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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]
2013 is the year that producer George FitzGerald exploded in the dance music world. Pete Tong singled him out as a “Future Star” earlier this year when handing over the hallowed decks of the esteemed Essential Mix, and he’s released on influential labels such as Hotflush Recordings, Aus Music and Domino, while his bass-heavy blend of house, techno and garage has seen him get major airplay from the biggest DJs on the biggest stages.
FitzGerald has also been at the helm of his own record label, Man Make Music, since 2007, meaning that we have more to anticipate from him aside from his own productions. With a four month-long residency at BBC Radio 1 about to start, so too will George FitzGerald’s reign over 2014. [Krystal Rodriguez]
Leeds-based producer Daley Padley, AKA Hot Since 82, saw his status propelled into the stratosphere this year as house music’s “next big thing,” and it’s a safe bet the momentum will continue in 2014. It’s a rise built on his talent for crafting absolutely massive tunes. Unveiling his alias with Let It Ride a few years ago, the dance music world has been devouring everything that’s come out of his studio since. Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Guy Gerber, Sasha…you name them, they’ve been playing his records.
Hot Since 82â€²s niche is underground house engineered for big rooms, showcased consummately on his Little Black Book release this year. It’s a major call, but his talent for crafting high-impact records has shadows of Swedish powerhouse Eric Prydz. It almost goes without saying he’ll be one of the leading names to watch in 2014. [Angus Paterson]
British producer Ollie O’Neill has a simple way of making mature trap music: He builds upon repetitive patterns that focus on bars instead of drops, layering in elements to create a thorough, thick sound. The Brighton producer combines fierce hi-hats, mean snares and hefty bass with spacey vocals and cloudy yet infectious synth work.
The resulting tracks sound as if they were made by someone who has ruminated over the process of creating music, how it should sound and how to create intricacy that’s not intimidating. Which makes the fact that Hucci is only 17 all the more surprising and impressive. If this is the music he’s making now, we can only imagine what he’ll sound like with an additional decade under his belt. [August Thompson]
When naming his new single Sphere as the Record of the Week on their Group Therapy radio show, Above & Beyond astutely described ilan Bluestone as the “man of the moment here at Anjunabeats.” For the army of Anjunabeats devotees, though, the track was already a favourite after A&B debuted it to a live global audience of millions at their ABGT050 London show in late October.
It was a satisfying conclusion to a definitive year for the U.K. trance producer, whose attention-grabbing run of smashes includes the unmistakeable Sinai, as well as his explosive collaboration with Jerome Isma-Ae, Under My Skin. The defining thread running through his work is a powerful electro heft that blends seamlessly with genuine trance melodies; it’s a rare touch that pleases even the purists. [Angus Paterson]
If Dirtybird is the White House of booty-shaking bass, then consider J.Phlip its First Lady. J.Phlip has been able to call many dance music meccas her home, growing up just south of Chicago and alternating between San Francisco and Berlin. She’s currently supporting Dirtybird boss Claude VonStroke on his massive international Urban Animal tour after a U.S. run, but has a few dates of her own coming up this year, including appearances at South Africa’s Cape Town Electronic Music Festival and Ultra Music Festival in Miami. [Krystal Rodriguez]
Javeon McCarthy – known simply as Javeon – is the newest addition to PMR Records, whose roster boasts a number of fast-rising acts like Disclosure, Cyril Hahn, Jessie Ware and Two Inch Punch. The Bristol-born singer, who describes his music as a combination of R&B, soul and underground dance music, has worked with L-Vis 1990 and Julio Bashmore, and had his own work remixed by the likes of Shadow Child, Eats Everything and T. Williams. With a debut album due out the summer of 2014 and the PMR family behind him, Javeon’s potential is undeniable. [Krystal Rodriguez]
On a record label founded by Kode9 and kept famous by Burial, one would expect Hyperdub darling Jessy Lanza to be just as dark and bass-affectionate. Instead, it’s quite the opposite. The Ontario native stands out amongst her female peers with her coquettish brand of experimental R&B and breathy vocals; she’s just as inspired by SVW as she is by Drexciya. Her debut album, Pull My Hair Back, received top marks from critics who have named her “one of the year’s best debuts.” Her soft, mesmerising voice will warm the coldest soul; appropriate, then, that she’s begun her debut European tour in the dead of the northern hemisphere’s winter. [Krystal Rodriguez]
It takes guts to remix Missy Elliott but, not long ago, Jesse Slayter and Saint took her classic One Minute Man and gave it one very turnt-up twist. The remix capped off a stellar 2013 for the Louisiana newcomer, in which he rose from a Soundcloud star to a member of the newest wave of trap/bass upstarts; he started the year with a Harlem Shake remix and ended it by collaborating with ETC!ETC! on an official re-work of Dillon Francis’ and TEED’s Without You. Slayter’s work – largely remixes and bootlegs – will attract the ear of anyone who comes upon it. And not just because he posts most of his music for free.
