Electronic dance music's greatest asset comes from its ability to convey a wide spectrum of emotion without needing to rely on words. However, the marriage between EDM and singing often creates truly unforgettable songs. Sometimes a talented producer can also sing, leading tracks featuring two very different skills. From Calvin Harris' soft croons to Daft Punk's robotic hypnosis, producers who can also sing mark a special group among EDM musicians. Read our picks for the 12 best producers/singers below:
1. Alvin Risk
Alvin Risk has toured with the likes of Kaskade and Skrillex's record label OWSLA to gain a dedicated fandom. People leave his shows surprised after realizing Risk actually sings live on a few of his tracks. His soft vocals contrast to the heavy sound he produces, often giving the tracks a welcome respite before the mind-boggling drops. His vocals feature quite a bit on his recent EP Venture as well, showing that Risk has no intentions of stopping.
Israeli producer Borgore often supplies his own vocals to his hit tracks. His wordplay extends from catchy hooks on tracks such as "Decisions" (in collaboration with pop sensation Miley Cyrus) to snarky wordplay on anthems like "Delicious." While his recent tracks find him sticking more to the producer's chair, the veteran dubstepper's early career epitomized the producer's singing and songwriting chops.
3. Calvin Harris
Perhaps the most well known example in all of EDM, Calvin Harris' tracks blend his strengths as a crossover maestro with his uncanny singing chops. Some of the Scottish producer's biggest hits feature his distinctive voice ("Summer", "Feel So Close", and "I'm Not Alone" to name a few), but his producing/singing hybrid returned after a brief hiatus. Harris once performed as a live vocalist, and his announcement that would quit singing scared many fans into thinking he planned to retire his singing altogether. Luckily Harris' singing returned on record with "Feel So Close", the first track to crossover onto the Billboard charts in America. The rest is history.
A man who goes by many pseudonyms, Dan Snaith receives most recognition for his music under the Caribou alias. Snaith's sultry vocals feature quite extensively on Caribou's albums, especially on his 2014 concept record Our Love. The birth of his daughter inspired him to write more nuanced lyrics, resulting in Our Love receiving universal acclaim. Snaith often chops and loops his voice to create the psychedelic effects, experimentation that uses his voice to create innovative melodies.
5. Daft Punk
Readers of this list may question the inclusion of the French house connoisseurs, but all the vocoder vocals on a Daft Punk track comes from the duo themselves. Their entire musical catalog integrates their tantalizing beats with their manipulated vocals. From the eerie chants on "Teachers" to the catchy loops on "Get Lucky", Daft Punk's masterful use of vocoder plays a huge part in defining their influential career.
Dance music's hottest duo Disclosure is also known to sing on a number of their original tracks. Before Mary J. Blige joined the track "F For You," the single contained some airy vocals from the British brothers. While their voices never hit high registers, their songwriting gives their vocals an accessible quality many other producers attempt to replicate. While the two have remixed with the likes of Usher and Pharrell as of late, their future original tracks will surely include more of the duo's infectious singing.
7. Green Velvet
With some of the deepest roots in dance music, Green Velvet has produced a number of now-ubiquitious dance anthems over the last 20 years. A number of his original tracks include the Chicago-based producer's iconic vocals. While he doesn't exactly "sing" in the traditional sense, Green Velvet's catchy spoken word format gives his tracks "Flash", "Bigger Than Prince", and "La La Land" the essential character we all associate with the veteran producer.
Kaskade produced original tracks and remixes for 15 years without ever singing over a single track. That changed in 2013, when the L.A. producer debuted his track "Atmosphere" at Ultra Music Festival in 2013, the first track of his to feature his own vocals. Equipped with his modulated voice, "Atmosphere" went on to light up the charts and define the work from the eponymous Atmosphere album. While he's yet to produce another original with his own vocals, the success of "Atmosphere" proves how much his fanbase wants more singing on his melodic tracks.
9. Nicolas Jaar
While Nicolas Jaar may not be a well-known name among many EDM fans, his influence over electronic music cannot be denied. He only began producing a few years ago, but his dark approach to downtempo electronic music was quickly picked up by many music blogs, and his vocals largely define his DARKSIDE project with guitarist Dave Harrington. DARKSIDE became known for their captivating live shows, which heavily highlighted Jaar's husky voice. While DARKSIDE announced their hiatus this year, we hope Jaar continues to sing over some of his future tunes.
10. Porter Robinson
Like Kaskade, Porter Robinson only recently began to sing over his own original tracks. While he built his early career on electro bangers like "100% In The B*tch," Robinson switched gears this year with the release of his debut album Worlds. He also innovated by using his single "Sad Machine" to debut his singing, a move which turned many heads. Robinson also wrote every song on Worlds, which beared testament to his songwriting ability. Given the success of "Sad Machine," it seems like more tracks with Porter's vocals are destined to release in the future.
Kevin Drew has stood as an icon in dance music since his earliest productions in 2011, demonstrating that he is not just a talented dj and producer, but that he is skilled in singing and songwriting as well. He has showcased his vocal talents on a number of his own productions throughout his career, from originals such as "Circles" back in 2012 to "Signals" on his newest same-named EP. Working alongside mega-acts such as Zedd, Lady Gaga, and a plethora more artists, its clear that KDrew's talents on the computer and mic are unwavering.
Finishing off this list is one of EDM's most important figures, the L.A.-based hit maker Skrillex. Die hard fans will know that his vocals are featured prominently on his original tracks, but Skrillex sneakily also sang on a number of his more recent tracks. Altered vocals pop up on "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" and "With You, Friends", and robotic vocals featured on tracks like "Bangarang" and "Devil's Den" may very well come from the producer's own voice. Given his history as one of the lead singers of post hardcore band From First To Last, it makes sense that Skrillex would sing prominently on his own tracks. While his vocals may not be as noticeable as other entries on this list, they still pack as much punch.