25 Under 25: The Young Stars Leading 2013
While it might feel at times like a veteran’s game, electronic music is always buzzing with artists talented beyond their years. From darkened dancefloors to the most bombastic festival stages, there’s a new guard of DJs and producers commanding attention in 2013. Welcome to 25 Under 25, our salute to dance music’s ascendant stars. This isn’t a list of new discoveries to watch, and most of the names will be familiar to you. These are the high-achievers who’ve staked their place or are approaching a watershed moment.
The list also reflects the current fleet of young stars. In past years, the 25 Under 25 would’ve included festival headliners like Hardwell and Skrillex through to Maya Jane Coles, TOKiMONSTA, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Andrew Bayer and any number of prodigious talents. This is far from a complete inventory of who’s making waves – the likes of Mele, Lunice, Andrew Rayel, Alesso and M4SONIC could just as easily be here – but these 25 have inspired inthemix with their dynamism.
Throughout this list are quotes from our one-on-ones with the artists alongside some of the music that’s defined them. From underground heroes to EDM-inspired kids, here’s our take on the young stars leading 2013. Who did we miss?
Walden has had what you might call an unconventional decade as a teenager. At age 13, he went on a school trip to the technology museum in his hometown of Sydney, Australia and sat wide-eyed as his class was given a demo of the audio workstation software Acid Pro. From there, he started to tinker with the technology, discovering dance music in the process.
Before long, his buzzing profile on the online musician hub ReverbNation started to prick up ears. Then came the call-up from Big Beat, the dance arm of powerhouse Atlantic Records. Suddenly this Sydney kid found himself in the company of luminaries like Chromeo, Knife Party, Martin Solveig, SebastiAn and Skrillex.
In 2013, Walden has staked his spot as Big Beat’s new boy wonder. While he’s still too young to legally buy a drink in the U.S., his productions have ignited there. The 19-year-old’s sound is custom-built for main rooms, and his new EP Machine Land presents a suite of surging, peaktime weapons.
The parallels with Wolfgang Gartner have been unavoidable, and the elder producer invited Walden onto his Kindergarten Radio show recently for a guest mix. In fact, it’s been a strong year all-round for the electro-house upstart, including a slot at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival and a Marquee stint in Las Vegas. All the while, he’s made it look easy.
Harking back to the year 1993 will bring back visions of Spielberg’s Jurassic Park blockbuster and perhaps memories of Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang – 36 Chambers LP. It also happens to be the year that German techno prodigy Bryan Müller, better known on dancefloors as SCNTST, was born.
Beyond even the wildest dreams of kids his age, a then 17 year old SCNTST found himself among vaunted company as a part of the Boys Noize Records roster while still in school in 2011.
“It’s like daydreaming, but in real life,” SCNTST buzzed to the Erol Alkan forum at the time. “You’re sitting in your class, thinking of new tunes you could produce. It’s really hard sometimes to handle being on a label like BNR and in school at the same time…at the moment I don’t care about school.”
Far from being the label’s baby-faced techno pin-up, SCNTST slotted into the Boys Noize Records ensemble on the strength of his dynamite Monday EP, with its startlingly good tunes like the relentless crush of the title track and the cut-up 808 workout Beachboy.
Now on the edge of his twenties, Müller’s re-paid his boss’s faith with a prolific output, backing up with 2012’s clattering, bass-and-drum-heavy Premelodic Structures set and again with the just released Summer Jam EP that glimpses a lighter side to Müller’s productions as SCNTST, before a full LP release later this year.
It’s hard to shake the image that accompanied any text written about gun producer Mord Fustang when the Estonian creator hit online back in 2011 with tunes like Lick The Rainbow and The Electric Dream. There he stood, this anonymous producer decked in a bright yellow tee, his face obscured by a conveniently-placed tablet. What, he couldn’t afford a decent mask like half the other DJs out there?
Mask or no mask, the idea was effective. Everyone instead focused on the excellent tunes on offer from this unheard talent with a knack for bright keyboard melodies from the heyday of console games and gut-thumping beats. Deservedly, the youngster picked up honours as Beatport’s Breakthrough Artist of the Year for 2012, a predictor for even bigger things ahead.
The visage of Fustang’s face blanked out by a tablet continues today but now you’re equally likely to see the early-20s producer’s mug in the flesh. He’s been partaking in an exhaustive tour schedule recently, including criss-crossing voyages across North America not to mention crowd-pleasing presentations at WMC and Coachella earlier this year.
As well as that ever increasing club and festival presence, Mord Fustang’s 2013 looks bright considering his musical offerings so far this year. Already his latest Plasmapool release Taito has brought the goods, hitting the Estonian’s favoured marks with shaking bass and complextro breakdowns but there’s also the tune’s insistent, jacking beat and a trance-y afterglow to the synths that hint at further experimentation.
First appearing on the Australian electronic circuit around 2011 with the bubbly synthetic pop of Throw Me To The Stars, Sydney producer and vocalist Elizabeth Rose has surged towards bigger things with each subsequent release. On top of her debut EP release with the five tracker Crystallise and its crisp lead single Ready, Rose has been on a frequent collaboration tip, joining forces with A-grade talent including Sinden, RUFUS and most recently fellow Australian hit-makers Flight Facilities for their buoyant disco anthem I Didn’t Believe.
As impressive as her journey has been thus far, Rose’s rise has been equally notable for its poised and measured strides forward. The young artist has been self-managed until recently and maintained independence with her output.
“I’m a very strict perfectionist,” Rose told inthemix at the time of the Crystallise release. “It was really important to me that I could work by myself and to be in control of what I was making. I got to see how things work on the inside without having a bunch of A&R guys telling me to put more hooks or this and that into my music. I did what I wanted.”
What strikes most about this Sydney talent’s potential though is her spark for toying with new sounds. On the Sinden-assisted Again, Rose hits the perfect balance between club readiness and new-age electronic pop before going all disco diva on I Couldn’t Believe. Better still is the live set where, beneath a tussled collection of gear and cables, a solo Rose commands attention with cold vocal hits and her well-executed remixes.
Probably the first thing that will jump out at you about Space Dimension Controller – aside from his incredibly quirky, unique sound and the fact the era he takes his influences from was nearly over before he could tie his own shoes – is that he’s white and he’s from Belfast. Probably the most unassuming guy imaginable to be making sleazy, intergalactic disco-techno-electro-funk, Jack Hamill is a surprise package.
With a style that blends elements of ‘80s funk and electro, past and present disco and the spirit of the Detroit techno movement, SDC pays homage to his musical heroes while managing to sound like no one else.
Nowhere is this more evident than on his debut album, Welcome to Mikrosector-50, which traverses BPMs and vibes with ease. But it’s not just here where his originality shines: every track (be it a twelve-inch release or an album cut) tells a story. Some are self-contained vignettes and others chapters in a larger opus. Hamill’s music exists within its own fictional schlock sci-fi universe.
However, he’s not just an accomplished producer with releases on legendary labels like R&S Recordings – he’s also a label owner, curating the excellent Basic Rhythm. Then there’s his live show, which will once again keep him busy this summer. As inthemix expert Claire Morgan once wrote: “This guy is the master of juxtaposing nostalgia with modernity, contemplation with extroversion, the high-brow with the downright naff. It’s impossible to describe his sound in a few sentences; I’ll just call it a joyful melting pot of the past, present and future.”