Paper Diamonds in the Sky
In the electronic dance music world, aka EDM, there are many “also known as” labels. The genre is related to dubstep or electro-house music. Alex Botwin, also known as Paper Diamond, one of the hottest D.J.’s on the scene today. He is coming to Pensacola Beach to show off his skills during DeLuna Fest.
The term D.J., or disk jockey, means so much more than just spinning records, CDs or announcing songs. Being a D.J. means spinning both of those, while playing prerecorded beats/tracks on a computer, all mediums are then connected to towers of bass heavy speakers, and altered and mixed with the other electronics to bring you all the highs, lows and mids. To add to the excitement of a show are some high-powered light shows, complete with lasers.
It used to be that electronic dance music and dubstep had a limited following, the followers were dedicated to the genre. By dedicated I mean, really into it. There are two dance music themed cruises, S.S. Coachella and Holy Ship!!, and so many music festivals dedicated to the craft all over Europe and the U.S. Some notable music festivals are Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, Sensation in Amsterdam, Ultra Music Fest in Miami and Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, Mich.
We had the fortune of having another well-known D.J., Diplo, perform at last year’s DeLuna Fest. There is something special about this type of music—it makes you feel like you are about to blow out a knee from dancing so much.
Literally, the tables are turning for these D.J.’s; it is not just a house party scene anymore. To put this burgeoning music movement into perspective, Forbes magazine just published a highest-paid D.J. list titled, “Electronic Cash Kings.” The top three, based on annual income totals, D.J. Tiesto $22 million, Skrillex $15 million and Swedish House Mafia who rounds out the top three with $14 million in annual income.
Performing as Paper Diamond for only a year or so, Botwin’s first show was opening for Bassnectar on New Year’s Eve, at the Tabernacle in Atlanta—not a shabby start.
IN caught up with Botwin while he was grabbing some coffee during a break from working on his music.
IN: What does the name Paper Diamond mean?
BOTWIN: It means taking a thing and making it into something. Taking a piece of paper and making it into a diamond. It is a metaphor for self-expression. Nothing into something—personal action.
IN: What equipment do you use?
BOTWIN: I have a guitar, turntable, beat mixer, and I use my computer a lot.
IN: Tell us about your beginnings and your first live show.
BOTWIN: I had been a musician for about nine years. I left music school with about one year left. My first show was New Year’s Eve in Atlanta, at the Tabernacle, playing with Bassnectar. There has been a lot of growth in my music and my following since that show. I really respect the craft, and have been fortunate enough to play in some prestigious places. I am super grateful to be among my idols.
IN: What has been your favorite venue thus far?
BOTWIN: Playing Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado was a big one. The Georgia Theatre, in Athens, Ga. was another favorite. Each day is so different, the crowd, the venue, the vibe. The LED screens on stage make a visual presence. I am a designer so I love to use the screens for creativity, almost making each venue my own.
IN: How do you pick what you are going to play, when?
BOTWIN: I have a whole bunch of music, electronic and other things. Hundreds of tracks so, my set is totally improvised. I can pick where I want to go musically, for a stronger connection to the crowd. Music is a conversation; each instrument has its own voice, space and presentation.
IN: What creation are you most proud of?
BOTWIN: Musically, I have really grown and am happy about where my music is now. However, I am most proud of the Elm and Oak Academy. The name stands for Exclusive Limited Merchandise and One of a Kinds. It is a record label, design shop, and clothing line, delivering inspiration and creativity to Colorado and beyond. We currently release my music and for Two Fresh, Raw Russ, and Black Actors. We are the first non-student owned student group to get funding. We will go on campus to discuss music production, the music business, bring booking agents, explore and discuss techniques. I really want to inspire others to do something.
IN: What is the Night Vision Tour?
BOTWIN: Well, recently, I purchased some vintage prescription glassed from Germany, they are my only glasses now, and they have a gradient tint that seems really dark at night. Someone came up to me and asked me if I could see at night, so began the idea for night vision. Josh Holland, the best character designer I know, made the poster for the tour, it features me in those glasses.
IN: Can you explain the point in your shows called the drop?
BOTWIN: Musically there is a tone build up, it electronically creates tension, and then there is a release, which is the drop. The crowd explodes. It is melodic and slamming with bass-chord changes and melodies. It explores the excitement; every one freaks out and it creates an experience, musically.
10:15-11:15 p.m., Saturday, WindCreek Stage