New year, who dis? A new batch of boundary-pushing rising artists determined to conquer 2018, that’s who. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be amping up our FACT Rated coverage of vital new acts you need to care about with lists and interviews introducing you to the most exciting newcomers set to storm the year ahead. Welcome to Rated Season.
Who are the house and techno artists to be watching out for in 2018? Scott Wilson picks 10 up-and-coming producers and DJs set to ignite dancefloors across the world over the next 12 months.
Although house and techno are hurtling towards middle age, both genres are still going strong. 2017 was a vintage year for both scenes, as producers and DJs from across the globe found new ways to innovate with 4/4 templates that have been making people dance for almost 40 years.
While established producers like Objekt, Bicep and DJ Bone made some of the best and most inventive tracks that last year had to offer, a significant number also came from young or up-and-coming producers. In fact, there was a staggering amount of incredible music from relative unknowns in these scenes last year that helped to keep innovation alive.
This year’s crop of house and techno ones-to-watch proves that you don’t have to make big room house or mainstage techno to leave a mark. Expect these artists to be appearing in clubs across the world and releasing some of the most exciting music you’ll hear in 2018.
Leeds-via-Leipzig producer Chekov’s tracks had already been in the hands of Lena Willikens and Ben UFO for some time before his debut record landed on Shanti Celeste’s Peach Discs label last year. Dark, mechanical and enjoyably weird in all the right ways, Chekov’s music experiments with mood and tempo in a way that connects the oddball club music of the UK with the more playful end of German techno.
Another producer whose debut came via Peach Discs last year, Ciel is better known as Toronto DJ and promoter Cindy Li, whose Work In Progress party has been tirelessly highlighting femme and queer talent from the city and beyond for several years. Li combines deep house, jungle and ambient influences to make rich, warm club tracks that nod to the ’90s while keeping things abstract.
Bristol-born but now based in Barcelona, Alexander Crump has been releasing minimal house tracks since 2011. Last year’s ‘Ice & Spheres’ for the city’s Idle Hands label was something quite different: combining the swing of UK garage swing with the deep sub bass and rich atmosphere of dub, it was one of the label’s most distinctive releases of 2017. If he’s got more like this up his sleeve, 2018 looks very good for Crump.
Hailing from Northern Virginia, Gabe & Jude are the latest additions to a growing house scene in the vicinity of Washington DC that also includes Future Times and the 1432 R family. Last year’s Smith Switch 12″ was a delight, pairing a loose, runaway techno cut with a blissed-out house track whose vocal called to mind early Junior Boys. Their next release features a kaleidoscopic take on UK garage – expect them to be everywhere once people catch on.
Spanish producer JASSS started out editing field recordings and scoring experimental films, experience that’s clearly audible in her cinematic techno, which also pulls from dub, punk, hardcore and the rhythms of Africa and South America. Last year’s Weightless album for iDEAL was one of the year’s under-the-radar techno and experimental gems, taking EBM and industrial sounds in new directions.
Jayson Wynters’ Double Standards EP was one of the highlights of Don’t Be Afraid’s landmark year in 2017, mapping Detroit techno’s futuristic sheen onto the rigid backbone of tech-house. It makes sense that Mr. G released former UK garage MC Jayson Wynters’ first record back in 2016; Wynters’ music has a gritty quality in common with the UK stalwart’s timeless club tracks.
As host of the weekly Plaza 2 Plaza show on LA’s Dublab radio station, Tel Aviv native Mor Elian has been drawing connections between house and techno for several years. Her debut record for Prime Numbers was released back in 2015, but in 2017 she increased her profile with a wave of strong releases. The weighty ‘Break Memories’, released on Delft, is jungle-influenced techno reduced down to its bare components.
London’s Object Blue has only released a handful of tracks (including one that featured on Machine Woman’s excellent FACT mix from 2017), but she’s already gaining a reputation for her live sets, which sound like a collision of trippy wormhole techno, bass-heavy UK sounds and wonky rhythms. It’s experimental club music that doesn’t forget to make you move. Expect EPs from her on Let’s Go Swimming and Tobago Tracks later this year.
Australian newcomer Roza Terenzi hails from Perth, but her music feels more closely aligned with the fuzzy, nostalgic house music that’s been coming out of Vancouver over the past few. Her music’s more than just breaks and wistful pads though – there’s a tough, acid-flecked side to tracks like ‘Higher Place’ that should appeal to fans of everything from lo-fi house to gritty techno.
Bermuda-born Russell E.L. Butler has been a Bay Area fixture for the past eight years, but 2017 saw the modular synth performer gain wider appeal with a memorable Boiler Room live set and a fantastically wonky techno record for CGI Records. Modular synths have never been more popular than they are now, but Butler’s raw machine music is some of the best you’ll hear anyone make with a Eurorack system.
Scott Wilson is FACT’s Make Music editor. Find him on Twitter.