Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch in 2022
Back by popular demand is Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch Advent Calendar. Each day, we’ll uncover one sweet selection, highlighting next year’s class of up-and-coming talents and burgeoning stars one-by-one. Starting December 1, we’re counting up 25 of electronic music’s most enticing future achievers, sweetening the holiday season with a well-rounded crop of radar-worthy producers to keep an eye on next year. Check this space for daily updates throughout the month. From unique underground wavemakers to soon-to-be festival big shots, spanning bass music to techno with so much in between, we’re proud to continue Dancing Astronaut’s Artist to Watch Advent Calendar for a second consecutive year—enjoy.
Words by Ross Goldenberg
Reset the clock to September 2020 when Lane 8 manned a small boat in the middle of Colorado’s Grand Lake. The early moments of the sunrise spectacle were attributed to a completely unheard-of name, but Lane 8 wisely used them to acquaint us with what would eventually be understood as a newly minted co-venture between Hexlogic and Felt Habit. But there were still so many question marks surrounding Archaellum at the time, considering the anonymous alias had prevailed without a digital footprint up until the first week of 2021. Those answers came just a month later in the form of Reflections, a triple-sided EP that consisted of the sublime eponymous cut from the This Never Happened director’s waterfront showing along with “Last Glow” and “Deluge” from his “Winter 2020 Mixtape.”
Archaellum’s play on nature-instilled, tranquil melodic-house empowered them to establish and differentiate themselves right off the bat, and it became increasingly apparent that Hexlogic and Felt Habit becoming one was meant to be. The christened duo took the remaining 10 months of the year to further refine the direction that they wanted Archaellum to trend in, joining Monstercat at the end of summer for their experientially inspired original “Threads,” being reinstated on This Never Happened for a piano-based reprise of their Grand Lake set opener, and applying their soothing touch to both Jackarta’s “Here She Comes” as well as York and Au/Ra’s “Golden Hour.” Although Archaellum’s now seven-part discography is still strolling through its rudimentary stage, the foundation is categorically laid for 2022 to be the year when the pair purposefully hits their stride.
Words by Austria Masim
fknsyd has made a serious impact in the past 12 months. Since beginning the project in 2017, the Austin-based vocalist, songwriter, and producer has worked with the likes of SLANDER, Kompany, Ray Volpe, and Shadient, among others, but it wasn’t until this year that fknsyd—a staff pick in Dancing Astronaut‘s International Women’s Day feature—would release her self-produced debut EP, Moontower, on SLANDER’s Heaven Sent imprint.
Moontower was far from fknsyd’s sole watershed career moment in 2021, though. The year also saw the up-and-comer affix her name to joint projects with several esteemed acts in the dance/electronic industry, such as WAVEDASH. Prior to Moontower‘s arrival, fknsyd could be found guesting on their World Famous Tour tracklisting “Stallions” and post-album sequel “Status Quo,” while sonically rubbing shoulders with various others along the way. fknsyd notably extended her list of collaborators with appearances on Shadient‘s Have You No Burden and his August single, “Dancing Alone Again,” not to mention a stint on REZZ‘s Spiral single, “Let Me In.”
Moontower, coupled with the slew of original productions that fknsyd directed to streaming platforms this year and her robust activity on the collaborations end, demonstrate her growth, which is poised to continue well into 2022. Thanks to the strong foundation that she laid in 2021, fknsyd can be expected to further spread her wings next year.
Words by Ross Goldenberg
The music will always speak for itself, and that’s the simple answer as to why Kohmi is joining Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch in 2022. “Don’t Stop” brought Kohmi to the dance music surface the mere second that life as we knew it began to crumble away in March 2020, but the name behind the project was really the only information available on Kohmi at the time. Eerily similar to Honey & Badger’s beginnings, Kohmi’s minimalistic house mystique swiftly caught Tchami‘s eye, prompting the Confession boss to commission a “Proud” remix. It was only onwards and upwards from that moment on, with another Pardon My French member—Malaa—putting Kohmi front and center during his Virtual EDC Las Vegas stream and yet again on his Illegal Mixtape Vol. 3 tracklist later in the year.
But 2021 was the year that Kohmi went from an undiscovered, incognito producer who was self-releasing music to a horizonless house music presence on the scene’s biggest stage. Kohmi’s first true moment of shine came when he grabbed the attention of those who tuned into Malaa and DJ Snake’s first Secret Room outing at the end of 2020, with “Blink” alongside KinaAhu rocking the undisclosed location as the duo’s opener and Kohmi confirming himself as its co-creator in our Twitter replies. If that wasn’t enough of a push forward for Kohmi, Snake and Malaa decided to double down on Kohmi’s genius in their return to the Secret Room, firing off his torrid reconfiguration of Outlander’s ‘90s classic “Vamp” back in February.
