Conscious Electronic’s Artists To Watch in 2021
How does one define an “Artist to Watch,” exactly?
Does it refer to those artists who are breaking from the underground to the mainstream? Or the fresh newcomers that are taking the underground by storm? Or does the term nod to a talented creator who has been relatively well-known for some time, but who hasn’t yet seen their time to shine? Well all of the above, to be honest. Given its multiple meanings and interpretations, CE’s Artists to Watch list underwent the subjective process of our entire staff nominating artists, then democratically voting on them, and now spotlighting the talent that should be on every dance music fan’s watch list.
Granted, some of the artists on CE’s list have been around for years. Others we’ve been following since their start. Others were even on last year’s lists. Undoubtedly, 2020 presented artists with many new challenges. How is one to have a “breakout year” if there aren’t any festival line-ups to dominate or tours to sell out? Still, these artists have managed to find a way to make their creative projects shine despite the difficulties of the pandemic. Whether it was live streams, guest mixes, quarantine collaborations, they’ve managed to be dynamic and adaptive in these strange times.
In addition, they’re all bass music artists. Let us explain…
While it’s important to have any top “whatever” list be general, all-encompassing, and well representative of the larger dance music genre spectrum, we’ve come to find that the reason bass music artists dominate the list isn’t just because the CE staff is largely composed of “bass heads.” Bass artists are dominating because the bass music genre is dominating!
Many industry tastemakers and critics have posited that “bass” is the new “big room.” While progressive and electro house once rose to prominence during the post-”EDM” boom of 2012, the genre has predominantly plateaued as it became absorbed into the commercial mainstream. No one hears the term “big room house” any more. That’s because it’s peaked, leveled off, and died down with the masses. Now it’s all about that “big room” bass sound.
Given how bass music is still very much on the uphill climb, the genre isn’t even close to toppling out. Just look to any festival main stage and fans will most likely find themselves watching all bass music artists in primetime. Nine times out of ten, it’s bass music of some sort—from melodic dubstep to poppy future bass, to deep mid-tempo, left-field psybass, and heavy dubstep/riddim, or glitched-out trip-hop/breakbeat to tribal-influenced world, and the list goes on. Keeping this in mind and close to heart, here are Conscious Electronic’s Top Ten Artists to Watch for 2021.
Top Artists to Watch in 2021
Connor Elder is ELDERBASS, Los Angeles’ newest rising star in electronic and bass music. While his music career may still be in its early stages, Elder’s already been recruited to debut Protohype’s freshly minted label Underdog with his single, “Change Your Mind”, a track with viral potential that demonstrates the artist’s ability to balance a dark and heavy drop with slick and immaculate production. Elder shared his influences with CE:
Drawing on elements of house, dubstep and everything in between for his signature sound, Elder has also caught the ears of notable artists such as TYNAN, CHOMPPA, Matt Doe, and his own inspiration, PEEKABOO. Established and fellow up-and-coming artists alike recognize the bright future that awaits the 22-year-old burgeoning artist. Regarding how he got his start in music, Elder elaborated:
Elderbasss - Aftershock set
After seeing an explosive rise in the alternative bass music scene for his cosmic-tier sound design and unique psychedelic aesthetic, Sam Damient better known professionally as LSDREAM, has quickly captured the hearts and minds of electronic music fans across the globe. With support from Liquid Stranger’s own WAKAAN and downtempo sister-label SSKWAN, any project this man touches is a force to be reckoned with. Heading into 2020, Damient has unveiled another entirely new music project that features a whole new set of intentions and artistic vision called LIGHTCODE.
Combining ethereal soundscapes and esoteric-style sound healing frequencies with meditative progressions, the timing of this project could not have been better after collectively experiencing such a strange and exhausting year. With an aim to raise your conscious frequencies and discover your spiritual self, this downtempo side-project achieves just that and more. His debut EP ‘Egregore’ is SSKWAN’s first official label release that is aimed at jump-starting the collective. Written as a concept EP, this sonic journey was curated to be a guided meditation which sets an incredibly high and unique standard for the label’s direction.
