As electronic music continues to gain momentum, artists are taking a look back in time and bringing back some of the iconic artists from the 90s. While some might view these acts as simply cashing in on nostalgia, these musicians are paying homage to their roots and genre’s history.
Stardust – Fate
Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You was released during the summer of 1998 and quickly gained notoriety as a club hit. Though their group, consisting of Thomas Bangalter, Alan Braxe and Benjamin Diamond, only existed for a short while, its iconic dance tune has since been immortalized as one of the great 90s dance classics, inspiring numerous electronic music artists in subsequent decades.
Stardust performed “Fate” live at Paris’ Rex Club, with Diamond accompanying them on vocals. Inspired by Chaka Khan’s 1981 R&B hit “Fate”, they created an instrumental track and then Diamond sang over it instinctively in Bangalter’s studio the next day.
The song’s success led to its use as the opening track on Daft Punk’s 1998 album Homework and Michel Gondry’s music video for it which would become an iconic MTV staple. Thus, this was one of the earliest landmarks in what would come to be known as ‘French touch’ music, which would become dominant across genres over the coming decades.
“Suffragette City” is an intense powerhouse of a track, featuring its driving rhythm and Bowie-esque vocal yell. Drawing inspiration from Jerry Lee Lewis and the Velvet Underground, it explodes into an electric riot.
In its final number, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” Bowie creates another concept album and tells a loose story of Ziggy Stardust succumbing to his fate and fading away into the stars. This work has been described as rock opera and ranks 35th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 Greatest Albums.
Fans of David Bowie must-have this song in their collection. Its celestial anthem radiates with Bowie’s unique magic, echoing Judy Garland’s iconic “Over the Rainbow.” Ultimately, its message is an upbeat plea for happiness: that if you want true contentment, look up at the sky and ask for it!
Tracey Thorn & Ben Watt – Don’t You Worry About Me
Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn have been an electronic music duo for over 16 years, creating delicate yet intimate albums featuring light popular forms like jangle pop, acoustic pop, bossa nova, chanson, smooth jazz and pulse-like electronic beats.
They have also written a novel about their lives called Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to be a Pop Star which has had moderate success and was published by Bloomsbury in 2014. In this book, they discuss their many albums, careers as solo artists, meeting and marrying each other, as well as their personal journeys throughout life.
In the early 1980s, Hull-based folk-pop/trip-hop act The duo began as a major presence on the UK club scene with an infectious blend of punk rock influences.
In the 1990s, they evolved their sound by adding electronic influences into their music. This was evident on their first US album Everything But The Girl (1994), which repackaged some of their 1984 UK debut Eden plus six additional tracks.
With their next album, Amplified Heart, EBTG took another step away from the rock sound. Produced by Tommy LiPuma and featuring Stan Getz as a guest appearance, this was an important shift in EBTG’s musical direction and introduced them to new fans who had grown up with their earlier sound.
After Amplified Heart, EBTG continued to be heavily influenced by electronic music and began focusing on their career as an electronic band. Their 1994 track “Missing” was remixed by Todd Terry and became a massive club hit.
Ben and Tracey haven’t performed as a duo for over a decade, yet they remain popular with club goers. He is an accomplished DJ, re-mixer, label manager and promoter on London’s deep house circuit; his ‘Lazy Dog’ mix compilations (named after his London-based deep house night) remain highly sought-after by music enthusiasts worldwide.
Their latest album, Temperamental, is an upbeat record that showcases their positive outlook. There’s an infectious energy in their vocals and songs that are uplifting. Both musicians have faced personal struggles while raising twin daughters Jean and Alfie together.
Basemant Jaxx – Halcyon
Basement Jaxx, hailing from Brixton in London, rose to international fame in the mid-90s with their electronic music duo of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe. Unlike many techno artists who focus on drum loops and samples, Basement Jaxx brought melody back into electronic dance music by introducing structured songs with real vocalists onto dance floors worldwide.
Basement Jaxx achieved global chart success in 1999 with their debut full-length album Remedy. Following two mid-1990s club classics, they followed up with number one Billboard dance single “Red Alert,” followed by number one Billboard dance single “Rendez-Vu.” This led them to three Brit Awards nominations – for Best British Album and Best Dance Act.
The duo’s sound was an eclectic synthesis of house, R&B, funk and ragga; rather than sticking to genres they altered them into something entirely unique with restless energy and an irresistible vibe.
Their live shows were no less energetic, featuring dance moves and energetic singing alongside synthesizers and drum machines in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Their performances mirrored their music’s upbeat spirit, earning them fans around the globe.
In 1995, they released Samba Magic EP which caught the attention of Virgin Records and earned them critical acclaim from both American and British house music circles. Throughout 1996, the duo worked tirelessly on remixes for Pet Shop Boys, Roger Sanchez, and Lil’ Mo Yin Yang.
In 1997, Basement Jaxx’s third EP, Flylife, reached the UK Top 20 and quickly became one of the biggest dance anthems of the year. Additionally, they signed with XL Recordings and opened for Daft Punk during their initial UK performances.
In the 2000s, they released two more albums – Rooty and Kish Kash – which took their music up a tempo while still maintaining its signature sound. The latter featured guest appearances from Lisa Kekaula of Bellrays fame, Siouxsie Sioux singer-songwriter JC Chasez and rap artist Dizzee Rascal.
Junto, Luciano and Catz ‘N Dogz’s latest studio effort, arrived in 2014 and was a testament to the exhilaration of dance music. Produced by Luciano and Mykki Blanco with remixes from DJ Sneak, Mykki Blanco, Luciano and Catz ‘N Dogz on board, Junto epitomized this spirit of celebration.
Plastikman – The Future
Richie Hawtin, better known by his stage name Plastikman, is one of the most renowned artists in electronic music history. With a career spanning two decades, the German DJ has become an innovator in many aspects of this genre including album design and live performance.
Hawtin’s alter ego Plastikman has been the driving force behind his artistic evolution from early acid techno to futuristic rhythms and thinner atmospheres. While his music is unique, it draws influence from a range of musicians and cultural movements from Detroit to the U.K.
Richie Hawtin, better known by his stage name Plastikman, was a major influencer of second wave Detroit techno. He co-founded Plus 8 label with John Acquaviva and spearheaded North American techno music development during this era.
He was a pioneer of minimal techno, widely recognized as being the first artist to introduce stripped aesthetics into this genre. His early albums such as Sheet One and Pakard were essential in developing minimal techno’s sound with its deep bass line and wood percussion.
With his latest album, The Future, Plastikman has continued to push the envelope of techno live performance. He will be hitting three UK dates this December with his Live 1.5 concept which further advances technology and music together.
The cover of the album is reminiscent of Blade Runner and Tron, both science fiction films inspired by technology. It is an iconic, futuristic image that appeals to a modern youth audience.
While Plastikman’s minimalist aesthetic and sci-fi aesthetic aren’t the only influences on their album covers, the design captures these trends in an aesthetically pleasing yet forward thinking manner. These designs have even had an influence on contemporary music album covers as musicians now prioritize visuals over content when creating recordings.