The Mid Year Report launched last summer with the intent of spotlighting 10 artists within the realm of electronic music who share and represent the adventurous, independent spirit of NEST HQ. Similar to our end-of-year superlatives, the Mid Year Report recognizes those musicians who are outpacing their contemporaries due to fearless creativity and deliberate integrity, and over the past two weeks, we’ve discussed 10 artists who we believe are pushing the genre forward in 2017.
Read below for our final Mid Year Report of 2017 on Dutch producer, DJ, and bitbird label head San Holo.
Sander van Dijck, professionally known as San Holo, has traversed one of the most accelerated paths in dance music in recent memory. Over the past few years, the Netherlands-based artist has seemingly found a way to continually tap into the wants of listeners both engrained in and indifferent to the electronic music community – a rare feat normally reserved for those who transcend their initial microcosmic space and reach the overarching ‘pop’ population. This, in addition to his work heading up one of the best new independent record labels in bitbird, naturally warrants San Holo’s recognition within this year’s Mid Year Report.
2017 couldn’t have started off better for San Holo. After premiering his new single, “Light,” at the tail end of last year, the single saw an independent release on bitbird followed by the 9-pack of remixes which doubled as a bitbird roster production showcase. It wasn’t long after the release of “Light” that the record picked up major steam on Spotify. It quickly notched millions of plays per day (it’s now at nearly 65M on Spotify alone) and eventually led to Columbia/Sony Music licensing “Light” as well as picking up San Holo’s newest record, “The Future” featuring James Vincent McMorrow, which is out everywhere today.
As with “Light” (and the following May-released collaboration “Lines of the Broken” with DROELOE and CUT_), San Holo’s “The Future” finds immediate success in its melody. The record sees San returning to his guitar-based roots, fusing his pre-San Holo experience playing in bands with an increasingly adept production style. This natural progression from band mate to producer has made San Holo available to call upon his abilities from both approaches with apparent ease, evidenced by the undeniably consistent quality of his songwriting and vocalist collaborations going back far beyond just this year.
What makes San Holo one of the standouts from this year’s Mid Year Report, however, is that, in addition recognizing San’s own musical exploits in 2017, we’re also calling attention to his work as A&R and label head of bitbird. The label and artist collective, which came to fruition in 2015, has become a goldmine for ambitious acts such as DROELOE, BeauDamian, EASTGHOST, and plenty of others, all of whom bring something entirely unique to the bitbird table.
Take, for instance, one of the most recent bitbird releases in Analogue Dear’s four-track EP, Stories We Tell Ourselves. The entire release is devoid of drums, calling attention instead to the beautiful relationship between piano and vocals. It’s undoubtedly a risk for a producer and DJ to venture off into this world and dodge the expectations of many, but as with the rest of bitbird’s increasingly diverse yet certainly cohesive catalog, it’s obvious that these releases truly matter to San Holo and his team. Maybe, probably, they are a direct reflection of his own musical inspirations, and what better way to stay inspired than to surround yourself with fellow artists making the various kinds of music you love?
In many ways, it really still feels like just the beginning for San Holo and bitbird, even with tens of millions of streams already in the bag and nearly 40 releases logged via the label. So far, this year has felt unlike previous ones for San Holo as an individual artist and creative, as his trajectory upwards continues to become even steeper. With the new Columbia/Sony relationship and plans to incorporate his background in live performance into DJ sets this year, San Holo aims to soar higher and think bigger going into 2018, and we’re excited to watch it happen.