Home Music Music Lists

Ultra Music Festival 2015: 15 Artists You Need to See

The stadium titans, deep house scientists, pop stars and purists to catch at the 16th Miami bash

Skrillex and Steve Aoki

Though the EDM festival scene continues to bloom, Miami's Ultra Music Festival remains the ultimate destination, 16 years since its inception. For the 2015 edition, the organizers have crowd-pleasing down to a science: Pretty much every Vegas-level resident you can think of is booked on the main stage and carefully themed smaller stages appeal to other big-room tastes. There may not be as many wildcards as years past, but there's still plenty of room for discovery across its three days. From up-and-comers to radio staples, we picked 15 artists you need to catch.

Cashmere Cat

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 03: DJ Cashmere Cat performs during HARD Summer at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area on August 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

Chelsea Lauren/Getty

Cashmere Cat

In his early twenties, this Norwegian producer repped his native country as a battle DJ on the DMC contest circuit. Now, he's brought that knowledge of hip-hop and bass sounds into a slinkier, sexier world — one so alluring that pop stars are barging their way in. Ariana Grande is currently sounding all grown up on their second collaboration, "Adore," and he's got at least one track on the upcoming new Kanye West album, too.

Clean Bandit

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 21: Musician/vocalist Grace Chatto and Singer Elisabeth Troy of Clean Bandit performs onstage during Perez Hilton's One Night in Austin at Austin Music Hall on March 21, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

Rick Kern/WireImage/Getty

Clean Bandit

Effectively razzing everyone who's written off dance music as computer oontz-oontz, this London group's live act combines — gasp! — real, classical strings with house, garage and breakbeats. Earlier this year, they snagged a Best Dance Recording Grammy for "Rather Be," the inescapable radio hit that made it to Number 10 on the Billboard 200. Hitting Ultra as part of their second U.S. tour, this show will mark how the group transitions from clubs to more cavernous spaces.

DJ Snake

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 23: DJ Snake performs at the 18th annual Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on June 23, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steven Lawton/Getty Images)

Steven Lawton/Getty

DJ Snake

Hinging on a phrase that launched a sea of novelty T-shirts, DJ Snake's collab with Lil Jon, "Turn Down For What," most certainly thumped at a club, block party or sporting event near you. Without Lil Jon, though, this Frenchman does fine tearing off roofs on his own, going loud and brash with a similar blend of hip-hop-inflected electro. And it looks like "Turn Down For What" won't just be a pop blip — his new single with Major Lazer and Mø, "Lean On," is currently winding its way up international charts.

Martin Garrix

Paul Bergen/Getty

Martin Garrix

Though just 18 years old, Garrix has already got a couple of years of dance-music domination under his belt, with his breakout 2013 single "Animals" hitting the Top Ten on basically every international chart (and 21 on the Billboard Hot 100). Since then, Garrix's star continues shine — his brand-new single, "Don't Look Down," features no less than Usher on vocals.

Jamie Jones

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 23: Producer/DJ Jamie Jones performs at the 17th annual Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on June 23, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)

Gabe Ginsberg/Getty

Jamie Jones

A close musical cousin of Seth Troxler and Maceo Plex, Jones is another one of the formerly underground acts to poke up on a major stage at Ultra. While his DJ sets often go minimal, deep and tech-y, he's also seen mainstream success via his act Hot Natured, a collaboration with Lee Foss. Things are going so well in their camp, actually, that the two have just launched their own home for vocal-centric deep house, Emerald City.

Kiesza

LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 20: Kiesza performs on stage at O2 Academy Leeds on March 20, 2015 in Leeds, United Kingdom. (Photo by Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns via Getty Images)

Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns/Getty

Kiesza

This Canadian-born singer started out as a folk artist but later cut her teeth on the London and New York club scenes. She's accomplished the rare trick of pulling those underground sounds into the bona fide mainstream: Her breakout single "Hideaway" brought bubbling, R&B-inflected deep house to the Top 40, taking off so meteorically that it landed Kiesza on hit-parade bills like the Jingle Ball tour. Fans can likely expect the reveal of a few new — and probably unapologetically poppier — songs at her Ultra show. It comes just before the release of her forthcoming album, which features work from Swedish Eurovision finalist Loreen.

