Time and again, Los Angeles-based DJ/producer/songwriter Slushii demonstrates that he can tackle any style he sets his mind to. On this latest release on Big Beat Records, Slushii goes fully tropical in collaboration with Latin GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Sofia Reyes for a sun-kissed slice of steel-drum-buffered dance-pop that’s as sweet as a frozen cocktail on a sultry summer night.
Pair the soulful swoon of Alec Chambers with the sparkling, propulsive production of Stavros, and you’re bound to get something truly special. Sure enough, their latest collaboration, “Starting Fires” has been making consistent waves since its February release as a seamless fusion of romantic, melodic pop with an undeniable EDM pulse.
After releasing a slew of memorable dance singles since 2011, NYC singer/songwriter Alicia Madison has joined forces with production duo, The Golden Pony. Bolstered by an warm, inviting melody and Madison’s honeyed vocals, the track also boasts a secret weapon in the form of a deeply infectious, whistled hook that will cement itself in your head.
When NYC-based producer/DJ KANDY and Denmark-based production trio, Nonsens, collaborate, good things are bound to happen, and their newest creation “Like This” is a very good thing. Released on the Mad Decent sub-label, Good Enuff, “Like This” is a huge, propulsive track that is bound to see some heavy rotation in clubs and festivals around the world.
Known for his amazing remixes for high-profile artists like Cher, Jason Derülo, John Mayer, and Smallpools, L.A.- based DJ and producer Zookëper has released a succession of impressive singles throughout 2018. His latest release on Spinnin’ Records, “From Me,” is just as impactful, featuring strong vocals and huge synth melodies that are sure to get stuck in your head for the next twenty-four hours.
As the first single from the full album Nova, “Pressure” is an audacious opening shot for Los Angeles-based DJ/producer RL Grime. While the album is filled with a variety of musical styles ranging from Dance to Pop to R&B, featuring the likes of Miguel, Julia Michaels, Ty Dolla $ign, Daya, Jeremih, & Tory Lanez, “Pressure” is a callback to his classic signature brand of distorted synth-based dance music. With the song first appearing in his Halloween mix released last year and later featured in a 2018 Apple iMac Pro ad campaign, it’s release last week has been highly anticipated.
In anticipation of Whethan’s Life of A Wallflower Tour kicking off this fall, the highly-touted producer has released the amazing “Superlove” with the London-based Alt-Pop masterminds Oh Wonder. According to Josephine and Anthony of Oh Wonder, the song was written in just 30 minutes by the three of them while in a Los Angeles Studio session. The fun energy of the production and catchy vocals of Superlove makes it the perfect soundtrack to any sunny afternoon by the pool.
As the fourth single from their much-anticipated third album, See Without Eyes, “Go Light” by The Glitch Mob is almost the perfect distillation of the L.A. trio’s sound, fusing infectious, glitched-out synths, booming chords and anthemic chord progressions. As a final warning shot prior to the high-impact arrival of the full-length album, four years in the making, “Go Light” ushers in a new phase the electro band’s already formidable journey.
Originally hailing from Washington, DC, but now based in Los Angeles, Shallou is an artist and producer specializing in atmospheric electronic music. On this latest single, he’s teamed up with indie-pop vocalist Riah and the effect is mesmerizing. By pairing minimalist synths and pulsing beats with a light, winsome melody, Shallou’s signature happy/sad production aesthetic strikes the perfect balance with Riah’s lilting voice to create a truly unique dance song, ideal for a rainy day. Be sure to keep an eye out for Shallou’s impressive live show, which seamlessly blends dreamy electronics, loops, and live instrumentation.
A lush amalgam of sparkling synths, sweet vocal harmonies, Caribbean flourishes and an irrepressible Latin rhythm, “No Love” by Ultra Music’s Salt Cathedral is a breezy tribute to the power of love and dancing over hate and violence. As a NYC-based duo of native Colombians, Salt Cathedral has been making waves in the dance community with their uniquely distinctive blend of sumptuous, tropical pop.
