For me, nothing signals the end of another year quite like music fans and critics alike beginning to release lists ranking the best albums of the year. When looking back on my own favorite projects of 2023, one sticks out above the rest. Something about the shoegaze tinged balls to the walls EDM club tracks on April Mixtape 3 by Snow Strippers scratches an itch nothing else can quite satisfy. The mixtape is third in the line of April Mixtapes released by the duo in the past two years. Electric from start to finish, I couldn’t wait to see how the sound of the breakout duo would transfer to a live setting.
The crowd Snow Strippers collected at the Roxy looked straight out of Lot 3, the heart of UCLA’s own underground electronic music scene. In fact, they played a set there last year in collaboration with UCLA’s own “Alternative Electronic Music Organization” DAW at UCLA (@dawatucla on Instagram). As openers xaviersobased, Ayesha Erotica, and Eera warmed up the crowd, anticipation grew with each consequent act. I especially loved Eera’s set, the mix of ambient and dance oriented tracks made for a divine combination. Eera’s collective, Surf Gang, has been releasing some great DJ sets on NTS Radio, which I highly recommend checking out, especially if you enjoy the sound of Snow Strippers given the two groups’ close collaborative relationship.
Snow Strippers’ set opened with “Under Your Spell,” a fan favorite single off of April Mixtape 3. A simplistic combination of keyboard chords forms the core melody of the song, anchoring the more experimental elements like the glittery synths, looped drum machine beats, and muffled vocals. The whole package adds up to a truly one of a kind sound and perfectly set the tone for the rest of the concert. The crowd retained the high energy established by this initial track. We didn’t stop dancing until the curtains fell.
Some other standout tracks of the night from April Mixtape 3 included “Again” and “It’s a Dream.” If the experimentation of “Under Your Spell” is still grounded by a more conventional dance melody, “Again” throws that all out of the window. Electronic alarms pierce the mix as a nonstop flurry of glitchy, and more importantly, loud, synths completely bathe you in sound. The barely intelligible vocals establish the melody of the track instead, reminiscent of dream pop bands like Cocteau Twins or Slowdive but completely spun on its head within the EDM genre. “It’s a Dream” famously features Lil Uzi Vert whose bold style meshes perfectly with the all out approach Snow Strippers take with their production. The 8-bit synths create a punchy melody that seamlessly accompanies equally punchy verses by Uzi. Sadly but understandably, his part was simply played over the speakers rather than performed live. Regardless, that didn’t stop this track from pumping up the crowd like no other. Everyone was moshing and screaming along with the lyrics.
While April Mixtape 3 was certainly the largest project released by Snow Strippers in 2023, it wasn’t the only. The duo’s recently released EP, Night Killaz Vol. 1, dropped only one week before their performance at the Roxy. As a result, I eagerly awaited hearing which of the newly released tracks would stand out in this live setting. “Aching Like It’s” features some of the best vocals Tatiana Schwaninger, the duo’s vocalist, has put to a Snow Strippers track. The melancholy lyrics of the song combined with the throbbing, high-energy synths offer a cathartic crying-in-the-club feel to the song, which proved extremely satisfying performed live in a tightly-packed club. “Just Your Doll” the lead and only single off the EP also manifested as one of the more electric tracks of the night. Beginning with a simple keyboard melody, the song abruptly transitions to a beat consisting of loud sirens and even louder, bass-boosted 808s.
Having only released their debut album last year, Snow Strippers have continued their upward trajectory into 2023 with the releases of April Mixtape 3 and Night Killaz Vol. 1. Currently slated to perform at Sick New World, a huge alternative music festival in Las Vegas this coming April, I have no doubts the duo will only continue to garner a larger and larger fanbase as their unique sound continues to dominate the underground electronic scene, all while they move towards bigger and bolder gigs, venues, and projects.
Keep it coming.