This week in dance music, we spoke to Caribou about getting back on the road after the pandemic forced the cancellation of his 2020 tour; Ultra Music Festival and California’s cannabis-centric Northern Nights festival both dropped lineups; the BPM Festival announced a Brazilian expansion; and Tiësto and Ava Max’s “The Business” hit the upper reaches of Hot Dance/Electronic songs.
New music? We’ve got that, too. Let’s dig in.
Kaytranada, Intimidated EP
Dance music’s reigning Grammy winner Kaytranada comes out of nowhere with a surprise EP that further demonstrates why he’s one of the best artists the electronic scene has going. The three-track effort leads with the title track, a breezy yet thumping collaboration with H.E.R., whose vocals glide above a skittering, smart, playful production that the Haitian/Canadian producer tops off with the just the right amount of horn. The EP, Kaytra’s second release of 2021, also features a sexed-up jam featuring silk pajama vocals from Thundercat, along with “$payforhaiti” featuring Haitian artist Mach-Hommy, who delivers his rapid-fire lyrics in Creole. — KATIE BAIN
Wajatta, “Do You Even Care Anymore?”
“I’ve got a lot on my mind,” Reggie Watts repeats on “Do You Even Care Anymore?,” his new single as one-half of Wajatta with John Tejada. Compared to the empathetic pick-me-up of their 2020 song “Don’t Let Get You Down,” “Do You Even Care Anymore?” gets lyrically deeper, and a little more existential. Watts’ rich tone melts into the production, a low-key blend of plucky jazz and chugging techno with bursts of sax riffs and vocal ad-libs — so much so that it’s easy to get lost in the beat and nod away. Maybe that’s the point.
“We have all these man made constructs which mask us from intensely sobering existential dread,” says the song’s music video director and animator, Mike Manor. “It’s like by default we’re all on the Titanic waiting to feel alive only when we hit the iceberg. I look at the song as a call to enjoy our lives mundanely as our true selves and to make it easier on each other by not being such judgmental d*ckheads all the time.” — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
Krewella x Beauz, “Never Been Hurt”
It’s better to love and lose than to never love at all, and the uncomfortable truth is that any love can end up hurting in the end. That pain shouldn’t stop you from letting your walls down, though, or you might miss out on the best next thing. Easier said than done though, right?
Well, if you need a little love inspiration, pop on Krewella’s latest house tune, a solid club-ready jam that features additional production and vocal work from Asian-American duo Beauz. The track has got a dark side to it, as does love itself, but the banging rhythm and neon smoke-machine sounds are alluring enough to make you drop your guard and find yourself falling once again. The song is also Krewella’s first new music in more than a year. — KAT BEIN
Elkka, “Music To Heal To”
This week has been pretty big career-wise for Elkka. After delivering her debut Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1, the femme culture head has released her latest EP, Harmonic Frequencies, for Ninja Tune’s Technicolour imprint. Its Billboard-recommended title track, with its walloping bassline, was made for dark clubs, yet still possessed an intimacy fit for smaller bedrooms with the door closed. New track “Music To Heal To” offers an after-the-club vibe for decompression. Like some of Elkka’s best music, it’s gentle and warm, a cozy blanket of organic textures under which to take cover when outside feels too overwhelming. Grounded by a steady beat, the emerging presence of soft, sighing vocal layers in the third act is especially soothing.
“This EP is a journal of a 6 month period starting towards the end of last year and climaxing at the point when dancefloors re-opened,” writes Elkka. “Like most people, when things opened up again, I could feel and see the color coming back into my life. In Euphoric Melodies I was discovering and studying what made me feel good, what I needed to feel good… Harmonic Frequencies is the journey from being deprived of all of those things back to feeling fulfilled once more.” — K.R.
Fred Again, Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)
2021 breakout star Fred Again today releases Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021), the companion LP to April’s Actual Life (April 14 – December 17, 2020). Falling into the sumptuously emotive and supremely intelligent James Blake realm of electronic music, the album is altogether gorgeous and propulsive, radiating grief, beauty and forgiveness through beats that make you just want to get off the couch and shake it all off.
Standouts like the “Catrin (The City),” Rose (Forgive)” and Kahan (Last Year)” — the latter of which features Kodak Black — provide extra warmth through our ear buds. Currently on tour in his native UK, Fred Again arrives int he U.S. next month for selected dates in New York and Los Angeles. — K. Bain
Who among us hasn’t had a day, a week or a solid year of just being so darn over it, getting out of bed seems like asking a whole lot? The whole world is surfing a wave of apathy, but if getting up is a must — and last we checked, being awake is a vital part of paying the bills — Tennyson’s quirky depression groove “Iron” is exactly what you need to face your everyday fears with some pep in your step.
As quaint and colorful as anything the brother-sister duo has ever produced, “Iron” comes as the first taste of a forthcoming album called Rot, a name inspired by a moldy mishap in his basement bedroom. On “Iron,” Tennyson’s creative lead Luke Pretty finds new strength in relatable lyrics and pop structure — but don’t let that chipper beat fool you.
“The lyrics are about the worst nightmare I’ve ever had,” Pretty says. “In the dream, I kept waking up over and over again — while not actually waking up. Each time I woke up, I would get out of bed and do what I could to confirm that I was in reality… only to wake up again. I must have ‘woken up’ at least ten times. Each loop became increasingly more horrifying, because I was so sure I had finally escaped. When I finally did wake up, it was unmistakable. I knew in that moment I wasn’t dreaming, and I wept with relief. Even so, for the first few hours of the morning a constant stream of chills ran down my spine: What if I were to wake up now?” — K. Bein