Colorful lights across the top of the stage spelled out “Escapism Tour” and “Audien,” reminding the crowd of who we were all there to see. After high-energy sets from REBRND and CODEKO, excitement for AUDIEN was tangible. This was especially true for me, being a fan of his for so long, I would get the chance to sit down and interview him after the show. When I looked up and saw those lights, I thought back seeing him play the first electronic festival I’d ever attended years ago, and was overcome with gratitude albeit some nerves.
His set opened up with “See You on the Other Side” and took us on a journey through his album ESCAPISM, which includes songs reminiscent of his earlier days in music, as well as newer, different genres.
“I wanted to hit every era of my career,” said Audien. “I wanted to include the trance stuff but also the house stuff and some newer stuff that I haven’t tried, like drum and bass. [“Reach”] was really a challenge for me. I had this amazing vocal from Jamie. He’s one of the best writers and singers I’ve ever worked with by far. He came out and sang it tonight, that was really special.”
Early on in the set he played “Heaven” featuring vocals from MATY NOYES.
“I put it early in the set because I wanted it to be focal. I wanted people to hear it first because I love it. A lot of the time I get a top line sent to me and I just connect with it, sometimes it’s a little more intricate. “Heaven” was a really intricate song,” Audien explained. “I actually lost the top line for a year and had to fight for it back. It’s a really special song and I knew I absolutely had to have it. So I messaged the lyricist, Neil Ormandy, he’s an amazing writer. Turns out it was re-available to work on, I finished it and he loved it.”
My favorite moments of every Audien show are his incredible mashups, blending genres as well as old and new electronic music, all the while eliciting all of the feels. We were treated to “Hindsight” with 3LAU’s “How You Love Me,” ANDREW BAYER’s “Parallels” with SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA’s “Save the World,” and my all time favorite “Wayfarer” with ABOVE & BEYOND’s “Sun & Moon.”
“I’ve been playing that mashup for literally six years. I can’t remove that from my set. I don’t think I’ve played a set without it,” he said.
Tracks from ESCAPISM were woven seamlessly with his classics like “Circles” and “Something Better” and Grammy-nominated remix of “Pompeii.” The show wouldn’t be complete without nods to other names in electronic music. We heard AVICII’s “Heaven,” TRITONAL’s “Shivohum,” SAID THE SKY and SLANDER’s “Potions,” SEVEN LIONS’ and Above & Beyond’s “See the End” as well as PORTER ROBINSON’s “Language.” There was a psy-trance and a UK bass break and the set closed with “Leaving You.” My friends and I never stopped dancing and singing along. It truly was an incredible show.
Fans waited seven years for the release of his album and ESCAPISM did not disappoint. When asked how he knew it was finally time he explained, “I wanted to do it three years ago but I didn’t have the music right and I was touring a lot so I didn’t spend enough time on it. I wanted it to be perfect so I didn’t rush it.”
Not only was this Audien’s debut album, it was an independent release, allowing him to create music free of boundaries or external influence.
“I get full control over everything. I’m investing in the music myself so I get to choose what I want to do with all of the songs. The name of the game was not putting it in places it didn't belong, which a lot of my music fell victim to when I worked with a lot of labels. Doing it independently I got to bypass all of that and just let people hear it. Now it exists, people can find it and we’ll let them decide what’s good and not what the label decides what’s good,” he said.
The accompanying tour would also be his idea of a perfect show come to life with production and visuals meant to compliment the music.
“This is totally different for me. I’ve always played random shows but these are very specialized shows where I’m bringing in all of the production and the whole thing is exactly how I envisioned,” said Audien. “I just like the real ravey stuff. I love tons of CO2, the sensory overload images, but also just making it about the music. I think a lot of people take away from the music with a lot of production but it’s more or less, do the effective and fun stuff but let the music speak for itself.”
A theme throughout the visuals were natural scenes, lots of water and greenery, all of which he curated himself.
“When I was listening to the set that I put together, I tried to envision what would pair well with it the most and I figured it was vast, nature and beauty,” he said. “I have a great visual guy who put it all together and he’s also awesome at creating a high-energy visual experience so it pairs perfectly with the music.”
Photo by Caleb Lau
With a few remaining stops, the Escapism Tour is definitely something you don’t want to miss. For more information and to purchase tickets visit Audien's website/. This year has been astronomical for Audien. As for 2020, there is still so much to look forward to.
“This tour opened up a lot of doors for me so next year is going to be just a lot of great shows. It’s going to be amazing,” he expressed excitedly. “I’m putting out a lot of good music next year, I have two singles with two of my best friends, I produced a big pop artist and that’s getting sealed now, and I’m also going to work on a lot of new originals. I want to try it differently every time. Even when things work in my career, I want to change it up. I don’t like doing the same thing over and over.”