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.
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.
“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.
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.
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 Yearone 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.
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 Shelterworld 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, Worlds. It’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.
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.
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. 1, marked 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 albumencompassed 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
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.
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 Now, the 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.
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.
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.”
What can be said about DJ Craze that Pete Tong doesn’t cover in his introduction to the Miami-based veteran selector’s debut Essential Mix? Hailed by the host as, “one of the most technically gifted DJs, ever,” Tong goes on to highlight Craze’s three consecutive DMC world champion crownings, undoubtedly solidifying the Slow Roast Records founder’s spot in the highest echelons of the DJ ring of honor. From there, the turntablist quickly descends into two hours of elbow-throwing trap, hip-hop, and breaks spanning a spectrum that covers Skrillex to Vince Staples, Noisia to Kendrick Lamar with so much in between.
Craze’s Essential Mix leaves no room for subtlety –– fake DJs should feel personally attacked. Putting on a rare lesson in “real DJing,” Craze has clearly forgotten more about Technics than most professional DJs will ever learn in their lifetimes.
Cuts from A Tribe Called Quest and Mobb Deep seamlessly rub shoulders with material from Ricky Remedy, Ekali, and RL Grime, all weaved together with masterful, flawless scratch routines. Craze reiterates exactly why he’s unequivocally carried the scratch DJing torch throughout his decorated career, dropping off one of the sharpest Essential Mixes of recent memory.
2017’s holiday season is a gift that keeps on giving. OWSLA announced on Twitter that Ekali and ZHU’s long awaited collaboration has not only been released, but it is available for free download.
The track, titled “Blame,” opens with characteristically ZHU vocals and pulsing synths as accents. An elaborate collection of chords roll into a delicate yet commanding drop taking the listener through a sonic journey. “Blame” is an interesting combination of low and high energy moments leaving the listener both soothed and energized after the tracks closing chord.
Ekali originally premiered the track at Life is Beautiful and later confirmed on Reddit that it was indeed a collaboration between him and ZHU. The track was released just as the Canadian producer’s Babylon tour has come to an end. Meanwhile, Zhu has been busy working on his collaboration with Adidas.
2017 has landed Sander van Dijck – more widely known as the Star Wars-alluding San Holo – in the throes of prosperity. This year alone, the Dutch artist embarked on an international tour amongst sold out crowds, continued to experiment both sonically and with his live aesthetics, and worked to facilitate the success of his budding label, bitbird.
After making his rounds through Asia and Australia, San Holo spent the latter half of the year on his extensive, North American Gouldian Finch 2 Tour, accompanied by emerging Aussie, Just A Gent and bitbird buds, DROELOE, whom van Dijck has taken under his wing on the label. The two parties also collaborated this year on bouncy chill-trap track “Lines Of The Broken.”
Although his breakthrough single “Light” was released at the tail-end of 2016, the effervescent song remained a smash-hit through the following summer, racking up more than 86 million streams on Spotify. The genre-resistant track paved the way for a steady stream of fresh, avant-garde releases from van Dijck—including his radiant “I Still See Your Face,” which unprecedentedly incorporates his own vocals, along with the melodically tender, serenely-lyricized “One Thing.”
Amid his ample touring and studio time, this year San Holo also saw his label launch its own radio series, as well as release a compilation to accompany the Gouldian Finch 2 Tour, with “I Still See Your Face” as the lead track. The compilation also features bitbird favorites Taska Black, Eastghost, and DROELOE, all of whom corroborate van Dijck’s steadfast assertions that genre is nothing more than an outdated pretense.
Hayden Capuozzo had a sudden revelation towards the end of an aspiring professional hockey career. What was once his biggest inspiration for games, producing electronic music, was now his passion that lead him to move out to LA to learn full-time. After just nine months of honing in on his skills, he submitted a mix and was later chosen as the winner of Insomniac’s “Discovery Project” challenge, giving the Houston native a chance to perform at Escape From Wonderland Festival in 2012. This marked his first ever DJ gig and major career breakthrough.
Since then, KAYZO has climbed the ranks to become one of the most diverse producers in the game, showing off a variety of different production styles. Over the past year, he’s dabbled in trap, dubstep, happy hardcore and a bit of psytrance on his track “Holy,” a collaboration with the powerhouse duo Slander. He even delved into some melodic house on his Monstercat release “Over The Edge” with upcoming producer Gammer.
