Every month, Insomniac spotlights five 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 musical geniuses, and continue your music discovery journey with the 5 Essential Artists series each and every month.
From: Rotterdam, Netherlands
For fans of: Sander van Doorn, Zhu, Flume, Martin Garrix, 3LAU
Releases on: Spinnin’ Records, Musical Freedom, FFRR
Why he’s booming: When the future house movement and deep house resurgence started sweeping electronic music worldwide, Oliver Heldens instantly became one of the frontrunners of the emerging scenes. And smartly so: With every major player in dance music pinpointing deep house and future house as, well, the future, Heldens naturally took the throne as the face and sound of the genres.
His career took a pivotal turn in 2013 when he signed to leading dance imprint Spinnin’ Records, which released his singles “Stinger” and “Thumper” with Jacob van Hage. But it was his global smash anthem “Gecko” that set Heldens on a path to surefire stardom, earning him support from Tiësto—who snatched up Heldens and the single for his Music Freedom label—and Pete Tong, who blessed the track as a needle-moving Essential New Tune on his BBC Radio 1 show. “Gecko” instantly became a festival staple, defining the Oliver Heldens signature sound: rumbling bass wobbles, crunching synths, and a future sound that takes the underground world to the main stage, as evidenced in his Heldeep Radio show.
Take a spin: “Koala” picks up where “Gecko” leaves off, and that’s no easy follow-up. While the massive ripple effect “Gecko” caused introduces the Heldens sound, “Koala” expands it via floating synth chords and even more future bass. It’s the sound of a blossoming artist searching for his masterpiece.
From: Sydney, Australia
For fans of: Daft Punk, Air, Cut Copy, Holy Ghost!, Aeroplane, Cassian, Duck Sauce, Alex Metric
Releases on: Future Classic, Glassnote Records, DFA, ITH (Defected in the House)
Why they’re booming: Flight Facilities—producers Hugo Gruzman and James “Jimmy” Lyell—embody the ideal balance of electronic music prowess and songwriting perfection. The Australian duo made a remarkable impression since releasing their first original song, the unforgettably catchy “Crave You,” and continued with an onslaught of singles: the disco monster “Foreign Language,” the adulterous house ballad “With You,” and the vintage disco-funk bliss of “I Didn’t Believe.”
As producers, they hammer out a unique blend of dance music that’s fresh, fun and dancefloor-ready. As songwriters, they understand the significance of melody and pop song structure and pair that with carefully curated vocalists. It’s a skill most electronic producers can’t grasp; then again, most producers are not songwriters. And that’s what sets Flight Facilities ahead of everyone else and what has rightfully earned them comparisons to house godfathers Daft Punk (they’re the next best thing to the French robots). Flight Facilities rose to popularity off individually and sparsely released singles, but their upcoming debut album, Down to Earth (out this month), is their biggest undertaking to date. Expectations are high and ears are thirsty for Down to Earth. Given their track record, assume this will be one of the best albums of the year by far.
Take a spin: “Two Bodies” is the first single from Flight Facilities since their 2013 release “Stand Still,” and it’s the first new track off Down to Earth. The track is a gentle ballet between soft electronics and slight dancefloor shuffles set against the seraphic vocal background of Emma Louise. It’s a side of Flight Facilities we’re used to, but one that still sounds new and exciting.
From: Sydney, Australia
For fans of: Duke Dumont, Gorgon City, Banks, Hot Natured, The Magician, Bondax, Cyril Hahn, What So Not
Releases on: Ultra Music, Fool’s Gold, Toolroom Records, Future Classic, Main Course, Nest, Partyfine
Why she’s booming: Anna Lunoe earns each of her accolades via shrewd production skills and acute taste in music: a hip and stylish blend of club music, techno and house bass lines. Wearer of many hats, she shatters the preconception of being another “girl DJ” with her original productions, genuine lyrics and her own vocals, abilities most electronic producers can’t even fathom. She rose through the ranks of her native Australia via her gigs as a DJ, producer and radio host, to the point of outgrowing the Aussie market as a whole.
Currently a Los Angeles transplant, she’s now dominating the US via major festival performances, including Coachella earlier this year; collaborations with major producers, including Flume, AC Slater, the Alexanders (Alex Metric & Yuksek), and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs; and her new All Out EP. The four-song release is sex in aural form, balancing a sound that pleases underground clubbers with wide crossover appeal. The skills she gained through her extreme multitasking past and her deep musical knowledge resonate through her sets, which time-travel from classic electronic sounds, à la Chicago house and Detroit techno, to modern pop and R&B and skip decades ahead into future bass house.
Take a spin: The slow club bounce of “All Out” splits between bedroom music and dancefloor vibes (it’ll work in both situations, trust us). A standout gem on the All Out EP, the title track radiates with Lunoe’s swag, but—more importantly—it’s her confidence that takes center stage. She’s cool, she’s calm, she’s comfortable, she’s poised, and she’s in control.
The Martinez Brothers
From: Queens, New York
For fans of: Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones, MK, Lee Foss, Maceo Plex
Releases on: Objektivity, Get Physical, Seamless Recordings, Systematic Recordings, One Records, Saved, Crosstown Rebels
Why they’re booming: Only a sibling production duo could harness a synergy as strong as the one shared between Chris and Steve Martinez. A couple of chips off the old block party, The Martinez Brothers (as they are more commonly known) owe their dying affinity for DJing to their former disc jockey dad. He showed them the club ropes while he spun soulful house at the legendary Paradise Garage in New York, inspiring the Brooklyn-born boys to follow in their father’s footwork. As teenage kids, they were scouted by the legendary Dennis Ferrer and soon after built a rep for holding down a proper residency at DC10 in Ibiza, before even reaching the legal age to unwind on the White Isle. They’ve already spent a handful of seasons there pumping out a steady stream of underground goodness.
They are now heads of their own vinyl-only label, Cuttin’ Headz, which will serve as an outlet for their more recent hip-hop endeavors. But they’ve assured us that dance music will always remain akin to their artistic vision, and the Martinez Brothers intend to keep it all in the family.
Take a spin: This track is a blinding groove with a melody that flickers and flashes until you can no longer see the person standing next to you on the dancefloor.
From: Birmingham, United Kingdom
For fans of: Chris Lorenzo, Shadow Child, Kry Wolf, Low Steppa, Real Connoisseur
Releases on: Food Music, dirtybird, Formula Records, Get Twisted Records
Why she’s booming: The word “want” always seems to come to mind when we listen to the musical offerings of Hannah Smith. It’s not just because she performs under the moniker Hannah Wants (although that would make a lot of sense), but it’s more her ability to always keep us
wanting needing more.
Growing up amid the pioneering sounds of speed garage and jackin’ house, the Birmingham-bred producer has positioned herself as the front-running female of the bubbling bass house scene. As the genre itself continues to catch fire outside its UK origins, Hannah keeps the flame alight with her ear-catching, bass-boasting, four-by-four rhythms. We found ourselves completely on the hook after stumbling upon her bimonthly mixtapes. But whether she’s laying down a mix or coming at you strong with a live set (while she’s sporting her signature updo, of course), Hannah Wants consistently rinses cuts so fresh you’re going to need a first-aid kit.
Take a spin: Teaming up with longtime collaborator Chris Lorenzo, Hannah pours out a smooth-flowing bassline that makes you want to consume every last drop.