A seamless mix of crystalline pop and cutting edge production, “I Need You” is the infectious brainchild of super-producers and DJ’s Fernando Garibay and Armin van Buuren. Concentrating on their considerable strengths, while van Buuren’s more renowned for his trance work, Garibay’s midas touch as a versatile producer and songwriter, having worked extensively with everyone from Lady Gaga through U2, shines through on this track. Paring the soulful vocals of Olaf Blackwood with a compelling pulse, haunting chorus and wide-screen sonic expanse, “I Need You” is a genre-straddling confection that transcends the dance floor.
L.A.-based producer, APEK, closes out an eventful year of chart success, streaming achievements, high-profile collabs, and a Tritonal tour with his new song, “Traces.” A richly melodic new track, “Traces” pairs broken-beat innovation with soaring synths and ethereal vocals, courtesy of the incredible Karra. It offers a seamless dance-floor experience that reinforces APEK’s name as one to keep an ear out for.
Buffalo natives and self-proclaimed “taco aficionados,” Solidisco have been lighting up dancefloors and festivals around the globe with an arsenal of originals and remixes out via big player labels, Universal Music & Big Beat/Atlantic, Ultra Records and taste-makers A-Trak’s Fool’s Gold & Laidback Luke’s Mixmash Records. Playing homage to the roots of house music, Solidisco reps the culture, while keeping the dancefloor rocking in the current landscape of dance music.
As co-founder of the Soda Island collective, 18-year-old Canadian producer/DJ Ramzoid established himself as a fresh new force in electronic dance music with a distinctive sound that has garnered the support from acts such as Jauz, Jack U, and Baauer. Breaking away from the DJ standard, his live show is augmented with launch pads, midi-controllers, and a drum kit, so make sure to check the dates for his upcoming tour with Jai Wolf. Blazing ahead with an EP of his own, Universe, Ramzoid is continuing to put his own spin on Future bass.
Unlike Pluto is an Atlanta-born/L.A.-based DJ/producer who infuses his obsession with electronic dance music with influences and instrumentation from well beyond the conventional realm of the dancefloor. Rightly celebrated as one of Billboard’s Dance Artists to Watch, this multifaceted music creator has only started to reveal his capabilities. “Show Me Love” arrives with vocalist Michelle Buzz’s silky cooing before the track bursts open with spiraling synths, a soulful chorus and a big, expansive drop.
Initially meeting as students at music school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mexico-born artists Americo Garcia and Jorge Medina recognized the potential of their collective chemistry and pooled their musical resources as Boombox Cartel to swiftly drive their informed, innovative sound to the height of the Minneapolis DJ scene. A quick succession of self-releases proved them a force to be reckoned with.
Abandoning chilly Minnesota for the sun and scene of Southern California, the duo has continued to crank out influential singles, catching the ears and accolades of names like Diplo, Skrillex, DJ Snake and Martin Garrix. Their most recent effort, “Supernatural,” finds Boombox Cartel merging with the bass power of QUIX and the sinewy voice of Canadian singer/songwriter Anjulie for a cinematic dancefloor epic.
DJ/producer No Way Back (a.k.a. Anthony Pisano) has earned a reputation for a style that deftly fuses house, hip-hop and soul, as evidenced on his acclaimed debut single “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay,” which stormed the Top 10 of the UK Music Week Club Chart. This latest track, meanwhile, finds him putting a cutting-edge spin on the sound of the hedonistic 90’s via a collaboration with fellow Los Angeleno DJ/producer Le Youth (a.k.a. Wes James), himself renowned for filling dance floors with a cool blend of house and R&B. Keep your eyes and ears out for more of this blissful brand of dance music from both Now Way Back and Le Youth.
Having already established himself as a globally recognized force on the turntables, L.A.-based producer Jayceeoh has earned the respect from celebrated fellow DJ/producers like A-trak, Bassnectar, Boregore and Flosstradamus, and released original trap and bass-driven remixes on influential labels like Dim Mak, Fool’s Gold, Ultra Records, Buygore and more. His latest track, “Elevate,” is poised to only push him further forward, featuring a head-turning vocal performance by Nevve over Jayceeoh’s lush, synth-laden production and propulsive beats.
