Pioneers of Today
- Published on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 17:36
Pioneers are those who challenge old concepts, break boundaries and create new avenues. Pioneers in the dance music scene have invented new genres, kick started legendary parties, started movements and played gigs all around the world.
Some legendary pioneers that have been so influential as to mark history with their inventions and innovations include Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles for house music, Phuture for Chicago-based acid house, Baby Ford for UK acid house, Jeff Mills and Robert Hood for techno, and Richie Hawtin for minimal techno. The list goes on. It is certainly reassuring for our human race that so many individuals have managed to create and achieve so many milestones, and even more reassuring that music is a space of infinite discoveries.
In today’s dance music climate, we have seen an influx of producers and DJs, which means that we are just simply spolit with so much talent. Most impressively however, several artists today are not just producing or playing good quality music, but doing both, while running their own forward thinking labels and/or events. How do they have the time to consistently produce great music while also managing their own labels or parties? It seems that efficiency and effectiveness are two key skills that are important in today’s highly competitive industry. It is not easy to achieve both skills, and those who have done so deserve to be mentioned! Check out who we think are today’s dance music pioneers (the only ordering of this list may be the artists grouped in similar dance music landscapes only for aesthetic reasons, but this list does not follow any particular ordering of talent)…
ARTISTS in no particular order:
Initiating the spread of the Romanian sound from his home town to the rest of Europe with his independent efforts as a DJ and as a producer, as well as his label Arpiar, which he started with fellow Romanian musical geniuses, Pedro and Rhadoo. Arpiar has become one of today’s most respected labels, and stands out amongst the saturated market of labels due to their distinct Romanian sound and envious label roster. Their tracks have been released by artists such as Ricardo Villalobos, Rhadoo, Raresh, Praslea, Thomas Melchoir, Cristi Cons, and the list goes on. Today, clubbers flock to events that invite Raresh as the headliner guest DJ, and are hardly ever disappointed. He manages to please the crowd with dance floor tracks the right way.
Analog and classical music expert, Petre is known for taking the crowd on a hypnotic and emotive journey with his live sets, improvisational style and integration of acoustic sounds. He has played this year in some of today’s most respected parties, such as Next Wave at Sankeys, Ibiza, alongside other Romanian heroes, Rhadoo and Raresh as RPR Soundsystem.
Rhadoo’s music cannot be ignored. He has constantly delivered amazing sets and productions as he brings together the past and the present to create future sounds. Watch this talented artist as, step by step he proves to be one of the best Romanian DJs around.
For being the co-owner of highly acclaimed and innovative Perlon, and for producing out of the ordinary tracks on his imprint. He should also be acknowledged for his ability and audacity to play remixes of tracks such as Kelis' ‘Milkshake', the right way.
An influential figure in the spread of minimal house and techno, Melchior produces music under many different monikers such as Sunpeople and Soul Capsule (with Baby Ford) and Melchior Productions ltd. He has been a key member of the Perlon imprint, as well as label manager for his own, Aspect Music.
The perfect artist to represent the dance music scene in Japan. He created his own party CHAOS in Tokyo and Osaka, and founded labels Torema Records, Sundance and op. disc (with Yoshihiro HANNO). He has become a worldwide techno legend for his own style of minimal techno and became part of the Perlon crew.
When you ask someone who is their favourite female Dj in the Minimal/Techno world, the answer will be 9 out of 10 times, Sonja Moonear. She studied classical music while she was young and then switched interest for electronic music, she got herself a pair of turntables and locked herself learning the skills she owns now with a craft as perfect as it gets. She appeared on the scene around 2002 with the likes of artists such as Luciano and is now running things on her own. Organising events in her home town, Geneva, running her own label Ruta 5 and releasing on labels such as Perlon. What is it not to like in her.
For being the perfect duo. Joan Costes, a graphic designer and DJ, and her partner Adrien de Maublanc blend music and art to create their own “spontaneous, lighthearted, psychedelic, no limits universe” on their Welcome to Masomenos imprint. It is a pleasure watching and hearing the two play as their chemistry translates into their sounds and oozes onto the dance floor.
