As we approach the latter half of the ‘twenty-tens’, 2015 proved to be a crux, with a number of important events, new technologies and breakthrough artists and labels expanding the way we consume, create and discuss electronic music. New trends and tropes emerged, decade-old scenes saw an explosion of first-time fanatics, and the lines between varying genres and geographical scenes became increasingly blurred, for better or for worse, depending on who you ask.
Intercontinental movements flourished, a development made continuously more viable in our hyper-connected world. Yet more often than not, it was strong local groups that proved to be some of the most formidable creative forces. Whether in Peckham, Lisbon or Durban, collectives of artists demonstrated the resounding global impact a family of passionate, like-minded individuals can have.
Where pirate radio was once a main source of hearing the freshest cuts from those seriously in the know, online radio has arguably become the prime destination for passionate heads to dig deeper. Whether it was pirate-turned-legit stalwarts, increasingly prominent community radio stations, or fervent up-and-comers, 2015 was undeniably a watershed for online radio. For those hungry for the good stuff, fresh talent and distinguished selectors all flexed their musical muscles on regular slots, along with heaps of hungry MCs honing their craft at feverish rates over live stream.
Whilst those dedicated to wax will continue to prop up the art form, the so-called ‘vinyl revival’ in recent years couldn’t hide the fact that the future of music consumption is adopting a stream-based, curatorial-focussed platform; evident in the arrival of Apple Music and Beats 1. Online also saw increased interest in the way we discuss artists’ roles in electronic music discourse, and broader social and political issues, with a number of high-profile DJs facing widespread criticism over their social media posts.
On the dance floor, the future of inclusive, grassroots clubbing in the UK looked bleak at best. The closure of beloved Glasgow venue The Arches met widespread groans, as did the draconian measures thrown upon fabric by Islington Council (which were successfully appealed last month). There was also the case of London’s ever-increasing rate of venue closure; Plastic People, Madame JoJo’s, People’s Club and Power Lunches, to name but a few, had to call it a day. On a positive note, initiatives like the NTIA are fighting for the future of our nightlife culture by attempting to influence policy makers and raise awareness of its benefit to our economy.
We continued documenting fledgling talent, club stalwarts and revered cultural icons through a range of interviews, think pieces, weekly Hyp mixes and pensive or downright absurd YouTube Sessions. In 2015 we also revealed our four part documentary series broadcast on NTS Radio – ‘Everybody In The Place: An Oral History of British Dance Music Culture’ – that explored the different facets of British dance music’s development from the ‘60s to the present day, with Uncle Dugs, Hatcha, Helen Mead and Femi Adeyemi all contributing their stories.
As ever, it’s almost impossible to whittle the best of the best into one succinct, easily digestible list. This does little justice to the countless producers, DJs, labels, clubs and collectives that make electronic music such an exciting and increasingly hard to define form.
Therefore, we’re letting you, the Hyponik readers, decide on the final outcome. Dive into our shortlist below (compiled by our writers and contributors) and vote for your 2015 favourites in a range of categories, from best album to best live act to best label, and more.
Results will be announced next week. Here’s to 2016!
Update: Voting has closed
Three constants in life: death, taxes, and tiresome think pieces about the ‘death of the album’. The fact is, the album remains the format of choice for artists looking to make a statement of intent, whether it be an expertly paced epic or a concise shot of energy. This lot will stand tall for years to come.
