Skrillex, Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo of The Bloody Beetroots DJ Set (who covers his face in every photo), and Ellie Goulding. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Day two of L.A.'s HARD Summer brought larger crowds than the night before for mainly one reason -- Skrillex. The hardcore EDM followers were also buzzing about Dillon Francis who drew in the masses for his 10pm set in the festival's OWSLA Tent. Other noteworthy performers were Squarepusher, Nero, The Bloody Beetroots, James Murphy's DJ set, 12th Planet, Datsik, Zedd, Alvin Risk, and Birdy Nam Nam who had Skrillex and Ellie Goulding in the audience during their set.
Backstage was a giant EDM family reunion or "a pretty serious EDM orgy" as Dillon Francis referred to it. At various points throughout the evening, just about every performer on site met up near the VIP tent for pre-performance hugs, to hijack each other's photo shoots, and to playfully poke fun at their musician colleagues.
We ran into 12th Planet ( John Dadzie) who says his world has been filled with airplanes and touring. "There's so many festivals in America and Europe and Canada now. It's ridiculous! I remember when I was a young wee little whipper snapper, there were like four or five and they were all destinations and now every city has their own festival. It's awesome." He told us of his plans to leave at 6am the following morning to do an event at Austin City Limits Live and that he's wrapping up a new EP called The End is Near Part 2. "I've got a full 12 piece orchestra to instrument it and we're doing it starting Monday at Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica."
(L to R): Topshelf Management's Danny Johnson (who manages 12th Planet), 12th Planet, & Daniel Clark (tour manager) goofing off in the VIP area (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Dadzie says all he listens to these days is trap. "I trap all day. I listen to J, Gucci Mane, Doe Boy, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa…" Following his set he planned to dart off to watch as many performers as he could. "I'm gonna stay and watch Skrillex. He's like my best friend -- and Datsik. He's my birthday brother."
Danny Johnson of Topshelf Management (manages 12th Planet, Foreign Beggars, Uzi, Kastle, and Flinch), has been busy with his record label, Smog. "Our artists are great. They all bring something unique to the table. We have so many EPs coming out right now. It's a great time for us."
Skrillex closing out the night at HARD Summer. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Birdy Nam Nam's DJ Need and Little Mike were anxious to get on stage for their 7:45pm set. Before they went on, the French crew filled us in on the latest in their world. "The current priority is to fuck the show up tonight. It's really important for us because we are happy to be here in the US and we want to go back soon so there is no better way to come back," said Litlle Mike. The guys have played in LA once before but joked that it was to a crowd of about seven people six years ago. Their tour manager Vanessa Banes told Billboard.biz that they are blowing up in France and the priority is to get them heard in the US and to continue to spread them around Europe. "They played Osheaga in Montreal last night and then they are headed back to Paris tomorrow to do some more shows later in the summer. Their album was released in Europe last September and we are focusing on pushing the EP that was released in America on July 17th. It's called Jaded Future."
The Birdy Nam Nam crew posing with their manager and sound engineer: (L to R): DJ Pone, Crazy-B, Vanessa Banes (tour manager with Savior Faire), Sebastian Roblin (sound engineer), DJ Need, Lil' Mike. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Alvin Risk took a break from the Freaks of Nature tour that he's on with Kaskade to perform a set at HARD Summer. Risk is in the process of finishing up an EP that he's doing for Skrillex's label OWSLA. "I'm also working on a bunch of remixes for different artists -- one for Skrill, something for Halo the game, something for fun., and something for a band called Monsta. I think the Skrillex song is coming out August 28th. It's 'Bun Dem,' the song he did with Damian Marley." Risk's booker, Lee Anderson ( AM Only), told us that he's excited for his client to be performing at his first HARD. "Alvin did Holy Ship!, which is HARD associated but this is his first HARD. It's great to be here. We really consider this the leading festival in tastemaker cutting edge music."
