Every month, Insomniac spotlights five exciting artists across all the genres that comprise the electronic music realm—from the trenches of dubstep and the deep-bass bins of house to the unifying melodies of trance and beyond. Dive into these musical geniuses, and continue your music discovery journey with the 5 Essential Artists series each and every month.
For fans of: Thomas Jack, Avicii, Galantis
Releases: Ultra Music, Kygo Music, Ensis Records, and more
Why you should be following: This blond-haired, cool-headed beach boy is officially heir apparent to the EDM crossover kingdom. Following in the footsteps of Avicii, his greatest inspiration, Kygo is releasing records so universally beloved, kids from all camps can find room to groove. “Tropical house” is the tag from the media, and it makes sense. His remixes of Ed Sheeran and the Weeknd sound like someone fed the original track through a rainbow beach ball. He now turns his career toward original tracks and an emphasis on live performance. He’s young in years and in terms of his career, but he’s already closed out Coachella and Ultra Music Festival, and he just announced his greatest professional venture yet: Kygo Hotel. Think the Avicii Hotel in Miami. He’s taking over an entire building, rebranding it in his image, and in so doing, creating his own arena for musical domination. Who needs festivals when you’ve got your own destination? It’s hard to believe, but this is truly only the beginning.
Take a spin: “Firestorm” is a musical unicorn. Girls can’t help but sing along to it; guys aren’t ashamed to love it in public. It’s got that carefree xylophone swag mixed with a burning sense of urgency—which may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s that dichotomy that makes Kygo so lovable. The silky vocals from Conrad Sewell take the tune from simple earworm to you-will-sing-this-for-the-rest-of-your-life status. Enjoy the infestation.
What So Not
For fans of: Cashmere Cat, RL Grime, Flume
Releases: OWSLA, Sweat It Out, Ultra Music, and more
Why you should be following: Alright, so Flume was in What So Not; but anyone who’s seen the supposed duo in the last couple of years figured the connection was rather light since Flume never got up in them decks with his Aussie brother Emoh, even if the two were billed on the same festival on the same day. You can make the argument that Flume is the producer of the two, Emoh being the designated beatmatch driver, but who knows how hands-on Flume ever was. Plus, Emoh has been holding it down pretty solidly since he started making waves Stateside in 2014. The collab with trap king RL Grime, “Tell Me,” is a year old, but we still kick it. We’re hedging out bets that, Flume or no Flume, What So Not is only going to get bigger from here.
Take a spin: What So Not’s latest single still bears production credits from both Flume and Emoh, so the jury is still out on what a solo track will sound like. Either way, “Gemini,” featuring George Maple, is exactly what makes What So Not so delicious. Trap edge meets UK garage’s melancholy romance. It’s bedroom music for the banger lover in you. What So Not gets a lot harder than this, especially in DJ sets. Perhaps an Emoh-steered sound will be hard all around. We’re excited for what the future holds.
For fans of: Maya Jane Coles, Eats Everything, Julio Bashmore
Releases: !K7 Records, Elastica, I/AM/ME, and more
Why you should be following: Firstly, you should be listening to house scene queen Maya Jane Coles. She’s been heading the top of watch lists for years now. She’s even killing it on mainstream radio as the mind behind the infectious “Truffle Butter” beat, via Nicki Minaj sampling. Turns out old queen Cole has been getting her hands dirty in the kitchen, whippin’ work under a nom de plume this whole time. Nocturnal Sunshine is her side project, dating all the way back to 2010. NS is finally catching traction with all the Maya maniacs, and listening to the next-level soundscapes blooping from the official SoundCloud account, it’s about freakin’ time. This is Coles getting her freak on right, as if her sultry moods weren’t already enough for you.
Take a spin: Press play, and be immediately drawn in by the space-age textures of Nocturnal Sunshine’s spot-on musical mind. The flanger-heavy synths create a surreal atmosphere, while the deep backing bass and steady tambourine rhythms keep the track grounded. We must say, though, it’s the pitched-up vocal sample that really takes us there.
Damian Lazarus & the Ancient Moons
For fans of: Lee Burridge, Hot Natured
Releases: Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical Music, No. 19 Music, and more
Why you should be following: Damian Lazarus is revered for his DJing prowess and production skills. He’s garnered respect from critics and fans for leading the charge at his label Crosstown Rebels. Now, he blows audiences away with his latest endeavor. He’s stepped out from behind the booth to take center stage as the frontman he was born to be. He leads his band, the Ancient Moons, through house grooves made richer with the influences of music from all around the world. While recording the project’s upcoming debut album, Message From the Other Side, he tapped Middle Eastern vocals, Asian instrumentals and African rhythms. He then blended those elements with the London-bred dancefloor dynamics he’s perfected for a delightful potpourri of sound that’s at once exotic, ethereal and creatively bold. The highly anticipated album drops May 19 via Crosstown Rebels. Mark your calendar.
Take a spin: As the lead single off Message From the Other Side, “Vermillion” has tantalized fans both live and online for some weeks. L.A. singer-songwriter Moses Sumney sings sweetly over the quietly bouncing melody. It’s one of those rare songs that work perfectly in a dark room or from quality speakers on a sunny day. It’s uplifting and spiritual without being preachy. If the DJ-to-live-performer trend continues, we can only hope the rest of the pack is half as good as this.
For fans of: AlunaGeorge, Kry Wolf, Chet Faker
Releases: Butterz, Formula, Local Action, and more
Why you should be following: The “D” must stand for “dreamy,” because this angelic songstress has our hearts all aflutter. Not only is this girl bad in the booth and in the studio, she’s got enough Flava to go around. She’s been known to produce for other London MCs in the hype garage and grime scenes, and why not? They’ve happily embraced her from the beginning. She first started releasing music in 2013, and if her first steps are this solid, the world ain’t ready to see this chick run. Do not wait to grab the 12-track album, More Love, available via Bandcamp. She calls it her “most personal” and “most versatile” project to date. It is sensual. It is driving. It is deep. It is fire.
Take a spin: Here we see quite a few shades of Flava D. There are definite garage elements: that old-school dub wobble, some classic house four-on-the-floor, and one of the sexiest vocal samples we’ve heard since the glory days of ‘90s R&B. It’s one of those 12 tracks on More Love, if you felt you needed any more convincing.