Maya Jane Coles, Ikonika, & House in 2013

ImageThe world of electronic music is often evolving, with certain genres gaining significance as time goes on. While the last few years have had a heavy focus on dubstep and more bass heavy music, 2013 has proved to be a year that goes back to the roots of it all. House, with a particular emphasis on deep house, has seemed to be the go to genre so far in the world of electronic music.

It’s no surprise that after dubstep and EDM-at-large took center stage that something mellow would rise above. 2012 even hinted at the return to house with albums such as ƒIN by John Talabot, Pink by Four Tet, Personality by Scuba, Levon Vincent’s excellent addition to the Fabric mix series, and let’s not forget Disclosure’s meteoric rise. All these led up to what has been so far a great 2013 for house music. While there have been many amazing albums, EPs, and singles this year, two albums have stood out above the rest: Maya Jane Coles Comfort & Ikonika’s Aerotropolis.

Maya Jane Coles has been on the precipice of exploding in house music for the past few years with a string of EPs and singles as well as her edition to the DJ-KiCKS, but it’s really been Comfort that put her over the edge. The album’s crown jewel comes on “Everything”. The more mellowed out, danceable groove of “Everything” coupled with the vocals of Karin Park make for one of the summer’s best songs. The fun doesn’t stop there with just the lead single though. Many songs on Comfort are just as infectiously fun and feature many great guest vocalists including Kim Ann Foxman of Hercules & Love Affair, Tricky of Massive Attack, Caroline Pockson of Alpines, and Maya Jane Coles even graces the album with her own vocals. While at times the myriad of guest vocalists can muddle the album, overall every song feels perfect for the dance floor on a warm summer night. The London producer has finally proved she can be successful in long form after many DJs have hyped her for years.

Another London native, Sara Abdel-Hamid (better known as Ikonika), has been making waves with her new record, Aertropolis. While Ikonika made her name on influential Hyperdub Records with playful melodies, chiptune-esque sounds, a heavy low end, and as being one of the very few women to slip into the boys club that is dubstep, her new album turned away from the bleeps and wubs and towards a mellower, house driven sound. Lead single “Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)” shows the transformation that Ikonika has made. She’s still playful and never takes the music too seriously, but expands her horizons. “Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)” even includes vocalist (and a producer in her own right) Jessy Lanza, which becomes the first Ikonika song to feature vocals. While some songs on the album still show Ikonika’s experimental exploration like “Practice Beats” and “Completion V.3” this album has shown that dubstep’s own can make a shift towards other genres.

The crown jewel on top of these releases is the obvious one: these are two female DJ/producers. For a long time electronic music has been dominated by males. Female producers are starting to make a big splash whether it’s the more dance oriented with Maya Jane Coles, Ikonika, Nina Kraviz, Paula Temple, Helena Hauff, Sheela Rahman (under the aliases of Xosar or Bonquiqui) or the more experimental likes of Julia Holter, Grimes, Laurel Halo, Jessy Lanza, and Inga Copeland of Hype WIlliams. While deep hour may be taking over, female producers are making just as big of an impact.

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