2015 was a dynamic year in the world of dance music. We were introduced to some seriously talented producers and artists. We are in the tale end of an EDM renaissance and with all the incredible advancement that comes with such, we also get inundated with talent. This makes for some really incredible acts not getting the superstar status they deserve. I compiled a list of a few of the acts that caught my attention this year that the average EDM fan might only be familiar with in an anecdotal manner. Yes, some of these artists are relatively well known, but to make this list an artist does not need to be unheard of, just generally not recognized at the level they should be. So I will not keep you waiting. Here is the ranked list of the acts that absolutely crushed it in 2015, and who need to be headliners in 2016.
Dan O'Donnell has had a massive year, there is no doubt about that. The UK born producer/DJ garnered tons of attention as an up and coming club resident in his earlier years. Since then DOD has flamed the scene up with incredible electro-house that is as innovative as it is well produced. Having collaborated with the likes of Futuristic Polar Bears and Henry Fong as well as releasing an official remix for Laidback Luke, DOD is making a serious name for himself. While DOD has made 2015 his year, his name is not a house hold one yet and that is a tragedy that needs to change in 2016.
9. The Disco Fries
The Disco Fries are without a doubt one of the most well known names to appear on this list. The duo was named as a protege to Tiesto in previous years, an honor that came with co-producer credits on some of his largest tracks. In 2015 though The Disco Fries have seriously come into their own. The pair has continued to hone their craft and in turn produced some of the most impressive tracks seen in the last year. Nick and Danny have received support from literally almost everybody who is anybody in the scene. The only thing greater than their production abilities is their humility. The Disco Fries' connection with their fans is amazing. They continually are reaching out in creative ways to help the community and bring joy into their supporter's lives. The Disco Fries are well known, but still grossly underrated.
jackLNDN is one of a kind. He ended 2014 strong with appearances at world renowned festivals like TomorrowWorld. 2015 turned out being a breakout year production wise. jackLNDN has a style that is unlike almost any other producer on the scene at the moment. His style is an eclectic mix of several different genres, that simply cannot be labeled. jackLNDN has remixed several prominent artists in 2015 as well as released beautiful original efforts that continue to grace the sets of some of the most respected artists in the game. I have to say as well that jackLNDN's soundcloud is one of the best ones to follow as the artist is amazing at reposting tracks that deserve recognition. jackLNDN is a standout in many ways and will no doubt continue his expertise in 2016 and beyond.
OVERWERK is in my opinion probably Canada's finest export at this point. Maple Syrup is dank but have you freaking heard his ‘Rather Be' remix. OVERWERK had a breakout year in 2014, releasing several official remixes for high profile artists as well as original pieces that were game changing. In 2015 the artist returned with a series of releases that showed his mastery of musical theory as well as technical skill. His EP ‘Canon' continues to be a profound example of musical beauty. Each song was crafted flawlessly as a piece of a whole which makes for a sonic journey. 2015 was a year of quality over quantity for OVERWERK and for that I feel like in turn he did not get the recognition he so dearly deserved.
Odesza went from indie side stage attraction to freaking universal household name and main stage phenomenon in all but a year. So when they start to give some one recognition, you pay attention. Hence we enter the year of Kasbo. This guy has not even been on earth for two decades but his sound design is beyond that of many artists who have been producing since before he was born. Kasbo has no genre attached to him, but has ventured into electronica as well as experimented with future elements. Kasbo is known, there is no doubt about that. But his production value is so on par with that of his mentors that he needs to be a name recognizable to even that most casual of electronic music fans.
Nebbra is an artist shrouded in mystery but full of talent. Having by far the least amount of Facebook followers on the list, Nebbra is tragically under appreciated. His work is truly hypnotic. He has an incredible ability to take any song from chart topping pop hits to underground dance floor bombs and turn them into something truly unique and original. Nebbra produced an official remix for Selena Gomez this past year which gave the bubbly pop anthem some dance floor appeal all while keeping the integrity of the original. Nebbra has truly come into his own this past year. His sound is original and his technical skill is refreshing in a scene full of repetitive attempts at sounding exceptional. Nebbra needs to be better known because he encapsulates everything that is right with dance music at the moment.
Kannibalen's resident man bun aficionado has continued to push the limits of what is reasonable in sound design. I was fortunate enough to see Apashe open for Black Tiger Sex Machine at Webster Hall in NYC in the beginning of this year, and I spent half of his set slack jawed. I was familiar with his unforgiving bass and unexpected drops, but to see him put it all together in a live performance was truly overwhelming. Apashe is incredibly well known throughout Europe as his hit ‘No Twerk' went borderline viral in Russia, but here in America he is still not as known as he deserves to be. The track that continues to come to mind while writing this blurb is ‘Confess'. A collaboration with label mate Lektrique which breaths intensity and creative sound design. Apashe has also continued to remix unexpected tracks such as the Back Street Boys' now timeless boy band anthem ‘Everybody'. So if you are not familiar with Apashe, check out his soundcloud immediately. I promise you will not regret it.
3. Two Friends
It has been a big year for soul house and trop house alike. The two genres have been absolutely inundated with artists, some of which are very good, most of which lack any sort of vision. Lucky for us Two Friends had a breakout year in 2015. The duo has remixed some songs that were literal classics in their own right, and still made something truly beautiful out of them. Blink 182's ‘Miss You' for example is a song that was not exactly begging for an electronic rework, but Two Friends took the challenge and produced a remix which gives new life to a track that narrated my angst filled years. The group has several skills at their disposal. Some tracks having roaring saxophone sections while others are more tropical. The only thing that is truly clear is that Two Friends are just starting what I am sure will be a reign of domination in the soul house scene. So if I have not been clear enough already, check these guys out.
2. Kenton Slash Demon
KSD is another entry on the list that is well known. That being said, not nearly well enough known to casual dance music fans. KSD's EP release off Future Classic this year is what truly captivated my attention. ‘Harpe/Syko' is made up of two tracks named respectively. Both tracks are six minute plus journeys through so many flawlessly blended styles that I cannot put a coherent description into words. These guys have continually raised the bar throughout the years and in 2015 they have done so again. There music is right at home on FC which breeds innovators like the Netherlands breeds artists who love big room drops. Do not sleep on these guys because of their quality over quantity approach. KSD showed us what needs to happen in house music for it to continue to grow with their releases this year, so lets be grateful talent is in capable hands.
1. Hotel Garuda
Hotel Garuda is literally god's gift to the world. I mean that very seriously. These two guys are producing some of the most catchy, original and dynamic tracks in the business right now. 2015 was no doubt a massive year for the duo. They have seen serious commercial and critical success. But the fact of the matter is, is they are still not a main stage act when they deserve to be closing out stages at massive festivals. Their remix of BANKS' ‘Beggin For Threads' with Gryffin is now approaching 10,000,000 plays on soundcloud, and their latest release, a stellar remix of Kiiara's ‘Feels', has received a prestigious Hype Machine number one spot. Anything these two touch turns into gold. The world needs to know about Hotel Garuda. In my opinion these two are not just the most underrated artists of the year, they are THE artist of the year.