30 Internationals You’re Going to Love in 2014
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2013 was a triumphant year for dance music’s new guard. At 25 years old, Hardwell became the youngest-ever Number 1 in DJ Mag ’s annual poll. A teenager from The Netherlands called Martin Garrix ruled the Beatport Top 100 with his main stage behemoth Animals, before becoming the EDM poster boy for Justin Bieber’s manager.
Disclosure, two young brothers from the south of England, made one of the year’s game-changing albums, Settle, which topped best-of-2013 lists alongside the multi-million-dollar Daft Punk opus Random Access Memories. Meanwhile, production dynamos like Madeon, Porter Robinson, Zedd and Baauer entered the major league, each with a sound that’s entirely his own. It was no different at the deeper, moodier end of the dance spectrum, either, thanks to a bubbling-over of talent as diverse as Maya Jane Coles, The Martinez Brothers and Shlohmo. This was not the year to rest on your laurels.
Already, 2014 looks to be the watershed year for a new wave of dance music high-achievers. In this feature, inthemix is turning the spotlight on 30 acts who’ll spend the next 12 months killing it. From the next underground heroes to festival headliners-in-waiting, these names will help define dance music in 2014. Many of the artists here are poised for their breakthrough year. Other names on the list – the Cashmere Cats or DJ Snakes – won’t be new to you, but they’re featured here because we think 2014 will be the year they hit stratospheric levels. What every artist here has in common is that they’re all putting out excellent music.
As the ‘international’ in the title suggests, this list is entirely made up of names from outside of Australia, not because there won’t be enough talented homegrown names, but because there were too many – expect a dedicated all-local edition of this feature to land next week.
While he’s one of the more established names on the list, Moldovan trance talent Andrew Rayel is still accelerating. A classically-trained musician drawn to dance music after completing his musical studies, Rayel’s delivered a prolific succession of tightly-produced gems this year, including several high-impact collaborations, as well as his standout single Dark Warrior.
His musicality was picked up early on by scene leader Armin van Buuren, who’s released his tunes across his various labels. With a debut album set for release on Armada Music next year, following 12 concerted months on a tour circuit that spanned Ibiza to Australia, it’s guaranteed he’ll enter a new league in 2014. [Angus Paterson]
Heading into 2014, no artist-to-watch list is complete without Jillian Banks, and the attention is well-deserved. The 25-year-old L.A. songstress is one of music’s most intriguing figures, her persona a study in contrasts: Banks’ voice is fragile yet moody, heartbroken yet sultry and, while the press tend to focus on her “mysterious” nature and lack of social media presence, she’s posted her phone number online for fans and her lyrics read like diary entries.
Banks has been wise in selecting producers to accompany and enhance her intoxicating vocals – she’s had a fruitful working relationship with U.K. producer Sohn, and has recruited TEED, Jamie Woon and Lil Silva (her track with the latter, Work, is the most club-ready tune she’s made to date). The resulting music joins electronic elements with the soul of 90s R&B and bursts of live instrumentation. With just scattered SoundCloud releases and September’s London EP to her name, Banks has made a huge impact, one that’s left us wanting to learn – and hear – much more. [Lina Abascal]
Jimmy Valance and Tom Howie make up the duo that is Bob Moses, the latest act signed to super-selective boutique label Scissor & Thread. The Brooklyn-based boys have only two EPs to their name thus far, but quality far outweighs quantity, as they combine exemplary production skills with strong songwriting and singing chops to create an enveloping atmosphere with their music.
Their latest offering, Far From The Tree, is a prime example: fluid, dreamy, melancholic, pensive melodies that translate just as easily to the dance floor as they do to the living room. The combined influences of electronica, psychedelic rock and a hint of pop makes their music versatile, but it’s their live show that keeps them at the top of the pack. Simply, Bob Moses is dance music that runs deep. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next. [Krystal Rodriguez]
In interviews and on their social media accounts, Gordon Huntley and Erick Muise come off as two low-key, thoroughly normal guys, a pair of Canadian producers on the brink of hitting it big. And that’s all true – but their music tells a totally different story. As Botnek, Huntley and Muise create the most deliciously twisted, wildly unconventional “EDM” to hit our ears in a long while. Botnek’s hallmark is their aggressive synth work – gritty, growling notes that knock you off your feet – and, just as important, their ability to make appealing melodies from such rough sounds.
Botnek’s early releases, an EP on Discobelle and a handful of remixes, were just a warm-up for what was to come. In 2010, the duo’s take on the Felix Cartal track Skeleton won a Dim Mak remix contest, and the pair became one of the label’s go-to remixers. Huntley and Muise were officially welcomed into the Dim Mak family in 2012, and dropped the Sriracha & Beer EP that November.
Since then, they’ve kept the music coming while repping their label on the road: In addition to solo dates, Botnek appeared on this fall’s Aokify America tour and rocked the Dim Mak stages at both Tomorrowland and TomorrowWorld. At a time when big-room EDM often feels stale, Botnek offers a weird, welcome dose of originality. [Lauren Lipsay]
How to describe the unique niche that Branko inhabits? BBC Radio 1 nailed it when announcing the selector’s “In New DJs We Trust” residency: “Branko plays innovative electronic rhythms and genres from every corner of the planet.” While some DJs are content to trawl the Beatport Top 100 to stock their sets, Branko goes deep, unearthing under-the-radar gems to service his “tropical” vibe. It’s no surprise, then, to see him chosen as one of Radio 1â€²s trusted talents, keeping company with names like Jackmaster, T. Williams, Salva and Brodinski.
