Last year, deep house producer and DJ Lane 8 (real name: Daniel Goldstein) started a movement that sent shockwaves across the musical landscape -- he stopped letting fans record his shows on their phones. As attendees trickled into the San Francisco venue hosting his newly conceived concept last summer, staff members placed opaque bands around the camera lens of every phone in an attempt to pull everyone’s attention away from their screens and onto the stage and the like-minded people around them. The anti-camera theme was called “This Never Happened.”
It was a risky move in a time when most concert-goers are used to having their views blocked by a phone recording a grainy video that’ll likely be posted to Snapchat and never accessed again. But This Never Happened resonated with Lane 8’s audience. The idea that was initially supposed to last for one show bus has been extended to every concert he’s headlined since, spanning from North America to Australia and India.
That being said, many will be pleased to know phones will be allowed at CRSSD festival, where Lane 8 is billed as a headliner for the first time alongside iconic performers like Hot Since 82 and The Magician -- who in fact aided the rise of Lane 8 in 2013 when he played one of his first tracks on his radio show.
The Denver-based producer talked with AOL ahead of CRSSD (Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at San Diego’s Waterfront Park) about the festival, his thoughts on the underground electronic scene and the reasoning behind his no-phones policy.
AOL: You’ve performed at CRSSD a couple times, and now you’re back as a headliner. What has your experiences with CRSSD been like, and have you been able to perceive any inflection points that have helped you rise to headlining status here?
L8: I think it’s a really special festival. It’s a pretty unique setting, and I think it translates really well to the whole festival experience. A lot of festivals I play are primarily focused on more mainstream media and have the deeper stage, whereas CRSSD is really just about deeper, underground music. It’s not like you’re on some tiny stage and everyone is off seeing Tiesto. It’s more focused on the type of music that I’m really into, so it’s a perfect fit.
AOL: Before CRSSD revealed the second phase of its lineup that you were a part of, the event’s Facebook page posted an update with a hint for each of the upcoming acts so fans could guess who’d be playing. The hint given for you was, “A DJ who doesn’t like phones in the club” -- and a ton of people in the comments section pegged you for that immediately. Are you comfortable carrying that label around as the “no phones” guy?
L8: I think the fact that people would recognize it so quickly, it makes me proud that we've successfully gotten our message out. When we started the whole This Never Happened concept, one of the biggest concerns we had was getting the word out and having fans understand what it is that we were trying to do. I think, luckily, we’ve had fans that understand why it’s important to disconnect when you’re at a club or a concert venue.
AOL: When you set out to do This Never Happened, what were you expecting for the reception of it and how’d that compare to the reality?
L8: There were some nerves and doubts over whether we could pull it off. Especially in San Francisco, which is like the tech capital of the world. But then, at the time it was the best show we’d ever done. Everyone was fully aware of the concept. People were self-policing. If someone whipped their phone out, we’d see people within the crowd telling them off, which is what we’d always wanted and were hoping for. It was one of those rare occasions where the way you dreamed it up is exactly how it happened.
I have to give credit to people that worked with me on it, but also to the fans, because ultimately it's up to them to adopt this concept and really live it or not. It’s a testament to fans to be willing to try something new and different, and to be respectful of an artist's wishes at a concert. So it’s kind of restored a lot of faith in humanity for me as well, to see how well it’s gone down.
AOL: I know a few fans of yours who have gotten into electronic music after you acted as a sort of gateway artist into the genre. What do you think it is about your brand of melodic deep house that has the ability to win over fans like that who might not like other electronic music?
L8: That’s a really complex question that I could talk about for hours. There’s obviously been a huge commercialization of dance music over the last 5 or 6 years. It’s entered the pop realm and the music has changed. If we’re talking about the example of Tiesto, he used to make amazing music back in the day. And now he makes pop music, and you can say whatever you want about it.
But I don’t think the core of dance music has necessarily changed that much since the 80s. Obviously, different genres have popped up and production techniques have advanced. It’s just that now, the biggest acts in electronic music are actually pop artists, rather than just the best underground artists, if that makes sense. But there’s always been and always will be amazing underground music, and I’m happy to be a part of that.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.