The “Wild Side” remix features a crisp, buoyant beat and honed synthwork that is specific to Kaytranada’s sonic fluidity. Fans have been reeling over the recently debuted remix on Twitter since mid-October after the BUBBA producer mixed the track into his set while touring. Listen to the completed version of the remix below.
Dancing Astronaut declares John Summit Breakout Artist of 2021 in an exclusive interview feature that recounts the year’s career-shaping moments, from his perspective.
“I used to run long-distance, almost marathon-length running, and I just took that talent and switched it over to DJing,” John Summit said on a Zoom call with Dancing Astronaut. “It literally feels like long-distance running when you play for six to eight hours straight, it’s crazy.”
This reflection comes in response to our half-joke, half-question: how in the hell did he manage to play seven sets from October 21 – 25 during EDC Las Vegas week/weekend while accommodating a touchdown in Austin, Texas on October 23, followed by six more sets on Halloweekend? The answer, of course, is stamina. And this year, although Summit’s needed a lot of it, he’s amassed even more of it.
Likening his approach to DJing to long-distance running explains how the Chicago homegrown talent so tirelessly handled that septuplet of sets. It’s also a useful metaphor for how he’s conducted his career throughout 2021: with endurance, focus, a push to keep pace, and a seemingly omnipresent runner’s high.
In 2021, the name “John Summit” was inescapable. It could be found plastered on festival lineups such as Defected London and Croatia, Electric Zoo, and EDC Las Vegas, the latter of which Summit interestingly attended for the very first time this year, as an artist. It was also unavoidable on the Beatport charts, with Summit becoming the highest-selling artist across all genres on Beatport over the past 12 months. Add his ascension to 4 million-plus listeners on Spotify alone and hundreds of shows to boot, and Dancing Astronaut would find the makings of its next Breakout Artist of the Year in John Summit.
Summit earned a spot on our list of the 25 Artists to Watch in 2021 in December of 2020, thanks to the astute recommendation of Partnerships Manager, Natalie Pereira. “If his name isn’t familiar to you yet, don’t expect this to be the case for much longer, Pereira wrote, a Spotify embed to his record “Deep End” suspended below.
“Deep End” was the tipping point; the Defected Records release, issued in June 2020, became the longest Beatport No. 1 of the year and was named Pete Tong’s Essential New Tune before it nestled in on BBC Radio 1’s main playlist. All this was just icing on the cake for Summit, who pithily articulated the personal significance of signing “Deep End” to Defected in just three words on social media: “lifetime goal achieved.”
Summit acknowledges 2020 as a “huge breakout music-wise,” but notes that its results weren’t immediately visible due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I was touring for a few years before 2020, and obviously gained a ton of fans in the past couple of years, but the gigs were taking place in 200-person capped rooms. I wasn’t selling out shows or anything. Then my music blew up over the pandemic, which was sweet, but I didn’t immediately see the benefits of the success due to the shutdown of clubs and venues worldwide,” he said.
That would change months later, when national and international venues and events promoters reactivated live music programming. And for Summit, it’d change quite dramatically:
“I went from 200-person rooms to playing for crowds of 30,000. I think that what’s been so insane this year is that it felt like I almost kind of skipped the whole growing from a 200-person room to 1,000-person room stuff and went just to the main stage. So I think that’s been the craziest part of this year, adapting to that and changing my DJ style a little bit; it’s been awesome.”
It’s worth noting that he’s realized this “success” in settings other than scuffed dance floors and scrubby festival grounds of late. Summit recounted a recent trip to Target, where he happened to hear the notes of his SOFI TUKKER team up, “Sun Came Up,” filtering through the store’s speakers. “I was like, ‘what the heck?’ And then I heard it playing at the gym,” he said.
He calls “Sun Came Up” one of the 2021 accomplishments of which he’s most proud, explaining that he’s always seen himself making the “club-ready tech-house tracks” for which he’s become known, but also wants to “make records that can be heard outside of clubs, in places like the grocery store.” He’s already done it, and it’s clear from our conversation that once isn’t enough for Summit; he wants to do it again, and assuredly, he will. He attributes this aspiration to his desire to be “more than just a tech-house act.”
