PLUR Profile: April Cooper & Ethan Sparkles
Every now and again we hear about incredible patrons who stick out in the ‘EDM scene’ (most often Lady Casa comes to mind). Today I wanted to honor two people who represent the roots of the type of electronic music I started listening to and the ‘scene’ I came from before the days of daisies and ‘rave bras’.
Meet April & Ethan; two ravers who have been around for years and despite the changing fashion around them have largely stayed true to themselves and the music they love. Often found at events decked in neon, FX contacts, and what I would love to dub “high-fashion cyber” these two embody a lesser-known staple of the underground.
Nowadays, when we think of ‘rave scene’ we think tank-topped bros and daisy-bra ladies, but these two rave on as a gentle reminder of the more dark and creative subculture where older rave-kids like myself got their first taste of both music and fashion. In a time when we are so quick to piss and moan about how much is “wrong with the scene” or what is “ruining the scene”, it is refreshing to see two bright-eyed individuals who are continuing to enjoy and explore all that this scene has been and will become.
Here’s to you April & Ethan 🙂
If you think you know a person, small business, performer/producer who you think should be profiled, give me ashout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I felt it was about time to post this. I wrote a post a while back on a PLUR profile on Dirty Cat Designs.
After wearing these masks out to shows, I was getting a lot of heat for paying for them because they were considered ‘kandi’ and should have been traded. I wanted to address why I am ok with paying Dirty for such unique and high quality creations.
For more on Dirty, visit http://www.dirtycatdesigns.com
This past weekend I spent both Friday and Saturday night experiencing back-to-back aural paradise in the throbbing and emotional soundscapes of Delta Heavy and Sub Focus. While I profess I am a bit new to drum and bass, I had always found peace of mind and soul in artists like Seven Lions and Pendulum and decided to immerse myself in a double dose of uplifting sound.
First, I went to Webster Hall in the company of some of my favorite New York Twitter family: EDMLounge, Naturday, and Jakee_and_bake*. After spending some time face-to-face we headed in and were met with wave after wave of emotion as the two English men filled the place with the best they had (I say two because only Ben Hall was present). As someone who used to attend shows alone most of the time, I truly feel that it is an immensely better experience to share these nights with people you love and trust. Some shows I had gone to as of late, I went with people I thought I trusted, and the results bordered on unpleasant, to sub-par, all the way to flat-out horrific. However singing along to Endorphins at the top of my lungs amid true friends and family, there was only bliss.
At the end of the night, shuffling in the bitter cold of New York I couldn’t wait to indulge in another night of fresh comforting feelings.
The next day, after a brisk trip down to Philadelphia, I prepared to enter one of my favorite venues to relive the experience all over again in the company of my boyfriend and two of his friends who had never been to an electronic concert. After strapping on some fluffies and positioning my new fangmask securely over my face we made our way in to Soundgarden Hall, to date my absolute favorite venue for EDM in Philadelphia.
Upon entering the venue, I knew immediately I didn’t want any distraction from my surroundings, and promptly dropped my phone into my checked coat and very nearly skipped to the front to catch as much of the opener as I could. Almost immediately Ronnie, or ‘schweet_tits*‘ as he’s known from Twitter, walked over and gave me a hug. Truth be told, we’d been trying to meet for months and had somehow managed to cross paths just on this special night.
As the night wore on and Delta Heavy took to the stage, and I quickly made my way to the front to watch him work. Our friends, wholly impressed by this new experience sought out a glover and giddily received their first light show and traded their first kandi. I began to meet and happily greet excited patrons to my left and right who were on the same level as we were. Everyone we met was jovial, polite….a far cry from what I suppose I’ve come to expect from most New York attendees.
As I normally do, I had created kandi for both Sub Focus and Delta Heavy, and as a cheery photographer for Steez Promo walked by I was shocked when she graciously offered to hand both kandis to their respective recipients for me. Ben Hall, after receiving his, hopped down out of VIP and took selfies with the front row. As he came to snap off a quick picture with my boyfriend and I, I leaned in and told him that I’d been at Webster the night before as well. He looked a bit shocked, and managed “What? Really that’s awesome!” before the clamoring front row became too much and he returned to the comfort of the artist-only area.
As Sub Focus threw on Tidal Wave, myself and those around me seemed to slip into a place of pure euphoria as we all began to belt out the lyrics as one unified family.
Just before Sub Focus began to transition into his last song, I saw Ben motion towards the photographer and take the second kandi I had made for Sub Focus walk right up to him and put it on his wrist. Those around me knew I had made it and began screaming and pointing at me and I may have gotten a thankful nod before all of us began dancing our hearts out in unison.
