Dancing Astronaut’s 2017 Breakout Artists of the Year
2017 has landed Sander van Dijck – more widely known as the Star Wars-alluding San Holo – in the throes of prosperity. This year alone, the Dutch artist embarked on an international tour amongst sold out crowds, continued to experiment both sonically and with his live aesthetics, and worked to facilitate the success of his budding label, bitbird.
After making his rounds through Asia and Australia, San Holo spent the latter half of the year on his extensive, North American Gouldian Finch 2 Tour, accompanied by emerging Aussie, Just A Gent and bitbird buds, DROELOE, whom van Dijck has taken under his wing on the label. The two parties also collaborated this year on bouncy chill-trap track “Lines Of The Broken.”
Although his breakthrough single “Light” was released at the tail-end of 2016, the effervescent song remained a smash-hit through the following summer, racking up more than 86 million streams on Spotify. The genre-resistant track paved the way for a steady stream of fresh, avant-garde releases from van Dijck—including his radiant “I Still See Your Face,” which unprecedentedly incorporates his own vocals, along with the melodically tender, serenely-lyricized “One Thing.”
Amid his ample touring and studio time, this year San Holo also saw his label launch its own radio series, as well as release a compilation to accompany the Gouldian Finch 2 Tour, with “I Still See Your Face” as the lead track. The compilation also features bitbird favorites Taska Black, Eastghost, and DROELOE, all of whom corroborate van Dijck’s steadfast assertions that genre is nothing more than an outdated pretense.
Hayden Capuozzo had a sudden revelation towards the end of an aspiring professional hockey career. What was once his biggest inspiration for games, producing electronic music, was now his passion that lead him to move out to LA to learn full-time. After just nine months of honing in on his skills, he submitted a mix and was later chosen as the winner of Insomniac’s “Discovery Project” challenge, giving the Houston native a chance to perform at Escape From Wonderland Festival in 2012. This marked his first ever DJ gig and major career breakthrough.
Since then, KAYZO has climbed the ranks to become one of the most diverse producers in the game, showing off a variety of different production styles. Over the past year, he’s dabbled in trap, dubstep, happy hardcore and a bit of psytrance on his track “Holy,” a collaboration with the powerhouse duo Slander. He even delved into some melodic house on his Monstercat release “Over The Edge” with upcoming producer Gammer.
In addition to his 2017 discography, KAYZO has seen support from A-list producers like Diplo, with a guest mix for BBC Radio 1’s Diplo & Friends, and participated in the most notable live set from Holy Ship! 2017 in going b2b with Herobust, Jauz, Ookay, Getter and Slushii.
KAYZO’s highlight for 2017 was headlining Bassrush’s Doghouse Takeover, where he sold out the Hollywood Palladium in 24 hours and proceeded to put on a stellar performance. Capuozzo decided to spice up his second annual appearance at the Takeover and surprised attendees with guest appearances by Sum 41 and DJ Snake.
Although vague on the details, Kayzo should have a lot in store for fans come 2018, as he is planning a debut solo bus tour to kick off the New Year.
Since his plunge into life as a DJ-producer at the ripe age of 18, Cj Costigan, better known as Cristoph, has been working to perfect his unique brands of progressive deep/tech house and making his ascent in the Newcastle nightlife arena. His first momentous release came in 2016, when he was the first artist to be featured on Hot Since 82’s Knee Deep In Sound 8-Track album series
In 2017, the blossoming young artist signed with both John Digweed’s illustrious Bedrock imprint, as well as iconic, grammy-nominated DJ-producer Sasha’s Last Night On Earth — both of which housed prominent releases this year from the flourishing Cristoph.
Soon after, none other than Sweden’s own Eric Prydz inaugurated Cristoph’s bouncy progressive track “Feel” as the first official release on his new label Pryda Presents. The track was initially unveiled on Prydz’s heatedly-anticipated resurgence of EPIC Radio’s Beats 1 tenure. Cristoph returned to Pryda Presents with jolting, minimal progressive track “EPOCH.” Prydz and Cristoph have a growing history after teaming up for several of Prydz’s tour dates in the US this year, as well as joining forces for EPIC 5.0 and various Ibiza slots over the summer.
With support from such a vast, esteemed collectives of sound, Cristoph is in impeccable position for massive expansion in 2018.
by John Flynn
Ekali‘s rise to stardom over the past three years has been a wildly rapid ascent. The Canadian producer originally began to gain traction in 2014 when he was the only Canadian applicant to be ushered into Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo in November 2014. The Vancouver producer and DJ catapulted himself even further in 2015 when Drake sampled his song “Unfaith” on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late for tracks “Preach” and “Wednesday Night Interlude.” According to Ekali, he wasn’t even sure how they found the tracks in the first place.
