meta-scriptAdam Beyer, Ida Engberg, Riva Starr & More To DJ 24-Hour Beatport Livestream Supporting Mental Health | GRAMMY.com
Adam Beyer, Ida Engberg, Riva Starr & More To DJ 24-Hour Beatport Livestream Supporting Mental Health

Ida Engberg & Adam Beyer

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Adam Beyer, Ida Engberg, Riva Starr & More To DJ 24-Hour Beatport Livestream Supporting Mental Health

In addition to star-studded DJ sets, the virtual festival will also feature discussions and tips from mental health and mindfulness experts

GRAMMYs/Nov 6, 2020 - 06:03 am

This Saturday, Nov. 7, expert electronic music resource Beatport will host a 24-hour Twitch livestream focused on mental health and dance music, filled with star-studded DJ sets and important conversations around wellness.

Adam Beyer, Ida Engberg, Riva Starr, Kaskade, Boys Noize, Junior Sanchez, Lady Starlight, LOUISAHHH and more will DJ the virtual event, being held in partnership with non-profit When The Music Stops and mental fitness company Silentmode.

Related: Avicii's Family Establishes Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Foundation

"These are trying times for our industry. Now more than ever taking care of ourselves—our minds, our wellbeing and the wellbeing of others—is truly vital," Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels said in a press release.

"Mental health has been one of the most talked about topics in our industry for years, and this is a global topic that should continue to be discussed and destigmatized. Everyone at Beatport takes this topic very seriously and will continue to bring visibility to it."

When the Music Stops will host several conversations throughout the event, including one with DJ Sacha Robotti, who will talk about his healing journey, and one with rapper Jerome Joyce, who will discuss using songwriting and poetry to cope. Silentmode will host two talks on mental health, as well as a live breathwork session and a separate "Breathonics chill out room" filled with relaxing music.

"With loneliness, depression and suicide on the rise, Beatport is becoming a leader in normalizing these conversations. When The Music Stops is honored to collaborate on such a powerful initiative. These issues affect all races and all religions. Together we can make an impact and let people know 'You Are Not Alone.' We will continue to do everything we can to be there for you, we understand and relate to your struggles," When The Music Stops Founder Joshua Donaldson wrote in the press release.

Beatport ReConnect x When The Music Stops: #YouAreNotAlone will stream live on Beaport's Twitch channel on Sat. Nov. 7, starting at 7:00 p.m. PT / 10:00 p.m. ET.

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How Singer/Songwriter Camden Cox Brings Lyrical Integrity To Dance Music
Camden Cox

Photo: Jeff Spicer / Stringer / Getty Images

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How Singer/Songwriter Camden Cox Brings Lyrical Integrity To Dance Music

The multi-hyphenate has worked with some of dance music’s biggest acts — including John Summit, deadmau5 and Kaskade — and is on a mission to "write from the soul" in a genre where lyrical depth is often underappreciated.

GRAMMYs/Dec 15, 2023 - 04:24 pm

Underneath much of dance music’s beat- and melody-driven landscape is shallow lyrical content — unless Camden Cox is holding the pen. 

The 30-year-old singer/songwriter’s philosophy — write not just from the heart, but also from the soul — is a defining aspect of her fan-first artistic identity.  This deeply personal creative process has also enabled her to transcend the genre’s vacuous, garden-variety lyricism. 

Cox’s voice quivers as she recalls the start of the songwriting session that would spawn John Summit’s "Where You Are," a song that embodies this ethos. "I was going through a breakup and I was wondering if they were thinking about me as much as I was thinking about them. I take myself back to that moment and I get emotional talking about it," she says. "I just love putting emotions into my lyrics — it’s such an incredible feeling."

"Where You Are" is not the only dance/electronic consensus hit to which Cox lent her lyrical muscle this year. The British songstress also co-wrote "Escape," the single with which  Kaskade and deadmau5 debuted their joint project, Kx5, in 2022. Penned by Cox, Hayla (who vocalizes its ruminative lyrics), Eddie Jenkins, and Will Clarke, the song was released on Kx5’s eponymous LP, which has been nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs. Fellow nominees in the category are Playing Robots Into Heaven from James Blake, the Chemical Brothers' For That Beautiful Feeling, Skrillex's Quest For Fire, and Fred again..'s Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9 2022)

Beyond her indomitable collection of writing credits for esteemed producers like Eli & Fur and Dombresky is a repertoire of work that’s entirely her own. Cox's recent work includes a solo single, October’s "Touching Me," and a just-dropped collab with Summit and Mathame called "Hungover" in which Cox is the featured singer.

