Breakaway Music Festival announces two feverous lineups for Columbus & Grand Rapids

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Prime Social Group is back with their biggest unveil to date. Now boasting nine festivals under the Breakaway, Prime, Haunted Fest, and #Fest brands, PSG’s elevating the supreme curation the brand’s been exploring at the intersection of hip-hop and electronic music. This year, Breakaway Music Festival serves as an outright testament to the booking that’s taking the industry by storm.

The festival will return to Grand Rapids’ Belknap Park on August 24 & 25 and Columbus’ Mapfre Stadium on August 24–26, expanding into a three-day festival installment for the first time ever.

Columbus’ Breakaway Music Festival Columbus welcomes the Grammy-nominated DJ and producer Kaskade, live electronic innovators ODESZA, the modern 4/4 master Chris Lake, OWSLA’s own bass champion Ekali, Phantoms, Kayzo, and more. Columbus will also invite some of contemporary music’s most in-demand acts including pop maverick Halsey, Khalid, and Quinn XCII.

Breakaway Music Festival Grand Rapids will also host ODESZA, as well as Borgeous, NGHTMRE, Migos, and many, many more.

As PSG’s booking outreach continues, Breakaway Music Festival will only continue to serve as an emblem of the brand’s coveted understanding of its young audience.

Photo Credit: Tyler Church

Beyoncé takes the throne, Ekali sends it, David Byrne rewrites history & more: Here’s everything that happened at Coachella day 2

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Ekali played to a packed Sahara tent in the middle of the afternoon

As if closing out the Do LaB tent wasn’t enough of an achievement, Ekali’s Sahara tent set was a testament to his massive growth and range as a producer. With over 20,000 in attendance, it’s for certain that Ekali’s destined for a monumental year, and to that, a congratulations is in order.

When you bring @denzelcurryph to your @coachella set and he incites a riot 🤷🏻‍♂️

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Party Favor delivers a star-studded set

Party Favor‘s set was filled with surprises. Dropping off a fervent performance with surprises from Tyga, Jamie Foxx, and Rich The Kid, Party Favor saw that things got a even hotter out on the polo fields.

OSCAR WINNER @iamjamiefoxx #coachella @ohdagyo

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Louis the Child brought out Joey Purp and debuted some new music

EDM’s fastest rising duo, Louis the Child, dropped their new original and confirmed a new remix of a new Khalid song.

MØ brought out Diplo and Charli XCX

Danish pop artist  graduated from her “Lean On” performance two years ago at Coachella with Major Lazer and blew the crowd away with her main stage sunset performance, where she even managed to bring out a few friends along the way. In addition to performing a solo rendition of the Justin Beiber featured “Cold Water,” MØ brought out Charli XCX for “Porsche,” and danced onstage with Diplo for their collaboration “Get It Right.”

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter, Getty Images for Coachella

David Byrne rewrote history

Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne took the stage with a performance of past and present classics in Stop making Sense fashion, even finishing on a cover of Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout,” listing names of black victims of police violence with an absolutely epic drum-heavy rendition.

Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison, Getty Images for Coachella

Beyoncé took the throne

Queen B delivered. As expected, Beyoncé’s headlining performance was nothing short iconic. Undoubtedly, it’ll go down as one of the greatest Coachella performances in history with Beyoncé standing as the first ever woman of color to headline the festival. “Ain’t that ’bout a bitch?” she quixotically squealed, when talking about the phenomena.

Photo Credit: Larry Busacca, Getty Images for Coachella 

Moving through her performance with poise, hair flowing, barely seeming to break a sweat, Beyoncé’s energy and the performance’s production proved she’s one of the greatest entertainers to ever grace the stage. The New York Times has even gone so far to call her bigger than Coachella in their latest editorial.

She opened with a performance of “Crazy In Love,” brought out her husband JAY-Z for one of their many collaborations “Déjà Vu,” had her sister Solange come out for “Get Me Bodied,” and then she did the unthinkable. She saved humanity. I mean—and then she reunited Destiny’s Child.