Ekali’s unique modus operandi when it comes to production enables him to take structural risks on his tracks, with carbonated synths and thickly layered bass he flips the script on contemporary trap music by injecting his own ethereal sonic touch. A versatile producer, Ekali creates tracks that are overflowing with eastern influenced strings (“Unfaith”), remixes that take a more ominous approach like his collaborative remix of Jack Ü’s “Mind” with Gravez, or truculent future bass festival anthems like the recently released “Babylon” with Denzel Curry.
Ekali is wrapping up his North American tour with the last date planned for New Years Eve in Asheville, North Carolina at the U.S Cellular Center—for reference, the venue holds more than 7,000 patrons, not bad for a breakout artist. Ekali is certain to be one of the biggest names in electronic moving forward, and it would come as a shock if he wasn’t slated to perform at more than a few festivals this summer.
Christian Smith, otherwise known as Crankdat, may not be old enough to drink, but in 2017, he caught the attention of clubbers and festival attendees with his epic sets and dynamic releases. The Ohio native gained a following thanks to his infectious remixes, and his popularity was on the rise with his breakout single alongside Lookas, “Game Over,” in 2016. 2017 certainly served as the turning point in the young producer’s career as he not only earned his first festival slot, but he also went from opening shows to headlining his own tour through Asia and North America.
While on his Gear Up Tour, Crankdat performed at iconic dance music venues such as Omnia in San Diego, Webster Hall in New York, and Hakkasan in Las Vegas. After completing his first-ever festival performance at Numbers Fest in April, he landed on lineups of major festivals including Electric Zoo, Breakaway Music Festival, and Global Dance Festival as well.
In addition to booking major shows, Smith released some heavy-hitting collaborations including a track with Jauz, “I Hold Still” featuring Slushii and a collaboration with T-Pain called “In the Air.” His solo release “Dollar” amassed nearly a million streams on Spotify alone, and his remix of Gryffin and Illenium’s “Feel Good” featuring Daya hit an incredible 1.5 million streams, making it his most streamed release of 2017 on Spotify. As Crankdat continues to tour and release new music, we predict that 2018 will be the year that solidifies Crankdat as an industry mainstay versus a new force on the scene.
Winner – k?d
Any long time dance music fan will fondly remember the ascension of veteran artists like Porter Robinson, Zedd, Madeon, and more with their ‘complextro’ sonic identities that balanced elaborate melodies with gritty, aggressive bass and driving percussion. As the various sub-genres have continued to expand, only a select few producers have successfully resurrected this combination of elements with a modern twist. However, when the initially-anonymous k?d hopped onto the scene, it appeared complextro might be resurrected into a new light.
Originally emerging on SoundCloud and Hype Machine in 2016 with major remixes of Manila Killa, Daft Punk, Illenium, and more, k?d — real name Patrick Cybulski — had an immediately distinctive style, blending intricate melodic synth arrangements in a grandiose fashion attached to anthemic percussion.
Towards the end of 2016, the 20-year-old Miami native took his first real moment to flex his production chops and offer a darker, heavier side to his production capacities with his remix of Huntar’s “4AM.” The remix resembled the crashing percussion and growling synths that bass favorite REZZ pioneered, and fans planted the idea on Twitter for the two to join forces on a collaboration. Lo and behold, k?d and REZZ teamed up at the top of 2017 with their debut collaboration, “Fourth Impact.” A combination of extraterrestrial melodies atop a lurching bass line, “Fourth Impact” marked a major transition for k?d and played in instrumental role in setting up his biggest year yet.
To counterbalance the bass-heavy release, k?d turned to Swedish imprint PRMD — notable alumni include CAZZETTE, Syn Cole, Hotel Garuda — for his next string of original releases . The first single, “Lose Myself” featuring Phil Good, leaned in a more commercial direction of dance music yet still kept his sonic fingerprint and sound design present. Simultaneously, k?d drew a major co-sign from dance titans The Chainsmokers as he took over their Nice Hair Radio for its 32nd episode and then supported the duo on their stadium tour across North America.
For the back end of 2017, k?d released collaborations with fellow rising stars Medasin and Varien, continued his string of releases on PRMD with “Distance” alongside vocalist Blair, before finishing the year in a massive way with an official remix of The Chainsmokers‘ “Young.”
