CE’s Top 10 Female EDM Vocalists
One of the most widely-known pieces of Greek mythology is that of the siren, a species of half-human, half-bird women who lured men to their death using only their voices. Their haunting, ethereal songs were so beautiful that it drove those who heard it mad, and was said to speak directly to what your heart wanted more than anything. Clearly, the Greeks were on to something, as women’s voices tend to produce an eye-watering array of notes and harmonies, and are often unmatched in terms of vocal power.
Women exist on another level when it comes to their singing, elevating even the most basic of beats into heart-melting tunes. Their prowess is especially coveted among the dance music community, and it’s common to hear stunning female vocalists and female samples layered over tracks for moments that make your arm hairs stand on end. No genre is without its lady powerhouses: house, techno, bass, filthy dubstep, and glitch hop all have chart-shattering tracks with features by talented women. It’s also fairly standard to see women brought up onstage at live sets for vocal accompaniment, and even female rappers are finally leveling out the mainstream playing field.
And yet, despite how coveted these alluring voices are, too many women are left in the dust, without artist credit or proper financial compensation, by record labels and male producers. The stage is one of the few places where oppressed women over centuries could share the spotlight and tell their story, but what happens after studio time ends? How many cases of women being shut out, disrespected, underpaid, and left little to no control over their final product have we heard? One only has to look at the wildly-discussed Free Britney documentary that premiered recently to understand how backwards behind the scenes can be. Women of all races, ages, and nationalities have gifted us their voices over and over again, only to have them snatched away for power and capitalist gain.
But not anymore.
As we wrap up another Women’s History Month, let’s remember to look beyond the surface and make sure these contributors to music are not suffocated, but given the creative space and freedom to spread their talents and reach their ambitions without inhibition. Women in music have long had to deal with sleazy bosses, poor working conditions, and so much more–and they’ve had enough. Consider this a call to action, a move to support organic and women-owned record labels, as well as women producers, vocalists, musicians, and all the industry professionals making the grassroots changes that are so desperately needed. As listeners, what we consume matters, and the ever-growing feminist movement is dependent on those who support it.
Over the course of March, the CE staff attempted the harrowing task of narrowing down the Top Female Commercial Producers, Top Underground Bass Producers, and Top Business Women. To round out this four-part series dedicated to spotlighting some incredible women in the music industry, we now present the final piece of the puzzle in honor of Women’s Month. Without further ado, here are Conscious Electronic‘s Top 10 Female Vocalists in EDM.
Singer-Songwriter Zoë Johnston has spent the last 20 years captivating listeners with her hauntingly beautiful lyrics and uniquely recognize-able voice. Over the years she has lent her expertise to a multitude of projects spanning all genres, and become a household name for music lovers alike.
Hailing from Nottingham, England this prolific songstress has performed with a multitude of groups, as well as releasing an eagerly anticipated solo album that was many years in the making. Johnston made her singing debut on UK electronica duo Neon Heights debut album A View From the Heights under the alias Zed J, astonishing critics with her otherworldly voice. She continued on to collaborate with numerous other groups over the years including Bent, Faithless, and Delirium. In 2004 she released a solo album composed of rough home recordings under the name Happenstances, which featured the original version of her wildly popular single with Faithless “Crazy English Summer.”
While not an official member, Zoë’s long-time collaboration with trance group Above & Beyond makes it hard to separate the two artistic entities. After Jono Grant made contact with Zoë through a family member in 2004, she separately wrote and recorded their first track together, “No One On Earth,” which went on to be named Armin Van Buuren’s tune of the year. The musical chemistry between the 4 was undeniable and she has since written and performed on 4 more albums alongside the trio, which have all received widespread praise. Some of her most notable work with Above & Beyond includes “Good For Me,” “Alchemy,” Love Is Not Enough,” and “We’re All We Need.”