“Sun Came Up” and “Human,” released September 2 and November 24, respectively, represent Summit’s steps toward being perceived this way: as an artist with expanded creative capacity. Chief among these steps, he explains, is strengthening the songwriting component of his craft.
“My new single ‘Human’ is the track I think I’m most proud of because it works in a club, but there’s actually good songwriting to it,” he said. It’s more than just a banger you hear in the club, so this has probably been my biggest accomplishment of the year as a producer, the branching out a little bit.”
That “club-ready tech-house” approach has paid dividends, so it’s natural that this “branching out” isn’t without the occasional reservation. Although the Echoes feature was of immediate appeal to the crowd at his August Club Space set, where he premiered the then-unreleased tune, Summit wasn’t confident that “Human” would resonate with his following.
“I really didn’t think anyone was going to like it, especially at Club Space which is such an underground club. I was like, there’s so much singing in this track, is this going to be too moody? Are people going to be like, ‘what the heck is he playing?,’” he reflected.
He admits that it’s “probably not mentally healthy” to read the Internet’s commentary on the songs that he road tests, but he “always reads the comments.” “I can’t help it, anytime I share a new track of mine, I always read all the comments,” he confesses, somewhat sheepishly. “When people are like, ‘ID ID ID,’ that’s when I’m like ‘okay, now I know this one’s good.’”
In the end, the comments beneath the YouTube video of the Club Space set would assuage his worries about “Human”:
“Human,” which marks his debut single on FFRR, is the product of approximately four months of development time in Ableton, threaded by countless computer crashes. “I think I need to get a new laptop,” he jokes.
Now, after “probably over 30 different versions,” Summit’s following has in its queue what is inarguably one of his biggest records of the year. Although it “took the longest out of any track [he’s] ever made because it had so many different elements,” he knows that music emblematic of one’s own artistic growth and maturity is well worth the wait and plans to make more “complete songs” akin to “Human” and “Sun Came Up” moving forward.
“I’ve written club tracks for years and they’ve been supported, and I know music theory, but I never spent too much time on writing complete songs where there’s a theme” Summit said. The wheels of change would begin turning for him in more ways than one during the pandemic: “So that’s what I really spent my time on learning during the pandemic. When I was by myself, I was hearing these songs that made me really feel something. I was realizing that my music at the time didn’t really invoke emotion like you can hear in some records by Bicep, or CamelPhat, or whoever.”
Summit specifies “Sun Came Up” as another one of his biggest accomplishments of 2021, precisely because he considers it a “complete song” that expands on his customary sound. That the cut stands as US Dance Radio’s No. 1 song at the time of this writing adds to this achievement. It’s a clear signal to Summit that his streamers are embracing the deviation from his characteristically club-ready brand of sound, that they will endure as he continues to sonically spread his wings.
Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, due to the industry’s COVID-19-sensitive shift to digital communication and Summit’s can’t-miss presence on social channels, the SOFI TUKKER collaboration was born out of a DM exchange:
“They found me on Instagram, it was hilarious. They would shout me out all the time because they did a livestream every day during the pandemic for like 500 days straight, and they’d always play my music and they’d be like, ‘we’re playing bender boy, blah, blah, blah,’ because they think the whole thing’s funny. I go to all these clubs, but I’d never even met them in person. We did everything over the Internet.”
How the joint project with SOFI TUKKER, who Summit calls “so incredibly talented with the guitar and singing,” came to be can be traced to his casual and approachable online presence. It’s easy to forget that Summit, who can often be found comically hating on fan clackers, trolling fellow artists in good-natured fun, using his signature phrase, “my life is a bender,” complaining of hangovers, and engaging with fans on social media, is a famous DJ and not the funny boy next door or guy from class. On Twitter and Instagram, he’s unabashedly himself and it’s clear that the content is all his own, and not the doing of a content manager or someone else on a management team. He’s opinionated, he’s himself, and in his own words, he’s “had the same exact Twitter personality since [he] had 300 followers.”
“You can go back to my tweets from 2016, I’ve been making the same jokes and saying the same stuff. It’s kind of funny that just because you know, now I’m getting to be so big, everything’s going so viral all the time,” he said.
These characteristics act as their own blue check mark for Summit. “I feel like that’s really how you make a name and personality for yourself because you seem like someone who’s easy to reach out to versus some artists who you don’t even know if they have the password to their Twitter account. You don’t know if it’s actually them or just their manager,” he added.
