For one weekend back in March, Miami’s Bayfront Park became a testing ground for the dance tracks set to light up the 2014 season. Wherever you roamed at Ultra Music Festival – or whatever you watched on the live stream, if you were tuning in from here in Australia – certain anthems were inescapable. After all, for most DJs on the Ultra line-up, the festival’s a chance to debut new material for a huge crowd, and hopefully reach thousands more on the live stream.
While superstars like Hardwell, Tiesto, Afrojack and Kaskade brought their own ‘first plays’ to Bayfront Park, it was the handiwork of lesser-known producers that really turned heads. Whether it was Jack U dropping Elliphant’s Revolusion on the Main Stage or What So Not ruling sets at the bass arena, the biggest moments didn’t just come from the biggest names.
So which tracks will be turning up time and time again on your Shazam this festival season? In this feature, we count down 25 hotly-tipped producers making the music that’s set to rule this winter, from underground house to speaker-shaking trap to the most bombastic main stage gear. Most of the acts here will be getting heavy play in sets over the Northern summer, while others will keep heating local dancefloors with their output. Listen out for their handiwork in the sets of your favourite DJs. [Article image by Rukes]
It came as little surprise to see Elliphant opening shows for M.I.A. on the latter’s recent Canadian tour, with both firebrands sharing a preference for eclectic, shapeshifting electronic production. Following a self-titled EP in 2013, Elliphant’s latest release Look Like You Love It dropped recently via Diplo’s Mad Decent imprint, with the label boss himself guesting on production alongside Skrillex, Dave Sitek and pop queen-maker Dr. Luke.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: When Diplo and Skrillex (in full Jack U mode) dropped Elliphant’s rousing Revolusion at Ultra Music Festival, it seemed like a naturally bombastic setting for the tune, jammed as it was between bouncing hits from Douster, DJ Fresh and Bingo Players. Don’t be surprised if you’re bombarded with this one as a staple of big party sets this season.
One of Anjunadeep’s newest darlings is Leipzig-based artist Dan Goldstein, better known as Lane 8. The producer has been consistent with his output of emotive, soul-infused deep house, and has French Express cornerstone Perseus to thank for helping jump-start his career. After spontaneously sending him Don’t Want You Back in 2012, Perseus put him on The Magician’s radar, securing a spot in the tracklist of his Magic Tape 23.
Now, Lane 8 is very much in demand, with a slew of dance floor-moving releases and remixes to his name that have earned him play from DJs like Mark Farina, Above & Beyond and Pete Tong. He’s just about to finish up a big North American tour, which should ensure that we’ll be hearing a lot more of Lane 8 in the future.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: After a year of waiting, Lane 8 is finally releasing the much-beloved tune Every Night to the world. Dreamy synths, euphoric vocal samples and a deep, moody bassline make this mellow track a top candidate for after-hours sunrise sets.
Following a string of successful EPs, a North American debut and the well-received release of their debut album, Boxed Out, 2014 looks to be Detroit Swindle’s biggest year yet. The duo, Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets of Amsterdam, are commanding dancefloors worldwide with their infectious, feel-good music.
Though they often fall under the house umbrella, no style is off-limits, thanks to the pair’s expansive music interests and Dales’ background as a hip-hop DJ. They find inspiration in disco, Motown and everything in between, made evident in tracks like early favourite The Wrap Around, as well as That Freak Stuff, and For The Love Of… Their versatility plays well to the dancefloor, with songs getting airplay from a wide range of DJs from deep house pioneer Kerri Chandler to new Spinnin’ Records recruit Oliver Heldens.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Me, Myself & You, a cut off the debut album: sultry deep house laced with alluring vocal samples; perfect vibes to transport you back to summer.