Zoë Johnston is one of those artists that you only come across every couple of generations, a brilliant lyricist with the voice of an angel. Through emotion filled stories she shares pieces of her heart and has in turn captured ours, we are ever looking forward to hearing what this powerful woman gifts the world of music next.
Nevve is an incredibly talented group of female songwriters and vocalists who are located in Los Angeles, California. While it started off in 2016 as a solo project by Keeley Bumford, they eventually expanded in 2019 to include other vocalists Lindsay Vinarsky, Michelle Buzz, and Julia Thompson. For a while, the identity of the group was a mystery, and while fans finally know who they are, the ladies have never publicly made an appearance together or officially announced themselves.
These women have been featured on countless tracks with renowned artists like Illenium, Elephante, Big Gigantic DROLOE, Seven Lions, pluko, Flux Pavillion, and many more. As a widely renowned creative force within the industry, they’ve produced countless beautiful accompaniments and subsequently were signed over to Monstercat, JennyMusic, and bitbird.
The group has accumulated other talents, including songwriters and mixers who have worked under some of the best and biggest names in music, but the talent truly lies within it’s singers. They primarily work within electronic and pop genres, contributing dance-floor ready anthems and hair-raising harmonies to already iconic songs.
While they’re still relatively fresh faces in the scene, they’ve quickly surrounded themselves in intrigue and built a collective of listeners. Whatever your EDM genre of choice is, they’ve probably got a hit song coming your way soon.
LIGHTS is a Canadian songwriter and vocalist whose well-established career has been highlighted by numerous releases, collaborations, and interesting nontraditional multi-media projects. While she has won three Juno Awards, and made live appearances on the show, her career has shown that it is the love and adoration of music itself that drives LIGHTS to create and perform.
Born in Northern Ontario, as Valerie Proxleitner, it was her parents who taught her the guitar, and that was all that was needed to begin down a creative path. It was in this learning phase that she recognized that music has the power to put one at peace–a very powerful thing, and a revelation for the young musician. Her mission, to create and discover that power for herself, has been what her career has been about as it developed and evolved.
Beginning in high school, where she fronted a metal band, she began creating a following utilizing Myspace. Not long after that, LIGHTS, a play on her last name, was born. She made her debut in 2008, producing and releasing music, and her success was created through a synthpop sound that allowed her voice and singing style to shine. Most recently, she presented a live performance of her album Dead End alongside MYTH at a Joshua Tree performance.
In addition to five albums and numerous music videos, an album crossover project shows LIGHTS’ creative adaptability and abilities. She wrote and drew a comic, telling a narrative of a character’s struggles with forces of light and dark in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world. The album, Skin&Earth, follows the narrative told in this comic, as the main character (herself) learns and grows in the process. She tackles not only art but also her own inner workings, what she’s capable of, and how much of her heart is truly in her art.
Vocalist HALIENE has been a force and contributor to the development of electronic music since she first found the Sahara Tent at Coachella and fell in love with the power of the synth. Having worked extensively with trance and melodic dubstep producers like Seven Lions, and Illenium, as well as superstars Said the Sky and Armin van Buuren, HALIENE’s refined and soaring voice is one of the most recognizable in the industry.
HALIENE was born and had a full and successful early career under her given name Kelly Sweet. Born into music, her dad was a jazz pianist and she began singing seriously from an early age — her mother taking her on the road, and signing a record deal at 17. She began living in Los Angeles about this time, starting a career in music as a traditional female vocalist, but she was not sure that she liked the direction the record labels wanted her to take:
It wasn’t long before she began producing music that might fit an electro-pop kind of style, but it was really the tragic sickness and passing of her parents that motivated her as HALIENE to create a voice and a creative passion through music. “Saving Light”, a song she wrote about the experience, allowed her to reconnect with people through going to music festivals, listening to EDM and actively being a part of the culture.
Since then, her light and angelic voice has provided a balance to trance’s boisterous tone and in doing so, has created something new and awesomely emotional to behold. Says HALIENE to those seeking advice: “Keep dreaming. I know a lot of people say that. Never forget how valuable you are. You’re made of gold, and even though it may be very dark just trust that you are being led… so keep shining your light.”
