17 Electronic Artists To Watch In 2017
From club bangers to mellowed-out soothers, say hello to our Class Of 2017.
Australia is bizarre when it comes to music. We’re a logistical nightmare when touring big international names, and our isolation and time differences make us one of the tougher countries to conduct a national release in. That being said however, this also has encouraged Australian music to strive and flourish, disregarding international trends and sounds in favour of our own thing, which typically become an internationally-known sound a little later anyway (hey, Tame Impala, Wave Racer and Flume).
Over the past year, I’ve discussed Australia’s electronic music world with taste-makers, music writers, label heads and party-throwers from around the world and one thing that has really resonated with me is that they all say Australia has it absolutely on-point in regards to our home-grown electronic talent. In addition to this, electronic heavyweights including Skrillex, Carl Cox and Diplo have confessed their love for Australia’s electronic market on numerous occasions – both as a performer and an audience.
So what is it that makes Australia’s future as an electronic hot-spot so fruitful? Whilst acts including Pendulum, Cut Copy and Flume have given us the upper-hand in previous years, platforms such as triple j Unearthed and FBi Radio have been promoting the 'next big thing', taking small, unknown acts and placing them on national radio and on festival line-ups. To prove just how good these music discovery platforms are, every single one of the acts on this list bar one has an active triple j Unearthed account. We’re also big on supporting local talent internationally when they hit that next stage, with Red Bull Australia (who live stream festivals such as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits on our screens) detailing at this year’s Electronic Music Conference that they always see big jumps in viewership when an Australian act is performing on the live stream, like Alison Wonderland for example.
Since names such as Cut Copy, PNAU and The Presets emerged in the mid to late 2000s, Australia’s electronic music scene has been thriving – something which has continued even ten years later. But we can’t always rely on this long-term acts to keep flying Australia’s flag. So, with a bright future ahead, we’ve taken the liberty to compile a list including some of the Australia’s brightest and most exciting names of the year ahrad, from experimental club jams right down to those mellowed-out, late-afternoon wailers which howl off into the distance.
Back towards the start of the year, we were treated to While I’m Waiting – an unexpectedly amazing debut single from an unknown Sydney songwriter and vocalist Annie Bass. She hasn’t released anything since, but her masterful vocal abilities remain imprinted in our brains, earning her a title as one of the best emerging vocalists to come out of Australia this year – quite a feat when you consider our national talent in producing high-grade vocalists. With a live set just as impressive as her recorded work, Annie Bass is an exciting feminine voice in Australia’s crowded music scene that currently has triple j and the rest of Australia in her palms, so if she can ensure her future tracks are to the same calibre as While I’m Waiting, she’s destined to go and do some very, very great things in music.
With a dark, indie-pop sound, Brisbane all-rounder AUSTEN has been on fire so far this year, with both of her originals going beyond the benchmarks set. Her most recent track Darkside really takes hold of her unique, twisted and moody sound, building on it to create a lush and sophisticated piece of artwork that gets better with every listen. Dom Alessio (triple j) explained it best, boasting that her leading single “is serpentine, slowly wrapping itself around you and, eventually, it's completely got you.” With her charming originals and the potential for some major collaborations given her versatile and welcoming vocal tone (Enschway is just an example of someone who has already tapped into this potential), 2017 is AUSTEN’s year.
Racking up early support from taste making heavyweights including BBC Radio, KCRW and triple j, BATTS is the brain-child of Melbourne-based vocalist and songwriter Tanya Batt. This year, she’s blessed us twice with new music, flexing her vocal prowess on two sensational singles - Kiki and Lie To Me, both earning their title as stand-out tracks of the year with their woozy, indie-pop sounds that are overflowing with energy and vibes. Tapping into a market led by acts including The XX and London Grammar, the easily-accessible vocal tones and nurturing productions of BATTS definitely have her on track to become a big name in the next year, but the question is – how early into the year will she break out from the crowded market and become a household name?