You’d be hard pressed to find a couple of guys better at turning a song – any song, it seems – into a dancefloor anthem in the space of an edit. But wordlife, the project of Sydney’s Adam Bozzetto & Kato, have proven there’s not a track they can’t remix. In the last year alone, the pair have put their touch on tunes from RUFUS, The Presets, Crooked Colours, Yolanda Be Cool, Anna Lunoe and more, and the end result’s consistently great. So, DJs: next time you’re searching for a new edit to drop, have a dig through the wordlife Soundcloud page.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: For all our talk of their remixes, it’s perhaps their original track Club Strobe, released on local label Motorik!, that will be on the highest rotation in 2014. If you want more, wordlife’s 2013 single Breakthrough hasn’t done its dash yet, either.
At just 21 years old, Max Graef is already being hailed by many as the future of house music. The Berlin-born producer has been rising quickly up the ranks of the underground through a steady string of releases showcasing his raw talent and extensive music knowledge.
Some of the many early production highlights in Graef’s blooming career include Pedro and Ignorance is Bliss, in addition to releases on his Box Aus Holz imprint, which highlights more experimental leanings. Rivers of the Red Planet, his debut album released just last month, received rave reviews from musicians and critics alike for its impeccable musicianship. With so much creative potential bubbling madly beneath the surface, we can’t wait to see what Max Graef does next.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Dedicated house heads are likely already familiar with NÂ°5, off the Bummse EP. Warm to the ears with its soulful, syrupy vocal snippets, the track is swathed in a filmy nostalgia that makes it feel like you’re dusting off an old, worn record. If you know where to look, NÂ°5 will be your sweet reward on the dance floor.
He might be new to the scene – what with the first Golden Features EP only arriving in February – but the buzz around this Sydney identity is hard to ignore. His tracks are definite burners, triple j is all over him, DJs around the country are singing his praises and with more originals and a stack of remixes on the way, you can count on Golden Features material being a fixture in sets coast-to-coast this year.
Oh, and as for the mystery around him? Golden Features might still be wearing a mask to his shows, but in April Sydney’s Tom Stell outed himself as the producer behind the project. “I didn’t want my face plastered over things just because I prefer to have a character that I speak through,” he explained. ”[But] I don’t want people to be hung up on the anonymity thing because, in my mind, it’s not important. It’s the music, the artwork and the message that’s being sent through that are the most important. ”
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Every track on the Golden Features EP would do well on a dancefloor, but we think the one that’s destined to be rinsed is Guillotine. It’s got one hell of a bassline.
Manhattan producer Branchez has evolved over the course of two years from down-tempo, soulful hip hop to the kind of smart, filtered club trap we know and love from acts like What So Not (no surprise, then, that Branchez remixed the homegrown duo’s track High With Me, was invited to do a Diplo & Friends guest mix at the end of last year and makes regular appearances on the line-ups of HARD events).
Branchez’s real break-through moment was when last year’s Shake featured in Skrillex’s 2013 Essential Mix, the Most Played Essential Mix in Historyâ„¢. Signed to move-making bookers The Windish Agency, he’s now turned out remixes for the likes of Mat Zo and TOKiMONSTA, knocked out an internet-dominating Rihanna bootleg and just finished touring all over the States with Giraffage – just warming-up for what’s set to be an even bigger summer.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: In an unlikely turn of events, Branchez brought the saxophone to trap with Shake, while his 2012 hit Treat You Right also dominated dancefloors with its hand-clap percussion and big bass. We’re anticipating that his latest Told Me will follow in its predecessors’ footsteps and, with its chilled atmosphere and anime sample, be making plenty of appearances this Northern Hemisphere summer in sets from the likes of Ryan Hemsworth and Lunice.
If you’re feeling in need of a beach vacation, Thomas Jack is here to bring it to you. The 20 year-old homegrown producer has been making waves with his lush brand of “tropical house”, a cool blend of house and downtempo infused with jazzy saxophones and tribal drums.
The uphill climb for Jack began less than a year ago with his first single, The Final Speech. After a successful run on the Hype Machine charts, the producer kept the momentum rolling with remixes of Lorde’s Royals and Adrian Lux’s halcyon throwback, Teenage Crime. Though he has only a few original tracks to his name at the moment, his many mixes – including his new Tropical House series – have kept him on the radar.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: With Jack’s plans to hit North American festivals Lightning in a Bottle and Electric Forest in the coming months, a track like Symphony is just the ticket. Its New-Age-meets-the-dancefloor flutes, dramatic sax interludes and rumbling bassline will surely enhance the already breathtaking environment of both festivals.