The rest of the night was in a word, magical. Being in the company of such caring and compassionate people, performers who genuinely loved and cared for those who had come out to see them, and friends that genuinely cared about me and were kind enough to ensure everyone was having fun (and well-hydrated) two nights in a row really reminded me of why I began to come to shows in the first place.
It may sound cheesy, but it is these nights where you can tangibly feel the love and support of others, that you begin to identify who is really there for you and deserves your respect and support. Many have seen my Twitter account and overall presence transform from an immature nonsense anon account to a home base for meeting and engaging with others. As I’ve changing, developed, and grown as a person (and blogger, and sometimes-photographer) I’ve begun to see the true colors behind some who claim to be what they are not. Whether is was the pure positive energy of the vibes I felt at both venues and in the company of gracious and kind attendees…this past weekend changed my perspective for the better.
*I realize it may seem a bit odd that I refer to most people I know from their twitter handle(s), but when you’ve essentially made your introductions from behind a twitter handle rather than a name, you tend to remember the first name you were introduced to…in my case these were Twitter handles
Hey all! So I actually had several people ask me how I do my rave makeup in the past, but had never properly addressed it. Compared to most “rave makeup” tutorials I’ve seen on YouTube, the looks I’ve created never seem to be quite the same as these tutorials, and often appear (to me at least) more complex than the usual ‘slap on some gems with lash glue’ approach I see a lot of girls at festivals using.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think these simplistic looks are cute and perfectly fun looks to wear out. I just do my face differently; very differently.
So because people have asked how I create the bizarre eye looks that I do, I have decided to create a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching the steps I take when creating specific eye looks for both my kandi wolf-mask, white skull-mask, and classic wamcraft tribal print mask!
I will try to get the first tutorial up soon, but until then book mark this link:
In the days after the cancellation of Electric Zoo 2013 discussions centralized around the tragedies of the two deceased patrons where media outlets flocked like moths to the funeral pyre of EDM’s public reputation, shedding a dark light on the industry and vastly overlooking some positive outcomes of festivals like Electric Zoo.
I’m here to report on one such positive outcome largely overlooked by the mainstream media.
Amid a sea of more than 110,000 people, two individuals shared a unique moment they will remember for the rest of their lives. Known on Twitter as ‘DJ Boyfriend’ and ‘DJ Girlfriend’, Chris and Ashley have been lovers of music ever since they met at the State College of New York’s Albany campus. Ever since their first date at Webster Hall, the pair felt a strong connection to dance music, and felt a strong connection to their fellow patrons who they affectionately refer to as their ‘family’.
I’ve been pretty vocal lately: about the impact Electric Zoo’s cancellation and the effect that mass ‘molly-scare’ is having on our scene and on our community. But I thought today it might be pertinent to touch on something I rarely bring up in editorials: perception.
I’ve been incredibly blessed to have met several of my favorite DJ’s and producers face-to-face, often making incredible connections and in some rare cases even staying close friends. Without naming any names, some have even come up to me and instantly recognized me at show (yes, ME, a tiny little twittersona in a mask).
While musicality is most of what draws me to a performer, and stage presence often affects how I enjoy the bulk of a performance, interacting directly with a musician of any kind often has a strong lasting effect on how I enjoy their music.
For example, I was very much still in the discovery period when I first met ‘crunkstep’ DJ Crizzly on my birthday. Having only taken a quick glance at his Soundcloud and curious to hear what it would translate to live, meeting him and his hype man Cool simply added a new dimension to their understanding of their music. Chris himself, though boasting a big sound, is refreshingly down-to-earth and comes somewhat quiet; whereas Cool is brilliantly intellectual, fills a room with energy, and while larger-than-life on stage is incredibly humble off-stage.
Similarly, meeting some of the New York local DJ’s has proved an incredible experience: having met Tyler Sherritt, Hyperbits, and 1/2 of Live City has added a more personal connection to their sound whenever one of their tracks pops up in their playlist: I understand a bit better how their individuality comes across in their production and arrangement choices.
Even HUGE inspirational DJ/producers whose tracks have been my support system and my anthems in times of need have managed to add dimension to the tracks I so dearly love. After winning a ticket to see Dash Berlin after EDC NY I somehow managed to see him face-to-face and shake his hand. Though very few words were spoken, and he now wears my ‘Silence in Your Heart’ kandi…I feel that whenever that track comes on, I am even more in love with it and him than ever before.
