As the turn of the decade inches near, a look back at earlier conversations surrounding EDM’s global boom reveal that all that talk about the proverbial “EDM bubble” bursting were, for better or worse, a bunch of malarkey. Because a consistent crop of inventive forward-thinkers seem to find their footing year after year, and 2019 was no different. With artists continually pushing the envelope in bold, original ways like the ones below, dance music is firmly secured to move into the next decade led by a group of bright torch-carriers that only now seem to be getting their real starts. Without further ado, we present Dancing Astronaut‘s Breakout Artists of 2019.
No. 1: Dom Dolla
By: Bella Bagshaw
With just a handful of original releases under his belt to date, Dom Dolla has achieved near ubiquity in the electronic space this year. And it’s no riddle why. His deadly danceable tracks have incited festival fever across the globe, heard from Amsterdam to Chicago, to his original stomping grounds around Melbourne.
His bustling, wall-to-wall tracks, like “Take It” and “San Frandisco” received high-profile remix treatments this year from Dom’s most in-demand counterparts, like Walker & Royce, Eli Brown, Sonny Fodera–among countless bootlegs riddling the SoundCloud ether. From your local dive bar, to the club floor, to the 2019 worldwide festival frontlines you’d have been hard-pressed to avoid Dom’s pandemic success in the past year.
“Take It,” in particular, earned the young Aussie a nomination at this year’s Australian Recording Industry Association music awards. He appeared in the Best Dance Release category alongside familiar favorites like RÜFÜS DU SOL, FISHER, and PNAU. He just wrapped up his first-ever US tour, joined by the similarly popular Sonny Fodera. Dom recently told Dancing Astronaut he’s also working on some new music with his tour partner.
The “Be Randy” producer’s upward trajectory in just a matter of months is something virtually unprecedented in the electronic space—and music industry at large—where artists typically secure their following gradually, over years, or even decades. Similar pervasive pushes (like Chris Lake backing FISHER‘s overnight burst onto the scene or Malaa‘s full-on bank robbery of bass-heavy house) to center stage come along only every handful of electronic epochs, and even then, the climb is normally across a few years’ time.
That’s why without reservation, Dom Dolla is this year’s unchallenged recipient of Dancing Astronaut‘s Breakout Artist of the Year category.
No. 2: Boris Brejcha
By: Josh Stewart
Boris Brejcha’s discography rightfully paints the masked man as a producer who’s been around the block. Nonetheless, there’s no questioning that the German phenom didn’t just breakout in 2019, but exploded with all cylinders firing. Brejcha broke out as both a DJ and a producer this year, with a headlining tour schedule that put the “high-tech minimal” pioneer on the main stage of Tomorrowland, selling out his first-ever US tour, and producing a full-length LP recently signed to Ultra Music.
But more importantly, 2019 stands as the year that Boris Brejcha’s breaks out as an artist. After years of bouncing between more standard minimal and techno ideas, Brejcha recently ditched convention and simply found his own sound, resulting in a distinct style that’s as playful as it is bold. It’s evident his fanbase agrees, with his Cercle set from this summer in France at Grand Palais amassing upwards of 8 million streams in just couple months.
There’s a small league of producers whose comfort and expertise in the studio are instantly apparent when listening to their music. Boris rightfully rests among them. While his production technique is responsible for his sound standing—particularly in how textured it allows his sets to be—it’s ultimately Brejcha’s willingness to ignore trends and simply hone his own craft that’s put the lifelong musician in the unique position to appeal to both newcomers to the scene and those who’ve developed deeper tastes. For example, he took a top billing alongside techno titans Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens, and Ricardo Villalobos the day after the aforementioned Tomorrowland set.
Boris Brecha’s upcoming album on Ultra Music is expected in January, but recent singles “Never Look Back” and “Gravity” act as the perfect bite-sized confections until then.
No. 3: Dabin
By: Josh Hymowitz
Dabin has come a long way this year, proving that his risky decision to pursue the DJ/producer life was a much better choice than chasing a more intuitive law degree. Hailing from Toronto, the multi-instrumentalist closed out 2018 by joining a dream team collaboration with Slander and Seven Lions on “First Time,” a single that meddled its way into the live sets of their Gud Vibrations tour through 2019, when the single gained its preeminent success.