Laurine is best known for the collective, Slow Life, which she started with friends Cecilio and DJ Tree. Nowadays Slow Life can represent either two to five different artists that make up the Slow Life family. Most recently they have been celebrated for releasing an EP of the year, Changing Habits Breaking Rhythms. Their name represents a way of life, that is very topical in today’s fast paced social climate. Laurine can be seen representing the collective as she plays gigs around Europe while sporting her Slow Life t-shirt and delivering layer upon layer of beautiful music. Her music is definitely an element that must be acknowledged.
Another collective definitely worth mentioning is Birdsmakingmachine. This unity of talented producers, DJs and artists choose to remain anonymous and let their music speak for themselves. They have delivered fantastic records each with unique logo designs, one after the other, with their latest Bmm 05 causing a storm in the underground dance music scene. One who does deserve special mention is the imprint’s founder, Alejandro Ross AKA Rudolf, who’s vision is to release good quality music regardless of the name behind it. Even though the name of the crew itself does give indication of what to expect, this platform is a nice way for artists involved to release music free from their own styles that have defined their own DJ name.
A French house pioneer, Ark’s crazy self can be seen at his very own Prospector parties, usually always topless and causing heat to the dance floor with his whacked up live sets. Is a member of some of the most respected labels of the European dance music scene, such as Perlon, Minibar, Karat and Thema. Most famously collaborates with brother Pit Spector and fellow artist friend Losoul to produce experiments that result in music and released via their Prospector label.
Label co-owner of legendary Smallville. Lawrence recently released a highly acclaimed full length album, A Day in the Life.
For continuously delivering impressive releases since the late nineties up until today, and co-managing his own Playhouse label, Klang Elektronic as well as Ongaku Musik. A musical chameleon, Roman Flügel and his diverse monikers can easily switch between genres from Cocoon Recording's techno to Pampa's left-field electronic styles. He is well-known for delivering LPs, and recently released with his second well-received, solo album, Happiness Is Happening.
Speaking of EPs that get snatched off the shelves in a split second, Julian Perez’ Fathers & Sons Productions, the king of limited releases, continuously churns out quality tracks that land in the DJ bags of those that are quick (or lucky) enough to get a hold of them.
For producing future classics. His EP of the year, Marabouda, has been played by the best DJs all over the globe and his productions show that his talented self will go far for sure. There is no stopping him!
For his fresh take on traditional genres like disco and funky house. A dance music pioneer of today, Lazare Hoche knows how to blend the old with the new, and has ingeniously done so via his self titled music platform, Lazare Hoche Records.
Malin Genie, Lazare Hoche and Samuel Andre Madsen: The big three of European House & Techno underground dance music. They manage to release sleek yet heavy and groovy tracks...Irresistible on the dance floor.
One of the most sought out DJs in Europe, Francesco Del Garda is celebrated for his open minded and eclectic sets, and his fresh take on breakbeat. The ‘wizard' is not afraid to cross borders and break boundaries. You can see his name imprinted on Europe’s most forward thinking underground dance music events, where he homes a residency at YAY and Undersound.
Alex Picone who was once part of the Cadenza crew, has managed to impressively re-invent himself with excellent productions, sets and projects to become a mainstay of Berlin’s renowned clubs and a pioneer of Italian and Ibiza underground dance music scenes. This summer he managed to bring quality underground music back to the island when he stealthily invaded the Spektrum room at Sankeys. Teaming up with Ibiza Underground, he organised his first Seekers party, which then made its way across Europe, constantly delivering good quality music.
XDB aka Kosta Athanassiadis runs his own label, Metrolux. Even though he has been DJing since the 90s he is today finally gaining the recognition he has always deserved.
For celebrating 10 years of Underground Quality and playing for more than four decades, often alongside his other half, wife Jenifa Mayanja. This deep house duo runs their EDJ imprint together. A true American family guy, this father of two can also be rightly called a father of US House, in particular New York House. Jus-Ed released his unique Father Feelings concept album this year. It’s hard not to hold some affection for this big, fun loving guy, whose home video selfies keep his loyal fans educated and entertained.
For continously releasing space age tracks not only via his own Soul People Music, but on labels like Esperanza, Mule Musiq and of course, Strength Music Recordings and Underground Quality. The Selector is celebrated for the very imprint he founded and its radio show with its familiar intro, “you are now listening to soul people music”. His moniker, Black Jazz Consortium clearly represents his influences and his productions and sets take you on a cosmic trip during those early morning hours.
