In a world run by big room drops, tracks designed to sell, and artists selling out for big bucks, a few artists have taken the stand to fight for truth, honor, and music that is worth listening to. Ok, so there may not be a grand revolution and these artists may not even know that they are the true saving grace of the electronic music genre, but in a world where the masses want same sounding big room drops, these artists stand out because they bring diversity and true musicality to the genre.
Now don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a big room song. They are high energy bangers that are rather enjoyable to dance to in a large crowd situation. Even I go nuts when Tsunami is dropped, but the issue I see coming for electronic music as a whole in the near future is that because this mainstream sound is catching on and is being portrayed as “this is what EDM sounds like,” artists who don’t copy / paste from the same sound book are going to be left behind. I am determined not to let that happen.
The artists I am going to highlight here are not new players to the scene who need recognition. They have a strong following and easily support themselves off of their music. This is not to help an artist’s career out but more to educate the masses and show that electronic music has so much more to offer than just Martin Garrix style builds and drops. I will try to highlight different artists from different genres to show who I believe is doing the most for the scene and to give recognition where it is due. I also do realize I will miss people and not give credit to everybody, and I am sorry if I miss someone you really feel is doing something for the scene, but feel free to mention them in the comments below so that others may discover them too.
Anyways, here we go…
If you haven’t heard of What So Not you are simply doing it wrong. In my opinion they are one of the top acts in the world right now boasting multiple hit singles and many collaborations. They have had shout-outs from countless artists and have headlined festivals around the world.
Known for their single Jaguar, What So Not is comprised of two Australian artists, Flume and Emoh Instead. If you had asked anyone six months ago “Who’s What So Not?” you wouldn't have gotten any answer. That's because they did not exist six months ago. In a short time this duo, who were both previously for the most part unheard of, have turned the electronic scene on its head and brought a fresh sound to listener’s ears. Their sheer originality and unique style have propelled them into the limelight and have secured them as a force to be reckoned with. Below are a few of their other tracks. Not necessarily the ones they are best known for, but the ones I feel truly show off their originality and creativity.
Make sure to check out both Flume and Emoh’s individual pages too as they both produce amazing work.
Most people have probably at least heard of Feed Me, but if you haven’t taken the time to actually listen to his work, you are missing out on some of the best sounding music around and best consistency. What do I mean by consistency exactly? “Calamari Tuesday”, his second and most recent album, is in my opinion the best electronic album of 2013 (yes even better than RAM by Daft Punk; blasphemy I know). Unlike most albums that have a few good songs, Calamari Tuesday does not have a single bad song. Each song has a different sound and feel to it, but they are all solid. I have been following Feed Me since the times of “White Spirit” and “Cloudburn” and when I heard that a new album was in the works I was very excited, but I did not expect it to blow me away like it did. The album is worth listening to and if you get the opportunity to see him live, take it.
If you haven’t heard of Disclosure by now you may want to move out from under that rock you live under. The brothers from Britain have established themselves as a one of a kind act right out of the gates. Their debut album “Settle” was nominated for a Grammy and in my opinion should have beaten out Daft Punk for best electronic album (again I know that’s an unpopular opinion). The album features such songs as “Settle,” “Latch,” and “You and Me.” With a wonderful deep house and pop feel, Disclosure is something very different and special. I was fortunate enough to catch them when they came through Seattle and their live performance was something I will not forget soon.
Like live bass? Like groovy rhythms that will have you feeling good? Like good sexy love songs? Well look no further than Gramatik and Exmag. These two different artists/groups have floored me again and again with their unique sound and style. I constantly am listening to their songs, especially when driving around or working on anything. I was also lucky enough to see them live last year and was amazed by their entire show. The vibes were the best i have ever felt at a concert. Complete with live bass and singing from Gibbz, I was loving every second of it. Gramatik and Exmag both recently released albums and both are stellar. You can find both on Soundcloud and download them for free.
