25 Artists to Watch in 2016
Every year, the pool of new talent seems to increase exponentially. With the democratization of music production software and the ever-expanding database of online resources for learning, the barriers to entry for new artists have essentially been demolished.
Standing out from the crowd, however, is an entirely different story. As the sea of new artists grows, so do the challenges of delivering a truly unique product. With this in mind, we’ve chosen 25 artists who caught our attention in 2015. Furthermore, these are artists who show undeniable promise for 2016 and beyond.
At the end of the day, bear in mind, this is just a small piece of the pie. There are countless artists pushing the envelope right now who deserve your attention. Do your own research, attend their shows, and continue to support the next generation of artists.
REZZ humbly notes in her SoundCloud biography that she began producing in November of 2013, in an admission that undoubtedly causes innumerable senior producers to blush at her prodigiousness. Though young and new to her craft, REZZ is anything but a novice. Since her inaugural release, “Gremlin,” in 2013, REZZ has proffered two EPs, a slew of originals and remixes, toured with Deadmau5, and graced the decks at HARD Day of the Dead. Equal parts Gesaffelstein and Excision, REZZ’s music fuses industrial calculation with gridiron ferocity in an inimitable fashion. With a covetous spot alongside Destructo and Justin Martin on HARD’s forthcoming “Ship2Ship” tour and an invincible work ethic, this razor-sharp techno maven is poised for an epochal 2016.
Highlights of 2015: “Plague,” “Lucifer”
Originally the brains behind electro-pop group The Cataracs, Niles Hollowell-Dhar was producing big room anthems long before he broke his KSHMR moniker. A behind-the-scenes producer behind some of EDM’s most popular tracks, KSHMR decided to step out into the light over the past year and truly made a statement when he and Tiesto collaborated for “Secrets.” The song was arguably one of the most popular main stage anthems of the festival season and it was the perfect way for the Indian-Ameircan talent to kickstart his solo venture. With a steady catalog of originals and remixes now under his belt, KSHMR is sure to continue carving a new path in the progressive house landscape with his Eastern-tinged style.
Highlights of 2015: “Secrets,” “Jammu”
Los Angeles-based techno wünderkind Cameron Ward first broke into the industry as Pilo over two years ago, after releasing his ominous tech house masterpiece “Forte Inductance” and his debut EP, For The Hood In You, on Boysnoize Records. This past year, Pilo has become the Robin to Boys Noize’s Batman after supporting Boys Noize on his world tour, and collaborating on Strictly Raw’s seminal track, “Cerebral.” Ward released his third EP Sentimental Schematics earlier this year on BNR, which demonstrates not only his mastery of classic techno composition, but a creative ability to further innovate the genre. In a scene dominated by European artists, Pilo may very well be one of the more skilled stateside contributors.
Highlights of 2015: “Cerebral,” “Projectile”
RUFUS DU SOL
Aussie outfit Rufus Du Sol are one of the more talented hybrid acts in electronic music blending melodic house rhythms with cinematic embellishments. The trifecta breezed through 2015 with infectious single releases like “You Were Right” and “Like An Animal,” and more recently, “Innerbloom.” Formerly the opening act for Odesza, Rufus went on to venture from the land down under to conquer the states with a sold out “You Were Right” tour building up to their sophomore album, Bloom, set for release in January 2016.
Highlights of 2015: “You Were Right,” “Like An Animal”
Photo Credit: Louis Kang
One of electronic music’s most promising young producers comes in the form of 18-year-old Filous. The Austrian musician has developed a chilled-out, melodic style that is simply irresistible. Euphoric strings and chord progressions remain the key to Filous’ swift success, evident in tracks like “How Hard I Try” — which has amassed over 6 million SoundCloud plays — and seductive remixes of artists such as The Glitch Mob, Porter Robinson, RAC and Jake Isaac. After a plethora of sold out tour dates and an earth-stopping 2015 EP appropriately titled Dawn, Filous’ career is guaranteed to gain new light in 2016.
Highlights of 2015: “How Hard I Try,” “Better Off ft. Josh Roa & Bishop”
As the festival trap space continues to become over-saturated, a number of producers in the genre are looking to branch out. Having refined his own wonky take on the high-octane genre, Winnepeg’s Vincent took a step back recently to rebrand himself into a more sophisticated project based on longevity.