In rare cases where I met performers whose shows I attended as a discovery experience, I was met with incredible acceptance and kindness: Dirtyphonics stayed behind to sign a poster from their Irreverence tour and took a moment to meet me and thank me for coming. Le Castlevania was even kind enough to offer me water: though his music is aggressive and wholly immersive, the man himself is incredibly shy, yet down to earth.
If you ever have the chance to attend a meet and greet, or even score the rare opportunity to meet the maker of your personal anthem, DO IT. It can add such a rich dimension to your appreciation of their work.
What DJ/Producers have you been blessed to meet? Tell me in the comments 🙂
Within the first few seconds of receiving news that Sunday of Electric Zoo was cancelled, I was devastated. Distraught initially because I would once again be missing Armin and would not be seeing Vicetone. And like many, I took my fury to Twitter, lashing out angrily to every corner of the internet, blaming irresponsible people for single-handedly ruining my weekend.
That was incredibly selfish, and I’m sorry.
There were multiple factors in the cancellation of Electric Zoo, the most prominent and most reported being the two deaths due to drug overdoses. However these were not the only problems present at the festival itself. As I go on to list these issues I want to make it VERY VERY CLEAR that I am of the opinion that it was in NO WAY Made Event of the Electric Zoo 2013 officials’ fault for these problems:
- Security was not sufficient.
- Medical staff, while available did not check surrounding areas for fallen ravers.
- Certain volunteers / staff not only endorsed frequent ‘molly’ use, there was an incidence of a ‘we want molly’ tip sign at one water station.
- Certain ‘rented’ security staff was not only discourteous, they made unwanted flirtatious advances on female ravers such as myself.
- Apparel promoting drugs use was permitted at the event, only contributing to the ‘hype’ of drug use.
- Excessive shoving and general misconduct from attendees exacerbated already dehydrated ravers, only adding tension to already negative situations of crowding and overheating.
- Songs about ‘Molly’ including Tyga’s ‘Molly’ and Cedric Gervais’ hit song were dropped, only adding to unnecessary hype of the drug
Again, none of these are Made Event of Electric Zoo’s fault. It is important to note that in 2012 Electric Zoo had no deaths. As pop stars and rappers have begun to bolster the hype of drug use and wild partying, our festivals are getting inundated with unsafe expectations that tons of drugs and drinking are required to make the EDM scene enjoyable…encouraging newcomers to create their own ‘Project X‘ at shows like EDC and EZOO instead of simply coming to enjoy the music.
Spoiler Alert; You Don’t Need Drugs To Enjoy EDM
DJ’s such as Bassnectar and Brillz have released official statements about the situation, pleading with their fanbase to be safe and take accountability for their actions. Videos such as the the vimeo clip featuring major acts like Kaskade, Tommie Sunshine, Steve Aoki, and A-Trak have been circulated begging those who do partake in substances to be extremely careful of their actions.
Actions such as taking “6 hits of molly”, leaving a friend by themselves if you know that they are intoxicated or impaired, and buying illegal substances from someone you’ve never met without testing it are just a few examples of unnecessary risks that were taken and contributed to the deaths of these two young individuals. Preventable actions.
While some have made the argument that shutting down the zoo because the poor decisions of 6 people should not affect thousands who have shelled out hundreds of dollars to enjoy their favorite musicians, its important to understand that the decision was ultimately Mayor Bloomberg‘s. While it angered many, like myself it was a wake-up call: if we do not tackle this problem head-on more and more EDM events will be cancelled, banned, and characterized as ‘death fests’, ‘drug sprees’, and ravers like you and me will be labelled ‘drug addicts’. While you can’t convince major news networks to undo the damage they are doing by stigmatizing us with each and every false depiction of all ravers being drug abusers who yell ‘popped a molly I’m sweating’ every 2.5 seconds, what you can do it this:
- Don’t buy anything endorsing ‘molly’, ‘mdma’, or drugs of any kind
- Demand that your favorite DJ’s stop the endorsement of drug usage of any kind
- Demand tracks promoting ‘molly’ and other hard drugs be removed from their set lists; Heck, even walk out as soon as they come on
- Demand harsher security that ACTUALLY checks for drugs THOROUGHLY
If purging molly from our shows means we can continue to have our major festivals and enjoy our favorite acts free of stigma and death, I say let’s do it. Who’s with me?
Something that has been irritating me for a considerable amount of time is the concept that all EDM events are ‘raves’, that all that listen to EDM as ‘ravers’, and that ‘PLUR’ can be mindlessly spewed and even defecated on with alterations like ‘PLURNT’ and ‘PLUR Bitch!’