Not just an accomplished DJ and producer, Goldroom (a.k.a. Josh Legg) makes sparklingly lush electronic dance music, but the soul of a bona fide songwriter lurks just beneath the beats. Layered under the sweeping synths, soaring vocals and “nostalgic production tones” of his new single “Silhouette,” Goldroom dreamily hearkens to another age. Straying from the DJ norm, Goldroom’s been known to bring his music to festivals around the world with a full live band. Could crossover success be far behind? Stay tuned.
A strong contender for song of the summer, “Wheels in Motion” pairs New York City’s TWRK with Amsterdam’s Lady Bee. Initially an anonymous duo, TWRK were already cranking out dance floor hits for Diplo’s Mad Decent imprint when the influential DJ/producer revealed their true identities on his BBC Radio program as Benzi and Esentrik. “Wheels in Motion” is a haunting, mid-tempo jam that will only further their growing reputation.
This New Jersey-native-turned-LA-transplant may be a new face in the DJ world, but he’s no stranger to the stage. As a former member of pop/rock-gone-EDM trio, Cash Cash, Zookёper spent more time touring the globe before his 21st birthday than some acts do in a lifetime. Released by Hysteria Records, “Gunz” has already received support from some of the top DJs around the world, including Martin Garrix, David Guetta, and Morgan Page.
Mad Decent Advice: Nathan Olivas, A&R for Mad Decent Publishing, Shares Tips to Navigating the Industry
The brainchild of renowned DJ and producer Diplo, Mad Decent is a formidably influential, Los-Angeles-based record label that has been shaping the trajectory of dance music since 2006. What started as Diplo’s pet project to highlight genre-blurring, underground sounds has become a musically eclectic powerhouse that continues to innovate and inform dance music culture on a worldwide scale.
Recently, BMI had the opportunity to sit down with Nathan Olivas, an A&R representative from Mad Decent Publishing, to talk about his work within the organization, and to share his tips for artists and songwriters trying to navigate the world of music publishing and the industry writ large. We met up with him in a coffee shop in East Hollywood. Here’s what he had to say.
How did you first get involved with Mad Decent Publishing?
Nathan Olivas: I first met Kevin Kusatsu [Diplo’s manager & business partner] in January 2017. At the time, I was in management and was really unhappy in general. After I met Kevin, I would send him songs and he said he didn’t really like them but to keep sending him stuff. (Laughs)
I had also casually known Juba Lee for years, the head of A&R for Mad Decent Publishing, through my friend King Henry. One day, I was working at Sound Factory (Mark Ronson’s studio) in Hollywood because one of my friends from college works on Mark’s management team. All of a sudden Henry, Wes (Diplo), and Juba walked in. It turned out to be a really early Silk City session. Juba and I hung out in the lounge and I played him a bunch of songs that I was putting together at the time. He really liked everything he heard and the next day Kevin called me and was like, “Hey, I have an A&R job for you.” I also think King Henry really co-signed me with Juba, which was a big factor. I’d been putting songs together for all of my clients for years and executive producing a lot of records. I basically was just like, “Why don’t I just get paid to be an A&R if that’s what I like doing anyway?” It was my favorite part about management, but, at the time, not all of my clients were open to my feedback.
What differentiates MD Publishing from other publishing companies?
We’re a very small company, compared to the majors, and we really only work on songs we love vs working on songs we might hate, but know they will bring us money.
A lot of things differentiate us though. We’re very indie-minded in how we operate. We all wear a lot of different hats because we’re a small team. We don’t sign a lot of things. And it’s not that we’re too precious, it’s just that we don’t want to over-sign artists then not be able to properly plug them in and help them. We’re constantly meeting different artists and writers and throwing them in the mix with our guys, but we’re not very quick to sign them to actual deals. I have a lot of friends at bigger publishing companies who have signed a ton of artists, and it would stress me out. Especially if you sign an artist and it’s not really working, and then you have anxiety and feel bad that you’re failing at this person’s life and career, you know? We’re also not through a major publisher, we’re administrated through Big Deal. They’re smaller and they have a smaller roster compared to the bigger publishers. But I think it’s cool because the songs we are apart of are still competing at the same level as all the major publishers.
What do you think is the right time for an artist/writer to enter a publishing deal?
