From soot-soaked techno to day-glo grime — jackin' house grooves to colourful drum & bass jams — the future is looking bright for dance music in 2016. These are just some of a litany of names out there ready to blow up!
From: London, UK
Key releases: 'Wide Soul EP', 'The Come Up EP' 'That's Right'
Sounds like? The Martinez Brothers, Subb-an, Guti
In little over two years, Bas Ibellini’s rise to prominence has been remarkable, with very few, yet very well received, releases on Crosstown Rebels’ sub-label, Rebellion, and Seth Troxler and The Martinez Brothers’ co-run, Tuskegee, and behind Bas’ no-frills jacking groover, ‘That’s Right’.
His debut came on Secret Music remixing Lemi’s, ‘Get It On’, which showcased his underground approach, turning a primarily pseudo-house funk track into something with more energy and deeper, more grooving sensibilities.
So how did the connection with both Rebellion and Tuskegee occur? Friendship. For the past three years Bas has been running his own party called Peculiar, which resides at Mayfair/Soho’s Cuckoo Club, and has resided over the decks for the entirety of that period.
“Damian (Lazarus) has had a pivotal role in helping to develop the industry so I was grateful to have the opportunity to work and play alongside him on many occasions.” Whereas with Tuskegee, “it’s about connecting like-minded individuals together on a cultural level,” he says.
“I've made very good friends with Seth and the (Martinez) Bros, we tend to generally have similar interests in and outside of music, which is always so refreshing.”
When DJ Mag asks about life surrounding music, he responds, “I once saw this quote that said, ‘my life has a great cast, but I still haven't figured out the plot’. I have my good people around me here.”
His most recent work, the December dropped and aptly named, ‘Friendship EP’, is part solo work and part-collaboration with extolled Canadian producer, SLF, whom he shares a studio space with in East London. “We're always experimenting and collaborating and pulling each other deeper into the rabbit hole,” Bas adds.
The creative juices are definitely flowing for Mr Ibellini right now, and the ‘Friendship EP’ is his boldest material to date. Speaking on what’s next in the pipeline, Bas reveals that he’s recently been in the studio with Boris Werner working on some new material.
“One of the projects I'm looking to do next year is to release some fun edits on the fly, as a 'Peculiar' vinyl,” he reveals.
From: Poona, India
Key releases: 'Daybreak', 'Bold And Bold'/'Ashvem Beach'
Sounds like? John Tejada, John Digweed, Tale Of Us
It's been a slow-burning rise for Daso. The Berlin-based producer has already released on an enviable list of record labels — Recovery Tech, Still vor Talent, Fear Of Flying, KNM, Systematic and All Day I Dream — across a decade-long journey.
However, November saw him make his debut on John Digweed's legendary British label, Bedrock, which release Daso's wonderfully uplifting ‘Ashvem Beach’/’Bold & Bold’, before the end of January sees ‘No Lead’ — a collaboration with long-time friend Pawas — drop on Alex Niggemann’s revered Soulfooled imprint.
The Daso wave might not be new, but with tech house melodic and him making the best music of his career yet, it certainly looks as if it could go tidal in 2016.
Daso was born and raised in Poona, India. “From ages five to 12 I grew up on a farm in a village of 400 people, without owning a TV,” he tells DJ Mag. “On Sundays we had a two-hour EBM (Electronic Body Music) show that was a major influence, they played all dark wave electronic music — Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and DAF etc.”
He began making music in 1996, initially electronica, but that eventually developed in to a new wave project over the course of a decade, which sparked interest from MBF (My Best Friend).
“The label owner actually wanted to make a limited release of my new wave track that I sent over, but when I met him I made some proper dance tracks, including ‘Daybreak,’” the tune he claims kicked his journey off in late-2005.
It wasn’t long before he made further headway with 2007’s Connaisseur release, ‘Thujon’, and Spectral Sound’s, ‘Meine’, which he considers to be his breakthrough tracks.
Known for his broad range of inventive dance music that nimbly straddles minimal, progressive and techier forms of house, his sound isn’t easily pigeonholed, but signature elements appear throughout his back catalogue — emotive melodic development, unique incidental sound usage, and his regular foray in using indie/nu-disco styled drums and percussion — which combine to fuel his continually evolving sound.
