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Go BackPOP UR ROX - DanceStar Awards' co-organizer Ben Turner brings the market to the mass

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Dancestar USA is the most widely broadcast electronic dance music event. This year it will bind several nations united under the transmitted groove and many more music professionals under one roof.

“If we left it to the Brit Awards in the UK to tell us what the best dance music is, we'd all be listening to Mis-teeq!” quips DanceStar’s cheeky Ben Turner.

Dance music heads and affluent award shindigs colliding at such grandiose and televised levels as achieved by ‘DanceStar, are rare and contemporary occurrences. The first major electronic dance music event broadcast worldwide was DanceStar in 2000. These ‘World Dance Music Awards’ held at Alexandra Palace, London were beamed to in excess of one hundred million viewers worldwide, and DanceStar’s prized entrance was needless to say, a colossal success… In 2001 the DanceStar formula returned once again to London, complete with Faithless, Paul Oakenfold and with a new media vehicle – the DanceStar Magazine. In 2002 DanceStar was back again, this time with Boy George, Tiesto, Orbital and a new branded compilation CD, together with half a million online nomination votes for the artists… Now that’s what we call music business.

The masterminds behind this TV triumph are Founder Andy Ruffell; Creative Director (Talent/ Nominations/ Magazine) Ben Turner; Production Director Matt Donegan and a host of other managers and co-ordinators besides. Andy Ruffell, BMX lover and founder of ‘DanceStar’ is no stranger to award ceremonies; he launched the MasterCard MOBO Awards in 1995 (with Kanya King) and is a music and entertainment expert, having produced countless award shows. Andy hooked up with Ben Turner following the ‘Muzik Magazine Dance Awards’ and after Ben resigned from Editorial Director at ‘Worldpop’ to launch his own company. The initiative born from this unification was ‘to create the first truly global platform for dance music, and launching in America was the crucial next step.’

As planned March 2002 saw the US launch of DanceStar (‘The American Dance Music Awards,’) which took place at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in South Beach, Miami. DanceStar 2003 followed suit but with a live-show taking place on the sands of Miami beach. This was to become the most watched dance/ electronic music show in history (with around eight hundred million in total tuning in!) The date’s now set for DanceStar 2004. On Tuesday 9th March at 6pm DanceStar goes live from Bayfront Park, Miami and is promising all manner of surprises... So read on and determine more as Creative Director, Ben Turner talks about dance music, jaded music hacks, the underground versus mainstream dispute, celebrity and not getting enough sleep, among other things…

Hello Ben, how are things stateside; do you live in Miami these days?
"I am living between Miami, London and Ibiza. A very amazing situation to be in! I am dedicating more time to being in America though, because what we're achieving with DanceStar is incredibly exciting, and will also be of major benefit to the entire global dance community. It also helps not having to read pathetic put-downs of dance music by jaded music hacks in British broadsheets. We don't feel such negativity on the sands of South Beach! Miami feels like the centre of the world right now, so it's a great place to be based."

You're Creative Director of DanceStar, how did you first become involved with its founder Andy Ruffell?
"I launched the ‘Muzik Magazine Dance Awards’ in 1996 with the help of all my colleagues at IPC Magazines and also Garry Blackburn and Anglo Plugging. The awards were not only a personal highlight of my year, but it soon became one of the most important dates on the global dance music calendar worldwide… And that was without any television broadcast! DanceStar came into the frame in 2000 and immediately delivered a major UK broadcast, which immediately made everybody take them very seriously. Ultimately, award shows exist in the eyes of the music industry to help sell them product and develop the careers of their artists, and clearly television is critical in making that happen. When I resigned from my position as Editorial Director of ‘Worldpop’ to launch my own company Graphite Media, Andy Ruffell approached me with the idea of helping him create DanceStar USA. The idea was to create the first truly global platform for dance music, and launching in America was the crucial next step. I was excited and ignited by Andy's enthusiasm, energy and vision in where this could potentially end up, and I didn't hesitate to get involved. The first year was incredibly tough and we delivered something quite amazing in March 2002 when you consider that the green light on the show was only given some four weeks before the actual event took place. The success of DanceStar UK combined with my contacts and respect from the US industry (thanks to my work with Muzik Magazine,) enabled us to deliver nominees, winners and strong performing artists. Paul Oakenfold, Fatboy Slim, David Morales, Tiesto, Kelis, Roger Sanchez... Lenny Kravitz. It was a good start, and I can honestly say that the level of production we delivered turned many heads in the American dance music industry. It was a great starting point!"

