The one way to get a listener’s attention is by breaking the mold. With so much music available to us on demand, it’s the producers that carve our their own unique sound that really end up catching our ear.
Between constant digging through playlists and sorting through submissions, we listen to a LOT of music, but there are a select few artists out there who simply don’t sound like anybody else. These bopsmiths have been changing the game since they stepped foot in the scene, and we keep finding ourselves coming back to their work as a sort of musical palette cleanser—a breathe of fresh air in a landscape that can be saturated with formulaic strategies.
We thought long and hard about which producers are currently pioneering unparalleled approaches to their sound, and have narrowed it down to a list of twenty artists that you need to have on your radar.
So if you’re looking for a change, here is our list of 20 cutting-edge producers who really don’t sound like anyone else.
The reason why SOPHIE is starting off this list is that she transcended electronic music. When you think of producers who have reached legendary status and influenced this whole generation of experimental sound design, SOPHIE is the first person most people think of. When she tragically passed away earlier this year the entire music industry felt it. Some even said SOPHIE had a Dilla-like effect on electronic music. We’d have to agree.
This critically-acclaimed rapper/producer has been setting the bar high for beatmakers since the 90s. Throughout his career, he moved from rap beats to jazz-electronic, and recently even collaborated with Four Tet on his latest project, Sound Ancestors. Whether he’s Madlib, Quasimoto, or the Mad in Madvillain, Otis Jackson Jr. remains untouched in the game.
There’s a reason why the reclusive South Londoner is so sought after, even over a decade since his last full length body of work. When it comes to innovative, state-of-the-art electronic music, Burial is always one of the first artists that comes to mind. His creative tendrils stretch across the vast spectrum of subgenres, so there’s no true way to define his work. Just take a listen to one of his most recent singles, “Chemz,” below.
People might know Lunice as one-half of TNGHT, but his career trajectory has been insane since the beginning. He’d been producing for about 12 years before founding the electronic duo with HudMo, and becoming one of the most sought-after artists in the industry. Incorporating eccentric sound selection in his design, he’s able to give a fresh take on hip-hop and electronic trap’s normally simplistic cadence.
5. Four Tet
There’s nobody who gets your spine tingling quite like Four Tet. The musical wizard has somehow been ahead of the game for over two decades, amassing eleven different studio albums (and more under different aliases). Whether he’s creating rich, ambient soundscapes or driving house and techno rhythms, he’s putting us in a trance. We love when he combines those two approaches into one, like he did on “LA Trance.”
6. Aphex Twin
Whether he likes it or not, Aphex Twin is widely known to be associated with the budding subgenre of IDM. And for exactly the reasons you’d assume. Most electronic music can be pretty formulaic, but Aphex Twin’s unpredictable, left-field composition speaks volumes for itself.
Vegyn has been one of our absolute favorite recent discoveries. The British producer seems to break every single rule when it comes to music, but gets away with it 100% of the time. Little did we know that Vegyn’s talents were enlisted by the likes of Frank Ocean on both his Blond and Endless projects back in 2016. We won’t even try to classify his sound, but think about floating around in a bubble while at an interdimensional nightclub. Hmmm… yeah.
8. Kelly Lee Owens
Kelly Lee Owens burst onto the scene with our self titled debut album in 2017, but last year she sank her teeth into us with her immaculate sophomore album, Inner Song. While her dreamy and spooky production is something to behold on its own, it reaches new heights when she gets to crooning.
9. Sam Gellaitry
Now that our boy Sammy G has stepped foot into the indie electronic realm, the scope of his music has widened immensely. No matter what genre he makes, Sam Gellaitry is one of the few people who can create full-body listening experiences through his emotion-packed production and visual-inducing storytelling.
If you’ve been seeing this producer’s name tossed around as of recently, it’s for good reason. Her most recent body of work, You’ve Got The Whole Night To Go, covers a broad scope of club music, from acid-laced breakbeats to thick, minimal groovers. The young talent has made her way to Berlin, via Sydney, two locations that thrive off of innovation, and we’re constantly waiting to see what she does next.
11. Of The Trees
While we’ve already hailed Of The Trees for his boundary-pushing efforts this year, we can’t say enough about the newly Denver-based producer. His recent work completely transports us to a different place, combining mystical melodies with ridiculously satisfying low-end sound design.
12. Roza Terenzi
The underground music scene in Melbourne, Australia proudly boasts Roza Terenzi as of leading artists to come out of the thriving city. She now resides in Berlin, but has retained her Aussie swagger in her music, creating some of the dustiest, rawest techno and electro bangers you could possibly imagine and releasing on her new label, Step Ball Chain. Roza breaks all the rules when it comes to typical song structure, with a single track feeling like it’s made up of several different ideas all mashed into one, cohesive work of art.
The Godfather of future knock. DECAP created this subgenre of trap to showcase funky, jazzy elements over hard-hitting drums and rap beats. The sound doesn’t take itself too seriously and if you watch his Twitch streams, neither does DECAP. But you can always count on them for a fun time.
14. Cashmere Cat
Although Cashmere Cat was able to make a clean crossover to the mainstream and become a frequent collaborator of pop stars like Ariana Grande, there’s no doubt that Cashmere Cat has one of the most distinctive styles out there. We could even say he’s one of the main game players in pushing “kawaii bounce” into popularity.
The duo has been bringing something new to the trap table since 2015, incorporating elements of jungle, breaks, dubstep, and really any electronic genre you can think of, into their music. While many try, the group is able to nail that bombastic yet brooding sound that really shakes you to your core. If you want to get an idea of X&G’s versatility, their PERSONA album is a great start.
If you want to take a trip to the deepest, darkest, and dankest corners of techno, take VTSS’s hand let her show you the way. Hailing from Warsaw, Poland, this quickly rising artist is on a tear right now, and some of her recent releases have been brutally tantalizing. This music is designed to pluck at your senses.
17. Ivy Lab
Ivy Lab is the blueprint for experimental electronic music. Any genre of music you can think of can be found in their tracks and the duo is able to execute it immaculately. We really can’t think of anyone else who can do something like mix soul and drum and bass together, but Ivy Lab delivers. Always paving their own path, they have a record label called 20/20 LDN where you can find even more forward-thinking music.
New Sable Valley signee Deadcrow has been making huge waves in the community. As a power player in officiating the subgenre of wave, Deadcrow’s atmospheric yet heavy-hitting sound engages you from start to finish.
Old school ravers will often get nostalgic about the sound of the 90s, but nobody channels that drug-fueled euphoria better than this Leeds-born duo. In an interview with Mixmag, Prospa said they wanted to be among the UK greats like The Prodigy. They’re certainly on their way.
20. Rome In Silver
With each and every Rome In Silver release, it becomes clear that there is nothing he can’t do. Progressing from trap bootlegs to solidifying his spot in future bass, Rome In Silver now just drops whatever he wants and it’s somehow always perfect. While he can’t be pigeonholed into one genre, you can’t miss his distinguishable ethereal melodies.