If we have learned anything from history, it's that times of great suffering produce amazing art. 2020 saw some of the music industry hit a temporary pause at the onset of the pandemic, we ended the year with some artists finding their way through to release some truly amazing new music. Heading into 2021, this set-in "new normal,"—music industry without live events—will see aspiring new artists with a narrower, less defined, path to gain new fans. A class of talent armed with only the digital space as their launch pad, we're bracing ourselves for a year of some truly remarkable art from artists who will surely make their mark on this year. These are your 2021 Artists to Watch, according to our staff.
Standout track: "hand crushed by a mallet"
100 Gecs rose to prominence last year but they are unlike any music that exists right now by a long shot and they absolutely need to be watched because everything they do is so insanely electrifying I can't even put it into words. – Max Pasion-Gonzales, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "Find Another Connection"
The undisputed queen of techno in 2020, Akua mixes it like no other. Her sound is raw, fast and weird – making her one of the most interesting selectors in the game. I promise you haven’t heard techno like this before. – Beth Taylor, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "What To Do"
The Peterborough native DJ and producer had string of successful release in 2020 and had received support from some of the industry's biggest names this year. Alisha proved to be a prime example of an artist who used the pandemic to her advantage and put out some great music that climbed the Beatport charts this year. – Jeremy Lin, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "Josh Wink – Higher State of Conciousness (Aquarian’s SuperSize My Room Edit)"
The way Aquarian blends different genres in his mixes will leave you avoiding single-genre DJs at all costs. Bringing something completely fresh to the table every time, there aren’t many out there as versatile as him. Due to be one of the most unmissable sets of Dekmantel last year, we’re counting down the days until we get to see him close that UFO II. – Beth Taylor, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "Blind"
The producer from Newcastle has had an amazing 2020 with releases on Repopulate mars, Trick and Sola. Ben Hemsley has truly caught the attention of the dance music world as every release he has had is certified dance floor weapon. – Jeremy Lin, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "Tilt Shift"
Dezza has slowly been building momentum after the release of his breakout album, Cosmos, in 2019. After being given mixing duties on various compilations (a good sign of support behind the scenes), releasing an EP and remixing a few tracks in 2020, I have a feeling that he's got something up his sleeve that will leave a mark on 2021. – Steph Evans, Managing Editor
Standout track: "Ara"
With the release of her breakout track "Ara" Effy has become a name to watch in the dance music scene. She had received support from some of the icons in the industry, including playtime in Danny Howard's radio show. – Jeremy Lin, Contributing Writer
Standout track: Above & Beyond – No One On Earth (gardenstate Remix)
After the debut of their standout remix of "No One On Earth” played by Above & Beyond at ABGT 400 on The River Thames Marcus Schössow & Matthew Felner AKA gardenstate are a rare act that has picked up and maintained momentum across 2020. As one of the now highly anticipated emerging acts added to the Anjunabeats roster, expect to see lots of new music and a strong push from the label in 2021. – Patrick Ames Connor, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "The Love I Need"
Girlhood cross over Avalanches style sample heavy electronic with soultry R&B, rendering a sound that is wildly anthemic and compelling. Every song is a celebration, a thesis statement, a shot for the stars. – Max Pasion-Gonzales, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "For You"
I mean, this one is a no brainer. Jordan's 2020 For You EP completely blew my mind. Now, with everyone paying attention, and with a co-sign from Pete Tong, among many others, I can't wait to see them shake shit up. – Steph Evans, Managing Editor
Standout track: Doschitai
At the forefront of Russia’s electro scene sit Locked Club; they’re dangerously intense and every production means business. Their tunes are as moody as their balaclavas, with each and every one leaving us longing for a dingy basement and fat soundsystem. – Beth Taylor, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "I Won't Forget"
I'm seeing something happen that is going beyond the obvious trend of melodic techno. It's at the root of why people are gravitating toward that, and somehow, Logic1000 has been able to pluck the pith of it and transform it into something completely different. Her music is melodic, soothing, and I'd just love to hear it played out. – Steph Evans, Managing Editor
Standout track: "Fire"
After years of waiting in the wings, the Canadian producer is finally ready for the spotlight, as evidenced on his 2020 EP, Extra Extra! – Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "Set You Free"
With a huge release on Solardo's imprint Sola, the duo has proved that they are a serious force in the dance music world.While they have had successful release over the past couple years, The release of "Set You Free" really grabbed the attention of dance music lovers. – Jeremy Lin, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "Ectoplastic"
One of the heaviest hitters in electro, Reptant is destined for greatness. “Ectoplastic” has one of the most infectious basslines you’ll ever hear, and there’s tonnes more where that came from. – Beth Taylor, Contributing Writer
t e s t p r e s s
Standout track: "Turboshandy"
After a massive release on Patrick Topping's label Trick, t e s t p r e s s has established themseleves as a duo to watch going into 2021. – Jeremy Lin, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "Pony"
2020 saw Tim Reaper start his own label, release on the renowned Lobster Theremin and produce some of the most infectious mixes you’ll find; he’s already got a release on Hooversound Recordings due early 2021. Leading the way in the UK Jungle scene, you’ll see this name plastered everywhere this year—don’t sleep on it. – Beth Taylor, Contributing Writer
Standout track: "Limbo"
Tina Says is an absolute gem to the world of music and continues to make Dance anthems, stronger than the last. 2021 looks to be a big year… and I cannot wait. – Steve Likoski, Contributing Writer