Friends of Friends boss Paul Salva – just Salva to his fans – has long been a staple in Los Angeles’ ever-evolving dance community. “I’ve experimented with every single sound I came across while coming up,” he writes in his bio. “I didn’t know what I wanted because I loved everything.”
With an equal love for rap and dance music, trap inevitably became his claim to fame, bringing the genre onto mainstream radio through his and RL Grime’s wildfire remix of Kanye West’s Mercy in 2012. Since then, he’s built a strong resume, having linked up with rapper Freddie Gibbs, Jamie Lidell and DJ Shadow, toured with RL Grime and tested his taste-making chops as a resident DJ on BBC Radio 1.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: While Boys Noize can make enough noise on his own, Salva’s remix of Push Em Up offers a touch of street cred. The uptempo, uber-bouncy track was unofficially christened by Diplo and Skrillex during their Jack U world festival debut, and will undoubtedly have its moment this year as Salva heads out on tour with Diplo, A-Trak and Cam’ron.
Rowan Jones named his Route 94 project for the road that bridges Chicago and Detroit, the birthplaces of house and techno, respectively. But before Jones took on the house project, he initially made his name in dubstep as Dream, with work championed by Skrillex, Chase & Status and Skream. Now, the 20 year-old UK producer is making fans out of peers in a whole different realm.
Following remix duties for Storm Queen’s colossal single Look Right Through and MK’s Always, Route 94 broke through earlier this year with the release of My Love, which debuted in the top spot on the UK Dance Chart before reaching #1 in two other countries. Having already accomplished a feat many wait years for, Jones has a bright future ahead of him.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Pounding a dancefloor near you will be Fly 4 Life, which Route 94 recently re-released on Defected. Classic soulful house meets shadowy techno in this dancefloor weapon that’s recently been brandished by the likes of Annie Mac, MANIK, NT89 and Groove Armada.
In recent years, London-based Ilan Bluestone has emerged as one of the brightest stars championed by Above & Beyond’s Anjunabeats. On a label stacked with next-generation talent, his sound stands alone.
The producer’s industrious work-rate in the studio has delivered exceptional results of late, from his originals like Spheres and Elysian through to his propulsive remix of Goodbye Future by The Presets. In fact, Bluestone’s SoundCloud is a treasure trove of on-point tracks and remixes for names as divergent as Lana Del Rey and Mat Zo. As one fan perfectly put it: “Hit after hit after hit.”
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: “This is a bit tasty,” Pete Tong quipped as he cued up Ilan Bluestone’s latest Big Ben for its BBC Radio 1 debut. A typically tight, driving outing from Bluestone, expect to hear Big Ben shimmering out of speaker stacks all summer.
Since relocating from one sun-kissed paradise to another (that’s Sydney to Los Angeles), Fool’s Gold recruit Anna Lunoe has upped her already formidable game, adding a renewed production vigour to her reputation as an on-point vocalist and DJ.
The last few months have been particularly productive for the Aussie export, too. She has backed up criss-crossing US club tours with her debut at Coachella and a talked-about slot on ‘Diplo & Friends’, which featured a roll-call of killer tracks, including co-productions with Treasure Fingers, AC Slater and Eli Escobar.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Expect new music coming from the Lunoe camp soon, but for the immediate future you can expect to keep moving your feet to the suite of remixes for her jacking house outing Breathe, which dropped late in 2013 through Fool’s Gold and Ultra.
Milo & Otis represent the next wave of talent on the Skrillex-helmed OWSLA imprint. New as the project may be, they hold their own alongside the more experienced dubstep don and Kill The Noise in a mainstage-worthy remix of Duck Sauce’s NRG, as well as on the road with Dillon Francis, What So Not and DJ Snake as a support act for Skrillex on his Mothership tour.
