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As our Best of 2017 superlatives come to a close here at NEST HQ, we are excited to announce our final category, Who to Watch. These artists represent the new blood of electronic music, and all 10 of these emerging acts show promise in pushing the genre forward. By this time next year, you might be hearing some of these folks on the radio or seeing them headline the biggest clubs in your city. Time will only tell, but if their progression in 2017 is any indicator of future success, we’re confident that 2018 will be the biggest year yet for all of these talented girls & guys.

Read on for NEST HQ’s 10 artists to watch in 2018, and find all six of our Best of 2017 categories here.

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NEST HQ’s Best of 2017: Who To Watch
*10 artists listed in alphabetical order

acaer

We discovered acaer after he started sharing his demos in OWSLA’s Discord; a few songs later, he turned out a brappy, light remix of Pink Guy’s “Fried Noodles” that we believed in enough to premiere. On that momentum, he’s built a large following making appearances on the Jadu Dala x Sola compilation album as well as Record Record’s Filet Mignon 5. He’s proven an ability across genres in that time, taking on pop, future bass, house, and even dnb records with precision and quality.

That said, acaer’s creative journey began years before his run-in with NEST. He’s a jazz guitarist at heart, studying music closely and working hard to perfect his art. He was crafting his first success, “A Change In Nature,” a year before releasing it, and he’s showed a similar relentlessness in enhancing and finishing his more recent tunes. Acaer has gotten a lot of eyes from his work this year, setting up a 2018 where he can really come into his own as a producer and artist. — NR

Barclay Crenshaw

The artist known as Claude VonStroke and mayor of Dirtybird Records began releasing music this year under the moniker of his own given birth name, and it’s been one of the most exciting — and largely slept upon — new musical projects of the year. The Barclay Crenshaw album starts out as a smooth-jazz, trip-hop odyssey on “Sleepy Kids,” before blasting us off into hyperspace with his Lady Chann-fronted single “The Real X Files” and turning into a cavernous, bassface-inducing wormhole on “U Are In My System” featuring The Cool Kids. The unapologetically extra-terrestrial-friendly theme of the album was a little bit ahead of its time, but will likely pair well with 2018, which according to most major news outlets over the past week, is set to be the year evidence of aliens is fully revealed to us.

We knew after Barclay’s Dirtybird Campout set in October that he was going to make our Ones To Watch list – every bass-head friend I have who was there agrees it was the most groundbreaking West Coast bass set of the year. His remix for GRiZ made it into this year’s best remixes, and just earlier this week Barclay teased brand-new music made in collaboration with Mad Zach called “Hiroglifix,” which features a haunting flute sound on the front end. Although not mentioned in this list, another one to watch in 2018 is the flute itself, which we predict will be one the most widely used sounds next year (see our Best Of 2017: Music Videos to see and hear Ed Banger’s contribution to the flute-movement). — MH

EASTGHOST

Since we featured EASTGHOST in an Artist Spotlight back in March, the Portland producer continues to pique our interest and capture our ears. EASTGHOST gave us a large dose of his stunning, complex sound at this year’s Lightning in a Bottle through an hourlong set filled with imaginative, yet dancefloor-friendly track selections, reflecting the IDM nature of his creative mind. EASTGHOST paved his way through the year with a small collection of original tracks like the melodic, vocal-chop riddled “Eyes In The Back Of My Head” and the bass-heavy, echoing production “Twenty Second Century.” There’s a reason San Holo calls EASTGHOST one of his favorite artists — his tenacious ability to experiment with sounds and vocals in such a delicate yet adventurous manner is the quality that sets him apart from the rest. We hope to see more original productions from EASTGHOST in 2018, and perhaps a full-length release as hinted earlier this year. — JM

Ellie Herring

“Southern born dance music is a beautiful and rare thing.” Kentucky based producer Ellie Herring may seem like a strange, even elusive, character in dance music, but when you dive into her background, you’ll find a considerable amount of experience sprinkling it. With releases on XLR8R, Secret Songs, NEST, TREKKIE TRAX, and #internetghetto, Ellie’s background is wonderfully colored, diverse, and tempered. Likewise, her music is resourceful, treating melody and percussion alike in limited amounts, and it is emotional and intriguing. Ellie’s journey thus far has been as patient as her music, but the last two years have seen a particularly active motif with the release of multiple remixes (including remixes for Young Ejecta, Dreamwife, and our very own cln’s “Breathe”) and an EP on Driftless Recordings. Propelled forward by this dynamic momentum, Ellie is sure to have a fantastic 2018. — DN

Phlegmatic Dogs

These dogs have AC Slater to thank for much of their success, since he plucked them out of the Russian tundra and put them on, helping them with touring across the US and world this year. However, it’s really their musical talents they have to be grateful for above all, since it’s those chops that first garnered the attention of the bass house scene in the first place. The Phlegmatic Dogs have now released three stellar EPs on Night Bass fronted by house party-ready singles and backed with equally stellar DJ fare, starting with the Eminem-sampling “Weegle” and moving onto the nocturnal bass slinger “Keepmastik,” each time evolving their sound and adding new elements onto a formula with already-explosive effects.

