By: Luke Miller
Note from the Editor: Ever since we found out that we'd be hosting the Silent Disco at Aura Music & Arts Festival, February 14-16 at the beautiful Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL, it got us thinking about the disco revival (many call it nu-disco) that's been gathering steam for the past few years. Besides its ties to French House and the Ed Banger label--we knew practically NOTHING about the genre. So we needed some help.
Thankfully, our buddy Luke Miller came to the rescue. Fans of The Untz know him as a member of seminal post-rock act Lotus (headlining AURA), and many now know him as Luke the Knife, his disco alter ego. Luke was kind enough to break it all down for us into easy digestible chunks AND give us his Top 10 artists who are producing this type of music. We'll let him take it from here, and make us look like geniuses.
Flight Facilities - Australia - signature song: Crave You
This duo of producers has a very laidback tropical sound. They often work with guest singers and definitely tend toward the pop sound. Because of that, there are lots of remixes of their tracks out there in various genres.
Similar artists: Miami Horror, Jack Thomas
The Magician - Belgium - signature song: I Follow Rivers Remix
Formerly half of Aeroplane, The Magician is mainly a DJ but does remixing and some original production. His monthly Magic Tape series of hourlong mixes is very popular on Soundcloud and amongst bloggers. His sound veers more toward European pop and club stuff, but his ear for new material and artist coming out is top-notch.
Similar artists: Aeroplane
Todd Terje - Norway - signature song: Inspector Norse
Todd Terje has a funky style that often utilizes analog sounding arpeggios. He frequently works with fellow Norwegian producer Lindstrom. Most tracks are instrumental with long slow builds and breakdowns that you can easily get lost in.
Similar artists: Shit Robot
Breakbot - France - signature song: Baby I'm Yours
Breakbot's sound always contains throwback elements to the 70's and 80's. Rhodes chords adding jazzy voicings to disco beats. He resurrects those elements that might sound dated and puts a fresh spin on them. He's not the most consistent track to track, but more unique than most.
Simliar artists: Shook
RAC - Portland - signature song: Hollywood
The Nu-Disco remix king. RAC has kind of a simple formula for remixing pop leaning tracks into a Nu-Disco sound. Every track he releases is pure blog bait with impeccable production. Many of his tracks sound similar, but he is very good at what he does. He has started delving into original tracks, which is definitely harded than remixing known hits, but RAC might have the skills to pull it off.
Similar artists: Goldroom
Gigamesh - Minneapolis - signature song: Tongue Tied Remix
Gigamesh loves Michael Jackson and Chic, you can hear the influences in most of his tracks. He does killer remixes and always adds a funky and fun element to the original song. His tracks always light up a dance floor. Gigamesh has been apearing at many festivals, so his name will probably be popping up more and more.
Similar artists: Drop Out Orchestra, Pyschemagik
Poolside - Los Angeles - signature song: Do You Believe
The duo behind Poolside are more on the indie side, but their name perfectly encapsulates the sound. Very chill tunes with elements from the 70's and 80's adding a nostalgic haze. As singers they manage to find perfect little melodies to fit around their sparse instrumental tracks.
Similar artists: Holy Ghost, Tanlines
Viceroy - Los Angeles - signature song: Dream of Bombay
Viceroy's tagline is Summertime All the Time. It's a tropical vibe for sure. Some of his tracks lean toward more of a college beach party sound. He does a lot of remixes, which are consistently very popular with the bloggers. Still young, his sound will defintely grow a lot in the years to come. I could see him breaking out as an in demand producer for fledgling pop stars.
Similar artists: French Horn Rebellion, Ghost Beach
Classixx - Los Angeles - signature song: Holding On
These guys have a perfect balance between club ready and smooth sounding tracks. They do original production and remixes with equal aplomb. They lean toward more synthesized sounds, but usually throw in the perfect slap bass, or piano sound. They are booked for Coachella this year, so watch out for Classixx to break out big in 2014.
Similar artists: Moonboots
The Knocks - New York - signature song: Modern Hearts
Prior to working on their own stuff The Knocks were working on beats and remixes for some of the biggest pop artists. So they are definitely more cued into that world. But their Nu-Disco sound combined with the pop influences is a killer combo.
Similar artists: Oliver
While some of these artists have racked up high placing songs on the charts, millions of YouTube views, and tens of thousands of Soundcloud followers, none has broken out as a big concert act. There isn't a Deadmau5 of the Nu-Disco scene. It's a genre that hasn't hit the high schools, living with a slightly older crowd that wants to feel something more than a bass blast to the chest. But it's not trying to be underground or exclusive. Nu-Disco wants to hug the world with a happy sound that makes people smile and dance and love. It's a deceptively simple genre. Simple in its parts, but deceptive in that the difference between making a nu-disco song and a nu-disco hit is vast.
I played the first Luke the Knife show in December 2012 with Denver Disco at Bar Standard. I had never done a DJ gig before. My original idea going into getting LtK started was to bring the fun of funk and disco into the club environment. I felt nervous before going on stage, something that hadn't happened in almost a decade. But the gig went great, people seemed to really like it. Through 2013 I was able to play at Electric Forest, Sonic Bloom, festivals on the west coast, east coast, and throughout the Midwest. I was playing mainly edits and remixes I had made of songs I liked. Throughout the year I got better at mixing between the songs, pacing my sets, building momentum, and holding the vibe when the crowd was locked into the groove.
The more I played the more I started mixing in more Nu-Disco tracks. During those tracks people had the biggest smiles, they were the tracks people commented on the most at the end of the night. Songs with a great vocal hook paired with an undeniable yet simple beat that just made people groove. I did a Lotus after party in NYC where I played for nearly 3 hours, and this was after 2 full sets of the Lotus. When I finished at almost 4 in the morning the crowd still wanted more. Once you enter the sunny tractorbeam you don't want to leave. Every part of it is built to go on and on, from the four-to-the-floor beat, to the circular chord progressions, to the repeatable vocal hooks. That's the power of Nu-Disco.
Find Luke the Knife online
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