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Power of Ten

10 "before they made it" tracks from Scuba, Machinedrum, Deadmau5, and more of today's biggest producers

By John Donaghy
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This week we’ll be taking a look at some of dance music’s brightest stars to emerge from the underground in recent years, and checking out their work before the tipping point in their careers, when things began to really rocket. Before their names firmly stuck in our collective music consciousness, before that record became an anthem, before the album became something of a generational soundtrack—you know what we’re talking about. Grab a full chart of all you’re about to hear here.


In 2009, Fabric featured a track on one of their CDs from a “new guy” called Julio Bashmore. Dirtybird chief Claude VonStroke’s ears pricked up upon hearing his new sounds—a fusion of jungle and house. Bashmore went along to a gig VonStroke was playing in Bristol and handed him a CD, and in 2009, Dirtybird released the Julio Bashmore EP. “World Peace” captures the early vibe of Bashmore’s work that sits so well within the Dirtybird sound, the deep subs reminiscent of VonStroke’s own ”Aundy” track. A couple of years on, and 2011 can be considered Bashmore’s year of take-off, when the Everyone Needs A Theme Tune EP was released and ”‘Battle For Middle You” became a festival anthem.


One of the current first ladies of deep house and in-demand DJs and producers on the planet—Miss Maya Jane Coles! Her list of achievements in recent years is quite staggering: Producer Of The Year 2011, prolific production output on some of the house scene’s finest labels, multiple magazine covers, BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix… the list goes on! Back in 2009, she debuted with her first release on the excellent Dogmatik label with “Colours,” an early indication of her deep, spacey house vibes and blossoming production talents.


Under the moniker Maceo Plex, Eric Estornel’s music has soundtracked most major clubs and festivals over the past couple of years, with tracks like “Vibe Your Love” and “Can’t Leave You” serving as big highlights throughout last summer. That pseudonym’s style is fueled with funk and soul at its core, which contrasts with the darker techno aesthetics of Estornel’s other longstanding alias, Maetrik, which he has been using since 2001. His remix of Theodor Zox’s “Extruder,” from 2006, is a snarling, minimal and melodic electronic trip that featured on Tiefschwarz’s acclaimed Fabric mix.

If you have attended any major international electronic music festival in the last couple of years, you’ll have seen Caribou featuring on the bill and demonstrating his abilities with the Caribou band on the main stage. His 2010 album Swim marked the explosion of his music to a much wider audience, and tracks such as ”Sun” arguably became part of a generational soundtrack. And his more experimental techno dabblings under his Daphni alias have become some of the most in-demand DJ weapons of late. However, Caribou (aka Dan Snaith) has been releasing albums records since 2001 on the Leaf label, first under the name Manitoba, and “Brandon,” from his 2006 album Start Breaking My Heart, is a true early-career gem.


René Pawlowitz’s genre-spanning tracks as Shed, Wax, The Traveller, and EQD are pretty much untouchable. With two critically acclaimed albums under his belt for Ostgut Ton (the first, Shedding The Past, back in 2008), a slew of some of the most in-demand 12”s of the past few years, and his most recent album, The Killer, released just a few weeks back, he holds great sway when it comes to shaping today’s techno scene. “Well Done” was released back in 2006 on Soloaction Records, and it’s an early glimpse of Shed’s now signature style.


Yup, that’s right! We’re following a Shed record with one of the biggest current dance music stars in the universe. The Mau5 began releasing music in 2005 with a self-released album Project 56, followed in 2007 with A Little Oblique. Arguably the tipping point for Joel Zimmerman’s popularity came with the anthemic ”Faxing Berlin,” released on his own Mau5trap that 2007. “Cyclic Redundancy” is a little look into Zimmerman’s dabbling with other genre influences, the dubby broken beats far removed his better-known works.


Scuba’s production talents have gained worldwide recognition in recent years, with tracks such as ”The Hope” and ”Adrenalin” turning up club smashes across discerning dancefloors. Four albums in, and over 20 singles and remixes for Fever Ray, Wu Tang, and Jack Sparrow, and Scuba (aka Paul Rose) has most definitely made his mark as one of the most relevant producers to emerge in recent years. On top of it all, Rose has been releasing excellent music through his Hotflush label since 2005. “Aesaunic” came on on Hotflush in 2009—a slice of deep, dubby, techno-influenced dubstep.


Belfast-born and now London-based producer Max Cooper has emerged as one of the great new electronic talents over the past few years. Recently he nailed remixes for seminal dance music classics such as FC Kahuna’s “Hayling” and Sasha’s “Xpander,” and his latest remix of Agoria’s seminal ”Panta Rei” is rapidly climbing up the techno chart. “I” marked his 2009 debut on Traum and the shift in his artistry and musical development. A dreamy, atmospheric piece of techno.


Before Machinedrum’s (aka Travis Stewart) Rooms album was voted Resident Advisor’s #2 album of 2011, and before he composed music for The Black Swan, he was helping to launch Merck Records and NY’s Normex label. His 2006 collaboration with Mochipet here is a cool slice of funk-laden electronica.


Todd Terje’s ”Inspector Norse” track, released early this year, became an anthem for DJs of all genres—one which even techno legend Juan Atkins included in his recent Beatport Mix. Terje has been a prolific force in nu-disco and house, originally emerging with the first wave of disco edit masters from Scandinavia. His edit of Chaz Jankel here, released on the fine Tirk Records imprint in 2009, demonstrates his style perfectly.