There’s an unspoken irony in America’s EDM explosion: many of the most popular DJs are more popular for their work as producers than their DJing. Launching this April, the 10-city APEX tour from Embrace Presents and the Liaison Artists agency aims to reconnect to the roots of dance music by celebrating the art of DJing. Featuring a rotating lineup of underground house and techno stars like Maceo Plex, Dixon, Maya Jane Coles, James Holden, Tale of Us and Justin Martin, APEX promises fluid, unstructured set times offering DJs considerable freedom and fans an opportunity to experience something unique.
“The inspiration for this tour was to build a property that would allow us to showcase cutting-edge artists on a larger medium,” Embrace’s Adam Gill tells Billboard. “There are a lot of exciting artists out there on this tour and we feel like they are ready for a bigger audience.”
“The idea was to showcase another side of electronic music, a side that perhaps has been in the background previously and is really now coming center stage,” says Liaison CEO Andrew Kelsey.
While many of the DJs on the APEX tour are producers as well, fans shouldn’t necessarily expect to hear a given artist’s tracks. This philosophy of DJing stands in contrast to the hit parade performances of big room EDM shows and that, according to Kelsey, is the idea.
“We're really focusing solely on the music here with an emphasis on DJs and the art of really playing a room,” he explains. “The art of DJing kind of took a backseat in the recent past but is coming back fast. We consider many of those featured on this tour to be some of the best at their craft and it's our goal to really showcase them.”
The tour’s production, designed by Los Angeles-based visual media house Strangeloop, will be tailor-made for each show with a mixture of projection mapping and larger installations at some venues, bringing an element of high-tech stimulation that are a staple at EDM festivals.
“I think this tour is for adults who like great music and don't want to be in overpriced bottle service clubs,” says Gill. “EDM draws a younger crowd and I think as the EDM fans get older and explore dance music more, some of them will gravitate to APEX. There is big demand from music fans to see artists in venues that aren't traditional clubs. People want unique experiences and value for their money and we are going to deliver that.”
Tickets go on sale today at apextour.us. Check out the dates and lineups below.
April 12 - Chicago (Lacuna Loft)
Maceo Plex, Dixon
April 19 - Vancouver (Electric Owl)
Thugfucker, DJ Tennis
April 24 - Toronto (Hoxton)
Magda, James Holden
April 25 - Montreal (Telus/Stereo)
Maya Jane Coles, Magda, James Holden
April 26 - Denver (Gothic Theater)
Maya Jane Coles, Magda
May 2 - Brooklyn (Verboten TBA)
Justin Martin, Catz n Dogz, Kill Frenzy, Harvard Bass
May 8 - Seattle (Q)
Justin Martin, Danny Daze
May 9 - Los Angeles (Lot 613)
Tale of Us, Joy Orbison, Blond:ish, Danny Daze, special guest
May 10 - San Francisco (525 Harrison)
Tale of Us, Joy Orbison, Thugfucker, Blond:ish
May 16 - Miami (Treehouse)
Michael Mayer, Danny Daze