Upcoming Match-ups

Music Odds: Rising DJs Headed to Billboard Charts

Trevor Dueck

by Trevor Dueck in Entertainment

Updated Jan 17, 2018 · 9:38 AM PST

DJ Zierro spinning at a club
Photo Credit: Zierros (Own work) CC License

The electronic music scene is vast and always growing. There are so many subgenres that it can be hard for people to wade through the rough seas of a niche to find something that connects.

Do you even NeroFunk bro?

Remember, though, all of the huge EDM acts that headline major festivals were once up-and-coming DJs/producers putting in work just to get noticed. They all started from modest beginnings, making their magic at smaller clubs and festivals before finding mainstream success.

The reality is that the vast majority of “up-and-comers” will never make it to the main stage of Electric Daisy Carnival or Creamfields or Electric Zoo, especially now that there is so much competition from all sides. So many EDM kids — and yes, some literally are kids — spend countless hours writing and releasing their own music at home, creating a saturated and very noisy market.

Staying out of the mainstream spotlight is, of course, just fine with some people. Not all DJs/producers are looking for prime residency gigs or smash hits. Many are content doing their own thing and developing tracks within their chosen subgenre. But for most, playing the EDC mainstage would be a dream come true and, to do that, you have to be heard.

Who will be that next breakout star? Today, I’m looking at a ten burgeoning EDM acts on the cusp of hitting it big and the odds they find mainstream success, using Billboard’s Dance/Electronic charts as the gauge. (I did a very similar exercise last year for Marshmello and REZZ with the Grammys as the metric.) Look at this as a well-curated mixtape of up-and-coming artists complete with a prognosticatory sidedish.


Muffler spinning at Suisto Club
Photo Credit: Tero Heino CC License

Yotto: 1/1

It’s not a matter of if Yotto will find one of his tracks on the Billboard charts, it’s a matter of when. This young Finnish producer has been combining solid production work with catchy songwriting for a few years now and he’s starting to turn heads, drawing praise from the likes of Annie Mac and Pete Tong on BBC’s Radio One. Look for Yotto to be a big player in the coming years as he continues to pump out hits.

GRUM: 3/1

Graeme Shepherd has been turning out some great progressive house tracks for well over seven years and he’s now starting to play some of the biggest venues. When you get recognition from the likes of Sasha, Kaskade and Steve Angello, you know you’re doing something right. His music has that retro summer sound which always plays well on a beach. To date, he’s had six tracks in the Beatport Top Ten and 31 releases in the Beatport Top 100; is a home on Billboard just one beat away?

SayMyName: 3/1

They call him the God Father of Hard Trap. By merging trap and hardstyle together, SayMyName has garnered huge props from Skrillex, DJ Snake, and NGHTMRE. This is a rising star to keep an eye on, especially if he keeps knocking out great collabs like he did with Crichy Crich.

k?d: 4/1

This young producer has built up a massive following on Soundcloud where he combines heavy bass music with future house sounds that pack a nice punch. He’s even dabbling in lofi hip hop under the alias Glitch Boy. When he isn’t touring with REZZ, he’s playing big festivals and sold out shows. With millions of people listening to your music, you know it’s just a matter of time before k?d crosses over.

Will Clarke: 4/1

This Bristol native found success early on in his musical journey when he landed a primo residency gig at Kanya in Ibiza. When he isn’t getting a party going at clubs like Space or MOS, his songs are being heard on BBC’s Radio 1. He might not have that poppy EDM track in him that we normally see dominate those Billboard charts, but there are always spots reserved for glorious club bangers and Clarke produces those in waves.

MRNG: 25/1

MRNG (a.k.a Mr. Nice Guy) is a live collaboration between Jerrett Rosario, David Hunter and Rafael Peñaloza that specializes in glitch-hop. MRNG is quickly making a name for themselves with tracks like the smash-hit remix of Martin Garrix’s “Animals” and their 2015 track “Switch,” which climbed the Beatport’s hip-hop charts to #25. With residences in several venues, like House of Blues, and support from the likes of Steve Aoki, Showtek and Nero, the future is bright.

Whipped Cream: 25/1

Caroline Cecil, also known as Whipped Cream, hails from the bass-driven province of British Columbia, Canada. She loves to put on live shows and, if you get the chance to listen to her live set at Shambhala, you will know why she is one of the fastest rising stars in electronica. It’s all about the bass with this lady and good luck in slowing her down.

Hotfire: 50/1

Hot who? Hotfire, and you’ll know why they are called that when you listen to some of the great bass tracks these boys are churning out. Don’t relegate Hotfire to just your headphones. Go and check out these fellas live and witness their infectious energy firsthand; you won’t find one still body on the dance floor. They may never make an album or track that charts on Billboard, but who cares? They have great stage presence and a great sound.

Project Pablo: 50/1

Patrick Holland’s laid-back style is perfect for driving on a summer night. While he may not end up on a prestigious chart, his Balearic, lo-fi house sound is becoming a thing out West in places like Los Angeles and Vancouver. And hey, if Mark Farina can find himself on Billboard’s dance/electronic album chart with mushroom jazz, then Project Pablo always has a chance. Regardless, put this dude on your playlist.

Blankface: 100/1

I had to include a Dubstep act and although there are other up-and-coming artists like Krimer and Phaseone, it was Blankface that won me over with the track above. Dubstep may have seemed like a fad at first, but you’re starting to see a new wave of artists come along and continue to experiment. It’s still pretty niche, largely confined to dingy warehouses, but great artists like Blankface are producing quality dub that could eventually reach a broader audience.

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