EDM is a tough genre to stay on top of, even for the most devout kandi kid. The explosion of festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, the abundance of DJ residencies and tours around the world and the mammoth popularity of sites like Beatport, its not always easy to decipher between the next big star and the flavor of the month. Many change their musical styles and every popular DJ has their own world tour now. Not to mention the slew of young new producers dominating YouTube views and the Beatport charts.
In an effort to make things easy for you, we've scouted out a few of the names you should definitely keep track of during the summer so you can stalk their Sound Cloud pages, learn their backgrounds and memorize their tour schedules. Once festival season took off, we traveled to Miami for Ultra and then came back to town for Coachella and interviewed the top three EDM artists you should definitely start paying attention to right now.
3. Justin Jay
In 2010, when Justin Jay won a live DJ contest for DJ Mag, he got invited to play the magazine's massive Top 100 party in London alongside Afrojack, Fedde Le Grand and others but he was unable to because he wasn't even 18 years-old yet! Now at age 20, Jay–a student at USC– is part of the elite crew of artists at San Francisco's Dirtybird crew. Not sure how we missed him at Focus Tuesdays and La Cave Wednesdays in Newport Beach (our underground house music hot spots), but we got to see him at the Saguaro Hotel week two of Coachella weekend alongside his label mates Ardalan, J. Phlip and of course Claude VonStroke. Considering he's not even old enough to drink yet, his maturity as a DJ and complex sound actually blew us away.
"When I first really got into EDM it was the more progressive styles that peaked my interest, but after time and going to a lot of those shows I kind of got desensitized to the craziness and found what I really liked dancing to the most," says Justin. He found his home in the classic deep house grooves known mostly in the underground scene. Justin was reeled into dance music with the likes of Justice, MSTRKRFT and Daft Punk whom were touring to a popular audience in the LA area in 2007. Coming from a classical piano background, Jay sent in a demo to VonStroke via Soundcloud and he was immediately handpicked to join his label. Not a bad way to get some real world experience for the special music industry courses he's taking in college, only offered at USC and NYU.
"My program at USC is a very interdisciplinary department with the business side, legal side and some technical stuff," he says. "It's definitely not the stereotypical college experience dipping off to random places on weekends to play gigs, but I'm grateful to be doing it." We can only hope more aspiring producers dive into music as deep as Justin, so they too can find there's more to electronic music than bass drops and untz untz untz. Justin's current release Static made Beatport's track of the day with the B-side hit "Waves." Justin explains, "the contrast between both sides really represents why I think this scene is so fun. You can have a wide range of energy and sounds and it still works."
2. Sandro Silva
The Netherlands is known to bang out superstar DJs like a factory and Sandro Silva is no exception. Also coming from a pianist background, Silva began his career at age 16 and was mentored by fellow Dutchman Laidback Luke on his Mixmash Records imprint. Today the 22 year-old has produced tracks on Mixmash, Steve Aoki's Dim Mak Records, Tiësto's Musical Freedom and collaborated on remixes for everyone from David Guetta, Calvin Harris to Pitbull. A regular on the festival circuit and no stranger to LA or OC, we got to talk to Sandro after his gig at the infamous Juicy Beach in Miami during WMC.
"It's so unreal a few years ago I was listening to their music on my iPod and now I get to hang with these guys," says Silva. Taking note of his inspirations like Laidback Luke and David Guetta, Silva remains down to earth and humble amidst his accomplishments. With the unprecedented success of his chart-topping hit with Quintino "Epic," Silva has proved his stake in the "EDM" craze. He basically went from DJ protege to household name overnight and has since continued to show his diversity with the release of his EP Let Go Tonight, out on Ultra Music. "I think because EDM is still new in the US, I can take risk and play everything including underground or deep sounds. I love it," Silva says.
Playing harder, edgier instrumental singles to vocal-friendly tracks to showcase his song writing skills, Sandro has bridged the gap between commercial and progressive music to create his own electro charged sound. Following in the footsteps of his supporters like David Guetta Sandro says, "I hope to continue doing collaborations with big artists and maybe one day work with stars like Rihanna or Akon." At the rate he's going playing major festivals like EDC Las Vegas and Ultra Music Festival we bet it's only a matter of time before he starts selling out his own arena sized shows.
1. Sander Van Doorn
We know Sander Van Doorn has been getting a lot of slack for his new sound. The haters are yearning for his trance-fueled days, but what they keep forgetting is that those trance anthems put Sander on the map as the incredible producer, chart-topping, award winning artist that his is today. Known for going hard on the dance floor and selling out shows all over the world with hits like "Love is Darkness" and collaborations with major artists such as The Killers, Sia, Robbie Williams and Depeche Mode Sander has proven that his musical spectrum goes far beyond the trance family world and almost 10 years later, he is still as relevant as ever.
"My brother used to buy a lot of old disco feel vinyls," Van Doorn says. "I grew up on old-school house music and at 16 years-old bought a couple of pads and a mixer." He soon bought his own records and by age 22 was deejaying professionally. He garnered the support of Pete Tong with the release of his essential mix in 2006 on BBC Radio. His debut album Supernaturalistic on Spinning Records was well received and won him the "Best Breakthrough DJ" award at the International Dance Music Awards in 2008 – beating out artist like Calvin Harris, Deadmau5 and Axwell. "I wouldn't trade this for anything else in the world," says Sander. "My goal is to be doing this for at least another 15 years."
His transition into the progressive house was only natural as several other superstar DJs like Tiësto or Paul Oakenfold have revolutionized their sounds. Today, "Koko," "Ten" and "Joyenergizer"–a WMC favorite– have pushed him into the the EDM spotlight worldwide. "Underworld is one of the reasons I became a producer and to work with them on 'Ten' was a big opportunity," he says. "I had a techno track ready and since I was collaborating with Mark knight we knew it would be perfect." With the recent release of "Into The Light" Van Doorn continues to take chances and do things that are different in a time where dance music is starting to sound the same.