In an interview with GRAMMY.com, Cox details her refusal to write anything "half-ass," subverting dance’s often tepid interest in lyrics, and how her time behind the decks has informed her approach to singing, songwriting, and DJing.

"Escape" and "Where You Are" were two of the biggest dance records this year. What about these songs caused them to skyrocket?

We followed the same formula. We wrote "Escape," and we had no idea that deadmau5 or Kaskade were going to get their hands on it. It was just a normal, ordinary session. 

We wrote this song, knew it was amazing, and then nothing happened with it for a year or two. Then, all of a sudden, I heard this random demo from deadmau5; he'd done a version of it. Once Kaskade got involved, they revamped the whole song. 

John Summit heard it and absolutely loved it; he was playing it out everywhere and he also did the official remix for it. His team reached out to us and said, "Can you write something similar?"

Deadmau5 has been an incredible influence on you, how did the song find its way to him?

Eddie Jenkins also wrote both of these songs with Hayla, and his management knew deadmau5’s management. He sent the song to deadmau5 and was like, "Hey, this your comeback, I think." It wasn't very deadmau5 [at that point]; it was a lot darker and a lot more progressive. 

I've based my entire sound and influence around that [deadmau5 type of] sound...It was so validating because I spent my entire career, my childhood, and my teens listening to Random Album Title by deadmau5. As a writer, you write what you are inspired by because it's just in your blood, in your mind, in your soul. 

So, it goes to show how much I did listen to Kaskade and deadmau5 to be able to get a song to them, however many years later. 

There will always be a place for beat-driven tunes in dance, but do you also get the sense that people are looking for a little more emotional resonance from dance music now?

Yeah. What I love about these two records is they can be stripped to piano and they're literally like ballads. They're so meaningful and they’re so from the heart. We wrote them with absolute integrity — they’re not just something you throw away. 

When  you do these sessions where the writing just takes more time and effort, it's so worth it when you get the final outcome. I think people love that because you not only can rave to it, but you can cry to it as well.

How do you balance your lyric-forward approach in a genre where lyrics aren’t always as appreciated as they are in other genres?

It's such a tricky one because I've been in sessions where the songwriters have been like, "It doesn't matter what the lyrics are as long as the melody is good," but lyrics are my thing. I love writing lyrics. I always dig deep and take my time. I’ll have rhyming dictionaries open; it's an operation for me. 

Even though lyrics can take a backseat, I don't let that affect the way I write. Even if people don't listen, I'm still going to write it from the soul, because you will get those musical people that want to break it down and hear the story, and they're the people who are really going to appreciate it. If one person can listen and appreciate it, that's good enough for me.

Do you often find yourself pushing back in these situations?

As I've grown in confidence and experience, I push back more and more. Whereas a lot of producers will say "Oh no, this is fine," I'll say, "No, I've heard it before." I've heard it a million times and I want it to mean something to me and to whoever gets to listen. Eventually, they just give in because they know that I'm not going to settle. So, I'll hone in on the lyrics, and then I'll send them a new version with better lyrical content.

You grew up in a very musical home; your dad loved rock and your mom, drum ‘n’ bass. How you made your way to dance music is clear, but what’s kept you here?

It's the one genre I just don't ever get bored of it. It's in my blood; I grew up on drum ‘n’ bass music, so I just love heavy, heavy beats and big basslines. As a little girl, I used to prance around singing along to the Prodigy and stuff like that, so it's in my soul.

I find that dance music is the most timeless genre. Pop is pop, and you’re always going to get songs that stick around for years, but those dance tunes that came out 20, 30 years ago that are absolute classics. In the dance world, when a song hits, it will stay with ravers forever, and I just think there's something really special in that. I listen to dance in my spare time when I'm not even working or writing. All I really listen to is dance. 

You used to start your songs as poems. Tell me how that started; did you read a lot of poetry when you were younger?

I didn't read it, but when I first started writing, I struggled with lyrics. I remember the first song I wrote. I said to my mom, "Can you write me a poem and I'll make it into a song?" And she did. Then I asked my dad, and he did the same thing. I made them into a song, and that unlocked a part of my brain. After that, I just started writing the poetry. 

Now, the melodies usually come before the lyrics, but if I have a sentence or something in my head that I think is really inspiring, I'll write it down. I never go full poems anymore. I go for a quote, for example. I recently found one, something "like remember when this all seemed impossible?" and I had a session with John Summit and I was like, "I wanna write that concept." So, I went in and sang something to those words. There’s no rules, and that’s what I love about it.

