When you make it big in the DJ world, it’s easy to fall into a pattern when it comes to making your music. People demonstrate that they like your sound, and you in turn give them what they want over and over again until it’s time to make that new EP and do the same thing all over again. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it; you’re meeting a demand as an artist and it gives your fans what they asked for.
If you’re waiting patiently for a new release from an artist like Above & Beyond, there’s a good chance you’re not expecting to get an album full of fat and heavy dubstep drops. Conversely, if you want new music from Excision, it’d be just as unnerving for his latest single to be full of trance vocals and violins. But sometimes it’s refreshing when an artist takes a step or three out of their comfort zone and makes something truly unique.
Take for example Avicii’s latest single you’ve no doubt been hearing everywhere.
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Avicii catches a lot of flak for being the reason you had to hear “Levels” twelve times for every festival you went to the year it was released. He’s massively popular, makes big room house, and is generally regarded as someone who rarely does anything but that. But when he busted out the kazoos at Ultra Miami this year to a smattering of boos (and harsh criticism), he demonstrated a courage not often seen in the industry. Since then, his folk/country/electro single has been downloaded over a million times and is the number one song in the UK.
But it’s not just huge names like Avicii branching out of their respective genres. For anyone who was at Paradiso this year, it’s hard to forget how Pegboard Nerds threw down at the bass stage. From “20K” to “Razor Sharp,” their music is across the board dirty dubstep. Their last release though sounds more like the talking bass and sax-heavy style of KOAN Sound than their typical “build-drop-build-drop”.
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If this is any indicator of their ability to make glitch-hop, they could soon find themselves right up there with the likes of GRiZ, Big Gigantic, and Gramatik.
We have Beatport mainstays and up-and-comers showing a willingness to experiment. But how about someone who’s been successful in the industry for the last twenty years? BT has long been famous for his status as a giant of the trance family. He has a deep appreciation for music that transcends genres, and it’s largely the reason he’s managed to stay relevant for so long. His latest collaboration with Aqualung shows us that very ability (to hear more about it, click here for our full review).
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The description says it all, describing it as “walking the fine line of prog, house, break-beat and full-on big-room.” It shows us firsthand how artists that allow their music to evolve are the ones who are the most interesting, and as a guy who’s been around since the early 90s it’s hard not to take BT’s word for it.
This of course isn’t an exhaustive list of all the artists breaking genre lines, rather they’re just a few examples to show how there isn’t just one type of artist willing to be different. From the headliners at Ultra to the guys who’ve been around since denim jackets and warehouse raves were a thing, breaking out of the comfort zone as an artist is what truly sets someone apart from the herd. Next time you’re combing through the Beatport Top 100 feeling like all EDM sounds the same, remember that even Avicii likes country.
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