- DJ Richard – ‘Grind’ (Dial)
- DJ Sotofett – ‘Drippin’ For A Tripp’ (Honest Jon’s)
- Flako – ‘Natureboy’ (Five Easy Pieces)
- Floating Points – ‘Elaenia’ (Pluto)
- Helm – ‘Olympic Mess’ (PAN)
- Kamasi Washington – ‘The Epic’ (Brainfeeder)
- Kuedo – ‘Assertion Of A Surrounding Presence’ (Knives)
- Lauer ‘Borndom’ (Permanent Vacation)
- Laurel Halo – ‘In Situ’ (Honest Jon’s)
- Mo Kolours – ‘Texture Like Sun’ (One Handed Music)
- Oneohtrix Point Never – ‘Garden Of Delete’ (Warp)
- Ptaki – ‘Przelot’ (Transatlantyk)
- RP Boo – ‘Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints’ (Planet Mu)
From sun-kissed House and jazzy Electro to Footwork hybrids and fractured Grime – not forgetting all the stuff that resisted our feeble attempts to put it in a box – these are the tracks that elevated themselves above the field and lit up our 2015. Collected memories of first spins, bedroom plays, dancefloor epiphanies – hopefully we’ve included some of your favourites.
- Alix Perez & Stray – ‘Rip n Dip’ (self released)
- Amnesia Scanner ‘Angels Rig Hook’ (Gum Artefacts)
- Bicep – ‘Just’ (Aus)
- Chaos in the CBD ‘Midnight in Peckham’ (Rhythm Section)
- djj – ‘just a lil’ (Crazylegs)
- Fit Siegel – ‘Carmine’ (FIT)
- Flava D – Home (Champion remix)
- Four Tet – ‘Morning side’ (Text)
- Jack J – ‘Thirstin’ (Future Times)
- Jessy Lanza – ‘You Never Show Your Love’ ft. DJ Spinn, Taso (Hyperdub)
- Kelela – ‘Rewind’ (Warp)
- Omar S – ‘I Wanna Know’ (FXHE)
- Rabit – ‘Tears’ (Different Circles)
- Sade – ‘Couldn’t Love You More’ (Florian Kupfer edit)
- Thundercat – ‘Them Changes’ (Brainfeeder)
Some of these DJs had a banner year, showcasing their skills at festivals and clubs across the globe, while others may simply have blown us away with a single set. Some have been blazing a trail forever and this just happened to be a year where everything came together, while others exploded out of the traps and seared themselves into the collective consciousness. One thing they have in common – they all took us on a journey.
- Ben UFO
- Helena Hauff
- John Morales
- Jeremy Underground
- Motor City Drum Ensemble
- Riz La Teef
- Shanti Celeste
In a year that saw the boundaries between the club and the concert venue dissolving even further, these were the forward-thinking musicians whose sets best exemplified the possibilities for live electronic music. Some are pioneering artists who took the dancefloor as a source of inspiration, others are producers who wanted to veer away from it.
- Dean Blunt
- Floating Points
- Holly Herndon
- Lorenzo Senni
- Oneohtrix Point Never
- Paranoid London
- Sim Hutchins
- The Sprawl
Some labels flood us with material, while others keep up a steady drip-feed. From exciting newcomers to established heavyweights to giants leaving the scene for good, these are the imprints we were checking for above all else. They may have shone a light on neglected scenes, introduced us to brand new genres, or simply put out some of the best music of 2015.
- 50 Weapons
- Awesome Tapes From Africa
- Gqom Oh!
- Honest Jon’s
- Lobster Theremin
- Northern Electronics
- Planet Mu
- Trax Couture
Radio enjoyed a great year, as artists and DJs from across the spectrum (re-)discovered its potential as a platform for direct communication. Old favourites soared to new heights in 2015, while a clutch of new stations did a good job of establishing themselves.
- Balamii Radio
- Berlin Community Radio
- KMAH Radio
- NTS Radio
- Radar Radio
- Redlight Radio
- Reprezent Radio
- Rinse Fm
- YAM Radio
Looking at this list, it’s amazing to think back on the individuals that came to prominence this year. Some of these artists were putting a fresh spin on existing templates, others seemed to be doing something entirely new and unexpected. Either way, they all felt like a breath of fresh air, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with in 2016.
- Denis Sulta
- Henry Wu
- Nidia Minaj
- Pender Street Steppers
- Sharp Veins