Although rumors of a Destiny’s Child reunion have been circulating for months, nothing comes close to the real thing. The trio performed “Lose My Breath,” “Say My Name,” and “Soldier.”

“I was supposed to perform last year but I got pregnant, thank God,” Beyoncé said before closing her set with an a cappella rendition of her uplifting “Love On Top.” “I had time to dream with two beautiful souls in my belly and this is everything and more I had in my dream, so thank you for sharing this with me. I want to sing this last song to all my incredible, beautiful fans. Loyal fans. Ride or dies. I love y’all.”

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Larry Busacca, Getty Images for Coachella

Ekali & Medasin – Forever ft Elohim

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Ekali and Medasin teamed up with Elohim to produce a stunning new original, “Forever.” With heartwarming lyrics, dreamy chord progressions, and relaxed beats, “Forever” is a moving creation with a delicate feel, bound to stir the hearts of listeners across the world.

Elohim’s smooth, airy vocals add a soothing dimension over breathtaking instrumentation, as the renowned artists master a sound that is both uplifting and melodic.

Canadian producer, Ekali, is known for his distinct, harmonic future sound, and has garnered worldwide support for hits such as his mesmerizing collaboration with Zhu, “Blame,” as well as his alluring single, “Past Life.” With innovative American producer, Medasin, the team has engineered a track that will undoubtedly captivate fans upon first listen. Ekali and Elohim are set to make appearances at Coachella this weekend bringing passion into their performances that will surely be full of surprises.

Beyond the headliners: DA presents the top 10 must-see acts of Coachella 2018

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America’s cornerstone music festival is fast approaching its Empire Polo Club descent. As Coachella Music Valley Music & Arts Festival enters its 19th annual celebration, the festival reflects on music’s past, relishes in its present, and amplifies its future. It’s an exuberant apex promising the land of milk and honey for its frenzied fashion frolickers and music aficionados alike.

Those that secured passes this year conquered its fastest selling edition on record despite having endured a price hike. This year sees the Goldenvoice brainchild packing punches and taking names as per usual. Rock ‘n roll’s presence has dwindled, giving rise to rap, pop, and R&B. Beyoncé, The Weeknd, and Eminem are headlining. In the electronica arena, rising acts like Louis the Child, Alan Walker, AC Slater, Petit Biscuit, Whethan, Cash Cash, and San Holo are carrying the torch of a new era of radio-friendly, pop-centric dance music, which Coachella’s clearly noticing based on their booking choices. 

We here at Dancing Astronaut have taken to compile a complete list of acts we deem unmissable ahead of the gathering’s first weekend. By now the set times have dropped and there are inevitable conflicts, but these acts are among the most exciting debuts, performances, and compasses for where dance music has been and will shift in the years to come.

10) Ekali

Photo Credit: Brandon Artis

If a cosign from Skrillex doesn’t entice you, perhaps it’ll behoove you to know that the OWSLA signee Ekali sold out his Babylon tour through December of last year. Maybe you’d like to know that the trap maven moves through genres with ease, having collaborated already with TroyBoi, Denzel Curry, and KRANE. Last year, he released a huge collaboration with Zhu and dropped a wide range of mixes, including his three-hour-long Awakening mixes, a Diplo & Friends mix, and a Triple J mix. Ekali became a household name in the dance community in 2017, and accordingly, DA named him one of the producers of the year. This year, he’s moved from his 2016 DoLab performance slot to an afternoon slot in the Sahara tent and if that isn’t an impressive testament to his own, and a rising class of new dance acts’ versatility, growth, and impact in the modern dance realm we truly don’t know what is.

9) Petit Biscuit

Photo Courtesy of Sacks & Co.

