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Class of 2021: the artists who brightened up the year

A selection of the DJs, producers, and innovators who gave us hope in 2021

Opening the 2020s in pandemic mode, the dance music stage progressed into a new era with a cohort of young talents and trailblazers who got us in awe over the past challenging months, on and off the dance floor. It felt good to highlight those stellar energies that kept us confident in our scene’s bright future. Here is a selection of DJs and producers we loved to see shine through in 2021, in alphabetical order. 

 

Avtomat
Producer, DJ, visual artist, activist, queer icon: Avtomat is a vital force in today’s music scene. With the Oramics collective, he has championed his fellow queer, non-binary and female artists across Eastern Europe, building an alliance through mutual support networks. His music, from the iconic protest track “Ignorance Ha” and to his EP on Tańce titled “Gusła (Human Rites)” was recorded in response to the government’s oppression of the LGBTQ+ community in Poland. This year Avtomat continued his mission to deliver music with a message, with the percussive Doolska EP and a debut live performance at Unsound Festival. CW

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DJ Heartstring

The techno scene is slowly moving away from its sturdy, poker-faced purist times. Finally, dance floors aren’t battlefields of a marching Roman army anymore. Instead, self-irony and tipsiness take their place. At least if you’re attending a DJ Heartstring gig. Shamelessly dropping and producing cheesy Eurodance and trance bombs have seen the anonymous Berlin-based duo sign to Lobster Theremin’s sublabel 1Ø Pills, and they’ve been booked by none other than Possession in Paris. Now that a collaborative two-track EP with Narciss is out, they seem to be on a roll. I’m assuming big things are, in fact, coming.  LN

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DJ Hyperdrive
Superfast, super intense, and absolutely f*cking SMASHING IT on the dancefloor. This year’s first debut for Boiler Room X Harddance, he also played as a CRUDE Resident for Hör. Despite a discreet social media presence, I predict him to become big any time soon, as he has a unique style, and his community follows him EVERYWHERE. People literally travel to every city he plays in. CS

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Glimmerman
Proving that there’s more to life than four to the floor, Dublin’s Glimmerman debuted on First Second Label this year with a four-track EP filled with equal parts rude sub-bass pressure and twitching club tools. The entire EP playfully explores the wonkier side of dance music with swinging rhythms and tempos, as well as notable etchings of a sound system influence. Very excited to hear what this producer has in store for 2022!  EK 

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DJ Mell G
DJ Mell G is undoubtedly one of the most exciting artists to emerge from Germany’s post-Covid club scene. Although the Hamburg-based DJ and producer hardly got the chance to play out to audiences across the country, she cut her teeth through stand-out streams on HÖR, a slew of rock-solid mixtapes and a recent collaboration with none other than DJ Godfather. Her trademark sound blending booty bass, breakbeat, jungle, footwork and electro have already garnered her bookings across Europe, the UK and Ukraine, and she’s set to play Melt! Festival in 2022. Expect big things from her next year. CW

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MCR-T
A key member of Berlin’s seminal Live From Earth crew, MCR-T’s debut EP “KRAFT” kickstarted the Live From Earth Klub sublabel in 2018. This year, his third EP for the label, “4 THA CULTURE” and the stand-out club weapon “IVE BEEN WAITING” combines the soulful power of his voice with menacing bass. Producer, DJ, live performer and bilingual vocalist, MCR-T lives and breathes independent music, stunning festival audiences with his razor-sharp mix at Nation of Gondwana festival this summer. He topped off 2021 by hitting over a million streams on Spotify in over 120 countries, but he’s eager to point out that he couldn’t care less about accolades from “the industry.” As MCR-T puts it: “The most dangerous weapon of mass creation is yourself.”  CW

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ØTTA
Carlotta (ØTTA) is a Paris-based Portuguese producer & DJ. Playing in an orchestra whilst raving across Europe have brought forth an epic and merciless style that is now her signature. Her style joins the sense of emotional depth with raw solid basslines mixed with industrial noises, gabber, ravey classics & trance. Melting different styles together allowed her to create a personal flow into a heavy and powerful techno inspiring rioting and raving whenever she plays. CS

