A new spin on EDM


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EDM. Most music listeners of today know what the three letters stand for, whether they actually listen to electronic dance music or not. Thoughts of raves, bright lights, and highly produced music come to almost everyone’s mind when the abbreviation is mentioned.

However, electronic hip-hop producers Manic Focus and Artifakts have made it their mission to break down the barriers of the typical electronic-music world. 

“A lot of us in the electro-soul thing have that same goal,” said the mastermind behind Artifakts, Garret Meyer. “That’s a big part of the reason [Manic Focus] and I got in touch to do this tour together.”

Artifakts and Manic Focus will team up at Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave., on Saturday night to present their take on the music. Artifakts will take the stage starting at 9 p.m., followed by headliner Manic Focus.

The artists’ goal to reinterpret electronic dance music doesn’t mean their shows lack in bright lighting, raving, or quality production; Meyer said he simply aims to make the performance more about the music than anything else.

Dan Green, the manager of Sub Conscious Productions and one of the promoters for Saturday's show, said though Manic Focus has yet to perform in Iowa City, the producer’s sets are some of his favorites.

“He has a sound that is easy to dance to and enjoy no matter what kind of music you like,” Green said. “It’s very high energy.”

John McCarten, the creator of Manic Focus, said he attributes most of the qualities that set him apart from other artists to his unusual musical origins: classical piano.

Green said Manic Focus is a particularly great act for people who are getting worn out on the cookie-cutter electronic music of today.

McCarten isn’t the only one likely to get the crowd energetic. Green said despite Artifakts having some heavier bass elements, there’s still a dance party when he plays.

“As far as energy goes, it’s a little more laid-back but still soulful and funky,” Meyer said about his music when comparing it with Manic Focus’. “I think it’s a really good sound to get people in the mindset for him when he comes on stage.”

While the two artists differ stylistically, Artifakts and Manic Focus both try to stay true to their objective of straying from the mainstream in electro-pop music, including the headliners of major electronic festivals such as the international Electric Daisy Carnival.

“They don’t make dubstep, electro, trap, or big room house,” Green said. “So that right there is something different than most guys you’ll see on an electronic lineup. They appeal to jam band crowd more than most electronic acts.”

Their ability to attract a diverse audience seems to spur from their producers’ varied backgrounds. Each act is influenced by not only electronic and hip-hop music but also soul, funk, and disco. 

“Manic and Artifakts blend so much into their style that no song sounds the same,” Green said. “It’s like they have taken every genre that has been popular in the past and balled it up into their own style. They make it impossible not to get down when listening.”

Manic Focus, with Artifakts
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Blue Moose, 211 Iowa
Admission: $12-$15

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