Welcome to the super-fancy-very-special Taos Vortex Edition of our monthly Setlist! It’s possible you know everything there is to know about this year’s incredible lineup, but if you’re still trying to figure out which artists you absolutely can’t miss, this is a good place to start.
Of course, we think they’re all winners, so it’s really a matter of deciding HOW you want to get down when the Vortex pulls you in next month at Kit Carson Park.
Swedish artist Lykke Li’s career started with a retro-chic soul sound that has since evolved into something ethereal and haunting, yet still marked by the therapeutic grace of her special blend of dream pop.
Her music can be both dance-worthy and melancholy at once, and her unwillingness to be boring or stagnant is most evidenced by her 2018 release, so sad so sexy, which navigates topics of grief and loss against trap production and arena-sized hooks. This perpetual growth is why Noisey has anointed Lykke Li as the “high priestess of cool pop.”
The founder of California-based Dirtybird Records, Claude VonStroke (aka Barclay Crenshaw) is a pioneering DJ who is regularly recognized as one of the world’s best. VonStroke’s freaky fun dance music is a mix of house and techno that he’s described as “tech funk,” which employs simple, yet eternal hooks, and a minimalist yet progressive aesthetic. Ever-ebullient, the respected label owner known for “Who’s Afraid of Detroit?” is the ultimate dance scene multihyphenate.
With a natural, almost easygoing flow, DMV-area rapper GoldLink has received critical acclaim ever since he burst onto the scene with his mixtape, The God Complex. In 2019, the release of his debut album, Diaspora, finds GoldLink exploring ideas of international black identity with an artistic approach that merges his patented “future bounce” with pan-Africanist hip-hop. However, GoldLink’s entire catalogue also dips into R&B fused with reggae, as well as occasional lo-fi beats.
What more is there to say that hasn’t been said about George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic? They’re one of Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest artists of all time. They’ve been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Clinton himself is a former staff songwriter for Motown turned Afrofuturist funk icon, and the man behind so many samples, so many essential funk albums, and so many grooves. If you want to take a ride on the Mothership, make your funk the P-Funk.
San Francisco-based DJ and producer, Dirtybird prime mover, and legendary remixer, Justin Martin’s sound is often described as melodic, but tough, belying his loveable character. Martin’s dance edits show uncommon emotional depth, but seek club-rattling bass and a lighthearted sense of fun that contrasts the seriousness of so much dance music. If you bore witness to his 2018 Meow Wolf residency, you know that Martin is just as capable of causing transdimensional migration as our House of Eternal Return.
The Dirtybird baby brings the boat party to the high desert with songs from his new, collaborative venture.
East London vocalist and producer moves from indie rock band anonymity to atmospheric electronica and dance groove success.
Rising star effortlessly blends soul and psychedelic funk to create driving, R&B grooves.
Booked Skrillex as a teenage rave promoter. Now defies house and electronic genres as a subversive DJ.
Santa Fe and Meow Wolf’s own. Creates ethereal, synth-heavy, productions that balance midair between raw, grounded emotion and head-in-the-clouds tones.
Ever heard dance music with lap steel, harmonica, and cowboy whistling? A completely original, rhythmic ode to the beauty of the American Southwest.
Some call it Brass House, but it sounds like jazz, funk, and Afro-Cuban rhythms stirred (not shaken) into your EDM.
You might know FlyLo’s music from the bumpers on Adult Swim’s programming block, but if you haven’t seen this LA-based record producer, DJ, and rapper live, you haven’t seen Flying Lotus’ greatest work blending music with animation.
A Flying Lotus 3D show is a totally bonkers battle between music and holograms, an abstract technological spectacle that can be both scary and shockingly humorous. Improvised lights and 3D animations are played like instruments, creating an immersive, cinematic show that accompanies sounds of jazz, hip-hop, and electronica.
Love ancient alien abductions and explorations of time and space filtered through ‘90s hip-hop and funk? Barclay Crenshaw (birth name of Claude VonStroke), channels a love affair with those classic grooves through an affinity for otherworldly themes and an ear for raw funk. He uses his given moniker to bare his soul and deliver a slowed-down, emotive collection of collaborations and instrumentals.
