District 13: An EDM Band That Plays Actual Instruments

Electronic Dance Music. It’s the big thing these days, with kids going nuts over artists with names like Deadmau5, Avicii, and Krewella. It all sounds really cool in a nightclub, but I can’t be the only one wondering what exactly it is they do on stage at music festivals with not much more than a MacBook, a mixing board, and a MIDI keyboard. They turn knobs, they bob their heads, they take sips from bottles of Evian. This is live music?

Well, yeah it is, I don’t want to be crucified by a bunch of millennials for saying it’s not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t crave some good old fashioned instrument-playing every once in a while. And the fact that the music is electronic doesn’t mean it has to come entirely from circuit boards. Take rising Hollywood band District 13, for example. They’re an EDM act by any definition, percussion-heavy with synth-based melodies and soaring vocals good for dancing, but they play honest-to-goodness instruments to get that sound. And when they perform live, they look like an actual band. It’s refreshing.

Comprised of Shintaro (keyboards), Drake (bass), Faby (vocals), and Sig (beats), the band has been tearing up LA in recent weeks, selling out LA’s Amplyfi and getting ready to drop their first single, "Burnin’ the Night Out," a dreamy take on an ideal party (check it out below). They four met while studying at the Music Institute, instantly felt the chemistry, and started putting together some sounds. They began to gel with tunes like "In For The Kill (La Roux/Skream Remix Cover)" and "Cinema (Benny Benassi Club Version Cover)" before deciding that they had it in them to do their own thing. Who knows, maybe Benny Benassi will be covering District 13 next. 

This is a big summer for District 13. Not only will they be releasing their first original tunes, they’ll also perform at venues across LA, introducing audiences to their unique take on a world-leading genre. And if you do dig the instrument/electro hybrid, there are a few other artists to look up. Not only has Daft Punk recently de-emphasized computers for instrumentation, but electro history is punctuated with a few artists who went against the grain, like Swiss drummer Jojo Mayer, who’s somehow able to perform drum-and-bass rhythms on a standard acoustic drum kit (I’ve seen it, and it’s amazing).

Sig and crew seem well poised to follow in his footsteps and take it to the next level. 

[Related: District 13 on SoundCloud; District 13 on Facebook; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]