Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA managing editor 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.
When I started using SoundCloud in early 2014, I made playlists weekly (read: obsessively). I’ve backed off a bit in recent years, but I still take time to collect songs for my yearly “best of” playlist, which I create every January and add to throughout the year. In late December for the past five years, I’ve narrowed it down to my 50 favorite releases of the year. They range from hard-hitting anthems to serene soundscapes, which truly sums up my music preferences.
2019 was a stellar year for drum ‘n’ bass, exhibited in tracks like Kove‘s “Le Retour,” Koven‘s “Love Wins Again,” 1991‘s “Guiding Light,” Metrik‘s “Hackers,” and so many more. The genre took some fun twists and turns, which fans heard in Mat Zo‘s Latin-infused “Games” and Sub Focus‘ earth-shattering remix of Bring Me The Horizon‘s “Mother Tongue.”
This year saw the arrival of a slew of monstrous collaborations—some unexpected and some that simply made sense. Regardless, tracks like Sullivan King and Grabbitz‘s “Crazy As You” and Delta Heavy and Zeds Dead‘s “Lift You Up” blew my mind. I was delighted when Fox Stevenson and Feint teamed up on a remix of the former’s “Out My Head,” since it flawlessly combined both their styles.
Speaking of Fox Stevenson, the UK producer released his highly anticipated album, killjoy, this year, and it’s a dynamic journey through all sides of the producer’s capabilities. Goldroom wowed me with his double-sided, multi-faceted Plunge/Surface effort, which has quite a story behind it. I had a hard time picking a favorite from A R I Z O N A‘s nostalgic Asylum LP, which is gorgeous and heart-wrenching from start to finish. I also need to mention what was likely my most-listened-to album of the year, which isn’t on SoundCloud: Ollie Wride’s Thanks in Advance. It’s gold. I lived in the aforementioned albums this year, and I’m so grateful to the artists who made them for sharing their creativity with the world.
Without further ado, here are my 50 favorite songs of 2019, in no particular order.
After asserting their re-imaginative prowess on remixes of P!nk’s “Hurts 2B Human” and San Holo’s “Right Here Right Now,” Midnight Kids now channel their artistic energies to “Run It.” The fourth Midnight Kids-stamped single to gain a release, “Run It” broadens the duo’s stock of original productions, and as Midnight Kids disclosed to Dancing Astronaut, it won’t be the last to do so.
The Annika Wells-assisted number is but one Midnight Kids project to make the leap from the pipeline to streaming platforms. With a queue of unreleased music eagerly awaiting rotation, Midnight Kids are poised to further expand their electronic influence in the year to come. The producers delineate how “Run It” fits into their continuously expanding catalog, the sonic moves they’ll be making in the new decade, and more in an exclusive interview with Dancing Astronaut.
Arriving at the close of the year, “Run It” builds on a stream of singles, such as “Those Were The Days.” How, specifically, does “Run It” build on/expand the sound that you’ve developed over this past year?
We want every track to sound like it’s a step up in production quality from the last. With “Run It,” it feels like the culmination of everything we’ve worked on this past year. Great vocals, lush chords, and a rich, full soundscape are what make this record so special for us. “Run It” will give everyone an intro to the Midnight Kids world they haven’t heard or seen yet. This is a record we are very proud of and we’re so excited to see what everyone thinks of it.
How did you approach the production process of this record?
The production on this track came together incredibly fast and naturally. We were sent a batch of demo toplines and Annika’s original demo really stood out to us. We loved the way she sang the chorus. It had an incredibly bouncy, moving rhythm and we tried to preserve that as much as we could in the production process. Having such an amazing vocal to work with from the get-go made executing ideas that much easier for us.
“Run It” follows two Midnight Kids remixes: P!nk and Khalid’s “Hurts 2B Human” and “San Holo’s “Right Here Right Now.” What are the qualities of a song that attract a Midnight Kids remix, are there any particular hallmarks that you look for?
It’s sort of a case-by-case basis. The most important thing we pay attention to, though, would be the vocal. We love big and beautiful sounding vocals, really anything that is filled with tons of emotion. Most of the time, we end up building an entire new track using just the vocals for remixes, so as long as we like the vocal, we can end up making something awesome.
Your sound has a youthful, whimsical flair to it, and it’s certainly safe to say that its brought color to the electronic scene. As you continue to develop your sound over the next year, and in the extended future, are there any particular sub-genres or artistic approaches with which you hope to experiment?