You’ve said you’ll often go into the studio and freestyle since the first take is often the best. 

It's my favorite way to write. When I freestyle, I always do it with a handheld mic, because I just feel like I can be a bit freer; I can walk around, I can sit down. The trick is to put autotune on pretty full blast, with loads of nice reverb and delays and compression, so it almost sounds ready when you hear it back. 

It'll all be a bit messy, but then you'll hear it back with the tuning on and you're like, Yeah, that's what I was trying to do. I just love working like that. I find it the most creative and the most productive because you come out with so much stuff and then you just narrow it down until you get the best three sections.

Learning how to DJ has to be transformative when it comes to conceptualizing new songs.

It’s helped me even further. Now being the one in control of the decks and understanding what keeps a crowd has unlocked a whole new world. It's crazy because I thought I knew everything that you could know about dance music — I grew up on it, I write it, I live and breathe it — but there's a whole other perception with DJing, and it's really helped me with my writing.

It's also hard to get a booking as a singer on a dance song. One of the reasons why I wanted to start DJing was because I knew I could probably get some bookings out of it. Two was because I'm writing all these dance songs, and all these DJs are playing them out and no one knows I've written them. I just wanted to get behind the decks and play my portfolio. It's opened up a whole new fan base for me.

Speaking of, you recently wrapped your first residency in Ibiza. How was that?

I go to Ibiza every year anyway, being a dance head, and I've been to all the clubs. I've gone and watched my songs being played out, but I just never envisioned myself doing it. And then this year, all these bookings flooded in because I started DJing. 

I've only been DJing for a year and a half, but because I had already made a bit of a name for myself in the dance world as a singer when people started to realize I was DJing, I was getting bookings a bit easier. I started suddenly seeing my name on some posters and it all became very real. 

I had the time in my life, but I also did find it very exhausting because there's so much traveling. Tour life is actually quite hectic, and it really hit me, but it was also very incredible and such a learning curve. Each gig, you learn something. 

Now that you’re doing the singing, the songwriting, and the DJing, how do you find balance? 

I'm a machine. I think I'm a bit of a workaholic because I just love it so much. I genuinely know how lucky I am that I get to do what I love for a living. But I found the more gigs I did, the more traveling I did, I knew that as much as I wanted to be in the studio — and I was getting offered good sessions — I'd have to turn them down because I knew I'd need a couple of days to recover. 

I did my last show, and it felt so fulfilling. Now, I'm back in the studio, and I built up so much inspiration over the summer because I couldn't write as much as I wanted to, so I was bursting at the seams. I'm going like 100 miles an hour right now, writing five days a week. I'll be doing this until I burn out.

Given that you’ve been writing so frequently, what has the process of shaping your musical identity been like these days?

I feel like I'm starting to find a few identities in my writing. There's a darkness to what I'm writing, but there's a good balance between brightness and darkness, as in this raw emotion that will come out in a really pretty melody. I'm good at finding that balance where you could cry and dance to it. 

Thinking about how this relates to your music, where do you hope to take your artist project next?

Getting nominated for a GRAMMY for something of my own is the dream. Getting nominated as a writer is such a big tick for me. So now, I want to aim for the next level, which is maybe getting nominated for something that I'm singing on, and eventually getting nominated for a GRAMMY for something that is just mine.

I've also got some really exciting collabs coming up. Me and John [Summit] have a song coming out together in two weeks. Right now, I'm establishing myself in London, in the UK a little bit, but it just takes a lot of time. 

Some people have one song and then that's it — they're blowing up in the charts. It's not happened like that for me; I've been working away behind the scenes. I'm just hoping that through some collaborations, I will be introduced to new audiences who will then discover my music, which will allow me to keep releasing.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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2022 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined Dance Music
(L-R) Fred again.., Shygirl, Amelie Lens, Black Coffee, TSHA, PinkPantheress, Honey Dijon, David Guetta

Photo: (L-R) Frank Hoensch/Redferns, David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images, Pablo Gallardo Sanchez/Redferns, Michael Tullberg/Getty Images, Joseph Okpako/WireImage, David Wolff-Patrick/Getty Images, Pablo Gallardo/Redferns, Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV

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2022 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined Dance Music

Dance music was resurgent in 2022, bringing an explosion of energy from underground names and top-line stars alike.

GRAMMYs/Dec 23, 2022 - 04:58 pm

The dance/electronic genre runs wide and deep, encompassing a myriad of subgenres, artists, labels and fan cultures. By any definition, 2022 was a landmark year for the genre, as clubs and festivals returned more energized than ever and a wide spectrum of artists embraced dance music's spirit of collective release.

