Music Is What Got Us Through 2020

Music Is The Answer Denial Events
Photo Credit: ADINAYEV

2020 came with many challenges but through it all, it was the music that offered us a beacon of hope and the vitality to keep moving forward.

Happy New Year, family! It is time to bid 2020 an official au revoir, adios, auf wiedersehen, goodbye! This year has been a struggle for all as we navigated life behind the mask, learned how to social distance, dealt with loss and grief of all types, and dug deep to find the courage to stand up for what is right. None of us have been exempt from the trials and tribulations of 2020 but for us, there was something that kept the hope of a better future alive. It was music.

The pulse of our culture was delivered in both conventional and unconventional fashion. Livestreams brought us all together in unity as we moved from the club floor and into our makeshift rave caves. Brilliant singles, EPs, and albums were released, crafted from raw passion and a whole lot of extra studio time. Crate digging sessions and countless hours on our favorite streaming platforms took us on a nostalgic escape as we opened up to things we may have missed in the past. And unique event concepts like drive-ins gave us all a taste of festivals we sorely missed.

Many of us are sitting here today, uplifted and alive because of the healing power of music. And so, the team over here at EDM Identity wanted to share some of the ways that music has guided us through one of the toughest years we will ever experience in our lifetime. We hope that great music found its way into your life this year and we wish you and yours a happy and healthy 2021.

Read on to find out what helped our team get through this year, and tell us about your experience in the comments. And don’t forget to stay locked in with EDM Identity as we continue to share the amazing news and music coming your way in 2021!

Grant Gilmore – The sound of melodic house and techno and other downtempo styles kept me steady.

At the dawn of 2020 there was an excitement within me of what was to come this year, yet clearly things didn’t go quite according to plan. Festival plans and plenty more were thrown out of the window within weeks of the pandemic taking hold, and quite frankly, it’s been a wild ride. Throughout all of the ups and downs this year, though, it’s been music and members of the community that have kept me going.

My mind immediately darts back to those early weeks of lockdown when looking for some of my favorite moments, the most memorable of which was my birthday celebration. Instead of a standard time out with friends, I threw together a livestream festival at the very last minute and was blessed to have so many artists who I love grace the lineup. Thank you again to BluThundrrDisco, Someone’s Dad, Diskull, Shellz, Delos, mal eny, Downlowd, Wenzday, Michael Bricker, and most importantly, Dave Dresden of Gabriel & Dresden for truly making turning 31 something special.

Speaking of Gabriel & Dresden, the sheer volume of streams that Dave spun is simply remarkable. While we celebrated the impact of Club Quarantine earlier this year, that show alone is one of the things that has kept my mind at ease. Whether Dave was uplifting me with music or simply venting into the mic, it has been such a blessing to have been able to be apart of it over the past nine months.

But beyond the livestreams, I spent countless hours listening to the new music that dropped over the course of the year. Artists like John Summit threw down heaters like “Deep End” while AFSHEEN lifted my spirits with Happy Tunes. Releases from other artists including Le Youth, Lane 8, deadmau5, Chris Lake, Julian Gray, DOSEM, and Marsh also left a lasting impression, but ATTLAS takes the cake for me in 2020. His two albums, Lavender God and Out Here With You, deepened my love for him, and as I sign off for the last time in 2020 I’ll leave you with the Out Here Together Mix to soak in.

Maria Clinton – Digging up past sets from the Desert Hearts crew helped me to stay positive as my home became my late-night rave spot.

There were quite a few things that I can talk about when it comes to the things that got me through 2020. The standouts include getting integrated into virtual life with Club Quarantine and Dave Dresden, getting my trance on with the Dreamstate livestream, letting my inner alien shine during the insanely fun Dirtybird Couchout Festival, and playing Monopoly with the hubby while watching Claude VonStroke’s Fresh or Fowl.

Of course, there was also my fantastic night out with friends at the Day Of The deadmau5 drive-in, and all of the brilliant album releases like Layton Giordani’s New Generation, Marsh’s Lailonie, and Claude VonStroke’s Freaks & Beaks. Like a loyal friend, I could always count on great music to have my back in the darkest of times.

But even with all of these mood-lifting affairs and musical treats, surprisingly, it was when I actually turned back the clock on Desert Hearts that I would undergo a soul-expanding experience. Through all of my digging, there were three Desert Hearts live sets in particular that had a major impact on my mental health this year. Marbs b2b Evan Casey at Desert Hearts Festival 2019, Marbs at the Haunted Hearts Halloween Party 2018, and Mikey Lion at the Haunted Hearts Halloween Party 2018.

