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1. Tech Yes

Every year we try to track the trendiest subgenres in dance music, and without a doubt the biggest growth came in the techno and tech-house realms of dance music. The underground sound grew to immense popularity this year. Leading the charge were Ultra’s RESISTANCE sub-brand and Drumcode’s Adam Beyer.

In 2018 RESISTANCE truly came into its own and began hosting its own events outside of the Ultra umbrella. Now in 2019, RESISTANCE is taking full advantage of Miami’s 2 venue setup and growing into its own festival within a festival. Adam Beyer pushed the envelope as well by performing at practically every European festival there is and launching the Drumcode Festival. Perhaps the biggest step he took to bring techno to the masses was team up with Eric Prydz to introduce techno to one of dance music’s most die-hard fandoms. Not one to be outdone, Insomniac made a big push in 2018 to grow their Factory 93 techno subbrand in the wake of RESISTANCE’s popularity.

If you didn’t realize 2018 was the year of tech, look at the biggest tunes of the year. Camelphat’s “Panic Room” was an early hit, but 2018’s festival season was absolutely dominated by Adam Beyer & Bart Skills’ “Your Mind“. And of course, nothing signifies the takeover more than Fisher’s “Losing It“. This tech-house banger launched intro the stratosphere when Hardwell dropped it from Ultra Europe’s mainstage. The crowd loved it and the internet loved it even more- now practically everybody throws the track into their set. Tech became so big that David Guetta revealed himself as Jack Back and dropped an EP of tech-house music. Armin van Buuren has stated that his Gaia project is going to feature a lot of tech-trance as well. If everybody’s listening to techno, we’re not complaining. Sorry Eminem.

2. Give Trance a Chance

Where fortunes rise for some they fall for others. The subgenres of trance and techno have a lot of overlap, as they are both complex subgenres with their own niche and a much longer tradition that whatever is playing on mainstages now. Only a few years ago we were celebrating the return to trance and its explosion as a reaction to Tropical House and Future Bass. Now we are seeing a major contraction in the overall trance scene (at least in the US), at the same time as a new trance act is headlining mainstages.

In 2016 Insomniac’s Dreamstate trance brand launched with festivals in New York City, SoCal, and San Francisco. In 2017 Dreamstate expanded to EDC and other Insomniac events as its own dedicated stage. Dreamstate got a full takeover of the Circuit Grounds megastructure at first. That same year Ultra’s ASOT Miami introduced W&W’s return to trance as NWYR, Arty’s return as Alpha 9, and Sander van Doorn’s return as Purple Haze.

Fast forward to 2018 and Dreamstate has expanded into international events but abandoned NYC. Insomniac gave Dreamstate its own stage, but it has been seen largely as an afterthought in terms of size and production value. Florida’s EDC Orlando dropped its Dreamstate stage completely, replacing it with 2 days of Factory 93 techno/tech-house (and opting for some trance on an art car stage). In fact Florida’s other medium sized festival, Sunset Music Festival, similarly dropped its trance stage for almost all bass music.

If you have friends in the trancefamily from maybe 2 years ago, chances are they are listening to a lot of techno right now. Being honest, it really feels like the trance fans moved over to Techno. Perhaps that is because trance has been dominated by Vini Vici‘s aggressive psytrance style. Vini Vici is fun and they are one of the few trance artists to migrate over to mainstages, but the copycatting has become overwhelming. The Vini Vici tribal psytrance all begins to sound very similar and trance has taken a step back from those ssssserious uplifting vibes fans love. On the other side of the spectrum, trance has embraced deeper proggier sounds like Estiva, Rodg, and Ruben de Ronde. Once you’re enjoying that, it’s easy to take steps into Anjunadeep or Eric Prydz. From there it’s only a few steps to reach the deep dark rabbit hole of techno. So techno has grown through trance’s contraction. Hopefully we see some re-invigoration when that Gaia album comes.

3. Swedes Dominate

For the first time in a long time the Swedes are once again dominating the dance music scene. We love the Dutch, but its time for some change and some freshness to reinvigorate a scene that many felt was growing stale. The Dutch have held the #1 DJ slot (on DJ Mag’s List) every year since 2007 with the exceptions of David Guetta in 2011 and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike in 2015. Seriously the two biggest performances of 2018 were without a doubt Swedish House Mafia and Adam Beyer x Cirez D.

So clearly the purpose of this section is the epic reunion of Swedish House Mafia. Besides the wave of 2010-2013 Anthem House nostalgia that swept over dance music veterans when they took the stage, that was not the only reason their reunion is so important. They came back and played their classic hits, but mixed in with the newer music styles of 2018 in way that made it feel like they never even left. Now the long rumored world tour is on the horizon and the Axwell Ingrosso project has been put out to pasture. In 2019 we will probably get new SHM music and we still have no idea how it’ll sound, but you’re gonna fawn over every tidbit of news that the Swedes give us.

Swedish House Mafia are not the only Swedes to dominate 2018. In fact, the best show you could see in 2018 had to go to another pair of Swedes we can call the Swedish Techno Duo – that is Eric Prydz and Adam Beyer. Adam Beyer x Cirez D was, without question, the most transcendent and hypnotic musical experience of most people’s lifetimes. The two complimented eachother perfectly with dark and foreboding techno that reverberated in your soul for 3 hours. It would be hard to find another B2B combination that could even come close to this level of quality. As if Miami wasn’t enough, the shows continued in LA and an amazing Brooklyn warehouse. The duo is returning in 2019 and you can’t miss it.