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A new GRAMMY category enables creators of sonic masterworks, including such influential innovators as BT, the Crystal Method, Paul Oakenfold and Deepsky, to compete against similar artists instead of having to fit into other musical categories - a report by The G-Man.
Until very recently, the aural excitement of a BT album like "Emotional Technology," a Crystal Method album such as "Legion of Boom," or a Paul Oakenfold album like "Creamfields" could get overlooked in the GRAMMY balloting.
In fact, you can find spine-tingling electronic pop and dance music being made in all parts of the world that might easily miss out on a chance to have the kind of high-intensity spotlight that results from a GRAMMY nomination.
But this year, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), the organization that controls the GRAMMY Awards, has changed everything for electronic artists with the introduction of the "Best Electronic/Dance Album" category.
"This is an exciting event for everyone in the world of electronic and dance-oriented music," stated producer/mixer Carmen Rizzo, who is a NARAS Los Angeles Chapter Trustee. "It is fitting that such a vital form of music receives some of the recognition it deserves." Appearing at a pre-concert party to officially announce the category, Rizzo added, "As someone involved in the creation of this music as well as a listener, I feel this is a giant leap forward."
NEW GENERATION OF MUSICIANS. The attraction of music with a technological slant crosses many boundaries. Brian Transeau, or BT, as he is professionally known, is a classically-trained musician who embraced the electronic music world at an early age. "This is what my heroes Debussy, Stravinsky and the like were looking for," BT stated. "Technology-based music is the only idiom that packs such infinite sonic possibilities," he added.
Jason Bentley, widely known for his hosting of radio programs on KCRW and KROQ in Los Angeles, is involved with electronically-generated rhythmic music in many ways, as radio personality, club DJ, music supervisor for films (including the "Matrix" series), and producer. "It was high time for the industry to acknowledge electronic and dance music with this album category," Bentley stated. "For a long time, the electronic and dance categories have been in stealth mode in the USA, so it is exciting to be a part of this new effort to shine a light on a vital aspect of the music industry."
Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, better known as the Crystal Method, were both pleased at the announcement. "From my first year as a voting member of the GRAMMY Awards, several of us from the electronic music genre have been working towards this goal. We never thought it would happen this fast and were just thrilled with the result. We're just so happy that this style of music can now be recognized by our industry's premiere awards show," Jordan stated.
AN EMERGING FORCE. The acceptance of dance and electronic music around the globe has been phenomenal, except in the United States. "It's somewhat similar to the situation with soccer," Bentley stated. "Soccer is a global force with millions of followers, intense fans, and tremendous marketing resources, but it is just not as widespread in the U.S. The same thing may be said about dance and electronic music, which makes this GRAMMY category so much more important."
Bentley sees the emergence of underground dance music into the mainstream as healthy and inevitable. "A lot of people who started getting involved in this music in the eighties and nineties are now taking their place in the business. People like BT, Carmen Rizzo and the others who worked on the committee at NARAS represent something of a changing of the guard." Bentley, drawing on his background as producer, music supervisor and DJ, is totally committed to this form of music. "This has been my rock and roll, my punk rock, my movement. This was always something that moved me, and it is gratifying to see so many people, performers and companies coming together to back it."
BACKERS AND SUPPORTERS. Among the sponsors of the event were BPM magazine, DTS, Life's Good, and musical equipment manufacturer Roland, which had several pieces of gear on display, including their SP-606 Sampling Workstation, the MC-909 Sampling Groovebox, and the new MV-8000 Production Studio.
"Electronic music is finally garnering the respect and recognition it deserves, and we're excited to be a part of that," says Doug Hanson, Roland Director of Product Management and Marketing. "It is an exciting time for this genre and we look forward to working with BPM in the future to co-develop events that will generate additional public awareness of this music style," Hanson added.
The official announcement of the new GRAMMY category came during a reception at the Spider Room prior to a show at the Avalon Hollywood featuring sets by Oakenfold, Junkie XL, the Crystal Method and BT.