Nineteen-year-old Mehdi Benjelloun, known musically as Petit Biscuit, has already proven his music production talents are well beyond his years. Classically trained in the cello by the age of five, Benjelloun’s monumental remix of ODESZA‘s “Memories That You Call,” drew comparisons to the duo with a refreshing injection of poise. Not to mention, Petit Biscuit wrote, produced, and mixed his debut album Presence over the course of the last year, somehow finding a balance between high school exams and sold-out tours across the world. Petit Biscuit’s Coachella debut is a testament to a new class of classically trained electronic musicians. May there be plenty more to come.

8) Kölsch

Photo Credit: Adrien Combes

Just last year, Kölsch ran through a slew of high profile festivals, had a stellar BBC Radio 1, an Ibiza residency at one of the island’s most renowned new destinations, played the iconic DC 10, Berghain‘s Panorama bar, and performed on the Eiffel Tower for five million people around the world. With both ease and great comfort, Kölsch’s sets implement an articulate understanding of his surroundings, and though Coachella 2018 marks his debut at the festival, his ability to read the room will surely see that he delivers here and for the rest of the world in the months to follow.

7) Barclay Crenshaw

Photo Courtesy of Artist

Dirtybird head honcho Claude VonStroke, also known by his hip-hop alter ego and real name, Barclay Crenshaw, is elevating one of dance music’s mightiest messages. As the founder of the Dirtybird Campout, Crenshaw’s proven the Dirtybird flock is much more than a tantalizing tech house home base, but an embodiment of the true meaning of dance music. He’s bringing the tribe back to the dance floor and proving that love and passion, for music, but more importantly for one another, will see it all through.

6) Chromeo

Photo Credit: Tim-Saccenti

One could argue that a Chromeo set in 2018 is outdated. But, that would be to ignore the duo’s immense cultural permeability, not to mention their timelessness, and an ultimate ushering in of contemporary disco music. Chromeo’s releasing a new album in June. For now, they’ve released a new bop with D.R.A.M and renowned Prince and D’angelo collaborator Jesse Johnson for what appears to allude to their grooviest album yet. Their Coachella set will undoubtedly feature a plethora of classics and new material alike, and you’d have to be crazy to miss that.

5) Detroit Love (Carl Craig, Kyle Hall, Moodymann)

Photo Courtesy of Artist

Keeping current and experimental with underground techno bookings proves to be no easy task. This year, Coachella’s dance bookings cater to the techno heads — see Maceo Plex, Chris Liebing, Joseph Capriati, and more — while simultaneously paying respect to the birthplace of the genre with the booking of Detroit Love. Detroit Love is a trio comprised of dancefloor experimentalist and top Detroit techno producer Carl Craig, Kyle Hall, and Moodymann. Ultimately, it’s small wonder Goldenvoice looked to this crew. If any group were to lay siege on the compelling concoction that is Motown, jazz, and techno, there would be no better choice than these homies from the “D.”

4) The Black Madonna

Photo Credit: Aldo Paredes

In the era of #MeToo, where women are speaking out against their oppressors, The Black Madonna uses her music as a means to amplify the voices of the fringe dance community. Her sets raise up the central voices of club history — ones that have been forced to the periphery or silenced entirely — through a provocative exudence of acid house, disco, and outright emotion.  Her music seeps groove and love that’s made to replenish the soul.

3) Peggy Gou

Photo Credit: Dan Medhurst

Peggy Gou is going to be here for a long time. Having graduated from the underground circuit with the highest honors of club-polished sounds in 2018, Gou brings forth sets that are a dynamic testament to her compelling curation and outpouring love for the craft. She wanted to the be the first female Korean DJ to play Berghain, which she was, and along the way she also became the first female Korean DJ to play BBC Radio 1‘s Essential Mix. Now, her Coachella debut solidifies that her electrifying electro and disco will only perpetuate her meteoric rise to stardom.