That’s only a fraction of of Kohmi’s 2021 narrative, however, with him converting his Year Zero rework into “Conflict”—his debut standalone Confession release—and a Monstercat signing through a pair of bass-house smashes, “What We Do” and his aptly named love letter to San Francisco. Perhaps Kohmi’s single largest triumph of the year came when Malaa brought him along for his first-ever in-person performance, formally allowing Kohmi’s audience to attach a face to his name while offering Kohmi the opportunity to fire off his music to a live audience at France’s iconic Amnésia Cap D’Agde. To close his career-altering year, the now-verified Frenchman earned an incredibly fitting full-circle moment, working his magic on an official rework of DJ Snake and Malaa’s “Ring The Alarm” that’ll lead him into 2022 with the house music world at his fingertips.
Words by Zach Salafia
When we were lucky enough to attend ISOxo’s Nightrealm EP debut in Los Angeles this past year, we knew we were in for a treat. But the cherry on top was the announcement that FrostTop would be opening for our Artist to Watch in 2021. One of the highlights of the evening was the debut of an unreleased collaboration involving both of the Southern California-based artists. That ID is one of many that we are looking forward to FrostTop unveiling in the coming year, and provides support for FrostTop to now join his best friend, ISOxo, among Dancing Astronaut‘s Artist to Watch ranks.
The up-and-coming trap star just wrapped his biggest year to date, thanks to a collaboration with Lemay, “Momenta,” a self-released single, “Cobalt,” two releases with SLANDER and NGHTMRE’s Gud Vibrations imprint, “Dream State” and “BLOOD MOON,” and most recently, “VEGA,” distributed by Boombox Cartel’s MONTA label. FrostTop is clearly becoming a favorite of the label, and was notably featured at their rynoBUS art car takeover at EDC Las Vegas this past October. FrostTop has also since locked in his Ultra debut for this coming March, presumably as part of the festival’s already announced Gud Vibrations stage takeover.
At the top of 2021, FrostTop ended an almost year-long silence with an Instagram post stating that he’d been “working day in and day out for the past year to build a world to share” and teasing “a new sound, new concepts, (and) a new goal.” That hard work has paid off with an impeccable 2021 that more than justifies his inclusion on our list of Artists to Watch in 2022.
Words by Rachel Narozniak
At the intersection of sci-fi cinematography and techno stands KILL SCRIPT, an Armada Music accolade whose industrial touch has won him swift recognition in underground circles following the reception of his FIRST CONTAKT EP and his inaugural TECHNOSCAPE mix, both released in May 2021. With just one official release to his name in 2020, “STASIS,” KILL SCRIPT was in a position to up the ante in 2021—and he did just that.
After directing the aforementioned pair of productions to streaming platforms at the top of the year, in late July, the NIGHTMODE regular deepened his relationship with the label through the distribution of his VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT EP. He then took his talents to Armada for a partnership that’s since bequeathed another KILL SCRIPT EP, THE FALL.
If KILL SCRIPT viewed 2021 as the year to launch his name-making campaign on a grand scale, then his activity can be considered not only a dart buried in the heart of a bullseye but also a recommendation for continued attention in 2022, given the industrial-techno dealings that’ve got KILL SCRIPT poised to rocket up the ranks of the underground.
Honey & Badger
Words by Ross Goldenberg
A tweet calling for any and all names within the walls of tech-house who maintain a clear sense of stylistic individuality recently came up on our timeline, and Honey & Badger was one of a select group of artists who instantaneously came to mind. Since disclosing the news that the now-former duo project would continue with only Alexandre Dumont at the helm as of January 2020, the Brussels-based talent has only expedited his way up the house music ranks in the days, weeks, and months that have followed.
Tchami was well ahead of the curve in knowing that Honey & Badger would go on to evolve into something special, giving a sought-after co-sign in 2018 to introduce dance music’s newest face from the heart of Belgium. Fast forward more than three years later—and a stack of Confession deliveries in between—and Honey & Badger has validated that seal of approval with every opportunity that’s come his way through his inventive convergence of tech-house and bass-house.