Their party-starting, sample-heavy journey from electro-fused moombahton to the more bass-friendly trap music has amassed a loyal following as they find their stride. Only a couple of years in, the duo can already count Coachella among the festivals they’ve played, with future performances locked in for HARD Summer and Mysteryland USA this summer.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Since its release earlier this year, #FESTMUNCH seems to be living up to its name, with play on Ultra’s main stage and at Coachella courtesy of Krewella and Dillon Francis, respectively. No doubt it’s only the beginning as the US festival season grinds into gear.
While this list isn’t short on producers just getting started in the game, Jennifer Lee, AKA TOKiMONSTA, has been finessing her sound for over five years and is now enjoying some (much deserved) wider success.
Fresh off a run of dates with funk ambassadors Chromeo, TOKiMONSTA has been keeping fans stocked with a stream of new productions and remixes that showcase the producer’s flair for chopped vocals, jittery percussion and robotic basslines, all coming together in a sound that’s completely her own. The Tinashe remix she recently did purely “for fun” is a must-listen.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: The internet has been buzzing about this union of two distinctive female talents, as TOKiMONSTA takes on the new single from Sydney vocalist and beat maker Elizabeth Rose. The flip of Sensibility has a little bit of everything, including slowed-down R&B rhythms, warm vocals and a killer Jersey club break. Add this to your party playlist and it’ll do the rest.
Fresh-faced Brit Shift K3Y announced himself to the dance music community last year with an ear-grabbing remix of Attracting Flies from AlunaGeorge. In just three and a half minutes, the young gun proved how deftly he could apply a slick, colourful video game-inspired palette to bass music. Since then, the performer known to his friends as Lewis Jankel has toured the US with Skrillex and Kaytranada, received the backing of Diplo and the heft of a major label record deal.
What makes Jankel an even surer-bet for domination this summer is the 22 year-old’s crossover appeal as a DJ, producer and singer, with the star-to-be possessing a silky and soulful set of pipes.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Shift K3Y’s springy single Touch seems custom built for the Northern Hemisphere party season, with its bright energy destined to shake the walls of clubs and house parties alike.
Wes James, better known as Le Youth, need only look to his current hometown of Los Angeles to find inspiration for his year-round summery sound, a blend of downtempo, house and nu-disco sprinkled with Clinton-era R&B vocals, as fun, casual and sexy as a rooftop pool party.
Le Youth first caught our attention a year ago with his aptly-titled debut single Cool, a breezy throwback to Cassie’s popular single, Me & You. Since then, he’s racked up experience after being commissioned to remix the likes of Sam Smith, Chromeo, Tensnake and Disclosure.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Le Youth’s second single, Dance With Me featuring Dominique Young Unique, gives listeners no option but to oblige. Using Jermaine Dupri and TLC vocal chops to great effect, the track is a refreshing splash of tropical disco with a retro ‘90s sheen. Also worth checking out is legendary remixer MK’s version of the song.
If you’re pricking the ear of HARD Events ringleader Gary Richards, you’ve got to be doing something right. Motez – the project of Adelaide’s Motez Obaidi – is hitting all the right notes. Starting his career with perfectly-handled edits of Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean tracks just over a year ago before dropping his huge original Ride Roof Back (a recurring favourite of Claude VonStroke’s Dirtybird crew), Motez has found a signature sound that borrows from house and bass, creating crisp, flawlessly-produced tracks at every turn.
He was recently given the nod to star on the debut HARD tour of Australia and we’d wager he’ll be getting spots on North American festival bills before the year’s through. Until then, listen out for him in everyone else’s sets – once you know how to spot him, it won’t take you long to start hearing Motez everywhere.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Motez’s Gas Pedal edit has been a dancefloor fixture since it dropped six months ago, and it’s not showing any signs of going away yet. Slow down, grab the wall…
As homegrown beat maker Wave Racer succinctly puts it on SoundCloud: “I like vocoders and arpeggios.” Since bubbling up from his hometown of Sydney, the young producer has caught the ear of the scene’s leading tastemakers, including Mad Decent boss Diplo, who went after a Wave Racer guest mix for his BBC Radio 1 show.
