20 acts you should really get to know in 2016
Photo credit: @williamselvisphotography
Around this time last year, we waxed lyrical about 20 dance acts doing big things on the international circuit. Our list of bright young producers and DJs of course included some Australian talent (the likes of Naderi and Kanyon have continued to kill it), while also pledging our love for internationals including Jerry Folk, Clouds and Yotto. Things have also worked out pretty damn well for our picks Mija, Jauz and Marshmello.
2016 has so far delivered an avalanche of head-turning electronic music, with new producers emerging from their bedrooms each week. With that in mind, we considered it high time for another list. This year our roll-call of acts you should know includes a strong contingent of locals blowing up overseas, while also turning the spotlight on next big things from Chicago, Munich, Vancouver, Manchester and Niagara Falls. Our selections swing from raw underground house to festival-ready bass music and many shades in between. Time to get listening.
Théo Le Vigoureux, better known Fakear, is part of a new generation upholding France’s reputation as an electronic music hotbed. Spending his teenage years absorbing the music of national heroes Daft Punk, he gradually made his own move into making his own finely-constructed electronic collages. In 2014, he aligned with Parisian label Nowadays Records, releasing the breakout single La Lune Rousse. He swiftly became a crowd-puller in France, selling out the Olympia music hall in Paris last year.
Now, at 24 years old, Fakear’s debut album Animal is taking him to a wider audience. The LP was a long time in the making, with Fakear finessing the tracklist until everything fit. Animal has the backing of pioneering UK label Ninja Tune, and Fakear’s distinctive style has impressed a wide range of artists from DJ Snake to M.I.A. Having supported the likes of Bonobo and DJ Shadow, it’s only a matter of time before this French whiz hits Australia.
For fans of: Bonobo, ODESZA, Dream Koala
#19 Zeke Beats
On the heavy-duty Zeke Beats track Meltdown, a voice urgently reminds us that the “tempo has reached critical level”. As a producer, Zeke Beats loves to take things up to the critical level. The Perth resident has earned international attention with his slamming yet intricate bass music, not least via his recent Meltdown EP on London imprint Terrorhythm Recordings. In addition to that firing title track, the EP includes three more cuts that are guaranteed, in the words of the Terrorhythm team, to make you “pull a screwface”.
Zeke Beats now counts the likes of Terrorhythm boss Plastician and Glacci as labelmates, which should give bass heads a good picture of how he gets down. Perth’s latest bass music star has been busy on the road in North America, including a slot at the Shambhala festival, a gig he’s “always dreamt of playing”. While overseas fans will be keeping him busy in the future, Australia’s sure to see plenty more of Zeke Beats.
For fans of: G Jones, Plastician, Alix Perez
#18 Louis The Child
Last year, Taylor Swift posted a list to fans of “new songs that will your life more awesome”. Closing out the tracklist was It’s Strange, a perfectly calibrated piece of electronic pop from Chicago duo Louis The Child and vocalist K.Flay. The endorsement was probably welcome, but Louis The Child hardly needed it. It’s Strange swiftly became a runaway hit, with the duo later releasing a collection of 21 remixes and donating the proceeds to the charity Kiva. It was a feelgood move by a duo that trades in feelgood music.
Their output in 2016 so far includes From Here on Skrillex’s OWSLA imprint and Weekend, a collaboration Swedish duo Icona Pop. They’ve capped it all off by playing Coachella, Ultra and more marquee US festivals. Starting in November, Louis The Child is heading across America for some major headline shows, cementing their status as next big things. Not bad for two guys who met as bedroom producers at a Madeon concert.
For fans of: SNBRN, Madeon, Alison Wonderland
Unfortunately, Googling the name Willow returns a whole lot of results for Will Smith’s daughter, but that’s not who we’re talking about here. The Willow who matters right now to electronic music is the Manchester newcomer otherwise known as Sophie Wilson.
Wilson’s breakout record as Willow was 2015’s Feel Me on Manchester label Workshop, which immediately made tastemakers take notice. Deep house savant Move D included the track at the tail-end of his fabric 74 mix in 2014, and a year later it turned up as part of the Workshop 21 EP. With its warm bass and blunted R&B vocal, Feel Me remains a DJ favourite. While the producer is presumably back at work in the studio, she’s also accelerating as a DJ, playing at the famed Paris party Concrete in September. Willow also recently made her Boiler Room debut in London, and her selections will impress any house head. We eagerly await Willow’s next move.
For fans of: Move D, Tama Sumo, Levon Vincent
Whethan is a whole lot busier than most kids his age. The 17-year-old from Chicago has built a devoted SoundCloud following over the last year with his slick remixes of Opia, Elohim, Louis The Child and TYuS. Judging from the stream of excitable comments left on all his uploads, Whethan could’ve easily stuck to remixes only.
This month, though, he delivered his first original single Can’t Hide, featuring vocals from Ashe. Whethan called on his friend Light House to play trumpet on the track, and the end result is a bright, buoyant hit of future bass. The track went quickly to No. 1 on Hype Machine. Not bad for a debut effort.
When he’s not heads-down in the studio, Whethan is making himself known on the tour circuit. Having ticked off HARD Summer, heading out soon for shows with Vanic, before hopping over to Flosstradamus’s November tour. Expect to see Whethan climbing higher on line-ups in years to come.
For fans of: Louis The Child, Flume, Wave Racer