These three sets became the catalyst for the many all-nighters that my husband and I would have every time one of us was feeling like giving up. We would simply pop these on, and then proceed to talk, dance, and laugh all night as the mind-melting melodic techno and energy soaked tech house filled us with the fuel to stay up and watch the sunrise in the morning sky. It became a ritual for us this year. A ritual that helped our marriage remain strong and intact as we bonded over our shared musical obsessions. For these experiences, I am forever grateful.

Ashley Dawn Littlefield – Great music and soul healing solitude led the way.

Remembering when the world shut down in March can be equally compared to attending my first concert. A new world that felt like a new existence to teach us how to cope differently from the life we have previously lived. The week of the first lockdown, I was not just sending one but two resignation letters to transition into my first full-time job, which was, by the way, delayed for the hands of fate to decide how the new future was going to appear.

During my time at home, I configured a new routine to start the day with gratitude in my journal as I listened to Tycho’s latest album, Simulcast. Through writing, I planned my day. Sometimes I would practice focusing on the array of light that streamed into the living room during the early morning, playing my guitar for my blind pug to enjoy, and breaking the negative intention that I was isolated, but rather in a healthy solitude.

This year, what guided me the most was rekindling my love for oil painting while listening to Anjunadeep 11 – Mixed By Jody Wisternoff & James Grant. The soothing sounds that accompanied the visuals in nature grounded me into the present moment. I will never forget the inspiration that the video gifted in such a dark time, “waiting for the light to come through.”

As far as concerts go, I attended Insomniac’s Park ‘N Rave Series: Desert Hearts on November 17, alongside Justin Martin. The Concert Series was a promising direction towards the progression search for new alternatives to enjoy live music safely. So here’s to celebrating everything! Except for 2020, you can leave the stage now.

Jared Skolnick – Like many of you, the livestreams were a lifeline, but learning how to manage these events is what really motivated me to keep going!

When lockdown began, I tuned in to every livestream I could find and often found my IRL crew hanging in the chat. These chats offered the chance to learn more about my rave fam, and this was such a rewarding time. I mean, who gets to talk to each other at the club? Yet I missed dancing with them and seeing them at the events, so, like many, we started hosting Zoom dance parties. But that doesn’t cut it when you dance in a small box, on a grid of small boxes, with your friends on the next screen because there are too many randos in the room. I knew there could be a better way.

I dove into the deep end of livestream and video conferencing tech to look for a solution. I tested my meddle by launching a weekly NY Anjunafamily livestream and managed all the backend production including bespoke visuals and live DJ transitions. This was challenging, but super entertaining, and ultimately got me introduced to so many fun and exciting performers.

Then, with four friends doing similar things, we combined efforts and built a virtual dance platform called Backroom Social Club. The project is barely in beta, but it works! It’s been so much fun hosting parties where I can see and hear people reacting live. Adding features, booking events, and sharing with our community – that’s what has gotten me through. Maybe I’ll see you in the Backroom in 2021?

Ali Mooney – Keeping it deep dark & dangerous kept me going in 2020.

Wow, I cannot believe 2020 is really coming to a close. This year has been a rollercoaster, to say the least. There were a lot of emotions, up and down. My heart goes out to every single person. I know for a lot of people this was one of the hardest years that they had to face. But through everything, I hope people were able to find some silver linings to the madness that was 2020.

For me, there was one thing that truly kept me afloat over the course of the year, and that was music. At the beginning of the pandemic, I watched the first Couchfest stream and immediately fell in love with so many new artists. My love for deep dubstep grew more than I ever thought imaginable. Everything about it had me so encaptured. 

There was one stream in particular, from one of my now-favorite labels Deep Dark and Dangerous. Their quarantine sessions brought me so much joy on whatever Saturday they happened to fall on. Getting to freak out in excitement and share those same feelings with others in the chat kept me going.

It is so hard to pick just one in particular that really stood out, each one was special in its own way. But one of my favorite sets overall was Chief Kaya and King Shotta from Quarantine Sessions 11 back in June. I was lucky enough to see Chief Kaya when he played in Santa Cruz last year and since then I have been a huge fan. Getting to enjoy a set from him, even if it was just virtually, was easily a highlight of my year.

I am forever thankful for music, the people it has brought into my life, and the happiness it brings to myself and so many others. I really hope we all get to enjoy our favorite artists in person again soon.

Natalia Pourazar – It was the combination of writing, electrifying live streams, outstanding tracks, roommates, and a whole lot of foodie creations that kept me afloat for the year!