“Rampage” would’ve been given a spot amongst Dancing Astronaut’s most-anticipated IDs of the year list had it been shot off by DJ Snake and Malaa just a handful of weeks sooner, but that charged-up original was simply one of countless appearances from Honey & Badger in 2021 that merited a nod to a much more consequential class of those producers that we believe are ensuring that dance music’s future is in good hands. After topping the No Redemption counterpart’s Illegal Mixtape Vol. 3 compilation at the tail end of 2019, Honey & Badger rode the wave of his “Notorious” rework with a sum of six inventive singles to his credit over the past 12 months—including “Gedifan,” his Cimdix EP, “Siska,” and most recently, his Belgian powerhouse grouping with Hooders, “Fuse” with Hooders. Considering how often Honey & Badger already spots his name in tracklist after tracklist from house icons like Habstrakt, Wax Motif, and the Pardon My French collective, a demand to experience his music in-person is decisively there and it seems as if it will only be a matter of time until his name starts to pop up on lineup posters in 2022.
Words by Austria Masim
With classical training in symphonic music and music theory, rising Texan nøll has cultivated a melodically influenced future-bass, dubstep, and trap-roving sound that’s earned him releases on labels such as Lost In Dreams, Lowly, and Seeking Blue Records. nøll’s adeptness at blending anthemic pop with captivating toplines in an electronic framework not spotlights his capacity to push the boundaries of electronic music.
Now based in Los Angeles, nøll looks to diffuse his euphoric ballads across main stages worldwide with his recent signing to The Shalizi Group, where he joins the likes of Marshmello, Alesso, Jauz, and more. nøll’s style can be heard in his October single, “Save My Life” with singer-songwriter Josh Rubin and producer Highlnd, an example that justifies his inclusion in Dancing Astronaut’s class of Artists to Watch in 2022.
Words by Rachel Narozniak
“2021 was undoubtedly Ace Aura‘s biggest year yet,” the producer’s Spotify bio proclaims. Dancing Astronaut would have to agree, but does so with one caveat: Ace Aura’s 2022 will be an even more prominent year in the context of his electronic career. That’s precisely what’s landed the Texan-born melodic/future-riddim pioneer a spot in our class of 25 Artists to Watch in 2022.
In 2020, Ace Aura—known offstage as Eric Seall—caught the industry’s attention via the release of two concept-oriented EPs, Comatose and reset_environmental, released via Circus Records and Disciple Round Table, respectively. Three non-EP-related originals and one remix also fled the gate that year, further underscoring Ace Aura’s bass sensibilities.
Come 2021, these early but strategic bids for industry notice would yield his debut Monstercat release, “Stay,” a collection of Comatose remixes, and a melodic riddim sample pack that only further affirmed his status as a thought leader in this stylistic space. The pack, dubbed Melodic Riddim Vol. 1, was conceived in collaboration with Chime and went on to claim the No. 1 spot on the Splice charts, where it cozied up for a four-week run at the top.
Ace Aura was catching fire, and the heat was being felt across not only the melodic/future-riddim scene, but also the dance/electronic industry at large. His May match-up with Subtronics, “Resist,” further fanned the flames and served as the precursor to Ace Aura’s debut at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where he appeared as direct support for Subtronics’ sold-out Cyclops Rocks event.
Though the above represent the top-level achievements of Ace Aura’s 2021, we’d be remiss not to note his Gem World EP, nor his official remixes of 12th Planet’s “Habitat” and Nurko and Devon Baldwin‘s “Blindspot.” A slew of additional originals sprinkled across labels and slots at 2021 festivals such as Lost Lands and Electric Zoo further sealed the deal, giving additional hue to our highlight of Ace Aura—who figured in Vol. 32 of our 5 Under 15K series in October 2020—as one of dance music’s most compelling acts to keep your eyes on this coming year.
Words by Austria Masim
Natascha Polké has dramatically grasped the attention of progressive and tech-house fans in 2021 with her releases on Lane 8’s This Never Happened and Swiss-based label Definition:Music. The Zürich, Switzerland-based producer, singer, and songwriter has showcased her innate ability to tell stories through her relaxed yet emotionally progressive production on releases such as “Trojan Love” and “Definition,” the latter of which was handpicked for the cover of Spotify’s go-to playlist for electronic music discoveries, “Electronic Rising.” Polké’s transforming sound, infused with her indie/folk-pop background, brings light to a newfound array of deep and progressive that she describes as dreamy, melody-driven electronica. Polké’s disarmingly intimate sounds have garnered the attention of the biggest names in dance music, gaining support from Tritonal and Sultan + Shepard, for example, while being featured on RÜFÜS DU SOL‘s Rose Ave Radio and Lane 8’s “Summer 2021 Mixtape.”
Words by Rachel Narozniak
“A good year” is one way of putting it; a landmark year in the context of his career to date is another. 2021 held promise for the producer, who made his debut on Seven Lions’ record label in November 2020, when his Sweet Pea feature, “Breaking Your Void,” secured a place on Ophelia Presents: Advent Volume 2.