Branko is also a founding member of the Buraka Som Sistema collective, which broke through in 2008 and is currently at work on a new album. This year, Branko’s Enchufada label moved in surprising directions, while the Drums Slums and Hums mixtape proved his ear for seeking and creating left-of-centre sounds is still precision-tuned. There’s much more to come, too. [Jack Tregoning]
Norwegian enigma Cashmere Cat spent 2013 building on his reputation as the next production Midas, applying his golden touch to a platter of standout tunes like Aurora and his knockout remix of Do You… by Miguel, which has quickly steam-rolled through 1.5 million-plus streams on SoundCloud. He’s since been called in to make over tracks from Lana Del Rey and Jeremih, assignments he handled with signature finesse.
Where the Cat gets it oh-so-right is with the deft blend of harsh electronic sounds and rich organic ones; on latest single With Me that shutters between machine hisses and evocative piano and chimes. In early February he’s releasing the Wedding Bells EP on LuckyMe, and we’re counting on it being an auspicious start to the year. Nobody does it quite like this guy. [Dave Ruby Howe]
With his warped, pitched-way-down remix of Destiny Child’s Say My Name (three million SoundCloud plays and counting), Cyril Hahn sealed his status as the remixer everyone wants a piece of. In the past 12 months, he’s worked his slowburn magic on Mariah Carey and Solange, added an irresistible four-four pulse to Jessie Ware and brought a new sheen to HAIM, to name just a few.
With perennial tastemaker Diplo spinning the Destiny’s Child and Mariah Carey remixes on his Radio 1 show, Hahn’s life got busy fast. The young producer had to take a break from studying art history in Vancouver to begin touring the world, while keeping up a prodigious work-rate in the studio. On his own Perfect Form EP from this year, Hahn’s chopped-and-screwed R&B vocal samples fuse with dance floor-ready beats to create a seductive strain of club music. [Lina Abascal]
This Frenchman may have received a Grammy nomination for his work on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way but, in 2013, he accomplished something arguably more important: He came into his own as an artist and tastemaker. And if we’ve learned one thing about DJ Snake this year, it’s that he doesn’t turn down for anything. Even Christmas.
Snake started off the year with the Alesia collaboration Bird Machine, which paired 808s with a whistle-while-you-twerk melody; the track highlighted the power of Snake’s simple, skillful production. He got rowdier on Turn Down For What, an anthem and rallying cry for the 70-BPM set, and also dropped off a number of unexpected remixes – who knew Snake and Duck Sauce would make such a killer combo?
In a recent interview, Snake was asked when fans could expect an EP or full-length. His response? “When I’m ready.” Nonetheless, the producer regularly tweets about hitting the studio and new releases, so we’ll gladly take our French trap fix in one-song doses next year. [Jessica Goodman]
This year, we saw the expansion of a more ferocious brand of dance music, an inversion of the more mainstream disco revival. Tracks like Kanye West’s Black Skinhead or Gesaffelstein’s LP Aleph capture the impressive art of creating danceable grooves within abrasive soundscapes.
German OWSLA signee Etnik may not be a household name, but he helped create some 2013â€²s best dance floor-ready aggression, meshing the all-night party sensibility of the Hamburg scene with the grittiness that runs through OWSLA’s catalogue. His EP Neon Daze provided a good warm-up, but Etnik’s skill and pronounced style make him the perfect fit for a full-length album. We’re waiting, Etnik. [August Thompson]
Galantis is poised to help fill the void that Swedish House Mafia left behind. It’s a bold claim, to be sure, but the new duo has the talent, experience and vision to become the next great supergroup in 2014. Galantis is Linus Elkow and Christian Karlsson and, if you don’t know them by name, you certainly know their past work.
Elkow makes music under the Style of Eye and has produced originals and remixes for labels like Refune, OWSLA and Wall Recordings; he also co-wrote and produced a little song called I Love It by fellow Swedes Icona Pop. Karlsson, too, has a long history in electronic music – particularly in the realm of collaborations. He’s a member of indie-dance trio Miike Snow, as well as the duo Bloodshy & Avant. The pair scored a Best Dance Recording Grammy in 2005 for their songwriting and production efforts on Britney Spears’ Toxic, and have crafted tracks for Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry.
Galantis has only released two tracks thus far: the A-Trak collaboration Jumbo and their lush debut single Smile. The latter is a pop-influenced, vocal-heavy track that’s as uplifting as it is dance-ready, with a thumping bass-line and exhilarating rush just before the drop. It’s indie-electronica built for big rooms, creating a combination of emotion, soul and what Elkow calls “a really, really big kind of vibe.”
“Galantis is about challenging, not following,” says Karlsson in the group’s bio, and we can’t wait to see how they crash through dance music’s conventions come 2014. The duo already has support from some pretty big names in EDM – Diplo, Kaskade and Pete Tong, to name a few. Who else will hop on the Galantis train? [Krystal Rodriguez]