Dancing Astronaut’s 2020 Artist of the Year: Lane 8
Words by Ross Goldenberg
Before COVID-19 decimated any semblance of normal, along with every expectation we had for the year, Lane 8 already had 2020 wrapped around his finger. A whole ten days into the year, before a fresh decade even had sufficient time to get off the ground, the This Never Happened mastermind had a plausible album of the year aspirant on the board with Brightest Lights. Ignoring the fact that our hyperbolized prediction of this new decade’s most esteemed project is still a little too premature to substantiate, Lane 8’s immaculate third full-length LP firmly welded a towering bar that helped single-handedly earn him the designation of Dancing Astronaut‘s Artist of the Year in 2020.
Lane 8, lesser known as Daniel Goldstein, was placed into a precarious position in March as uncertainty surrounding the pandemic began to mount, with more than half of his Brightest Lights tour dates having been forcibly erased from his calendar as the music industry was sent into an unprecedented limbo. Rather than simply sit around and mull over what could have potentially been, Lane 8 made the conscious decision to make up for lost time, exploiting the most out of each and every waking moment in the days, weeks, and months that would follow.
In between his customary seasonal mixtapes, each a marathon of seamlessly blended house selections, and an additional blindsiding Groundhog Day mixtape, as well as curatorial duties for his esteemed This Never Happened imprint, Lane 8 pieced together a January-to-December track record fit for the books. After letting Brightest Lights properly digest, Lane 8 began to roll out the collaborative red carpet in May for what would ultimately culminate into a mini Brightest Lights follow-up of sorts, with seven joint ventures composing the Cross Pollination tracklist—a title that has decisively set the gold standard for communal project handles. Not only would Lane 8 dilate his already considerable yearly output with the EP, but just a month later, just ahead of his hotly anticipated Fall Mixtape, Goldstein dove back into his January masterwork, assembling a wide-ranging roster of 24 artists to exhaustively reinvigorate Brightest Lights from top to bottom.
The musical facet to Lane 8’s Artist of the Year tag certainly speaks for itself, but it would be a disservice to this piece if we didn’t at least take an abbreviated moment of appreciation for Lane 8’s extraordinarily serene performance from Colorado’s Grand Lake. Standing by his lonesome for a full two hours as the sun crept up on the mountains behind him, Goldstein rattled off one blue-chip house number after the next for a virtual outing that entered him into one of several conversation surrounding the year’s most impactful electronic music attractions.
In a calendar year as unpredictable and unfortunate as 2020 has been, Lane 8 remained a bedrock of artistic consistency, spanning from the days of day-blurring monotony to the present moment, as we anxiously await his forthcoming winter mixtape. Lane 8 demonstrated an unbroken competence to outclass himself day-in-and-day-out in 2020, assuming the simultaneous roles of music producer, label head, and virtual DJ, on top of the pandemic’s pressures, making an irrefutable case to be awarded Dancing Astronaut‘s 2020 Artist of the Year.
Words by Rachel Narozniak
We saw a number of artists put together compelling campaigns for Artist of the Year in 2020, though one such artist caught our attention for a very unique reason—he completely started over from scratch. And, even behind a brand new moniker, sound, and overall artistic direction, he still managed to make a case for 2020’s Artist of the Year.
For the past 12 years, the name Adam Wiles was synonymous only with Calvin Harris, but in year 13, that changed—and quite memorably—with the birth of Love Regenerator. Harris’ work can be traced back to 2007’s Acceptable In The 80s EP. From I Created Disco (2007), Ready For The Weekend (2009), 18 Months (2012), Motion (2014), and Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 (2017), with a total of the five Grammy nominations, clearly Calvin Harris is one of the most successful projects ever brought to life in the electronic context. With the breadth of Calvin Harris’ success considered, the January 20 announcement stating a new project was underway came as a surprise, to say the least.
What emerged was Love Regenerator, a decisive sidestep of the dance pop, electro pop, and house that colored Harris’ career in favor of a “1991 time capsule” of sound. Summarizing Love Regenerator as an amalgamation of the “early rave, breaks, techno, and house” that he grew up on, Wiles’ Love Regenerator 1 EP and its contemporaries gave a galvanizing glimpse of what was to come—and, to Wiles’ credit—illustrated that Calvin Harris was merely one gateway to Wiles’ sonic invention.
Through Wiles’ conception of one of the most focused and agile projects we saw this year, his listeners gained a much more comprehensive portrait of his influences, sensibilities, and capacities. For his fateful choice to step beyond the boundaries of Calvin Harris—a move that many producers of commensurate stature might not make—and the dexterity and originality of the house and techno that resulted, Love Regenerator is the recipient of a much-deserved honorable mention for 2020 Artist of the Year.
Featured image: Fixation Photography