Xavi’s inclusion on the second installment of the Advent series—developed to underscore ascendant talent in the future-bass, trance, melodic-bass, drum ’n’ bass, and dubstep spaces—could be read as Ophelia’s early co-sign of a burgeoning talent whose musical sensibilities were poised to flourish on the label. And indeed, it was.
One month later in December 2020, news of Xavi’s then-forthcoming first studio album broke to the tune of the LP’s debut single, “Neverless.” Soaked with Porter Robinson and San Holo influence and dried in Xavi’s own melodically leaning idiosyncrasies, the first peek at To The Endless Searing Skies signaled that 2021 would be a year of great promise for the producer. And indeed, it was.
After opening the 2021 curtain with fellow To The Endless Searing Skies derivative, “The Warmth Of Known,” and an unrelated remix of Seven Lions, Last Heroes, and HAILENE’s “Don’t Wanna Fall” in between, Xavi’s first studio album made its way to streaming platforms in a cohesive, genre-spanning fashion that rendered the listening experience much like looking through a kaleidoscope: a brush with an array of elements, each with its own beauty, the power of which is amplified when they are encountered as one whole.
The sonically rich and lyrically personal LP preluded an ensuing remix album and, not long thereafter, a new EP, Home No Longer. By laying claim to Ophelia’s 99th release with Home No Longer’s lead single, “Our Painted Sky,” Xavi further asserted his status as a label fixture as he cemented 2021 as his most pivotal year yet with not one but two defining projects. Following appearances on Ophelia’s Pantheon Tour and a recently announced slot at North Coast Music Festival already in the cards for 2022, it’s clear that the next year is positioned to be one in which Xavi further expands his live presence, having laid a strong foundation at Ophelia since 2020. And assuredly, it’ll be worth watching.
Words by Ross Goldenberg
Standing out in the depths of a crowded house music field isn’t a downhill run in the slightest, but OOTORO has consistently done so with ease. The Jakarta native initially made contact with Dancing Astronaut at the most seasonable time imaginable in the context of the past 12 months. Just as 2020 neared its close, DJ Snake and Malaa planted OOTORO’s “Beat Like This” in their Secret Room sequel; the unreleased cut subsequently lent itself to Dancing Astronaut’s list of the most-anticipated IDs of 2021. The pairing with Bleu Clair—who was a member of our class of Artists to Watch in 2021—rightfully opened more eyes and ears on the subject of what OOTORO was capable of following its eventual release in February.
Looking back, “Beat Like This” simply acted as an entry point into the authoritative blitz that laid ahead for OOTORO. The newly turned 25-year-old—whose musical journey only got off the ground in the summer of 2019—has been able to hone in on a distinctive, off-the-wall production crossbred that falls somewhere in the middle of a disco-house, tech-house, and bass-house triangle. What OOTORO was able to accomplish in 2021 speaks for itself, firing out 10 overpowering originals that would go on to stand directly behind his STMPD RCRDS introduction. Between yielding a triple crown of EPs—Warehouse, Fishy, and GET2ME—holding his own on Martin Garrix’s label with not one but two unaccompanied cycles, and meriting a double serving of Nightbass compilation slots, OOTORO did everything in his power to ice that “Beat Like This” wouldn’t serve as a one-off jackpot in 2021, assembling a release train without a set of brakes and building enough momentum to lead into a new year that will optimistically welcome him into the touring circuit.
Words by Rachel Narozniak
In late 2018, Gorgon City‘s Realm record label was charting a slow but steady rise to underground curatorial prominence. Launched in 2017 as an imprint of Universal’s Virgin EMI, Realm had already ushered several Gorgon City originals from the studio to streaming platforms, but the Englishmen were looking to impress the Realm stamp on other tastemakers’ music. They turned to Kyle Kinch, an up-and-coming house talent with a kinetic twofer of tracks—”Manchester” and “Do It to Me”—in hand. This doublet would become the Manchester EP, Realm’s first release from an artist other than Gorgon City themselves.
Like a fly in amber, Kinch’s seminal Realm outing fixes the groovy essence of his sound in what can be considered a primer to his jazz- and disco-inflected approach to electronic. These influences interlock with Kinch’s penchant for genre-blurring, a facet of his music that finds him frequently mixing colors from house, disco, and techno palettes to create dance floor fillers as funky as they are unique.
