Melt! Festival 2017: 5 Artists that Blew Us Away
Add these up-and-comers who made an impression at the Germany fest to your playlists
You can measure the greatness of a music festival by the period of withdrawal that comes after it. It has been more than a week since Melt!’s madness concluded, and I am still reeling from the experience.
There are countless reasons why Melt! is arguably one of the best festivals in Europe. Melt! is located just an hour and a half drive away from Germany’s capital city, Berlin. The venue, Ferropolis, is also known as the “city of iron.” It’s actually an open air museum for now-defunct gigantic industrial mining machines and cranes that provide an awe-inspiring backdrop for Melt!’s music stages and a breathtaking sight for any festival-goer.
One look at this festival line-up and you can bet Melt! take their music programming, stage productions and artists very seriously. This year, to mark their 20th anniversary, Melt! showcased what was arguably the best line-up they have ever programmed. With more than 120 artists, 20,000 visitors and 7 meticulously planned stages, including the Sleepless Stage, which went on non-stop for 90 loud hours, the festival catered to various genres and themes. The line-up included artists such as Die Antwoord, Bonobo (live), M.I.A., Phoenix, Modselektor, Soulwax, Richie Hawtin, Fatboy Slim, Recondite, Mø, Kate Tempest, Claptone and many more.
In terms of performances, this year, Melt! was exhaustingly good. Red Bull Music Academy’s MeltSelektor Stage was clearly the winner, with their awe-inspiring talent and edgily curated programming. To sum up my 2017’s Melt! quest, here are 5 fantastic artists that I discovered and experienced live for the first time and was blown away by every single one of them.
Every once in awhile you come across an artist that you were wishing for all along but not realizing that you were until you hear them–this is Maggie Rogers. A voice that is unique yet familiar, captivating yet humble, along with a personality that is instantly likeable.
Chances are you might have already seen her video, which went viral sometime in the summer of 2016. Popularly known as the girl who stunned Pharrell in his Masterclass at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute last year with her song “Alaska,” Rogers is currently busy stunning the world, one concert at a time. Not even a year since her debut E.P Now That the Light is Fading was released, Rogers has had a very busy summer playing sold out venues and the biggest of music festivals, including the UK’s Glastonbury and getting the chance to sing along with Mumford & Sons at Latitude Festival–and these are just some of her recent achievements.
For any new artist, debuting on Melt!’s main stage can be intimidating, especially when you are opening the stage on the first day of the festival, but after seeing her stage presence and the control she had over her audience, you can bet Rogers is an artist who is here to stay and one to watch out for in the following years.
Calling Lil Silva an electronic music producer is an understatement. He is an institution of talent–both a jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-all.
Playing the sunset set on the Red Bull Music Academy’s Meltselektor Stage often comes with a huge responsibility, as you are defining the mood for the stage, artists and the audience for the whole night. Meeting the audience’s expectations with the right track selection, at the right time and at the right bar is of utmost importance. Barely 15 minutes into the performance and Lil Silva had his audience’s pace and pulse beat-matched to his music. His set leaped flawlessly between unusual BPMs, compounding every possible dance music genre into the mix–from funky house to acid to garage to grime to R&B to disco to techno to bass–you name it and he nailed it.
Born and raised in a musical family in Bedford in the U.K, Tyrone Jermaine, a.k.a. TJ, a.k.a. Lil Silva, started producing at the age of nine. A compulsive music producer by nature, he shot to fame after producing Bank’s debut album Goddess at the age of 24 back in 2014 and has since then contributed to Adele’s album, 25, and collaborated with Damon Albarn’s Africa Express project.
With such an impressive and immaculate musical work at such young age, Lil Silva is a musical force to be reckoned with.
Dengue Dengue Dengue
Originating from Lima, Peru, and currently based in Berlin, masters of the DIY scene Felipe Salmon and Rafael Pereira are producers, DJs and graphic designers. This year they tore the Meltselektor Stage down with their tropical bass heavy, cumbia influenced, Afro syncopated electronica. Like every live set they play, this one too was accompanied by their spellbinding kaleidoscope of live visuals. Even though the constant rain played spoilsport, the crowd was undeterred and so were they in their mission to dance from the beginning till the end.
Dengue Dengue Dengue, the audio-visual duo, was formed in 2010. In a very short time, they created a new underground movement on their continent with their signature fusion of old South American rhythms laced with their personal style of pumping bass electronica. It instantly gained them a cult-like following. It was only a matter of time before this cumbia bass fever would spread across the world and so it did, forcing them to move to Berlin, just so they can ease their crazy touring life and push the boundaries of their music.
Constantly supported by Red Bull Music Academy and Native Instruments, they have been regularly featured by both in various documentaries exploring the electronic music scene in South America. With two albums and tons of edits, remixes and collaborations, there is no stopping Dengue Dengue Dengue from world domination.
Exceptionally melodic, instantaneously sing-able, quietly danceable, and pleasantly surprising is this duo of Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatcher. Usually performing live with their band, Honne’s sound is soul-pop enthused electronica with beautifully layered smooth synths, clean lush guitars, all vocally driven with extremely infectious choruses.
Originating from London, U.K., Andy and James met at their university and had been friends for several years, writing songs and working at their daily jobs as music teachers to pay their bills. It was only in 2014 that they started releasing their music on various E.P.s, leading to the announcement of their debut album, Warm on a Cold Night, in 2016. Thanks to the power of the internet and Soundcloud, the album was an instant hit in the USA, prompting a string of sell-out shows across North America and them playing major festivals across Europe including Melt!’s main stage, all within a year.
Picture this; you have graduated in Performance Art from an arts college, you’re working as a manager for a catering company to keep life together, and on the side you’re producing and releasing music and videos to fuel your creativity. Then one day in 2012, you get a call from the renowned fashion designer, Rick Owens, who wants to use your track on loop for 11 minutes for his upcoming fashion show in Paris. You say, ‘YES!’ and, just one week later, the same track achieves 200K views on YouTube. What would you do next?
Here’s what Ojay Morgan, aka Zebra Katz, did. Fast forward to 2017, the track “Ima Read” is almost reaching 3 million views. Released on Diplo’s Mad Decent label, “Ima Read” has been resampled and remixed by all the bigwigs of the hip-hop world from Busta Rhymes to Tricky to Azealia Banks. Amongst his collaborations are Diplo, Gorillaz (on their recent studio album Humanz) and tons of other artists.
The name Zebra Katz was Ojay’s creative pseudonym that he conceived while at art college in New York City. Leading the movement of the queer hip-hop scene for few years now, Zebra Katz has had his share of ups and downs, which are evident in his music. His stage persona is fiercely captivating, his lyrics are provocative, his music is beat driven and bass heavy, his charm and style are sexy. He often draws parallels to his biggest inspiration, Grace Jones.
With such a daring, honest and artistic approach to his music, Zebra Katz, can be easily misunderstood and misjudged without context. But, then, it is only the artists like him who have the courage to push the envelope.