Being a crowd funded, independent blog has allowed us to maintain our status as dance music enthusiasts without adapting to the promo-driven popularity campaigns found on many other websites. We may not see every artist each year, but as ravers faithful to the spirit of dance music, we'd like to share with you our top artist picks from this year of charting the Partyverse.
Atlanta native Nick Weiller always seems to be just ahead of the curve; whether it's his talent, crate-digging or luck, he’s been on top of every killer, top-charting track well before any other DJ. Bro Safari has created a recognizable, unique style by blending the best of trap, bass music, and moombathon into a fresh sound. We caught Nick many times this year at various events, but his set on Mad Decent Boat Party was pure perfection for us. Between the endless b2bs with labelmates and embarking on his Animal House tour right after MDBP, Bro Safari has been busy; but not too busy to drop off a few new tracks in his Soundcloud to prep us for this coming year. Nick rarely posts full recordings, but this set from Ultra Music Festival this spring was one of our favorites all year long.
Over the past decade many charted artists have come and gone, but Max Graham is one of the few who has stuck around by constantly expanding his horizons. His podcast 'Cycles Radio' has undergone a musical evolution throughout the years; beginning with progressive, moving through trance, and now running deep into techno and tech house. Preferring to play open to close sets in small, low-ceilinged venues with serious sound systems, Max truly appreciates the special moments a DJ can create with an intimate crowd. Cycles Radio is one of the few weekly podcasts that we actually can't wait for, and we have travelled extensively to catch his famous Open-to-Close sets. Check out this recent episode of Cycles Radio for 2 hours of incredible techno and progressive.
We got our fill of Dill this year, following him to multiple festivals and shows in an effort to catch both of his radically expressive styles. The class clown of EDM, Dillon never seems to run out of energy to create new music or personas. From Francis to Hanzel, he raised the bar for headlining DJ performances and restored our faith in genres whose sounds seemed stale at the beginning of this year. His second album, 'Money Sucks, Friends Rule' dropped this fall, featuring collabs with TJR, DJ Snake, and Major Lazer that all became instant hits. Just after the album release, he joined the rest of the Mad Decent label on Mad Decent Boat Party; where he played as both himself and alter-ego DJ Hanzel, a german deep-house and tech artist. Between his hilarious antics and his incredible musical talents in more than one genre, we can't seem to get enough of young Mr. Francis. For those in NYC, Dillon will be playing an unprecedented 3 night run at Terminal 5 Jan 16-18 that would be foolish to miss out on; grab tickets! Check out his Mini-Mix for Annie Nightingale for a taste of DJ Hanzel, and his EDC 2014 set for some classic Dillon flavor.
Expertly blending tech and tech house with elements of electro, Maceo Plex kept us on the edge of our toes for his entire set Sunday at the Tomorrowworld Minus stage. Honing his craft carefully over 15 years and 3 stage names, Eric Estornel really grasps the power of clean sound, purposeful builds, and minimal melodies. We recognized many of the IDs we heard in September upon release of his 'Conjure Infinity' album in December, which helped place an impressive three Maceo Plex tracks at once into number one spots on Beatport. Maceo excels at recreating the hackneyed; a new remix of TV's Charmed's theme song 'How Soon is Now?' sent us into transports of delight upon recognition at Tomorrowworld, and has kept this very similar Boiler Room Berlin DJ set on our playlist for over 2 months now.
