During the lifespan of any given record label, a lot of excellent tracks get released, and other excellent tracks, for one reason or another, get shelved.
On Thursday (July 1), dance label Monstercat is unveiling 16 previously unreleased gems with the release of its 10 Year Anniversary album. As the name suggests, the album is out in celebration of the Vancouver-based label’s decade of existence, with songs on the LP dating back to 2011. Spanning dubstep, electro house, future bass, ambient and more, the project features contributions from Monstercat acts including Stephen Walking, Pegboard Nerds, Laszlo, Shingo Nakamura and Nitro Fun.
On Saturday (July 3), the label will continue its anniversary festivities with a five-hour livestream, featuring sets played from locations including Korea, Qatar, Italy and Australia. The fun continues on Monday (July 5), when the popular video game (and long-standing Monstercat partner) Rocket League launches the Monstercat 10 YR Fan Pack, featuring nine new Player Anthems culled from various label hits.
Here, in their own words, each artist featured on the album gives the backstory behind their from-the-vault contribution.
Au5 & Juventa Feat. Charlie Bath, “Dying Star” (created in 2013)
Au5: “The song was originally started by Juventa, who proposed the work in progress to me back in 2015. I was a fan of Juventa and was inspired by the song. After we completed it, we pitched it around, but couldn’t find a good home for it. As the years went by, Juventa retired his project and started new aliases. ‘Dying Star’ was abandoned for over six years until it was rediscovered and now released for Monstercat’s 10 Year Anniversary. This song has been in my sets for years, so anyone who has been to one of my shows has likely heard it.”
Case & Point, “Descender” (created in 2015)
“We started writing this song back in 2015. We were working on playing around with fast metallic bass sounds, and we spent a ton of time on this. Admittedly we got a bit dug-in on the engineering as we made some sound design choices that ended up making things challenging to mix, but we are happy with how it turned out in the end. This was the last song we wrote together before taking a break to focus on our personal lives. Over the years, we’ve received so many messages of support from fans asking us to come back to Monstercat. When we were approached to be part of the 10 Year Anniversary, we were thrilled. That in combination with the messages from our fans has inspired us to get back into the studio and we are really excited to make music again.”
Ellis & Nu Aspect, “U” (created in 2017)
“I’m massively into downtempo chill music from the 2000s — like Air, Zero 7, Massive Attack, etc. I just love the vibe of all of that stuff as I grew up on it. I definitely think this has influenced my music melodically and harmonically! I also love all British underground music in general, anything related to the rave and party scenes. This track was teased in a DJ mix back in 2017 and is one of the most requested songs from my fans. I love this community so much, so it’s a blessing to be a part of their 10 Year Anniversary.”
Grant Bowtie, “Can You Hear It” (created in 2015)
“This song was created right before I rebranded from Grant Bowtie to Grant. ‘Can You Hear It’ was easily one of the most experimental tracks I’d created back in 2015. Personally, one listen is like time-traveling back to when dance music felt really fresh. I made this track during my freshman year in college during the same period when I also wrote songs like ‘Constellations,’ ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Wishes.’ I wanted to use a robotic speech generator to carry the lyric element of the song, and I had this fantasy in my head where the robot was singing to its human friend, thanking them for their guidance, before finally departing forever.”
Laszlo, “Feels Like Love” (created in 2019)
“I started ‘Feels Like Love’ in June 2019. I mainly kept it for myself, to listen to and enjoy. It feels very good for it to now finally see the light of day on Monstercat.”
Mango, “Ten Years Ago Today” (created in 2011)
“The initial project was created in 2011 and was one of the many tracks started for my first album, Citylanes Airplanes. I had a list of around 40 projects in the making, specifically for the album. As I was making progress on the tracks and starting to get a clear concept of how I wanted the album to sound, I was gradually removing unsuitable tracks from the list. Citylanes Airplanes ended up being 14 tracks, and the version of ‘Ten Years Ago Today’ that you’re hearing now is an updated and completed version of what used to be ‘Another August,’ the very last track that didn’t make it on the album back in 2013.”
Nitro Fun, “Easter Egg” (created in 2014)
“This track was started in 2014, right about the same time I started ‘New Game’ and ‘Cheat Codes.’ It was never released because I could never find a good excuse to do it since my sound was a bit different at the time. I really like the melody in this track; I think it does a great job at evoking the feelings of nostalgia I get when I think of retro video games.”