We’ve explored the mid-tempo and house genres pretty thoroughly at this point, it could be cool to experiment more with halftime oriented records. We’ve been utilizing real guitar and instrument recording for quite some time now, but recently we’ve been experimenting with modular synthesis and feel it could elevate ideas to a new level creatively moving forward. Being able to physically create and manipulate sounds in the real world has infinite potential for new inspiration and ideas.
What’s in the cards for Midnight Kids in 2020, can listeners expect a long-form project?
You can expect a lot more music from us in 2020. We can’t say much at the moment, but we can say that everything you see from us for the foreseeable future is only a small part of something much bigger that we’ve been working on.
Midnight Kids have had a swift ascension into notoriety within the electronic music scene, and this is part in thanks to a stream of remixes the LA-based duo released that garnered widespread attention. This included their take on The Chainsmokers‘ “Young,” which ended up being featured in the group’s Tommy Hilfiger campaign.
After releasing a stream of singles, Midnight Kids are now back with a another remix to add to their collection. This time Girard and Lee try their hand at remixing San Holo‘s “Right Here Right Now” featuring Taska Black.
They take Black’s humming and turn it into an electronic layer that they layer over the top of the single’s production backdrop. They then keep Black’s vocals a focal point of the release, and unsurprisingly, Midnight Kids find a way to amplify the feel-good nature of the song.
The duo wrote about the release within the Soundcloud description, noting, “The moment we started this ‘Right Here Right Now’ remix, we loved it. We definitely wanted to have this one be a bit different from the rest. We pulled from various parts of our own inspirations, such as pop punk/rock music, and came up with this, one of our favorite remixes yet!”
Midnight Kids have recently been on tour supporting Loud Luxury‘s North American headlining tour.
Midnight Kids are flourishing quickly thanks to their enamoring take on pop and commercial crossover releases. Despite now having a growing slate of original releases under their belts, Kyle Girard and Dylan Lee have resumed their remix run, this time taking on P!nk and Khalid’s, “Hurts 2B Human.”
The song is the title release on P!nk’s recent LP, Hurts 2B Human, and Midnight Kids’ new revamp adds an energetic electronic layer that contrasts from the acoustic and vocal-led nature of the original. What is originally a sultry and subtle crossover cut is transformed by a building melodic undertone that yields a euphoric release with an immense break. The duo prove their ability to tastefully add upbeat electronic tropes to a pop hit, creating the perfect blend of styles for a live set or radio play.
Midnight Kids teased the release on their social media, touting their latest as, “the biggest remix we’ve ever done,” and the final product certainly lives up to the producers’ sentiments.
5 Under 15k is a feature on Dancing Astronaut dedicated to spotlighting talented up-and-coming and largely undiscovered artists who we believe deserve more exposure. Each edition of 5 Under 15k highlights five artists from a wide variety of genres with under 15,000 followers on SoundCloud or Spotify (at the time of writing).
New York has for many musical moons remained a promised land for industry blue chips. Zack Martino, a NY native, has been gradually leveling up—inching nearer to production prestige. Since his inaugural release as a teenager in the mid 2010s, the now 23-year-old musician has remained irreverent towards confining himself to any genre exclusively. Towards the final laps of 2017, Martino ceremoniously pierced his brand into the ears of millions after his charismatic turn of Borgeous’ “Sweeter Without You” received some well-warranted notoriety bestowed by Sirius XM’s BPM channel and YouTube’s notorious dance music curator, Proximity.
“I love making songs that you can sing to, and I love working with vocalists. Sometimes, a hard-hitting beat doesn’t suit the vocalist. Having that balance of the voice and the beat, that’s how I want to portray my music.”
In June of 2018, Midnight Kids propelled into the world of original music with the release of their compelling inaugural single, “Find Our Way” which admirably demonstrated the duo was well-equipped to shed their remix-only reputation. In the time following, the scintillating twosome has only ascended in popularity, appearing as tour support for artists like Gryffin and Alesso, alongside the release of two other enamoring originals: “Serious” featuring longtime Zedd collaborative partner, Matthew Koma and “Those Were the Days,” both of which flaunt their inspiriting, felicitous form.
While Magnificence has consistently churned out vivacious electro and progressive house productions for the better half of the last decade, his high-profile collaborations alongside Nicky Romero and releases through Hardwell’s Revealed Recordings, Robin Klaver & Maurice van der Molen propelled to promising levels of acclaim in March of 2018.