This trap-loving Frenchman has done so much for the scene in such a short amount of time. He has had a long career in music as a producer and DJ, but has recently joined the game as a force to be reckoned with in the electronic scene. Most people have heard the words “turn down for what” yelled at some music event or have heard the familiar whistle sounds of “Bird Machine,” but his abilities are more than just those two songs. His most recent collaboration with Dillon Francis is an instant classic and will probably become the next overplayed song, and that's ok because it is a genuinely amazing song. Snake’s success doesn't stem from trying to fit into a mold, instead he is evolving the genre himself, and in such an amazing way. Dj Snake will be performing at Lucky this March, and I would highly recommend catching his set as it will be something to remember.
Mr. Moombahton and Mr. Vun Deeper. Dillon Francis has slowly risen to new heights over the past few years. His signature not giving a fuck style and good dance beats have propelled him into the realm of superstar DJ. His performances are some of the best any DJ can deliver and his original tracks are extremely solid. His song “I.D.G.A.F.O.S” was recently featured in a Superbowl commercial, and his collaboration with DJ Snake will go down as an all time great.
Besides his music career, his social media life is amazing. Dj Hanzel, Francis’ alter ego, creates some of the most amazing vines and will have you wanting to go vun deeper. In reality it is Francis’ attempt to break away from the moombahton trap sound he is known for so that he can add diversity to his career. DJ Hanzel even “opened” for Dillon Francis at an event recently.
Sound Remedy is a producer based in Los Angeles. He is known for his remixes of such classics as Band of Horse’s “The Funeral” as well as Daughter’s “Medicine.” His most recent release, a remix of “Moon Dust’ by James Young, is one of the best tracks I have ever heard. It has been great for me seeing him grow as I have been following him for over three years now back when he was just a re-mixer on Youtube. I have been fortunate enough to see his first festival appearance at Paradiso this past summer as well as his first sold out show at the Crocodile last year too. He is coming back to Seattle in March at Foundation Nightclub. Pre-sale tickets sold out almost immediately. He is one to watch and will be a big player in 2014 and beyond.
Kygo is an amazing artist from Norway who has some of the best remixes I have ever heard. His remix of “I see fire” is an all time great and causes chills every time it graces my ears. His other remix of the XX’s “Angels” is in my opinion the best remix of the song to date. He has been named one to watch on many electronic music lists and his work speaks for itself as to why. With a very relaxed style, his tunes are perfect for every day listening and will stir deep emotions in you.
In May he will be performing in Vancouver BC, his first ever North American tour date. If you have the ability to travel to see him, I would highly recommend it. I know I will be.
Last but definitely not least is the Canadian duo Zeds Dead. Most people know of Zeds Dead by now and they are very well established as artists. However, they are one of the most under appreciated artists currently in electronic music. Their live shows are absolutely incredible and every song they produce is solid. With a very dubsteppy feel, Zeds Dead is something very different. They do a lot of collaborations with Omar Linx to create a wonderful blend of rap and dubstep. One of their original tracks, their remix of Blue Foundation’s “Eyes on Fire,” has been a big part in developing my love and understanding of electronic music. I can still remember when I heard it for the first time and being speechless. “You and I,” one of their collaborations with Omar Linx, gives me chills when it comes on and has me singing along to the emotional track every time. When they came through Seattle for their Altered States tour i was able to get front and center for their entire set and I can say very few concerts have been that bass heavy and solid from start to finish. Their energy while performing mixed with their amazing selection of tracks creates a one of a kind event. Check out their Altered States Summer Mix below. It is one of my favorite mixes and really shows off the duo’s musicality and skill as DJs and as producers.I know I have only just scratched the surface of amazing artists out there who are under appreciated and who are doing such amazing things for the genre. Honorable mentions go out to Excision, Mt Eden, Giraffage, ETC! ETC!, Myon and Shane 54, and Yellow Claw. I hope you enjoy these artists. They are some of the best and most unique acts in a world being consumed by big room drops and same sounding music. And again, if you think there is someone I missed who deserves a shout out, leave a comment below so that others can find them.
And remember, if you get a chance to see any of these artists, go! You will not be sorry you went.