Days Gone By: Dirty Vegas' Ben Harris Talks Changing DJ World With Pulselocker

In 2001, three South London mates got together to form the house music group, Dirty Vegas; fast forward one decade, and they have become dance music pioneers, thanks grossly to their breakout hit “Days Go By,” which has secured a Grammy Award and public exposure in the Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial (which was later spoofed by Chappelle's Show).

Group member Ben Harris has since taken a break from the music side of production to get his fingers on the ‘pulse’ of the new digital age with his new app “Pulselocker,” where today’s DJs and producers can access a full-library of music, serving as a cross between Spotify and Dropbox, through a simple subscription of $10/month. VIBE sat down with the EDM pioneer to talk about his new application along with tales of ‘days gone by’ with Dirty Vegas and the state of electronic dance music.

VIBE: You first started out as part of the house music group Dirty Vegas, producing the hit track “Days Go By.” Our readers might not be familiar, but you had this great music video with a beautiful story line. Who came up with that concept?
Ben Harris: UK video directors, Blue Source, created the concept for the video. Our idea for the song itself was to take this story about a relationship and longing for someone, and fuse that with underground beats. Blue Source picked up on that and it inspired them to write the storyline for the video.

About a decade later and you’re more on the tech side of things. Explain to us how you got involved with the application Pulselocker?
The last album Dirty Vegas did was on San Francisco-based label Om Records in 2011. It was there that I met Alvaro Velilla, who worked at the label. We connected instantly on music and the business in general. During the band’s last DJ tour across the States, I had become increasingly frustrated with how I got hold of new music. It was fragmented, messy and expensive to gather music from promo pools, digital download stores, etc.

It just so happened that my last gig was in San Francisco and Alvaro came along and pitched me on the idea for Pulselocker, which he and the other founder, Joshua Goltz, had come up with. I was blown away and had to get involved immediately!

In your words, explain how it will revolutionize EDM today and its DJs?
It’s a completely new way for DJs and EDM fans to access music. DJs consume high volumes of music, sometimes only playing tracks for a week or two. Up until now, the only options were to acquire music through promo pools, if you could join them, expensive digital download retailers or via pirating.

Pulselocker is great for several reasons. First, you can listen to our catalog of over 4 million songs, on-demand. Second, and more importantly, you can download tracks into your “Locker” (a secure folder on your laptop) and play them offline on third-party DJ applications, like Serato Scratch Live and Native Instruments Traktor. You can exchange songs from your Locker and play them as much as you want for the length of your subscription. Lastly, if you find that gem you know you want in your collection, you can purchase it from our download shop.

We want to change the way DJs and EDM fans access and experience music.

Producing music at the cusp of EDM when the genre was first developing, what would you say are some major differences/changes you’ve seen over the years?
Firstly, that it is now known as EDM! When we started making this kind of music, we knew it as House music, and still do now. This music was originally born in the States, specifically, Chicago, Detroit and New York, brought to Europe in the 80’s, and we embraced it from that point on. It was an underground thing and an exciting time to be a part of that scene.

Naturally, the scene grew into a cultural movement, which is exactly what has been happening in the US over the last few years. Kids are going out to raves and discovering this music, just like we did back then. The speed and scale at which this industry has commercialized in the US has drawn certain talent away from Europe, enabling a new wave of DJs and producers to revitalize Europe's underground scene.

Do you still stay in touch with your old pals from Dirty Vegas?
Of course! We are friends, first and foremost. We all grew up in the same neighborhood and hung out in the London club scene for many years. I live in LA now, Steve [Smith] is in Boston, and Paul [Harris] is in London, but we still see each other when we can. Recently, they came to DJ in San Francisco, where the Pulselocker HQ is based, and we hung out, just like old times!

Would you guys ever consider having a reunion?
Steve and Paul are still doing some music together and DJing. There’s definitely a chance that I would do something with the guys again. Dirty Vegas is something that all three of us decided we could come back to at some point, but right now my focus is on Pulselocker and seeing where we can take it.