Slayter’s young age and enthusiasm makes him a constant social media presence: He chronicles his production process on Vine, writes emoji-laden Facebook love letters to his fans and tags his frequent Instagram posts with ”#swag.” But don’t let his light-heartedness fool you; if you see Slayter perform live, you might never stop hearing Beat it Up in your head. [Jessica Goodman]
Justin Jay is another one to watch on the Dirtybird label. The Los Angeles-bred DJ and producer has traveled the world, played in Ibiza and opened for some of the biggest names in electronic music – and the guy hasn’t even finished college yet. Jay released his debut EP on Dirtybird back in 2011, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that his Static EP helped him gain traction.
Pegged by both Pete Tong and Claude VonStroke as a “Future Star,” his penchant for booming bass and deep, soulful melodies has served him well, gaining him major underground cred with a release on Cali-centric label Culprit. Jay already managed to snag a slot at TomorrowWorld, with upcoming appearances scheduled at Snowglobe NYE and BPM Festival. There’s no doubt this young Dirtybird is ready to spread his wings and soar in 2014. [Krystal Rodriguez]
Lxury is one of those acts that you may not have heard of…but have definitely heard. Also known as Londoner Andy Smith, Lxury caught dance fans’ attention when his first single J.A.W.S. debuted during Disclosure’s BBC Radio 1 Essential mix, with many thinking it was a track by the Settle stars themselves.
The Disclosure connection does remain, however: Lxury is signed to the Lawrence brother’s burgeoning Method Records. Since his impressive introduction to the dance world, he may have dropped the “u” in his name, but his knack for creating shimmering, sexy house has remained (do listen to his damn good remix of CHVRCHES’ Lies). We haven’t heard much from Lxury to date, but it’s enough to plant him on our must-watch list; with the right vocalist, he might just make the next White Noise. [Jessica Goodman]
Sometimes, one song is all it takes. Buzz has been (rightfully) building around Mapei since October, when she posted the soulful, groovy Don’t Wait to SoundCloud. It quickly topped the Hype Machine charts, but the track’s charm has yet to wear off – it can make you want to dance, cry and repeat in a mix of psyched-up, heart-wrenching beats.
Jacqueline Mapei Cummings’ story is as interesting as her music. The Rhode Island-born, Stockholm-bred songstress entered the scene as a rapper, and released 2009â€²s Cocoa Butter Diaries EP while burying a desire to sing instead. After extensive traveling and soul-searching, she found her voice – and her producer. She’s now working with Swede Magnus Lidehall on her debut album, coming next year on Downtown Records.
“My mission is to make epic pop songs,” Mapei said in a recent interview, and we hope her LP delivers; the singer/songwriter has the potential to bring emotional messages to dancefloors the world over. [Jessica Goodman]
As a singer, songwriter and producer, MNEK is a dance music triple threat. Considering his run in 2013, we’d be seriously remiss in not keeping an eye out for the 19-year-old Brit next year: He co-wrote and sang on Rudimental’s Home and Sub Focus’s Torus, lent his voice to Gorgon City’s ‘Ready For Your Love’ …and then there’s the small matter of his recent Grammy nomination. He co-wrote Duke Dumont’s hit Need U (100%), and the hit is up for Best Dance Recording.
In 2014, MNEK will strike out on his own, releasing his debut album on Virgin EMI. As a producer, he expertly combines influences from R&B and both classic and current house music, and his sultry voice – dare we say – rivals that of Miguel. He may be a newcomer, but he’s got the ambition and the talent to back it up. In a recent interview, he laid out his wish: “To be a fricking icon, with everyone knowing who I am and singing my songs and pronouncing my name right.” We think he’s well on his way. [Jessica Goodman]
Sam Smith got his break as the voice behind Disclosure’s Latch, and has since featured on the group’s Nile Rodgers collaboration Together. But his October EP Nirvana proved that he’s more than a guest vocalist; he’s a burgeoning artist in his own right. Smith is gearing up for the release of his debut album In The Lonely Hour due out in May 2014 on Capitol Records; lead single Money On My Mind combines pop melodies with a U.K. garage-inspired beat, creating a sound that’s sure to appeal to the Top 40 and Pete Tong crowds alike.
Then, of course, there’s Smith’s voice itself, rich and wide-ranging: He can go from deep and sultry with a hint of melancholy, to sweet and ebullient in the upper registers. With his album already garnering buzz, we have a hunch we’ll be hearing his voice on both the radio and dancefloor next year. [Jessica Goodman]
Back in March during the marathon of parties that is Miami Music Week, Boys Noize told inthemix to pay special attention to his young label recruit SCNTST this year. We were wise to take note. Since his start on Boys Noize Records as a teenager, Bryan Müller has developed into a prodigious producer, earning a public endorsement from Ninja Tune wizard Daedelus just last month.