With plans to play in London early 2016, he points out that there’s a strong chance this summer could see his first ever LP. “I have an album in the pipeline, which I have been working on for a while,” he admints. “I’m expecting to release it around next summer...” Watch this space!
BRAME & HAMO
From: Berlin via Sligo, Ireland
Key Releases: 'Four Lights', 'Lamaj' and Fouk 'Lefty's Bar (Brame & Hamo Remix)'
Sounds like: Early Daft Punk, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Session Victim
Brame & Hamo made a name for themselves in 2015 with a slew of well-received cuts of warm, filtered deep house on both Detroit Swindle’s Heist Recordings and Berlin’s Dirt Crew Recordings, as well as on their own vinyl-only label Splendor & Squalor.
The duo decided early on that they wanted to be makers of their own destiny frustrated by long lead times of getting tracks signed and then released. “It’s pretty annoying sending labels stuff and having to wait a year until it comes out,” explains the duo to DJ Mag via Skype from Berlin. “So we thought we’d release it by ourselves to give us more options.”
The duo’s last release, ‘Lamaj's Secret’, inhibits the full gamut of influences ranging from hip hop to jazz giving the duo’s output a suitably warm, nostalgic feel. Not only has the duo launched their own label — they recently made the move to Berlin, having decided to up sticks from the picturesque Sligo on the west coast of Ireland to the German capital.
“I would recommend it to anyone who is an artist,” explains Hamo. “You can work for two days a week and you then have your rent paid for the month — it’s really good for creativity as you have a lot of spare time.”
2016 is shaping up to be their biggest year yet with a debut album already in the works, but they’re not going down the well-trodden route of a straight-up house album. “It’s not gonna be as much house actually, it’s gonna be other stuff we make, you know hip hop and jazz,” explains Hamo.
With plenty of other music in the oven, and a burgeoning vinyl-only label, Brame & Hamo are clearly making the most of their new surroundings and are certainly ones to watch in 2016.
Key releases: 'L.A Ruffgarden EP', 'It's Only Real'
Sounds like: Bicep, Marquis Hawkes, Breach
Described by Numbers as Glasgow's man of the year, we're predicting 2016 to be the one he really makes it outside of the confines of Scotland's industrial — and clubbing — capital.
Since dropping 'Sulta Selects Vol. 1' on Dixon Avenue Basement Jams in 2014, Hector Barbour landed 'L.A Ruffgarden' on the label this summer, and on it nu-garage flavas sitting comfortably next to melodic big-room techno were enough to earn him a mention on our 'Cheeky Bubblers' pages just this August.
Then there's his latest smash. 'It's Only Real' for Jackmaster's notorious Numbers imprint — named as an “emotional Buckfast banger” by the label — is now earning him props from Annie Mac.
Just like the Numbers boss, he cut his teeth dishing out vinyl at Rubadub store in the centre of Glasgow, and the seeds of knowledge acquired there are already helping to gain his reputation as a DJ too. Keep your eyes peeled. This is only the beginning for Denis Sulta, we feel...
Key releases: 'Headlock', 'The Calling feat. Ivy Mairi'
Sounds like: Noisia, The Prodigy, Pendulum
Rene LaVice has been on our radar for several years now, catching our ear with his menacing RAM debut 'Headlock' in 2011, and (then-unsigned) remix of Mutt's 'Conversations' with fellow Canadian Gremlinz in 2013. However, it was last year that LaVice really took centre stage.
“2015 has been blessed, it's honestly [gone from] peak to peak to peak,” he tells DJ Mag over the phone, voice steeped in excitement. We're certainly not going to argue either.
Within the past 12 months, the Toronto-native has garnered widespread acclaim with single 'The Calling', scooped the Public Choice Award at the BMA's and dropped his savage new album, 'Play With Fire'. Having built up momentum worthy of juggernaut-status, Rene LaVice will firmly command our attention in 2016.
LaVice's explosive success directly correlates with his development as an artist. His sound has changed drastically since the early days, progressing beyond purely drum & bass into a monstrous hybrid of rock and dance. Emigrating to London has been a key factor in this progression, “There's more of a music industry here,” LaVice says of the capital.
