This year, we’re presenting our Artists to Watch in 2021 a little differently. Each day, we’ll uncover one sweet selection, highlighting next year’s class of up-and-coming talents and burgeoning stars one-by-one. Starting December 1, we’re counting up 25 of electronic music’s most enticing future achievers, sweetening the holiday season with a well-rounded crop of radar-worthy producers to keep an eye on. Check this space for daily updates throughout the month. From unique underground wavemakers to soon-to-be festival big shots, spanning bass music to techno with so much in between, we’re proud to present Dancing Astronaut’s first-ever Artist to Watch Advent Calendar—enjoy.Words by Ross Goldenberg and Rachel NarozniakDirect backing from a top-line handle is a momentous game-changer for any rising musician, and the brother-sister pairing that is Lastlings found themselves in an auspicious setting after being taken under RÜFÜS DU SOL’s wing as part of the trio’s Rose Avenue Records team. The cohesive Aussie one-two had assembled a distinguished baseline of original work over the years, walking a fine line between dark electronic and pop, and cemented that into one unified effort in late 2020 with their debut LP, First Contact.Conceptually centered on “all the moments we experience for the first time, how special they are, and how important they are in shaping us as people,” First Contact set these formative experiences to sound in the same way that they often come to life: with rawness, vulnerability, heart, and touches of wonder. It’s only fitting that this tribute to foundational firsts, in all of its 12-song cerebrality, is also a first for Lastlings, bringing the bright-eyed nature of the album’s theme full circle.Although they were deprived of the opportunity to administer their freshman album in a live setting this year and in the near future as well, Lastlings crowned Digital Mirage: Friendsgiving’s final day, appearing in an underground tunnel as they rattled off a slew of First Contact favorites. With Josh on the production front and Amy asserting her vocal prowess, Lastlings drew reminiscence from their mentors’ enraptured appeal, with angelic vocals and atmospheric production paired along with it.In a lyrical paradox that threads First Contact from start to finish, Lastlings capture specific feelings through general and often non-descript turns of phrase, conferring an accessibility and familiarity to the experiences of which Amy sings. Though Lastlings’ audience has lived the firsts of First Contact, watching them play out in their own respective heart-racing ways, the duo’s mode of experiential storytelling reminds us that no matter how uniquely these moments manifest for us, we are unified by experiencing them at all—and that is just part of the beauty of First Contact and Lastlings at large. Stream First Contact below to prepare for its eventual live deployment.Featured image: Lady DrewniakWords by Austria MasimKLOUD aims to break through the frontiers of electronic music by taking listeners on a musical journey through timeless electronic sounds and modern production elements sonically inspired by darker techno/house and electro & analog synthesizers. The enigmatic masked producer presents himself in a theatrical manner while embodying the right of freedom of expression and “allowing yourself to be curious, questioning what is real,” as narratively described through his AUTONOMY album, released in November. Fans might find themselves within a glitch in the matrix when delving into the ominous universe of KLOUD.Featured image: KLOUD/InstagramWords by Rachel NarozniakDancing Astronaut’s forecast of the ascendant talent that will only continue to rise in 2021 would be remiss not to include Truth x Lies. A two-man alliance behind some of the most kinetic tech house to which the underground has been treated in recent months, Truth x Lies firmly planted their flag in the genre’s terrain in July with their Other Side EP, and in the time since, they’ve steadily hoisted it higher. An emblem of their decision to eschew their deep house roots to instead branch out to tech house, the Other Side EP turned the stylistic tide for Truth x Lies. With succeeding originals such as “The Drip” and “Work,” the New York-grounded producers have made tech house their playground, swinging on fresh sounds and playing tag, you’re the next hit with each ensuing release. Straddling a wonky type of beat work with booty shakin’ appeal and a sleeker alter ego suitable for the club, Truth x Lies’ dynamism has led the duo to deploy releases on a