Dancing Astronaut’s 10 Moments That Defined 2014
Dancing Astronaut's 10 Moments That Defined 2014
There’s rarely a dull moment in the world of dance music. From festivals occurring nearly every weekend to nightclubs going up every night, musical breakthroughs to viral sensations, it’s a never-ending social dialogue often filled with subsequent dramatics or controversy. It’s 24/7. Then there are the moments that become the cultural pillars, the ones that define the year in retrospect. These too can range wildly, from outlandish cultural and social trends to the music that moves mountains and to special endeavors of artists either fresh to the scene or legendary in status.
These are the moments that, in 2014, defined the world we live in.
Deep Dish Reunite
The return of Deep Dish this year was something special. While Dubfire and Sharam have led reputable solo careers over the years, there’s a certain magic surrounding their union as a duo that takes their combined talents to achieve. Thankfully, the world got to experience that magic once again, everywhere from Miami to Los Angeles, to the European festival circuit in 2014. On top of this, what better way to officially authenticate their return than deliver a standout Essential Mix?
Skrillex and Diplo form Jack Ü
Superduos seem to be sprouting left and right these days, but it’s hard to find a bigger pairing than Skrillex and Diplo. Uniting two of dance music’s most popular DJs under one name, Jack U caused an absolute frenzy in 2014. From memorable performances at Ultra and HARD Summer, to an official mixtape and chart-topping single with Kieza, the duo had the blogosphere abuzz seemingly without end. With an upcoming performance at Madison Square Garden and plenty of original material and collaborations in the works, this is only the beginning for Jack U.
The Return of Plastikman
While Richie Hawtin has become well-known under his personal namesake, at his core, he is Plastikman. 2014 saw Hawtin return with his first Plastikman album in eleven years, Ex. With the new composition, Richie brought a new live show as well, which he showcased to all of Sonar Festival in the form of a giant, LED obelisk. Ultimately, the new album and live show resurrected one of the most iconic dance music producers of the 90s and 2000s. The work itself was an artistically-charged, minimally-savvy EP, and a fine reminder of Hawtin’s inspiring duality.
Time Warp comes to America
Techno returned to the US in full force this year — nowhere was that more evident than in New York with the arrival of Time Warp. In late November, the famous Mannheim festival brought its jaw-dropping production to Brooklyn for its American debut, hosting some of the world’s top underground talents over its two day spread. While techno events on US soil is nothing new, the arrival of one of the world’s most revered festivals in America was certainly a cause for celebration.
The Mysterious Rise of ZHU
ZHU proved that the music and art can speak for itself — especially in the era of the 24 hour blog news cycle. A faceless entity in a scene defined by oversharing and overexposure, ZHU built his fanbase on the quality of his art instead of the virality of his social presence. One anonymous medley and a laser-focused EP later and the came-out-of-nowhere talent landed himself a Grammy-nod and became a certifiable global phenomenon — all without pandering to the industry standard obsession with Facebook likes and Twitter followers. An anti-trend setter, ZHU’s meteoric rise brought the focus back to the music and sparked a change that the culture so desperately needed.
Remembering Frankie Knuckles
Every year has its share of highs and lows and the passing of the legendary Chicago House pioneer Frankie Knuckles marked one of 2014’s saddest moments. When news of his passing broke the dance music world was shook to its core. A champion of the sound before it was commercially viable, Knuckles represented all that was pure and authentic in a world gone mad. His influence on the sound during its infancy earned him the title of “Godfather of House Music” and regardless of what genre you enjoy, Knuckles is partially responsible for its eventual creation. An emotional moment in 2014, his untimely passing and the industry’s reaction turned young fans attention back to the history of the genre and the sound in which he will be forever immortalized — Chicago house.
The sensation that was #Selfie
“But first, let me take a SELFIE.”
Ignore the song for one minute and appreciate the genius behind 2014’s best marketing campaign. A lampoon of the entire culture that they grew up in, New York City’s The Chainsmokers went from indie remix darlings to pop culture phenomenons with their broken heel, bottle rat anthem. It’s no secret that in the social media age, marketing has become just as important as the music, and The Chainsmokers — along with their management team and help from The Audience — captured the attention of the social web with a music video that leveraged the following of influencers across Instagram and Vine. A case study on how to hijack a trend into a globe-trotting career (and a brand new management company and label at Sony — Disruptor), The Chainsmokers set the new standard for genius marketing and easily consumable dance pop — all without ever taking themselves (or the scene) too seriously.
'Deep House' dominates Beatport
Sure, it may be a horrible misnomer, but the term “deep house” will forever be associated with the new wave of producers who pioneered main stage-friendly, after hours-inspired club cuts. Nearly synonymous with the equally abstract “future house” distinction, guys like Tchami and Oliver Heldens paved a new path to success for a new generation of production talents.
Tropical House Trends
From Klingande to Kygo, 2014’s sound was defined by smoothly-crafted melodies instead of over-compressed kicks. A return to the music instead of the mayhem, an entire new wave of production talent popped up and reclaimed the blogosphere for the headphone junkies. Even Ultra Records head honcho Patrick Moxey acknowledged the tectonic shift in sounds, shifting his label’s focus to melodic-driven house. Following success of “Jubel,” the sound became even more prolific, put in the spotlight by Thomas Jack and soon Kygo as the trending genre of the year.
Deadmau5 Trolls EDM at Ultra
Electronic music’s greatest troll outdid even himself at Ultra Music Festival after he was called in last minute to replace Avicii who had been hospitalized for emergency gall bladder surgery. Returning to the main stage after swearing he’d never perform at the festival again, deadmau5 flipped the entire “EDM” world a big mau5-y bird and kicked off his set with a mash up of Old MacDonald and Martin Garrix’s “Animals.” On the biggest stage at EDM’s most important festival, deadmau5 made a statement on the established trends that sparked a dialogue and resonated throughout the remainder of the year. To Joel, EDM’s latest iteration was nothing more than an uninspired nursery rhyme for uninformed kids and he let the world know it in the most genius way possible.