In addition to his 2017 discography, KAYZO has seen support from A-list producers like Diplo, with a guest mix for BBC Radio 1’s Diplo & Friends, and participated in the most notable live set from Holy Ship! 2017 in going b2b with Herobust, Jauz, Ookay, Getter and Slushii.
KAYZO’s highlight for 2017 was headlining Bassrush’s Doghouse Takeover, where he sold out the Hollywood Palladium in 24 hours and proceeded to put on a stellar performance. Capuozzo decided to spice up his second annual appearance at the Takeover and surprised attendees with guest appearances by Sum 41 and DJ Snake.
Although vague on the details, Kayzo should have a lot in store for fans come 2018, as he is planning a debut solo bus tour to kick off the New Year.
Since his plunge into life as a DJ-producer at the ripe age of 18, Cj Costigan, better known as Cristoph, has been working to perfect his unique brands of progressive deep/tech house and making his ascent in the Newcastle nightlife arena. His first momentous release came in 2016, when he was the first artist to be featured on Hot Since 82’s Knee Deep In Sound 8-Track album series
In 2017, the blossoming young artist signed with both John Digweed’s illustrious Bedrock imprint, as well as iconic, grammy-nominated DJ-producer Sasha’s Last Night On Earth — both of which housed prominent releases this year from the flourishing Cristoph.
Soon after, none other than Sweden’s own Eric Prydz inaugurated Cristoph’s bouncy progressive track “Feel” as the first official release on his new label Pryda Presents. The track was initially unveiled on Prydz’s heatedly-anticipated resurgence of EPIC Radio’s Beats 1 tenure. Cristoph returned to Pryda Presents with jolting, minimal progressive track “EPOCH.” Prydz and Cristoph have a growing history after teaming up for several of Prydz’s tour dates in the US this year, as well as joining forces for EPIC 5.0 and various Ibiza slots over the summer.
With support from such a vast, esteemed collectives of sound, Cristoph is in impeccable position for massive expansion in 2018.
Ekali‘s rise to stardom over the past three years has been a wildly rapid ascent. The Canadian producer originally began to gain traction in 2014 when he was the only Canadian applicant to be ushered into Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo in November 2014. The Vancouver producer and DJ catapulted himself even further in 2015 when Drake sampled his song “Unfaith” on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late for tracks “Preach” and “Wednesday Night Interlude.” According to Ekali, he wasn’t even sure how they found the tracks in the first place.
Ekali’s unique modus operandi when it comes to production enables him to take structural risks on his tracks, with carbonated synths and thickly layered bass he flips the script on contemporary trap music by injecting his own ethereal sonic touch. A versatile producer, Ekali creates tracks that are overflowing with eastern influenced strings (“Unfaith”), remixes that take a more ominous approach like his collaborative remix Jack Ü’s “Mind” with Gravez, or truculent future bass festival anthems like the recently released “Babylon” with Denzel Curry.
Ekali is wrapping up his North American tour with the last date planned for New Years Eve in Asheville, North Carolina at the U.S Cellular Center—for reference, the venue holds more than 7,000 patrons, not bad for a breakout artist. Ekali is certain to be one of the biggest names in electronic moving forward, and it would come as a shock if he wasn’t slated to perform at more than a few festivals this summer.
Christian Smith, otherwise known as Crankdat, may not be old enough to drink, but in 2017, he caught the attention of clubbers and festival attendees with his epic sets and dynamic releases. The Ohio native gained a following thanks to his infectious remixes, and his popularity was on the rise with his breakout single alongside Lookas, “Game Over,” in 2016. 2017 certainly served as the turning point in the young producer’s career as he not only earned his first festival slot, but he also went from opening shows to headlining his own tour through Asia and North America.
While on his Gear Up Tour, Crankdat performed at iconic dance music venues such as Omnia in San Diego, Webster Hall in New York, and Hakkasan in Las Vegas. After completing his first-ever festival performance at Numbers Fest in April, he landed on lineups of major festivals including Electric Zoo, Breakaway Music Festival, and Global Dance Festival as well.
In addition to booking major shows, Smith released some heavy-hitting collaborations including a track with Jauz, “I Hold Still” featuring Slushii and a collaboration with T-Pain called “In the Air.” His solo release “Dollar” amassed nearly a million streams on Spotify alone, and his remix of Gryffin and Illenium’s “Feel Good” featuring Daya hit an incredible 1.5 million streams, making it his most streamed release of 2017 on Spotify. As Crankdat continues to tour and release new music, we predict that 2018 will be the year that solidifies Crankdat as an industry mainstay versus a new force on the scene.
