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The Daily Tar Heel

DJ's turn the tables on local music

Area DJ scene continues booming

Photo: DJ's turn the tables on local music
Madison, aka DJ HiddenCat, samples some of his songs at his house on March 30.

There’s never been a doubt about the Triangle’s place in the development and celebration of music. We’ve praised the bands, the labels and the festivals.

But there’s a group of local innovators that is poised to blast the area with new sounds. Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are home to a booming DJ community, and it’s turning the tables on old-fashioned notions of the music scene.

Cameron Preston, aka Treeclmbr, a UNC student preparing the release of two new EPs, has found that local venues and audiences have been receptive to his electro- and dubstep-influenced sound.

For Treeclmbr, the state is making a name for itself.

“North Carolina is an amazing place to be right now for electronic music,” Treeclmbr said. “Especially Raleigh. Every week in Raleigh there’s something going on. You can’t get that everywhere. I lived in Cleveland for a bit, and the electronic scene is not nearly as big.”

Nikhil Shah, aka Holygrailers, a Raleigh musician, saw the West Coast scene grow in his time spent living in San Diego, where shows were intense sensory experiences.

“Just imagine a whole bunch of film students stoned off their asses watching these crazy visuals. You see that, and it’s like ‘Wow, they have a space for this kind of event,” he said.

“That really doesn’t exist in the Triangle yet. I think it will be there soon — I think things are coming.”

UNC student and DJ Madison Bullard, aka DJ Hidden Cat, credits the development in the Triangle to the Hopscotch Music festival in Raleigh, which helped popularize local artists.

“Raleigh has suddenly exploded with interest, which was really exciting, over the past year or so,” Bullard said. “Kind of leading up to Hopscotch and then these Hopscotch after-parties — those got a lot of attention and that energy just kind of carried over into this school year.”

But the Triangle isn’t just new bedrock for DJs to play their favorite jams. Although artists like Hidden Cat still work fraternity parties and cater to more popular Top 40 hits, these DJs are mixing their own tracks and are being recognized internationally for their efforts.

DJ Hidden Cat laments that making music has been on the backburner this semester, but he’s created a name for himself after his track “The Superfuture” made its way on BBC Radio 1, the station that made dubstep a worldwide phenomenon.

N.C. State alumnus James Meyer, aka DJ Ill Digitz, who lives in New York City with his group mates from Kooley High, believes the scene is more eclectic there but doesn’t discount the start of something new in the Triangle.

“It’s a smaller market, so it’s definitely harder to get your name out, but N.C. artists have always been pushing the envelope and trying new things,” he said.

N.C. artists aren’t just experimenting — they are creating a path for genres to coalesce in new ways.

“The more popular music gets in general,” Ill Digitz said, “the more it’s going to be influencing hip-hop and all other forms of music.”

While the indie music scene blooms, electronic artists are generating their own niche in the Triangle’s music community. There’s no telling how long these artists are here to control the crowd with their mixing of new sounds, but it’s clear that they are going to leave their mark on the Triangle, one way or another.

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