DanceStar was born in 2000, and has risen to the top of all dance award ceremonies, how did it actualise from initial ideas?
"In all honesty, only the Muzik Awards had any real level of respect from the industry, and therefore DanceStar's ability to deliver television and major performing artists made it easy to succeed. When I think back to why we launched the Muzik awards, it was because I'd witnessed so many appalling dance awards shows in the UK that it made me ashamed to be working in this industry. I can think now of the IDA Awards in Kentish Town which was simply shocking and fuelled me with energy to do something about it. I think Andy then picked up on how un-ambitious IPC Magazines really were with the Muzik Awards, as we had the industry in the palm of our hands, but no money to take it anywhere. DanceStar created a strong brand name, a strong look, delivered major sponsors and worldwide television but as an organisation it appeared from nowhere and ultimately still needed to win the respect of the artists. In the last two years, we've arrested this problem by trying to find ways to help make the brand exist throughout the year and not just appear once a year. We've created the ‘Dance Music Academy’ in America to help put together the nominees, and we listen to what the industry is saying to us. We will create a European version of the Dance Music Academy very soon..."

The first events were held at Alexandra Palace, London, how did the US enter your agenda?
"Andy wanted to create a global platform for dance music. It hadn't been done before and an awards show is the perfect platform to help make that happen. There is also no doubt that there’s so much growth in American dance music and Andy felt there was room for something like this to work. It's been tough, but it's really starting to feel like we will be sitting
alongside the Grammy's in a few years time. The American industry has taken the lead in terms of using dance music in Hollywood films, major TV commercials and of course their DJs have forever been innovating… And let's not forget where this music started, which is something we seem to have to keep reminding people!"

The 9th March at 6pm is when DanceStar USA 2004 kicks off on South Beach, are you hoping to break even more records (with audience figures etc) this year?
"Well, we hope to break dance records into new territories through artists delivering amazing performances etc. We're not really about selling as many tickets as possible to the event. The show is made for global television syndication, and that's the priority. We pride ourselves on every major DJ / producer attending, particularly as this is now the only event at the WMC EVENT which can proudly say it achieves that. There is a lot of talk about the new conference launching this year, but truth be told DanceStar is the main focus of WMC now and this is the best opportunity to see everybody in one place. We're always trying to get the broadcast shown in as many homes around the world, and we'll not stop until DanceStar is on major networks in every country in the world. And of course, we pride ourselves on delivering
an amazing line-up, which is unrivalled at any festival or dance event anywhere in the world. P. Diddy last year... Wait till you see who we have this year!!!"

How are 'The Dance Music Academy' chosen by DanceStar, and how does that produce your eventual nomination list for the thirty-three award categories, then voted for by the ‘public?’
”The Dance Music Academy was formed for the 2002 show, and we've expanded it this year to help bring in wider opinions and views. The one hundred members submit their nominees for all thirty-three categories, and these returns then make up the nominations for DanceStar. The academy also encouraged us to add new categories this year, and we're grateful for their input. I think we will increase the academy even more in 2004, and bring in more actual artists as opposed to just industry figures.”

It's been said by the 'Miami New Times' that, "If any event can root DJ culture out of the underground, it may just be DanceStar USA." This quote hits the nail on the head… Do you think DJ culture sits comfortably with mainstream celebrity?
”Well, yes I do. Certainly in America! As I said before, dance music has never hit the mainstream in American, and truth be told we'd probably all like to push it so that it just sits under the mainstream music world, so that it always retains its incredible credibility and doesn't implode like it did in the UK two years ago. There’s a clever game to be played in teasing the mainstream world with this music, but not hitting it home too hard so that it gets rejected by the next generation. I believe we can root DJ culture out of the underground, but I also agree with the belief that it must retain its underground identity to allow it to develop and mutate into new forms of music. I think dance music is now part of a technology generation and I don't ever see that disappearing when you look at it in that context.”