With a solid foot in the trap world already, the Canadian standout has attracted a handful of important eyeballs and opened for artists like RL Grime and Dyro. His original “Only “ and remixes of “R.I.C.O” and “U Don’t Know” exhibit his sound in full-effect, with danceable hip-hop grooves on a festival scale. With a fresh start and image discovered, Vincent’s innovative take on bass music will allow him to stay above water for the foreseeable future.
Mar Lumba would be hard pressed to find a more apt moniker under which to brand his musical career. Utterly unclassifiable, Astronomar seems to travel great distances to uncover the individual components that end up within each track. Essences of TJR and early Dillon Francis are equally as prevalent as Para One and Claude VonStroke in his quintessential sound, which is typified by a goofy gravitas. Lumba makes up one third of the triumvirate that runs Main Course Records, alongside fellow producers Neoteric and Bot. Having first peered into the spotlight when Dog Blood played his remix of Neoteric and Wax Motif’s “Go Deep” at Coachella 2013, Astronomar’s latest Magic Potion EP and matriculation into the 2015 festival circuit have set the stage for a momentous ascension in the coming year.
Highlights of 2015: “Sliver,” “Earth Tones”
Louis the Child
When your new single receives a shoutout from Taylor Swift and Lorde via social media, you must have done something right. Chicago upstarts Louis The Child have been steadily rising into the public eye for over a year now with official remixes for Kaskade and Oh Wonder. It wasn’t until their single “It’s Strange,” however, that the duo first received their taste of more widespread success. A charming blend of K.Flay’s pop-laced vocals and vibey future bass pumps, “It’s Strange” made its rounds across the internet upon its release, and even landed a spot on the FIFA 2016 video game soundtrack.
Heading into the New Year, Louis The Child will be under close watch with their ‘It’s Strange Tour’ continuing on into January. Still in their teenage years, Robby and Freddy have nothing but time on their side, and remain an act to watch in 2016.
As one of the year’s biggest melodic/tropical house maestros, Matoma left fans with little time to catch their breath thanks to a steady stream of powerhouse reworks of classic jams like The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Old Thing Back” featuring Ja Rule and Ralph Tresvant and catchy originals such as “The Wave” and “Stick Around” featuring Akon. He was even commissioned by pop stars Jason Derulo and Jennifer Lopez for the official remix of their single “Try Me” and Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailando.” In addition, the Norwegian DJ/producer gave fans a taste of what’s to come next year after a two-month nationwide fall tour across the US in addition to playing major festivals HARD Summer and Billboard’s Hot 100 Fest.
Highlights of 2015: “Old Thing Back – Notorious B.I.G. ft. Ja Rule and Tresvant,” “Feeling Right (Everything Is Nice) ft. Popcaan & Wale”
Alternative R&B artist Gallant, full name Christopher Gallant, seized 2015 with one of the year’s most remixed tracks, “Weight In Gold.” The catchy original went on to garner over 3 million plays on SoundCloud. The NYU graduate caught his break after moving to Los Angeles and being discovered by Krewella and ZHU’s manager, Jake Udell, who was captivated by Christopher’s soaring falsetto and unfiltered songwriting. Gallant’s slew of ethereal single releases like “Open Up,” “Talking In Your Sleep” and most recently “Borderline” alongside James Fauntleroy, have attracted a legion of obsessive fans and even landed him as the opening act of Kygo’s sold-out acoustic shows in LA and London. All signs point to a huge 2016 for the budding star.
Highlights of 2015: “Weight in Gold,” “Open Up”
Big Wild, a Venice Beach-based newcomer, knew from the beginning that his artistic project would be focused around the live realm. This year, he scaled it big enough to tour with ODESZA and GRiZ. Having successfully avoided attaching genre labels to his project thus far, his diversified portfolio of originals and remixes can stand on their own yet are still consistent with organic and natural aesthetics. His breakout single, “Aftergold,” currently holds the most streams of any single on ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective imprint, and has even landed a coveted spot in an Apple Watch commercial. With a serious upward trajectory and sound to call his own, Big Wild is carving his own path in electronic music and will be an interesting artist to watch blossom.
Following up a massive collaboration with Calvin Harris would be a daunting task to any producer, but not Disciples. After their infectious anthem “How Deep Is Your Love” hit platinum sales across the globe, the UK trio kept busy with their follow-up single “Mastermind” as well as a slate of high-profile festival bookings at HARD’s Day of the Dead and BEMF in New York. Their explosive year in music culminated with the recently released The Following EP and an already packed schedule of gigs across the UK.
