Another month, another set of great up-and-comers for February’s list of Ones to Watch. We at Billboard Dance feel strongly about this set, representing the U.K., Australia, Italy and Detroit. Bass comes in many different forms this month, sometimes in pounding techno rhythms, sometimes in soulful house grooves, and sometimes as raw, in-your-face madness.
There’s a lot of experimentation in the voices collected below. We think these could be the big names of the future. See which artists might be your new favorites below.
Raised in the industrial streets of ’90s house mecca Manchester, this early 20-something’s music sounds like late nights and bodies dripping with sweat. His is a raw mix of jackin’ house, ’90s rave, surreal electro and 21st-century booty tech. He’s remixed Camelphat, worked alongside Green Velvet and has the likes of Skream, Pete Tong and Claude VonStroke droppin’ his tunes. He nabbed a few dates at Eric Prydz‘s Hï Ibiza residency last summer. Upcoming gigs include a string of sets across the U.S., including one at San Diego’s CRSSD Fest and Lee Foss‘ Repopulate Mars Pool Party MMW label showcase. He was handpicked by Annie Mac to play her Lost and Found Festival in May. His next EP This Feeling is set to drop March 8 on Repopulate Mars. It follows his November collaboration with Eli Brown titled “Touch Me,” a perfect, pulsing bit of dirty energy with which to start your journey into Maynard’s catalog. — KAT BEIN
He’s Australian born and raised, but there’s something very French in the heart of Golden Features dark-drip melodies. Bass-heavy rhythms and rain-cloud grooves give his sound a haunting resonance, but there’s nothing to be scared of. The Sydney producer and DJ hit the scene as a masked mystery in 2014, taking an anonymous cue from his days as a graffiti artist, but after conspiracy theories tried to pin hiswork to a bigger artist, he revealed himself as Tom Stell. He’s since been tapped for remixes of by Flume and Porter Robinson. He most recently appeared on the deluxe edition of ODESZA‘s A Moment Apart, having lent his hand to the VIP remix of “Memories That You Call” featuring Monsoonsiren. In 2018, he released his debut album, Sect. Pounding techno rhythms meet with spacey textures and wonky twists across 10 stormy tunes. Sect has performed well in his native Australia, and in 2019, he sets his sights on the United States. With visa in hand, he plans a tour throughout North America, including a stop at Ultra Music Festival in Miami Friday, March 29. — KAT BEIN
Mathame is a forward-thinking techno project comprised of Italian brothers Amedeo and Matteo Giovanelli. Combining esoteric sound design with arena-sized production, they’ve carved out a niche that is wholly distinct. While the pair formally began in 2013, in many ways, it feels as though their career is just beginning. Since signing to Tale Of Us’s Afterlife imprint in 2017, the duo have become one of the label’s rising stars. With new releases on Afterlife and Systematic Recordings, the pair are primed for a big start to their year. — MICHAEL SUNDIUS
Australian duo SLUMBERJACK makes sleek, spatial bass music that hits especially hard on their latest EP, SARAWAK. Released via Monstercat in early February, the five-track effort features heavy-hitting guests including Ekali and TroyBoi. Getting further support from artists including Rezz and Jauz, SARAWAK follows a trinity of powerhouse collaborations in 2018: “Warlord” with What So Not, “Daggers” with Machine Age and “Solid” with TroyBoi.
The group’s Morgan Then and Fletcher Ehlers have been dishing out releases together since 2014 and also have a solid track record when it comes to festivals, making appearances at Holy Ship, Electric Forest, HARD Summer, Lollapalooza and more. They’ve toured with KRANE, TroyBoi and Ekali and also dropped a collab with Alison Wonderland, “Sometimes Love,” in 2018. Their swirling, orchestral cover of M.I.A.‘s “Paper Planes”—for tastemaking Australian radio station Triple J’s Like A Version cover series—is also worth a listen, or ten. While their strongest markets are still Down Under, they’re making the right moves with the right artists to put themselves in a position to crossover into new territories. — KATIE BAIN
One day in 2017, a tired PEEKABOO came home from a frustrating day of work at FedEx to find an email from Bassnectar‘s manager. The long-haired bass master was a huge fan of his track “Wobbly,” and he wanted to collaborate. Soon, the pair was on the phone, working out the kinks of a tune called “Disrupt the System” which would appear on the star’s Reflective Pt. 2 EP. From there, PEEKABOO’s life changed. He moved from his native Detroit to Los Angeles, and his career has only flourished. His sticky, rumbling, bare-bones bass throws back to dubstep’s earliest UK days. It sounds like trying to walk in quick sand. There’s no escaping the pull of this bone-crushing darkness. He’s been warmly welcomed into the Wakaan fold, a bass-centric label that gave his crunchadelic Imposters EP a propulsive home. Most recently, he remixed Jauz and Zeds Dead‘s “Lights Go Down.” It may be his brightest offering to date, but expect a lot more trudging, monochrome bass madness from PEEKABOO in the months to come. — KAT BEIN