Tell us about some wild war stories from the Dirty Vegas days.
I’m not at liberty to give up details on that right now, but let’s just say I’ve the scars to prove it.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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Pharrell's New Netflix Kids' Series Focuses On Importance Of STEAM Learning

Pharrell Williams is the executive producer of a new children’s show on Netflix that focuses on educating little ones on the importance of science, technology and current events.

“I got involved with ‘Brainchild’ because there is a desperate need to raise awareness about the importance of science with our youth, we must edu-tain,” Williams told Variety about his new series. The show is hosted by Indian-American actress and comedian Sahana Srinivasan.

Brainchild will use “interactive games, experiments and skits” to teach and highlight the “core concepts and principles of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).” It was co-created by Atomic Entertainment, and is billed as a spinoff of the Emmy-nominated show “Brain Games,” which aired on National Geographic Channel for seven seasons.

Williams and his i am OTHER production partner Mimi Valdes also discussed the idea of the show’s accessibility for teachers and students. Per Variety, “The curriculum is available without having to sign up or register for any account, and can be used at home or in the classroom to supplement existing tools.”

“It’s especially important to me to get STEAM-focused programming in front of minority communities,” Pharrell says of attempting to reach viewers. “That’s because at the core of the plight of children of color in this country is a lack of access to actionable education.”


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Prepare to have your minds blown 🧠⚡🌊💖💡🔬 I worked with the masterminds of Brain Games on a show that will empower kids by approaching STEM topics in a cool, new way and to provide anOTHER way into science. Thank you to our host @Sahana.j.shree, @AlieWard, Atomic Entertainment, @i_am_other and the @Netflix team. Brainchild OUT NOW on Netflix. #brainchild

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Jacquees Blames 'Hater' DJ Mustard For The Removal Of His 'Trip' Remix

DJ Mustard, the producer of Ella Mai’s “Trip,” is responding to reports that he was “hating” on Jacquees, who famously deleted his “quemix” of the aforementioned song. Jacquees visited the L.A. radio show Big Boy’s Neighborhood, where he discussed the controversy behind deleting his version of the popular track from the Internet.

“Really, DJ Mustard hated on me, no cap, that was crazy,” he told the hosts about the issues at hand. “I wanna work with DJ Mustard too, but that was a hating move.” The release of his popular version sparked rumors that the “Boo’d Up” musician was jealous of the 4275 artist’s success with his version.

Mustard, who founded Mai’s label 10 Summers, commented on Instagram about his feelings on the R&B star’s latest comments. "That n***a Big Boy said ‘it was really goin’ too!'” he laughed in a video shared to his IG Story. “You stupid ni**a," he continued.

Last year, Mustard wrote on Twitter that if a song that the artist doesn’t own is monetized, it’s stealing and “no one steals from 10 Summers.”

“This is simply a press or marketing plan, or some strategy to deviate from the narrative that Ella is breaking records left and right because the music she’s making is cutting through straight to fans at a rate people haven’t seen in years,” he continued. “Ella’s career started by doing covers and we support all her fans and fellow artists doing the same.”

To whom it may concern .

— Mustard (@mustard) September 26, 2018

I’m not going to blogs or any media outlets to address this Jacquees situation ima address it right here and after this we will never address anything like this again I’m just tired of people picking on @ellamai !

— Mustard (@mustard) September 26, 2018


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#PressPlay: #DJMustard responds after #Jacquees talks about his #Trip remix getting removed!! (SWIPE)—(📹: @bigboysneighborhood)

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'Black Monday' Becomes A Dramedy As Its World Flips Upside Down: Episode 9 Recap

Blair was Mo’s mirror in episode “295.” In this week’s episode, he internalizes Mo’s qualities, and now the reflection wants to take over the original’s life, like a scene from Jordan Peele’s Us. Some of the most analytically rich parts of this episode revolve around all the allusions to Blair assuming Mo's role after agreeing to go along with the Georgina Play, two months after Mo informed him of the rouse.