Over the years, Kinch has taken his inimitable style back to Realm Records more than once while concurrently branching out to HUGS, Solotoko, Basement Sound, and Marshall Jefferson’s Freakin909, among other labels. He’s also threaded his sound through the subwoofers of venues like Printworks London and through the speakers of 2021 festivals such as audiotistic, Electric Zoo, Sunset Music Festival, and EDC Orlando. With a 2021 Insomniac Radio mix in his rearview and a date with Ubbi Dubbi set for April 2022, all the pieces are in place for Kyle Kinch to continue his ascension to the underground’s upper echelons to an unprecedented degree. In the words of his most recent Realm Records release, Kinch’s 2021 activity has fervently confirmed that there is “No Turning Back” for Kinch; he’s what’s up next in the house domain.
Words by Zach Salafia
Pauline Herr is another name on dance music’s short-list of incredible talent able to balance producing, singing, and songwriting. Herr made waves late in 2020 thanks to her collaboration (“You Should Run”) with our Breakout Artist of 2020, Moore Kismet. It was a sign of things to come in 2021 for the Los Angeles-based artist, who put out a whirlwind of stunning releases including her sophomore EP on Seeking Blue, a collaborative EP with Hex Cougar, So Sus, and Sejo, and releases with RL Grime’s Sable Valley, SLANDER’s Heaven Sent, Insomniac’s Nighmode, and most recently, a single with San Holo’s Bitbird titled “care about u” that was touchingly dedicated to her best friend, fellow Artist To Watch in 2022, Rossy.
The impressive release run was backed by her first tour, which included a debut DJ set at Lake Brownies & Lemonade, a supporting set on RL Grime’s Sable Valley Community Outreach tour, a spot at Dusk Festival and Lost In Dreams, and an upcoming date at Insomiac’s Countdown NYE to boot.
The momentum for this rising star in dance music cannot be denied, and as we look forward to what’s to come in 2022, we take a look back at Pauline Herr’s goal to “make authentic music that speaks to your soul and to help to continue to pave the path for female producers,” We know she’ll continue blazing trails and are happy to name her one of Dancing Astronaut’s Artists To Watch in 2022.
Words by Zach Salafia
When we originally featured Rossy on our staff picks celebrating International Women’s Day at the top of 2021, we expected big things from the Kansas-born producer, but to say that she’s lived up to the hype would be an understatement. Rossy notably does her own producing and songwriting, and notably triples up by lending her own vocals to her tracks. This rare triple threat makes her rapid ascension all the more impressive while giving us the resolve that the well-rounded California-based artist is here to stay.
Rossy has been featured on labels like RL Grime’s Sable Valley, placing “Shimmer” and “Reign” on their Sable Valley Summer Vol. 2 compilation, Kayzo’s Welcome Records (“Eternity“), and Zeds Dead’s Deadbeats (“Octavia“). She’s become a staple on lineups with 2021 dates at Splash House, Lake Brownies & Lemonade, Lost In Dreams, Firefly Festival, Boo!, and Audiotistic. She was also featured as support on Sable Valley’s Community Outreach tour, Zeds Dead’s Deadbeats tour, and SAYMYNAME’s Mayhem tour. It’s additionally worth noting that Flosstradamus brought her out at EDC Las Vegas for her unofficial debut under the electric sky (where we hope to see her make her official debut next year).
In short, Rossy likes to call her fans “angels,” but really we’re all subjects under the trap queen’s reign, and this will become increasingly apparent in 2022.
Words by Ariel King
Prior to the pandemic, Mersiv was already making waves in the dance scene and garnered support from the likes of Zeds Dead, Liquid Stranger, and more. With COVID-19 putting shows on hold, Mersiv took the time to sit in the studio; the result of this creative period away from the touring circuit was the release of Mersiv’s full-length debut LP, Pretty Dark Loud, on which he defined his sound and reflected on personal losses.
After releasing his first studio album, Mersiv prepared to embark as the opener for CloZee’s December tour. The rising producer has much more planned for 2022 and hopes to spend the latter half of the year going back on the road and amplifying his sound. With Pretty Dark Loud out in the world, Mersiv is sure to be an Artist to Watch for 2022.
Words by Rachel Narozniak
There is the traditional dance music producer and then, there is Amidy.
“I know it’s not usual for a producer to also be a singer-songwriter. It can be confusing, especially in the dance music realm, because most of the time when you see someone credited as an artist versus a feature on a track, you expect them to be just the producer of the song. But for me, I am usually producing the track, writing it, and singing on it,” he said three months prior in an interview that prefaced his feature as Dancing Astronaut‘s September Supernova.