Consistency, whether of online voice or another aspect of his career, is a motif for Summit. Online, he’s the same person he was five years ago, no matter that he’s now got 4 million-plus monthly Spotify listeners. He observes that he “hasn’t changed what [he’s] been doing, it’s just gotten bigger,” and this applies not only to his social channels but also to tech-house. And as tech-house continues to surge in popularity among commercial audiences, Summit is adamant that a special aspect of his music and identity as an artist is that he hasn’t adapted to fit the times, but rather, that his consistency has positioned him for his current success:
“I’ve been doing tech-house for like years and years. You go down my SoundCloud, and it feels like I’ve been doing it as long as anyone. I was never into EDM. During the EDM years, I was always just into house and tech-house, and it’s kind of crazy that the whole [tech-house] genre has gotten so big, but I haven’t changed what I’ve been doing. The only thing that’s changed is just me becoming a more well-rounded producer, working with better vocalists, and making better toplines so these tracks can be heard outside of the underground. It’s been cool that I never really had to change what I’ve been doing but instead just expand on it.”
Fans can expect this concurrent growth—of Summit’s career and tech-house’s commercial swell—to continue in 2022, a year that, in an extension of the metaphor, will see Dancing Astronaut‘s Breakout Artist of 2021 continue to run laps around the electronic circuit. He’s not married to a blueprint, but as he plans for what is on pace to be another momentous year given the seeds sown in 2021, he can say that the year ahead will encompass “some big collaborations” and the revelation of his own branded event series; “I do plan on throwing my own parties,” he notes.
Of course, the next year will also be soundtracked by the John Summit sound that listeners have come to know and love, and more of the John Summit sound with which they’re now getting acquainted. “I do want to keep writing club tracks ’cause I love going to the club and hearing a banger, but I’m going to keep expanding on the songwriting kind of tracks, so ‘Human’ should be a good introduction to how I want to make my sound in 2022,” he muses, adding that he’s “even starting to write some like techno kind of tracks to expand [his] artistry.”
As part of this initiative, he intends to take a couple of weeks, perhaps more, off from touring in 2022 to focus on writing new music. Although 2021 has, in many ways, looked like something of a race for Summit, racing from one venue to the next, racing to the No. 1 chart position, and more broadly, racing from one career benchmark to another, he knows that this is all more of a marathon than a 100-yard dash, and although he admits he doesn’t “have too much of plan” for next year just yet, one thing is certain: whatever it entails, he’ll go the distance.
Bleu Clair just spent the majority of his fall season with a DJ excursion around North America for the very first time in his career, and out of the 12 total stops on his live campaign, his hour in the desert amidst EDC Las Vegas‘ 25th anniversary expectedly wound up as the most talked-about stop of them all. Although Insomniac’s stream supposedly cut out just as one of Dancing Astronaut‘s Artists to Watch Artists to Watch in 2021 took the decks at the stereoBLOOM stage, Bleu Clair came through in the clutch with a complete set upload to allow both those in attendance the opportunity to relive it and those who were at home the chance to understand just how incredible it was.
As EDC Las Vegas’ first day began to wrap up, Bleu Clair reached the moment where he could finally make his festival introduction and follow through on being one of our can’t-miss sets of the entire weekend. It might’ve been 3:30AM in Las Vegas but Bleu Clair made sure the packed-out audience was wide awake, from opening with his Jelita-paired single “Have Me All” to powering through five unreleased cuts—including his own edit of ACRAZE’s “Do It To It“—to delivering his newest Insomniac Recordsoriginal with Teza Sumendra to capping things off with what everyone knows at this point to be one of our favorite 2021 releases in “Beat Like This” with OOTORO.
While the wait ensues for Bleu Clair to return to the U.S.—hopefully next year and on his own headlining run—his one-hour set from EDC Las Vegas can be streamed in its entirety below.
Stay / Elevate takes on a stark contrast between both production ends, with Falden setting out with a stylistic mission of “combine organic instruments with electronic sounds.” Opening the two-part package with “Stay,” Falden channels a more rhapsodic, edifying tone of melodic house that he describes as “revolves around its uplifting pianos.” For the single’s latter half, the Dutchman looks back towards the label head’s “Spring 2021 Mixtape” to uncover the three-hour session’s highly coveted “ID4,” tagging it with the name of “Elevate” as he repositions towards a “darker and deeper” temper with a gratifying interweaving of “powerful electric guitars.”