During Swedish House Mafia’s highly anticipated reunion appearance at Ultra Music Festival, the Swedes showcased back-to-back unreleased productions from the Dutch pairing, unbeknownst to the Miami audience, inciting substantial speculation thereafter. Soon, Magnificence formally revealed that they had inked a deal with Axwell’s notorious Axtone Records, subsequently releasing their three-track self-titled EP, which includes both of the Miami-enforced tracks. Following a handful of official remixes for the likes of Zedd and original efforts for Martin Garrix’s STMPD Records, Magnificence most recently doubled down on their Axtone residency this past May with the release of their eclectic four-track sophomore EP, ‘II.’ It’s safe to say this pairing is well-aligned, with sizable talent to back them up.
For those unfamiliar with Dark Progressive movement, Uruguay producer REGGIO has remained emphatically seated in the driver’s seat of the dance music crusade, effortlessly blending the purest components from both the big room and progressive house genres. Flying under the wing of none other than Hardwell, REGGIO has remained an imperative member of the Revealed Recordings roster after his 2016 collaboration, “Mental” with Rivero, became one of the summer’s breakout festival anthems. Continuing to hone his craft in the years following, REGGIO’s exceptionally matured brand has included a triple dose of collaborations to finalize his most recent summer campaign with “More Of Your Love” in tandem with Justin Mylo, “Dominate” with Justin Prime and most recently, “Spectrum” alongside DJ Junior.
If you have attended a music festival in the last year, there’s a high probability you’ve encountered a Cheyenne Giles production—or even the man himself. Over the course of 2019, the San Diego native has spearheaded his impressively unique take on the festival anthem: what he dubs, “bigroom bounce.” In tandem with fellow SoCal resident Knock2, the duo has mercilessly generated insightful revisions of notorious dance music tracks including Fisher’s “Losing It,”Steve Aoki’s flip of “Pursuit of Happiness” and perhaps their most welcomed rendition: Martin Garrix’s “Tremor,” all of which have made their way into countless sets from RL Grime, The Chainsmokers and W&W, respectively. To formally solidify his placement as a soon-to-be force to be reckoned with, Giles caught the attention of the EDM’s Godfather himself, Tiësto and signed his first major original to Musical Freedom with “Blow the Whistle” this past July.
Loud Luxury are making like the lyrics of their pervasive single, “Body,” and giving fans “some verbs” with their next move: the release of their highly anticipated new single, “I’m Not Alright.” For their latest, Andrew Fedyk and Joe De Pace of Loud Luxury partner with fellow producer Bryce Vine on the tune. “I’m Not Alright” is a deviation from the electronic firepower that Loud Luxury unleashed on some of their most recognizable hits, and overall a gravitation towards a more pop-leaning, songwriter-centric format. Loud Luxury separate Vine’s guitar-assisted verses with spunky dance drops that offer a glimmer of the mellower side of Loud Luxury’s constructive ability.
“I’m Not Alright” is the musical brainchild of Loud Luxury’s chance encounter with Vine in Los Angeles. “We met [Vine] at a party…through a friend when we got back from our fall tour,” the duo said.
“The next day, he came over and showed us an idea he [had] that was just a guitar and chorus. During our winter tour we worked across North America in hotel rooms, studios, and even an Uber with our headphones to finish writing the song.”
The serendipitous sonic offering derives from the sentiment that making mistakes is a natural part of being human. “This song is about coming to terms with your flaws,” Loud Luxury added.
The Canadian dance dynamos will embark on their first-ever headlining North American tour alongside special guests, CID, MEDUZA, Bijou, Black Caviar, Dzeko, Midnight Kids, Frank Walker, and Justin Caruso, each of whom will provide city-specific support. Loud Luxury’s expansive live initiative will commence on August 29 in Salt Lake City, Utah. From there, the Armada heavyweights will work their way through no short number of US cities, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Orlando, Washington, Brooklyn, and many more. Tickets to the NIGHTS LIKE THIS tour are now available, and can be purchased here.
It’s hard to believe that LA-based duo, Midnight Kids have only released three original tracks of their own given the amount of support they have garnered from top-tier artists like The Chainsmokers, Alesso, Don Diablo, and more. Midnight Kids is comprised of Kyle Girard and Dylan Lee, whose latest original, titled “Those Were The Days,” is a worthy addition to their already infectious catalog.