Blair flirts with Dawn – the woman Mo still loves – while sitting in Mo's desk chair as Mo walks in and sees them. He gifts all of the Jammer Group inner circle with replicas of Mo's custom-made Rolex and calls them “Molexes” with "f**k em all" engraved on them. It’s the latter mantra that, in a surprising twist, leads to Blair potentially ending Mo as we know him.

An early criticism of Black Monday was Andrew Rannells’ inconsequential portrayal of Blair in the first few episodes. After carrying a large number of scenes in last week’s episode, this week’s showcases his shining moment. One of the funniest scenes s when Blair stops himself from saying "it's all good in the hood," after glancing at Mo, before replacing "hood" with "municipalities." That’s a very artful way to say if he wants to be Mo, he’ll have to do more than speak like him. Consequently, Blair does just that in order to get Tiffany Georgina to go along with the Georgina Play.

The Agency Of Tiffany Georgina

Casey Wilson, who plays Tiffany, needs to star in a spin-off show if for nothing else than to see her do another interpretive dance routine to a remixed version of the national anthem like she did at Tiffany’s wedding reception. We predicted in our review of episode “243” that Tiffany would have a bigger hand in the Black Monday collapse than we originally assumed, and this episode brings our prophecy to life.

Tiffany admits to Blair in the final scene of the episode that she’s a lot to handle but poignantly justifies it by stating everyone isn’t as sure of themselves as she is. It’s in that moment we realized out of all of the characters with considerable screen time, Tiffany may be the only one who never lied about herself. The comments about smart “orientals” are vacuous and her obsession with social status is asinine, but they’re also genuinely Tiffany; Everyone else adjusts their morals and personality to fit whatever gets them money.

Tiffany also reveals that when she was in sixth grade, her parents prevented her from legally emancipating herself from them by giving her a cartilage piercing and a new credit card. In episode “243,” when Blair innocuously says he’s staying late at work to do “compliance,” Tiffany instinctively knew that meant illegally shredding documents because her family is wealthy. Tiffany’s parents had their own daughter kidnapped in last week’s episode to boost the company’s value and now their daughter plans to steal that very company from them. The Black Monday writers used the Georgina family this season as a commentary on how money can make anything transactional, even love and loyalty.

Just like with Mo, the Georgina family may be undone by a monster they created.

The Dramedy

In today’s age of television, shows rarely fit perfectly in one genre. Orange Is The New Black’s second season was nominated in the drama category at the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards, a year after its first season was nominated in the comedy category. This blurring of the artistic lines has created a new type of show that is equal parts drama and comedy: a dramedy. After the last two episodes, Black Monday has become more dramedy than comedy.

In the first half of the season, Black Monday was roughly 90% hilarious debauchery with the 10% of deep introspection reserved for the final minutes of the episode. Over time, that ratio began to even out until last week’s episode, which delivered the highest concentration of drama acting of the season. In this week’s episode, the double and triple crossings in Blair and Mo’s heated rivalry are more central to the episode than Keith’s hysterical attempts at tricking the SEC and Tiffany’s ridiculous wedding. Aside from Dawn and Mo forming a secret alliance, the episode concludes with Blair’s most intimidating piece of dialogue as he breaks down the illusionary world Mo has constructed for himself.

While episode “7042” is the most compelling episode of the entire season, so far, the move into dramedy has its drawbacks. There are still gems like Mo’s double entendre of “I’ve unearthed secrets, got winded and fired,” a play on the name of legendary funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, who released their 1987 Billboard hit “System of Survival” a month before the events in this week’s episode. But, the hijinks and absurdist humor that Black Monday is predicated on are more separated than in any other episode.

As a result of this shift into dramedy, certain jokes not only fall flat but feel out of place and tonally different than the rest of the episode. Keith referring to the ability to know who is gay as “Navi-gay-tion” would be amusing in almost any other Black Monday episode. Him delivering it at the end of this week’s episode, after a dramatic exchange between Dawn and Mo, felt cringeworthy.

Hopefully, there’ll be plenty to laugh about when everything comes crashing down in the season finale next week.

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