It’s a 90-degree departure from those VonStroke vibes, but the output is a high quality output of modern organic beats mixed with gorgeous melodic moments.
Get ready to freak the folk out. Although sister act CocoRosie dabble between genres, exploring everything from flashy pop to blues, opera, electronica and hip-hop, their origins and underlying vein are often tied to new weird Americana. Although the group formed in Paris, these U.S.-born nomads and vocal feminists take an international approach to their sandbox creation of provocative, lo-fi music box hip-hop and twisted lullabies.
Meow Wolf’s first recording artist. Old school mariachi and genre-defying psych-pop had a mysterious baby.
A southwestern quartet that twists jazz and hip-hop into funk and soul to create pure fusion fire.
An electronic, art-pop auteur. Warning: may induce lucid dreams with her sonic wizardry.
An innovative electronic craftsman, this up-and-coming, chill beat producer from Dallas released his most ambitious effort to date last year, the heartfelt Irene.
Duo named for a beloved Yoruba deity bring message of peace through neo soul, hip-hop manifestations of Afrofuturism.
An independent creative company and record label elevating minds out of Albuquerque.
Kaleidoscopic palette of sonic styles featuring Sudanese pop brushed with touches of krautrock, prog, electronica, jazz and funk!
An independent music platform, radio show, community, and artist collective for innovative musicians.
Music you can dance to from renowned comedian/beat-boxer/musician Watts and electronic DJ/producer Tejada.
Powerful, socially-conscious M.C. from Albuquerque who defies trends, typical rhyme patterns, and prevalent hip-hop themes.
No longer anonymous, Zhu’s meteoric rise from Outkast mash-ups to a Grammy nomination has always portended his undeniable artistic talent. Still going strong after the release of his second studio album, Ringos Desert, Zhu is beloved as ever for his musical merits and skills as an electronic dance savant.
His sound can move between mid-tempo electro pop and Balearic beat to goth-house bedroom bangers and sexy, cinematic mood pieces. Plus there’s that pyramid in his live show...you’ll see.
Now that Australian artist Nick Murphy (formerly Chet Faker) is releasing music under his own name, it’s important to note that this isn’t some zombie rebranding of the same style. Murphy’s music is expanded, displaying a cinematic sonic palette far beyond the bedroom music of days past.
This is digital R&B pushing up against old school soul, analog fighting modern technologies, a diagonal evolution into his raw form.
Just like the halcyon days of 2005, when Iron & Wine’s gentle folk met Calexico’s desert noir to create the beloved EP, In the Reins, Sam Beam is back together again with Joey Burns, John Convertino and Co. Only this time, the compositions are more ambitious, blending samba and cumbia with desert folk and country soul to create a new, complex sound.
As opposed to the Beam-penned EP, 2019’s Years to Burn is a more collaborative affair, featuring moments of raucous instrumentation against Iron & Wine’s delicate touch.
Innovative and hard-hitting, G Jones is an electronic music producer known for his improvisational remixes during live shows. With a sound that can be jagged, intense, even vicious at times, G Jones’ cerebral approach shows an uncanny ability to smooth out the edges with meticulous percussion and vocoder harmonies to create beautiful, visceral moments that explode into pure joy. A challenging approach to IDM that promises to always be keeping the audience on their toes.
Mikey Lion, Marbs, and Lee Reynolds represent the Desert Hearts Family, a record label and globetrotting party brigade that believes in House, Techno, & Love.
Hawaiian DJ and electronic producer creates his own progressive house style with heavy hip-hop influences.
OWSLA-backed DJ, vocalist, and multiinstrumentalist channels futuristic bass, experimental trap, house, and hip-hop into the ether.
Multiinstrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and soprano uses guitar and piano to build playful and thought-provoking Americana gems.
Critically-acclaimed indie rock solo project of Lindsey Jordan. Updates nostalgia for ‘90s rock sounds with emotional maturity.
Hazy, smooth, yet elusive electro-dance pop that features elements of hip-hop, R&B, and soul.