It really depends. Some people will say, “Don’t enter into a publishing deal until you have hits.” And then other people will say, “Enter into a publishing deal if you can find a team who will help get you the hits.” I think ultimately every artist and writer is different. My advice to artists is to not take their artist project too seriously out of the gate and write with as many different people as possible: producers, writers, other artists… If you do that for a year, year and a half, by the end of that you’re going to have so many relationships and so many songs that you could probably end up using for your artist project. If you can figure out a way to get cuts off of those songs as well, you’re just immediately leveling up and people are going to want to work with you. You’ll already be making a name for yourself. A lot of young artists are so hard-headed in that they’re thinking, “I wanna do this, I don’t wanna help with other people’s projects.” The issue with that is if you go to other writers and producers and are asking to work with them it becomes a favor…If you write with people and build relationships, then they are going to owe you favors down the line. That would be my two cents for artists. For songwriters and musicians, my advice would be the same thing, just write with as many people as possible. Instagram, Soundcloud, Twitter- If you find someone who you like, just reach out.
Do you think it benefits writers to reach out to publishers for just co-write ideas, but not necessarily to be signed?
Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know how exactly other publishers operate, but we listen to everything we get sent. And there are times when we have a session where one of our producers cancel last minute, and I’ll end up throwing someone who’s unsigned into the session just to try them out and see how they do. There are constantly new artists or writers who we’ll work with and do a few sessions with, just to see if they’re a good fit or if we like what they’re doing.
When do you think an artist is not ready for a publishing deal?
If I find an artist I really like and we start doing sessions and working together, but then I see or feel that they’re not putting in the work that I’m putting in, then they’re not someone I’m going to want to sign. They need to put their blood, sweat and tears into their craft - it sounds dramatic, but it’s the truth. I think that goes for label-deal, publishing-deal and management clients you’re looking for. They really need to want it. And I think creatives need to be realistic with their expectations. Because I remember when I first came to L.A. when I was 18. I thought I would be directing Marvel movies by the age of 21, and clearly that wasn’t the case. That is something that’s really good about L.A. When you get here, it kinda hits you in the face and you realize you need to really step your game up. It gives you a lot of perspective very quickly.
Do you think L.A. is the best place to be if you want to make music, or are you more into music scenes in other cities? I think L.A. is a great place to be right now because there are so many opportunities, session-wise. You could literally do three sessions a day for a year with different people. I think that’s why a lot of people are moving here right now. However, I do think as an artist it’s hard to break in L.A. because there is so much noise here. But there’s so much cool music happening all over the world, so I don’t think this is the only place to be if you want to be successful. Every single continent has major music hubs, so I don’t think it matters. I do think genre matters, though; if you want to get into country then you should probably move to Nashville. (Laughs)
What gets you excited when you hear a track? Is it a tangible thing or is it something you have to just feel?
Yeah, I’m always looking for an interesting-sounding voice that’s different, and strong lyrics. I think there’s a drought right now for really good lyrics.
Production-wise what are your thoughts?
Just unique stuff that feels original. A lot of what we get sent just sounds the same. Things with a lot of different influences.
What are some general tips for all the artist/writers out there?
It’s really understanding how everything works. The whole ecosystem of what a label does, what a publisher does, what a manager does. If you’re an artist, what an agent does. And make sure you always have a lawyer look over a contract before you sign any type of agreement.
What are the main things that you do as publishers?
We pitch for sync: TV, film, commercials, video games etc., collect all of the publishing royalties and put sessions together. We’ll find opportunities for our artists to work on along with other publishers or other major label artists, as well as other indie artists. We also pitch demos to managers, labels and publishers to see if any of their clients would like to use them for their projects.
Any other tips for our readers?
Know where you’re at. A lot of young writers send us demos that are nowhere close to being at the level where it makes sense for them to do a deal, which is totally fine. It takes years. So, if you’ve been producing for a year, you probably shouldn’t be sending it in. You can only make a first impression once, so really focus on your craft and getting it to the best of your ability. By collaborating with other people, you will learn from others. Some of the guys we work with have been producing for twenty years. And when you send in music, only send 3-5 max.
Is there a preferred method for sending music?
Just make it so you don’t have to download the music. Streaming links or Dropbox links are great.
How can people send music to you?
Send all demos to: email@example.com