Danish singer-songwriter Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted Andersen, known simply by her stage name MØ, is EDM’s wild child and pop music’s favorite pariah. Breaking into the mainstream with her feature on Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s 2015 smash hit “Lean On,” MØ captured the ears and hearts of fans everywhere with her powerful vocals and eccentric presence ever since.
MØ had established herself as years prior, however, debuting with her ‘Bikini Daze EP’ via Sony Music in 2012, and subsequently, her full-length studio album, No Mythologies to Follow in 2014. Among her roster of high-profile collaborations including Diplo, Justin Bieber, Noah Cyrus, Foster the People, Snakehips, MØ found her first solo success on her 2016 single “Final Song,” which has racked up nearly half a billion streams on Spotify alone.
Consistent with her rebellious spirit, MØ grew up on punk music and anti-fascist movements, citing bands like Black Flag, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sonic Youth as go-to listening material growing up. Acutely aware of the power of music from a young age, the starlet ironically has largely found her success in pop music, however, she hasn’t let her firecracker personality and punk roots be subdued by any means.
From the Spice Girls to Charli XCX, Kim Gordon to Lana Del Rey, MØ continues to be both inspired by and inspiring to her fellow female artist powerhouses. In addition, with a substantial record of female collaborators, it’s no secret that the Danish songstress works well with others.“There’s so much talk about female artists doing their own thing but being super supportive, coming together and doing projects together. I love that whole wave,” MØ divulged in an interview with the Independent UK.
With a charmingly feisty personality that radiates in her emotional songwriting and explosive vocals, MØ is a true gem in both the pop mainstream world and the electronic music scene. It’ll be a treat to hear what comes out of the bright talent next.
Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, known best by the stage name Tove Lo, is a staple of both electronic and pop genres. Her numerous hits such as “Habits (Stay High)” and “Talking Body” amassed incredible amounts of radio time, remixes, and have a combination of over a billion streams on Spotify. The breakout star has also been featured in fan-favorite tracks like Flume’s “Say It” and Alesso’s “Heroes (we could be).” Gryffin, Illenium, The Chainsmokers, and Keys N Krates have all released remixes to various Tove Lo songs, boosting her worldwide span even further.
She’s worked with well known and respected producers and labels over the years, earned half a dozen awards, and repeatedly made it onto Billboard’s Hot 100 and 200, all in addition to nominations for multiple Grammy’s.
While many didn’t know who she was before dropping “Habits” in 2013, the Swedish singer and songwriter has actually been around for 15 years. At only 10 years old, she wrote her first song with a group of friends, who collectively started a girl band upon discovering their shared love for music. Years later, while attending music school, she became good friends and roommates with Caroline Hjelt, who later went on to make up half of Icona Pop. In the late 2000’s, she formed the band Tremblebee with guitarist Christian Bjerring, which broke up in 2009 and led to her birth as a solo artist.
This international superstar is a bold, unafraid force to be reckoned with as she continues to drop steady projects one after another. Her defiant attitude and confident personality have made her admired and revered by millions of fans worldwide, both within female and LGBT communities, of which she is a staunch supporter. If anyone’s breaking the barriers of what pop music can talk about, it’s Tove Lo.
Multi-talented Sia has taken nearly every creative industry by storm with her breathtaking voice and one-of-a-kind artistic vision. This visionary femme has changed the face of what it means to be a powerful woman, dominating everything from music to dance. But Sia actually loathes fame, which usually follows dominating a highly public industry like music: “I don’t care about commercial success. I get to do what I love and communicate whatever I want.”
Born into a family of musicians, this Australian native always had an affinity for sound and started her singing career at an early age as a jazz singer, performing with her group Crisp in the 1990’s. In the pursuit of a solo career she left Australia and moved around the world, first to London and later ending up in New York, always seeming just shy of her goal.
