Our team of writers and editors around the globe have once again kept their ears to the ground in 2015, watching and listening for the DJs, producers and live acts from across electronic music and the world who've broken through.
Some look to hit the bigtime in 2016. Others are just beginning to make their way into the global conciousness. They come from South Africa, Austria, Brazil, the American midwest and more, cutting across genres in house and techno. But what they all have in common is their ability to touch audiences in a way that truly set them apart this year. These are the breakout stars of 2015.
It’s been quite a year for Amsterdam-based Hun Choi, better known as Hunee, having become one of house music’s most respected artists with his eclectic mix of rare and far reaching house, techno and disco, that both entertains and educates.
This year saw him play twice at Ibiza’s Zoo Project (once back-to-back with Ben UFO), along with gigs at fabric, Output, Panorama Bar, Dimensions, and Dekmantel, and a huge debut in the RA Top 100 Poll, clocking in at 23.
Though it was his debut LP, Hunch Music, released on Rush Hour, that truly pushed Choi into a new realm. It was playful, innovative and unique, and is already seeing praise as one of the year’s best. - Chandler Shortlidge, editor, Pulse UK/Europe
HVOB’s excellent sophomore album, Trialog, released earlier this year, is built upon the subtle interplay between club and pop intentions over deep house and minimal techno tones. The album’s 10 tracks quietly impose a perspective on how dance can be pop, pop can be dance, and both can be art when conveyed at a volume that accommodates the lost art of subtlety.
Trialog is not an album that bashes you over the head with its intentions, but closer listens show the record to be a very confidently stated cache of indie-pop themes over minimal house and techno beats that champion mood over hooks. There are a sea of pretenders in the live-dance act space, but Vienna's HVOB are the real deal. - Jemayel Khawaja, Global Editor
With many of his productions hitting the airwaves, and with appearances overseas, Kyle Watson has solidified his place within the South African scene and beyond.
His productions have been released on prolific labels such as Dirtybird and Sharam Jay’s Bunny Tiger imprint, and he’s had chart success, reaching number one on 5FM’s top 30, racking up hundreds of thousands of plays on his SoundCloud page – his remix of Maximono’s ‘Jack It’ hit 170,000 plays in just 3 months. Though it was the DJ Mag premiere of his remix of Flux Pavilions ‘Emotional’ that really placed Watson in the minds and ears of listeners around the globe. - Kaelem Fakier, Pulse South Africa
Laercio Schwantes, aka L_cio, is an experienced Brazilian musician and a keen instrumentalist, having played many since a young age. But at 7, he discovered the transverse flute, which he always tries to incorporate it into his live sets and tracks. The result is very fresh take on techno and hypnotic house.
His live performances are renowned for drawing listeners deep into his immersive musical world. 2015 has been a great year for him, as he was invited to be part of the German label Kompakt. Having recently returned from his first European tour, 2016 looks to be another breakout year for this up and coming star. - Anderson Santiago, editor, Pulse Brazil
Back in April, Set Mo released their catchy, summer-vibed hit, ‘White Dress’ with Deutsch Duke. The track went gangbusters, cracking the top 10 of the ARIA Club chart, the top 50 of the Shazam Australia chart and reaching number 15 on the iTunes Dance chart. It also has as a million plays across Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud. Since making their festival debut in July at Splendour in the Grass, Set Mo have been booked for massive gigs including Stereosonic and even invited to host a production masterclass at EMC.
Set Mo are currently in the throes of their second national tour of Australia in 2015, and their latest release ‘Chasing Forever’ with Alphamama is already showing signs of being a massive summer hit. With ‘White Dress’ being picked up for international release, we expect Set Mo to be planning their first international tour any time. - Estelle Gonzalez, editor, Pulse Australia
Autograf’s first artistic creation wasn’t a hit single. In fact it had nothing to do with music at all. Their first production was an eight-foot sculpture. It's their passion for creating works of art that led them to musical explorations.
Inspired by the overwhelming response they received for their remixes, the guys eventually recorded and released their official debut single, ‘Dream’. It exemplifies their tropical house music vibes perfectly.
They also remixed ‘Drifting Away’ for the Faithless 2.0 greatest hits and remixes album. Though it was their sunset performance at It’s The Ship that truly made them standout for us this year, the inclusion of their trademark MIDI-marimba floating us away. - Marlina Azmi, Pulse Asia
Hunee - Adrian Hylton
Autograf - kbucklandphoto