variety of labels including Dirtybird, IN/ROTATION, Sans Merci, Space Yacht, Holy Molé, and Night Service Only, with more assuredly to come.Of course, you could start anywhere in Truth x Lies’ recent catalog and gain a proper introduction to their sonic personality; but, Truth x Lies suggest you get to “Work” by starting with the one-off below. “This track is a testament to the time and work required to hone your craft,” Truth x Lies said. “The Truth x Lies sound is personified by high energy basslines, aggressive synths, and catchy vocals. Shout out to Slim Dymondz for the vocals and to CID for signing it to Night Service Only!”Featured image: @oskar.me/InstagramWords by Austria MasimBruno Brocker, better known as Qoiet, is not for the faint of heart. To date, the German producer has spent his time unearthing purgatory levels of bass music with his diverse range in production and vocal abilities, and this pattern will assuredly continue in 2021. The Hamburg producer has set himself apart from others by combining genres such as death metal, dubstep, trap, post-hardcore, and screamo, which has netted him releases on Deadbeats, Crownest Audio, Welcome Records, and more. Upon listening to his MANIC EP and absurd. album, listeners will suddenly be set into a fathomless pit of convoluted rhythms and basslines; venture there below.Featured image: Qoiet/FacebookWords by Ross GoldenbergFor those who have followed even a shred of house music’s proceedings during their time at home in 2020, Bleu Clair should have crossed their paths once at the absolute bare minimum. The Indonesian authority has maneuvered a steadfast pace in a field that seems to incessantly reengineer itself by the day. Scoring his first-ever STMPD RCRDS showing on “Need U” earlier in the year, Bleu Clair doubled down on his stay within Martin Garrix’s label residence over the summer, standing side by side with the Dutchman for “Make You Mine,” the statement-making onset of Garrix’s alter-ego, Ytram.Bleu Clair’s imaginative competence to chisel out his own four-on-the-floor alcove has been deservingly placed on a towering pedestal, earning him placements on additional prestigious labels across dance music including, but not limited to, Monstercat and Insomniac Records. Tacking onto his double-sided Hypnotized EP and an end-of-year outing on Monstercat, Bleu Clair ensured he will remain a topic of conversation heading into 2021 after DJ Snake and Malaa rinsed his charged forthcoming alliance with OOTORO during their Secret Room back-to-back stream.Featured image: Bleu Clair/InstagramWords by Austria MasimAkhmad Iqbal Ansyari, also known as Papa Khan, posted a 26-second preview of “Rain” in June, unexpectedly sparking a viral trend of edits and remixes which eventually caught the ears of Marshmello, who signed his four-track EP Blossom in November. Currently based in Central Borneo, Indonesia, the rising producer took a broad step forward with his production capabilities within dubstep’s already-complex sound design and arrangement in 2021. Khan’s brightly colored bass sound and subtle emotional ambiance will have fans overplaying each of his tracks for times to come and give good reason as to why he is one of Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch in 2021.Featured image: Papa Khan/FacebookWords by Austria MasimGladez has shared the spotlight within the confines of dubstep’s biggest acts and festivals such as Excision and Rampage Events. Hell-spawning a dimension-expanding combination of celestial wormhole-like sounds and neon arcade hip-hop samples, the Las Vegas native has spurred his career to the forefront of electronic music by releasing on distinguished labels such as Never Say Die and Subsidia Records, with notable tracks including “Night Rider,” “Let You Go,” and “Death Kneel.” As one of Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch, Gladez is a presence bass enthusiasts will want to keep a close eye on as his uncharted wrath further unfolds in 2021.Featured image: Gladez/FacebookWords by Rugby ScruggsVoltra is undoubtedly one of the most exciting bass music acts to surface in the past two years. After turning heads almost instantaneously with her debut single “Pulse Fire” in late 2019, the mysterious—and currently anonymous—producer has done nothing but one-up herself with each ensuing release, continuously raising the bar for heavier electronic music production innovation. Speedily gaining the enthusiastic support of experienced industry acts such as Chime, SVDDEN DEATH, Subtronics, SLANDER, and countless others, the Voltra project recently signed to Cardinal Artists, the team behind powerhouse acts Quix and Luca Lush, among others. 