When These Artists Pivoted Their Fans Followed
When we consider the journey an artist takes throughout their career, there are some typical and expected benchmarks. Their First performance, sold-out show, tour, album, breakthrough single—all the archetypal nods to a successful career. As musicians grow and hone their skills, they become more in tune with their signature sound and find unique ways to elevate what they are known for without letting their music become a cycle of redundancy.
The reality is that most in the arts don't even get as far as one of those benchmarks, careers are short-lived. There can be a multitude of factors that cause this, whether it’s burnout, inability to progress their sound or poor management. Given how difficult it is to stay relevant in music, it is all the more impressive when a successful artist decides to take a swing in a completely new direction. And in an era where managing one's core fan base and brand identity is more important than ever, the idea of trying something totally new is incredibly risky. An artist is taking a chance on both their fans sticking with them and the hope that new fans will jump on board.
In the world of electronic music, it can be especially easy to become pigeonholed within one’s original genre. Electronic music relies heavily on branded festivals and events, artist-driven labels, and genre-specific communities. When an artist branches out, they are risking everything they have built. So, when an artist successfully pivots, it is rewarding and provides the artist with the opportunity to reach people and play stages they may never have dreamed of. The dynamic duo of Nitti Gritti and Party Favor, turned Sidepiece, Laidback Luke, and Carnage have all made that leap with great success.
Nitti Gritti and Party Favor (Sidepiece)
Ricky of Nitti Gritti and Dylan of Party Favor are no rookies in the world of electronic music. Ricky first came on the scene in 2016 releasing music under the name, Nitti Gritti. Known for his high energy sets and bass-heavy sound, The GRAMMY Award-winning artist has collaborated with Diplo, Bad Bunny, and Pitbull.
Dylan of Party Favor got his start a few years before Ricky. He broke out in 2014 as one of Mad Decent’s hottest projects, releasing tracks like, "Bap U" and "Booty Loose" under the Diplo branded label.
A Diplo mentorship for Ricky and Dylan eventually led to the two meeting and becoming friends. As both of their careers progressed, they discovered the sounds of tech house and began to send music back and forth, eventually deciding to create the duo Sidepiece. Their monster hit "On My Mind" was the result of a Diplo-led writing camp in Bali.
Although Ricky and Dylan still maintain their solo careers, Sidepiece has become one of the hottest names in tech house.
With a career spanning over two decades, Laidback Luke is a household name for all the right reasons. For any artist, being in the scene that long means experiencing change after change. Popular sounds and styles come and go, to stay relevant for multiple decades —especially in the world of electronic music—is no small feat.
Since 2009, more styles of electronic music have crossed further into pop and radio-friendly music. Although we now know Laidback Luke for massive songs like "Whistle" and "Heart On My Sleeve," his modern pop-EDM sound is not representative of his early days.
Honing his skills in the Netherlands in the early 90s, Laidback Luke put out two pre-2010 albums filled with old-school techno and house music. "Psyched Up" in 1998 and "Electronic Satisfaction" in 2002 represented some of the best of the old-school sounds. In 2003 he released the track "Voices," with two modern-day legends, Eric Prydz and Steve Angello. Laidback Luke’s underground sound peaked in 2009 with his legendary remix of "Show Me Love" by Robin S. The track is still one of the most played electronic tracks in the world, garnering more remixes than one could count. Laidback Luke was catapulted into mainstream notoriety, allowing him to achieve the successful crossover.
Although we can now expect a Laidback Luke track to have those radio-friendly sounds, his live performance remains skillful and tasteful. He can play any club, in any setting, and it is always an education in the breadth of house and techno.
Growing up in Guatemala, the idea of headlining festival stages all over the world was simply a dream for Carnage. He began playing local clubs in his teenage years, before making his way over to the states to pursue his career. After years of DJing and building a local following, everything changed for Carnage in 2012. His festival trap remix of “Spaceman” by Hardwell became not only one of the biggest tracks in the world at a time when electronic music was peaking in the US, it also pioneered a new sound.
Carnage became the king of “festival trap” and parlayed the success of his breakout remix into a stellar career. Known for his heavy trap, hardstyle, and rap sets, Carnage set the world on fire for seven years straight. He put out two albums and worked with rap superstars like Migos, Mac Miller, and more.
Although most artists would be content to continue to ride the wave of success and cash checks, Carnage recently decided he needed to pivot. Feeling inspired by the increasing popularity of underground dance music, Carnage dove deep into the depths of rave culture and has emerged with a new alias, GORDO.
As he has discussed, he wanted to take the time to properly understand the roots of underground electronic music. He has worked tirelessly to ensure he is not just another DJ starting a side project. Carnage took the last two years to hone his craft, playing long format late-night sets in any capacity he could. 2021 has seen the birth of the GORDO project alongside his new label and brand, Taraka.
DJing since age 13, Will Clarke has had decades of exposure to house and techno music. In his youth, Will Clarke DJed any club he possibly could. He made friends early on with Sam Devine and scored a residency in Ibiza before he was 20 years old. After years of learning about the industry and the scene, Will realized he had to start producing music. For the first 5-7 years of his production career, Will slowly gained popularity (especially in the states) with his unique blend of tech house punctuated by funky samples.
After a handful of big EPs on Dirtybird, Will Clarke began to morph. 2018 saw his transition out of tech house and into techno take full form when he released a remix of "Drama" by Nick Monaco as well as an EP titled You Only Want Me.
As Clarke pushed the tempo acid basslines and warehouse rattling kicks replaced vocal snippets. While we used to expect to see Will Clarke’s name on every Dirtybird BBQ lineup, he now fills major timeslots at Drumcode Records events. After changing management in 2018, Will launched his label All We Have Is Now, an open-to-close concept tour, and dove further into the world of techno. His new style was a welcome change for his fans who have stayed true due to his infectious personality and incredible ability to weave fan favorites into his hammering sets.