After a period of studio lockdown, Müller emerged this year with his debut album as SCNTST Self Therapy. A deep dive into his musical headspace, the LP stretches from austere techno to raw, body-jacking house to dreamy electronica. For a kid born in 1993, it’s startlingly accomplished.
This year also saw him deliver seven minutes of searing dancefloor heat with Basement Structure, a heads-down secret weapon best played in, well, basements. Having graduated from one-to-watch to the real deal, 2014 should be the year that SCNTST tours like a man possessed. [Jack Tregoning]
Sleepy Tom first became known for his remixes, but established himself as an electro-house force to be reckoned with this May. The Currency EP, released on Fool’s Gold, was a wild ride, but one that had numerous influences and retro reference points. We bet A-Trak had Oliver in mind when he decided to release the EP.
He toured North America’s clubs in 2013 and has a penchant for synths in overdrive, huge kick drums and roller-coaster-like drops. But Sleepy Tom isn’t just trying to create great music: He wants to start a rave revolution. We can’t wait for Sleepy Tom to amble down our way and show us how it’s done. [Jessica Goodman]
Don’t even try to figure out who’s behind Snakehips. The mysterious U.K. duo refuse to reveal their identities, but somehow they’ve managed to create a groovy sound that resembles what snake hips would actually sound like if they moved like non-stop melodic dance machines. It’s easy to get lost in the deep female voice while twinkling lights go off in the tracks’ backgrounds. The duo mixes ‘90s R&B with a lounge-turned-after-hours-club vibe.
Right now, they’re spending some time in the studio, after hitting Australia last year for boutique festival OutsideIn. Pray they come back soon. [Jessica Goodman]
We’ll admit it: We don’t know very much about Tchami. And that’s the way the enigmatic French producer/DJ likes it. In a rare interview, he said, “People only need to know that I am Tchami. I am an artist. My music has to speak for me.” If that’s the case, he’s been saying all the right things.
In September, Tchami posted his You Know You Like It remix on SoundCloud, dubbing it “future house.” And there’s no other way to classify it, really; we’ve been hard-pressed to find anything similar.The first minute or so of the remix sounds like any other deep house cut but, then, a double-time build emerges and Aluna’s pitched-down voice bellows, “I just wanna have some fun.” Tchami then drops us into his own funky world, where a grooving, spring-loaded house beat pulses underneath Aluna’s voice with bursts of distorted, chopped vocals.
Fans of AlunaGeorge themselves found (and loved) the remix, and it’s now sitting pretty at over 500,000 plays. With his incredible old-school-meets-future-house remix of Mercer’s Turn It Up slated for a January release on Spinnin’, Tchami is about to gain even more admirers. We can only hope the music keeps coming, too. [Lauren Lipsay]
Ed Russell’s inclination for music runs in the family: His older brother, Tom, is well known techno producer Truss/MPIA3, but Ed is by no means living in his shadow. Having produced under the name Tessela since 2010, Russell just created his own label, Poly Kicks, earlier this year; and with it came the standout Hackney Parrot/Helter Skelter EP, which attained great underground success.
His inclination for crazed, off-kilter beats and hardcore/breakbeat influences has paid off, as the ‘90s jungle revival seems to have returned with a vengeance and taken his music in stride. So far, there’s little planned for 2014, aside from another upcoming release on R&S and some remix work, but Russell aims to really start developing his label, which – needless to say – has us keeping a sharp eye on all things Tessela. [Krystal Rodriguez]
Young U.K. producer William Phillips – known ‘round Soundcloud as Tourist – produced his first EP about a year ago, but it wasn’t until the equally youthful Disclosure got their hands on him that people started to pay attention. He’s signed to their blossoming Method Records, and just recently dropped his Patterns EP, veering toward dancefloor-ready, groovy house in the style of his mentors.
His live show suggests different leanings, however: Brooding, bass-driven, and more garage-influenced by way of Volor Flex and Nocow, it’s truly an experience within itself. Philips has already had the chance to tour the U.K. as well as America, where he played Mountain Oasis Music Festival and HARD Day of the Dead. Now, with Tourist booked for Ultra Music Festival 2014, we can’t help but think this is set to be his year. [Krystal Rodriguez]
We don’t know a whole lot about Leeds duo Wayward, but we’re confident that’ll soon change. The pair put out Love Jones on Aesop in early December, but what sets them apart is the ability to use vocals from legendary artists and songs, perhaps previously considered off-limits, in a creative, fresh way.
Instead of mixing classic sounds into Love Jones as a way to skirt originality, Wayward fused the 1973 hit Keep on Truckin’ with keyboards and synths, making you forget the original almost completely. (Fine, it’s impossible to forget the original, but they get pretty close.) Wayward blend tropical tones, smooth drums and pianos to create a feel-good vibe we didn’t know we needed. [Jessica Goodman]