I'm playing devil's advocate now, but what would you say to the cynics who say that DJ culture doesn't need celebrity, Rolex’s and extravagant ceremonies to know what time it is, or who is indeed the best?
”I think we all need a platform to celebrate what's good in our industry. What is important, is that the outside world understands what’s good in our own genre; which is why categories like ‘Best New Artist Album’ are probably the most important of all the thirty-three at DanceStar. So many people jump onto the new names they’ve seen hyped in the media, but ultimately everybody is chasing and repeating the same names. Now that there is so much interest in dance music from mainstream media, we need to portray the right image of our own genre. If we left it to the Brit Awards in the UK to tell us what the best dance music is, we'd all be listening to Mis-teeq. The Grammy's seem to get it right, but again every industry should have its own shop window where people can truly understand what is innovating and exciting at that moment in time. I don't see The Postal Service, The Rapture or Audio Bullys being nominated at any other awards shows and they are three of the freshest acts the global music world has delivered recently.”

2004 is your debut year for DanceStar Magazine USA, in partnership with Borders; the (hundred-page) publication comes out March, is it to be an annual?
”The DanceStar Magazine will be annual. It's important for us as a brand, and also for all the nominated artists that there is one product with all the information together... We're very proud of the association with Borders, who have been tremendously supportive in our quest to develop the DanceStar brand. We have some exciting plans with Borders in 2004… The magazine will act as a showcase to all that’s good in American dance music - something anybody who works in this business can use as a guide to sponsors, TV networks, newspapers and festival promoters to show how strong this genre is in America. The magazine is free and will be available in Borders USA from March 1st. There will also be 20,000 copies available at the Winter Music Conference.”

Any more plans for your DanceStar CD's?
”The first DanceStar USA CD will be out in mid-March in America. We will be announcing the details of this exciting new deal very shortly.”

Do you have any rumour, gossip or inflated facts to reveal here about DanceStar 2004?
”Well, we will be announcing a major host any day now, and live acts are being confirmed. We're having very exciting conversations with the kinds of artists we didn't think we'd reach for another year or two, so things look good. Our after-show party takes place at Myntultralounge on Collins Avenue. The venue only holds 700 people and entry is strictly by invitation only. I have six DJs playing, all of which are playing classics from different eras / scenes of influential American dance music (Miami, New York, Chicago etc). There are some major surprises but we'll leave that until the night of the event!”

Thanks for your time - you must be kind of busy right now…”I'm currently on the Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Miami, so good timing! No sleep until March 10th! Or perhaps even a few days after that!” [center]
Congratulations to MOBY who has been named winner of the award for ‘Outstanding Contribution To American Dance Music.’ [/center] Moby, who will attend DanceStar in Miami to collect the award, said, "I am proud and honoured to be accorded this recognition by DanceStar and the electronic music industry in America. I understand this is the most prestigious award at the annual event and that means a lot to me. I've been involved in dance music since 1984 (almost twenty years!) and it's great that there is finally a TV event like DanceStar showcasing the music's continued development."

DanceStar is launching a weekly DJ mix show on Sirius Satellite Radio. The show is titled ‘DanceStar Global Mix’ and will feature exclusive sets from the world's biggest DJs. Geronimo, director of programming for Sirius, states: "We are truly excited to bring the DanceStar Global Mix to Sirius. DanceStar will bring an amazing amount of credibility and world class talent to Sirius Six Two Remix." The show airs nationwide on February 7th from 9-10pm EST.

DanceStar have announced a major global radio distribution deal with Westwood One - the largest radio distribution company in America. The deal, excluding satellite, means that live broadcasts from the show and promotional packages featuring DanceStar nominated artists will be offered to over 1,000 radio stations across the US and internationally.

DanceStar CEO Andy Ruffell said: "Dance music radio is rare in the US and we are really pushing our new relationship with Westwood One to change that."

Voting for DanceStar USA 2004 (the American Dance Music Awards) commenced on Monday 26th Jan online.

DanceStar USA takes place on Tuesday March 9th in Miami and the event is to be filmed for worldwide television broadcast. In the meantime here are the nominees for your consideration… Now use your vote!