“There were a lot of things that were still bothering me. I was very reactive, but I was slowly learning lessons. I was just tired of feeling defeated to be honest,” said Damient in a recent Live Story,”but, the universe has a plan and I just decided to trust that plan.” He continued,
“At this point, I was working on my spirituality, my mental health, I was meditating, but I wasn’t doing it every day. So I decided to double down and meditate every single day without skipping a day. And not just that, I used gratitude lists, I began reading more, I began to put self-love at the ultimate priority of my day. And here’s what happened – my heart began to open up and I started resonating with love.
Damient not only has one of the more interesting artistic progressions in the EDM community, but he stands as an inspiring force of light that is creating music to remind his fans to focus on the divine within. Especially in such a diverse community that makes up the electronic music world, it is beautiful to see artists like these use their platform for a greater good and higher purpose. This is a wonderful project that stands to be respected here at Conscious Electronic and fits our top of year list perfectly.
LIGHTCODE - THE EGREGORE
Chris Adams aka AHEE, brings intelligent bass from outer space! Ahee is a friendly alien; passing on what he’s learned along his way as both teacher and musician. His youtube channel lists over 90 youtube music production tutorials gaining +700,000 views, he’s released samples packs and sound racks that have received acclaim from musicians like Protohype, LSD Dream, Shlump, 4B, Pigeon hole and many more.
We got a chance to connect with Ahee and find out how 2020 impacted him.
CE: What would you say were biggest accomplishments for 2020?
A: What a weird year it’s been, but I’d say releasing music with artists and labels I have looked up to for years like Circus, Big Gigantic, Stylust, Defunk, Excision, & Conrank.
Really happy with the reach of my bass music tutorial YouTube channel and my Magic Ableton Racks that have helped the producer community.
Our Dome of Doom Splice page reached a million downloads and my Spotify reached a million streams.
Also, I can see in myself that I’ve been growing in my craft as an artist, and that has been soulfully fulfilling.
CE: What were the biggest obstacles for you in 2020?
A: For me I had some health issues at the beginning of the year that I feel that I have overcome through diet and exercise. I miss seeing so many creative people/projects at shows and festivals.
This year has been a battle for the mind, it feels like too – so staying productive through it all has been a hurdle I try to continuously leap.
CE: What excites you most about 2021?
A: I have a bunch of new music releases coming in the first week of 2021 and later that are epic!
CE: What in 2020 are you most grateful for?
A: The support from my fans/community/loved ones/family and my good health.
AHEE - Gravitas Artist Mix 002: AHEE
What happens when you take a death-metal and punk rock-inspired bass producer from Atlanta with a strong affirmation for psychedelia? You get an explorer who can map out an entirely new and experimental category of EDM.
The explorer in focus is Paul Conversano, AKA Ravenscoon, who for the past two years has been releasing bass-heavy tracks infused with flavors from multiple dimensions. Most recently releasing a 60-minute mix of all unreleased tracks, titled Uncharted II, it appears as if Conversano has a lot in store for his fans in 2021.
While this recent mix certainly portrays Ravenscoon’s firepower in the studio, he has been high octane throughout the entirety of 2020 starting with the 4/20 release of his EP, Mind. The release was then followed by multiple singles, collaborations, and more clear-cut examples of this San Francisco based producer’s ability to accelerate his craft and wow audiences in an extremely short amount of time.
In an interview with Fuxwithit, Conversano discusses how his love for music and production grew over time.
In his brief career, Ravenscoon has already done releases with and support from names like Adventure Club, Subdocta, and Liquid Stranger. If he continues along this path, with the same blazing speed he’s been improving his obsession upon, expect Ravenscoon to be teaming up with even bigger names, expanding upon his inventive production capabilities, and showing up at big-name festivals everywhere when they finally return.
Ravenscoon - MIND EP
7. Super Future (tie)
This year’s tie for seventh place comes straight out of the Midwest. Michigan’s own rising freeform artist and producer, Super Future (aka Nick Rowland), has definitely earned his place on the list. Rowland not only kicked off the decade by joining forces with Wreckno on their experimental Hypernatural EP, but also used the year to deliver fans a collection of unique sounds with insane releases such as “Sunday Bass Vol. 4” and “BAD SHIT”, a collaboration with Ravenscoon. Not to mention, Super Future is even the featured guest on episode five of Conscious Electronic’s Wide Awake Radio.
Influenced by iconic artists such as Minnesota, Slushii, LSDREAM, Subtronics, and MeSo, Rowland never fails to bring forth a diverse style that combines heavy experimental bass with stunning melodies and futuristic synths. The sheer range of Rowland’s creativity and originality grows immensely with each coming year. With the rumored upcoming release of his forthcoming album Prisms, Super Future won’t be leaving the spotlight anytime soon.
