Music to me is a media of connection. It connects myself with the world around me and works as an index of my memories. Therefore, my best 10 tracks of 2020 are the tracks that connected most dots this year. Some of them were played and celebrated in clubs with many others, some were played while I’m home alone. Just seeing track names has already brought me back to those memories full of emotions with friends and dancers, in the dark or under the sun. During this strange and isolated year, I hope these tracks can be the index to your memories too and remind you of the smell in the air, the chat you are having with a friend or the food you are having at the time. Although the pandemic shut down all pubs, clubs, restaurants, airlines and many real-life hugs, people who listen to the same tracks as you are will still feel the vibrations.
Slowcook is a DJ, broadcaster, Zhao Dai resident and DCYY co-founder from Beijing, China. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and SoundCloud. This year she co-curated the ‘Home Fitness’ charity compilations, buy hem from Bandcamp here
Tayhana is a DJ, producer and co-founder of HiedraH Club de Baile as well as a crew member of NAAFI. She's from Argentina, follow her on Facebook here
I love seeing my friend's elevating, so I was really excited to see A$AP Ferg hop on a Machinedrum track. It makes a great song even greater; Flume really blew up into a huge sensation, but being big doesn't mean you need to water down. I really enjoy the pop sensibilities while noticing the clearly smashed and limited mix aesthetic; 'REACHUPDONTSTOP' is insane. With its warehouse drum aesthetic and pop risers, it's a wonderful distorted alien version of whatever EDM is; Bicep are legends. This deep vibe, punchy kicks, and vocal samples hit different once the sun sets; I've been really enjoying Tsha's beautiful soundscapes. There's a wonderment and beauty with her tunes; I've seen Qrion grow as an artist over these past years and she is becoming a force. This song just proves she's a producer that is beyond her peers; Bonobo and TEED is an insane combo. TEED brings some pop sensibilities to Bonobo's warm soundscapes and we get this sick 90s rave break; This is my return to more instrumental music and I was extremely happy to share this 'To Be Remote'. It really felt good to flex my abilities as a pianist, beyond making rap beats and electronic tracks; I found this artist randomly. HNGIN is a South Korean-based IDM artist. I am beyond impressed with his sound design. Above all, glad there's someone in Korea going anti-pop in a world of super Kpop; Salami Rose Joe Louis is a new addition to Brainfeeder and is so insanely talented. You hear such beautiful and evolving instrumentation paired with her dreamy voice. This song is worth taking a break to listen to.
Tokimonsta is a DJ and producer from Los Angeles. Follow her on SoundCloud here
SJAYY is a legend in the making, his sounds always have energy to them no matter what genre he tackles; You won't have to hover over a CDJ or beg for a tracklist anymore. Mike Gip was nice enough to release his archive of timeless Jersey Club bangers; JWords’ trippy beats keep you guessing, I appreciate how spontaneous this is sonically; My boy TAH has been consistent. I'm proud. Some of my favorite TAH tracks are the ones he infuses with jazz, which is such a Jersey thing; I've lost track of how many projects Ase Manual has dropped this year. Definitely over five and they're all amazingly progressive when it comes to dance music; Shyboi dropped a bomb on us this summer and it made me miss this club; you can't get anymore NYC than NIGELTHREETIMES; Everything TYGAPAW does is immaculate. I love how poetic their lyrics are, it can really take you to a new place; What a treat to have Cakes Da Killa serve us a slice of his time to deliver bars on the ‘Muvaland’ EP. It's taking me back to Brooklyn circa 2015... okay, that was an era; Repping the Bronx, my guy Amen The Producer really blesses each beat he bangs out. I love how he'll release music he produces on Twitch. You really get to see the whole process.
UNIIQU3 is a DJ, producer and vocalist from New Jersey. Listen to her music on Bandcamp
Here are 10 2020 releases that caught my eye this year among with so many other amazing ones, it is almost impossible to choose. This list includes tracks that I listen to at night all up in my feelings crying my eyes out, tracks that I danced to maniacally in my underwear alone while quarantining, tracks that inspire me not only as an audience but as a rookie producer too. Or, from my personal favorites that can do no wrong. Also some underappreciated ones that I just need people to get into and love just as much as I do.
Wanton Witch is an artist and co-founder of NON NON NON Music from Malaysia. Listen to her music on SoundCloud here
Ikonika's 'Your Body' is probably the track I’ve listened to the most on the list. Over lockdown and everything this one just fit the mood and helped me zone out whenever I put it on. Medicine music; Not much to say about Batu or Lurka at this point, the music has been speaking loud and clear for itself and this tune is just more fuel on the fire. Makes me want to get back to the club so badly; I was listening to 'Theoretical Medical Genitals' a lot over lockdown as well, love the hypnotic melody-line and the stripped back production. It has a mediative quality about it; rRoxymore has released loads of outstanding music over the past few years and for me this is up there with the best of them. The futuristic production she’s been championing is some of the freshest dance music I’ve heard in recent times and I’m looking forward to hearing what comes next!; It makes sense to me that 'Variable Mu' is named after an audio effect, the mixdown and production are stand out and that chord sound washes over everything so nicely. Beautiful record; 'Congrats Bitch' is technically from December last year but since there is still music to come out this December I won’t be able to include I thought I’d bend the rules a bit. I’ve been listening to this loads all year and I still can’t get enough of it. That main chord stab is something special; The melody line in 'Attribute' grabbed me straight away and the production of the rest of the track compliments it really nicely. Never a boring moment in the arrangement, even the outro bangs; 'Boogaloo Shrimp' just hits so hard. The big splashy drums, the bassline, the harsh melody line: everything fits together in a way that creates this huge sound. Definitely one I’m choking to hear loud; Novelist has released so much music that I’ve loved this year. 'Stay With Me', 'Dun Know', 'Active' – there have been so many but then he released this subtle and dreamy instrumental house tune. It’s mad to me how musically flexible he can be. I’ve listened to it loads since and although it’s hard to know what he’ll do next, I don’t find it hard to say I’m sure it will be sick; I know it’s a bit of a cheek to put my own tune at the end but I am excited about the music I’ve released this year and have coming next year. It’s been in the works for a while now but things are finally coming together. This tune and my 'Box Of Tricks' release are a taste of things to come for me and my label Stereotone.
Wheelman is a DJ, producer and boss of the Stereotone label. He’s from Glasgow, follow him on SoundCloud here
Looking on the bright side, 2020 brought us the gift of time. As a travelling musician, "more time to spend digging" was always something I wished I had; so, when it was granted to me, I did my best to make the most of it. Lucky enough, 2020 turned out to be an amazing year for music. Here are just 10 of my favourite tracks I've been blessed to come across since January.
ZULI is a DJ, producer and broadcaster from Cairo. Follow him on SoundCloud here