Have you ever heard of Tomorrowland? No, not the George Clooney-led box-office flop that was the third sci-fi failure of 2015 (the other two were Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son, for the record). The Tomorrowland I’m referring to is one that George Clooney’s would have been so lucky to have found himself in. It’s a music - more specifically, an electronic music - festival held in (fittingly) Boom, Belgium. I’ve never been, but in watching the various sets of David Guetta, Martin Garrix, and Eric Prydz, it looks to be the creme de la creme in terms of festival production value.
Each year has a seemingly nonsensical theme - 2018’s was “The Story of Planaxis” - that gives credence to the bafflingly intricate set design of which the festival headliners purvey their pastiche. It dwarfs our piddly American festivals in terms of attendance - 2018 saw 400,000 tickets sold - and the lineup as a whole is more less all headliners. There’s even a TomorroWworld that takes place in the Chattahoochee Hills, which sold 140,000 tickets this year.
Ultimately, Tomorrowland is a truly fascinating case study that is directly antithetical to the primary argument facing most American festivals - “modernizing” festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza with heavy electronic artist lineups will lead to the end of the “festival bubble.” I suppose those detractors aren’t all that familiar with Tomorrowland and the power of the electronic music festival. It would seem that if ever there was a remedy for a festival bubble, it would be imitating a festival like Tomorrowland. But for whatever reason, the genre of electronic music seems to constantly befuddle the contemporary music listening powers that be. Not only with festivals, but the greater music community in general.
Take a look at Nashville. For a city so transfixed on its status as “Music City, USA,” it seems wholly devoid of a electronic music scene. There was once a thriving rave scene in and around Middle Tennessee in the late 90s and early 2000s, but it disappeared almost as quickly as it came. For whatever reason, it couldn’t seem to stick. That is, until now.
Nashville is quietly accruing a sizable regiment of electronic and electronic adjacent artists - Jamie Lidell, Bantug, Biyo, October Tooth, Jonie, Basecamp - poised to catapult Nashville’s electronic scene to street-level relevance the same way that a new honky tonk vanity project is somehow deemed coverable content (hello RS). So as Nashville’s grassroots electronic regime grows, be sure to add Body Copy to that list.
The nom de plume (and an incredibly solid one at that, especially for an electronic producer) of Joe Dickey, Body Copy is the latest addition to Nashville’s electronic collective. Not even a year has gone by in Body Copy’s existence, and Dickey has already produced a debut EP - For a Night With You - set for release at the end of this week. Let’s take a moment to consider how unreal that is, in terms of output and creative cognition. Barely 9 months into the project’s existence, and Dickey already has four absolute bangers. If Body Copy were a child, it would just now be crawling, but instead, Dickey is running toward what is bound to be the first of many excellent releases as Body Copy. I suppose that’s the undisputed benefit of making electronic music - unrestrained creation and output.
Sure, the conception to creation in nine months track might sound intense, but according to Dickey, Body Copy and For a Night With You was born out of a similar, but more intimate intensity:
The goal of this EP was to create a surreal dreamlike mood for the listener. My whole life I've had intensely vivid dreams that sometimes after I wake from sleeping I feel as if I experienced events that "really happened". These experiences are often coupled with an emotional lingering that can range from joy to nostalgia to sadness for something that never really "was". Sonically I've tried to evoke this state by utilizing a lot of retro sounds and instruments including samples from a LinnDrum machine and several analog synthesizers. Also many of the vocal samples throughout the EP hint at this feeling of longing and desire for something that has passed or was never truly there.
The EP itself is something of an idyllic debut for an electronic record/artist, because Dickey uses certain lofi methodologies in his production to create enough space that in turn endorses an atmosphere of vague, personal association, or in the case of Dickey’s purview, “nostalgia.” Not to say that all electronic music deals in and with nostalgia constantly, but there is something to be said for producing something so that it’s vaguely familiar. But rather than dive headfirst into a sea of nostalgia, Dickey also shows some truly eclectic range when it comes to style - he manages to intertwine house with trance, electronica with ambient, and even throws what sound a little like new beat (which preceded techno in late-80s Belgium).
So while Nashville might not be poised to put on its own version of Tomorrowland, or anything like that, the ever burgeoning electronic scene just became one stronger. Body Copy’s impressive output leads one further with regard to who may come to carry the mantle of the scene as it continues to grow - will it be Body Copy? Who knows? It would be fun to place such pressure on the project. But the reality is, when a debut is as strong as For a Night With You is, it’s hard to ignore.