Wave Racer first caught our attention with the skittering beats and chopped-up vocals of his breakout productions Rock U Tonite and Stoopid, and before long he was signed to Future Classic, the label with star recruits like Jagwar Ma and Flume. 2014â€²s set to be his year. In the words of Diplo: “This guy used to work at Starbucks, now he’s a producer. You’ve come a long way man, ‘cause now you’re on Diplo & Friends!”
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: The bright, off-kilter rhythms and punchy “woo”s of Wave Racer’s new single Streamers have made it a staple on adventurous dance floors, and you’ll hear it lighting up trap sets right through summer.
With its dark throb and woozy, pitched-down vocals, ZHU’s Faded has been impossible to ignore this year. The follow-up to an early Outkast flip and a debut original in Superfriends, Faded has quickly become the calling card for one of electronic music’s new enigmas. (Those smoke-shrouded publicity shots don’t give much away.)
Just a month after its appearance on ZHU’s SoundCloud, the track marched towards a million plays and an avalanche of predictions as to just who is behind the music. DJs and fans alike will be keenly watching ZHU’s output in the months ahead.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Faded is in good company on the Nightday EP which sees ZHU adeptly firing off compelling deep house thumpers in Stay Closer and Cocaine Model. The former’s shrouded yet soulful vocal will linger in your ears long after summer has faded.
“We are Yellow Claw and we are awesome.” That’s the message you’ll be greeted with when you land on the SoundCloud page of one of Amsterdam’s hottest electronic exports. Luckily, the three-piece production group live up to their promise – Yellow Claw are awesome, and we’re not the only ones who think so. If you listened to sets from the bass stage at Ultra, you would have heard DJ Snake drop their track Slow Down, and other tastemakers are fond of working them into sets too – which, given Yellow Claw have released much of their music on Mad Decent, shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
There’s certainly no shortage of Yellow Claw tracks for trap’s leading DJs to work through. Dig around the Dutchmen’s SoundCloud page and you’ll quickly notice how prolific they are: the trio have only been uploading their tracks for the past couple of years but already, they’ve clocked up over 50 originals, remixes and mixes. Better get listening, then.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Their biggest hit might have come with the Spinnin’ released Shotgun, but we like Yellow Claw best when they’re all trapped out. DJ Turn It Up is as festival-ready as they come and we don’t think it’ll stop burning dancefloors any time soon.
Maybe you know Galantis from the duo’s high-profile partnership (Linus Eklow from Style Of Eye fame and Christian Karlsson of Miike Snow), maybe you’ve seen their super-explicit, very much NSFW video for Smile. Or maybe you’ve heard their everywhere-hit You with its soaring hook, fist-pumping beat and curiously delicate melodic bridge (or one of its plethora of remixes by everyone from Tiesto to Bart B More and Marco V). “Galantis is about challenging, not following,” says Karlsson in the group’s bio, and we look forward to their continued rise.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Galantis played their first-ever live set on the first Saturday of Coachella and You went off like a firecracker, assuring it a prominent place in the playlists of main stage DJs for months to come. Yes, you’ve already heard it rinsed, but You will still burn bright this winter.
U-Tern and Oligee are the self-described “beating heart inside the dance machine” that is Oliver. The Los Angeles-based duo call upon mutual influences like R&B, rap, disco and electro-pop to create catchy, animated jams that keep audiences hooked. “Oliver is all over the map,” says U-Tern. “But we’re going to have a good time no matter what.”
Oliver had their breakout moment four years ago with 2010’s All Night, a certified slice of smooth, slow-burning disco. They’ve remixed Boys Noize, Gigamesh, Breakbot, Penguin Prison and more. Since having found a home in the Fool’s Gold camp, the pair have collaborated with A-Trak and Chromeo, the latter with whom they co-produced White Women – all while being in demand for festivals like Ultra and countless HARD events.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Fresh off the OWSLA imprint is the Hope EP, a collaboration between Oliver and Alex Metric. The title track is a harder take on house, with crisp vocal samples, synth jabs and thumping kicks that drift slightly from the duo’s laidback nu-disco style without sacrificing the funk.
