Shambhala's Magic Moments
As we still do to this day, most of the Night Vision crew have been attending Shambhala Music Festival together for a long, long time; long before Night Vision was but a glimmer in our eyes. Over the years we’ve drawn a ton of inspiration from the magical ranch that the festival resides on. It has helped to sculpt who we are, not only as musicians, but also as individuals, and it’s served as a glue to our family bond. We always take something from the experience, and as so many of the attendees would agree, it stems from a wide range of factors. The people, the stages, the music, the energy... It all comes together to create a one-of-a-kind experience--the Shambhala experience.
To us, Shambhala is almost like New Year’s Eve is for most people in that it serves as a new beginning. It’s the culmination and expression of so much energy that you can’t help but have that same sense of reflection on your past year’s choices, triumphs, and tribulations. In a way, Shambhala shuts the door on the past year, and opens up the door for the next. Let me tell ya, this past year has been a whirlwind of creation and inspiration for us down at Night Vision HQ. Having built our studio just after Shambhala 2015, this year’s event was literally THE new year. The perfect chance for us to reflect on what we, as musicians, as a collective, and as a record label, have created in the past year. It’s been all about the music. So naturally, the music was one of our main takeaways from the festival this year. For this year’s wrap up we’d like to share with you some of the key songs that were played in our favourite sets. The songs that became those unforgettable dance floor moments that left us smiling from ear to ear, or just plain dumb struck at the skill and intuition of the DJ. We take these moments and these memories from Shambhala to serve as our inspiration to fuel the fire for our year ahead. In the end, one of the biggest things we strive for as DJs and producers is to make people feel the way we have felt during songs like these.
So here they are, our magic musical moments of Shambhala 2016.
Justin Martin - Wet Cat (Sooo Wet) (feat. Kill Frenzy & Ardalan)
(Played by Justin Martin, Friday night, Pagoda)
We’ve always been huge fans of Justin Martin. Something just clicks there, he gets it. I guess we all just love having fun, potentially too much. Justin is fam to us, and so are the collaborators on this track, fellow dirtybirders Kill Frenzy and Ardalan. The last time we brought Justin, he was still in the recording, mixing and mastering phase of his latest album, Hello Clouds. During that last visit, he had told us that he had the perfect wet song in the making, and wanted to pay homage to the crew and the sign with it. It’s a real banger to say the least, containing some peculiar sounds that seemingly could only come from a wet cat. Justin dropped this one near the end of his set at the Pagoda on Friday night. Already donning the full Sooo Wet outfit we gifted him earlier, he came out and grabbed the sign and absolutely rocked out with it onstage for a minute. It was a moment that will go down in the Wet history books forever.
Boys Noize - Overthrow
(Played by Boys Noize, Friday night, Pagoda)
Want to throw a crowd into an absolute frenzy immediately upon opening your set? Try starting off with Overthrow. For older fans of Boys Noize, hearing that vocal come in was a sweet taste of the chaos that was about to break loose. An eerie synth rolled across the eager audience... ‘I can break it down like this’. Tension built... ‘I can break it down like this’. A pulsing siren... ‘I can break it down like this’. In comes the kick drum... ‘I can break it down like this’. Even more tension… drums building… and then... FUCKING LASER BEAMS! The collective energy of the Friday night Pagoda crowd instantly erupted. It was just such an intense track, setting the tone for what became one of the hypest sets of the weekend.
The whole set was littered with absolute bangers that had us jumping around like monkeys. ‘Cerebral’, another Boys Noize original had us all losing it as well. I mean, we were in a trance. It was as if the finger guns that Boys Noize was blasting were actually wands casting spells on us. This was exemplified by his finale, ‘Born Slippy’ by Underworld. It’s a real classic in the electronic world, instantly recognizable from the second it starts playing. The airy synth lines gave the crowd a moment to gather themselves after the high powered set that was coming to a close. It was just a moment though, as the track actually drops into some fairly raging techno itself. Watching all of our family absolutely lose it to Boys Noize alongside our extended farmily was a clear highlight of the weekend, for sure.
Purple Disco Machine - My House
(Played by Nightmares On Wax, Sunday evening, Living Room)
The final sunset of Shambhala is a euphoric time. A chance to connect, recharge, and soak in all of the smiles that you can one last time before the darkness settles in and things get… well... weird? Our whole crew was out and in absolute fine (Hawaiian themed) form for Nightmares On Wax’s 4 hour early evening slot. Let me just say a quick thank you to Hoola and the Living Room crew for booking extended daytime sets like this from a different legend each year. This year’s offering was an absolute treat. Rarely in life will you encounter a dance floor with absolutely perfect vibes. This dance floor was something special, I tell ya. Everyone looked so fresh, bobbing along in a calm, content, collective groove. While the whole set was silky smooth, the pinnacle, for me, was definitely when he played ‘My House’ by Purple Disco Machine. I’ve heard this track played before, and I’ve played it myself, but never have I heard it in such a perfect setting as this. Click the play button below, (or on our latest Podcast) and put yourself on the beach at sunset. Let that guitar riff wash over you and try to feel the that way we did, that fine Sunday evening. It was perfect.
