Dance

Billboard Dance Emerging Artists: January 2020

Anfisa Letyago
Stephen Bondio

Anfisa Letyago

On the rise artists you should know about this month.

New year, new sounds. As we settle into 2020, a fresh crop of talent is showing up on the radar with music that will help define the electronic scene in this new decade. From techno to IDM to sounds that defy definition, these are the artists you should know about in January 2020. 

Anfisa Letyago

You know an artist is on the brink of becoming a bigger deal when Carl Cox includes their music in his sets. Such is the case for Siberia-born, Italy-based DJ/producer, Anfisa Letyago. Her body roll inducing tune, “Catch The Spirit” -- which Cox dropped in his 2018 Creamfields Festival set -- had the crowd (ahem, us too) shimmy and swaying to the punchy beat. This underground queen cites techno and house music as the key influence in her evolution as an artist over the last ten years.

One of the most exciting aspects of Letyago’s production is her adaptability -- with her sound falling into house, techno and bass drenched in-betweens. “I love experimenting with different sounds and playing music that is enjoyed by me and by the people who come to hear me play,” Letyago tells Billboard Dance.

Although her decade-long career as a producer means she’s far from a rookie, Letyago has been on an upward trajectory since her 2016 debut single, “Stop Talking” with Leroy Styles. Last year, she released her Bright Lights EP on Nervous Records, along with two EPs -- So Good and Hypnotic -- on Carl Cox’s imprint, Intec Digital. She also made her US debut at NYC’s renowned venue, Avant Gardner. NYC was just the beginning. She’s slated to perform at the Resistance Stage during Ultra Music Festival in March.

Kicking off the new year with some fresh heat entitled “I’d Rather B” -- to be released via Rekids on Jan. 24 -- Letyago proves she’s a stalwart producer with a distinctive sound residing between that of heavy hitting techno and vibe-y deep house. We’re convinced this veteran has much more to offer the world in 2020. – GABRIELLE PHARMS

100 Gecs

As 100 Gecs, Laura Les and Dylan Brady are sending lightning bolts down ear canals, with the duo's debut album, 1000 Gecs, getting released in May of 2019. A blistering 10 tracks clocking in at 23 minutes, the album pumps pop hooks, 2000s euro dance, experimental electronica, pop-punk power chords, emo whines, doom metal and trap beats together in a blender, then filters the sound beyond all sensible recognition. They even threw ska in the mix, just to prove anything goes. The duo makes tight work in the studio with brilliant design, even if its mastered to sound like chewing your own teeth.

Lyrics range from ring tones and crushes, to big trucks and gambling, stealing from people and stacking cash. If you want to hear 100 Gecs at its weirdest, check the cartoonish deconstruction of anxiety and depression on “I Need Help Immediately.” If you want to hear 100 Gecs at its best and most unabashedly insane, listen to “Money Machine” 20 times in a row.

The duo has also released remixes from Rico Nasty, Clairo and talented fans. 100 Gecs charted on Heatseakers and Independent Albums and led to opening slots for Brockhampton and Slowthai. You can catch 100 Gecs this year at Coachella, Buku and Electric Forest where the pair is sure to infect crowds with chaotic frenzy. -- KAT BEIN 

HWLS

Justin Elwin is no newcomer to the scene, but 2019 set him up for big moves in 2020. Hailing from Australia, the texture-forward producer debuted with a four-track future bass EP on Aussie taste-making label Future Classic in 2014. In the years that followed, he's honed his layered and darkly sumptuous on remixes for Joji, Tokimonsta, Hermitude and others, as well as original productions for Denzel Curry, Ty Dolla $ign, Jaden Smith and other artists who aren't afraid to dance on the edge.

His personal projects run from upbeat house to wonky trap, mechanical ambient IDM and good-old fashioned catchy grooves. The producer also got a big feature as one of three collaborative producers on Flume's Grammy-nominated Hi This Is Flume mixtape, on which you can hear his crunchy and beautiful touch on the impeccable mood-shifter “High Beams,” alongside UK rap breakout Slowthai.

Released independently last month, HWLS' debut LP IV is his most mature and comprehensive work to date, with its eight tunes living in shadowy corners of the room and still hitting bittersweet emotional heights. His strides as a sound designer are front and center, ringing clear through frenetic highs, filtered synths and jangling rhythms. This is great headphone-listening, so pick it apart late at night in bed and let your imagination make movies behind your eyelids. -- K. Bein

Anakim

Ten years ago, Riccardo LeBron, the producer known as Anakim, was just a face in the crowd of his first-ever rave, EDC 2010 at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The festival's energy sparked within him a feeling he spent the next five years chasing at massives around Southern California. While EDC has long since left for Las Vegas, Anakim is one of many next-generation DJs and producers who are keeping L.A.’s nightlife thriving.

A graduate of Icon Collective’s music-production program, Anakim has developed a sound that is dark, mysterious and vast, inspired by deep space and surfing the cosmos of progressive, melodic and straight-up techno. He was picked up early in his career by L.A.’s then-emerging Understated crew, who released his Veins EP in 2017, with subsequent releases for both local and international labels such as mau5trap, Insomniac Records, Dear Deer and Einmusika’s EIN2.

On the DJ front, Anakim is a resident at LA nightclub Sound and has played many of the festivals where he was once just a fan, including Insomniac’s Wonderland events, Coachella and -- to bring his career full-circle -- EDC Las Vegas. At month’s end, he’ll be repping for SoCal crews once again with his Poseidon’s Revenge EP (Jan. 31) for Desert Hearts Black. -- KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