Every month, Insomniac spotlights five new and exciting artists across all the genres that comprise the electronic music realm—from the trenches of dubstep, the deep-bass bins of house, the unifying melodies of trance, and beyond. Dive into these up-and-comers and continue your music discovery journey with the 5 Essential Artists series each and every month.
From: Washington, D.C.
For fans of: Skrillex, Porter Robinson
Releases on: Ultra Music, Dim Mak, OWSLA and more
Why he’s booming: It’s almost hard to pare it down to one thing. He was picked up by Skrillex a few years ago, when the OWSLA label first came together, and landed releases on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak. He broadened his musical horizons, incorporating his own heavenly vocals into his productions, which gained him a spot opening for Kaskade on the Freaks of Nature tour in 2012. Plus, dude rocks a cardigan like no one you’ve ever seen.
His latest five-track EP—Venture, out now on Memory Ltd./Ether—dares to be different. It sits at the intersection of rock epics and festival bangers, hard to classify and heavily atmospheric. Zane Lowe, of BBC Radio 1 fame, premiered intro track “Alone” as a #FutureExclusive. Art collective FriendsWithYou has been backing the release, and they’re about as strange and wonderful as it gets. This month, he’s performing Venture live on tour. Alvin took a risk, and he’s being rewarded, welcoming the start of his own electronic era.
Take a spin: From beginning to end, Venture is a breath of fresh air. Somewhat reminiscent of rock-dance fusion projects like Linkin Park or Nine Inch Nails, it still has that post-Skrillex edge to it. Risk’s homemade vocals offer airy accompaniment to what can be quite harsh instrumentation at times. The potent mixture of light and dark is well balanced. It’s definitely a meaty release with lots of food for thought.
For fans of: Wolfgang Gartner, Porter Robinson, Daft Punk
Releases on: DNCTRX, Press Play, Plasmapool and more
Why he’s booming: First of all, he was named Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2012 Beatport Music Awards. It’s likely you’ve heard his name uttered or his singles dropped before, even if you didn’t realize what you were hearing. He makes funky electro bangers with a side of pop sensibility and a dash of Game Boy flavor, always with tons of energy and nostalgic attitude.
He’s about to release his debut album, 9999 in 1—via his label Magic Trooper—the lead single of which, “Drivel,” is his first proper release in more than a year. Thanks to the efforts of Porter Robinson and that whole Worlds takeover, the scene is primed and ready for more gamey goodness. Could this be the year of the Mord Fustang takeover? It just might be.
Take a spin: As the lead single off the upcoming album, “Drivel” is the perfect song for the novice Fustang fanatic. It’s classic Mord, with tons of glitch synths and hard-hitting percussion. It sounds kind of like the dopest keytar solo ever recorded, but something tells us he made it on a laptop. Either way, we’re hoping for a keytar appearance on tour.
For fans of: Annie Mac, Duke Dumont, Cajmere/Green Velvet
Releases on: Unknown to the Unknown, Hot Haus
Why he’s booming: Do you ever get mad you missed the early ‘90s rave movement? That was some wild stuff, so we’re told, and though there’s a serious house revival in the air, it’s not quite the same. Enter DJ Haus. The mysterious producer is the closest thing to a dancefloor time traveler we’ve ever heard. We can seriously smell the sweat in the moldy warehouse. His retro-futuristic visuals are on point, too.
As Head DJ in Charge at Unknown to the Unknown, his back-to-basics label founded in 2011, he’s earned the love and praises of legends including Annie Mac, Jackmaster and Hot Chip. Sometimes, he releases under the name of the label. He doesn’t seem to care if you’re confused. He’s doing tons of work on Rinse FM, and you can catch some of his mixes via SoundCloud. This dude is the future, just as long as you’re down with the future being a throwback.
Take a spin: His latest single, “Comin’ On,” is beautifully bizarre—exactly the style that’s made his name. It’s sparse and repetitive, relying on a simple looped vocal sample, strange synth textures, and a groovin’ bassline to break up the ever-incessant beat. It’s the sonic equivalent of a baggy ‘90s sweater. Heat it up.
From: Sydney, Australia
For fans of: Galantis, What So Not, Diplo
Releases on: OWSLA
Why they’re booming: Future bass encompasses a lot of trap elements, but usually it leaves the real gnarly stuff out in favor of some kind of kitsch or quirky cuteness. Carmada have a hold on the R&B throwback vibes, yet they manage to save room for the grime. Just when things get a little too soft, this duo throws the dirty bass in your face.
Composed of Aussie faves L D R U and Yahtzel, Carmada’s rise to stardom is in overdrive. It all started with a serendipitous collaboration released on Australia’s industry-leading label Future Classics. Immediately, they made the Carmada collab official. With only three releases under its belt, the duo has won the praise of industry top dogs Skrillex, A-Trak and Diplo. Big things are definitely coming for Carmada. Stay tuned.
Take a spin: The latest Carmada release, “Maybe,” is turning a lot of heads (much like the colorful beach boss in the clip). It’s the perfect introduction to their dualistic style. Uplifting, scenic and suddenly screwy, it might have what it takes to be the festival anthem this summer.
From: Newcastle, England
For fans of: Jamie Jones, Claude VonStroke, Mr. Oizo
Releases on: Hot Creations, Defected, Toolroom and more
Why he’s booming: The UK’s Hot Creations crew can be hard to impress, but Patrick Topping has been welcomed with open arms. His fun, fresh approach to house fuses hip-hop style and avant-garde personality into something original and wholly infectious. He exited 2014 with three Beatport tech house #1 entries, a successful DC10 residency, two DJ Awards, and a collaboration with house legend Green Velvet.
His productions pack a lot of swagger, and his mixes ooze effortless cool. He’s hitting the tour circuit hard with bookings at BPM Festival in Mexico and a slew of club gigs into September. Drop his name next time you’re talking to a hip party babe. It’s an easy way to score some points.
Take a spin: Tropical. Fun-loving. Throwback. These words all come to mind when listening to Topping’s latest party jam. It’s fast-paced without going too hard—definitely a groove to warm the crowd with just enough quirk to make it unforgettable.