With 2014 just starting, we looked at the producers and DJs ready to break this year – some going higher from a midlevel or one-hit wonder status, and others to festival headliner.
Last year, most of our predictions ended up being on the mark, so we’ll see who sees their profile rise in 2014.
Next Biggest Thing – Thomas Gold or Cedric Gervais
Already a known name in the EDM community, Cedric Gervais found brief mainstream status this year with two remixes for Lana Del Rey. The only thing is, getting famous for producing (or remixing, in this case) a pop star has potential to go multiple ways: One, your career gets shuttled toward producing pop stars and you lose credibility within the dance music world; two, it’s a one-hit wonder; or three, by luck, listeners get to know your name and appreciate your music.
Where Gervais’ career could go remains vague. “Molly” might have been a genre hit, but his Billboard chart ranks came solely from reworking (and far improving) songs from a pop star critics and listeners have a love-hate relationship with.
Gold, on the other hand, appears as one of those versatile performers who can both put produce a quality track and assemble an attention-grabbing setlist. He’s not someone destined for Billboard Hot 100 ranks (yet) but has the combination that Fedde Le Grand had circa 2009. The German DJ/producer now has enough power to headline events at Pacha NYC and Governors Island and received attention this year for releases on Spinnin’, Size, and Toolroom.
Biggest Genre Breakout Star – Carnage
You couldn’t escape trap music in 2013, but between “Harlem Shake” and tracks produced by Mike WiLL Made It, the subgenre that once seemed like the next dubstep has started to lose focus.
Certain artists are bound to keep in pushing a certain sound, but others evolve, and one performer looking to emerge out of this past year’s entire mess is Carnage.
Earlier this year, he admitted to changing his sound more toward big-room house, but even when you listen to his latest tracks, the trap elements still remain in some form.
Emerging Indie Artist – Blende
Blende appears in the right place at the right time. Disco-influenced tracks became huge in 2013, from Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Avicii’s “Lay Me Down” to more indie fare. Blende’s “Rikki,” on the heels of “Fake Love” on London label Eskimo Recordings, essentially added a mainstream take to nu-disco sounds and continues to get attention months after its fall release. Blende has yet to release a follow-up, so we’ll have to wait and see what direction his career goes.
Could Change the Sound of Mainstream EDM – Disclosure
While the strength of their career comes from a vocal-driven single, Disclosure proved a dance music act could do something different – how often do you see a U.K. garage act on the U.S. charts? – and still experience success. Following “White Noise,” album Settle reached No. 38 on the Billboard 200, with successive singles “When a Fire Starts to Burn,” “F for You,” “Voices,” and “Help Me Lose My Mind” showing Guy and Howard Lawrence’s full sonic range.
Upcoming “It” Producer – Nicky Romero
Out of anyone on the DJ Mag list, Nicky Romero has the perfect position. As a producer, he ranks high enough with a sound that hasn’t been diluted excessively by vocal collaborations and big synth chords. Simultaneously, his demand as a collaborator increased throughout 2013, working with Zedd, Nervo, Avicii, Krewella, and Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano in the process – and, frankly, making what could’ve been another bland progressive house track sound better. Now, rumors have him working on Rihanna’s eighth studio album – a project that previously turned Calvin Harris from a prominent producer into an in-demand, household name.