2) Alison Wonderland

Photo Courtesy of Artist

Alison Wonderland is speaking her truth. She’s just released her exquisite sophomore album, AWAKE, which is a compelling collection of EDM and hip-hop crossovers. From rappers to Grammy-award winning songwriters, Alison Wonderland is successfully holding the attention of her listeners, while offering one of the most refreshing perspectives of women in the genre’s history. It’s rife with sarcasm, and yet, poppy in its deliverance. The album sees Wonderland wielding her moniker’s trope as a weapon with ease, and it’ll be no surprise if she’s a household name come the end of the year. Considering how much the EDM world is a man’s microcosm, at least onstage,  the very presence of Alison Wonderland’s perspective tends to come off as a revolutionary, dare we say, awakening.

1) REZZ

Photo Credit: Will Selviz

Dancing Astronaut named REZZ 2017’s producer of the year, “The prodigy who exceeded all expectations,” we called her. And yet, to reduce REZZ to our expectations, in hindsight, feels wrong. She’s an artist. Mercurial and acting on her own unique vision. She’s promoting the consumption of water during her sets, like many, she’s working on the little things, improving her jumps during her sets, and she’s taking on the world. As the Coachella set times were looming we began to wonder if the outside world had caught up, whether it was ready to recognize Isabelle Rezazadeh’s global ascension. Having ripped into the scene three years ago with an unparalleled juxtaposition of industrial techno and pummeling bass,  REZZ carved an unforeseen niche in the mines of ominously-sinister, singular techno, and now, the world has taken notice. REZZ will close out the Sahara tent on Friday and the world will be watching. There are no doubts REZZ will continue her momentum into superstardom after this performance, and continue to exceed our expectations, but it’s probably time we let go of those and let the Space Mom do her thing.

Featured Image Courtesy of Coachella

​Zeds Dead share full lineup for 5th annual Red Rocks event, ‘DEADROCKS’

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Zeds Dead

Zeds Dead are bringing their annual Deadrocks show to Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, and for their fifth occasion, the boys are surely pulling out all the stops. The two-day event boasts a hefty list of line-up support, with G JonesEkaliPsymbionicMad Zach and Deadbeats Records artist DNMO on July 2nd, and RuskoEPROMHabstraktUm..,  and Chuurch on July 3rd.

Over the years, the Deadrocks event has become a sold-out family affair for Zeds Dead fans as they travel from all corners of the US to ascend upon one of the world’s most prestigious outdoor venues. Why? Because “DC” and “Hooks,” as the boys’ individual nicknames go, have been known to bring out surprise guests, premiere unreleased music, and unleash top-notch visual production upon their audience. One can bet the 2018 gathering will take no short cuts in celebrating Deadrocks’ fifth birthday, either.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Feature Image Credit: Camille Breslin

Ekali & ZHU – Blame (Hunter Siegel Remix)

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Ekali x Zhu

In the final days of 2017, Ekali and ZHU surprised the world by releasing their long-awaited collaboration, “Blame.” In the months since, the song has been heard in DJ sets across the world, thrilling listeners and inspiring producers to craft their own takes on the track.

The latest of these is Hunter Siegel, who’s released a slow-burning electro bootleg of the song. The Canadian producer has left many of the song’s original aspects intact, using the chorus as a place to put his own stamp on the collaboration. He chops up ZHU’s vocals and contrasts them with heavy layers of electro synths, giving the drop of the song an entirely different feel.

“As soon as I heard this tune drop I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, and it came together perfectly,” Siegel shared in the song description.

WATCH: Ekali debuts unreleased Skrillex remix of Pendulum’s ‘The Island’

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Skrillex

Ekali releases forcible fourth installment in his Awakening mix series

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Ekali

Whereas the third installment in Ekali’s Awakening mix series saw the producer dabble in a minimalist, mellifluous aesthetic that effected a sensual streaming experience, the fourth iteration of Awakening executes a sonic 180, arriving as an energetic experimentation with bass. Evidential of Ekali’s versatility, the fourth mix aligns releases from classic bass tastemakers like Flosstradamus, DROELOE, and Bassnectar under the sonic Awakening umbrella. In line with its bass orientation, the mix seamlessly transitions from its trap to future bass inclusions with a presence that is duly high-energy and high-intensity.

Fans can find the full track list here.