Mixed the latest edition of famous !K7’s DJ-Kicks series, where her 24 track list includes Drum and Bass from Goldie and fine house and techno from Fred P and Baby Ford. She also includes exclusive tracks from Russian artists, including herself, which are almost all released on her new трип label, where she promotes Russian talent abroad to global dance music capitals of the world. She can be seen playing gigs all around the world next to big names in particular Jus-Ed and the rest of the Underground Quality crew. Say what you’d like about her, but this ghetto and acid house loving vinyl collector causes earthquakes within the underground dance music scene. Nina is certainly a visionary.
For holding a seven year residency at Moscow’s infamous Propaganda club. Anton Zap releases music via his Moscow based label, Ethereal Sound, which has gained much support from DJs worldwide. He also recently started label Volking Music. Now part of the Underground Quality crew, Anton is renowned for mixing his deep house sounds with Detroit techno. Let’s not forget his debut gig outside of his homeland was in legendary Panorama Bar in 2009.
Hailing from South Africa and now based in Berlin, Lakuti should be awarded for her excellent multi-tasking skills and influential role as a club night promoter and manager for her highly respected Uzuri label and booking agency, which features artists such as Move D, Anton Zap, Vakula and Cassy. A DJ too, Lakuti delivers emotive and classy house sets, with a tasteful choice in encouraging but never cheesy vocals.
For delivering powerful bangers in his DJ sets. His energy, passion and skills make him one of the best DJs and producers in the global underground dance music scene. His unique, deep, imaginative and soulful productions have of course been released on the legendary UQ, as well as on his own imprint, Strength Music Recordings, a record label based in his home town, Jersey. Speaking of Jersey, he also initiated Exchange Place, a trio consisting of Jersey’s finest: Joey Anderson, Nicuri and of course, the big man himself.
Originally from New Jersey, he made his first connections with dance music on the other side of the DJ console as a dancer. As his attraction to dance music grew, so did his involvement as he started collecting records and eventually started releasing fantastic productions on renowned labels such as Syncrophone, his own imprint, Inimeg, Fred P’s Soul People Music and recently Amsterdam’s Dekmantel. Steadily but surely, Joey Anderson has grown to create a unique style of his own. His talent and style has no doubt pushed him to become an international DJ, where his dark and raw sets take the dance floor on a cosmic trip. His time is now.
Although he did take a break for a couple of years on his own original productions, Brothers' Vibe AKA Tony Rodriguez continued to remix tracks and manage his family of five labels that belong to his own MixxRecords Known to listening to almost all the demos he receives, this friendly guy has certainly helped many artists pursue their musical dreams. With a solid loyal following, and labels that continue to release music after more than a decade of existence, Tony clearly homes some enviable A&R and management skills. A producer and a DJ, Tony has been spinning records sine the age of 14, homes a record collection of more than 60,000 records, and is now back on track to continue to grow his already grand catalogue of excellent productions.
Celebrated for his vast musical knowledge from his love of Grace Jones to obscure and experimental old school hip hop, Levon is a true musical encyclopaedia. Arms covered in tattoos and usually sporting some of the coolest outfits, Levon oozes style and artistic talent, of course most notably in the music he produces and the sets he delivers. This year we are seeing a lot of Vincent play around the world at only the most respected dance music institutions. The founder of Novel Sound, Levon’s productions are deservedly placed in today’s catalogue of modern classics.
Moodymann deserves to be mentioned just because he will continually be regarded as a modern day legend. Just like many music legends of our times, Moodymann manages to touch the hearts of all types of people who listen to different types of music and electronic music genres. Everybody loves Moodymann, and what is there not to love? His red shades of cool? His fantastic one liners? His truthful and outspoken monologues? His posse of beauties? His super fresh productions? His legendary imprints KDJ and Mahogani Music?
For selling out his live shows at the Barbican in just six days. He recently performed yet another live show last weekend after a successful run earlier this year. Theo Parrish brings dance music into a full concert affair as he plays with a soulful live band (including fellow Detroit keyboardist and singer Amp Fiddler), and let’s not forget those back up dancers too. He is renowned for his deep style and Sound Signature Detroit house imprint. On his label this year he released now famous “Footwork” as part of his American Intelligence EP. He is elevated to legendary status with his hypnotising vinyl only sets as he spins music all night long, playing genres from jazz and gospel to deep house and techno.