In 2021, the California-based creative, who is equal parts producer and singer-songwriter, increasingly challenged the expectations customary of a producer in the electronic industry. Though producers are typically associated with mixing, sound design, and mastering, Amidy continuously blurred the stock-image conceptualizations of the dance music producer and the featured singer-songwriter by adeptly assuming the responsibilities of both types of collaborators, penning his own narratives and giving voice to them himself.
That Amidy could singlehandedly account for all of these components wasn’t immediately clear to all listeners in his audience prior to this year, making 2021 a pivotal point for Amidy’s public perception as a developed artist with a wide range of creative capacities. The Icon Collective graduate’s collaboration with Seven Lions and Wooli, “Shadows,” released in late April, can be underscored as a moment critical to Amidy’s recognition as such, with many listeners acknowledging online that they’d not known Amidy to be a singer-songwriter prior to this production.
Amidy expanded his vocal presence well beyond “Shadows” in 2021, applying his pipes not only to the joint project but also to “Satellite,” for instance. With plans to “sing on pretty much every track” he works on moving forward, he rightfully earns a place on our record of Artists to Watch in 2022 on account of the multifaceted growth that can be expected of him in the following year. And, considering that “there is only one track out of the very many that [Amidy has] in the works that does not have [him] singing on it,” 2022 is poised to be an even more impactful year than 2021 for Amidy’s maturity as a full-fledged creative in the dance space.
The Sanctuary EP maker will stride into 2022 with several feathers already in his cap, having executed his first festival performances and first headlining show of his career this year. As 2021 prepares to give way to a new calendar year, it’s certain that, unlike the title of one of his most prominent productions this year, 2022 will be marked by many bright moments for Amidy, and not by “Shadows.”
Words by Sami Weisband
Fred Gibson, the man behind Fred again.., has quickly become a dance music sensation, his music sweeping across the United Kingdom and snowballing into an international phenomenon. A protégé of Brian Eno, who can take credit for convincing Gibson to focus on producing music as a solo artist, Fred has rightfully positioned himself under a glaringly bright spotlight. After producing tracks alongside Ed Sheeran, FKA twigs, Stormzy, and more in 2020, Gibson became the youngest producer ever to win the BRIT Award for Producer of the Year.
Although his work speaks for itself time and time again, the industry saw a new side of Fred in 2021 thanks to the advent of his debut solo LP, Actual Life, and the world just can’t turn away. During the past four years, Gibson sharpened his skills as a solo artist and eventually began using live recordings, including samples from friends, stage hands, poets, and independent artists on Instagram, many of which found their way into Gibson’s two LPs under the Fred again.. project, Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020) and Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021). Both LPs follow succinct storylines that allow listeners to fall deeply into the world that Fred creates through the lens of his actual life.
Garnering more than 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify since 2019, Fred again.. has brought depth and togetherness to a year of dumbfounding dissonance, unwittingly creating the soundtrack to one of the most unprecedented times in human history.
To be clear, Fred Gibson the man has seen much success, having honed his talents since his early teens. Fred again.. the solo artist, however, has only just gotten started. It’s evident that whatever symphony he formulates next will be nothing short of astounding, and Dancing Astronaut is primed to watch him ascend again..and again..and again..
Words by Ross Goldenberg
Statistically, 2021 wasn’t Far Out’s most active year to date, but there’s so much more than what meets the eye behind his entry into our 2022 class of Artists to Watch. The intergalactic Canadian producer deservedly took most of 2021 to himself after yielding Beyond The Horizon—an expansive EP released via Ophelia Records—just as 2020 came to a close. That wasn’t where his story originated, though. Far Out first came forward in the fall of 2017 with Contact, a freshman admission via Lowly Palace that would introduce planet Earth to his outer space-meets-melodic-dance bond—the ultimate fit for Dancing Astronaut—and build to both an EDC Las Vegas debut the following spring and opening slot on ILLENIUM’s Awake tour. And after Ophelia welcomed him in with open arms near the end of 2020, the notion that Far Out’s expedition was only just starting became increasingly apparent.
The timing of Far Out’s Artist to Watch induction couldn’t be more opportune. After returning to social media this past October to tease new music and subsequently orbiting back into the release ring with his take on “Returning To You,” Far Out disclosed that he was just scratching the musical surface ahead of Somewhere In Between, his Ophelia Records sequel EP, due December 10. From the follow-up label release’s initial pair of singles alone, it’s evident that Far Out has already taken his production scope through the genre cosmos and back, spanning otherworldly melodic-dubstep and bone-crushing dubstep on “Waterfall” to rapturous trance on “Ultraviolet.” By building on what he did during his first extended Ophelia outing last November, Far Out’s signaled that everyone should anticipate even more stylistic adventuring on the EP’s latter side. With a return to the decks now also back on Far Out’s docket—which included his first appearance in Los Angeles with the help of Seven Lions’ label—it feels as if the groundwork for a breakout campaign in 2022 is already being set into motion.