 

Dancing Astronaut’s Youtube hot picks: Trap Channels

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Looking for new music? Then you’ve come to the right place. Dancing Astronaut will be highlighting YouTube channels every dance music fan needs to know about. From drum n’ bass to melodic trap, we’ve got something for you. Make sure to subscribe to Dancing Astronaut’s YouTube for the best dance music news in the galaxy.

Proximity

“Your Favorite Music You Haven’t Heard Yet.”

Started in 2009, Proximity has become a staple channel for the EDM scene for both artists and fans. As one of the largest YouTube music channels, Proximity has racked up over 2 billion views and 5.6 million subscribers. From mashups to original premieres to the ZHU x Proximity exclusive, Proximity has listeners covered for all their dance music needs. Recent track postings from Proximity include Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Galantis, and Cash Cash, among others.

Trap and Bass

If you’re looking for your fill of bass music look no further. Created in 2012 as an outlet for up and coming talent, Trap and Bass has secured a cool 804,000 subscribers. On their channel you’ll find a mix of trap, hybrid, future bass, and bass house. Bringing the channel from irl to url, Trap and Bass has also hosted events and been a part of sponsorships worldwide. Recent track postings from trap and bass include DJ Snake, Oski, and UZ, among an up-and-coming roster of trap producers.

Run the Trap

With the intention of bringing 808 and trap music out of the shadows, Run The Trap was built in 2012 to create A New Order for Underground Culture. With 147,000 subscribers its obvious they know how to curate their music. From heavy trap to atmospheric future bass and with features like the newest Ekali x ZHU release, RTT has your deepest bass desires covered. With recent postings of tracks from Flosstradamus and Louis Futon, its no surprise that Run the Trap is one of YouTube’s most heralded channels for electronic releases.

Photo Credit: Grady Brennan

 

DA Presents: 2017’s Producers of the Year

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Despite incessant predictions for the trajectory of the scene, 2017 marked a banner year for all things electronic music. As such, producers experienced more freedom to explore more new sounds with the end result not a fractious, rigid delineation between genres, but rather a continuum of experimentation that led to some of the most interesting and forward-thinking music of the year, with the addition of exciting new niches for artists to inhabit.

With this nuance in mind, Dancing Astronaut is proud to present a superlative class of seven producers who stood about the rest in a crowded space. From the more obvious, mainstream mainstays who continually wow to the breakout producers who surpassed everyone’s expectations, 2017 was packed full of impressive productions from this eclectic pack of standouts.

 

 


 

Rezz at The Observatory, photos by Sean Thomson

THE PRODIGY WHO EXCEEDED ALL EXPECTATIONS: REZZ

Isabelle Rezazadeh ripped into the electronic music scene in 2015 with an unparalleled juxtaposition of industrial techno and pummeling bass that immediately carved out an unforeseen niche in the mines of ominously-sinister, singular techno. While Rezazadeh has exuded a singular artistic vision from the very inception of her REZZ moniker, her unique, genuine vision has more recently seeped into all facets of her “brand” in a refreshingly distinct and similarly succinct fashion.

Having signed and released two EPs on mau5trap in 2016 — both The Silence Is Deafening and then Something Wrong Here — REZZ has since earned slots at premier music festivals and become renowned for her craft across the world.

Through her own music, REZZ has widened a sonic space where creative forces can continue to push the envelope in their own creative capacity. To a degree, REZZ’s envelope-pushing M.O. has aided in the present trickle down of underground music into the mainstream light. In both her alignment with underground pioneers and maintsage appeal, REZZ has aided a new generation of electronic music fans on their potential journeys to underground au courant. At the very least, she’s uncovered the lesser known, both stood behind and brought up the independent artists — which is encapsulated most recently in her collaborations with knodis and Kotek on her debut LP, Mass Manipulation. REZZ has also elevated the experimentally inclined that results in a healthy attempt to wreak havoc on the mundane. Surely, her music has driven many to explore what lies beneath the surface of popular post-EDM, but it has concurrently challenged its listeners to examine the very boundaries between the separate sects of EDM and dance music entirely.

