In the world of music exists a long and celebrated list of collaborations between electronic artists and vocalists. In fact, some of the biggest hits from the past decade have come in this form. We Found Love by Calvin Harris and Rihanna, Latch by Disclosure and Sam Smith, and Get Lucky by Daft Punk and Pharrell are just three of the most well-known examples of the magic that can happen when the right artists work together. And really, it makes sense. Modern electronic artists are the simple product of the evolution of electronic production. It was a matter of time before these producers became so talented at their craft, and a matter of time before the public tastes adapted that would allow for a single composer working behind the control boards and audio engineering software to entertain the masses with their art. And just like a band and producers elsewhere in the music spectrum, the sound of these electronic artists can be amplified when working with a cohesive and powerful vocalist.
For singers, the opportunity to work with a talented electronic artist is similar to the opportunity in working with a producer. Both exist as geniuses behind the music, but modern electronic artists that create and perform as solo acts tend to have a better understanding of the other side of music as well, often creating a stronger and more beneficial bond between the two artists when working with the talent of a vocalist.
When it comes to electronic artists in the modern scene, one of the best directions to look is towards the UK. A perennial hotbed of electronic music since the genre's foundational blocks started being placed, the UK, and London in particular, is one of the most constantly intriguing and innovative scenes. And one of the most constantly intriguing and innovative electronic artists from the UK is William Phillips. More recognizable by his stage name, Tourist, Phillips is a 31-year-old Grammy-award-winning producer who has been steadily releasing his own music and helping to release the music of others since his debut EP, Placid Acid, in 2012.
He was a self-schooled force in the early 2010’s electronic boom that saw fellow British artists Disclosure and Bondax also reach global prominence. In combination with his debut, the release of his sophomore project, Tonight in 2013 and tertiary project, Patterns in 2014, established him as the quality kind of artist with a strong following and a unique sound that would enable him to survive through the following years which lacked a consistent stream of new music. In fact, from the middle of 2014 until October of last year, Tourist only released a handful of tracks, and though they each made a splash on the global electronic scene in one way or another, the overall lack of music certainly left his audience with questions.
Many electronic artists who found success in the early part of the decade have since found it difficult to retain relevancy. It seems to be simply a difficult trend of the genre. Was Tourist suffering from a similar problem? Was he having difficultly remaining creatively in tune? Was he saving up for something big? The questions were many but the music continued at its trickling pace.
But when October of 2017 came and with it, his long awaited project, Wash, it seemed that any doubt had been dealt with. The four-track EP which leads off with smash hit, We Stayed Up All Night featuring vocals from Ardyn, pushes forward with the same vibrancy and excitement as its opener. The project is brimming with bubbly keystrokes, warm, summery vibes, and most notably, a barrage of fantastic features that provide Wash with greater depth and adaptability.
Tourist has always boasted a knack for featuring talented vocalists. His entire canon is built upon the premise, really. Working over the years with exciting names like London Grammar, Niia, Lianna La Havas, and Will Heard, Tourist seems to shine when working in harmony with someone else's talent - given the vocalists have the right kind of style to compliment his sound.
So, what does it take for an artist to successfully collaborate with a producer like Tourist? The truth is that if they've got a sound that can in some ways be adapted into an warm, electronic, laid-back vibe consistent with Tourist's production, that he's got the chops to make the rest happen. I mean, the man was able to successfully incorporate the booming emotion of an entire choir in his 2014 epic, Patterns, so the sound of a solo vocalist is certainly within reach. As long as that vocalist has enough range and substantially unique talent that allows them to stand out from the impressive production without getting swallowed by it whole, any talented artist could viably work with someone as vast in their efforts as Tourist.
One of those talented artists whose sound is begging for Tourist's steady touch is fellow Brit and soul-singing juggernaut, Matt Woods.
Woods is no rookie to the electronic scene, consistently utilizing a more modern touch in the production of his own music. That electronic touch in combination with his soulful, emotional vocal delivery make Matt Woods an absolute force to be reckoned with in a modern music scene that seems to be prioritizing raw, traditional talent blending with the clean precision of modern production techniques.
First appearing in 2015 with debut single, Blue Skies, Woods has since returned annually with a four-tack EP. Ain't No Use came in 2016 when Woods saw his name explode into the R&B, soul, electronic, and pop circuits with the project's banner head track as well as feel-good love anthem, Nothing Less, earning millions of listens worldwide and recognition in all sorts of international spotlights. In 2017, Woods returned with his most dynamic and intriguing release to date, Re: Connection, another four-track EP that put on display Woods' growth as a vocalist and ability to blend further with his smooth, electronic R&B production. Though the project has earned less recognition than Ain't No Use, it's hard to deny that he has only improved with time. And to back up that claim, Woods released ghostly, emotional ballad, Rearview earlier this year, once again displaying his consistently improving vocal explosions and ability to further define his sound and his direction.
More than anything, that direction is drawing Woods towards a position as one of the leaders in the emerging world of vocalists exhibiting their craft over predominant electronic production. In 2017, artists like Brent Faiyaz, Jvck James, Golden Vessel, Aaron Taylor, and MTMBO, just to name a few, put out a smattering of music that put crystalline vocals at the forefront of more modern, electronic production techniques - often utilizing the craft of predominant electronic artists to do so.
It seems that a new era of music is being ushered in where many of the producers who have struggled to keep pace with the unrealistic expectations of their early careers are finding themselves teaming up with the new generation of R&B and soul vocalists to create music this world has never heard before. And the product is out of this world. Something about the best that the music spectrum has to offer working together in the classic combination of singer and producer yields unsurprisingly euphoric results, and the music of Tourist and Matt Woods in collaboration would easily find itself amongst the best.