“There's not really a music industry in Toronto, not in the same way. It's very 'small town vibes.'” He explains how, although the Canadian city has a thriving nightlife, it tends to stick with whatever is “trendy,” chopping-and-changing at random.
“We're actually spoiled for how much music we have happening in Toronto,” continues LaVice, “it's amazing for the audience, you get a lot of diversity... but for the creators you're on this never-ending treadmill, this cycle of artists, because people just get bored of stuff.”
LaVice believes the UK is a perfect breeding ground for dance artists, thanks to the nation's possessive preoccupation with the genre. “In the UK, youth music is primarily rave music ... It's like: 'We own this. We love it. We cultivated this. This is ours.' In the same way that the United States owns rock.”
Yet LaVice isn't going to denounce his roots entirely. He admits that Toronto's diversity aided in his noticabley varied influences. “You can't walk two blocks in Toronto without walking into a different type of ethnic neighbourhood,” says LaVice, realing off a cultural street map of the city.
“It's just so amazing and so diverse. You've got people that live and die in Chinatown having never learned English... and I just love the fact that drum & bass is a genre that lets you draw from all of that and bring it straight into the music.”
Describing production as a cathartic experience, LaVice claims he tries not to focus on the technical side too much; his lean towards rock and indie on 'Play With Fire' for instance, “[only] became conscious after people started commenting on it.”
He feels this lack of planning allows him to branch out from drum & bass, forgetting about pesky tropes such as tempo in favour of creating something more powerful. “It's a vibe, it's an attitude. That's what music is about,” says LaVice, enthusiastically citing the likes of Dillinja and The Prodigy as having instantly-recognisable sounds.
“If I make something with a bit of a dubstep swing, it still sounds like me. Because no-one would do the mixdown the way that I would, they wouldn't choose the elements the way that I would, they wouldn't do the arrangements the way that I would. It's just not telling the same story.”
In LaVice's case, that story tells of one man's mastery over the opposing forces of diversity and cohesion. The Canadian explains it in a slightly more humble manner: “If you flick through ['Play With Fire'], it's not just suddenly going to sound like the Backstreet Boys, [but it might] make you reconsider things.”
From: Brussels, Belgium
Key releases: ‘Stronghold EP’, Black Dog ‘Hollow Stories, Hollow Head (GoldFFinch Remix)'
Sounds like: Locked Groove, Scuba, The Zenker Brothers
When Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch hit the bookshops in 2013 it was hailed as a triumph. Luckily it wasn’t just the critics who liked it though. The book was a blockbuster. And it was that rare kind, one with brains.
Something to think about, or be engaged by, beyond the mechanics of a tightly-woven plot.
But what on earth has that got to do with Belgian techno team GoldFFinch, bar the name? Actually, a lot.
The Brussels-based duo of Yoann and Gilles craft crispy beats that are built for club play, but beneath the hood, there’s an array of inventive ideas and influences that make them so much more than your typical techno duo.
Just now they’re on a hot streak of releases, with the deadly ‘Passenger EP’ for new label Exit Strategy, a remix of synth disco wizard Black Devil Disco Club, and EPs for Get Physical and Turbo forthcoming.
There’s also their remix of Black Dog’s ‘Hollow Stories, Hollow Head’, an awe-inspiring trip into steely techno menace, epic synths and breakbeat drops that is guaranteed to sway the non-believers. “That was something!” grins Yoann.
“We’ve been sending our tunes to them and they’ve been playing them on their Dogma show. At one point we received a mail, ‘Hey guys, would you like to remix us? Yeah of course!’ We’re super happy, it was a big step for us.
We had the opportunity to remix them so we tried to make something a bit different, because it wouldn’t be easy to make a straight techno tune when you remix Black Dog. We decided not to go the easy way and they really liked it. They just did two remixes for us.”
Just as their take on techno is non-typical, so their path into it was unusual. Meeting each other and becoming firm friends when they were teenagers, the duo started out as a rock band — “We bought a guitar and smoked a lot of weed and said, ‘Ok that’s not for us’,” admits Yoann — before quickly graduating to turntables and a mixer, DJing drum & bass and promoting events around Brussels. When they encountered the early dubstep scene, it set them on a new path.