I’m sorry, but Kandi kids aren’t necessarily the club crowd and the club crowd isn’t necessarily the ‘kandi-kid’ crowd that is celebrated on instagram. EDMsnob wrote a fantastic piece explaining the rich history of those wearing kandi, so I don’t feel the need to go into depth (especially since I’m a much newer face in that arena). But I will say is this:
Of the many people I’ve come across that tweet things tagged with ‘#PLUR’ and initiate projects that claim to be ‘PLUR’ and hock product with the false pretense that they are truly ‘ravers’, I have found that a startling few are who they claim to be. Very seldom do you meet someone whose Twitter handle or association precedes them, and find a genuine representation of what ‘ravers’ truly are.
After spending a night unwinding with some of the very first people to ever recognize me as ‘Ragehound’, I took a minute to look back on all the hard work I’ve put into taking the time to connect with anyone who has every reached out to me. Some have been incredible: they have accepted me with open arms, made me feel like a family member, and given me a sense of acceptance that no one ever could previously in my life. Some have taken time out of their day to come and meet with me, to teach me how to use a perler board, how to make a cuff, even gotten me a water and helped me to the front row my first time seeing a certain DJ. Some have held my hand and sung along to my favorite lyrics and cried with me when ‘that moment’ of a festival when it ends and the ‘comedown’ effect sets in full force. Some have stayed with me when I’ve stupidly tested my limits with drugs and alcohol and gotten too out of control and made sure I got home safe.
These kandi-clad people have been more of a family to me than my own at times, and that is why I get livid when their lifestyle is equated to a joke.
I view those who hock PLUR as a marketing tool as a joke. I also look at those who have begged and pleaded me to tweet their crap, promote their shitty venues, and support their jaded causes which wind up just being another marketing tool as jokers as well. Nonetheless I tweeted, I facebooked, I supported and championed them because that’s the person I am. I suppose what irked me in some cases, was when it came time when I needed that same favor, some magically found it ‘not feasible’ or suddenly ‘just didn’t have the time’.
What I largely discovered, was that these were the people who didn’t arrive at festivals with kandi they’d spent hours and hours making especially for people they knew and loved. These were not the people who sometimes went as far as to coordinate with their friends to match costumes, made sure everyone was hydrated, or took the time to explain subtleties of the music to newcomers who had seen a trailer for a festival on Youtube and yearned to experience an EDM festival for themselves. Instead, these were the people who wrote condescending articles in response to kandi kids, who scoffed and laughed at articles like my own explaining the connection between PLUR and charity, and who would leave comments like this on pictures of girls dressed for raves:
And these people are largely the ‘club’ crowd: the crowd that goes to ‘fine establishments’ to enjoy bottle service, listen to a carefully curated selection of ‘techno’ that they feel is far superior to the ‘drop heavy’ sets one hears at festivals (which I can respect), and views the ‘raver’ crowd as a mass of drug-addicted youngsters too jaded to understand what real music is. These are the people who will belittle you for the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, and wave their smug sense of entitlement about like a magic wand. They will tell you the ‘kandi kids’ are awful, tell you how they yearn for when no one knew about Tiesto or Hardwell, and when EDC wasn’t a neon parade of girls in underwear. They probably won’t let you get to the front of the stage, or offer you water. They may instead sneer at you with your parched mouth, thinking you ‘popped a molly and you are sweating’, and as a result think of you as some colorful insect pestering them.
So when individuals such as this tweet about ‘PLUR’ and wave their smug sense of self-importance at others while trying to call themselves ‘ravers’, I get frustrated. These were the individuals pouring beers from the VIP balcony onto shuffling ravers below at Pacha during Tyler Sherritt’s set (oh don’t worry, I saw you bunch of fools and I’ll return the favor). These were the assholes who elbowed a girl in the face next to me at Zedd when she tried to edge in front of a taller person to see.
These people aren’t ‘ravers’. They don’t preach ‘PLUR’, and probably can’t tell you where it originated. Don’t call them ravers; it’s an insult to those of us who are.
Firstly, sincerest apologies for the abrupt lack of posts (really). I got a new job and have been busy!!
Moving right along, I wanted to address a few experiences I have had recently that have given me reason to question ‘influential’ voices in the EDM scene and the validity of the acceptance they claim to represent. In several exchanges, I have been met with scrutiny, harsh judgement, and sometimes even spiteful comments about whether “I even have a musical ear” or am “just in the scene for drugs”.