[INTERVIEW] 5 EDMA Nominated & Performing Artists Share Insight On The Upcoming Awards

EDMAs 2024, Miami, Interview, Night Tales, Ekonovah, Sam Blacky, Gian Varela, PLS&TY
| March 20, 2024

The EDMAs is widely known as the biggest awards show across dance music. This year, the prestigious event has found a new home at the iconic Eden Roc Miami Beach. From Kaskade to Subtronics, the upcoming pinnacle celebration of Miami Music Week will host artists and industry figureheads from all over the world. 

We asked five renowned artists (three nomiees and two EDMA performers) to share their thoughts on the EDMAs and what it contributes to the electronic music community. They also broke down their favorite projects of the year, rising artists to look out for, the mentors and sources of inspiration for their own music, and more.

Check out this exclusive joint interview spotlighting the EDMAs and dance music in its entirety below.

 

With the EDMAs being a celebration of artistic excellence in electronic music, what does being nominated mean to you personally, and how does it feel to be recognized by both your peers and fans?

 

Night Tales (Nominated for Breakthough Artist Of The Year): It means everything. We have worked really hard to get to this point, and to be recognized for that hard work is gratifying. It is our first-ever official nomination so we’re stoked!

EDMAs, Night Tales

Ekonovah  (Nominated for Breakthough Artist Of The Year): It’s surreal – I have been making music since I could walk and making house music since I was 15. I have always known I was meant to be in music, and to have my music recognized by the EDMAs feels like the best payoff for all the sleepless nights that have led up to my first Miami Music Week!

EDMAs 2024, Ekonovah, Miami

Gian Varela (Nominated for Breakthough Artist Of The Year): The nomination for me was unbelievable. I come from a country where house music and dance music is not plentiful, to say the least. And this culture, this world of house and dance music was like a story, a fantasy for me, and for us Central Americans and Latinos who love this space. In our countries, it is hard to find a group or events that enjoy the same type of music as us.

So to me and my fans, this nomination is a recognition of how far we have come from all the way in Panama to here in Miami and performing around the world in Tomorrowland, Ultra, EDC. It is just exhilarating for me.

And honestly, I wouldn't even compare myself to huge artists that have been nominated next to me like HUGEL, HoneyLuv, Knock2 and few others. I humbly am just following my own route and working on my own lane. It has been super exciting to see the love and the passion that my fan base have shown in the votes.

EDMAs 2024, Gian Varela, Miami

What aspect of the EDMA pre-party and EDMAs are you most excited about this year, and why? Is there a specific performance, category, or moment you are eagerly anticipating?

 

Night Tales: It is always energizing to share the space with peers we look up to. We are really inspired by the careers of all the great producers and musicians around us.

Ekonovah: The EDMAs are awesome because at a glance you can see what artists are shaping the culture and the landscape of dance music. Coincidentally, I think I am most excited to see the results of my nomination category, the breakthrough artist of the year, because I am always interested in the emerging sounds.

The artists nominated in this category are all at the top of their class. It is an honor to be there alongside them!

Gian Varela: I am mainly excited just to have my name nominated and next to so many huge artists, record labels, and important peers of the dance music industry. I just want to meet everybody. I want to have as much friends as possible in the dance music industry. I am grateful just to be connected and working with people who actually live from dance music and house music. That is what’s exciting for me. I am coming to the EDMAs right after Tomorrowland. 

One of the first things I ask all the DJs and everybody I meet is like, “hey, do you play PlayStation? Let's hang out, let's play.” It is fun because now we have got each other’s PlayStation IDs and are ready to go hard on Helldivers or Fortnite or the new GTA, which is set in Miami.

It is nice to bond with people that have the same taste and the same vision as you. That is something that I have always tried to do throughout my life.

PLS&TY (EDMA Pre-Party Performer): The EDMAs are influential in recognizing both up-and-coming and established talent from all over the globe. I am most excited to be surrounded by like-minded peers striving to make an impact within the dance music community.

EDMAs 2024, PLS&TY, Miami

Sam Blacky (EDMA Pre-Party Performer): All the categories are great this year, but most looking forward to seeing who wins female artist of the year!

Sam Blacky

Given the diverse lineup of artists and industry figures attending the EDMAs, is there anyone in particular you're excited to see or meet at the event? Are there any collaborations or connections you hope to make during your time there?

 

Night Tales: We are excited to see our good friend Kaleena Zanders; she is an immense talent with a great personality. She has been nominated for Female Artist of the Year, and we are so happy she is being recognized. Well deserved!