Pegboard Nerds, “Shaku” (created in 2012)
“It started around 2008 as a house track. I guess we were kind of avoiding calling it ‘done,’ as we felt it sounded different than most other songs at the time, which of course is a good thing but can also be intimidating. Through all these years with hundreds of other forgotten demos, it has stuck with us in multiple versions, so we figure that’s gotta mean something.”
Rogue, “Motion” (created in 2014)
From Monstercat: Rogue has released a broad spectrum of songs on the label, both through Uncaged and Instinct. His early years were more focused on heavier sounds with “Rattlesnake” and “Ultimatum,” but tracks like “Motion,” which was made in 2014, still give off the signature Rogue style.
Shingo Nakamura, “Uncharted Waters” (created in 2011)
“I made this song around 2010. It was around the same time I started releasing my tracks on Beatport. It was created for a live performance with a friend who plays flute and saxophone, so I had no plans to release it. Now it’s a memorable song that I played with my friends and I’m glad I get to share it with everyone in this Monstercat project.”
Stephen Walking, “JC-08” (created in 2018)
“‘JC-08’ was one of the original demos that eventually became ‘Glide.’ Once the saxophone riff was added, the song was completely reworked around that, and nothing else but the tempo and key signature was retained. I hit ‘save as’ before the rework, so it was always something I wanted to keep around, and I’m glad this anniversary compilation gave me the opportunity to dust it off.”
Stonebank, “Fire” (created in 2015)
“‘Fire’ was a work in progress track from 2015 that I previewed on Facebook. Sadly, the project file became corrupt before I could finish and release it, and ended up being the one that got away. Over the years I would would see online a lot of love for the song in particular and when Monstercat approached me about the concept of the 10 Year Anniversary, there was no other option but to go through the task of recreating the song from a Facebook video recorded on a phone six years prior, along with earlier project versions to grab different pieces of the puzzle to complete the song once and for all!”
Subtact Feat. Noctilucent, “What It’s Like” (created in 2016)
Subtact: “I started the instrumental not long after the release of ‘Restart,’ and I wanted it to be a companion to that song with more of a focus on guitars and a vocal topline while still remaining catchy and synth-driven. I was a big fan of Noctilucent’s music, so I sent it over to him and I received the vocals in early 2016. At that time, the rest of my music was heading in a notably darker direction, so the project was forgotten… until now! Vincent was kind enough to re-record the topline; I mixed it in with fresh ears, and now it’s finally finished. I still think it includes some of my favorite melodies of mine to date.”
Noctilucent: “I just wrote how the song made me feel: alive!”
TwoThirds, “Forever Summer” (created in 2013)
“A few weeks ago, I was at my mum’s place collecting the last of my things that were stashed in the loft of my family home as she prepared to sell the place. I was looking for things to either take to my new house or throw away, and I came across my old PC that all of my TwoThirds tracks were made on. I wiped it and got rid of it and then oddly enough, I was emailed about the 10 Year Anniversary on the same day. Fortunately, when I got my first MacBook I copied ‘Forever Summer’ over, planning on recreating it in Logic. I never ended up recreating it but I do still have that MacBook so I had access to an MP3 version of the track. I wasn’t able to tweak it mix wise, due to throwing that PC away, but I went back and forth on the master with Monstercat to try and make it sound a little less harsh. If you’re one of the people who saw me DJ in 2013-14, you’ve heard me play the original version. I’m not sure anyone else has heard it. It’s probably the last TwoThirds song that will be put out there. I give you ‘Forever Summer.’ A little rough around the edges, but I hope the Monstercat OG’s can get something out of it.”
Varien, “The Language of Angels” (created in 2019)
“I have had this idea for so many years, I worked it into its current form while living in Finland in 2019. Ultimately, I didn’t know how it would fit into what I’m currently doing with Varien. I do love the track though. It’s largely inspired by forest levels in Japanese RPGs, what else is new for me?”
WRLD & Keepsake, “Wishful Thinking” (created in 2018)
“We originally started writing the instrumental to ‘Wishful Thinking’ back in November of 2018 while Richard (Keepsake) was visiting David (WRLD) in the Netherlands. We always really loved the chord progression of the chorus, but other projects and song ideas always got in the way of us working on it more. The Monstercat 10 Year Anniversary seemed like the perfect opportunity to dig up the project and finish it. It’s not very often that we get to release a song together. That’s what makes this one extra special to us.”