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Where My Head’s At: Arty

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“Where My Head’s At” is a feature from Dancing Astronaut that gives readers a quick glimpse into an editor’s personal music tastes and how they developed. Subject matter will be all over the map, but we want to let you get a feel for individual

editors, and where their heads are at. Past artists include: Kaskade, Felguk, R3hab, Nero, and Swedish House Mafia.

As music fans, we hope and pray that the young artists we love will experience a moment in their respective careers when precocious talent becomes undeniable genius. Adele is currently experiencing such a transformation (six Grammys in one night will do it).

This moment, this coming of age, happens in many industries. In sport, for example, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo thrilled us as teenagers before maturing into the game’s two finest players. In film, Christopher Nolan teased us with the scrumptiously unsettling Memento before graduating to The Dark Knight and Inception — films that delighted critics and investors alike.

In dance music — specifically the subgenres of progressive house and big-room trance — one 22 year-old Russian seems poised for the big time (at least to me).

Arty’s Essential Mix, in my opinion, perfectly illuminates what happens when you give a supremely gifted young man the time and support he needs to develop into a genuine superstar. The mix is a gorgeous reminder of why we love EDM — all EDM. It’s a spectacular two-hour journey that begins with breathtakingly beautiful progressive house, expands into incisive electro, then delves into devastating dubstep before returning to my favorite sub genre of all — gloriously, divinely euphoric trance.

Let me get my biases out of the way: I’m a die-hard Anjunafan who’d skip anything — an interview, a wedding, a surgery — for an Above & Beyond gig. I have a symbolic Anjunabeats tattoo on the inside of my heart, and I’ve seriously considered getting a physical one on my chest (after a bit of tequila). I’m a sucker for soaring vocals, hypnotic melodies, and endless riffs — music that makes time stand still and the world feel perfect.

The Essential Mix, therefore, was tailor-made for people like me. But the real magic of the mix (narrative? journey?) lies in its complete accessibility to anyone who hits play. Every couple of days, a Twitter follower, Facebook acquaintance, or real-life friend will tell me how much they enjoyed Arty’s set. Their pleasure seems authentic. Indeed, the mix has sparked an interest in EDM from people who don’t usually care for it (in much the same way Avicii’s Essential Mix did in 2010). It’s like Arty is Avicii 2.0 — a little more subtlety, a little more substance, a lot more style.

The opening — Arty’s remix of the legendary Paul van Dyk’s “We Come Together” — is just so freaking epic. The first section makes walking home in the rain bearable. The electro section is exactly the kind of sensory overload I enjoy. I don’t usually like Eric Prydz’s remix of “Midnight City,” but for some reason I like it here. The final section, which ends in Armin van Buuren’s haunting “In & Out of Love,” helps even trance haters understand that deep down, everyone has a soft spot for trance — because everyone likes being happy.

The mix demonstrates that Arty is equally adept at producing (“MozArt,” “Trio,” “Around the World”), remixing (“Walking Alone,” “Punk,”), and creating mashups (“She Gave the Sun and Moon”, “Rebound Calling”). It also shows that he’s a master DJ, capable of weaving tracks together to create a musical phrase that is much more than simply the sum of its parts.

I’ve only seen Arty play live once, at Nocturnal Wonderland 2011. I was “whelmed” — meaning I was neither disappointed nor completely blown away. But that was five months ago, and five months is a long time when you’re 22 and only getting better. Arty’s Essential Mix shows that he’s moved to the next level — or, at the very least, that he’s ready to make the leap.

Last year, Avicii’s took America by storm with his sugary-sweet melodies and infectious hooks. Here’s hoping 2012 is the year of Arty.

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