Also look out for DanceStar Asia in Hong Kong, December 2004…


Christina Aguilera
Mariah Carey
Sarah McLachlan
P. Diddy
Britney Spears
Justin Timberlake

BEST ACT (US Artists)
Deborah Cox
The Crystal Method
The Postal Service
The Roc Project

Basement Jaxx
Benny Benassi
The Chemical Brothers


BEST ALBUM (Worldwide Artists)
Basement Jaxx - 'Kish Kash' (Astralwerks)
BT - 'Emotional Technology' (Nettwerk)
The Crystal Method - 'Legion Of Boom' (V2 Records)
OutKast - 'Speakerboxxx' / 'The Love Below' (Arista)
Paul Van Dyk - 'Reflections' (Mute)

BEST SINGLE (Worldwide Artists)
BT - 'Simply Being Loved (Somnambulist)' (Nettwerk)
Benny Benassi Presents The Biz - 'Satisfaction' (Ultra Records)
The Crystal Method - 'Born Too Slow' (V2 Records)
Kelis - 'Milkshake' (Star Trak)
Motorcycle - 'As The Rush Comes' (Ultra Records)
Murk - 'Alright' (Tommy Boy)
Jason Nevins presents Holly James - 'I'm In Heaven' (Ultra Records)
Danni Minogue - 'I Begin To Wonder' (Ultra Records)
OutKast - 'Hey Ya' (Arista)
The Roc Project Featuring Tina Novak - 'Never' (Tommy Boy)

BEST REMIX (Worldwide Remixers)
Christina Aguilera - 'Beautiful (Peter Rauhofer Remix)' (RCA)
Beyonce featuring Jay-Z - 'Crazy In Love (Maurice Joshua Remix)' (Columbia Records)
Monica - 'So Gone (The Scumfrog Remix)' (J Records)
Yoko Ono - 'Walking On Thin Ice (Danny Tenaglia Remix)' (Mind Train / Twisted)
Iggy Pop with Freedom Featuring Peaches - 'Motor Inn (Felix Da Housecat Remix)' (Virgin)
P. Diddy - 'Let's Get Ill (Deep Dish Remix)' (Bad Boy)
Elvis Presley - 'Rubberneckin' (Paul Oakenfold Remix)' (RCA)
Seal - 'Get It Together (Bill Hamel Remix)' (Warner Bros)
Sting - 'Send Your Love (Josh Wink Remix)' (A&M)
Justin Timberlake - 'Rock Your Body (Sander Kleinenberg Remix)' (Jive)

BEST VIDEO (Worldwide Artists)
Benny Benassi Presents The Biz - 'Satisfaction' (Ultra Records)
BT - 'Simply Being Loved (Somnambulist)' (Nettwerk)
The Chemical Brothers featuring The Flaming Lips - 'The Golden Path'(Astralwerks)
The Crystal Method - 'Born Too Slow' (V2 Records)
Kylie Minogue - 'Slow' (Capitol)

Audio Bullys - 'Ego War' (Astralwerks)
FannyPack - 'So Stylistic' (Tommy Boy)
Mark Farina - 'Air Farina' (Om Records)
Goldfrapp - 'Black Cherry' (Mute)
Hybrid - 'Morning Sci-Fi' (Distinctive)
Kaskade - 'It's You, It's Me' (Om Records)
The Postal Service - 'Give Up' (Sub Pop)
The Rapture - 'Echoes' (Universal)
Armin Van Buuren - '76' (Ultra Records / United Recordings)
Weekend Players - 'Pursuit Of Happiness' (ffrr / Warner Bros)

Deep Dish - 'Toronto 025' (Global Underground)
Ferry Corsten - 'Mixed Live – Spundae @ Circus, Los Angeles' (Moonshine Music)
Louie Devito Presents - 'Ultra Dance 04' (Ultra Records)
Sander Kleinenberg - 'Everybody - It's A Renaissance' (Thrive)
Paul Oakenfold - 'Great Wall' (Perfecto / Thrive)
Peter Rauhofer - 'Live @ Roxy 2' (Star 69)
Tiga - 'DJ Kicks' (Studio K7)
Underworld - '1992-2002' (V2 Records)
Various Artists - 'Verve Remixed 2' (Verve)
Josh Wink - 'Profound Sounds Vol 2' (Ovum / System Recordings)