Seminal tracks like “Edge,” “Voice In The Wall,” and “Purple Gusher” are some of REZZ’s most well-known tracks, all released in 2016. These solidified the notion that REZZ was truly finding her production footing in 2015. After an appearance on DA‘s 25 Artists to Watch list for 2016, REZZ was duly named our Breakout Artist of the Year one year later. Over the course of 2017 Rezazadeh has only continued to polish her authoritative skills and justify her selection.

If 2016 was the year REZZ defined her signature sound, 2017 marked her ascension into superstardom.

She spent the year honing in on her image, toured the entirety of the fall as a bruising headliner, announced she would be pivoting entirely towards nighttime shows in the following year to enhance the experience, and in turn, established a well-rounded, distinguishable decorum.

As REZZ took her dark, foreboding ouevre across the world this year, she stunned in her meticulous attention to detail, even going so far as to heed fans about watching the videos of her shows online, so even those who missed on the opportunity to experience her sets live could be mesmerized for themselves.

REZZ also elongated her artistic vision in 2017, in a capacity that was internalized for some time. She extended her artistic body of work with a visceral 60-page comic book co-created alongside Luis Colindres, a the Chicago-based graphic designer behind the Mass Manipulation album art and who has worked alongside Rezazadeh since her Something Wrong Here days.

REZZ has announced that she will be slowing down her touring in 2018, and despite her previously announced shows at Holy Ship!, Buku Music + Art Project, Bassnectar’s Chicago-based Spring Gathering, and a few other jaunts, it’s likely that she’ll be laying off on the more direct hypnotism of the masses. Still, even with a reduced schedule on the road, there are no doubts REZZ will continue her momentum into superstardom.

Grace Fleisher


 

Virtual Self

THE SUPERSTAR REINVENTION: PORTER ROBINSON –> VIRTUAL SELF

Porter Robinson‘s ability to reinvent himself at will is a testament to his storied success within the electronic music sphere. In addition to performing stellar solo DJ sets at festivals around the world, the mercurial producer moved into the year by embarking on the Shelter world tour with Madeon, which spanned North America before a few extraordinary dates in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. The duo concluded the immersive tour with two back-to-back performances at Coachella, occupying the coveted sundown slot before Lorde and Kendrick Lamar. The Shelter tour’s impact on electronic music created waves, and was solidified as one of the most memorable live performances in EDM’s nascent history.

In the wake of the gargantuan Shelter tour, Robinson forsook his expansive, outwardly turned production and, not for the first time turned a 180, experimenting with a more introspective sound that birthed his alter ego Virtual Self. On the eponymous debut EP, Robinson created a unique sonic landscape in which computer era — the EP would fit perfectly as a soundtrack for video game from the 90s — is used as a basis to explore motifs and existential despair that establish an otherworldly narrative. Virtual Self utilizes psytrance, deep house, and computer-futura influences in order to evoke emotional purgation in the listener. Everything from the mysterious marketing behind the project to its expansive live debut is an off-kilter dive into the unknown.

Porter Robinson’s dive into the virtual abyss known as Virtual Self is one of the most audacious efforts for one of electronic music’s biggest stars recent years, and becomes even more audacious when one remembers that fans had been clamoring for new music from the producer since the release of his seminal LP, WorldsIt’s a testament to Robinson’s prodigious talent that by utterly subverting his fans’ expectations that he managed to give them exactly what they wanted.

John Flynn

 


SS17_FRIDAY2_Lane8_SOLOVOV-9483

DEEP HOUSE’S MELODIC HERO: LANE 8

The years 2016 and 2017 have functioned synergically for Daniel Goldstein, the Anjunadeep prodigy and Pete Tong-distinguished Future Star who goes by the moniker Lane 8. 2016 would serve as the foundation for a major shift for the Denver-based artist as he established This Never Happened imprint, the label’s foundation followed by the concert series of the same name that derived its immersive nature from its restriction of cell phone use during performances.