Any long time dance music fan will fondly remember the ascension of veteran artists like Porter Robinson, Zedd, Madeon, and more with their ‘complextro’ sonic identities that balanced elaborate melodies with gritty, aggressive bass and driving percussion. As the various sub-genres have continued to expand, only a select few producers have successfully resurrected this combination of elements with a modern twist. However, when the initially-anonymous k?d hopped onto the scene, it appeared complextro might be resurrected into a new light.
Originally emerging on SoundCloud and Hype Machine in 2016 with major remixes of Manila Killa, Daft Punk, Illenium, and more, k?d — real name Patrick Cybulski — had an immediately distinctive style, blending intricate melodic synth arrangements in a grandiose fashion attached to anthemic percussion.
Towards the end of 2016, the 20-year-old Miami native took his first real moment to flex his production chops and offer a darker, heavier side to his production capacities with his remix of Huntar’s “4AM.” The remix resembled the crashing percussion and growling synths that bass favorite REZZ pioneered, and fans planted the idea on Twitter for the two to join forces on a collaboration. Lo and behold, k?d and REZZ teamed up at the top of 2017 with their debut collaboration, “Fourth Impact.” A combination of extraterrestrial melodies atop a lurching bass line, “Fourth Impact” marked a major transition for k?d and played in instrumental role in setting up his biggest year yet.
To counterbalance the bass-heavy release, k?d turned to Swedish imprint PRMD — notable alumni include CAZZETTE, Syn Cole, Hotel Garuda — for his next string of original releases . The first single, “Lose Myself” featuring Phil Good, leaned in a more commercial direction of dance music yet still kept his sonic fingerprint and sound design present. Simultaneously, k?d drew a major co-sign from dance titans The Chainsmokers as he took over their Nice Hair Radio for its 32nd episode and then supported the duo on their stadium tour across North America.
For the back end of 2017, k?d released collaborations with fellow rising stars Medasin and Varien, continued his string of releases on PRMD with “Distance” alongside vocalist Blair, before finishing the year in a massive way with an official remix of The Chainsmokers‘ “Young.”
With an incredible year on the music front, its also important to note k?d’s meteoric development on the touring front with major festival appearances at EDC Las Vegas, Electric Zoo, and Nocturnal Wonderland as well as sold out headline shows at Exchange in LA and 1015 Folsom in San Francisco. The enigmatic young producer also supported the likes of Tiesto, REZZ, Jauz, and more on their headlining North America tours.
In terms of what we fans can expect from the Miami prodigy in 2018: he hasn’t alluded to much other than new music, bigger shows, and continuing his upward trajectory at full force. For fans of Porter Robinson, REZZ, Illenium, Adventure Club, or any sound in between, be sure to jump on the k?d train sooner rather than later.
k?d is Dancing Astronaut’s Breakout Artist of 2017.
Dancing Astronaut’s 2018 Draft Class
Every year, a new class of artists make their way into the spotlight. With a number of young, talented acts emerging, we’ve decided to pick a select group who we believe are destined for breakout years in 2018. Behold, Dancing Astronaut‘s Draft Class of 2018.
1. Petit Biscuit In the space of chill electronica, 18-year-old producer Petit Biscuiit has become a force-to-be-reckoned-with after his original “Sunset Lover” went viral back in 2015. In 2017, the French wunderkind broke out the one-hit-wonder category with his debut album, Presence, that received rave reviews upon its release and will surely set him up for another massive year.
2. DROELOE San Holo proteges, DROELOE, truly defined their sonic identity and presence in the future bass world with groundbreaking releases on Monstercat, Lowly Palace, and Holo’s bitbird imprint. With a prime slot at SnowGlobe Fetsival to kick off 2018, this Dutch duo should certainly be on your radar for acts to step into the spotlight in 2018.
3. Gammer UK trailblazer, Gammer, put hardcore on the map this year with a number of versatile releases, from originals and collaborations to powerhouse remixes of Marshmello & Slander. With his latest EP, THE DROP, out now via Monstercat, the Northampton native also capped off the year with a massive Diplo & Friends Mix and will surely continue to push the hardcore movement even further in 2018.
