The holiday season as a whole is a time for reflection; a time for looking back. Regardless of the fact that the holidays are all towards the end of the the year, the philosophies they embody are inherent to the past: giving thanks, gathering with those you love. A year from now you could be thankful for completely different things and gathering with completely different people. It’s impossible to know, so the holidays give the chance for us to appreciate them while they last.
However, once the clock strikes 12 on December 31st and the DJ shouts “Happy New Year!” at whatever New Year’s rave you’ll be attending, the only way to look is forward. A chance for a fresh start. A chance to redefine yourself.
Even though they may seem like gods standing on that huge stage under a lighting rig that rivals the sun, your favorite artists see this new year as a new journey just like you do. Here are a few artists whose journeys will be worth paying attention to.
The newest addition to team Dirtybird, Justin Jay spent all of 2015 achieving and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to stop anytime soon. After graduating from USC earlier this year, he has since continued to emphasize the importance of education by doing a series of college lectures on the east coast. Hitting Harvard, Northeastern University, and The New School in New York, Justin gave lectures on the music industry as well as a first hand look into the mind of someone who became a success without dropping out. With this attitude towards education, the number of challenges Justin might undertake are numerous. Perhaps he’ll start a Dirtybird scholarship. Maybe he’ll return to USC as a part time lecturer. With a motivated mind like his, theres no telling what may happen. All this scholastic business aside, Justin’s music will also be taking huge strides in the coming years. I was lucky enough to have a few minutes with him at the Dirtybird Campout and other than being a super cool dude to talk to, he described his idea for a new project, provisionally titled “Justin Jay and Friends”. This new project would include himself and his two friends Josh Taylor and Ben Glasser singing and playing guitar respectively. He has been performing live with them for a little while now, but 2016 is the year when this new, live-r side of Justin Jay will begin to take shape.
Other than a rather hilarious Twitter presence, Mark Johns (who is a girl by the way) is one of the most recent musicians to be taken in by OWSLA. Growing up in Singapore, she started to gain attention when she linked up with the Moving Castle fam through a mutual friend of Manila Killa. With her voice and Moving Castles lack of restrictions in their production it was just a matter of time before one of LA’s premier labels took notice. Lucky enough for her it was Skrillex, but instead of one of OWSLA’s A&R people forwarding him her demo, Skrillex was the one who found her, specifically a cover of Jay-Z and Kanye’s “Niggas In Paris.” After Skrillex suggested a pow wow in LA, Mark was quickly signed to OWSLA. Today she is still working with Moving Castle, which continues to expand as a music collective and now she has a rolodex complete with every OWSLA artist. Considering all of this happened within the last few months in an ‘Almost Famous’ type of fashion, there’s no telling what we’ll see of Mark in 2016.
Once again tapping the Dirtybird reserves, Bristol born Billy Kenny has really hit his stride in 2015. After a series of releases on Dirtybird, Sweat It Out, and his own label This Aint Bristol, Kenny’s ability to mix and mash different styles has begun receiving international attention. He came up in Bristol, he lives in Germany, and has put out several releases on American labels. If someone had to choose three countries that are hottest spots for electronic music in the world today, those would the countries. He’s purveyor of taste both in the studio and behind the decks (he often will stop playing house to play songs like Flume’s remix of “You and Me” by Disclosure) and now that this level of creativity has been associated with his name, 2016 prevents a wide open canvas for Billy.
If you’re vocals are featured on the most streamed song of all time, your bound to receive some attention. “Lean On” has done for Denmark-born MØ what “Latch” did for Sam Smith, but just a few steps behind. Not to say MØ hasn’t been busy though. She’s spent the year touring and performing at large festivals like Coachella, and released a few singles along the way. However, after yet another feature with Major Lazer on the track “Lost”, the buzz continues to surround her. Her ever strengthening relationship with Diplo and the generally small amount of material she’s put out this year indicate that theres a lot coming. She’s an international sensation now, and if fellow EDM vocalist turned superstar Sam Smith is an example, we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from her in 2016
There is not another artist in EDM today that defines the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” more than Sam Gellaitry. He might be a skinny white kid from Scotland, but his productions display his deep understanding of hip hop and soul music. Finding an outlet in the future R&B collective, Soulection, everyone of Sam’s tracks is an instant banger, most notable of which is “Long Distance”. This track has found its way into sets from bass heavy hitters like Minnesota and G Jones, and onto airwaves around the globe including the legendary Annie Mac Presents. Everyone loves that song as soon as they hear it, and the best part is Sam maintains that style across all genres. Tempo, rhythm, melody. These are all things Sam has honed into a sound that can be morphed and mixed in anyway possible while maintaining his trademark flavor. He just released a new EP entitled ‘Escapism’ to close out 2015 to stellar reviews from critics and fans alike, and if this trend continues, there will be plenty more of his sonic beats coming at you in 2016.