Life was a lot different when Kavinsky last delivered a single, but the French icon has returned with new music in hand for the first time since his debut album—which set a “new electro standard” as we put it in 2013—OutRun. While information surrounding his full-length, aptly branded sequel Reborn remains scarce at the moment, Kavinsky is beginning to build out its tracklist with his sophomore album’s lead offering, “Renegade” with Cautious Clay.
“Renegade” picks up precisely where Kavinsky left off eight years ago, with the Reborn opener—also available in instrumental form—bringing his unmistakable synthwave savvy into the newest decade. To make his musical comeback official, Kavinsky doesn’t come arrive unaccompanied “Renegade,” tapping Cautious Clay for a smooth vocal backing and a production helping hand from Justice’s Gaspard Augé as well as Victor Le Masne to make the near-decade wait for another release well worth it.
Virgil Abloh, CEO of Off-White, artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, and DJ/producer, has died at the age of 41. Abloh was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma in 2019, a “rare and aggressive form of cancer.” He “chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis…undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture,” his team wrote in a November 28 statement announcing his death from the disease.
The visionary is survived by his wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, and his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.
In September of 2020, Excision declared his intent to launch an imprint that would cater to various types of bass music: the heavy, the experimental, and the emotive. Since Subsidia‘s installation nearly two years ago, Excision has funneled tracks from ascendant talent in the bass scene across three corresponding compilation series, Dusk, Dark, and Dawn. Now on its fifth volume, Subsidia Dawn is continuing Excision’s relatively newfound tradition of underscoring the names that warrant early recognition in the emotive bass context with 11 originals from a variety of artists. Among them is a Dancing Astronaut Artist to Watch in 2022, Swole Sauce, who closes out the LP with Dante Levo and Diana Inez on “You Never Run.” Of note, it’s far from Swole Sauce and Inez’s first toe around the collaborator ring; the two are noteworthy for their work on several Swole Sauce productions, including “Ashes.”
Subsidia Dawn: Vol. 5 also features selections from Crankdat, Stryer, Soar, Killin’ Void, and an assortment of other acts who deal in melodic-bass. Stream Subsidia Dawn: Vol. 5 below.
Vintage Culture’s spin on “California Dreamin’” amplifies the original house notes while adding a sinister production layer. The remix cuts through to the listener’s consciousness after an overpowering house drop builds into an explosive climax.
Speaking about the track in an official release, Vintage Culture shares,
“Chris Lorenzo’s new track ‘California Dreamin’‘ is on fire! My intention is to throw gasoline on the fire…. thrilled to remix the song.”
All Points East coordinators have curated a diverse two consecutive weekends of music programming for the festival’s 2022 iteration, to take place in Victoria Park, London from August 19 – August 20 and August 25 – August 27. Gorillaz, The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, and Tame Impala will headline the first weekend, with The National, Disclosure, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds following suit the second weekend. Of note, All Points East represents one stop on Kraftwerk’s larger calendar; the group recently announced its intention to activate its summer 2022 3D North American tour after previously postponing the initiative due to COVID-19 health concerns.
Pusha T, Floating Points, and FKJ represent just a smattering of the supporting talent during All Points East’s opening weekend. An equally genre-spanning assortment of artists will appear during the following weekend, including Channel Tres, Freddie Gibbs, and Fleet Foxes.
Tickets to All Points East are available for purchase here and come with a payment plan option.
Electric Forest‘s COVID-19-induced hiatus will formally come to a close on June 23 – 26, 2022, festival organizers announced on November 25. Writing “a reunion awaits,” Electric Forest coordinators shared A Million Shining Lights – 10 Years of Electric Forest, a short documentary on the festival’s history, in tandem with the 2022 dates.
The Rothbury, Michigan mainstay was originally slated to celebrate its 10-year anniversary in 2020, but like other festivals, was postponed due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 health crisis. Moving forward, a limited number of 2022 wristbands are to be released, with on-sale dates soon to come. Details on the 2022 lineup, shuttles, group camping, and wristband exchange are also pending.
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