An unexpected year of challenges dominated the end of a decade and 2020 is nothing like what we thought it would be. We were hit early on with a harsh pandemic and little did we know our lives were about to transform in one way or another. This year, I was faced with a combination of new challenges. The struggle in maintaining safe social circles, keeping a healthy mindset, and re-learning hobbies to help the time breeze by. Especially as a festival and live show enthusiast, thriving in settings where we can all connect as one for the love of music is usually where I find a true state of divine. 

Like most years, music played the primary role of comfort and support in more ways than one. Tracks from Kygo’s Golden Hour released mid-pandemic pushed me through tougher days. His remix on Whitney Houston’s “Higher Love” was evidently the highlight of my year, ranking as the most played song on Spotify’s year-in-review. Many artists lifted my energy with top-notch releases and outstanding beats, but labels like Insomniac, Anjunabeats, AfterTraxx, and more graced my roommates and me with exceptional live streams that turned our little home into what felt like a groovy rave haven. 

Without a question, that EDC Las Vegas Virtual Rave-A-Thon went above and beyond for their viewers as they invited us back under the electric sky. It was the moment that Oliver Heldens took the stage kicking off his magical set with an ultimate banger, “Gecko” that echoed vibrantly throughout the rest of my night. Not only did Heldens engrave his mark, but artists like Mark Lizaola took listeners into an alternate reality with his exclusive performance back in September. He served listeners with a translucent soundtrack that vibrated throughout my living room, while my roommates and I were driven into pure bliss.

While music proved to have my back during unprecedented times, activities like cooking and quality time with loved ones served as the perfect remedy. From learning how to make sushi in the comfort of our kitchen to turning our place into a mini Korean BBQ joint, we handled our challenges with true delicacy. But the most rewarding moments from 2020 were found right here. In every article written, every artist we brought to life and in all the effort it takes to provide readers with excellent content. 

While this year ranks as the most challenging one that I have faced—the moments where I found joy through love, music, friendship, and food have been the most rewarding memories that have been forever engraved!

Logan Garrison – The sounds of Bonobo provided a 2020 lifeline.

The one thing that has carried me through this absolutely exhaustive year was a freshly minted love for the legendary Bonobo. His discography is chock-full of tranquil and serene beats to calm the chaos unfolding around me. Numerous LPs and singles spanning the past twenty years have defined Bonobo’s career as well as my personal 2020. 

Iconic records like 2000’s Animal Magic featuring hits like “Terrapin” and “Kota” carved out a niche for his world-influenced dance music while his releases only improved with time. Black Sands originally released in 2010 featuring the utterly sensational productions “Kiara” and “Kong” just celebrated a 10-year anniversary with an exclusive vinyl repress which still stands in a league of its own today. The legendary body of work, Migration released in 2017 carried Bonobo to nearly every corner of the U.S and Europe in support of the album and transported me to cerebral locales I never thought possible amid this turbulent year. 

Bonobo’s ability to transport listeners to far off lands through his well thought out and intricate productions is second to none. In a time when music seems to be the only escape from the madness, I can’t think of a better shepherd than Bonobo. Migration perfectly bridges the gap between downtempo, and world-dance. Calling upon the mystical influence of Morrocan music culture, tracks like “Bambo Kroyo Ganda” harken back to the roots of dance music’s heart while creating a beacon of originality for today’s listeners.

Maybe it’s time for a Migration of our own, into a better, brighter year ahead.

James Dutta – Writing and Interviewing for EDM Identity kept me inspired.

When lockdown first began, it was clear that festivals and shows were the last things that were going to come back. This sent shockwaves through the music industry and setback a lot of artists and their teams. However, many artists were able to release some of their best music yet and provide a soundtrack to get through the year. 

Writing about new tracks and conducting interviews provided a safe space for me to get through 2020 and work on a craft that I love in the process. It got me through some of the toughest days during the early months of lockdown. I would get hyped when I saw a new press release come through my inbox. The rush of listening to a brand-new track would hit me and my mind would be flooded with hundreds of thoughts on it that I had to put down, and a prime example of this would be when I heard Nitepunk’s “Connected”.

Along with these new tracks came the opportunity to interview some of my favorite DJs and industry leaders. Seeing how the pandemic affected them and how they were able to take a negative and turn it into a positive was inspiring. One of my favorite interviews was with Blake Coppelson from Proximity who was involved with Brownies & Lemonade on the Digital Mirage virtual festivals. These shows raised money for a good cause along with giving millions of viewers at home the opportunity to see their favorite DJs perform brand new sets.

Moments like these provided a silver lining through this entire year, and hopefully 2021 brings many more!

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