GRiZ x Wreckno - Medusa (Super Future Remix)
Seattle-based artist and producer Connor Campbell is LEViT∆TE, the force of nature pushing bass music beyond its previously-conceived limits with his stunning sound design, world-building compositions, and captivating cinematic style. From his 2015 collaboration with Bassnectar “Chasing Heaven”, which would later make the soundtrack of the Shia LaBeouf-led action thriller, The Tax Collector, to his recent groundbreaking audiovisual album Legacy, film has prevailed as a recurring theme in the artist’s career. On his inspirations, Campbell shared with CE:
Expanding on his influences, Campbell cited Lorn, HEALTH, Arca, and Shlohmo as musical inspirations, with Safehaven, Lakehills, Daytoner, and “Tales From The Loop” artist Simon Stalenhag serve as inspirations for his visual art. While the prospering visionary has already established himself among the bass community, his continued proficiency, passion, and dedication to the craft indicate that Campbell is just getting started.
LEViT∆TE - Legacy
5. kLL sMTH
While his Instagram stories might make you think Kristoffer Edland, AKA, kLL sMTH, was the host of his own cooking channel, constantly featuring culinary creations of all varieties, he didn’t make Conscious Electronic’s list of top 10 artists to watch because he’s a chef. Not the kind that cooks up food, at least.
The dishes kLL sMTH is most admired for come in the form of piping hot bass meals which incorporate samples and spices from every end of the music spectrum. Releasing his widely popular singular, “Decoy,” a beautifully composed mix, and participating in a handful of live streams this year, Edland has been showing that the turbulence of 2020 will not be stifling his creative prowess and ability to grow as an artist in any way.
This Denver-based producer has also been spending 2020 as 1/3 of Ultrasloth, a bass-heavy and hugely experimental group rounded out by producers Duffrey and Biolumigen. The trio has only released a 4 song EP, titled Megatherium, a mix, and participated in a limited number of live shows, but the music they are producing, which incorporates vinyl scratching and a bevy of exploratory sounds, is certainly something that will have your face scrunching.
At this point, there is no telling what Edland will be creating in his factory next, whether it is a cookbook, a new collaboration, a further expansion of his cHLL sMTH or Ultrasloth projects, or more music from his original endeavors as kLL sMTH. Whatever it may be, fans should expect nothing but flame-grilled fireworks in the coming years.
kLL sMTH - kLL sMTH & cHLL? mix
Ian Evans, known best under the Mize moniker, is another artist whose career has skyrocketed this year. Just two years ago, Ian was playing pre-parties and after-parties just for fun with some friends at large scale events. He was working at Moe’s but ended up quitting a little less than a year ago to put more of his energy into his art. However, he never imagined that he’d end up where he is today. “It was always a ‘it would be cool if it happened but I doubt it’ thing,” he admits to Conscious Electronic. Within the same month of quitting his job, Evans was getting booked to play his first few festivals, one of which was Wakaan Fest.
Mize is arguably one of the leading underground bass artists who is paving the way to make it to the top. His style often bounces between the heavenly and serene side of things to that deep experimental bass. He has been steadily blessing fans with music and mixes throughout this year, some of which were even released under Wakaan’s music label.
With remixes to hits like Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On,” an entirely drum and bass set at the Final Harmony Festival, all original and unreleased mixes like “Refractions” and “Thought Process Mixtape,” as well as the downtempo one called “Comfort Colors,” it is safe to say that Mize has helped us all get through this unimaginable year with some truly beautiful music.
He was scheduled to play Bonnaroo this year but unfortunately covid got in the way. Who knows where he’ll be popping up once festivals and events are back. He told us to expect much more of him before this coming summer. There’s a lot that he’s in the process of working on right now, so much that he doesn’t know where to put his attention to.
“I’m currently working on some downtempo things for SSKWAN and a bunch of collabs with artists I never thought I’d be able to work with,” Mize shares with Conscious Electronic.
You’ll definitely want to keep a close eye on him as we enter the new year.
MIZE - Thought Process EP
3. tiedye ky
Philadelphia-based artist tiedye ky has been on the come up for quite some time. Back in early 2019, Kyle joined fellow producer and friend Charles (CharlesTheFirst) on The Ascent Tour. There he began to really capture the attention, and hearts, of very many – especially with his infamous “Loverboy” track.
