EDM is home to a variety of genres, including techno, house, electro, trance, trap, dubstep, and more. Because of this, many popular producers have created side projects to experiment with other styles of dance music.
We have put together a list of seven of our favorite side projects. You might know all of them, as most are relatively well known. However, this is a testament to the talent of these producers. They have been able to create side projects that have become popular enough to stand on their own.
The first project I’d like to zero in on would be from the orchestrators of Group Therapy, Above & Beyond. Also responsible for the record label Anjunabeats, the English triad is comprised of Paavo Siljamäki, Tony McGuinness, and Jono Grant. Above & Beyond presents OceanLab was a vocal trance group composed of the three members of A&B and vocalist Justine Suissa. The name comes from their mutual love of the sea and beaches, as their 2001 breakout single follows this theme in its title “Clear Blue Water.” Originating back in 2000, the super group gained popularity through remixes of their original tracks from big names in the trance industry including Ferry Corsten, ilan Bluestone, Cosmic Gate and more. The uplifting trance group dropped their debut album Sirens of the Sea via Anjunabeats in July 2008. Through a Reddit AMA conducted in 2014, A&B revealed that OceanLab would cease to exist, as the vocalist is now apart of their supreme title Above & Beyond. The group maintained that holding two artists names simply doesn’t make sense for them to do anymore, and Suissa is working with them on their upcoming album due early 2015.
Continuing on with trance legends, let me bring you back to A State of Trance 650 at Ultra Music Festival 2014. ASOT 650 proved to be a particularly special occasion due to the fact that Armin Van Buuren himself did not play under his own alias at his A State of Trance, but rather under the mysterious stage name Gaia. Pairing up with Benno de Goeij of Rank 1, the duo took the Megastructure by storm performing as two hooded figures the entire set. With Armin receiving some mainstream attention after his latest album release, ASOT was kept away from the limelight as the two played select original tracks including “Empire Hearts.” It also remained an all-original set, which I found highly refreshing, including Armin originals and remixes/edits from the ASOT mastermind. What is great about Gaia is that the group holds the ability to remain true to its trance roots. Two separate Armin performances allowed trance fans to keep their sanctuary untouched by the mainstream listeners, leaving the genre uncontaminated and purely refined.
What So Not
One of the more notable side projects to gain popularity recently is the Australian duo What So Not, comprised of Flume and Emoh Instead. Flume was first discovered back in 2011 when he signed to record label Future Classic. Through Future Classic, the instrumentalist met Nathan McLean, a past employee of the record label and now manager for Flume who aided in the release of the EP Sleepless. Streten has since produced chart topping hits such as “Holdin’ On” and “Insane,” along with popular remixes including “Hyper Paradise,” “You & Me,” and by far his most successful remix to date, “Tennis Court.” In November 2013, the duo released “Jaguar,” which has now reeled in nearly five million views on SoundCloud. Deriving from the Australian label Sweat It Out, What So Not has since put out their incredible original mixes “High You Are,” “Touched,” and their recent collaboration with RL Grime, “Tell Me.” Flume recently made it known to his fan base that the future holds more What So Not. With the duo's growing popularity, Emoh Instead is quickly becoming a star in his own right.
Transitioning to the world of hard drops and bass, I’d like to point out the monumental dubstep live band Destroid, comprised of three very familiar faces: Excision, Downlink, and Pendulum’s drummer KJ Sawka. Excision started the heavy bass project back in 2009. The futuristic bass super group released ‘Destroid Existence Conspiracy,’ a promotional video officially revealing their existence on October 31, 2012. The live bass music band formed their own independent record label, Destroid Music, on which they released their debut album The Invasion. Destroid also released a graphic novel as a way to further circulate the story behind the group, but also their concept. Along with big industry names such as Bassnectar and Pretty Lights, the revolutionary and innovative artists aim to create their own passionate fan base dedicated to broadcasting the band’s message of sealing the gap between the artist and the listener. Thanks to expansive social networking, interaction between the fan and the artist are at an all time high. Destroid’s followers are addressed as “The Elevated.” You can catch the live band headlining the Safe in Sound Festival traveling across North America and Canada. As if you needed another reason to see the PK Sound powered super group, the triad will be performing in LED suits with their customized midi-controlled guitars specially designed for their cutting-edge live shows.
Speaking of Pendulum, let's move on to Knife Party, but let's start at the beginning. Pendulum was conceived in 2002. The group encompassed their hard rock style infused with electro beats immaculately with their 2005 debut album Hold Your Colour. As time progressed, however, members of Pendulum slowly began to focus on their side projects. Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen created Knife Party and played their inaugural performance at a BBC Radio 1 event on August 5, 2011. Later that year, the two released their first EP, 100% No Modern Talking, via Pendulum’s label EarStorm. The duo went on to collaborate with Swedish House Mafia on their track “Antidote.” In March 2012, the duo hosted their own Earstorm Stage at Future Music Festival. Swire and McGrillen also released heavy hitting tracks including “Rage Valley” and “LRAD.” Influenced by major EDM groups such as Jack Beats and Noisia, this eccentric pair is set to release their forthcoming album Abandon Ship later this year.
World-renowned turntablist A-Trak is one of the biggest names in the business. The Canadian DJ won the 1997 DMC World DJ Championship at 15-years-old, becoming the youngest winner of the competition ever. In 2009, A-Trak needed an outlet to merge his love for hip-hop and appeal to the rising club scene at the same time. He teamed up with house music legend Armand Van Helden and formed the dance floor-friendly duo Duck Sauce.The sample-heavy duo is responsible for the contagious vintage disco house track “Barbra Streisand,” which toppled all sorts of charts worldwide. Duck Sauce is commonly known for their incorporation of 70s and 80s artist samples into their modern day tunes that pull you into the land of the duck. This year, the pair released their album, Quack, which is widely considered one of the best dance albums of 2014. The album is home to Duck Sauce’s most recent chart topper, “NRG.” The track successfully unites Melissa Manchester’s 1985 hit “Energy” and their disco house sound flawlessly.
One of the many to remix Duck Sauce's "NRG," Skrillex, is also associated with several side projects. Although Jack U has been receiving all the attention lately, Dog Blood is Skrillex's impressive foray into techno. The OWSLA label executive has won multiple Grammy Awards, including Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Dance Recording, and Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical. The producer was also named MTV’s Electronic Dance Music Artist of the Year in 2011. Just a year later, Skrillex and Boys Noize combined to create the acid techno and electro duo Dog Blood. The two have performed all over the world at events such as Ultra, EDC, and Glastonbury Festival. Their debut singles “Next Order” and “Middle Finger” were released August 12, 2012. Dog Blood’s first live performance took place in Detroit later that year on New Year's Eve. They’ve released their material through various record labels including Boysnoize Records, OWSLA, and Big Beat. One of Dog Blood’s most appealing features is the contrasting qualities of the producers possess and how they blend their iconic sounds into an immersive experience of their own.