(And How the Tropical House Genre Is Changing The Music Industry)
“What genre are they?”
Ahh, the music snob’s most dreaded proposition. Your artistic taste is refined.. one of a kind… and very complex. You find your music from blogs, SoundCloud pages, and through conversations with a select group of friends who are also “pretty into music.” Your self-directed music search is an existential quest, driven by intuition, guided by patterns you find and original connections you conceive between artists that share similar manifestations of “funky” and “dope.” How could your trials and tribulations in the name of finding the best artists no one has heard of possibly be summarized by the concise, barbaric dictate of “genre?”
When your breathing grows shallow, and your heart rate hastens, and your blood pressure skyrockets, because a musical plebeian dares use the word “genre” in reference to your hard-sought musical preferences — take a deep breath, and whisper these two words:
The term has several benefits that you will learn in time. Firstly, you will leave your listener in a completely unresolvable state of curiosity, as they return home to search the internet for musicians of the “tropical house” genre, finding surprisingly little mention of the infantile term online. Secondly, it’s a simple and endearing phrase that carries a large amount of truth and descriptive power for a prolific group of artists revolutionizing the electronic music landscape over the past couple years.
If you harbor a secret love of funk and R&B that guides your taste in electronic music, you’re probably a fan of Tropical House. If you wish your adolescent years coincided with the roller disco era, I’m betting your tastes coincide with Tropical House. If you find yourself disengaged at a dubstep show but can’t stop your foot’s tapping and head’s nodding when a producer and live bassist combo takes the stage, then Tropical House is for you. In the following paragraphs, you’ll find descriptions of 7 new artists from all over the world that are changing electronic music with their chilled-out, funky, neo-disco flavor of house music — and are just what you’ve been looking for.
This house-ey British duo has skyrocketed in popularity in the last couple years. If you ever see them in person, you’ll realize how much their music truly speaks for itself. When I downloaded one of their EP’s months ago, I thought a couple of middle-school hackers had pranked their fan base by swapping out the artwork. The image displayed in iTunes was a PhotoBooth picture of a chubby caucasian kid, fists in the air in the midst of an epic head-banging move, and another with his fists clenched in golfer-style celebration, neither looking a day over the age of 15. After a quick google search, it became obvious that the two pictured were indeed the full cast of Bondax. The prodigious duo figured out the DJ game early, jet packing to worldwide popularity when they were about 17. They crank out an incessant stream of foot-tapping funk-house anthems, headed by soulful vocal lines from cameo singers. Check out a couple tracks below.
This Norwegian producer is bringing such a distinct tropical sound to house music that it’s probably a good time to buy stock in some steel drum companies (do they exist?). His remix of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” got over 11 million plays on SoundCloud and 40 million on YouTube. His kick-drum heavy, four-on-the-floor synth jams are irresistible and he’s starting a US tour in September. Check out his hit song below and follow the link to buy tickets for one of his upcoming shows.
3. Moon Boots
Leading the funk offerings for the group is Moon Boots. Surprisingly, this producer is not an afro-clad black man on rollerblades who’s been cryogenically frozen from the seventies, waking up next to an MPC and a copy of Ableton five years ago — he’s a curly-haired white guy from Chicago. Not surprisingly, the name Moon Boots is an homage to an old disco record of the same title by a group called Orlando Riva Sound. His spot-on taste in snare drum samples, retro bass synths and entrancing vocals create a sound that feels like sipping a mojito in a pool full of Swedish models with water proof drum kits. Check out a few tracks below.
4. Thomas Jack
Hailing from the recent electronic music powerhouse that is Australia, Thomas Jack’s style is a unique symphony of strings, flutes, synths, and nostalgic vocals all tied together with a driving house beat. His remixes have brought a beachey house vibe to tunes by the likes of Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Of Monsters of Men, and Kanye West. Check out his most popular song below, and follow the link to buy show tickets if you’re around New York in September.
Hailing from Nantes, France, Anoraak is no stranger to the neo-disco/funk scene bourgeoning in his homeland. His driving kick-snare drumbeats and funky baselines couple beautifully with echoing synth and Wurlitzer melodies under a solid selection of vocal samples. The end result is a crisp, refreshing house sound that’s sure to get you in a great state of mind. Check out a couple of his tracks below.
Darius is another French producer hailing from Paris. He’s a master of compressing shimmering synths around the kick drum for an entrancing, ear-bending groove. While mostly instrumental, his latest remix of Bondax’s “All I See” is an icy-smooth take on the classic and a great foray into vocal sampling. Check it out below.
7. Oliver Nelson
Another Scandinavian producer to add to the repertoire, Oliver Nelson is a Stockholm native serving up strikingly catchy and predictably successful tropical house remixes one after the other. Slightly more beachey than Darius and more vocals-heavy, his tracks are savory and addicting. Check out the remix of Lemaitre’s “High Tide” below.
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