As the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak continues to shutter businesses, cancel shows, and send people into self-quarantine at home, it’s easy to fall into despair. Thankfully, Armada is here to lift you up and get you back on the dance floor. “We wanted to show everyone that even now, music can still lift spirits and help counter the stress that inevitably, and unfortunately, comes with times like these,” Maykel Piron, co-founder of the legendary electronic music label, says EXCLUSIVELY to HollywoodLife about Armada Unites.
Billed as a “cool new album concept” that features tracks from some of the best electronic music artists in the world, Armada Unites also presented an opportunity for “all those bedroom DJs “currently stuck at home with all the time in the world to produce amazing music.” Armada Musicconducted an open submission process until the start of April, allowing any would-be superstar to offer their track to be included on the project. So, Armada Unites will be the showcase of the past, present, and future of electronic music. It’s a multi-part project, that will see four chapters released before they all come together in one giant album. Chapter One has music from Rob Black, AVIRA, Chelement Leroux, and TeddyBeats/Mon Rovia. Chapter Two features Tempo Giusto, ReOrder, Weekend Players & Maor Levi and Three ‘N One/Johnny Shaker/Karney.
It makes sense that electronic music would step up during this dark period. Miami’s Ultra Music Festival was one of the first major U.S. events canceled due to coronavirus, and the first indication of the impact the disease was going to have on life as we know it. Since then, live stream concerts have become the new adopted norm, and electronic music has been leading the charge. In the wake of the Ultra cancelation, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren and more took part in the Ultra Virtual Audio festival. David Guetta held his own not-so-virtual concert. And, Twitch has seen a surge in DJs hosting live streams. EDM may have been struck down first, but it – and the rest of music – will outlast this terrible pandemic.
Such is the positive message behind Armada Unites, and Maykel Piron talked with HollywoodLife about the project’s creation, what was going through his mind when Ultra was canceled, and how we can help artists in this time of need.
HollywoodLife: Do you remember the exact moment that Armada Unites was conceived?
Maykel: We had a quick get-together with the team after we decided to let the entire company work from home, and we all thought we should do something to spread positivity in these unsure and trying times. A light in the dark, so to say. We wanted to show everyone that even now, music can still lift spirits and help counter the stress that inevitably (and unfortunately) comes with times like these. That’s how Armada Unites got started.
Judging by the adverts shared online, Armada Unites is focused on spreading positivity. Will the music chosen for the project reflect this attitude, or will the record traverse all moods/energies?
A bit of both, actually. The core intention of ‘Armada Unites’ is to spread positivity, of course, but the music on the album won’t just stick to those vibes only. As we all know, different kinds of music mean different kinds of things to people. We wanted to put something out there that has something for every taste and flavor, simply so that everyone can pick the songs and vibes they love and draw power from that.
In addition to having Armada artists provide exclusive tracks for Armada Unites, you also offered anyone to submit their record to be included on the album. Did anything particularly surprise you? Did someone submit a track/song that left your jaw on the floor?
There’s definitely a lot of talent out there, and there were plenty of demos that stood out to me. Now it’s just a matter of getting the team together to pick our favorites and fill out the album with the best music out there.
Electronic music was the first major victim of the coronavirus pandemic, so to speak. The Ultra Music Festival was the first music festival being canceled due to coronavirus. Walk us through your feelings when you first heard it was postponed for a year.
That moment was when we all realized that the music industry would be taking heavy blows as well. But even though it’s always tough to see such a massive event canceled, it was the absolute right thing to do. Safety and health should always be our primary concern. The most important thing is that we get through this with as little hurt and sorrow as possible. And if that means we have to postpone events like Ultra, it’s a price I think we’re all more than willing to pay.
After Ultra was postponed, SiriusXM broadcast the Ultra Virtual Audio Festival, featuring Armin van Buuren, Afrojack, and more. Was there any major feedback from that (other than, “man, wish we could have seen this in person?”)
I think a lot of people were really happy that we, as an industry, decided to swap out the physical performances for online shows. A lot of people need music in their lives and may even be lost without it, so it gladdens me to see that the broadcast inspired and empowered so many people.
Speaking of which, many musicians have taken to live streaming their performances, Armada has been no different. What have been some of your favorite live-streaming moments so far?
I really enjoyed one of the first quarantine sets by Erick Morillo and Jamie Jones. Live from Erick’s kitchen in Miami. That was a lot of fun! To be honest, I’m just really happy that the industry is making these things happen. As mentioned before, the least we can do is try to bring some light into the world. And if that spark of positivity helps people get through this, we’ll have achieved our goal.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do once the pandemic has passed?
Get the entire team back into the office and tell them in person how proud I am of them for handling the entire situation the way they did.
How can fans support Armada and its roster of artists at this time?
Keep listening to the music like you always do. Now that artists aren’t performing, they need their music streamed even more than before. It will allow them to keep going and create more amazing music so that we may all enjoy it through a live performance later on.