Words by Zach Salafia
Trap is very much alive and well and High Tide,” “Lowrider” with Boombox Cartel’s MONTA label, and most recently, “Breakwater” with Jadu Dala—as well as on a high-octane remix of The Neighbourhood’s “Sweater Weather,” released via SoundCloud. The Long Beach native has gained support over the years from the likes of DJ Diesel, QUIX, Nitti Gritti, 4B, Boombox Cartel, and Ekali, the latter of whom has taken RemK across the country with him on tour. RemK is also a member of the San Diego Waterboys, which includes ISOxo, Knock2, FrostTop, and Aleko. Be on the lookout for another banner year in 2022 for this ascending star.
Words by Ariel King
Mize has been bubbling in the underground bass scene since he first began uploading his original mixes and free downloads to SoundCloud several years ago. Fans would suggest his songs to Zeds Dead’s weekly Deadbeats Radio show, which helped Mize to garner early support from Deadbeats and Wakaan.
Over the past year, he’s begun making his way around the festival circuit and was even slated to perform at Bonarroo’s 2021 installment before the festival was cancelled. However, that didn’t manage to slow Mize down. This year saw him release his Balancing Act EP on Liquid Stranger’s Wakaan imprint, SSKWAN. With a growing fan base that continuously clamors for his unique sound, Mize quite effortlessly cements himself as an up-and-coming Artist to Watch for in 2022.
Words by Farrell Sweeney
Powell Aguirre is the next generation in dance music, a case study for what is possible when someone grows up with access to production software and equipment from a young age. The son of a professional saxophonist, the now 21-year-old got a copy of FL Studio in third grade and taught himself how to produce music after watching YouTube tutorials. In high school, he launched his artist project Surf Mesa and began to release music.
In 2019, he put out the song that would change the trajectory of his career, his second all-time release, “ily (i love you baby)” featuring Emilee. TikTok content creators loved the song, prompting it to spread like wildfire, and the rest was history.
“ily (i love you baby)” has amassed more than 2 billion streams and has been featured in 4-billion-plus TikTok videos. Some may view the rest of their career as an uphill battle after starting off on such a high, but Aguirre has embraced this momentum and capitalized ever since. The DJ/producer signed with Astralwerks, who reissued the 2019 version of the song, thus causing it to land on TikTok.
Although 2020 was the year that Aguirre’s Surf Mesa project exploded onto the scene, 2021 has been the year in which Aguirre proved the project one worth remembering and one that is here to stay, locking in collaborations with Madison Beer and Bipolar Sunshine, among others.
Given COVID-19-related shutdowns, this past year was Aguirre’s first real opportunity to bolster his early momentum by beginning to build his brand as a touring act. He opened for The Chainsmokers over Halloween weekend and performed at his first EDC Las Vegas earlier this fall. Aguirre is poised to build both his artist project and tour presence next year to emerge as a major player in the electronic dance music world from 2022 and beyond.
Words by Sami Weisband
Between Grateful Dead tees, a wardrobe chock full of tie-dye, and a grin so influential that those who witness it can’t help but beam a smile of equal proportions, LP Giobbi brings something more than just raw talent to the decks. Three years after her first official release hit major streaming services in 2018, Giobbi can be found not only touring internationally, but also working as W Hotels’ North American Music Coordinator, co-founding her Animal Talk label alongside Sofi Tukker, and establishing FEMME HOUSE, a musical collective that champions equity in the dance industry.
More than half of LP Giobbi’s catalog was released this year alone, a time during which she also hit a handful of the biggest events and festivals and even placed Femme House Radio on Sirius XM’s Diplo’s Revolution. Although her entrepreneurial spirit and classical-meets-electronic brilliance—Giobbi is classically trained as a jazz pianist and uses live instrumentation at each of her shows—causes her to stand out, it’s ultimately her palpable positive energy and ability to connect with her listeners that skyrockets Giobbi among the stars.
Words by Cameron DeFaria
Sheffield-bred producer Dave Bissett, known professionally as Cloonee, played a pivotal role in tech-house’s mainstream invasion over the last few years. After making his career debut on Elrow Records with Estes EP in 2017, Bissett effectively accessed the undying support of UK house veteran Chris Lake. In 2020, Cloonee cemented his first release on Lake’s signature imprint, Black Book Records, dispatching “What Ya Want” just weeks before COVID-19’s global eradication of in-person performances.