Sister Sledge - Lost In Music (Dimitri From Paris Remix)
(Played by Purple Disco Machine, Sunday Night, Fractal Forest)
Why it’s taken so long to get disco grooves in the Forest past sundown is beyond me. I sure am glad it happened this year, though. When that place is lit right up it is quite reminiscent of a 70s disco club. But, like, in a forest, ya know? Now we’re huge fans of Purple Disco Machine over here at Night Vision HQ. His signature blend of disco edits and originals are always a sure fire way to get people’s hips shaking. This was the perfect set to follow up our Nightmares On Wax vibe too. It built up our energy level, and got us ready for the next chaotic 3 hours we had in store (more on that later). Dancing to disco in the forest with your buds is a whole heck of a lot of fun. Everyone was stomping around, hands up, smiles wide. Is there anything better than watching your pals rock a dance floor, smiling ear to ear? Not for me there’s not. The most memorable song he played was probably his set closer. He ended with a beautiful Dimitri From Paris remix of a 1979 Sister Sledge hit that features some of the most signature Nile Rodgers guitar licks out there. It couldn’t have described our prevailing feelings more appropriately. The song? ‘Lost In Music.’
Daniel Trim - Asimo
(Played by Felix Da Housecat, Sunday night, Fractal Forest)
One of our DJ’s, Gräfenberg, has one hell of a fist pump. It’s one of those things that really gets you going just from watching him. He really perfected his technique at Boys Noize on Friday night and let me tell ya, it made a triumphant return on Sunday night as well. Felix da Housecat followed up Purple Disco Machine in the Fractal Forest, and immediately took over the crowd and whipped us into a fever pitch. He was expertly weaving techno cuts into his electro-house originals in what was a such a finely tuned set that the energy levels absolutely pumped the whole time. Pumped like Paul’s fist, that is. About half way through his set, he played this track called ‘Asimo’. Now, legends have it that Gräfenberg found this track many years ago, when the producer behind it had a mere two hundred followers on his Soundcloud. Paul used to rock it often in his early days on the decks. And seeing Paul when he first realized Felix was mixing Asimo in next was a sight I won’t soon forget. He ran to the front, jumped up on one of the dancing stumps in front of the stage and pumped that fist right in front of Felix. He pumped like he’d never pumped before. It was glorious. It was hilarious. It was infectious. What followed was havoc. The whole crew was losing our minds.
Later in the set, now going light years per minute through the soundscapes the Forest created that night, Felix dropped the track that might be the biggest reason why he’s now a household name. ‘Silver Screen (Shower Scene)’. He teased it in while playing another track, and then pulled it back out to a roar of approval from the crowd. The moment I heard that unmistakable grimy synth I sure went crazy and the whole crew followed suit. I was grabbing homies, left right and centre, bouncing around like an animal. It was pure, unadulterated, fucking awesomeness.
Green Velvet - Flash (Eats Everything Remix)
(Played by Gorgon City, Friday night, Pagoda, and then Green Velvet, Sunday night, Fractal Forest)
At some point on Friday Night, David Luca and I had lost the crew at Caspa & Rusko. For whatever reason we just weren’t feeling the intensity of The Village crowd at the time. We dipped back into The Pagoda mid way through Gorgon City. We were there for a few tracks when out of nowhere, it sounded like a freight ship was sounding its horn, about to destroy the whole place. It shook us to our very core. We looked at each other, and broke into some serious dancing. The drop on this Eats remix is actually bonkers. It’s a new take on a Green Velvet classic ‘Flash’. The vocal (even though we were singing it wrong at the time) essentially became our catchphrase for the weekend. We’d say ‘ENGINES READY - PREPARE TO BLAST’. All too fitting for our adventures.
Green Velvet was the next act to come on after Felix da Housecat on Sunday night, and he also started his set with this track. There’s a vocal of a man talking to start the track, and right when I heard them again I ran to find Dave in the crowd. We both knew what was about to happen to that dance floor, and I’m not too sure many other people were keen to it. Then it came… ‘CAMERAS READY - PREPARE TO FLASH’.
This song’s a monster. A serious exclamation point to start a set with.