The vocals initially lure the listener in, and then guide them through melodic ebbs and flows of soothing electronic synths juxtaposed by smooth, ambient background hums. Jared Lee serves as the lead vocalist on the track, and despite moments of energetic upticks, the listener is left in a state of calm upon the track’s close.
The duo issued a release about the nostalgia-driven song, stating, “‘Those Were The Days’ was a record that came together quicker than anything we’ve done before… It was something that felt extremely reminiscent of the youth we’ve both experienced. From the late night drives, to first kisses, and the moments we’ve shared with loved ones, this record hits home for us and we knew we had to make it come to life.”
Dexter’s Beat Laboratory is a weekly collection of songs from DA managing editor 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.
Bishu‘s sixth Monstercat single comes at the listener swinging. He taps songstress Mister Blonde on the anthemic “Get To Know Me,” a booming future bass track that’s refreshing in a genre saturated with repeated sounds. Just like in last spring’s “Machine,” Mister Blonde’s sultry vocals again complement Bishu’s production perfectly, as she leads the listener up to a booming drop. “Get To Know Me” is part of the Canadian producer’s forthcoming debut EP, The Hali 2 Cali EP.
Since bursting onto the scene just two years ago, Midnight Kids have garnered support from some of the industry’s biggest names. From massive remixes to their debut original last June, this duo has shown no signs of slowing down—particularly with their newest remix: Porter Robinson‘s iconic 2010 “Say My Name.” Hardcore Robinson fans might be a bit wary of any remix of this notable track, but Midnight Kids have done it justice by focusing on the melodies and playing up the emotive aspects of the track. “Porter Robinson changed the way we look at making music,” Midnight Kids noted in their song description. “Without this record coming out things could have been different for us.”
I was obsessed with The McMash Clan’s swing-oriented moombahcore “Swing Break” in 2013 but had a hard time finding any other tunes that incorporated a swing element as flawlessly as that one. When I found out Teminite and Swing’it Dixieband had teamed up for a funky electro-swing track called “Party Like it’s 1923,” I was thrilled. Straight out of a Great Gatsby scene, this track employs bold horns, a swinging electro beat, and retro vocals for an overall classy and brassy aura. Teminite continues to demonstrate his versatility as a producer, giving fans the collaboration they never knew they needed.
Mazare returns to Monstercat after his October remix of Hailene with a gorgeously emotive collaboration with vocalist RUNN. The Italian artist also recently created an otherworldly drum & bass remix for Seven Lions and only continues to improve with each new piece of work. This new top-notch single has fans raving about the impeccable blend of RUNN’s flawless vocals and Mazare’s meticulous production—and rightly so. It’s one of the most blissful pieces of music to hit the Monstercat airwaves so far this year.
UKF has been showcasing some exceptional music so far in 2019, the latest of which is a collaboration of two drum & bass powerhouse acts: Hybrid Minds and Koven. Koven member Katie Boyle’s voice positively drips with emotion in this piano-fueled drum & bass number. It’s a vulnerable piece, and though the track is backed by a racing beat, it maintains an ethereal, wistful atmosphere the whole way through. The artists’ passion for their art form is raw and unguarded in “In Your Arms,” and it’s beautiful to experience.
It’s most important day of the week: New Music Friday. With the overwhelming amount of tunes hitting the airwaves today, Dancing Astronaut has you covered with the latest edition of The Hot 25.
deadmau5 has returned to deliver the third installation in his thrilling mau5ville series, bringing with it a seven-minute opener called “Polyphobia.” Galantis and OneRepublic team up for the easygoing “Bones,” and SNBRN drops off slow-burning “Never Let You Go.” Lane 8 and Rbbts pump their latest, “Visions,” with emotions, as does Dabin with his brand new “Alive.” DROELOE deliver their first original of the year, “Only Be Me,” and Ephwurd cranks up the heat with his new “Hectic” collaboration with SWAGE. Alok and Timmy Trumpet bring their talents to Spinnin’ Records with “Metaphor,” and CAZZETTE take on Midnight Kids‘ “Serious” with Matthew Koma. Win & Woo tap the enticing vocals of Kaleena Zanders for their new single, and Crystal Skies exhibit their flawless melodic dubstep style in “Never Change.” Snakehips bring Rivers Cuomo aboard for their new “Gucci Rock N Rolla” with KYLE, and R3HAB tries his hand at remixing Kygo for the second time with a grooving take on “Happy Now.”
As each week brings a succession of new music from some of electronic music’s biggest artists, here’s a selection of tracks that shouldn’t be missed this NMF.