Involuntarily sidelined by the pandemic, Cloonee sought shelter in the studio where he spent months assembling an arsenal of tech-house anthems. In 2021 alone, Cloonee played sold-out shows alongside his illustrious mentor at Petco Park, The Brooklyn Mirage, and The Shrine in Los Angeles. Also in the last year, the emerging DJ carried out a solo headlining tour run, played esteemed festivals like CRSSD’s DAY.MVS and Outside Lands in San Francisco, and garnered north of 40 million streams from listeners in more than 170 countries. These accolades considered, we’d be remiss to not include Cloonee as one of Dancing Astronaut’s Artists To Watch in 2022.
Words by Zach Salafia
Few artists have burst onto the scene in 2021 like Cincinnati-based duo STAR SEED. The group was formed in 2020 by creative minds Drew Marcum and Noah Koroman, who also operate independently under the aliases Drewerybear and 2SCOOPS. But don’t confuse STAR SEED as a side project. All it takes is one song to understand that this project is special.
We first took note in late-2020 when STAR SEED debuted on Ophelia Records with the lead single from the label’s Advent Volume 2 compilation. That single, “Heaven” with Meggie York, was the first sign of what was to come in a banner 2021 for the duo. Their debut EP, Innerspace, was released via Ophelia Records in June and featured the lead single “Ultraviolet” with Tsu Nami, along with seven other dazzling tracks that showed off their production chops. They then paired their impressive debut EP with a spot on Ophelia’s Odyssey mix series.
In total, STAR SEED have released 22 originals in 2021, including standouts like “Chasing Stars,” “Voice From The Sky,” “Rain,” “Reason,” and of course, the aforementioned eight-track Innerspace EP. Their red-hot release run was accompanied by performances in support of Yultron at Insomniac’s Park ‘N Rave show in March, a slot at Lost In Dreams’ inaugural installment in Las Vegas, and several shows in support of Virtual Riot on his ongoing Simulation tour. This begs the question, “what hasn’t this release run been accompanied by?” and the answer is simple: any signs of STAR SEED slowing down. They’ve already announced that they have finished their sophomore EP which, depending on the release date, will ensure a proper close to an already incredible 2021 or a proper start to what is sure to be an even bigger 2022.
Words by Rachel Narozniak
If Dancing Astronaut‘s declaration of Dylan Matthew as our first Artist to Watch (ATW) in 2022 made you do a double take, then we succeeded in our intention to make you think about Matthew’s multifaceted identity as an artist. In recent years, Matthew has lent his singing/songwriting talents to a series of high-profile dance/electronic collaborations such as “Love Is Gone” with SLANDER, which presently sits at 1.1 billion-plus streams. That his presence in the dance/electronic industry has been nothing short of prolific would normally go without saying, but in the context of this argument for his status as an ATW in 2022, it matters quite a bit.
Put simply, in this genre, Dylan Matthew is not an artist to watch—he’s an artist whom just about everybody has been watching. And that’s precisely why Dancing Astronaut‘s classification of our inaugural Supernova as an ATW in 2022 has nothing to do with his collaborative work in the dance/electronic space and everything to do with his development as a solo act in and across genres like electro-pop in the coming year.
2021 saw sides of Matthew’s solo artistry through “One Sided Love” and “Summer 16,” both of which premiered on Dancing Astronaut. Much like his 2020 EP Kalopsia, the two singles offered his dance/electronic listeners a well-tuned look at his creative capacities outside of this genre, underscoring him as an artist with dimension, and importantly, an artist with talents that extend far beyond the parameters of modern dance music.
2022 is poised to be a sort of sonic metamorphosis for Matthew, who will spread his wings as a solo artist to an unprecedented degree in the current context of his career:
“I had said that 2021 would be a huge year for my solo releases, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. Between trying to pick the right songs and find the right fit with a label and many other life things, I only got to put out two originals this year. On a positive note though, I have multiple songs lined up for early 2022 that are some of my absolute favorites, and I can only imagine how many more I’ll get to put out next year. I’ve gotten a lot of the songs sitting in my arsenal finished and ready to be released, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll also be playing a lot more shows next year and bringing my ‘Dylan Matthew’ live project to light, which I’m absolutely thrilled to show the world.”
To date, Matthew’s solo work has stood within a largely pop- and electro-pop-leaning framework, but his penchant for “acoustic-style ballads [and] R&B music” can be expected to add diversity to his individual catalog in 2022, a year in which streamers will hear a different side of the Dylan Matthew whom the dance music industry has so ardently embraced.