4. FISHER Predominantly known for his work as one half of Australian tech house duo, Cut Snake, FISHER launched his own solo project via Dirtybird and saw an incredible response upon his first release, “Ya Kidding.” With his electric personality and thumping singles, FISHER is sure to continue bringing the party in 2018 and be one of Dirtybird’s most promising rising talents.
5. WAVEDASH The next generation of up and coming bass music producers can’t be discussed without WAVEDASH included in the forefront of the conversation. The Austin, Texas trio are a classic come up story who started out as playground pals who were all gaga for Skrillex. Now, just barely out of high school, Luke, Gavin, and Michael are actualizing their dance music dreams behind a growing catalog of blistering remixed beats and punishing original products. With their idols quickly becoming their peers, WAVEDASH are positioned for a major moment, and who knows where it’ll take them, deservedly landing them a spot in 2018’s draft class.
6. Luttrell Among Anjunadeep’s lineup of deep house young guns, Luttrell is becoming the frontrunner as he carves out his own niche in the deep house and electronica space. The producer’s tunes are already gaining support from Pete Tong and Annie Mac. His Generate EP in the summer served as a milestone for the San Francisco producer’s sonic development, and Anjuna fans can certainly expect more from the rising talent as he follows in the footsteps of label success stories like Lane 8 and Yotto.
7. Sullivan King Bass music is having a surge in popularity, but Sullivan King has taken the wheel at bridging the gap between bass music and its predecessor, metal. Whether it be his revered set at Lost Lands, his Monstercat-backed EP with Dirtyphonics, or even his recent collaboration with Slander, Sullivan King proved bass and metal will coexist in the future and he will be the one to prove it in 2018.
8. um.. Enigmatic producer duo um.. are primed for a breakout moment in 2018. The Los Angeles-based beat makers’ commitment to their spontaneous brand of unconventionally strange electronic music plants them firmly in line for the recognition they deserve. The pair provide a nuanced sound that playfully teeters a line between avant garde and offbeat indifference, and they’ve already caught the attention of fellow experimental sound designers like Skrillex, Josh Pan, and others. Watch for Ben Bruce and Dylan Gold next year; fans are ready for something different, and um.. is primed to shake things up.
9. Oshi A few short years into his career, up and comer Joshua Brennan is defined by his enormous wealth of potential that seems to be more finely tuned by the day. The London-bred teenager, better known as Oshi, is growing into an international DJ sensation as he continues to carve out some of the most intriguing and infectious electronic productions out there right now. Rumored collaborations with the likes of Baauer and Skrillex sit under the hood, as Oshi positions himself at the head of next year’s pack. Of all the bright production talent emanating out of the UK, Oshi is ready to up the ante, and 2018 is likely to bring a ton of new music from him our way.
What will Coachella’s EDM programming look like this year?
Coachella‘s status as a music festival has grown to become larger than life since its humble, European-inspired beginnings in 1999, and their yearly lineup is both a cultural statement regarding the current state of music and a presage to future trends.
The behemoth brand has always integrated electronic music into their programming, with artists like The Chemical Brothers, Paul Oakenfold, Moby, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, and even Daft Punk helping to shape its reputation as an audacious tastemaker when it comes to curation. Until Coachella, electronic music had a hard time making it across the pond — it certainly never occupied such prime real estate as desert fields filled with upwards of 60,000 attendees.
Coachella’s longstanding relationship with EDM has been as mercurial as the multifaceted genre itself, with its programming interests shifting in conjunction with the tastes of festival attendees. 2010 saw Tiësto occupy a sub-headlining set, playing after Muse on the festival’s main stage. Swedish House Mafia’s seminal 2012 performance has become solidified as one of mainstream house’s defining moments as a genre. Calvin Harris‘ iconic set in 2016 marked the first year that an EDM artist has headlined Coachella, a precedent that has since shaped the festival’s programming ethos. Its most recent iteration saw the most electronic artist names in both the second line and undercard areas of its lineup in its entire history.
So, what will EDM look like at Coachella 2018?
As always is the case, Coachella’s internal forums and sub-Reddits have been crawling with speculation around the lineup since the end of last year’s festival in April. However, 2018 has been more silent in terms of credible rumors than in recent years. 33 names on the 2017 bill were confirmed by this time in 2016, including all three headliners. This year, a mere 8 names are confirmed, with only Beyoncé confirmed as a headliner due to her unexpected cancellation.
