Technology evolves quickly, and in the world of electronic music and the many sub-genres that branch off of it, the flavor of today can be stale by tomorrow. That said, there are many artists in the region who have learned to grow with the technology. This year will be a big one for Front Range EDM. Great new artists that you haven’t heard of yet will emerge, while many established acts will continue to thrive. Here are ten local artists and groups worth keeping an eye on this year.
1. Maya Amack
Former New Yorker, now very Denver, Maya Amack started off largely playing house music, but now her style is a trippy mix of house and techno. She was singing from an early age, and started deejaying in 2000. She hasn’t looked back since, and she found her way to Denver in 2007. We’re glad to have her here, and hope to hear much more from her this year.
2. Bass Physics
Bass Physics, aka local producer Arja Adair, says that his main objective is to spread positive vibes through the power of music. That’s all well and good, but does he have the chops to pull that off? Absolutely. As it says on his website, “His genre-bending sound is made up of soulful electronic beats fused with live guitar and keys. While some songs weave beautifully expressive sonic landscapes, others explode with power and energy.”
3. Big Gigantic
Boulder-based “livetronica” duo Big Gigantic blends all the ingredients that virtually guarantee local success: electronica, jam band, prog and jazz. That’s always going to be a popular fusion in these parts, and Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken have tapped the creatively lucrative vein. Last year’s Brighter Future album is a gem. We're happy to see the group playing Coachella this year, and hope the duo continues to see success nationwide.
4. Chris Karns
The winner of the 2011 World DJ Championships, Chris Karns incorporates styles that include dubstep, funk and hip-hop, and he was recently a finalist on VH1’s Master of the Mix. He’s a favorite in the Denver electronic music scene, and one of the more sought-after sources for collaborations. He’s only going to keep heading skyward.
5. Lea Luna
Lea Luna is a safe bet for at least some level of mainstream, commercial success. She has an electro-pop sound that blurs the line between the underground and the radio-friendly. “She's just as comfortable throwing down a bass-heavy dubstep set as she is an uplifting house set,” reads her Facebook bio. That’s a winning tool kit, especially because the songs that emerge are not only relentlessly catchy, but also sensual and artistically fascinating.
6. Manufactured Superstars
Bradley Roulier and Shawn Sabo are the men of Manufactured Superstars, a high-energy dance duo that likes to dress in NASA uniforms while performing alongside a giant teddy. While the image is kinda zany and the music is eclectic to the point of being startlingly manic at times, Roulier and Sabo take their art extremely seriously. They’ve remixed Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, among many others, and their mash-ups are spectacular.
7. Parks N' Wreck
Consisting of Mitch Flood and Marc Mount, Parks N’ Wreck is a Denver trap duo that. The two say they “captivate people with their high-energy shows enforced by their heavy-hitting beats.” Debut EP Get Wrecked was released in January of this year, so Flood and Mount are right at the beginning of their musical life, but the early signs are good. They’ve been wowing clubbers at Beta with a Thursday residency. Expect much more to come.
8. Pretty Lights
Fort Collins man Derek Vincent Smith’s Pretty Lights was originally a collaboration with Michael Menert, but Menert left after the release of the first album. Still, Smith is doing just fine on his own. Rick Rubin called Pretty Lights the “face and voice of the new American electronic-music scene,” which is interesting because much of Smith’s influence comes from the past — jazz, R&B, modern classical, and classic electronica. All of Pretty Lights’ music is available to download for free on the project's website, so there are no excuses not to check them out.
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SoDown is Boulder man Ehren River Wright, who, besides producing bass-heavy electronic music, is very proud of the fact that he plays a mean saxophone. According to his Facebook bio, “Ehren describes his music as an endlessly evolving medley of many different genres, culminating in a uniquely diverse style of bass music.” That’ll do.
Another Boulder project, Sunsquabi was launched last year, putting out the Odyssey EP on All Good Records to critical acclaim. The trio describes itself as an electronic hydro-funk experience, but that’s a bit of a mouthful. Suffice it to say these guys are looking to push the boundaries of what is possible from a live electronic group. The tunes are chill yet progressive and challenging. They sound like nobody else, and that’s an achievement in itself.