2020 saw Voltra unleash a massive EP on bass music mainstay Disciple Records and an official remix for Quix’s “Gunnin’ For You,” followed by a Digital Mirage Friendsgiving headlining slot on night one. Voltra’s Digital Mirage debut sent the dubstep community into a frenzy, with the fresh new act dropping mind-blowing ID after ID, shocking fans with her creativity and fellow producers with her technical production prowess. Moving into the final month of 2020, support and excitement for the Voltra project is at an all-time high, solidifying Voltra’s place in the scene for the coming year. When live shows return, expect to see Voltra on a slew of lineups and to hear her tunes at any bass music event you attend.Featured image: Voltra/FacebookWords by Austria MasimAvi8, lesser known as Scott Nicol, is not your typical melodic hardstyle DJ. His sound is as a consolation to genre diehards seeking something more than the typical, as evident through his refreshing gems such as “The One,” “Heartless,” and “Save Me.” Represented with great honor by the Scottish-based hard dance label Gearbox Digital, which dubs itself “the leading label for underground hard dance music,” Avi8 has blossomed into a soon-to-be headliner pending the return of festivals and events. His inspiring and innate ability to rouse listeners with his intoxicating melodies and blend of euphoric hard dance is just one reason to keep an eye on Avi8 as one of Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch in 2021.Featured image: Avi8/FacebookWords by Ross GoldenbergOne set, whether delivered in-person or digitally, has the ability to single-handedly alter the course of an artist’s trajectory. This was epitomized by Nurko‘s performance during Proximity’s Digital Mirage in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the time since, Nurko done everything in his power to ratify that the performance was far from a one-off, from official remixes for Illenium and Gryffin to an Ophelia Records showing alongside Trivecta, to rattle off a few. The New Jersey native’s deep-seated vision on melodic bass remains unsurpassed, and with a two-part original, “Blindspot,” finalizing his 2020 campaign, Nurko is building a healthy catalog and a case for himself to be amongst the genre’s most in-demand acts whenever the live entertainment scene is permitted to return. Featured image: Nurko/InstagramWords by Austria MasimALRT is bringing the “NRG” in 2021. The versatile producer has thrown down a gauntlet of diverse tracks since 2018, spiraling a mix of uptempo house and bouncy old-school rave rhythms. Since releasing collaborations such as “Dark Skies” with Kayzo and “Fangs” with Ghastly, the Israeli-born DJ has skyrocketed as one of the most sought-after up-and-comers within dance music. ALRT will have you playing his originals, bootlegs, and remixes over and over again, and fortunately, there’s plenty to work with, as he’s already unleashed a treasure of tracks on labels such as Musical Freedom, Deadbeats, Confession, and Welcome Records.Featured image: @capturedbycyga/InstagramWords by Ross GoldenbergAt the back end of 2019, Cheyenne Giles unsuspectingly found himself in an edition of Dancing Astronaut’s 5 Under 15k series for a decidedly worthy cause. The San Diego talent has gone up and above to validate both that placement and his standing as more than just a festival edit specialist in the time since. An abbreviated look at Giles’ 2020 win list would include accolades to his yearly resume such as being taken under Tiësto‘s wing as a permanent Musical Freedom resident, with a BIJOU collaboration and his most recent record “Heat” with Gamuel Sori to show for it. With the inimitable and forward-thinking allure of what he self-categorizes “bigroom bounce,” Giles is a leading candidate soon to be at the forefront of a genre that unfailingly continues to reinvent itself by the day.Featured image: New City GasWords by Sami Weisband