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Sansibar

“I think I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time in the studio over the past years.”, the Helsinki-based artist said in his Groove portrait earlier this year. Listen to his music made up of intense soundscapes equally fitting for dance floors and home listening, and you’ll immediately notice what he means. His productions are hard to pigeonhole into a genre as they fuse the best of breaks, trance, house and techno into a sound exclusive to the young Finn. Soft-spoken vocals, warm synth-lines, precise breaks, and dark basslines take turns in his tracks, enabling him to express in one track what others can’t in a full LP. Naturally, his 2021 debut album was released by Kalahri Oyster Cult, one of electronic music’s true tastemaker labels. What’s in store next? DJ-sets, livesets and the next drop is probably closer than we think, considering Sansibar’s favourite place is his studio. LN

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Sina XX

Sina XX is one of the brightest stars emerging from Paris’ blooming techno scene. As a regular DJ at the French capital’s sweatiest nights like Possession, Mess or Monarch, the young artist embodies the original rave and club spirit based on diversity and generosity with his industrial-fuelled DJ sets deeply rooted in the wild energies of the 80s and 90s. Regularly playlisted by Ellen Alien, Dax J or Anetha, he just released Funderground, a new EP on Lobster Theremin’s sublabel, Techno Is The Devils Music. Sina has become a pillar of his local scene with his collective Subtyl and collaborative label Body To Body.  MD

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THC

Whether alone as THC or with her brother DHC as S-Candalo. Bogotá born, Berlin-based DJ Tania Humeres Correa has been shaking up the Berlin club scene with spicy 90s house and trance selections. Calm and collected behind the decks, she captivates listeners and dancers with sets that seem spontaneous and fun, but with a clear vision. Her mixes are a reminder that peak-time music doesn’t have to be a slamming techno set, and that smiles, love and unity belong on a dance floor.  The vibe she created at the Radiant Love party made me feel like the 90s club kid era never ended. She’s been DJing for years but 2021 saw her star rise with gigs at Boiler Room Barcelona, Berlin’s hottest house party Multisex, multiple Hör sets, ∄ Kiev, a Berghain debut (which unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the pandemic) and a match made in heaven: her residency at Byron Yeates’ Radiant Love party. She’s here to stay, and I couldn’t be happier about it. LN

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Yazzus
Not only are the highly energetic DJ sets by Yazzus a literally breathtaking experience – her own releases and edits shouldn’t be missed in any record collection: Whether it’s The 90s Pack with edits of 90s smash hits by La Bouche, The Prodigy and others, or the It’s Ya Girl’s Bootlegs with stomping and totally unexpected remixes of tracks by Cardi B, Gwen Stefani or Missy Elliott. Not to miss as well is her release for the Steel City Dance Discs series, with four original tracks that will blow your mind. Yazzus conquered 2021 – and oh girl, I can’t wait to see what she has in store for 2022. Watch our B2Beats interview session with Yazzus and Miley Serious on Instagram from earlier this year and listen to their bomb mix on SoundCloud.  – NF

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Zoë Mc Pherson

AV artist, producer, DJ and curator, Zoë Mc Pherson articulates the world of sound design with visual arts. They won the 2019 award of Best Electronic Artist at the ‘Octaves de la Musique’ in Belgium before starting SFX, a multimedia platform, label, and community based in Berlin, which released the charity compilation XquisiteForce.collection/01 in support of the people in Beirut in 2020. Zoë’s love for rhythmic explorations and quirky throbbing pulses merges into an experimental live set that sent Berghain’s Garten and the crowds of Positive Education festival in trance right before our eyes. I cannot wait to see what they have in store for 2022.  MD

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Credits:

All images courtesy of the artists.

Words by the EB editorial team: Marie Dapoigny (Senior Editor), Caroline Whiteley (Editor), Claire Schäfer (Social Media Editor), Ellen King (Social Media Editor), Nicolo Fischer (Social Media Editor), Laurenz Niemeyer (Junior Social Media Editor).

 

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Published December 17, 2021. Words by Caroline Whiteley, Claire Schäfer, Laurenz Niemeyer, Marie Dapoigny & Nicolo Fischer.