This propelled the now Montreal-based artist right into 2019, kicking off the year with his sophomore studio album Wild Youth, featuring critically acclaimed singles “Rings & Roses” featuring Conor Byrne, “In Flames” featuring Lexi Norton, and more on the Mr. Suicide Sheep-headed label, Seeking Blue. The album follows Two Hearts, his debut full-length project nominated for 2018’s Electronic Album of the Year at Canada’s JUNO Awards.
Following its release, he embarked on the 14-stop Wild Youth tour throughout the US, marking his debut headline tour route. His solo dates opened the door for support on Illenium’s Ascend tour, most notably opening for the Denver-based producer at New York City’s iconic Madison Square Garden venue. It was at this sold-out spectacle where Dabin brought back Dab The Sky, his collaborative pairing with Said The Sky, performing the duo’s second formal release (then unreleased) “Hero.”
More recently, Dabin revitalized his sophomore LP with a 17-track remix pack including talents such as Trivecta, Ray Volpe, and Crystal Skies. His latest single “The One That Got Away” featuring Jason Ross and Dylan Matthew is out now and fans can look forward to some exciting news to catalyze 2020.
No. 4: BLOND:ISH
By: Rachel Narozniak
After 11 colorful years of collaboration, Vivie-Ann Bakos and Anstascia of BLOND:ISH went their separate ways. In January 2019, the production pair announced their amicable break, and their respective paths were clear: Bakos would continue on as the artistic lifeblood of BLOND:ISH, and Anstascia would pursue a solo course of action.
BLOND:ISH had been the talk of the Playa for some time, a celebrated, sonic topic of conversation among underground enthusiasts. This would, and did, continue to be the case for BLOND:ISH under Bakos’ independent direction. An itinerant character of the live circuit, BLOND:ISH logged performances this year at both weekends of Coachella Music & Arts Festival, Art Basel, All My Friends, among other festivals and venues. She also nabbed slots at 2020’s SXM Festival and Zamna Tulum, to name just a few of her swiftly approaching endeavors.
Incisive reworks of Black Coffee’s “Wish You Were Here,” Kaskade and Diplo’s “Give Dem,” and even Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is” circulated, providing dance-worthy fodder for fans of BLOND:ISH’s desert suited style. All the while, BLOND:ISH’s environmental ethos sustained her “Bye Bye Plastic” initiative, earning her focus in a mini documentary dedicated to the anti-single-use plastic campaign. It’s next to impossible to provide a comprehensive list of all of BLOND:ISH’s accolade deserving activity over 2019, yet it’s equally as certain that these highlights illustrate Bakos as a Breakout Artist of the yYar who successfully and unceasingly kept the BLOND:ISH rhythm moving during her first year as a one woman show.
No. 5: Devault
By: Rachel Narozniak
Painting dark sonic soundscapes that blitz current conceptions of modern house sound, Devault has cultivated a cerebral aesthetic that, for the past year, has noticeably stood apart from other electronic releases. Part of the allure of Devault’s music rests in the sheer unpredictability of the style that it will embody. There are hallmarks of Devault’s sound, sure; mid-tempo electronica with tingling synths are two. Immersive melodies that ebb and flow, engulfing the streamer in the thoughtful idiosyncrasy of Devault’s dance music are another. Yet, the artistic delight of Devault is his tendency to continuously expand and redefine his sound. His sophomore EP, Sapphire, was an example. The output of Devault’s vocalized desire to “create something that pays homage to the music that got [him] so excited about electronic music in the first place, the new wave sounds of the 80’s, the French Touch, and the rave music of the 90’s,” Sapphire was Devault’s deliberate dabble in a specific and conceptual kind of sound distinctive from that of fellow EP, JADE. The two projects, both released in 2019, built on a wealth of preceding efforts that elucidated Devault’s inventiveness, warranting Devault distinction as a Breakout Artist of 2019.