The Chainsmokers‘ potential elevation to headliner status catalyzed a lot of buzz earlier in the year, for example, but these rumors have since been proven insubstantial at best. Such hypotheses beg the question: Who aside from Calvin Harris does have the EDM star power to headline a festival as large as Coachella? One could only name a few potential candidates, really: the new ‘it boy’ Marshmello, Daft Punk, Zedd, and maybe Major Lazer or Skrillex off of a new album.
The Sahara Tent
Most of the Coachella’s EDM selection tends to be confined to one of North America’s most storied destinations for the genre: the Sahara Tent. Since the festival’s recent attendance expansion, it has gone to great lengths to increase the amount of space between stages, removing bottlenecks and increasing traffic flow. However, it failed to predict that the jump in attendance would largely be from those looking to quench their collective thirst for EDM.
Massive acts like DJ Snake & Martin Garrix were placed one after the other in 2017, rather than being scheduled in conjunction with one another to help ease crowding. The same was true of Sahara mainstays Dillon Francis and Steve Angello, both of which played there once more at peak hours.
The likely reason for this lack of counter programming stems from the fact that fans pay a great deal of money to see as much of their music of choice as possible, so directly countering EDM with more EDM would likely upset Coachella’s core demographic. Still, the Sahara Tent is nearly uninhabitable after sundown, and fans can’t even break into the tent to catch their favorite sets if this scheduling methodology persists.
Coachella’s online forum users have pointed towards the prospect of the festival adding another gargantuan tent similar to the current Sahara Tent, which could showcase similar styles of music while lessening the bottleneck effect in the Sahara. A more plausible option, though, would be the expansion of the current Sahara Tent to accommodate a larger number of attendees.
Regardless of how they tackle it, Goldenvoice must, and likely will address the overflow of wide-eyed festival goers flooding into the Sahara Tent in dangerous fashion.
With so many dance titans occupying the second line of Coachella’s roster over the past couple years, its seems like the event has almost jumped the gun just a bit. Booking so many of EDMs hottest names means that there are now far less to look at for 2018, assuming there are no repeats — quite the conundrum indeed.
ODESZA appears to be one of Coachella fans’ most sought-after artists. Fresh off of a new album and accompanying tour, which saw them incorporate a drum line and other exciting elements into the mix, the seminal indie/pop electronica duo is likely going to claim one of Coachella’s top spots come Spring of next year. One could even go so far as to wager that they will fill the third name on the second line and occupy the same main stage sunset spot that Porter Robinson & Madeon occupied in 2017.
Since Kygo’s ascension to national stardom that essentially began in 2015, the Norwegian giant has garnered hundreds of millions of streams and has since gone on to popularize the “tropical house” sound and captured the attention of the masses. A key second line slot seems fitting for Kygo in 2018 — a step up from his 2015 booking — and the artist certainly has the clout to headline the festival’s second biggest stage: the Outdoor Theatre.
Eric Prydz is another name that hasn’t played Coachella in years, and has since accrued a massive increase in popularity among the dance music community. With the release of Opusin and the debut of his new Epic 5.0 stage setup, Prydz is certainly a candidate for high placement on Coachella’s 2018 poster — there’s even a good chance he could occupy a similar after-dark set on the Outdoor theatre, à la Justice in 2017. Or, perhaps Prydz could headline the legendary Sahara Tent during a main stage set from The Chainsmokers.
One of trap music’s most elusive figures, RL Grime, has been on his headlining Nova tour for the last two months, which features groundbreaking visuals that are rarely seen in the trap world, or EDM world at large. The LA native, who has redefined trap music’s fundamental style, always ensures his sets are filled with a tangible verve. He could very well close out the Sahara Tent or perform second to last on Coachella’s Outdoor Theatre, especially if he releases an album in the foreseeable future.
Finally, after their meteoric rise to mainstream recognition since Group Therapy, Above & Beyond is also primed to their long-awaited return to the Polo Fields — maybe for 2018 after the release of their Common Ground album. The trio is known for filling their sets with tear-inducing moments aided by sentimental visuals, and like RL Grime, would make for perfect counter programming in the Sahara Tent or placement at the Outdoor Theatre.
GRiZ has never performed at Coachella and, fresh off of the release of his newest album Good Will Prevail, the Michigan DJ and saxophone master is definitely evolving into an excellent booking choice. With live, instrumental-centric sets that are full of insurmountable energy, it’s only fitting that GRiZ occupies a coveted slot on the lineup. GRiZ seems to be on the cusp of second liners — he may be closer to filling a high spot on the third line — regardless, he might make his debut at the 2018 iteration.
