MUSIC

VASSY Causes "Trouble," and Pushes The Limits Of Pop Music

The singer talks her new single "Trouble," and paving her own path

Dolly Ave

In EDM music, VASSY is one of the most established vocalists in the genre.

"I had a point there where so many DJ's were reaching out to me and asking me to do collabs with them," VASSY said. "I had some cool collabs with DJs like Showtek, Afrojack, KSHMR, and so on." In reality, thats a modest way to describe the singer's impact. Her 2014 tracks "Bad" and "Secrets" both went on to chart globally, the latter of which hit #1 in over 30 countries, while the former clocked in over a billion streams and was certified double platinum in multiple countries. As an artist, VASSY has topped the Billboard Dance charts 7 times. She has 17 platinum certifications and 8 #1 Billboard singles. "[They] were asking me to do collabs with them to create another "Bad" or another "Secrets," she said. "I was really craving to have some me time and create records that were more melodic and had more of traditional pop craftsmanship to it."

VASSY - Concrete Heart (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

VASSY's solo career thus far has been incredibly fruitful. The singer recently hit her 8th solo #1 hit with "Concrete Heart," a charismatic mix of Vassy's smooth vocals and Disco Fries authoritative Electro House sensibilities. VASSY's latest single, "Trouble," which premieres today exclusively on Popdust, is equally as immaculate. The single's production, much like that of "Concrete Heart," was handled by Disco Fries' Danny Boselovic, and has all the makings of another chart-topper.

Tell me about your upbringing. How has that shaped your artistry?

I grew up in a Greek household in a little town up north in Australia. I knew from a young age I wanted to do music despite being kicked out of school choir and told I didn't have what it takes. I also did not have the blessing of my father's presence because we lost him, unfortunately.

How did you navigate that?

I promised him I would finish my degree in Architecture, and only then would I pursue music after I got his blessings, that was before he passed away. I started my career in Australia, got signed to Universal Music and had a great career as a pop-indie artist but I really wanted to spread my wings so I came to America and started all over again, even though at first no one gave a sh*t about me. My background shaped my artistry in the sense that my father worked hard and his hard work ethic has shaped who I am today and how I approach life.


How have you handled fame?

I'm not caught up in the lifestyle of our business, I live a private, humble, normal life. I just love creating and making records. It's my way of expressing positive energy, to inspire people to feel good and feel motivated in life. I have mentored in detention centers at remote communities and schools to empower kids to believe in themselves despite bullies and rejections, as I too have experienced all this. I want my fans and people to see how rejections can lead to redirections and how you can be anyone from anywhere and can still make it. You don't have to be rich and famous, or perfect, and fit in a box, you just have to be authentically you, work hard, believe in yourself and you will prevail.

You're a highly accomplished and highly decorated artist. Was there a moment where you felt it all change for you?

Less than a year after "BAD" went platinum in several countries, I performed "Secrets" with Tiësto at Ultra in front of 150,000 people. [The song] had only been out for 48 hours and already hit #1 on Beatport. I think in that moment I realized that I had created 2 of the biggest dance music anthems with the biggest DJ legends in the world...in that moment, I thought wow they know all my songs inside out, these thousands of people. Not bad for an Aussie girl like me!

Tiësto & KSHMR ft. Vassy - Secrets (Live @ Ultra Music Festival Miami 2016) www.youtube.com

Tell me about the creative process behind "Trouble." It seems more pop oriented than "Concrete Heart."

I wanted to self-indulge and create records that fulfill me. At first, I was scared that the fans may not embrace it, and perhaps think it was too pop leaning to dance to? But after being embraced and supported so well on the radio and from the fans, it lead me to create "Trouble." This is a song I had written a while back with a buddy of mine and I have been looking for the right home for it for a while now. I wanted a pop-leaning dance record where the ledge drives the song through the lyrics, while you still have the dance grooves and progression. I wanted a more vocal chop melodic riff so that its more of a post-chorus drop, I like classic song writing style so from A to Z, the verse to the pre-chorus to the chorus to the bridge and so on. I like the journey it takes the listener on. I like a lot of texture that pop records have, dance records are infectious but tend to be more two-dimensional in the production. So on this record, I wanted to get people up and dancing while delivering a cool attitude and story line through the narrative of this song.

Headlining Las Vegas pride is a huge deal. How are you gonna prepare? Are you excited?

Yes, I'm always excited to perform especially for Prides, they are full of love and positive vibes! It's always so celebratory, coming together as one united through dance and music, to celebrate good vibes.

What can we expect from Vassy later this year?

More trouble! *laughs*. I got cool remixes coming and the music video, and I'm the kind of artist that likes to focus on one record at a time. I really nurture it, give it all my love before moving onto the next...I guess I'm an artist and so that's my creation in a way – like a plant.

Trouble www.youtube.com

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.


Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality


Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.


Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.

MUSIC

After More Than Two Decades of Music, Destructo Will Not Slow Down

The dance music pioneer talked with Popdust about his inspirations and co-headlining a show with Shaq.

"I always felt like I could have been a cop or an attorney," said the 48-year-old techno-Trap guru Gary Richards, otherwise known as Destructo.

Destructo - Dare You 2 Move (feat. Problem) www.youtube.com

"I know that may sound kinda weird, 'cause I want people to party, but I'm pretty thorough." Destructo, the LiveStyle North America President, and one of EDM's most decorated DJs, is an astute perfectionist and says the key to success in the dance world is exactly as demanding as it sounds. "You gotta be relentless and original. We all have the same tools and everybody copies everybody," the DJ said frankly before taking the stage at Electric Zoo. "You gotta create something new that we haven't heard, and then you gotta just pound down every door."

Destructo's meteoric rise doesn't come as a shock considering the DJ's work ethic. He is the godfather of North America's EDM scene, and everyone from Deadmau5 to J.U.S.T.I.C.E. rose to fame in part thanks to Destructo's impact on dance music. "Honestly, my greatest skill is just that I've just been around for a long time," Destructo said. "If I was entering dance music now, I don't know what I'd do. A lot of people make really good electronic music now, so to be great is really tough. I would have probably become a lawyer."

The producer also recently supported DJ Diesel⁠—otherwise known as Shaquille O'Nea⁠l—at Brooklyn Mirage. They also conquered the Hollywood Avalon back in December. Needless to say, Destructo is a huge fan. "Shaq is legit," Destructo said. The duo performed at Brooklyn Mirage after Ezoo. "I saw a video of him DJing way back when he played basketball at LSU. He had the same set up that I had back then, and currently, he's playing some of the gnarliest riddim out there."

Additionally, Destructo recently released "No Retreat" and "Rubberband," and willl return to LA for his annual All My Friends festival in October. "I have a really odd process, 'cause I'm not in the studio all day, every day anymore. I've always got so much stuff goin' on, so that's why I always collab with people. "I can't just sit in a room by myself and come up with a masterpiece, so my collaborators really help me bring that extra level to whatever it is I'm working on."