With an incredible year on the music front, its also important to note k?d’s meteoric development on the touring front with major festival appearances at EDC Las Vegas, Electric Zoo, and Nocturnal Wonderland as well as sold out headline shows at Exchange in LA and 1015 Folsom in San Francisco. The enigmatic young producer also supported the likes of Tiesto, REZZ, Jauz, and more on their headlining North America tours.
In terms of what we fans can expect from the Miami prodigy in 2018: he hasn’t alluded to much other than new music, bigger shows, and continuing his upward trajectory at full force. For fans of Porter Robinson, REZZ, Illenium, Adventure Club, or any sound in between, be sure to jump on the k?d train sooner rather than later.
k?d is Dancing Astronaut’s Breakout Artist of 2017.
Dancing Astronaut’s 2018 Draft Class
Every year, a new class of artists make their way into the spotlight. With a number of young, talented acts emerging, we’ve decided to pick a select group who we believe are destined for breakout years in 2018. Behold, Dancing Astronaut‘s Draft Class of 2018.
1. Petit Biscuit
In the space of chill electronica, 18-year-old producer Petit Biscuiit has become a force-to-be-reckoned-with after his original “Sunset Lover” went viral back in 2015. In 2017, the French wunderkind broke out the one-hit-wonder category with his debut album, Presence, that received rave reviews upon its release and will surely set him up for another massive year.
San Holo proteges, DROELOE, truly defined their sonic identity and presence in the future bass world with groundbreaking releases on Monstercat, Lowly Palace, and Holo’s bitbird imprint. With a prime slot at SnowGlobe Fetsival to kick off 2018, this Dutch duo should certainly be on your radar for acts to step into the spotlight in 2018.
UK trailblazer, Gammer, put hardcore on the map this year with a number of versatile releases, from originals and collaborations to powerhouse remixes of Marshmello & Slander. With his latest EP, THE DROP, out now via Monstercat, the Northampton native also capped off the year with a massive Diplo & Friends Mix and will surely continue to push the hardcore movement even further in 2018.
Predominantly known for his work as one half of Australian tech house duo, Cut Snake, FISHER launched his own solo project via Dirtybird and saw an incredible response upon his first release, “Ya Kidding.” With his electric personality and thumping singles, FISHER is sure to continue bringing the party in 2018 and be one of Dirtybird’s most promising rising talents.
The next generation of up and coming bass music producers can’t be discussed without WAVEDASH included in the forefront of the conversation. The Austin, Texas trio are a classic come up story who started out as playground pals who were all gaga for Skrillex. Now, just barely out of high school, Luke, Gavin, and Michael are actualizing their dance music dreams behind a growing catalog of blistering remixed beats and punishing original products. With their idols quickly becoming their peers, WAVEDASH are positioned for a major moment, and who knows where it’ll take them, deservedly landing them a spot in 2018’s draft class.
Among Anjunadeep’s lineup of deep house young guns, Luttrell is becoming the frontrunner as he carves out his own niche in the deep house and electronica space. The producer’s tunes are already gaining support from Pete Tong and Annie Mac. His Generate EP in the summer served as a milestone for the San Francisco producer’s sonic development, and Anjuna fans can certainly expect more from the rising talent as he follows in the footsteps of label success stories like Lane 8 and Yotto.
7. Sullivan King
Bass music is having a surge in popularity, but Sullivan King has taken the wheel at bridging the gap between bass music and its predecessor, metal. Whether it be his revered set at Lost Lands, his Monstercat-backed EP with Dirtyphonics, or even his recent collaboration with Slander, Sullivan King proved bass and metal will coexist in the future and he will be the one to prove it in 2018.
Enigmatic producer duo um.. are primed for a breakout moment in 2018. The Los Angeles-based beat makers’ commitment to their spontaneous brand of unconventionally strange electronic music plants them firmly in line for the recognition they deserve. The pair provide a nuanced sound that playfully teeters a line between avant garde and offbeat indifference, and they’ve already caught the attention of fellow experimental sound designers like Skrillex, Josh Pan, and others. Watch for Ben Bruce and Dylan Gold next year; fans are ready for something different, and um.. is primed to shake things up.
A few short years into his career, up and comer Joshua Brennan is defined by his enormous wealth of potential that seems to be more finely tuned by the day. The London-bred teenager, better known as Oshi, is growing into an international DJ sensation as he continues to carve out some of the most intriguing and infectious electronic productions out there right now. Rumored collaborations with the likes of Baauer and Skrillex sit under the hood, as Oshi positions himself at the head of next year’s pack. Of all the bright production talent emanating out of the UK, Oshi is ready to up the ante, and 2018 is likely to bring a ton of new music from him our way.