This year, Beyoncé and Drake turned to house music to inspire their respective albums, spotlighting several dance-music stars like Honey Dijon, Black Coffee, &ME and Rampa as collaborators. There was also a dizzying array of new music within the genre, including years-in-the-making albums from the likes of Flume and Bonobo and innumerable DJ sets loaded with unreleased tracks (or IDs, to EDM-heads).

The genre also thrived in the live sphere, with several dance festivals returning to their pre-pandemic status quo and many stars hitting the road for headline tours, including ODESZA and RÜFÜS DU SOL. In a genre that defies easy categorization, the outpouring of creativity was undeniable. Below, find eight trends that bubbled up in dance/electronic this year, setting the tone for 2023.

House Infused Pop

In a moment of cosmic alignment, two of music's biggest names found their 2022 muse in dance music. Beyoncé went all-in on house, disco and ballroom on her long awaited seventh studio album, which paid thrilling homage to dance music's Black and queer roots. In an all-star cast of collaborators, the singer found a kindred spirit in Chicago house veteran Honey Dijon, who brought her jacking energy to album cuts "Alien Superstar" and "Cozy."

Meanwhile, Drake's Honestly, Nevermind coasted breezy house and Baltimore club beats, with input from the likes of South African superstar Black Coffee, Keinemusik linchpins Rampa and &ME, and Gordo, the artist previously known as Carnage. Summer saw Drake take his own house pilgrimage, turning up at Black Coffee's Ibiza residency and a Keinemusik party in Saint-Tropez. 

As the fog lifted on two years of pandemic life, the back-to-back albums — which both debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 album chart — pushed house music back into mainstream discourse, and put a shine on lesser-known artists doing the work. 

Artists Respected The Roots

While the work is far from done, this year saw dance music more consciously acknowledge its Black and queer foundations. After exploring the theme with Beyoncé, Honey Dijon delivered Black Girl Magic, a joyous house album that celebrates Black queer identity.

It was also a big year for forward-thinking Black artists in the UK, who foregrounded their lived experiences on some of the year's standout releases. Shygirl's Nymph and TSHA's Capricorn Sun were both supremely confident debut albums, while jungle DJ Nia Archives and pop-dance producer PinkPantheress also enjoyed breakout years; the former via electrifying DJ sets and her Forbidden Feelingz EP, and PinkPantheress with a string of releases including "Where you are," featuring Willow

Accepting the first-ever award for Best Electronic/Dance Act at London's MOBOs Awards, which honor "music of black origin," Nia Archives spoke to dance music's essence: "Jungle is music of Black origin and I'm proud to be flying the flag for my community and my scene." 

Women Took The Techno Reins

Like other dance subgenres, techno remained predominantly white and male in 2022. To redress this imbalance, some in the industry are pushing for top DJs to insist on an inclusion or diversity clause in their contracts, stipulating that promoters book a diverse lineup.

Despite this reality, a cohort of women made a strong claim to techno stages in 2022. Belgian talent Amelie Lens had a triumphant year as a producer, label boss and hard-hitting DJ, while Italy's Anfisa Letyago was a breakout performer at festivals like Movement, Sónar and EXIT and French DJ Anetha took her Mama Told Ya label to new heights. 

Following a star-making Boiler Room set in 2018, Palestinian DJ Sama' Abdulhadi made her Coachella debut this April. Three months later, bona-fide techno superstar Charlotte de Witte became the first woman and techno artist to close the Tomorrowland mainstage in her native Belgium. Meanwhile, at Berlin's techno temple Berghain, new residents Nene H and Sedef Adasï pushed against techno's strictures in long, wide-ranging sets. 

The UK Came Through

UK club music is always firing, but 2022 took it up a level with new iterations on UK bass music. In a year that electronic maestro Four Tet won his streaming royalty dispute with Domino Records, several of the producer's peers dropped consequential releases.

In April, Welsh duo Overmono distilled their fast-paced take on techno, house, breaks and UK garage on the five-track Cash Romantic EP, including the summer anthem "Gunk." The EP slotted neatly into Four Tet's orbit alongside fast-paced UK-centric club music from the likes of Brainfeeder recruit Ross From Friends and Vienna-born, Manchester-based salute. And up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, festival headlining duo Bicep perfected their own genre-blurring sound. 

