artist will likely bring up a link to their webstore, where you should be able to buy physical and digital copies of their albums.


Head to Bandcamp

Bandcamp is perhaps the most artist-friendly streaming site out there. Besides being a great platform to discover your new favorite band or underground artist, when you purchase something from Bandcamp, 80-85 percent of your money goes to the artist directly. It's a pretty sweet deal. If you're feeling extra generous, you can even pay above the minimum price, too.

Show Labels Love, Too

Indie labels do a ton of work, and they deserve your love, too. Check out what labels your favorite smaller artists are signed to—you can see on Spotify when you're looking at an album. They'll likely have merch, as well. Let them know you appreciate their hard work!

Donate, If You Can

This one extends beyond music artists, but many creators also have a Patreon to help fund themselves. If you feel compelled to donate, give a few bucks to an artist/performer who would normally be making live appearances right now.

iStockphoto.com


Spread the Word

Are the people in your circle big music fans? Even if you don't have the cash to shell out on merch or digital copies of music right now (we get it), use social media to get a conversation going about how the coronavirus is negatively impacting musicians, especially right now. Their work is hard, so let's try to make it a little easier for them.

E3

The recent cancellation of E3 2020 is a major bummer for the gaming community, but it's not exactly a surprise.

COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic (it's official!) currently sweeping the world, is primarily spread from person-to-person. This means that any area where large numbers of people are gathered together—subway cars, office spaces, jam-packed convention centers—are best to be avoided right now. So unfortunately, yes, every major upcoming event you're excited for is almost definitely canceled (or, at the very least, postponed). Oh, and if you don't see the event you're most excited for on this list, don't worry. It will be.

E3

E3 E3

From major sequel reveals to new console previews, E3 announcements shape the gaming industry year after year. But while gamers await E3 news with bated breath, there's no video game that's actually worth risking your upper respiratory system over (except maybe Final Fantasy VII Remake). Besides, it's important to keep in mind that everything planned for E3 will still be revealed later. The PlayStation 5 is still happening, but you can't play it if you're dead.

Emerald City Comic Con

Emerald City comic con ECCC

Seattle's Comic Con has gotten big enough in recent years to warrant a serious stop on any nerd culture enthusiast's yearly circuit, but that also means it's big enough to warrant shutting down over coronavirus. Take solace knowing that the scalpers will need to wait a little longer to get their grubby hands on those sweet exclusives before you're forced to pay them a premium.

Google I/O and pretty much every tech event

Google IO Google

People who work in tech most likely (hopefully) believe in science, so don't expect to be attending any tech conferences during a global pandemic. Not only are dev events like Google I/O canceled, but pretty much every major tech company is also having their employees work from home. Because, you know, they actually care about their employees' health and safety.

Tucson Festival of Books

Tucson Festival of books

Coronavirus can be transmitted through infected surfaces, so books aren't safe either. Okay, that's not actually why the Tucson Festival of Books has been canceled. The problem is still tons of people, many of whom are unlikely to show symptoms even if they're infected, all in one place. But the thought of a ton of people reading books together in the middle of a global health crisis is still kind of amusing.

SXSW, Coachella, and probably every music event for the foreseeable future

Coachella Street Style At The 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival - Weekend 2 Getty Images for Coachella

The film and music industries, both of which heavily revolve around event-based media, are going to be hit especially hard by COVID-19. SXSW is canceled and refusing to refund passholders, putting plenty of budding filmmakers and musical artists in a major financial bind. Coachella is canceled, too, which is probably for the best considering what a hot bed of germs music festivals tend to be, even when there's not a global pandemic. If you're still holding onto any concert tickets at the moment, try to get a refund sooner rather than later.

Movies

James Bond No time to die United Artists Releasing

Speaking of movies, movies are done. You can still go to the theater, sure, but is there any movie that's actually worth risking spreading COVID-19 over? The new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, is even being pushed back. So stay home. Watch Netflix. This is...no time to die.

St. Patrick's Day Parades and also most other cultural events

St patricks day parade Photo via Visit Philadelphia

Watching the St. Patrick's Day Parade is an Irish tradition, which is exactly why the whole thing is being called off this year. If it's allowed to happen, people will go, and if people go, some of them are going to get coronavirus. Looking at people marching while wearing green clothes and shamrock face paint is not worth killing the elderly.

College

Harvard

Pretty much everything can be done online now, and that includes college. Why sit in a classroom full of potentially infected students when you can watch your professor talk onscreen, right from the comfort of your living room? The truth is that people barely need to interact face-to-face anymore, and maybe COVID-19 is here to teach us that waking up and going to a physical building to do work is silly and irrelevant.

Italy

Italy

If you haven't been following world news, here's an important update: Italy has basically shut down due to COVID-19. And if you're in America thinking, "How does that apply to me?" come back in three weeks and let us know. America is about to get hit hard. If you still don't think that's true, we're sorry to inform you, but your stupidity is terminal (for at least 3.4% of the population).