More than 250 attended the reception, including DJ/producer DJ Irene; DJ/producer the Angel; Second Sun's Antoine Toupin and Adam Cavarelli; the Postal Service' Jimmy Tamborello and Jenny Lewis; James Lamb of Skychurch; DJ/producer David Alvarado; producer David Aude; Jason Blum and Scott Giaquinta of Deepsky; Jes Brieden of Motorcycle; DJ Eve Falcon; producer Charles Feelgood; DJ Mea Fisher; Jan Johnston; DJ Christopher Lawrence; Tommy Lee; DJ "Colette" Marino; and DJ producer Richard "Humpty" Vission.
Brian "BT" Transeau In on the creation of trance music, BT is involved with artists in many genres, having worked with *NSYNC, Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Madonna and Seal. As composer for motion picture scores ("Fast and the Furious," "Monster") and as recording artist and performer, he is often cited as representing music of the highest quality. "BT mounts mesmerizing journeys with his compositions," Peter Gabriel has stated. "He is not only a virtuoso programmer, but an extremely gifted musician," Gabriel added. BT has as his goal the marriage of "melody, harmony and memorable songwriting with the most bleeding-edge technology possible. These are the things that excite me," he added. http://www.btmusic.com
Jason Bentley Host of the nightly "Metropolis" program on KCRW-FM in Los Angeles, Jason Bentley is always on the frontier of pulse music. Coupled with his work as a music supervisor for the "Matrix" films, he has been instrumental in promoting the success of such inventive artists as The Chemical Brothers, Groove Armada, Jamiroquai, Jazzanova, Massive Attack, Portishead, and Roni Size. Even while on the NPR station, KCRW, he also hosted "After Hours with Jason Bentley" on commercial powerhouse KROQ-FM. Additionally, he held an A&R (artist and repertoire) position at for Maverick Records (often referred to as Madonna's label). As if this wasn't enough, he regularly appears as a club DJ. http://www.midiman.net/artists/en_us/JasonBentley.html
The Crystal Method Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland are the Crystal Method, an electronic band that filters its rock through hip-hop, soul and pop. Firmly entrenched in Los Angeles by way of Las Vegas, the CM duo has collaborated with Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver lead singer Scott Weiland as well as former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. You'll find DJ Swamp on one of their songs, but that's reportedly a pseudonym for Beck. Less well known publicly, but held in high regard in the music industry is another collaborator, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann). With impressive sales figures and extensive worldwide appearances, they have had their songs on soundtracks to such films as "Spawn," "South Park," and "Lost In Space." http://www.thecrystalmethod.com
Paul Oakenfold He began in hip-hop, then worked as an A&R man and had phenomenal success, signing the then-unknown Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince as well as Salt NíPepa. Summering in Ibiza, he virtually began the world renown of that location in terms of dance club action. Some say he's the most respected and most popular DJ in the history of the world. Others just say he's great. http://www.pauloakenfold.com
Carmen Rizzo A two-time GRAMMY nominated producer, remixer and writer, Rizzo has created an exciting blend of electronic and Middle Eastern music in working with an amazingly diverse group of artists, including Paul Oakenfold, BT, Delirium, Sinead O'Conner, Grant Lee Phillips, Seal, Alanis Morrisette, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cirque du Soleil. As a producer and mixer, he has collaborated with producers Marius De Vries, Trevor Horn, David Foster and Don Was. He is currently recording his own album. http://www.carmenrizzo.com
Deepsky Jason Blum and Scott Giaquinta are the producer/performer team known as Deepsky. Giaquinta is sometimes credited as J. Scott G., and while this writer has had many articles published as J Scott G, this is pure coincidence. Deepsky is alternately known for powerful live shows and many high-profile remixes for Seal, Paul Oakenfold, America, and the Crystal Method. They also remixed the David Bowie single, "I Took a Trip On a Gemini Spaceship" from his "Heathen" album, as well as Madonna's "Die Another Day" single from the James Bond movie of the same name. http://www.deepsky.net