Favorite ThisGem & Jam Festival (Tucson, AZ - Feb 7-9) Mixtape

Published: February 6, 2014
By: Matt Thomas


When putting together this Gem & Jam Festival playlist, the first thing that I knew, is that I wanted to keep it at 8 tracks to celebrate the 8 years of the festivals existence. The second thing I knew was that I couldn’t get that damn John Cusack movie High Fidelity out of my head. One quote in particular:

Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and don'ts. First of all you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.

While making this playlist, I was not trying to express how I personally feel, but rather how I think Gem & Jam Festival 2014 will feel, or sound. With such a diverse lineup of over 45 musicians, choosing just 8 tracks seemed to be more of a challenge that I had even considered. I started off with 20 of my favorite artists on the lineup. I wanted to include all of the different styles of music that will be showcased, but I also wanted there to be a general flow and consistent voice. This is a “delicate thing” after all.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to start the playlist with Random Rab’s “Blast Off”, featuring Jamie Janover & D.V.S*, from last year’s Top 10 Album, Release. Not only is the title fitting for an opening song, it’s a beautiful uplifting track that captures the “live band” sound which Rab will unfold at Gem & Jam.

The bass heavy livetronica sound of Lost Optical is featured with “Second Sphere”. They are one of a handful of live bands who will grace the stages of Gem & Jam this weekend. I may indeed have a soft spot for The Untz Challenge IV winners, but this track is fresh and in your face and the perfect climax for this playlist. It is all downhill to the dance floor from here with an ELECTROSOULHIPHOP party closing things out.

A pair of Pretty Lights Music label mates, SuperVision and Paul Basic with two very different tracks that just fit well together and whose likeness comes in the complexity of production. SuperVision’s “Ancient Souls” is a synthed out and up-tempo sample-laden dance floor mover, while Basic’s “Dark Dream,” also a dance floor mover in its own right, commands the crowd with its dark blasting horns and aggressive drum beats amidst a mesmerizing melody. Not only are they back-to-back on this playlist they are also playing back-to-back sets on Friday night.

The talented youngster from Burlington, Vermont, Marvel Years, closes things out with an ode to the “Late Night”. The electro soul tinged upbeat track puts on display some funky live guitar amongst a couple of vocal samples, including a reference to his age with a lyric from Prodigy of Mob Deep, “I’m only 19 but my mind is older” and a closing line from James Brown.

There you have it. Subtle art represented in 8 different songs as a sampling of some of what you can expect to
hear at Gem & Jam Festival 2014 in Tucson, Arizona February 7th-9th. A little something from your friends at The Untz  to help you get excited for this weekend’s festivities or help stave off a massive case of FOMO.


Tags: BreaksDowntempoDrum and BassDubstepGlitchHip HopLivetronicaElectro