“We got a bit bored with drum & bass, and it was the time Rephlex released the ‘Grime’ LP [actually an early dubstep compilation]. We’d been really busy with promoting parties back in the day, so we organized a big rave here in Brussels, for 2000 people.
We had Plastician with two MCs from Virus Syndicate. It was the time we decided we would not mix anymore and would focus on promoting parties. And we saw Plastician’s set and we said, ‘What’s this sound?’ We started to mix and produce dubstep, grime, whatever, for a few years.”
Moving away from dubstep into the nebulous domain of bass music, they sent some tracks to Loefah who played them on his Swamp 81 Rinse show. Loads of labels got in touch and their first release surfaced on Numbers. This bass element still percolates in their sound but recent years have seen GoldFFinch gravitate increasingly to techno.
“It’s been since the release on Turbo, ‘Stronghold EP’, that we decided what we really like to do is techno with a groove. Now we focus on that, but we don’t write tunes to please someone — we still put what we want in the tunes,” Yoann points out. The tunes of GoldFFinch, then — the thinking DJ’s artillery of choice? Time to find out…
Key releases: 'Gold Rush', Ogris Debris 'See The World (salute remix)'
Sounds like? Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Mr. Mitch
Brighton-based producer salute takes an unashamedly magpie approach to production. That's no bad thing. His music is a patchwork of influences that include elements of trap, R&B and instrumental grime.
What’s unique, though, is the skill with which salute seamlessly weaves together those disparate musical strands. His recently released second EP ‘Gold Rush’ is reminiscent of TNGHT and Rustie in it’s trap snares, bristling brass instrumentation and day-glo synths but unlike those two maximalists, salute is a tad more subtle.
While similar motifs might be present on singles like ‘Silver Tide’, released earlier this year, they have the sheen of a polished r&b jam. 'Diamond’ sounds like it could have ended up in the hands of a major label popstar, making it all the more remarkable that this is the work of a 19-year-old bedroom producer.
Many of salute’s productions are collaborations with vocalists, among the talented up-and-comers he’s worked with include Awful Records’ Abra, who guests on ‘Colourblind’; Brit School alumni Billie Black and Australian singer Vanessa Elisha.
Producing for such a range of artists can be challenging and it’s to salute’s credit that he pulls off the tightrope act of having a distinctive style that also accommodates for the timbre of each vocalist. Comparisons have been made to grime and there is some resemblance to the bold melodic production of Dark0 and Mr. Mitch in the sawtooth synths of recent singles like 'Castle’.
Salute certainly knows his way round a hook even if his productions don’t pack quite the same emotional punch as the latter two. It remains to been seen whether salute can transcend these many influences to carve out a niche of his own. But with only a handful of tracks to his name, it’s early days yet for this Brighton wunderkind.
Four names who almost broke 2015...
A steady engine since 2009, it wasn't until Denney's name appeared on Hot Creations' 'Paradise Summer Sampler' in 2012 that his strong, globular tech house sound really started to gain traction. 2015, however, was the year he really ran riot. Serving as a resident for ViVa Warriors and Paradise throughout the summer — playing at pretty much every UK dance festival under the sun — and by the end of the year he's remixing Rudimental for Warner.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the YouTube channel Majestic Casual that picked up Snakehips' achingly downbeat sunset vibe and set this UK duo's career in motion back in 2012. But, in 2015, it's 'All My Friends' — a collaboration with Tinashe and Chance The Rapper (on Sony) — that's scoring them 1.3m+ listens a month on Soundcloud (and that's just a clip!) as they sell-out London warehouse venues left, right and centre.
He may have been releasing tunes since the late '00s, but Brazil's Marcos Benedetti — best known among DJs as Volkoder — has been on a roll since 2014, getting signed by Hot Creations, Suara, Toolroom, Kittball, Material and Snatch!. 2015, however, was the year his name really went viral in the Beatport charts, cementing his name in the tech house big league.
A rare example of an Australian house DJ who only DJs to make a splash outside of their motherland, the ingratiation of Bella Sarris as resident for Richie Hawtin's ENTER. party of course helped Bella take her raw, tech-laced groove-based sound global. Saying that, it's her visionary ear as a DJ that's really taking things next level.
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