Vaski is one of the biggest dance music artists to ever come out of Minnesota; he’ll be playing a hometown “holiday blowout” on Saturday night at First Avenue. We asked Vaski to share ten must-hear tracks from across the recent history of dance music — including some of his own. “I skipped over a lot of the buzzword artists synonymous with dance music,” he writes, “and focused on major works that pushed and evolved boundaries.” Here’s Vaski’s list, in chronological order.
Justice, “Genesis” (2007)
Justice’s Cross may be the best dance music album of all time. “Genesis,” the first song on the album, is an amazing intro track. This album came out before I had ever even thought about DJing, but it was absolutely the underground party album of the summer. At the time Justice had a similar cult following and coolness aura to that Purity Ring had when their first album came out.
Vaski, “Zombie Apocalypse” (2010)
Everything that was punk rock and underground about dubstep to me is illustrated in this song. This encapsulates me as a 19-year-old kid having fun with my friends. I’ve written many many other songs that had a similar vibe, but this one is perfect to me and still reminds me of those times. It came out when pirating music was at its peak, before streaming became much of a thing. I attribute a large part of the success of this song to torrent bundles.
Flux Pavilion, “I Can’t Stop” (2010)
One of the only dubstep songs I consider to be timeless. Flux Pavilion is an incredible producer. His works shine through the strange underground phenomenon of bass music, you can tell he’s a real musician using the cultural movement as a platform for his vision.
Wolfgang Gartner, “Illmatica” (2011)
I’m putting this in because in 2009-2011 Wolfgang Gartner ran the electro house scene. In his beginnings he was bigger then Deadmau5, though they were active at the same time. Wolfgang is one of those extremely underrated artists; he drove artistic progress in his genre without receiving the eventual major commercial paycheck. Before I started producing dubstep I was writing electro house and trying to sound like Wolfgang. I actually used to send him music all the time. He only replied once — on MySpace, actually. He gave me some really great critical feedback on a track. I fixed everything he referenced and sent it back later that night saying something like, “ok I fixed it! will you put it on your label now?” Ha ha. He never replied after that. His style of electro house later became known as “complextro,” which was complex electro, and this was around the same time as early dubstep. It was only later, when those styles essentially combined in the USA that they became popular.
Nero, “Promises” (2011)
Nero did the dance music band thing long before it was cool. They were some of my earliest inspirations and its been really cool to be able to see them continue to be great and grow bigger and bigger. Seeing them on the main stage at Coachella this past summer was a very special thing.
Major Lazer, “Original Don (Flosstradamus Remix)” (2011)
This song singlehandedly popularized trap music. No one encapsulates trap like Flosstradamus. Trap music is an evolution of Atlanta hip-hop. Instead of the lyrics being the main focus, the synths and beat are in front, while the lyrics take a backseat, if there are any at all.
Cashmere Cat, “Kiss Kiss” (2012)
Cashmere Cat is really incredible, and this is one of my favorites. He’s touted as one of the main forces in Jersey club music, and has produced a lot of Ariana Grande’s music.
The Neighbourhood, “Sweater Weather (Vaski remix)” (2013)
Making and releasing this was a really cool thing. All my music up ’til then had been straight dance music. I love indie rock just as much, so it was amazing to be able to combine two things I loved in such a fun way.
Lorde, “Tennis Court (Flume remix)” (2014)
This is when Flume showed everyone he was absolutely a force of nature, he will not go away, and he is a master. He wowed everyone with his album, but most acts fade after an amazing first release. He took what he was, and he pushed it even further. It’s hard to top an amazing accomplishment, and he continues to do it brilliantly. He is absolutely true to himself and that shows through in the perfection of his craft. There is an entire style of music that started because of his success, its now generally referred to as future bass.
Vaski feat. Beak Nasty, “Weightless” (2014)
It was frightening and exhilarating to put this song out. It was so different then anything I’d ever done. I put part of myself into this and I still get chills every time I play it out. It still stands as maybe the most unique song I’ve done to date.