Within this world — and arguably in dance music at large — no one blew up this year quite like Fred again… Respected as a producer for artists as diverse as Headie One and Ed Sheeran, Fred made his name as a solo artist during the pandemic with the first two volumes of his Actual Life album series, which set the template for his intimate night-stalking sound. 

In 2022, the producer's Boiler Room London set went viral — 11 million views on YouTube and counting — with its loved-up rollercoaster of Fred again.. originals and bootlegs spanning house, drum & bass, trance and pop. With Actual Life 3 (January 1 -  September 9 2022) now out, Fred again.. is riding into 2023 as the UK producer to beat. 

Tech-House Went Further Mainstream

When Australian producer Fisher released "Losing It" in 2018, he had no idea what a phenomenon it would spark. Originally a secret weapon in the DJ's sets, "Losing It" became Beatport's top-selling track that year and earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Dance Recording. It also cemented the tech-house subgenre — which evolved from its UK-centric roots in the 1990s to become a dominant club sound across Europe — as a mainstream force in a post-EDM world.

That trend continued in 2022, powered in part by Fisher's still-growing popularity and breakout hits like James Hype and Miggy Dela Rosa's "Ferrari," released on Universal's Island Records. 

After an ascendant 2021, Chicago-born DJ-producer John Summit dominated the year in tech-house, thanks to his prolific output and savvy use of social media. Together with friends like Chris Lake and Dom Dolla, Summit has muscled onto festival mainstages with a bumping, vocal-laced tech-house sound typified by his 2022 releases "La Danza," "In Chicago" and "Show Me." With a 2023 headline show locked at Colorado's famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre - a strived-for badge of honor for dance artists in the US - Summit is proving the big-ticket appeal of tech-house. 

EDM Nostalgia Lived On

A decade on from the explosion of EDM in the U.S., a few of that era's key players made notable returns in 2022.

Back in 2012, big room house hitmakers Swedish House Mafia shocked fans with the announcement of a farewell tour that kicked off just after they delivered their compilation album Until Now, featuring anthems like "Don't You Worry Child" and "Save The World." But 10 years later, the trio of Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello made their return with 2022's Paradise Again, which saw the trio evolve into a darker pop sound while still honoring past glories in their comeback shows. 

EDM nostalgia also fueled the 2022 team-up from deadmau5 and Kaskade as kx5, whose debut single, "Escape," could've been the biggest progressive house hit of 2012. In a full-circle moment, the duo capped off the year with a headline show for 46,000 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the former home of EDM massive Electric Daisy Carnival. According to Billboard Boxscore, the concert was the biggest ticketed global dance event of 2022 for a headline artist. 

Reaching further back, French electro-house trailblazers Justice marked the 15-year anniversary of their debut album, †, by sharing a previously unreleased demo version of its timeless single, "D.A.N.C.E." In dance music, even the recent past is ripe for reviving. 

TikTok Made Dance Hits

Just as TikTok helped to make and sustain pop hits in 2022, the addictive video-sharing app also played its part in dance music. While DJs flocked to TikTok to share tips, tricks, mash-ups, and videos from the booth, some of the genre's biggest successes were driven by the TikTok community.

Released in late 2021, Acraze's "Do It To It" became the definitive TikTok dance/electronic hit of the year. A chunky tech-house rework of girl group Cherish's 2006 single of the same name, the track went viral as a TikTok dance, featuring in over 3 million videos. Oliver Tree and Robin Schulz's aggressively catchy "Miss You" also blew up on the platform, powered by Tree's all-in persona. Meanwhile, Eliza Rose and Interplanetary Criminal's garage-tinged house banger "B.O.T.A. (Baddest of Them All)" hit No. 1 in the UK after going viral on TikTok, turning two club-focused producers into overnight stars. 

Rave Was Recontextualized

Dance music is forever mining the past to inform the present, and this year was no different. Throughout 2022, a wide swathe of DJs and producers reached back to the sounds of '90s and early 2000s rave, Eurodance and hard dance to give their sets a jolt. 

The trend was particularly notable in techno, which in recent years has become more open to trance and breakbeat influences. Proponents of this throwback sound include the German artists DJ Heartstring and Marlon Hoffstadt, while Dutch DJ KI/KI powers her sets with decades-old hard dance for a new generation. 

At the more commercial end of the genre, DJ/producers David Guetta and MORTEN have reached back to the past to inform a sound they call "future rave," complete with the October launch of a dedicated Future Rave label. 

Whether looking to the past or striving for the next big sound, the dance/electronic genre was undeniable in 2022, with more highs to come. 

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."

Moniquea

Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.

L'Impératrice

L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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