Kyle has since earned himself well-deserved and honorable spots on festival lineups such as Camp Bisco, Moon.Beach, and Waakan. He even played at Okeechobee earlier this year, where he closed out the event, making him the very last and one of the only sets of 2020.
It’s still unsure what the future of festivals and events look like but one thing is certain – we won’t be missing any tiedye ky sets once they’re back. It’s an incredibly immersive experience, as Kyle has many talents. Not only does he beautifully play the guitar, he also does a lot of his own vocals, making those performances even more memorable. He’s an authentic soul and it shows not just in his character up on stage but also in his music. The energy at those sets is always unreal.
Tiedye ky is not one that falls under a certain genre. Instead, flows effortlessly between them. He constantly redefines genres while moving through them, using his art to fully express himself, and ignoring the ego’s way of thinking you have to fit a certain way or make a certain style of music. The “Color Pallete” LP he released back in 2017 was separated into two parts: Side A and Side B. Side A was a little lighter and dream-like with each of the songs named after colors, while Side B was more of that heavier bass and songs named after various elements including “Fire.” Now, he lets all of his sounds flow together.
Kyle has undeniably mastered all ends of the music spectrum ranging from the beautiful melodic bass to that heavy-hitting, in-your-face glitchy beats, which proves to be true in his latest album. “Baby Blue and the Super Moon” can be found on Conscious Electronic’s Top Albums of 2020. Keep an eye out for him this year. He’s doing more than just making music.
tiedye ky - Baby Blue and the Supermoon LP
Despite only having been around since early summer, Tripp St. has already cemented themselves as a serious contender among rising bass artists. Their clear talent, knowledge of electronic music, and mind-blowing number of originals have shocked the community, and has everyone asking–just who is Tripp St.? A brand new star, or someone we’re already well acquainted with?
So far, they’ve steadily debuted mixes from their initial Welcome to Tripp St. mix to their most recent Block Party throwdown, as well as making waves with their SummerEyes livestream set. This elusive beatmaker has already garnered thousands of followers, and everyone wants to know if they’ll spin live when in-person shows come back. Rumors about who they may be have flown, with people making guesses for anyone from Liquid Stranger to Tipper and more.
His breakout style has been a genre-shifting mix of glitch, heavy dub, and drum and bass, and they’ve crafted top of the line remixes of artists like Jade Cicada and Pretty Lights. We may not have a name for this enigmatic persona anytime soon, but with any luck they’ll continue to surprise us with insane mixes and music for some time to come–especially with what appears to be a loaded cache of unreleased music that seems ready to go at the drop of a hat.
Tripp St. - Block Party mix
The winner of CE’s Artists to Watch in 2020 is none other than Indianapolis-based artist and producer Brandon Wisniski aka Wreckno. Throughout the whole year, this empowering pioneer of the electronic dance music scene has continued to stay under the mainstream spotlight. From teaming up with GRiZ to create the top single “Medusa” to becoming a major inspiration to the entire LGBTQIA+ community, Wreckno’s 2020 has been nothing short of iconic.
To kick off the new decade, Wreckno joined forces with rising freeform bass artist Super Future to deliver a whole new high-energy, sassy sound on their experimental Hypernatural EP. Upon release, the collaboration metamorphosed into an overnight sensation by flawlessly blending the unique styles of the two steadily growing producers. The immediate success set off a ripple-effect that ultimately led Wreckno to collaborate with several other amazing artists and producers in the industry such as GRiZ, Wessanders, NotLö, Gardella, and Mad Pritch.
All of which came as releases to celebrate Pride Month, which at the time was surrounded by social distancing, mask wearing, and protesting against police brutality. It was at this key moment in the year that Wreckno cemented his iconic status. While the world was filled with panic and isolation, Wreckno not only spread immense positivity all around the music scene and LGBTQIA+ community, but also dropped a collaborative single with GRiZ and a four-track EP titled ROYGBIV.
Without a doubt, everyone should keep Wreckno on their radar for 2021. There’s not many artists in the industry who have such a bold and wondrous style, and it directly correlates to why he won CE’s Artists to Watch in 2020. Thankfully, Wreckno is just getting started because he’s on course to take over the whole scene.