Yuma Yuma Yuma
As Coachella’s electronic programming progressed through the years, organizers soon felt a need to incorporate a tent that captured the essence of the underground dance niche. Thus, the Yuma Tent was birthed in 2013. The stage’s indoor setup features awe-inspiring lighting schemes, air conditioning, a giant disco ball, and even giant beds that sore feet can head to rest and soak in the sounds of top underground talent.
In years past, the Yuma Tent has featured such legendary acts as J.E.S.u.S (Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream, and Seth Troxler), Richie Hawtin, The Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson), Bicep, and Ben Klock, to name just a few.
So who will DJ in the legendary tent this year? Our bets are on the return of artists like those that comprise J.E.S.u.S. Others that are due for a return include Maceo Plex, Carl Craig, and Dubfire.
Coachella’s Yuma tent selections continue to break ground within the electronic side of the festival sphere, but it will need to expand upon its current scheduling methodology in order to keep up with the growing factions that divide ‘popular’ underground leaders — like Hot Since 82, Solomun, and The Martinez Brothers — and their lesser-known counterparts.
Will bookers finally decide to pay homage to such pivotal acts as Len Faki, Amelie Lens, Rødhåd, Detroit Swindle, and The Black Madonna? The aforementioned underground acts have not typically made the cut in recent years; whether this is due to them not receiving an offer, or simply not wishing to play a mainstream festival like Coachella, is entirely unknown.
One thing that is for certain is that they would do well to expand their horizons in terms of the styles of techno and house they book, given the apparent lack of diversity in the Yuma Tent’s recent years. Ultimately, the stage is still defining its identity after only half a decade of existence, so who knows what it will have in store come April 2018.
Coachella’s most consistent aspect is its stellar undercard, and electronic music within this area of its roster continues to act as an integral force in its success. Acts like Nicolas Jaar, Tycho, Galantis, Kaytranada, Jai Wolf, and Four Tet all occupied its undercard last year. When one considers that even some of electronic music’s most established and hottest acts didn’t even make the second line, the festival’s depth becomes entirely apparent.
This year’s bill has the potential to showcase an array of tantalizing dance music up-and-comers. Some acts we predict will appear on the 2018 undercard include Virtual Self (Porter Robinson’s alter alias), Ekali, Big Wild, Gorgon City, Malaa, and Oliver, to name a few.
A Cultural Phenomenon
Coachella holds strong in the festival sphere of influence, continually expanding its attendance rates and selling out each year thanks to bookings like Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Outkast, Kendrick Lamar, and more.
The festival is a glaring manifestation music’s current state and where its headed: this is especially true for its electronic programming, in which its talent buyers are faced with a more arduous task than ever to remain cutting-edge for the upcoming rendition.
Coachella’s upcoming lineup is most definitely going to be incredible no matter what, and we’re excited to see who makes the cut.
The newest member of the OWSLA family, Ekali, has proven himself a breakout force this year. The Vancouver-based artist has not only released several explosive collaborations with Denzel Curry, ZHU, and Quix, but has also successfully launched his Awakening mix series, along with a fantastically-curated Triple J Mixup 2.0.
Now Ekali hopes to share some of his successive accomplishments with novice producers looking to start out in mixing. The producer took to his social channels with a six-track edit pack filled with mashups and other DJ tools that he’s been playing with in live performance. The standout track on the pack is Ekali’s “Neverbloom” mashup, which combines RÜFÜS DU SOL’s hotly-remixed ballad, “Innerbloom,” and Flume’s future bass anthem, “Never Be Like You.” The entire pack is available for download here.
Another amazing trick for mixing in key: you can mix a minor song into its relative major key.. which is 3 semitones higher. So Amin=Cmaj, and the opposite applies so Gmaj=Emin. Do this a lot in my awakening mixes 🙂
Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA music editor and staff writer Robyn Dexter. With a taste that can only be described as eclectic — to say nothing of a name that lends itself to punnery — DA is happy to present a selection of tracks personally curated by Dexter for your listening pleasure.
Convex says he’s re-written this track no fewer than 10 times. The final product is a futuristic creation that blends of styles and is unlike anything I’ve heard before. Its dreamy feel, particularly in the introduction, is reminiscent of ODESZA‘s abstract style. Convex notes in the description that dainichi is the zen Buddhist embodiment of emptiness. “Essentially it’s the idea that everything is void of meaning or value,” he says. “All things are impermanent and in a state of constant flux. In a way, it teaches us to be optimists because problems and pain are both only temporary.”
