Dancing Astronaut proudly presents the 2017 Label of the Year
Foreign Family Collective
There is no doubt that Grammy-nominated duo ODESZA claimed their status as some of the more cutting-edge producers in the dance music realm over the years. Following the release of their sophomore album, In Return, the team launched their own musical outlet, Foreign Family Collective, in 2015 in an effort to showcase a myriad of musicians and visual artists across a variety of genres. By creating the label, the two producers aimed to curate a platform that “doesn’t adhere to any one genre or style but rather focuses on originality and genuine expression.” Most notably, a number of the label’s output stood as the breakout releases for some of today’s top electronic acts such as Big Wild’s “Aftergold,” Jai Wolf’s “Indian Summer,” and RÜFÜS DU SOL’s sophomore album, Bloom.
With a full year of new releases on the books, Foreign Family continues to ascend as one of dance music’s leading innovatory labels in 2017. This year, the label procured a total of six releases ranging from Big Wild’s debut Invincible EP in January to Kasbo’s recent single, “Snow in Gothenburg,” while introducing only one new artist to the label this year with Yahtzel’s “Someone Else.” Foreign Family also landed it’s first-ever curated stage at Electric Forest featuring Tycho, Troyboi, Jai Wolf, Big Wild, Faker, Chet Porter, further reinforcing its tastemaker status within an established, avant-garde musical community.
Quality, not quantity, is Foreign Family’s principle virtue, giving every release the proper platform to resonate with the label’s core audience and grow holistically. And with every sonic output there lies a resonating reminder that the collective is not just curating a label but a community of music lovers and artists alike, all while maintaining a seemingly personal, yet shared compassion for the intuitive and celestial sounds of tomorrow.
by Robyn Dexter
deadmau5-spearheaded label mau5trap has been a force to be reckoned with in 2017. The Canadian label celebrated its 10th birthday in 2017, highlighting the milestone with a 33-track anniversary compilation in July that featured tracks by ATTLAS, Matt Lange, Monstergetdown, Feed Me and many more. Joel Zimmerman himself hosted a birthday party for the label in Toronto, with a stacked roster of artist performances to commemorate the occasion.
One such artist was REZZ, who had another banner year with mau5trap. Her much-anticipated Mass Manipulation album dropped August and was closely follows by a world tour and even a comic book release. The album’s four singles were released every Friday leading up to the album’s release date, drumming up continued excitement for the unique artist’s debut album, which peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart on release.
Artists like No Mana, ATTLAS, Rinzen and Feed Me wowed in 2017 with multiple releases, including successful EPs and singles. The label consistently cranked out a top-notch unique music over the course of the year, gathering new fans and exciting old ones along the way.
They pooled many of the year’s best songs into two We Are Friends compilations, which came out in March and early December. Other notable compilations included two more additions to the Foar Moar series and mau5trap X1’17 and X3’17.
With the momentum it’s built over the past 10 years, mau5trap shows no signs of slowing down in the next 10.
Headed by maverick duo Zeds Dead, Deadbeats has been one of the standout labels of 2017. This past year, the dynamic imprint has cultivated some of the freshest new names in bass music like Shlump, DNMO, Champagne Drip, Chuurch, YOOKiE, and Rickyxsan. With an ever-expanding roster of innovative artists, Deadbeats is making its presence felt.
In the past year, DeadBeats has etched out some serious real estate for themselves in the dance music landscape. With the success of its first massive North American tour, which stretched from Miami to Calgary and featured the triumphant return of DeadRocks in July, the Toronto-based label has greatly expanded its sphere influence. Couple that with the release of the label’s two critically acclaimed compilation EPs and the launch of the new Deadbeats Radio show on Sirius XM’s Electric Area, it’s easy to see why this collective from the Great White North are on an inexorable march forward.
2018 is shaping up to be yet another huge year for this budding brand. DeadRocks, the label’s biggest annual event will return to the Denver hills, expanding to two full nights of madness from July 2-3. Zeds Dead are proven tastemakers in the world of electronic music. Their spine-tingling performances have helped them garner a massive global following. However, creating a palpable culture and style is perhaps the most important aspect of developing a label that can stand the test of time. With the growth this groundbreaking label has seen in the nearly two years since its inception, Zeds Dead are on a continuous march to take their vision and style to the next level.