Dena Amy has become one of 2016’s most electrifying names, signing to Falcona off the back of her Benson co-produced debut Wait For You. Originally starting off as one of electronic’s go-to vocalists (she featured on RÜFÜS’ fantastic full-length Bloom), her delicately soft vocal work on Wait For You is one of the more impressive of the year, leading her onto a US tour and dates in Australia supporting Hayden James. With 2017 set to bring more originals and shows from one of Falcona’s newest (and most talented) names, you can guarantee that Dena Amy is a name you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the next few months.
“The bastard child of Gotye and Alpine” is how triple j described Melbourne tag-team Woodes x Elkkle back last year, talking about their debut track Muddy. Whilst Woodes has gone off to make 2016 a big one, her production-leaning counterpart Elkkle has been fairly quiet on the solo front. That was until October, when the young Melbourne beat-maker re-emerged for Don’t Look Down, a gradually-building, left-field electronic track that pulses with layers of experimental flavour. With a sound comparable to Pitchfork favourites such as Nicolas Jaar, keep an eye on Elkkle and his haunting productions, as it’s definitely something you’re going to hear a lot more of in 2017 and beyond.
Boasting an upbeat and festive synth-pop sound that packs a really retro, Client Liaison-esque punch, FROYO are a unique four-piece out of Sydney that are incredibly exciting and matchless. Their most recent track – March’s Pride – blends layers of synth, percussion and vocals to create a track that is both punchy and empowering, destined to be belted out on festival stages around the country in the next year. Speaking of which, they actually won triple j Unearthed’s competition to perform a set at this year’s The Plot Festival, a set which was guaranteed to be one of this year’s most fun, and, of course, one of the best.
NSW / ACT
“Euphoric hyper-pop that is equal parts nostalgia and pure giddy joy” is how NEST HQ introduced Canberra-based duo HI LIFE earlier this year, back when they premiered their bubbling second single When I Get To The Club. Formerly emerging on a Sidechains compilation with So Good, the PC Music-influenced duo had one hell of a year already, but a recent signing to KOSHER and promises of new originals, new remixes and full live shows in 2017 have us thinking that HI LIFE could possibly be one of Australia’s next biggest exports. Tapping into a crowd malnourished with sparse releases from acts such as Cashmere Cat, A.G. Cook and SOPHIE (who they actually just supported at his last-minute Sydney sideshow), HI LIFE have the potential to feel the gaps created by these acts with their sugary-sweet and care-free production style that is both unique and refreshing.
With 200,000+ listens on his Majestic Casual-released single Feel So Right, Wollongong-based producer Hounded is onto something good. Shading his shimmering, house-leaning productions with light tropical nuances, Hounded has found an unstoppable combination which I think will pay off strongly for the kid in the next year, as the electronic music world moves more away from the bangers and more-so towards those feel-good and upbeat tones that fill you with happiness and joy. Bringing both of these traits in his bubbly productions, expect more top-grade remixes and originals to come from the Wollongong native in 2017.
Lonelyspeck’s All My Skin On The Air is a track that’s already coughed up a fair few listens, with the Adelaide-based artist seriously impressing over the song’s almost five-minute duration. All My Skin On The Air is one of those masterpieces that gets better with every listen, with expansive guitar solos galloping above moody vocal work, delicate claps of percussion and some tone-setting samples that drizzle amongst the track. It really wouldn’t surprise me if Lonelyspeck climbs and climbs throughout the next year to become one of the year’s best, with a warm and nurturing sound perfect for those low-key, stay-at-home afternoons or those moody, hungover weekend mornings.
It’s been no secret that Sydney electronic duo MOZA have been one of our favourites of the year, tantalizing with their festival-ready originals and remixes. The duo have featured on Kilter’s smash They Don’t Know Us, written forthcoming singles with heavyweights such as Porsches, GRMM and StèLouse and, on top of all this, found the time to release two stellar singles – On The Line and Empty Streets, a majestic single which saw them team up with Kota Banks. The duo has been flying under the radar all year, something that can and will change in 2017 – especially if they keep on growing and building in talent with every release.