She finally gained widespread recognition from her track “Breathe Me” after it was featured on the show Pushing Daisies, and the rest is history. After her quick ascent to stardom, Sia became overwhelmed by fame and retreated into privacy, emerging back into the spotlight in her now-iconic oversized wig to hide her identity as much as she could in her position. “If Amy Winehouse was a beehive, then I guess I’m a blonde bob,” she has joked previously.
During her time spent in the shadows away from the public eye, she penned some of today’s most beloved dance floor anthems. She teamed up with dance music legend David Guetta to create “Titanium,” and the duo have since joined forces again to release “Floating Through Space.” Expanding further into the realms of electronic music she has teamed up with Diplo and Labrinth to make up LSD, this trio creates feel good genre-defying tracks filled with sunshine synths and feel-good lyrics.
Outside of her singing career she has written and curated the soundtracks for movies as well as writing songs for the likes of Madonna, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. Her protégé is singer/dancer Maddie Ziegler, who has taken over as Sia’s public persona, performing as her in music videos and on album covers. Ziegler was the main character of LSD’s most recognizable mainstream hit, “Thunderclouds,” which featured the young star flying through a psychedelic sky while Sia relegated herself to a marionette puppet in the music video.
An absolute gem of the creative world, Sia makes magic in every realm she enters. Her humility and trademark disdain for fame have pushed her to create some of today’s most well-loved art from behind the scenes. Never one to be underestimated, keep your eye out for what’s next from this jack of all trades.
“The truth is that you shouldn’t match your insides to other people’s outsides. Life is an inside job, and we just have to do our best.”
For dance music fans across the world, Ellie Goulding is someone who needs no introduction. Standing at the forefront of folk-inflected mainstream pop, the British singer-songwriter first blasted onto the music scene with her debut studio album, Lights, back in 2010. Since then, Goulding has gone on to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, the wedding reception of Prince William and Kate Middleton, countless festivals like Lollapalooza, and on the hit movie Fifty Shades of Grey.
With an independently-minded approach to commercial music, this queen of pop is no stranger to electronic music. From her dubstep-influenced sophomore album, 2012’s Halcyon, to her ambient synth-pop-inflected third studio album, 2015’s Delirium, Goulding’s sound has always heavily linked her to EDM.
Meanwhile, she scored an international hit with Calvin Harris‘ single “I Need Your Love,” which was certified multi-platinum in the US, Australia, and Canada. Another hit track with former romantic partner Harris, “Outside,” kept her firmly planted on the global charts. 2018 saw Goulding link up with Diplo and rapper Swae Lee to release another radio hit, “Close to Me,” before being guested on Clean Bandit‘s single “Mama” and rapper Juice WRLD‘s “Hate Me” in 2019.
She’s also been remixed by every famous EDM producer under the sun— from Zeds Dead, Hardwell, Vindata, Kygo, Gemini, and Blackmill to countless others. From her work over the years with Skrillex on “Summit,” Major Lazer on “Powerful,” and Seven Lions on “Don’t Leave,” and most recently, with Four Tet on “Baby,” Goulding firmly stands as an EDM Vocalist icon. As one of the most sincere and warm women in the music industry, she’s become a model for young female vocalists working in the music industry.
Elohim has always had a deep love and connection for music, learning singing and songwriting since the age five, while also receiving classical training and learning the piano early on. She appeals to people not only with her powerful voice and poetic lyrics, but with her candidness regarding her own mental health struggles that began when she was only seven. Her debut single in 2015, titled “Xanax,” was a breakout anthem channeling those frustrations and difficulties, and she’s released other songs since like “Panic Attacks” to help others going through those same challenges. Publicly telling stories of self-medication and recovery can be extremely personal, but Elohim does it in a way that inspires and soothes. She’s also a staunch supporter of meditation, therapy, and self-care, encouraging her fanbase to seek those things out for themselves.