Ekonovah: Absolutely! So many people fly from all over the world to attend MMW, and despite everyone’s crazy MMW schedules, I am excited to finally meet some internet friends at the EDMAs and see some familiar faces there as well.

I heard Mark Knight is on the bill too. I have never had a chance to see him live so I am stoked to catch a set from him.

Gian Varela: There is nobody in particular that I would like to meet, I just flow like water. I am going to try to meet everybody, and just hang out and vibe. I am easy going in that way. In terms of collaborations and connections, I have learned to not force things. I want things to just flow organically, get to bond with people before anything, any business really.

PLS&TY: Too many to name! The lineup of artists and industry figures is second-to-none in terms of talent, prestige, and significance. It is an honor and a pleasure to be able to connect with all in attendance.

Sam Blacky: Definitely stoked to see Anabel Englund and LP Giobbi. I have been busy for the past year perfecting my sound and would love the chance to collaborate with either of them, as we have all been friends for ages! 

 

Reflecting on the past year, what standout tracks or projects have resonated with you the most, either from your own work or from other artists in the electronic music scene? Are there any songs that have inspired or influenced your creative process?

 

Night Tales: We try to look outside the genre of electronic music for inspiration, it keeps it fresh and ensures we are listening to great songs first and foremost.

Ekonovah: I really love all kinds of dance music and for me, Skrillex’s Quest for Fire energized me in a way other dance albums never have. Even though there is a difference between our genres, that album totally inspires me and has definitely influenced my production techniques in the studio.

Gian Varela: The sound design and route I have taken with my music has definitely resonated with me. I have changed my sound, and more than this change, I think I have found my right  sound, under mentorship with Laidback Luke and all the Mixmash Team. 

I have been able to discover what I really love, how I like to perform, and what the Gian Varela sound is. There are so many records that really are exciting for me. From “Revolution,” “Corazon” with Lady Bee, “Hit It Back” with Laidback Luke, and then I have got one with Maffio called “Guagua.”

PLS&TY: My 3 Days, 2 Nights album presents something for everyone – music for all moods, places, seasons, and times. The project stands on new ground for the direction of PLS&TY original music moving forward – born out of a place of freedom to create without bounds or borders, or in an attempt to fit the confines of a particular genre that fans may have previously known me for. I am very lucky to include the talents of Ben Samama, Jocelyn Alice, Lost Boy, Tudor, and more.

Sam Blacky: The past year was a whirlwind. I loved every moment of it. Traveling has always been the main part of my creative process and what inspires me to make music, so that was certainly fulfilled! 

My favorite track from last year would have to be “Hotsteppa” – a collab between myself and Local Singles. Seeing the DJ support and hype around that track was wild, and it finally comes out this summer!

 

Is there any new artist you have discovered recently that you are particularly excited about, either as a listener or collaborator?

 

Night Tales: We recently discovered Bleu Clair. His music is so vibey along with using tasteful samples. Really enjoy listening to his music.

Ekonovah: As any DJ should, I am always listening to new music and taking note of artists who I think have an exciting new sound. Artists like RDGO, Fraxy, Chan and Juush come to mind.

Gian Varela: Yes, he is a newer artist, but he is a good friend of mine. His name is Andruss. We have been friends for a little while, and it is exciting to see him grow so fast. He is such a kind soul and such a great human being. 

He is killing it on the dance floors, killing it on Beatport, killing it everywhere with tracks like “Frikitona.” Andruss is showcasing a very unique Latin sound. I think he is going to go very far in the music scene.

PLS&TY: Antdot – as a remixer of my single “Your Love”. He is an incredible Brazilian act that is exploding internationally with a fresh take on melodic house music.

Sam Blacky: I absolutely love Bun Xapa, I met him last year when we performed the 1001 Tracklist Future of Dance Award party at ADE. Since then, we have started working on some really awesome tracks.

 

Who would you say are your top influences or favorite artists of the year? How have they impacted your approach to music-making or performance?

 

Night Tales: We recently had our 1st European tour and Paris was definitely the stand-out. We performed at T7 alongside Agents Of Time and Chris Avantgarde. That experience reinvigorated our passionate for the deeper, more melodic side of electronic music and has now inspired creating ideas exploring those genres. 

Ekonovah: Like I mentioned earlier, Skrillex’s releases this year checked all the boxes for me. However, I try to listen to non-electronic music as much as I can to keep my inspiration fresh as well.

Tame Impala is usually my go-to and some other artists I have really been loving lately are 7KY and Devin Kennedy; their music helps me think of sounds to use that you don’t hear in EDM much.

