How Kanye West and Travis Scott’s Stages Come to Life

John McGuire was born and raised in Southern California, and spent his childhood orbiting the film industry. His family was involved in various areas of entertainment, and by the time he was a sophomore in college, McGuire was balancing his studies with tour schedules—he was the lighting designer for live shows by Mariah Carey and My Chemical Romance.

By the time he started TrasK House in 2016, McGuire had decades of experience and a distaste for conventional live shows. “You don't get to experience artist's the way you used to,” he said, “and all of a sudden, the live concert has become the epitome of an artist's representation.” With TrasK, McGuire began to experiment, most notably in his work on Kanye West's Saint Pablo tour. The floating stage was a sensation, and McGuire followed it up with Travis Scott's iconic Bird's Eye View tour, which featured the artist atop a massive mechanical bird, complete with a worm dangling from its mouth. 

“When you go back and look at any of our performances, there's always very primitive, primal, basic things that rein through all of them,” he continued. “When we built Saint Pablo… there was an energy to life at that time. We had the Par Can… a single incandescent light bulb. One light, goes on and off, and that's it. We took that, and went with modern engineering… and new weight ratings to make a whole new experience. A lot of times it's using the oldest technology we have with some spit of the new.” 

Watch our latest Music Life with John McGuire above, and find out if New Yorkers miss the old Kanye below. 

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Rich Brian Presents: The Book of Brian

On February 2, Rich Brian released his debut album Amen. It was the culmination of a wild ascension for the Indonesian teenager—he only started working with music software a year or so prior, but Brian learns fast—he ended up providing most of the album's production. 

At this point, Brian's story is a part of internet folklore—his early Vine career, the “Dat Stick” video and subsequent viral streak—it's all been well-documented. But on Amen, we heard the story from a new perspective: Brian's. The tracks are filled with autobiographical details, from early employment (working at his mom's café, sidestepping goats in his backyard) to his first impressions of America.

It's all in the Book of Brian, a secret tome that has only been rumored to exist until now. In this exclusive interview, the artist agreed to read a few excerpts for us. So sit back, get a glass of wine, and… we'll let Brian take it from here. Watch our latest Music Life above, and watch a recap of his biggest moments below. 

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Gus Dapperton: Reimagining the Rock Star

When Gus Dapperton's Yellow and Such EP dropped last month, much was made of two things: his dancing and his fashion. 

In one sense, it was to be expected. Dapperton's bowl cut and glittering eyeshadow are sure to turn heads, and his dance moves are a focal point of both videos he's recently shared (“I'm Just Snacking” and “Prune, You Talk Funny”). What the fashion editorials often missed, however, is the quality of the music. 

Since moving to Philadelphia, Dapperton has, in his words, “honed in.” The 20-year-old is committing himself to music full-time for the first time, fronting a band that includes his little sister. He's the oldest member and de facto leader of the group, which is currently on its first international tour.

The last couple of years have moved quickly—it wasn't too long ago that Dapperton was still growing up in Warwick, New York, a farm town that provided Gus with all the back roads and talent shows he needed to get creative. After gaining some local notoriety, he started school in Philadelphia, studying music technology until the play counts started to skyrocket last year. Gus decided to focus on music full-time shortly thereafter. 

The focus hasn't wavered. When we caught up with him, Gus wanted to practice. So we booked some time in a dance studio, he called up a professional, and in between, we talked about what it means to be a rock star in 2018. Watch our latest Music Life above, and get familiar with Gus' music here

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How Ty Dolla $ign Fell in Love with J Dilla’s Music

You might know Ty Dolla $ign for his pop hits and his platinum records, but he's a real artist's artist with a deep love of funk, soul, R&B, and hip-hop. When we talked to Ty for our Music Life profile, he broke down in detail how he first discovered legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla and why he loves his music so much.

From hearing Dilla's production for Slum Village, A Tribe Called Quest, and Janet Jackson to eventually meeting him, Ty had a lot to say about one of his “favorite producers of all time.” Ty also revealed that Knxwledge, who collaborated with Anderson .Paak on the NxWorries project, had recently sent him some beats too. Hopefully we'll hear the results of that in 2018.

In the meantime, watch Ty Dolla $ign talk about J Dilla above and watch the full Music Life profile below. See where his album Beach House 3 landed on our Best Albums of 2017 list here.

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Ty Dolla $ign is an International Superstar, Now He Wants More

“I want to be just like Puff, you feel me?” Ty Dolla $ign looks up from the piano and stares intently through the weed smoke. “Come with a crazy slaughterhouse of artists and hits and then buy a whole bunch of properties… it's possible. That's what Beach House is all about.”

A lot of people say they want to be like Puff, but Ty Dolla $ign is really making moves. His back catalog is already impressive, with multiple multi-platinum hits to his name as a solo artist, featured artist, and songwriter. This October, he released Beach House 3, one of 2017's best albums, but he is just as excited by helping other artists and giving back to the community as he is about his own success.

Ty Dolla $ign is building an empire with his family and friends, and his label The MVMNT is an integral part of the plan. With artists like 24hrs, Joe Moses, TeeCee4800, Tish Hyman, and D-Loc (who was Ty's incarcerated brother's cellmate) on the label, Ty's got a lot of firepower on his team. “Get with your crew, do your own shit, and you'll last,” Ty says. “I promise you.”

We spent a day in L.A. with Ty Dolla $ign and The MVMNT for our latest Music Life video to find out about the Beach House series, his start in music, his aspirations for the future, and much more.

Watch above and check out more Music Life videos here.

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Joji’s Journey from Viral Videos to Quality Music

By now, the story of Joji is internet lore. The Australian-Japanese artist became an online sensation through his Filthy Frank and Pink Guy characters, creating a world of absurdist, gross-out comedy that resulted in a chart-topping albumPink Season, earlier this year. Calling his fan base “passionate” would be the understatement of the year, so when Miller began moving his creative attention towards his lo-fi, piano-driven trip-hop project as Joji, we half-expected uproar.

Instead, the public has embraced this new sonic chapter. Joji's music is easy to love—the rabid comedy of Miller's earlier work has been channeled into hyper-detailed, textural instrumentals like “Rain On Me” and “Will He.” Joji's upcoming EP In Tongues drops this Friday, and it has quickly become one of the year's most anticipated releases. 

“The reason I made the transition was because of overwhelming support,” Joji says. “I knew I had to do it. People were stopping me on the street to tell me I was wasting my time and my abilities… there's no set plan. I just want to test myself in all creative mediums.” 

Watch our Music Life doc with Joji above, and check out the story behind Pink Season below. Pre-order In Tongues here.

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