It’s little wonder that Estonian producer and trained pianist Syn Cole was snapped up for Avicii’s LE7ELS label – they share an ear for super-catchy pop melodies, as evidenced by Cole’s everywhere-anthem Miami 82.
Things took off for the newcomer when Avicii’s manager Ash Pournouri brought him into the LE7ELS family two years ago, and while his first release on the label April was prime main stage gear, his second release was Miami 82, and the rest is history-still-being-written. With a LE7ELS track rate of one mega-hit from two, fans are watching Syn Cole’s next move closely.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: The shiny, summery melodies and Casio-tone hook of Syn Cole’s anthem-in-waiting Miami 82 have been lighting up dancefloors everywhere since it dropped in December last year (it was even the official track for Ultra’s scantily-clad teaser video), but there’s life in the ear-worm yet, especially with a new remix package dropping this month with a non-vocal edit by Avicii himself, as well as an exceptional tech-house flavoured edit by remix competition winner Made in Norway and remixes by Italian prog house duo Merk & Kermont and LE7ELS protégé Lucas Silow.
One track is still ringing in the ears of everyone who spent Saturday at the bass stage of this year’s Miami Ultra Music Festival: What So Not & RL Grime’s Tell Me. (It’s perfectly tagged with the genre ‘2014 Festival Anthem’ on What So Not’s SoundCloud.) With millions of plays online and pride of place in the sets of DJs everywhere, Tell Me is already one of the year’s runaway success stories.
The two producers behind What So Not – that’s Emoh Instead and Flume – hail from Sydney, but they’re rarely close to home. While Flume’s tour schedule is tightly-stacked with his own solo shows, Emoh takes charge of DJing as What So Not. So far, 2014 has been a blur of studio sessions and “new buddies”. After a star-making Miami Music Week that saw him tag-teaming with Skrillex at the Good Times mini-festival, Emoh is heading out on the Mothership tour this month, before What So Not joins the A-list cast at HARD Summer. If past experience tells us anything, we can expect the studio heat to keep coming.
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: Needless to say, we really don’t think Tell Me has run out of steam yet. Expect to hear it deployed to thunderous effect from main stages to sweaty, intimate clubs until summer returns. See also: Jaguar, the What So Not weapon that Skrillex still can’t get enough of.
If there’s one name to bet on this winter, it’s Kyrre Gí¸rvell-Dahll, better known to dance floors simply as Kygo. The 22 year-old Norwegian producer is everywhere right now, and the millions of plays on his SoundCloud page attest to his golden touch in the studio. From a blissed-out take on Syn Cole’s Miami 82 to his assured remixes of Marvin Gaye, Ed Sheeran and Passenger, there’s already an unmistakeable Kygo sound.
Introducing Kygo’s recent guest mix on ‘Diplo & Friends’, the host gave the young dynamo a resounding endorsement. “You might’ve heard him – massive remixes, he keeps it around 100BPM, he keeps it sexy,” Diplo marveled. “This guy has got his own sound. That’s what I love on ‘Diplo & Friends’ – when someone is 100-percent original.”
THE TRACK YOU’LL KEEP HEARING: As Kygo revealed to Billboard, his talent for shimmering, upbeat remixes has not gone unnoticed by major players in the music business. As the story goes, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin sought out Kygo’s management via Pete Tong. The result? A forthcoming Kygo remix of Coldplay’s new single Midnight – his highest-profile assignment yet.
“Midnight is pretty different from the other tracks I’ve remixed, so it was challenging to work with it,” he told Billboard. “I tried to make it my own and give it my own style and melody.” Expect to hear it lighting up DJ sets this summer. In the meantime, soak up the warmth of his Benjamin Francis Leftwich remix.