Gian Varela: The first artist I will definitely say is Laidback Luke. He has guided me and mentored me across you know just my musical career and with the entire Mixmash team. It has been interesting on how I have developed and how I am changing from a more of an EDMish sound to something I like more. It is something between house and tech house, right where I can really delve between sounds and energies.

There are certain artists that I listen to a lot, like Matroda, Westend, Dom Dolla, Chris Lorenzo. They have got a very fascinating sound and transition between different energies as well. That is something I strive for, somewhat more of a Latin energy to it, sometimes hitting in the bass and the percussion, these artists are very skilled at this.

PLS&TY: Antdot, Maz, Niko The Kid, and many more. I have fallen in love with artists that present a unique sound or approach to creation, while emphasizing the importance of having fun while doing so.

Sam Blacky: I would have to say the tracks that Nitefreak and &friends are putting out are seriously incredible. They are definitely in my top artist picks.

 

With the global reach of electronic music, fans from all corners of the world will be tuning in to the EDMAs. What message do you have for your international fanbase, and how do you think events like these help to unite fans across borders?

 

Night Tales: It is important for electronic music to control its own narrative with big events that highlight the best talent. Pooling together everyone from the scene into one day showcases strength within the genre and reverence amongst peers.

It also maintains the inclusive and safe culture that we all love dance music for. Hats off to the city of Miami for being the leading purveyor of dance music in America.

Ekonovah: First and foremost I want to give a massive thank you to anyone who is listening, sharing, or enjoying my music – international or not. But I am just so excited for the future. I have some experience touring internationally and I cannot wait to tour even more, plus meeting everyone overseas who likes listening and dancing to my music.

Playing ADE earlier this year was my first time experiencing that. I didn’t realize I had an audience in The Netherlands but meeting them in person is something I will never forget!

Gian Varela: My message to all the EDMA fans across the world is one word, unite. We should connect as much as possible. There are so many talented artists and people out there and these things, the EDMA awards, social media, it connects us no matter where in the world we are. You are never alone.

Sometimes, you might live in a place where house music and dance music are not even existent, like it happened in my country, in my life. But through platforms like the EDMAs, bit by bit you can grow a community. And as an artist, the same thing. That is how your fan base begins.

Ending on that note, listen to all your fans across the world. To everybody that likes house music or just want to connect with me, please do so. Send me an Instagram message. Join my Discord channel. Let's hang out. Let's play video games. Let's produce live. Let's make music. Let's party. Let's enjoy life.

PLS&TY: Music has the ability to bring people together in a way that is unparalleled. It has the power to transcend languages, backgrounds, and foster a sense of community for individuals of from walks of life.

The EDMAs are paving the way for artists and fans to deepen their connection within the epicenter of dance music, Miami, during one of the most exciting weeks of the year, Miami Music Week. 

Sam Blacky: I would just like to say thanks for listening, and for the support you show us as at our shows and across our channels – it truly means the world to us.

The EDMAs provide a platform to honor artists from across the globe that put their heart and soul into their music – it shows the continued growth of the dance music scene worldwide.

EDMAs 2024, Miami, Interview, Night Tales, Ekonovah, Sam Blacky, Gian Varela, PLS&TY

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 CONNECT WITH NIGHT TALES: Facebook | Instagram | X | Spotify

 CONNECT WITH EKONOVAH: Facebook | Instagram | X | Spotify

 CONNECT WITH GIAN VARELA:  Facebook | Instagram | X | Spotify

 CONNECT WITH SAM BLACKY: Facebook | Instagram | X | Spotify

 CONNECT WITH PLS&TY:  Facebook | Instagram | X | Spotify

 

Photos courtesy of Ross Laurence Studio (Sam Blacky), KANVAS (Gian Varela), Tim Stephens (Night Tales), and Dmitry Zhitov (PLS&TY).

 

Read more iEDM Exclusive Interviews HERE!

 

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CONNOR PHILLIPS

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Fueled by his passion for EDM, Connor’s life revolves around dance music and its ability to bring people together. Raised in upstate New York, Connor was deprived of festivals and raves until he attended Florida State University, where he was instantly hooked. Fast-forward to today and Connor has become a house and melodic techno DJ, an avid EDM-based interviewer and writer, and has worked PR for the likes of Matroda, Bleu Clair, and other new-wave house icons.

Outside of music, Connor loves pretty much any sport (huge Knicks, Yankees, and NY Giants fan), going on hikes, traveling, and food. Based in Florida, there’s a good chance you will eventually run into Connor at one of the popular festivals and clubs throughout the state.

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