Forging the framework of his production chops around eight years ago, San Diego native ISOxo is climbing his way to the peak of bass music’s loftiest summit. Following the inclusion of his venomous track in collaboration with Knock2, “Radial,” in RL Grime‘s 2019 Halloween VIII mix, the ascending producer has only continued to ferment in the scene. This past year has seen ISO team up with PEEKABOO on the hot-blooded dubstep heater, “Powermove,” procure multiple unmatched mixes and livestreams, and open for RL Grime on his most recent Halloween mix. Now signed to Grime’s Sable Valley, ISOxo has officially solidified his place in dance music, and fans are poised to hear more from him very soon.Featured image: Tylor ViWords by Chris StackExtraterrestrial producer and songstress Lucii is a cornerstone of Liquid Stranger’s WAKAAN shop. They psy-bass DJ is known for her alien sound design, wicked drops, and down-to-earth nature, and these days, Lucii’s kaleidoscopic creativity is just beginning to blast off. Ending the year with her WAKAAN-released sophomore EP, Wicked, the full-time digital vixen saw success not only with this project but also with other tracks released this year, such as “Me and You” with Champagne Drip and her love song “You” with Lamar.Featured image: Oh Dag Yo PhotographyWords by Sami WeisbandMomiji Tsukada, better known as house dignitary Qrion, has been making waves in the industry, blessing labels such as Moving Castle, Mad Decent, and, most recently, Anjunadeep. Pulling inspiration from the landscape of her hometown of Sapporo, Japan, Qrion’s tranquil and unique signature sound has earned her high praise from her ever-growing fanbase. It has also won her support from firmly established creators, most outspokenly, TOKiMONSTA. From supporting artists such as Tourist, Porter Robinson, Above and Beyond, and more in recent years to consistently delivering new music throughout 2020 (including an awe-inspiring official remix for Lane 8‘s “Sunday Song”), Qrion is on the rise to the top of house music’s highest echelon—and she’s only just begun.Featured image: Juulia WangWords by Chris StackHailing from Vancouver, Cozway has created a unique sound that draws influence from nature, world music, and trap. Towards the latter half of 2019, Cozway became the third installment in RL Grime‘s Sable Valley imprint MiniMix series in his continued efforts to push the boundaries of trap music to new horizons of sound design. In 2020, the experimental producer’s “Don’t Worry” was featured on Sable Valley’s debut compilation album. He later released his debut Expedition EP via Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint, culminating in stamps of approval from two of subwoofers’ loudest supporters. Featured image: Cozway/FacebookWords by Natalie PereiraIf his name isn’t familiar to you yet, don’t expect this to be the case for much longer. John Summit scored his breakout moment with the debut of his single “Deep End,” which swept through the summer as a vocal-centric house anthem that showed no sign of slowing down. Garnering support from industry veterans and recognition from top players in the scene like Pete Tong and Fatboy Slim, the Chicago native is quickly earning his stripes as one of the strongest selects in the nation’s home of house music.Featured image: WVNDRWords by Farrell Sweeney18 months ago, 19-year-old Kazakh producer Imanbek Zeikenov was working in a train station learning music production on a 10-year-old laptop. Today, he boasts collaborations with Usher, Afrojack, and Don Diablo, among countless others, under his DJ and producer name Imanbek. His music treads the line of pop and house, but his unique sound is the real selling point in an overdone crossover genre. His vocal synthesizing techniques and robust house backdrops first took over the world when he put out an unofficial remix of SAINt JHN’s “Roses” that ended up hitting 1 billion streams, a feat many artists will never achieve in their career. Imanbek will be releasing a collaborative EP with Rita Ora in the new year, and has proven that his sound is here to stay. Words by Ross GoldenbergIf a substantial co-sign from RL Grime and a mind-numbing back-to-back appearance with ISOxo to cap off Digital Mirage 2.0 aren’t enough for Knock2 to catch your eye this year, then surely nothing is. In 2020 alone, the San Diego-hailing talent has made the full-blown evolution from an authority in the remix category to a verifiable leader of the next generation in both the worlds of trap and house. After headlining the debut Sable Valley compilation with arguably the release’s most notable cut, “Gems,” Knock2 has gone on to not only share a title with Henry Fong and General Degree on “What’s the Move,” but also unwrap a sweltering four-pack of refits on his sophomore knockthisoff volume. Numerous Knock2 originals are still in the pipeline, as witnessed in his Nightmode virtual set for Insomniac Events, and the guaranteed soon-to-be headlining name is only scratching the surface on what he brings to the electronic music table. For those looking for a worthwhile introduction to his emergent catalog, Knock2 suggests