Their latest Westcoaster EP released this month continues this path, with its title track A-side embracing a zaniness and extremity to its build that makes it one of the year’s most forward-thinking bass house tracks, while its B-side “Gotta Move” gives all the DJs that are putting them on some classic, effective Dogs material for their sets. That I can even identify a type of bass house as “Dogs material” is testament to how fluidly they have forged their own sound, and 2018 should see them continuing this momentum. — NR

Qrion

By now, this one should come as no surprise to our readers – Q has had a really stand out year, pumping out two full EPs, a slew of stage-ready remixes, booking numerous festival appearances, and touring the world alongside Slow Magic. Her complete devotion to her craft is evident in everything that she does, and following her on socials means seeing daily videos of her working on her sound design, songwriting, or sampling. Qrion is a storm passing over warm open seas, and you’d better be out of her way when she decides to breach the shores. — DN

william crooks

william crooks pulled up on our radar in late 2016, when he laid down some lo-fi beats and put the Kingdom Hearts “Simple and Clean” vocals overtop. Throughout the next year, he’s continued to develop his light-hearted, natural ability for beat making, where in each production it’s obviously apparent he’s having fun. In March, he released a vocal cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that lies somewhere in between Imogen Heap and Bon Iver, with a heavy-handed vocoder and delay that changed everything – introducing emo-club to the worldwide web. His focus then shifted to an exploration of all his vulnerabilities in original productions, presented as the four-track here with u EP released in November. Self-described as “club music to cry to,” he’s created a space that’ll have you lying in a puddle of your own tears to his lyrical ballads, and near instantly jumping for joy as he brings the beats back into the mix. The introduction of william crooks as an experimental singer-songwriter was one of the most exciting developments of 2017, and we can’t wait to see what’s next. — CS

X&G

It’s been a banner year for the Salt Lake City-based duo known as X&G; in addition to lending their stylings to one of most iconic collaborations of the last year (“nowhere” with josh pan), they also put out their own PERSONA album which showed us just how sonically diverse they can get. This record goes from crispy, global trap, to borderline-rock ‘n roll, to what sounds like an intergalactic tribal drum circle all within a few minutes worth of music, which they say was inspired by their travels over the last year.

We predict there will be far more travels for X&G in 2018, since with every release these two seem to become more in-demand. Their first single of 2017, a subtle, instrumental funk track named “W.N.G.E,” sounds absolutely nothing like the last single they put out this year, “AKUMA,” an experimental trap heater classified as alt-rock – this is why we love them so much. They’ve also been serving up aggressive remix heat with seamless consistency all year long, which we hope to hear much more of in 2018. Check out their mellow, spaced-out remix of Harikiri’s “I Miss You” compared to their remix of Pusher’s “Shakedown” to get a feel for how broad their stylistic spectrum is and watch for much more X&G coming next year. — MH

Yaeji

Yaeji is a name that might be new to many of our readers, but it’s one that has silently been flooding through publications globally. Delicate, but frank, Yaeji’s music is lovely, and her 2017 was packed to the brim with activity. From releasing two full EPs via the mysterious GODMODE and remixing Jim-E Stack, to releasing guest mixes for Boiler Room, DAZED, FADER, and THUMP, Yaeji seems to be effortlessly prolific, without ever sacrificing character. Her music is tinted with underground tones, enough so that looks from Jim-E Stack and Boiler Room don’t feel off base; simultaneously, her almost Drake-esque, autotuned hooks bring her into a space relatable to even the most pop-inclined music fan. Lastly, the project has an overwhelming tone of cohesiveness across the board, which can be really difficult for starting artists to achieve. This seemingly offhand approach, coupled with music that inspires both snobby and conventional consumers alike, makes her artistic cross-over dangerously potent. — DN

Vulfpeck

The Great American Jam Band is, for all intents and purposes, a lost art form. Sure, the Grateful Dead (as Dead & Company) and Phish are still touring, and even electronic-driven bands like STS9 and Lotus have brought the community into the modern age. But when it comes to a band fully in tune with itself, its members, and its audience, few can claim their right to the namesake. When I think of bands or acts these days, I think of 1-5 people who kinda like music enough to spend enough time with it to get pretty good and make some cool stuff. That is, until I heard Vulfpeck back in 2014.

Now, you’re probably wondering why Vulfpeck, a funk band founded nearly seven years ago is on our Who To Watch list. Strange? Not at all. The reason being bands like Vulfpeck — groups of musicians who know each other better than their own classically trained instrumental talents — are on the road to finally getting the recognition they deserve. It may have been niche for the past few years, a band that your cooler older cousin would show you during Thanksgiving, but all it takes is a few hundred cool cousins to get the word spreading fast. After one listen, you’ll see why. Their style can best be described as minimal yet extravagant, individualistic yet harmonious, nostalgic yet unconventional. They’ve got three studio albums and four EPs under their belt so there’s a lot to dive into.

And yes, if you’re wondering, Vulfpeck is the band who told their fans to play their “silent album” Sleepify on repeat and collected enough Spotify royalties to fund an admission-free tour in 2014. They have ingenuity on and off stage that many never even dream of. Take a look at one of their near-daily jam session videos and you’ll quickly be hooked. Now you can finally be the cool cousin at the table this holiday season. — NB

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Words by Neal Rahman, Molly Hankins, Dani Noguera, Nathan Beer, Jordan Mafi, and Cassie Sheets
Artwork by DISCHETTO

Find all of NEST HQ’s Best of 2017 lists via the links below:

NEST HQ’s Best Originals of 2017

NEST HQ’s Best Remixes of 2017

NEST HQ’s Best Videos of 2017

NEST HQ’s Best Albums of 2017

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Find all of NEST HQ’s Best of 2016 lists via the links below:

NEST HQ’s Best Originals of 2016

NEST HQ’s Best Remixes of 2016

NEST HQ’s Best Videos of 2016

NEST HQ’s Best Albums of 2016

NEST HQ’s Best Producers of 2016

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