Highlights of 2015: “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Mastermind”
French producer Louis Roche rose to prominence as Madame last year with the release of his aggressively buoyant club track “Shuffle” and has not slowed since. Most recently, Madame released his third EP, Perc99 on Boysnoize Records. Roche’s composition is inherently percussive; he favors perpetually thumping kicks and ominous fills to harmonic tones, and an all-consuming grittiness pervades his entire catalogue. Roche demonstrates a distinct proclivity for cerebral conception and discordant ferocity, and his consistent ability to weave these traits so seamlessly grants his status as the archetypal BNR artist.
Highlights of 2015: “Perc99,” “Overheat”
After being catapulted into the public eye with his remix of Jack Ü’s “Where Are Ü Now,” mysterious music maker Marshmello has received enormous musical and vocal support from Skrillex, Jauz and a plethora of other producers, and has emerged as one of the year’s most most talked about mystery producers. Fans’ hypotheses of the anthropomorphic treat’s identity range from trap producer Dotcom to Skrillex himself. But, as is the case with UZ and Malaa, Marshmello’s identity doesn’t really matter. What is important is that in the nine months since his first release, he has amassed a titanic following, earned spots in nearly every major festival’s lineup, and composed an extensive catalogue of future-infused pop remixes and originals that are as pleasingly saccharine as the campfire candy for which he is named.
Highlights of 2015: “Jack Ü – Where Are Ü Now (Marshmello Remix),” “Adele – Hello (Marshmello Remix)”
Photo Credit: Sam Hickey
Icelandic duo Kiasmos may seem like an outlier on this list. They produce stripped down, cinematic techno with beautiful orchestral arrangements and drum machine foundations. In 2014, the duo delivered their debut, self-titled album, enrapturing the underground in the process. In 2015, they followed that up with their Swept EP, even enlisting one of the techno world’s largest players, Tale of Us, for a remix of the lead single. They went on to tour the EP internationally, making two very rare stateside appearances in the process. Much like their compositions, their performances offer an intense, organic display of live techno. At the end of the day, you’d be hard pressed to find a duo pushing more interesting and alluring music than Kiasmos.
Highlights of 2015: “Swept,” “Gaunt”
The ‘mystery producer’ phenomenon hit an all-time high in 2015, yet only a handful of names successfully executed it. Amongst the names that truly brought something unique to the table in 2015 was Karma Fields. The artist broke out earlier this year via Monstercat when the label released the project’s first single, “Build The Cities,” accompanied by a 3D-mapping video. The elusive project has established itself as a convergence of technology, music, and video to provide an immersive, multi-sensory experience for listeners, and we’re excited to see what their team comes up with next.
Highlights of 2015: “Build the Cities,” “Stickup”
Jonas Rathsman first gained attention on tastemaker imprint French Express, but has since been vaulted into a league of his own. 2015 was a year of huge releases for the Swedish producer, from his ubiquitous single, “Wolfsbane” on Disclosure’s Method White imprint, to his sensational New Generation EP on KX. On top of this, Rathsman was tapped for his inaugural Essential Mix duties, delivering an immaculate two-hour composition. With some of the more exciting production chops to come out of Sweden of late, Jonas Rathsman is easily an artist to watch coming into the new year.
Highlights of 2015: “Wolfsbane,” “New Generation”
Dutch beatmaker and composer San Holo released his first EP in late 2014, and has since risen to international acclaim at a breakneck speed. He has a knack for anticipating the exact combination of trap beat and infectious melody that will resonate with listeners the world over, as evidenced by both original releases like “We Rise” and “Victory” and his remixes of Dr. Dre, Eminem, and 50 Cent. San Holo has his finger glued to the pulse of the moment, and deftly manages to stay abreast of sonic trends without compromising his unique sound. On top of high profile collaborations and a second EP release on Monstercat, San Holo launched his own record label, bitbird, in 2015. With a tour underway, 2016 is poised to be even bigger for San Holo.
Highlights of 2015: “Victory,” “We Rise”
French collective Point Point built their name as a group of four curators, whose cutting-edge Filet Mignon compilation series was lauded on both sides of the Atlantic. For three years, Filet Mignon remained ahead of the curve in culling and showcasing the best and brightest of French and US upcoming talent. In July of this year, Point Point finally revealed the breadth of their production capabilities as well with the long-awaited Contrastive Focus Reduplication EP. In original releases, Point Point is technically immaculate and creatively daring. When remixing the likes of Porter Robinson, Tchami, and Gallant, the group is imaginative and innovative, skewing familiar melodies with unexpected touches and futuristic beats. No one knows style like the French, an observation hammered home by Point Point.