Dave Taylor (Manager, Blood Company), Alvin Risk, Tim Smith (Manager, Blood Company) Lee Anderson (Alvin Risk's "Super" agent, AM Only). (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Samantha Mobarek, Senior Director of Marketing & PR with Ultra Records was walking around with Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo of The Bloody Beetroots DJ Set. She took a moment to fill us in on the latest in the Ultra world: "We've got a Deadmau5 album coming out in September, which is definitely going to be a big one. "Professional Griefers," which is his single with Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance is already playing at top rock stations -- KROQ in LA and Live 105 in San Francisco were the first to pick it up. Bloody Beetroots have an album coming sometime next year. I can't disclose any of the featured artists yet but I feel like this album really showcases him as a true musician and that he is able to cross into so many different genres. The featured artists on this will blow your mind."
Samantha Mobarek, Senior Director of Marketing & PR with Ultra Records & Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo of The Bloody Beetroots DJ Set. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Zedd, who recently toured with Lady Gaga in Asia, told Billboard.biz that following his set at HARD he would be heading into the studio to finish his album in the next couple of days. "I have a show in Vegas tomorrow and then I am going to fly right back to LA to record in the studio at Interscope Records. I'm going to try to finish it if I can literally in the next few days."
Zedd & Kevin Leos (Blood Company) joking around backstage. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Dillon Francis was definitely the best-dressed person at all of HARD Summer. As he was prettying up before his set, he walked us through his ensemble. "I wear a Topman suit because you can buy it off the rack and it fits perfectly. I didn't have to tailor this. This is a wine color." Francis was also sporting a Dior skull necklace, a Dior shirt, and a skinny Dior tie. "I have Rachel something shoes -- I forgot her name. I'm trying to separate myself from all the ravers and look different. I don't want to be a guy in a hat that is just DJing dubstep. I want to be a person who is a tastemaker and tastemakers have to be dressed tastefully." He admitted that his outfit is "hard as hell" to perform in but he doesn't care. "If I rip it I'll buy another one."
Steve Gordon, owner Circle Talent Agency (who was pretty proud of his "Devil Television" t-shirt) and Datsik. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Datsik was hanging out with Steve Gordon, owner of Circle Talent Agency who told us that things are booming in the Circle world. "The business as a whole is expanding dramatically to become more competitive. I started out as one of the first two big dubstep agents and I signed everybody from Flux Pavilion, Doctor P and Datsik and I grew the whole business from there after hooking up with my partner Kevin Gimble who is the drum and bass guy. I was in the right place at the right time and I followed dubstep from day one."
Sir Bob Cornelius, Dillon Francis, 12th Planet, and Zedd. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
Gordon said that right now the focus is mainly Datsik. "We're kicking off his 50 city tour [FIREPOWER Records Tour]. It starts at the end of August in Denver. It's 50 cities, one shot and no break." Datsik ( Troy Beetles) said the tour is going to be madness. "There is one, maybe two days off a week." In addition to prepping to trek across the country, Datsik is in the process of releasing a remix album on Steve Aoki's Dim Mak label. "I'm also putting together my new EP. It's my take on all kinds of different genres and it should drop right before the tour, or at least we'll have a few tracks ready for the tour."
HARD performers hanging backstage (L to R): Boys Noize, The Juggernaut, 12th Planet, Skrillex, Zedd, HARD Founder Gary Richards (DJ Destructo), Sir Bob Cornelius of The Bloody Beetroots (in front) friends backstage at HARD. (Photo: Catie Laffoon)
As the sun went down, Skrillex arrived with girlfriend Ellie Goulding. The duo were swarmed by performers who took turns saying their hellos. Goulding told Billboard.biz that she couldn't wait to see Birdy Nam Nam perform and invited us to join her and "Sonny" as they made their way to the OWSLA tent for the show. While the offer was tempting, we had to make the rounds. We made sure to plant ourselves near the stage hours later, however, as Skrillex brought HARD Summer to an energetic finale. As Skrillex left the stage, a drunk raver next to us yelled out exactly what we were thinking: "That man knows how to entertain a crowd!"