In 2017, London-based label Anjunadeep has continued to produce and expound upon its unparalleled brand of deep and tech-house. Starting off in 2005 as a mere sidecar to Above & Beyond’s trance-leaning parent label and one of electronic music’s paragons of success, Anjunabeats, Anjunadeep has become an international staple in the lush, ethereal realms of house and techno. The label’s ascent coincides with the US’s gradual embrace of electronic music that is crafted for concentrated listening—migrating beyond its affinity for commercialized dance music.
American Anjunadeepian Lane 8 seems to continuously elaborate on his indelible variety of emotive, melodic deep-house, intermittently releasing tracks from his highly anticipated Little By Little album set to be released in January, accompanied by a world tour.
The label also capitalized on an opportunity to showcase some of its freshest faces, like UK duo Fluida, “The Light In You” artist, Fairchild, and Mat Zo-discovered, Luttrell, in the ninth installment of its veteran-crafted annual compilation series. Fluida made their Anjunadeep debut this year with their blissfully ambient Branches EP, which enigmatically floats between electronica and deep-house elements. Additionally, rapidly emerging artist, Luttrell, who also graced the compilation with dream-state-inducing “Wake Me Up Tomorrow,” has scaffolded off his 2016 breakthrough on the label, pushing the envelope with his otherworldly techno tracks.
Moving forward, the label recently announced it will be hosting its own debut festival, Anjunadeep Open Air: London in August of 2018, as well as hosting its own sea-faring, Anjunadeep Takeover during Holy Ship! 10.0 featuring sets from Lane 8, Yotto, and more.
Winner – Monstercat
by Robyn Dexter
Breaking barriers and pushing the dance music envelope since its inception in 2011, Canadian independent label Monstercat is Dancing Astronaut’s Label of the Year. For the past six years, Monstercat has paved the way for listeners to discover dozens of new artists, garnering a massive following along the way. Led by a boundary-pushing team, 2017 proved to be the label’s best year yet. They brought on more than a dozen new artists, including Modestep, Kill The Noise, Bassnectar, Ragga Twins, Dirtyphonics, Gammer, Kayzo, Lookas, Ookay, Fox Stevenson, Slander, Sullivan King, and Gareth Emery.
Monstercat started 2017 strong with the launch of a massive anti-bullying campaign in accordance with the release of Gareth Emery and Standerwick’s “Saving Light,” raising thousands of dollars for an anti-bullying foundation called Ditch The Label.
February brought the label’s first-ever platinum record recognition for marshmello’s 2016 release, “Alone,” which has garnered millions of streams across platforms to date.
In the midst of festival season, Monstercat announced a partnership with Rocket League that resulted in the label releasing an album for the video game. The 18-song compilation featured songs from Slushii, Notaker, Tristam, WRLD, and more, and was released in accordance with the game’s two-year anniversary.
They capped off a successful summer by opening their headquarter doors in Vancouver for a Monstercat Compound event. The street party served as an opportunity for the label to recognize the community that has supported them over the years with free performances by Robotaki, Conro, Going Quantum and Grant.
In November, the team continued their worldwide reach with multiple shows in China, including a residency at Asgard Nightclub in Beijing that featured performances by JOYRYDE, Delta Heavy, Pegboard Nerds and Lookas.
As 2017 draws to a close, recognition for the label is coming in from all sides of the music industry. SoundCloud recognized Unlike Pluto‘s “Everything Black” as their Top Electronic Track of 2017, and the track was also Monstercat’s most-streamed on Spotify, amassing more than 10 million streams on the platform. Two weeks ago, the label turned the power over to the fans and asked them to vote on their top Monstercat tracks of the year. After a short voting period, listeners selected label OGs Pegboard Nerds’ track “Heaven Let Us Down” as their favorite release of 2017.
As years go by and music trends shift faster than most can keep up with, the Canadian label proves time and time again that they have finger on the pulse of the next best thing in electronic and dance music. By exposing their listeners to an unimaginable range of music from some of the industry’s most talented innovators, the Monstercat team has established themselves as fearless trailblazers in an unpredictable industry.
To celebrate their incredible year, Monstercat called on Dan Scarcelli, Head of Programming for the label’s weekly Call of The Wild show, to whip up this vicious mix packed with some of their hottest releases to date. Appropriately, the mix serves as the 200th edition of our long-standing AXIS mix series.
WARNING: Dancing Astronaut is not responsible for damage caused by spontaneous speaker combustion or reckless headbanging. Listen at your own risk.