In July 2014, Crystalize posted his first track on SoundCloud: a remix of Porter Robinson‘s “Sad Machine.” Here, more than three years later, he’s remixed Robinson’s first track under his new alias, Virtual Self. The original “Eon Break” is an intense synth-heavy frenzy that caught many Robinson fans off guard. Crystalize has made the daring track a bit more digestible, trading the pounding whirlwind of synths that dominate the chorus for a more melody-focused take on the song. It’s a beautiful adaptation — probably one of the best I’ve heard yet.
2017 has been a huge year for Ekali. He’s worked with ZHU, been remixed by Skrillex, and done massive mixes for Triple J and Diplo and Friends. In the midst of it all, he’s still had time to work on a handful of beautifully emotive singles, like “Past Life” with Opia. The sensual track manages to be both delicate and heavy at the same time, allowing listeners to absorb the depth of his creativity. With each listen, “Past Life” unveils new, intricate details that come together for a passionate collaboration.
I also just found out he’s going to be in St. Louis with Medasin in a few weeks at one of my favorite intimate venues, and I am so there.
Always a sucker for energetic new drum and bass, I was ecstatic to see the release of a new Dimension song. In his collaboration with UK heavyweight Wilkinson, the pair have built a dramatic, melody-centric tune that’s both classic and fresh at the same time. The build heightens anticipation for the beat to kick in, with echoing vocals and drifting synths that clear the way for the fast-paced rhythm that kicks in post-drop. It’s a collaboration made in heaven, making the long-anticipated release of this track well worth the wait.
A standout melodic track on their new Vantablack EP, Sullivan King and Dirtyphonics‘ “Sight of Your Soul” is more reminiscent of a 2007-era punk rock song than its EP companions. It’s a refreshing break from “bangers” and “lit” EDM songs that saturate SoundCloud feeds, leading to praise from music fans who were raised on the likes of Green Day and Incubus. “Sight of Your Soul” highlights Sullivan King’s powerful vocals, paired with a nostalgic guitar melody and a hint of a dubstep beat in the chorus. As someone who basically drowned herself in alternative and punk rock in high school, “Sight of Your Soul” resonates with me so much. More like this, please.
Hip-hop-turned-electronic producer JUDGE has released his first EP titled X, despite still being a lead producer in upcoming tracks with Marshmello, Migos, and Young Thug,among others. The EP features collaborations with industry mainstays Wax Motif and Graves, and the five-track compilation bridges the gap between urban/trap production and the current sounds in the electronic space. The Kansas City-born producer spoke with us about his venture into the electronic music scene.
“A lot of people know me from my background in hip-hop, which is my first passion, and where I started producing, but I have loved dance music since I first heard “Cross” by Justice. I love the range to experiment as a producer and the ability of producers to shine as real artists. After moving to LA and seeing so many of my insanely talented friends all carving out their own lanes in the world of dance music, I knew I wanted to do the same.”
X has a variety of sounds and tempos, coming together to create an intriguing and complementary collection of tracks.
“Bark” has a dirty trap drop with monster-like synths resonating throughout and transporting the listener to another dimension. JUDGE and Dylan Brady weave the song in and out of intense drops and builds — keeping the listener longing for the next chord.
“Blades” is an elaborate production in collaboration with X&G. The track has a slower BPM and a darker sound.
The following track, “Bright,” sounds anything but its title. Again, there are many dark elements to this production with the addition of ancient Egyptian vibes interlaced with hip-hop and trap synths.
JUDGE infuses his hip-hop roots with his Wax Motif collaboration featuring Malcolm Anthony and Lil West, titled “Lessons.” The track opens to rap and a steady beat, but then falls into a groovy electronic drop.
For the last track on the EP, “X” JUDGE teams up with Graves for a low-BPM track with an elaborate combination of synths, sounds, and instruments.
JUDGE speaks about his goals in releasing the EP.
“I am so happy to have X come together as a project and be able to share it with people. I feel like I’ve become friends with some of the most talented producers in the world, and I wanted to make this project with some of them – Wax Motif, X&G, Graves, Alexander Lewis and Dylan Brady – to show what we’re capable of with the future of production. No genre ever – no boxes – just the love and passion for creating. And hopefully it’ll make you dance.”
JUDGE will be on tour with Ekali this fall for those looking to hear X live.