Get Refreshed: May ’22

“Get Refreshed” is a monthly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world.

Refresh yourself here.

On Sidia… and Dolly’s Midas Touch

I’d like to introduce everyone to the world’s best A&R. You’ve probably never heard her name before, just hear me out. It’s d0llywood1.

Yes, this obscure, unheard-of A&R doesn’t work for a major label, nor is she even working in this little thing called the “music industry” whatsoever. She’s actually just like all of you out there – an admirer of modern underground music; a proponent of the future; a real music listener, if you will. Many of your favorite artists working today were originally discovered by her, and just because you’ve never heard her name before, doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate her for this very fact alone.

In all seriousness, Dolly is not just the best damn rapper and all-around performer for her age. She’s truly the best A&R who’s not really an A&R. From Lei, to Kyenn, to pretty much everyone in SillyTeam who wasn’t popping before the collective started, she’s co-signed some of the most talented acts in the grander Internet music landscape before practically anyone else did before. Much like being a “Paul Heyman Guy,” if you’re a “Dolly Person,” you should just consider your future taken care of without a single doubt.

So who is the latest “Dolly Person”? Well, that would be Sidia – a member of the star-studded Glamorous collective, and an absolute superstar of their own in the making. As soon as I got word that Sidia existed and got this illustrious co-sign, I immediately checked them out and was just… literally so taken aback from what I heard in the best way possible. What’s not to love here? Sidia has exceptional wordplay, mindbending production, and the charisma and confidence of a legend who made their mark 5 years ago, let alone just now landing on the most people’s radars. Oh, and they’re also only 15. It’s like they have so much time to get even better than they are now, which is saying so very much.

Let’s just thank Dolly for being so damn good at a job she doesn’t even have. Other A&R’s, stop focusing on your Twitter Bios and learn how to really do it.

What the Fuck is Sextrance

­One of my many roles for SoundCloud is shifting through the wild and wonderful world of Internet music in search of new sounds, styles, and scenes to hi-lite (get it). I’ve obviously come across some crazy shit in my time here, and really just my time on this Earth in general. I would like to say “off-putting” Internet music genres/subgenres have been completely normalized for me; I couldn’t possibly be taken aback by anything anymore.

And then I found sextrance.

Okay, it’s not as crazy as it looks. “Sextrance” is actually a lot tamer than one might think from just seeing the name on its own. From what I understand – and please call me out if this is the wrong idea – sextrance is an amalgamation of mid-late 2000s Web trance, new millennium techno, and basically whatever else wants to get thrown in on a track-by-track basis. If I’m wrong, lovers of sextrance, please let me know!!! I am only here to learn.

Regardless, I too am a lover of sextrance. I found the tag while moving gracefully through SoundCloud’s burgeoning online dance landscape for my Web Tempo editorial playlist, and it’s safe to say I haven’t looked back since. It’s um… kinda hard to miss a tag that absurd, and its odd title works greatly in its favor. The more and more I began to fill Web Tempo up with Sextrance Pioneers like #ff85f7 , Anthony1, and its self-proclaimed founder purity://filter, I began to realize that this tag wasn’t just some Quirky Random thing they were placing on their tracks; it was much, much more than that.

Go through Web Tempo, and go through the sextrance tag on SoundCloud. You won’t be disappointed. Trust me when I say that the future of trance, and really, the future of dance, is indeed… sex.

Answering With “The Question”

I’m sure we all remember *that* era of Dirty Bird music. FW 2020… just reminisce with me for a moment. This period saw dance music’s next great icon go on a run for the ages — BrainworksD&… the Eldia house compilation… fucking MALWARE… just an untouchable run with no misses whatsoever. It put Gum on the map as the most prolific dance act working today, from the music itself right down to all the merch and other special items that surrounded each drop. These all came from the Gumlab — a factory of consistent brilliance.

2021 was a similar story. Gum joined Eldia, made a few more classics, and furthered his status as a future legend in the making. But in closing out the year, suddenly fans were left without a single trace of music. This was a far cry from his output before… we expect someone like him to drop hits every single time he turns on his computer.

5 months of silence went by before we realized what we should’ve known from the jump. If someone like Gum is going ghost in terms of releases for this long… the inevitable return is going to be some real shit unlike anything we’ve heard before.

April 2022. Enter, the return. “The Question” is the first solo Dirty Bird single in so very long, but Oh My God was it worth the wait. While contemporaries like Dazegxd and Swami Sound were busy fine-tuning their respective takes on various forms of dance music with consistent drops, Gum watched over them like a proud father just waiting for his moment in the sun. This track was brewing all this time, and it’s downright perfect.

I feel like I say this sort of thing every time I write about Gum, but it bears repeating: Gum is a whole ass STUDENT of this game called dance. This track takes cues from more than a few different styles within the genre to create something that’s as nuanced in practice as it is appealing in theory. It’s got like… too many damn hooks to count, yet it sticks to a certain structure that allows for all those refrains to flourish in their subtle differences. It’s just a remarkable exhibition of dance, and like I said, it was truly worth the wait. Whatever is coming next from him – no matter how long it takes – is going to be better than what came before it. This is a notion we’ve all come to accept, and we don’t thank Gum enough for being one of the very few people we can say such a thing about.

The Extraterrestrial CJ808

I’ve always been confused by artists comparing themselves to aliens. Like… Ziggy Stardust just seemed like a really cool dude to me, not really much else. Were OutKast really “ATLiens”? To me, they were just 2 dope boys. I love all these acts, but I’m sorry, you’re not from space. You’re just pretending.

I figured no one would ever come around who’d change my view on this. Certainly… aliens couldn’t be real. Except, I just learned they are. They are very real indeed. Because someone like CJ808 simply makes no sense to the human mind. He has to be from a planet far, far away.

I’ve never been more convinced of someone’s interstellar artist aesthetic than CJ’s. He and his 2k3 crew need some sort of scientific breakthrough to happen before we can really get at what they’re all about, especially CJ himself. The master producer has been making beats that genuinely make absolutely no sense to me, yet they’re easily my favorite beats out of the greater underground hip-hop landscape in the past few years. That, by extension, makes CJ my favorite producer in this regard, and yet I really just do not understand him at all (in the best way possible).

CJ has recently picked up the mic more often, too. He’s already dominated the production landscape, and now he’s coming for heads on the vocal side of things. Tracks like “zombie” with fellow 2k3 member and all-around innovator Zootzie display CJ’s natural aptitude for controlled chaos, even on the mic. It’s a remarkable track on its own, and it spells out a bright future ahead for Earth’s most musically-inclined alien.