This Drumcode prodigy released some of the most prominent techno tracks of the year. “Down”, “Dusty”, and “Rave” are all off of his latest album ‘Satellite’, and have each spent more than a few weeks in number one spots on the Beatport Tech/Techno charts. Hailing from Italy, Sam’s style of dark, heavy techno with rolling basslines fits the Drumcode imprint perfectly. After being completely dazzled by his closing set at Drumcode Island, we made sure to catch him at Output in October where we were treated to a relentless club set. We’ve been hearing his tracks left and right courtesy of Sven Vath, Adam Beyer, and Joseph Capriati at events worldwide, and we fully expect Sam to become a household name in the near future. Check out this incredible recording from his recent set at Drumcode Total in Berlin for a sample of his style.an
Adam Beyer - Drumcode Radio is one of the longest recurring podcasts in international dance music, showcasing leading techno talent overseas. The head of the Drumcode label is Adam Beyer, a german techno producer and DJ who has been carefully curating a unique dark sound that has been taking the scene by storm. Episodes range from portions of Adam’s most notable festival sets to studio and guest mixes, all of which personify the signature 'Drumcode sound' that we've come to love. We had the pleasure of catching Adam and a large portion of the label at Drumcode Island this year, where we had such an amazing evening jamming out to some of the best european techno around, we didn't care much that it was raining for most of the event. Give this episode of Drumcode Radio a listen to see what you missed.
Snails - Branding his unique sound under the hashtag #VomitStep, Canadian born Frédérik Durand has been rising through the ranks touring with big names like Brillz and Bro Safari. Creating a new fresh set of sounds by pushing the limits of synth work, Snails has caught the attention of big bass music producers the world over. A massive remix for Must Die! on 'Hellcat' and a collaboration with Antiserum on a 'Wild" VIP helped catapult Snails to the top of the trap and electro categories for us. We've managed to catch several of his festival sets this year, and his first podcast episode is still hanging around on our recently played list. Try a taste of Snail music:
Though we were sad to see Dog Blood fizzle out, we have since become captivated with the pairing of yet another prominent duo with tremendous talent. Bursting onto the scene in March of 2014 at Ultra Music festival, Owsla and Mad Decent label owners Skrillex and Diplo respectively, have been treating select audiences to their massive collaborations all year. We felt blessed to bear witness to the 90 minutes of mayhem they curated aboard the Mad Decent Boat Party. Massive remixes were just released for their smash hit 'Take U There', and if you’re around NYC this NYE and haven’t had the chance to witness JackU live yet, be sure to grab a ticket to their MSG performance. Until then, tune into this little preview:
French producer Mike Lévy’s live set at Terminal 5 this past November left us feeling like we had been baptized by the bishop of big beats. Behind a stone podium inscribed with ‘Gesaffelstein’ and backlit with fire themed LED, he played his anthology of jaw clenching electro and hard techno like a classically trained conductor. Including a 7 minute long ‘Control Movement’ VIP, the show was delivered in a sequence of acts that broke up the performance, allowing the audience to live out each track to it’s fullest potential. Simplistic but powerful production left nothing but the music to reverberate through that incredible venue and our bodies for the entire evening, and its completely obvious how much bass we got in this user submitted video:
Our most featured artist comes in at the top of our list for a second year running. SoCal native Lorin Ashton, better known as Bassnectar, has been quietly dominating the bass music scene and increasing the size and scope of his productions steadily for over 12 years. After releasing Noise Vs. Beauty in June, he toured nationwide with stops including Red Rocks, Moonrise Festival, and Hard Day of the Dead. The ultimate testament to his staggeringly loyal fanbase was the completely sold out Oct 4th Bass Center at Madison Square Garden. The first NYC Bass Center was Lorin’s crowning achievement for this year; he hand picked his supporting acts, brought his full stage, sound, and light set up, and defeated ticket scalpers by staggering his ticket releases. We can honestly say that we have never once been disappointed with a Bassnectar show. Ever. If you're feeling lucky, try to get your hands on tickets to the sold out NYE 360 event that Bassnectar hosts in Tennessee every year for New Year's Eve, it's simply incredible. Very few user submitted videos can portray the bass and depth of sound that Lorin brings to a venue, but this recording of the NYC Bass Center captures a small bit of the magic we keep traveling the country to experience.
2014 was an incredible year for our ears, due to both the massive talents of the artists named above and those who we didn't have room to mention. For the vast majority of our top ten, the recognition and fame has come after many years of hard work spent carefully crafting their individual sounds and styles. While we keep upgrading our event plans from year to year, we are consistently seeking out the artists who are creating something new, unique and immersive for us to experience. If you feel we missed out on something special this year, please send us your recommendations for what not to skip in 2015!