you start things off with of course, “Gems.”Featured image: Insomniac EventsWords by Natalie PereiraCloverdale is the name, high-octane tech house is his game. In 2020 alone, Cloverdale (aka Alex Walsh) championed his love for the genre in an imposing fashion, igniting a new standard for other hungry and emerging figures in the dance music industry. Between an ongoing flurry of releases on labels like Dim Mak and Country Club Disco, earning a spot on Tchami’s final Confession compilation album, and launching his own audio-visual label project VIBRANCY, Cloverdale is a no-brainer when it comes to artists to watch in 2021.Featured image: Daniel Dominic Words by Mitchell RoseWorking largely anonymously, Sewerslvt has managed to amass a substantial following thanks to her wildly unique take on drum ‘n’ bass. Melding together synthwave influences with classic breaks and edgy samples that tie the aesthetic together, Sewerslvt has managed create and maintain a sound all her own across their discography. Sewerslvt’s 2020 album Draining Love Story is a boundary-pushing record balancing angst and energy, heavy beats and ambient backdrops. With already another EP and a 15-minute live performance posted to streaming platforms this year, Sewerslvt is undoubtedly poised to have another big year in 2021. Featured image: @sewerslvt Words by Josh StewartFew if any DJs in the game are packing as much heat as the ghetto-house maverick, Partiboi69. Gripping character aside, the Australian act bespeaks one of the more talented and ambitiously creative sounds in the game, breaking from the normative side of dance music to throw down his own brand of raw and unprotected heat. His live sets and productions are known to push sonic (and social) boundaries, but the sole fact that he managed to release both a wine and a self-defense tape in the year alone make him an Artist to Watch in 2021.Featured image: @super_googWords by Mitchell RoseSince releasing his first EP Back In The Days in March, Amsterdam native Artmann has already gone on to produce five more EPs in 2020 alone, an impressive feat for anyone, but especially someone so new to the scene. On top of his quickly amassing catalog, Artmann’s house sound is entirely his own, blending his obvious ear for a groovy beat with his robust synths that stand out from the crowd. Artmann has additionally demonstrated that his funky style translates to the decks with ease in various livestreams. In the studio, he has a sound all his own and a tremendous work rate to boot; live, he has the skills to get any crowd grooving. These qualities considered, it’s only a matter of time until house fans will be hearing Artmann everywhere.Featured image: @apphoto9Words by Jessica MaoLaunching into the bass stratosphere with his 2019 Monstercat-helmed debut EP, RAPTURE, REAPER has since ascended the ranks of electronic demolition with potent rapidity. The new drum ‘n’ bass wave representative opened 2020 with a Brownies & Lemonade-hosted world debut before unleashing a trove of sinister cuts on Bassrush, Welcome Records, and Monstercat as well as his sophomore EP, RENEGADE. Accumulating collaborations from industry heavyweights like Kayzo, WHIPPED CREAM, and Blanke, the masked enigma shows no signs of slowing down as he primes his chaos-inducing sound.Listeners unfamiliar with REAPER’s sound should start with “BARRICADE,” the producer told Dancing Astronaut:Featured image: Evan HammermanWords by Josh StewartAfter 2019 appearances at Printworks and in Bonobo’s fabric presents mix, TSHA made it clear to those following the London’s nightclub scene that 2020 was her year. What makes TSHA’s success this year so impressive, though, is her ability to reach as wide as she has far.First, the UK-based producer graced the deep and progressive house stratosphere, appearing on Lane 8’s Brightest Lights Remixed album and asserting herself as a fresh face on Above and Beyond’s Group Therapy. But, that was only the beginning for TSHA, who progressively broke out of her shell later in 2020, cementing her own original sound with the soulful and satisfying Flowers EP released via the visionary Ninja Tune label.Featured image: El HardwickTags: Advent Calendar, alrt, artists to watch, Artists to Watch 2020, Artists to Watch in 2021, Artmann, Avi8, Bass, bleu clair, cheyenne giles, cloverdale, Cozway, Dancing Astronaut Artists to Watch, house, Imanbek, isoxo, john summit, kloud, knock2, lastlings, list, Lucii, nurko, Papa Khan, Qoiet, Qrion, Sewerslvt, techno, Trap, truth x lies, tsha, voltra
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