Billboard Dance Emerging Artists: February 2020

Patrick Stevenson
Brux

On the rise artists you should know about this month.

Before an artist blows up, they first must heat up, collecting streams, fans, collaborators and choice gigs as they make their way and their name in the scene. The five artists below are doing just that, with their music -- falling all along the electronic spectirum -- powering these rises.  

These are the five emerging dance artists to watch for in February of 2020. 

Brux

In a sea of DJ selfies, you’d be hard pressed to find Australian producer Brux’s visage on the Internet -- well, sort of. The Dim Mak signee, in a past musical life, was a recording artist and songwriter whose collaborations included The Aston Shuffle, Madeaux and Flight Facilities. These days, her image is best represented by an assortment of ornately ominous headgear -- though you can see her eyes in the video for her latest single, “B.W.P.”

When Brux launched in early 2018, she intended to tap into a musical side that she described as “dark, raw and unapologetic.” Singles such as “I’m Back,” “Paper Boy” and “B.W.P” rattle rooms with grinding synths and rumbling bass, but with their darkness also comes light via quirky and energetic sonics, like strobing neon doodles against pitch black. Interestingly, Brux’s vocals and songwriting abilities -- vestiges of her previous project -- are again some of her biggest strengths.

She takes social commentary, from the female gaze to social-media obsession, and filters it through a singular club lens while retaining that pop earworminess. It’s catchy but not cheesy; cool and intentional without being preachy. Keep an ear out for Brux’s next move, as her debut EP, Fruit, is set to drop on Valentine's Day. -- KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ

Gentlemens Club

The bass rave bounces extra hard when UK trio Gentlemens Club takes over the decks. What started as a straight-up dubstep project has since expanded to incorporate G-house grooves, trap rhythms and any glitched-out funk-freakin' style it feels like rockin'. The group counts collaborations with Borgore, Kayzo and Jauz, appearing on the latter artist's double LP The Wise and The Wicked via the mad club banger “Get Widdit.”

Gentlemens Club brought a similar hard-house style on its latest original single “Vertigo” with fellow Brit Zero, which dropped in December of 2019. The trio's 2020 kicked off with a 2010's dubstep-inspired remix of Marshmello's star-studded collab “Tongue Tied,” and Gentlemens Club is set to release an EP on Zeds Dead's label, Deadbeats, in March and to perform at Electric Forest, Dancefestopia and other festivals later this year. You don't have to wait to get to know the Club, though. Just tune in to Insomniac Radio every first Thursday of the month to, when the group hosts its regular show. -- KAT BEIN 

Kasablanca

Not much is known about Kasablanca, but the facts we do have are potent. The group released its first single "Hold Me Close" via Armada Music's longstanding Electronic Elements imprint last Friday, January 31, with the single attracting the attention of dance world titans including Above & Beyond, who premiered the song in their Group Therapy show, Armin Van Burren, who dropped it on last week's installment of A State Of Trance, and Pete Tong, who played it on BBC Radio 1 on the day of its release. 

Why all the fuss? Because, quite simply, the track slaps, building into a sleek and slinky melodic techno banger primed for peak time at the club or a fast drive on an empty road after dark. Tinged with '80s synth reminiscent of Kavinsky, "Hold Me Close" is the first of three forthcoming singles from Kasablanca, a group said to be made up of several well-known producers trying out a new style under the alias. Rumors suggest a few Canadian artists might be behind the project, but really, the real identities matter less than the music, which will be showcased on the impending EP, Human Learning. -- KATIE BAIN

Jaden Thompson

Jaden Thompson has breezily accomplished things that others strive for through their entire careers -- and he's done it all before his 21st birthday. The U.K. native has rapidly ascended into the upper echelon of house names, rubbing shoulders with The Martinez Brothers and making fans out of legends like Seth Troxler and BBC Radio 1's Danny Howard, who kicked off the new year by naming Thompson a Future Fire talent to watch in 2020. 

A resident of London's iconic nightclub fabric, Thompson has made a name for himself as the "track ID?!"-inducing name behind addictive house remixes of classics including Kanye West's "Flashing Lights" and off-the-wall choices like RuPaul's Drag Race theme song, "Bring It to the Runway." He's also a not-so-secret weapon of The Martinez Brothers' revered label, Cuttin' Headz and, somehow, also still a university student, splitting his time between nightclubs across the U.K., his humble above-the-garage home studio, and of course, his homework. 

Out on February 3 via PIV Records, "Thirsty Eyes" is the latest evidence of a sharp production style favoring low-slung, rolling bass lines and mischievous and sultry vocal hooks. While Jaden will certainly be playing this one out at his own upcoming gigs across the U.K., there's no doubt his growing legion of revered DJ fans will be making use of it in their sets around the world too. You best get familiar now -- this might be your last chance to say "I knew Jaden Thompson first" before the rest of the world catches on. -- VALERIE LEE

Banoffee

If you like your pop with a side of Internet-obsessed social misfit, Banoffee is your latest url queer club underground favorite. Raised in Melbourne and now living in L.A., her 2015 EP Do I Make You Nervous? played silky-smooth on piano-driven, drum-machine-knockin' R&B. Techno-sensual singles “Body Suit” and “With Her” racked up about two million streams on Spotify each. Banoffee's moody style has since evolved into a bouncy, glitched-out brand of “mutant pop” that toes the line between radio-accessible melodies and offensive nail-to-chalkboard synth textures -- and we mean that in all the best ways.

The style is perfected on Banoffee's forthcoming debut album Look At Us Now Dad, due out February 21. Co-produced by Banoffee and Yves Rothman, the LP features collabs with Sophie, Empress Of, Cupcakke and umru. “Each song uses human experience to talk about more complex concepts of addictions, obsession, heartbreak and resurrection,” she says in her bio. “Not to dwell in sadness, but to join hands.” Album single “Count on You” blends electric guitars and playground vocals with Y2K sonics and apocalyptic moods, while “Tennis Fan” is a wonky dancefloor singalong. Her music videos pack a lot of fun and fashionable aesthetics, too. -- K. Bein

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