Initially met with curiosity and, later, engrossment, the sell-out success of the This Never Happened initiative led Goldstein to extend the tour’s run into a brief summer session that visited Colorado, San Francisco, and New York City from July to September of 2017. Lane 8 effectively bridged the disconnect between listener and live performance in his removal of the cell phone screen from the interpersonal equation, re-engaging audiences, and re-personalizing the live experience.

Amassing a following over the years, listeners enthralled by Lane 8’s Anjunadeep and Suara releases, Lane 8’s conception of the This Never Happened imprint in 2016 would foreshadow the artist’s embracement of an increased independence in 2017, as Lane 8 went out on his own and announced his sophomore album Little By Little, due out Jan. 19 on his label. Concurrently, Lane 8 unveiled the impending album’s accompanying 35-date Little By Little World Tour.

Lane 8’s aural tones, complex choral progressions, and all around intricately produced releases rode an effervescent wave in 2017 that seems to be situated in the realm of the ever rising, the producer’s seasonal mixtapes and ensuing singles — think “Atlas” and “No Captain” — reflective of a continually maturing style that achieves peak after sonically pearlescent peak without plunging. 2017 surfaced as a sort of artistic Bildungsroman year for Lane 8 — one that had the whole world enthralled.

Rachel Narozniak


 

calvin harris 2017 42 west

THE FUNKY CURVEBALL: CALVIN HARRIS

Calvin Harris‘ status as one of electronic and pop music’s most gargantuan auteurs is undeniable. Whether it be a headlining performance at Coachella or his massive Las Vegas residency, the Calvin Harris brand has become synonymous with the hedonistic adventures of clubbing.

Wildly enough, however, Harris’ fifth studio album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1marked a turnstile departure from the big room atmosphere that popularized him in the first place. If albums 18 Months and Motion were forthright efforts encompassing an expansive, festival prepped soundscape, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 acted as their virtuosic counterpart.

Harris’ status as an EDM legend certainly helped him in securing features from some of contemporary musics heavy hitters including storied R&B darling Frank Ocean, contemporary hip-hop hit makers Quavo and Offset of Migos, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande, Future, and Khalid, to name a few. The album encompassed a forward-thinking landscape of sonic textures, ultimately serving as a beaming playlist in which Harris is the producer and curator. With an unquestionable legacy as a maestro just as capable in the club as in the arena and on the main stage, Harris’ side journey into sunny, funk-influenced territory marked a an unexpected, bold artistic evolution — one that will certainly pay dividends for his long-term contextualization as a producer.

– John Flynn

 


 

drezo

THE GENRE DEFIER: DREZO

In the deepest, darkest, most clandestine corners of the electronic music continuum, Andre Haglund, aka Drezo, can be found in front of bewitched crowds with his self-proclaimed “evil downtempo.” Known for his disdain towards genre-assignment, the 26-year-old wielded his visionary, malevolent soundscapes in 2017 as a cudgel to rid the scene of its often formulaic, drop-obsessed predictability. After dropping out of college to pursue DJing, and eventually production, the “Drowning Pool” remixer caught the fateful ear of Dillon Francis’ alter ego/arch-nemesis DJ Hanzel, later linking up to go one deeper on a remix of Francis’ “Need You.”

In just three tracks, Drezo’s long-awaited Jaded EP, released mid-2017, enraptured the ears and blackened the hearts of even the most unsuspecting listeners. Seamlessly weaving electro, house, and techno through the tainted fabric of the nefariously sampled EP, the result is a rich and driving milestone in Drezo’s still incipient career.

To add to his already impressive release history in aligning himself with industry favorites like Mad Decent and OWSLA, this year Drezo was also featured on some of dance music’s hottest radio shows like Triple J Mix Up and BBC Radio 1’s Diplo & Friends, wherein listeners got a heady sampling of Jaded.