Green Velvet, who’s been on my personal wishlist for quite some time, definitely didn’t let the energy in that packed dance floor subside for even a moment. It was thumping in there the whole time, and 1.5 hours went by in a flash. It sure made me hopeful that we will be graced with some more house and techno in the Forest next year. (Though, honestly I wish every stage has a little more house and techno next year… More on that later). The other song that he played that really worked us up was his own track, with collaborator Harvard Bass, called 'Lazer Beams’. It’s a bomb of a track, with synth squelches very reminiscent of laser sounds from the movies. It’s also just a strange and wonderful experience when played in the right setting (i.e. Fractal). Lazer beams lit up the entire forest and people around us started making gun fingers as if we were in the middle of a star wars battle. Check out this video that Trevor Oslo managed to snap right when the tune dropped. Pew pew pew!
Damian Lazarus - Sacred Dance of the Demon
(Played by Sabo, Monday morning, Living Room)
Every time Sabo is leading the festival sunrise ceremonies, you’ll find the Night Vision crew on that dance floor. Sabo is essentially the king of sunrises. He has an endless playlist of tribal rhythms that feel so right when welcoming the sun. This year we had a very special Monday morning. Due to the rain that fell the day before, there was a dense wall of fog that descended upon the beach. It created an ambiance that I’ve never quite seen on a Monday morning on the farm. It was truly gorgeous. Personally, I could not stop dancing. He has an uncanny ability to capture me with his distinct percussive soundscape. Sabo’s sets always rise in energy and vibe throughout. That’s why it’s so imperative to give him the time to create the journey. This year’s set has Sabo at the current record holding slot at The Livingroom with 5.5 hours, which was perfect. He starts at really low tempos, and moves the speed and energy up with the sun. A song that really stuck out from this set was an older Damian Lazarus tune that Sabo slowed down quite a bit. The spiritual nature of this one really seemed to speak to everyone in the crowd and the energy was something very special.
And that completed our list. These were the moments that had us either in full rager dance mode, or in full surrender to the moment, revering the performer. I’m sure everybody has their own musically inspired memories like that at Shambhala. Inspirational, emotional, even life-changing. It’s incredible what music can do to you, especially when you’re surrounded by your farmily. We can’t wait to see what a ride we’ll take on next year’s dance floors.
Speaking of, we’ve also put together a stage-by-stage wishlist for next year. We got together as a group and brainstormed on 2 dream bookings per stage that we think would mesh perfectly with the vibe of each. We would be thrilled to see any number of these acts on the roster for the big 20th anniversary show next year!
Night Vision's Shambhala Wishlist for 2017
DJ EZ: A true legend in the game. One of the most creative mixers on the planet and so much fun to watch. He’s at the top of the UK Garage game, and could easily be one of the headliners for the Amp stage!
Scratcha DVA: As we saw at Bass Coast this year, this guy is one bad ass DJ. He truly has his own sound, showcasing fantastic UK Grime rappers over some of the most interesting beats in bass music today. This guy pumps out high energy sets that would be a hype feel for the Amphitheatre.
High Contrast: Not much needs to be said here. He’s one of the only DNB top dawgs who still hasn’t played at The Village yet. His high impact sets would be right at home in a headliner slot at The Village.
DJ Marky: Another dynamic DJ from the UK. A legend in his own right. His sets would run amok on those trinity speakers.
The Living Room:
DJ Harvey: Yeah, we know, he was booked to play that 4 hour slot two years ago and couldn’t make it over the border for whatever visa complication. Let’s try a do-over. This guy is a disco legend with a rockstar vibe. There is hardly anyone with the prowess and crate depth that DJ Harvey possesses. At 49 years old this year, he might not be touring for much longer.
The Black Madonna: Pretty please?! She’s one of the most in-demand DJs in the world right now for good reason. Eclectic taste, dynamic mixing, happy vibes… She’d be another perfect fit for that 4 hour Sunday sunset slot!
Jimmy Edgar: Oh man, just thinking about Jimmy in the Forest gives me the tingles. The Ultramajic sound would really mesh with the aesthetic of the Forest. This one would really get us hyped!
Tiga: Canadian legend Tiga would be a great look for Shambhala. With his sets ranging from techno, to disco, to electro- there would be something for everyone in what would surely be a packed Forest dance floor.
Nicolas Jaar: His elegant music would pair really well with The Grove. A very talented musician in all respects. This would be a real top-tier booking, similar to Bonobo in 2015.
Maribou State: Oh man… It’s hard to imagine a more perfect booking for the serene stage that is The Grove. It would be pure bliss in that stage for this booking, because this one would really go down unbelievably well.
BICEP: This would essentially be a dream come true for us. More so than possibly any other artist. We were crushed when travel delays cancelled their Pagoda set in 2013, and they have only gotten better since. They have one of the most refined sounds in house music today. Please, Shambha Gods…
Jackmaster: One of our all time favourite sets ever at Shambhala was this man in the Pagoda 2012. The guy is just an unreal DJ, plain and simple. He’s gotten to where he’s at today (see the cover of Mixmag this month) from DJ talent alone. No original productions or remixes in his name yet, he’s strictly business. And every sets he simply nails it, delivering some of the funnest music to dance to imaginable.