Thomas Bangalter - 'Irreversible' (Thrive / Roule)
Original Soundtrack - 'Kill Bill' (Maverick)
Motion Picture Soundtrack - 'Lost In Translation' (Emperor Norton)
The Matrix Reloaded - 'The Album' (Maverick)
Soundtrack - 'Party Monster' (TVT)

Bad Boy Bill - 'Behind The Decks' (System Recordings)
The Chemical Brothers - 'Singles 93-03' (Astralwerks)
Daft Punk & Leiji Matsumoto - 'Interstella 5555' (Virgin)
Moby - '18 B-Sides + DVD' (V2 Records)
Paul Van Dyk - 'Global' (Mute)


Bad Boy Bill
Victor Calderone
Sandra Collins
Deep Dish
DJ Dan
Oscar G
Peter Rauhofer
Roger Sanchez
Danny Tenaglia
Josh Wink

Ferry Corsten
John Digweed
Richie Hawtin
Danny Howells
Sander Kleinenberg
Steve Lawler
Paul Oakenfold
Paul Van Dyk

Felix Da Housecat
Masters At Work
Jeff Mills
David Morales
Erick Morillo

Jason Bentley - 'Metropolis' (KCRW, Los Angeles)
Swedish Egil & Richard 'Humpty' Vission -'Powertools' (KPWR-FM, Los Angeles)
Vic Latino - 'The KTU House Party' (WKTU, New York)
DJ Merritt - 'Edgeclub' (KDGE, Dallas)
Liquid Todd - 'Solid State' (K Rock, New York)

Gabriel & Dresden
Carl Kennedy
The Scumfrog

Rosanna Arquette
Adrien Brody
Cameron Douglas
Paris Hilton
Danny Masterson


KCRW (Los Angeles)
Sirius Satellite Radio - Channel 66: The Beat (nationwide)
WKTU (New York)
WPYM / Party 93.1 (Miami)
XM Satellite Radio - Channel 80: The Move (nationwide)

Paul Van Dyk / Felix Da Housecat / DJ Colette for Motorola (Mute - Van Dyk only)
Moby - 'Love Of Strings' for Jaguar (V2 Records)
N.E.R.D. - 'Rockstar (Jason Nevins Remix)' for iTunes / Apple (Star Trak)
DJ Rap - 'Twix' for Twix (unreleased)
Weekend Players - 'Best Days Of Our Lives' for Budweiser (ffrr / Warner Bros)

'Amplitude' (Harmonix)
'DDR Max 2 - Dance Dance Revolution' (Konami)
'Grand Theft Auto III' (Rockstar Games)
'Need For Speed Underground 4' (EA Games)
'SSX3' (EA Games)

George Sarah - 'Ossia' on Plastic Surgery Before And After / Discovery Channel
The Crystal Method - 'Born Too Slow' on Third Watch / NBC
John Digweed & Nick Muir on Spider-Man / MTV
Junkie XL - 'A Little Less Conversation' on Las Vegas / NBC
Sasha - 'Magnetic North' on CSI: Miami / CBS

DJ Times



Deep Space (Mondays at Cielo, New York)
Danny Tenaglia Presents Be Yourself (Fridays at Arc, New York)
Giant (Saturdays at Avalon, Los Angeles)
Space (Saturdays at Space, Miami)
Spundae (Saturdays at Circus, Los Angeles)

Avalon (Los Angeles)
Cielo (New York)
Crobar (New York)
Ruby Skye (San Francisco)
Space (Miami)

Coachella (Coachella Valley, Indio)
De La Guarda DJ Connection (Daryl Roth Theater, New York)
Playstation 2 Dual Play Tour (nationwide)
Ultra 5 Music Festival (Bayfront Park, Miami)
Paul Van Dyk at Summerstage 2003 (Central Park, New York)

Global Underground
Moonshine Music
Star 69
System Recordings
Ultra Records

Gabriel & Dresden
Jason Nevins
Robbie Rivera

Moby (selected by the Dance Music Academy)

Stay tuned to the DanceStar website for up to date news…

Words by Señorita Loco