Looking ahead, the “Heaven” producer has announced his nationwide Evil Live tour, set to commence in early 2018. Additionally, Drezo and known like-minded comrade REZZ, have both recently hinted on social media about future collaborative work. According to Drezo, “The future is bright, but the music is dark.” After an incredible 2017, one would be hard-pressed to disagree.

Bella Bagshaw

 


 

Shigeto_1-Photo_Credit-Kristin_Adamczyk

THE PRODUCER POWERED BY COMMUNITY: SHIGETO

Shigeto stands as something of a an outlier as far as 2017’s top producers go. His tracks aren’t going to set records for most streams and it’s unlikely he’ll play the mainstages of the world’s premier festivals. It’s the release of his first new album in four years and his work building a community in his home base of Detroit, though, that makes the Ghostly International artist a deserving addition to the list.

The aforementioned album, The New Monday, is a triumphant, yet restrained, return to form for the producer. Much like 2013’s No Better Time Than Nowthe new LP sees Shigeto reservedly flex his chops across nine tracks. It also marked a homecoming for the artist, as Shigeto returned to Detroit after a multi-year sojourn in Brooklyn where his career took off. Unsurprisingly, the record takes a multifaceted approach that matches Motown’s diverse musical history. Shigeto flirts with genres as wide ranging as trip hop, techno, acid, and house and imbues them with his signature style — a combination of clever production flourishes and dipped in elements of jazz that recall his early career as a drummer. Though only nine tracks long, The New Monday is full without being forced, as the producer opts for compositions with long run times. with the shortest clocking in at just under three minutes while the longest, a heartfelt ode to his city and the album’s opener, “Detroit Pt. II” has a run time of nearly seven and a half minutes. This combination of tracks combine for an LP that is equally at home on the dancefloor or spinning on a record player on a languid summer day in Michigan.

Beyond the new album, though, Shigeto has taken things a step further in Detroit. He’s recently launched his own label, Portage Garage Sounds, that serves as a creative outlet for the city’s local musicians and also launched a free, weekly showcase at Motor City Wine dubbed Monday is the New Monday — the inspiration for his album’s title. Beyond his immense musicianship, it’s this focus and drive to foster a creative and supportive community in Detroit that makes Shigeto an exemplar of what an artist can accomplish, both in the studio and out in the world, in 2017.

Michael Cooper

 


 

ekali-press

 

THE INSURGENT TALENT WHO TOOK THE SCENE BY STORM: EKALI

Though he’s been steadily making a name for himself over the past few years, Ekali became a dance music household name in 2017.

The Canadian producer kicked off the year with a massive collaboration with KRANE just nine days into 2017 and has been gathering momentum since then.

He toured constantly throughout the year, but never slowed down his flow of fresh releases. With each new release comes an entirely new sound from the producer, as he refuses to shy away from challenges like taking on Porter Robinson’s “Language” with QUIX. His production invigorates — it effortlessly combines relatable elements of today’s mainstream electronic music with his own haunting, delicately crafted style.

His collaborations in 2017 have been massive, teaming up with the likes of TroyBoi for “Truth,” Denzel Curry for tour namesake “Babylon,” Opia for “Past Life,” and many more.

As he flexed his production skills throughout the year, Ekali also shone on a wide range of mixes in 2017, including three hour-long Awakening mixes, a Diplo & Friends mix, and a Triple J mix – all packed full of his favorite music at the time.

Instead of following trends, Ekali has been a trailblazer under Skrillex’s OWSLA imprint, creating a loyal and enthusiastic fan base that sold out many of his Babylon tour stops up until the end of December.

Just a few days before 2017 came to a close, Ekali further cemented his power status by releasing a huge collaboration with ZHU, “Blame,” which marries their styles in a powerfully unexpected way.

In a tweet posted on Jan. 3, the producer called 2017 “the best year of [his] life,” and says he’s ready to “give you an even better 2018.”

We can’t wait.

Robyn Dexter


 

Read More: 

DA Presents: 15 artists that rocked the underground in 2017

Dancing Astronaut proudly presents the 2017 Label of the Year