Highlights of 2015: “Life in Grey,” “Smile On Your Face”
Redlight has been heavily involved in the music scene of his hometown of Bristol since an early age. His career as a producer, which spans more than a decade and a half, has been shaped by the garage and house influences of his own country, and has resulted in a genre-blending sound that incorporates hip-hop, house, and grime. After touring with fellow Brit tastemaker Annie Mac earlier this year, his debut album, X Colour, was released in November on his own imprint Lobster Boy. The album received critical acclaim for its thoughtful combination of electronic and hip-hop influences, and was accompanied by a music video for “Metronome.” With roots in the past and a vetted touring pedigree, Redlight is hardly new to the scene, yet his momentum coming in to 2016 is simply undeniable.
Highlights of 2015: “Metronome,” “Me & You”
With an extensive catalogue of releases across a number of major labels such as Ultra and Suara over the last several years, taciturn producer Teenage Mutants is no newcomer to the scene. Hailing from Mainz, Germany, Teenage Mutants has had a remarkably prolific year. The German producer has purveyed an array of originals and remixes that are as diverse as his choice of imprints, spanning across deep house, tech house, and nu disco. Teenage Mutants has a rare ability to evoke a range of emotions, both buoyant and ominous, with a precocious mastery. Often dark, and often jaunty, the commonality among his body of work is a hypnotically resonant bass, capable of calming and exciting the listener simultaneously.
Highlights of 2015: “Barbés,” “Take Me Higher”
ATTLAS spent the first third of 2015 shrouded in anonymity, garnering speculation surrounding his identity which was eventually dispelled in April by Pete Tong on his Evolution podcast. The upcoming producer has often been compared to his mentor, deadmau5, as the two Canadian producers share a talent for creating songs that are simultaneously technically superb and emotionally stirring. ATTLAS released a trilogy of EPs throughout 2015: Siren, Scene, and Sin, showcasing his narrative-based vision in addition to his studio calibre. His cinematic aesthetic has driven much of his prolific output in 2015, but ATTLAS is not bound by genres. Rather, he moves easily between progressive, tech-trance, indie dance and everything in-between. Ultimately, the enigmatic producer has stayed out of the limelight and allowed his music to create its own story. With a triumphant 2015 on the books, we can’t wait to see what ATTLAS has planned for 2016.
Highlights of 2015: “Parallel Lines,” “Boxed”
NGHTMRE was inescapable this year. With over twenty remixes, originals, and VIPs in 2015 alone, Tyler Marenyi’s work ethic speaks for itself and ultimately paid off this past March when his single “Street” served as one of few new productions premiered by Skrillex during his Ultra Main Stage set. Although “Street” served as one of bass music’s biggest tracks of the year, the LA producer has made a point to not confine his image to one sound. With a Dillon Francis collaboration and a remix of ZHU and Skrillex confirmed to be in the works, dance fans should be excited to see what’s in store for this talented producer as it seems as though he is just getting started.
Highlights of 2015: “Street,” “Lighters Up”
In a sense, calling Jauz an “artist to watch” is like calling “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” a show to watch; Sam Vogel’s music career has ascended so meteorically that it’s hard to remember that he was a fan in the crowd at HARD Summer 2014, before taking the mainstage by storm at this year’s installment of the festival. A recent Icon Collective alumnus, Vogel received early support from Tchami and Borgore, but was first thrust into the public eye when his appearance on “Diplo and Friends” became the bible for the bass-infused house movement he would come to incite. Since then, Jauz has found his way into mainstage sets across a wide variety of genres with his massively popular originals “Rock The Party” [with Ephwurd] and “Deeper Love.” Though he actively defies being pigeonholed to a certain genre, the eclectic producer is poised to become the face of the ongoing bass house movement.
Highlights of 2015: “Deeper Love,” “Rock The Party”
If there was one act that truly entranced us in 2015, it was Bob Moses. The duo of Jimmy Vallance and Tom Howie surpassed all expectations with their debut album Days Gone By. The 12-track offering blended catchy songwriting with authentic underground dance tropes in a way that simply just worked too well to overlook. The release was so good, in fact, that we named it our top album of 2015. Furthermore, on the live front, Bob Moses embarked on their most ambitious year of touring yet, playing festivals like CRSSD, Lightning in a Bottle and more. As the year comes to a close, we can’t help but project huge things to come for the duo in 2016.
Highlights of 2015: “Talk,” “Tearing Me Up”