A new gen­er­a­tion of Brit hit­mak­ers are this year’s fes­ti­val must-sees.


I re­mem­ber first hear­ing Brit duo Dis­clo­sure’s glo­ri­ous in­fat­u­a­tion an­them “Latch” at the tail end of 2012. A dyed-in-the-wool dance­mu­sic lover, I had lots to lock on to: swoon­ing synth lines, bass-thump­ing bliss and the achy-breaky falsetto of young crooner Sam Smith. But what truly set “Latch” apart from club­land’s throb­bing melodies was how Dis­clo­sure (Sur­rey broth­ers Guy and Howard Lawrence) had re­worked a house clas­sic into a thrillingly con­tem­po­rary sound.

If the hero’s wel­come Dis­clo­sure got at this year’s Coachella is any­thing to go by (I have a sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that the cheers weren’t caused solely by ine­bri­a­tion and sunny desert skies), fes­ti­val crowds are now fall­ing un­der the soul­ful spell of these U.K. house re­vival­ists.

But why ex­actly is Bri­tish elec­tronic mu­sic hav­ing a mo­ment? Chalk it up to a new gen­er­a­tion of tal­ented singer-song­writ­ers and pro­duc­ers who are kick­ing pop con­ven­tions h

to the curb. Acts like Dis­clo­sure and drum ’n’ bass quar­tet Rudi­men­tal have tapped into their coun­try’s rich mu­si­cal DNA while up­dat­ing the sound for 21st-century palates— much like when Daft Punk re-cal­i­brated the dial of dance mu­sic in 1997 with its boundary-smash­ing de­but, Home­work.

But Dis­clo­sure and Rudi­men­tal are not alone. A crew of young per­form­ers from across the pond—Sam Smith, Lon­don Gram­mar, Sasha Ke­able, John New­man and Ella Eyre, to name a few—played a part in the hit­mak­ers’ stag­ger­ing as­cent and are now branch­ing out into aus­pi­cious ca­reers of their own. Smith, only 22 years old, won the BRIT 2014 Crit­ics’ Choice Award and graced the stage of SNL— be­fore even drop­ping a de­but record.

Call it an an­ti­dote to Amer­ica’s mam­moth EDM ex­plo­sion or a post-un­der­ground, post-his­tor­i­cal re­nais­sance. Over the past year, Bri­tish dance mu­sic has shifted from the con­fines of hal­lowed nightlife shrines to sold-out in­ter­na­tional tours. Dis­clo­sure alone clocked in over 40 fes­ti­val dates in 2013 and per­formed at Coachella two years in a row, which is a rare distinc­tion. Still, the duo’s me­te­oric rise caught even BBC Ra­dio 1 broad­caster An­nie Mac, one of the first to cham­pion Dis­clo­sure, by sur­prise. “I think the big­gest bit for me was see­ing this grainy YouTube video of Dis­clo­sure in Fe­bru­ary per­form­ing ‘F for You’ with Mary J. Blige live on­stage in New York,” she tells me. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God! Some­thing has hap­pened here!’”

Ac­cord­ing to Mac, who is cur­rently film­ing a doc­u­men­tary about Dis­clo­sure, the U.K.’s elec­tronic lin­eage is partly re­spon­si­ble for this sweep­ing em­brace of the past. “Lon­don is a place where a lot of gen­res are born, like drum ’n’ bass, U.K. garage and grime,” she says. “What’s con­sid­ered ex­cit­ing in new U.K. mu­sic is be­ing able to cre­ate some­thing wildly con­tem­po­rary from the stuff that came be­fore us.”

Ella Eyre is an­other name bound to reg­is­ter on tastemak­ers’ radars. The 20-year-old with big hair and even big­ger pipes caught the ears of many a drum ’n’ bass fan on Rudi­men­tal’s smash hit “Wait­ing All Night.” Now, she’s par­lay­ing that ex­po­sure into solo ac­claim and prep­ping her full-length de­but. Eyre, who was in­stantly drawn to Rudi­men­tal for “their mu­sic’s car­ni­val as­pect,” grew up lis­ten­ing to a mixed bag of sounds: reg­gae, soul and Base­ment Jaxx. She even per­forms cov­ers of “Good Luck” at her shows. “I’ve been in­flu­enced by sounds from Lon­don’s un­der­ground, but I’ve also al­ways loved pop mu­sic, like S Club 7,” Eyre tells me on the eve of her 20th birth­day, cap­ping off a whirl­wind year. “I’m a big fan of lyrics and melodies and be­ing able to con­nect with what some­one is feel­ing.”

So if the aim of these dance-lit­er­ate mu­si­cians is to hook you in, bring you to your feet and set your heart aflut­ter—as all great mu­sic should—I reckon this U.K. love af­fair will reach fever pitch as the mer­cury rises. See you on the fes­ti­val cir­cuit? ■

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