It’s been a long month since our inaugural volume of Off the Beaten Path. EDC Las Vegas has come and past, Paradiso and Electric Forest have just come to a close, hosts of major artists like Bassnectar and Galantis have dropped albums, and we’ve covered our top tracks of 2015 (…so far). More importantly though, it’s been a stellar month of discovery for our team. We’ve been to combing through the internet non-stop, taken some of your recommendations, and ended up with yet another standout set of producers the OBP Class of June.
For those new to the series – no worries, it’s only two months old – Off the Beaten Path is our ode to those who have displayed exceptional talent in the studio, and have yet to receive the mass recognition they deserve. Those selected for this series display what we believe to be forward thinking, unique, and honest productions; the music they’ve created is for the sake of creation, and for the love of the art. We’re happy to help bring their music to as many ears as possible, and we hope you fall in love with what they’re doing as much as we do. Without further ado, we present to you: Off the Beaten Path, Vol. 2.
As with the first edition, Vol. 2 contains 5 curated artists, without and specific genre kept in mind. These artists came to our attention through recommendations from our readers, and our writer’s own personal Soundcloud-rabbit-hole dives. The 5 artists we’ve selected for this month are: Xander Lewis, Kidswaste, WHTKD, Last Island, and Rethink.
Xander Lewis was somebody we didn’t really have to search long and hard for. We covered his last release back in April, and have fallen in love since then. Unfortunately nothing’s been released since then, but we’ve been checking back day after day, and we’re sure his next single will be a gem. Xander stands out with impressive atmospherics, an almost OCD level of attention to detail, and mind bogglingly fun track arrangements. The flow of his music may not be the most fluid in traditional terms, but his style has a grace of it’s own that has our heads bumpin’ non-stop.
This anonymous producer isn’t without a platform to spring from though. He’s fittingly earned a place with Blvnt Records, home to the likes of C YG N and Haris Cole, and he’s a part of the Soda Island fam, along with other cutting edge producers like Grynpyret and Spire.
Keeping in a similar realm of music, Kidswaste comes in with some seriously entertaining music. The young Frenchman has a knack for sound sampling, and utilizes video games like an all-in-one toolbox; it’d be a treat just to see him sift through gaming content, hunting for classic and recognizable sound bites (Zelda and Kirby seem to favorites). The youthful innocence of his online presence and within his music is curiously heart lifting, like you could just imagine an elated kid behind a computer cranking out smile-inducing hits.
“I always wanted to have a song being dreamy, inspiring for people. That’s why i’m doing music: I want to inspire people. I love doing many genres. That’s why we can find Future, Chill, Chill trap or whatever on my soundcloud. I don’t have any limits. In everything i’m doing, you’ll find a bit of Odesza, Porter Robinson and Madeon. I’m addicted to their songs, their universes.” – Kidjswaste
Next up we’ll travel across the Atlantic pond yet again (…figuratively) and share a German producer who’s got his future and deep house game “on cleek“. Pop culture jokes aside, this is the kind of material that needs to be pumping out of your neighborhood nightclub’s sound system. WHTKD is our favorite new producer to come out of Germany since SAINT WKND (look at what he’s up to these days, a California tour, and Parisian showcase). There’s no need for over the top complexity or tedious details in this realm of dance music, and WHTKD knows exactly what it takes to get a floor burning: a virally infectious bassline, and funky melodies. The only thing holding him back right now seems to be a low volume discography, with only 4 tracks on Soundcloud, but that’s all we needed to see his potential.
“I’ve produced music since I was 14, but in the beginning it was more like David Guetta mainstream ish, in addition it was very bad quality…I started listening to more genres , as I heard some UK House, I knew: This is what I will do! So I left the mainstream side of house. It took years until I found my own sound, this time was really stressful and depressing, many Times I thought about break up with producing, buuut.. look at me now!” -WHTKD
He’s also reported influences from Motez, Gorgon City, SirOj, TRU Concept, Dubrocca, and it shows. There’s a vibrant energy stemming from his music, and it’ll have you craving for more than his 4 uploaded tunes. Given the right direction, we could see WHTKD earning chart spots on Hype Machine and landing club gigs before ya know it.
Last Island came to us by recommendation, and for that we are very thankful. Akin to OBP Vol. 1’s Austin Johnson, Last Island produces music that’s best described as ethereal, semi-ambient, emotionally gripping stories. First and foremost, his productions are second to none in terms of atmospheric immersion; every instrument utilized compliments one another with what feels like calculated precision, and as each element builds a new audible world is seamlessly put together around you, practically begging you to close your eyes and fly away into a dream of fantasy, if only for a brief moment. Just when some his work begins to reach peak ambiance, he has no trouble bringing in some up tempo beats for drum n’ bass inspired builds and progressive breakdowns. We use these terms in an attempt to make his sound clear, but the only way to really understand what he’s making is by listening without trying to pigeon hole into a genre.
“My two cents, how to expand your musical perspective:
Listen to everything and anything, even something you think you don’t like. Inspiration doesn’t come from music you heard a million times, it comes from a new perspective – be it listening to something obscure like a local band to classical composers or experimenting with songs you like, slow them down speed them up, twist them and reverse them . Every new angle is a new idea.” – Last Island
There’s a maturity to his music that’s commendable, and his attitude towards expanding your horizons is something young aspiring producers should seriously take into consideration. His Soundcloud is full of remixes of big acts like Coldplay, Ryn Weaver, and Porter Robinson, and there’s no shortage of creative originals for you to enjoy. There’s so much to share, so we encourage you to go beyond the three songs we’re able to share and explore his catalogue (as with all our OBP artists, of course).
Although constantly churning out new material, Rethink never repeats himself. Complete with a work ethic only possible through volumes of coffee, his intense productivity leaves us with new work every week. Pieces range in sample sources and styles, delivering a diversity of sound that gets our attention and takes it captive. The Texan producer rethink presents balanced sounds regardless of source, whether it be Alina Baraz & Galimatias or Fugees. Whether lowkey electronic or classic rap, the producer manages to juxtapose new material into his own specific vibes, possibly fueling smoke seshes from coast to coast.
“I’m just a 16 year old kid sitting in my bedroom doing what I love. My goal is to positively impact as many people as I can with my music.” -Rethink
The kid producer’s incorporation of nature sounds reminds us of other successful, similar implementations by producers across the spectrum, from Fytch to Porter Robinson. The organic nature of these tracks is undeniably attractive, and it’s something we hope more people incorporate into their music going forward.