Listing influences from Porter Robinson to Mura Masa to Odesza, Ninajirachi is one of the younger names in this year’s list, but the Central Coast producer is all-class. In between rounding up her high school years, the budding name has seriously impressed with expansive, striking productions that are matured beyond her years, toying with joyful synth melodies and dark punches of bass. This year alone she’s done a Friday Mix with Lewi McKirdy for triple j, been named as one of NLV Records’ #WCWs and almost took out this year’s Unearthed High competition, but there’s no way in hell she’s easing up any time soon.
It's hard to put a finger on exactly what makes Nyxen so damn good. Her most recent track Monsters, the second track on her Running EP, is layered with a rare musical maturity, combining festival-ready vocal chords with a feel-good, house-infused beat accompaniment reminiscent of acts like Bag Raiders and Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, two artists she holds close as massive influences. She's also just been announced as the winner of triple j Unearthed's Field Day competition, which will no doubt kick off a busy and exciting year ahead for the Sydney-based producer and vocalist. She counts KLP and Dave Ruby Howe as two of her biggest fans – so why not you too?
Catching our eye with this August’s Shallows EP and accompanying remix package, emerging Sydney two-piece RUINS have one of the most unique and untouchable sounds coming out of Australia right now. Releasing through evolving label and collective Never Slept Records, RUINS are the dark-horse of Australia’s electronic scene, with haunting, shadowy productions laced with whispering vocals, quick-firing melodies and thundering tones. The duo’s genre is indescribable, fluttering between different tones and thundering styles that make the duo a well-rounded production outfit destined for great things in the upcoming year ahead.
Composed of Mickey Kojak and Andrew Grant, The Tapes are a quickly-emerging Australian duo who hit all the right points with their self-titled debut EP released only a few weeks ago. Comparable to LCD Soundsystem, the duo's mashing electronic and indie-rock sounds are refreshing and unique, distancing themselves from the saturated market of bangers Australia's electronic scene are so well known for. They've got nods from blogs and tastemakers around the world, scored a slot as FBi Radio's 'Indie Artist of the Week', and have ranked up a whole heap of triple j and triple j Unearthed plays on the back of their debut already - with so, so much more planned in 2017.
With a cleverly-addictive vocal-house sound, mysterious Sydney producer Third Floor may be 2017’s edition of successful house producer Running Touch. His chilled-out and funky house productions have been some of 2016’s best, especially when paired with his on-point visual-art direction and unique release strategies that keep things fresh and exciting. His latest release, October’s Can’t Do This Alone, left us hanging excited for what’s next to come from the producer in the year ahead. With a unique look, unique sounds and of course, those aforementioned unique release styles, Third Floor WILL break out and come one of 2017’s biggest acts, I can guarantee that personally.
Fremantle-based producer Timothy Arnott has been one of the busiest producers of 2016, unleashing 18 originals over the course of the past 12 months under his UKIYO alias, with a handful of remixes on top. The newcomer doesn’t seem to be stopping in 2017 either, with a live show debut supporting French multi-instrumentalist FKJ showcasing a set-up comparable to Norway’s man-of-the-moment and live performance extraordinaire Lido. His productions cover an array of styles, from hip-hop orientated, Soulection-styled productions to heavily-sampled chill-hop creations to synth-soaked future-bass bangers, each as good as the next. UKIYO is a producer I can comfortably see at home in the Future Classic family, and he’s almost there already, but 2017 could be the year that UKIYO escapes the clasps of Perth and becomes a nation-wide hit.
With Don’t Waste My Time, Melbourne producer and vocalist Vincent Sole has a lot to celebrate. His house-tinged, feel-good single has racked up a bunch of triple j plays, plus support from some of the world’s biggest blogs. His sound is reminiscent of early Disclosure, latching on to a catchy vocal hook and giving it his all over an inviting, easy-listening production that’s both full of flavour and fun. The kid (yeah, he’s 18) is basically a one-man-band version of RÜFÜS – which is a bloody big call considering the Australian three-piece are one the world’s most sought-after electronic acts right now.