Elohim’s musical style is very difficult to pin down, jumping from electro-pop to synth to pure electronic. The artists she’s worked with are equally diverse: everyone from marshmello to Alison Wonderland, to Skrillex, Whethan, The Glitch Mob, and many more. She’s also not afraid to break boundaries within her own tracks, creating numbers that include guided affirmations, breathing exercises, and almost conversational pieces. Her festival and tour appearances are numerous, with sets at Voodoo, HARD Summer, Okeechobee, and Snowglobe, to name just a few.
Elohim is fond of anonymity, keeping all her personal information (such as her real name) a secret from the public. She wore masks before they were cool, taking efforts to hide her face and protect herself in a move meant to put the focus on her art rather than herself and her physical appearance. In an industry that spends so much time critiquing female musicians for their clothes, makeup, and physical characteristics, it’s a clear power move that can inspire others who may not feel comfortable in the spotlight.
Her artist name is also an unusual choice—Elohim is a Hebrew word for “gods” or “deities,” deeply biblical in nature and traditionally associated with male figures, like Abraham. Claiming such a name could be considered a rejection of typical gender roles, and has certainly garnered some interest from fans.
Women often are pushed to display strength, to hide the darker parts of themselves and their problems to appear appealing to the masses. As more and more refuse to live up to the impossible, harmful standards that have been established in the entertainment industry, more and more women watching can feel empowered and supported to speak out about the injustices in their own lives. Elohim is not only talented, but an example for others who share in her struggles, and we can’t wait to see what barriers she kicks down next.
It’s quite mesmerizing the ways in which music can be transformed when lyrics are introduced to a song. Words can take melodies, which might otherwise be simple on the surface, and manufacture them into emotionally injected narratives that might not have been as powerful on their own. But what lyrics, lyricists, and songwriters can also do, is collaborate with producers and engineers in ways that lead to incredible works of art— collaborations that have the potential to shape the history of music and mold new genres that have never been heard before. A trend that is incredibly important to the proliferation and evolution of music as a whole.
One artist who represents this particular demographic is Mimi Page, a singer-songwriter, composer, record producer, and sound designer who has explored nearly every genre and flavor of music recording in her astounding career. Born in Los Angeles to a woman described as a “triple threat” dancer, Page accompanied her mom on multiple international tours from the ages of 2-5, during which she began to craft herself into the artist she is today.
“We pretty much lived as nomads in hotels and on the tour bus,” described Page. of her childhood. “I’d rehearse her lines with her which helped me learn how to read. I attribute a lot of my creativity to my childhood as I was constantly surrounded by music and dancing.”
As arguably the most recognizable vocalist working in EDM, Mimi Page has worked with every producer from Seven Lions and Minnesota, to Illenium and Said The Sky, to Naux Vahn and Marsh of the Anjuna family, But the person to give her a start was Bassnectar on their most iconic track, “Butterfly,” which led to many more collaborations over the years.
When Bassnectar’s career came crashing down last year due to sexual assault allegations, it inspired Page to speak out about other abuses of women in the music. Particularly, about how the once-legendary artist cheatest her out of royalties, which shed wider light on a larger problem in the music industry and how famous producers use their fame as “payment” for vocalists on their tracks, while pocketing most (if not all) earnings on the track.
Page was even so compelled to pen an open letter to Bassnectar opening space for his accountability while detailing his professional and financial abuse, along with his sexually-suggestive rhetoric. She bravely spoke up about how uncomfortable that made her as a survivor of sexual abuse.
Since her early beginnings in what can only be described as an unconventional childhood for a preteen, Mimi Page has produced some incredible compositions. From her debut EP, A Lullaby for the Lonely, to her most recent collaboration with the popular record label Anjunadeep, there is no stopping the rocket-fueled journey that Mimi Page is embarking on. Don’t be surprised to see her name on more Conscious Electronic Top 10 lists in the near future, as she steadily grows her fanbase with a beautiful mixture of breathless vocals and authentic personality.
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