For building one of the first ‘movements’, the legendary Fuse London and later Infuse. He has built a solid concept of sunday day time raving that never really existed in London and recently celebrated their 6th birthday. Fuse at 93 Feet East became a notoriously famous gathering and since then has become an established London institution. Enzo’s sounds represent FUSE as it is: dark, bass-heavy music.
Homed a residency for Fuse London events. She is one of the first to start a “and friends” concept... tiNI & the gang are inseparable.
Although he has indeed reached legendary status for all his pioneering work in the past, it is refreshing to see his latest projects, which are somewhat different to his Herbert techno days. The master of original samples with socio-political atmospheres, Matthew Herbert engages listeners with sounds that critique some of the problems we face today, such as commercialism in music, food and politics. Herbert urges people to key into the world’s affairs through sounds. He supports this medium of sound recordings via his new project, museum of sound in hopes of creating a better understanding of "this peculiar, brilliant, noisy, endangered place we call home”. Mathew Herbert is a multi-talented musician, where he has produced music on his own highly acclaimed Accidental imprint, and on other various mediums such as film, theatre, games and radio.
Cab Drivers' analog and bass heavy sounds makes their productions irresistible on the dancfloor. It is impossible not to keep moving with their deep productions. The drivers’ signature sound is clear in their own highly acclaimed Cabinet Records. Even though they have been producing music since the beginning of the nineties, their productions today sound as fresh as ever.
A German DJ and producer, with an impressive career so far. Audio Werner runs the label Hartchef Disco, and is celebrated for producing timeless tracks. A "technological soldier", he has a unique live set up, where he even built his own custom flight case!
Nicolas Lutz, one of the two who runs My Own Jupiter, was born in Urugay and has since his childhood setled in some of the most influencial cities, music wise, around the world. Doing so earned him the knowledge he has now about the differnet genre of music recognized in his long and extended sets. Nicolas is a pure music lover and his passion is mainly seen in his interest for vinyl records which he has been collecting since his early days. It has been spread over the net that this Dj's Dj is the next Ricardo Villalobos and if you don't believe it, just try and cacth him play to judge for yourself.
What is there to say about the man who has always stayed true to his passion for Djing and collecting records. Jan Krueger has never produced a piece of music but still runs a record label and the mighty Spacehall in Berlin. The man's knowledge exceeds the one of every other Dj combined and wanting to be him is an understatement. The hello?Repeat co owner has been in our beloved scene for quite a while and intends to stay there until the day his ears will cry for retirement.
Dewalta for playing only the sexiest brass instrument aka the sax (!) and incorporating it in house and techno music. Shannon for spearheading Canadian electronic music and opening two highly respected labels: Haunt and Cynosure Recordings. Since they both crossed paths in Berlin and connected by their mutual passion for jazz, house and techno music, as well as musical hardware, they started their own live shows together and have become the best live duos, today. It would be to many, a dream to be able to step foot into both their studios!
The fresh face of Detroit techno has been hailed by Omar S as one of the finest young talents today. The son of singer Penny Wells, Kyle Hall learned to spin music from his mother's friend and highly respected Detroit DJ, Raybone Jones at the ripe age of 14. A producer too, Kyle released his first piece of music at the age of 16 and currently manages his own currently in demand label, Wild Oats, which he founded at 17.
A resident at Berlin's institution of a club, Panorama Bar / Berghain, Steffi also produces and runs two labels: Klakson, which she started in 2000 with Dexter in her hometown in Holland, and Dolly, which have become favourites by those underground dance music fans and DJs alike. Started in 2009, Dolly is quickly growing to become one of the most respected labels in the underground dance music scene.
For continuing the "legacy" of the Chicago house movement after legends such as Ron Hardy, Larry Heard, Marshall Jefferson, and of course Godfather of Chicago House Music, Frankie Knuckles. He spearheaded Strictly Jaz Unit Muzic with musical partner and friend, Glenn Underground. Boo Williams consistently produces music that is perfect for the dance floor.
Art Piece by Bene Rohlmann
Of course, there are many other artists in the dance music scene that have reached impressive milestones. Feel free to add in your own opinions of who deserves to be called a house/techno pioneer of today.