Kygo

LOUISVILLE, KY - JULY 19: Kygo performs during the 2014 Forecastle Music Festival at Louisville Waterfront Park on July 19, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Taylor Hill/Getty

Kygo

One of the past year's most meteoric success stories, this 23-year-old Norwegian went from bedroom producer to big name almost overnight. A large chunk of that is due to his remix of Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire," which boasts more than 25 million plays on Soundcloud. But another is his refusal to bow to easy, ear-pummeling formulas; instead playing a relatively chill, sunny, tropical take on house. Give him extra props for also refusing to just press play on his hits — which include "ID," Ultra Music Festival's official theme song — and instead actually performing on the festival's live stage.

Maceo Plex

Courtesy of Maceo Plex

Maceo Plex

It finally happened: Punters got tired of the nonstop drops and, perhaps looking for a more nuanced replacement, started to make deep house almost trendy. At the forefront of this grown-and-sexy sound is Spain-based smooth guy Maceo Plex. Though he's been going after-hours deep for almost a decade and a half on labels like Crosstown Rebels and his own imprint, Ellum, he's finally ascending to quasi-mainstream status, boasting more than half a million likes on Facebook.

Porter Robinson

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - DECEMBER 30: Porter Robinson performs during the Snowglobe Music Festival at Lake Tahoe Community College on December 30, 2014 in South Lake Tahoe, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty

Porter Robinson

Before teen mega-sensation Martin Garrix, there was Porter Robinson. The self-taught wunderkind broke out of the OWSLA roster around 2010 with a quiver full of massive bass drops and bangers. Now at an older, wiser, age 22, Robinson's dropped the bro-ness and transitioned to a more introspective sound. Unlike DJ slots past, at Ultra he'll offer the latest iteration of his new, totally live show, full of real-time sampling and a responsive light show.

Skrillex

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 23: DJ/Producer Skrillex performs at Park City Live during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)

C Flanigan/Getty

Skrillex

At this point it wouldn't be Ultra without bass music's erstwhile boy king. Each new Skrillex release sets the main stage trends that others follow, and the most recent ones have signaled that wub-wub brutality is out; a hint of soul is in. While he won't get away without dropping some neon-tank-top favorites, fans can likely expect material from his recent Diplo collaboration, Jack Ü.

Todd Terje

OSLO, NORWAY - MAY 27: Portrait of Norwegian musician and record producer Terje Olsen, better known by his stage name Todd Terje, photographed at his home studio in Oslo, Norway, on May 27, 2014. Olsen is best known for collaborating with acts such as Robbie Williams and Franz Ferdinand. (Photo by Joseph Branston/Future Music Magazine via Getty Images)

Future Music Magazine/Getty

Todd Terje

Rolling Stone named Terje's full-length, It's Album Time, one of the best electronic albums of 2014, noting its "vision of the future…filtered through the past." Indeed, Terje's ice-cool Nordic disco promises groovy musicality and an alternative to fist-pumping. With his recent remixes of artists like Bryan Ferry and Dolly Parton, his performance might also promise a history lesson.

Seth Troxler

Josh Brasted/Getty

Seth Troxler

Troxler's appearance at Ultra is either ironic, genius or both, as the Michigan native's long been an outspoken opponent of the commercial EDM scene. Still, he's become a headliner in his own right by refusing to go cheesy or compromise, forcing thousands to dance to pure techno and house via finely honed, traditional DJ skills. Troxler's a good bet for purists, even in a muddy field — and he may even crack out some actual vinyl.

Show Comments