The concept of indie electronic was coined to describe a wide range of music that fits somewhere between pop, rock, electronica and experimental – often with danceable rhythms. Artists working in the genre often use organic instrumentation as the foundation for their compositions, but include electronic sounds to create deeper sonic textures and effects. Indie electronic artists are also known for taking a more abstract approach to songwriting, often using unconventional structures, harmonies and rhythms.
Indie electronic started in the 1990s and has since exploded. Today many artists pursue this type of sound to great effect. With that in mind, today I’m taking a look at modern indie electronic acts that are sure to please even the most discerning electronic aficionados.
The archetype of a musician on the rise, Logic1000 is one of those rare artists who is seemingly doing it all right now. Her debut EP steadily brought widespread acclaim from music lovers and DJs alike (including Four Tet and Anthony Naples), who were captivated by her ability to create an immersive, ethereal soundscape. Logic1000’s expansive DJ sets are also a breath of fresh air in the increasingly one dimensional world of electronic music. While she’s often associated with a euphoric, nostalgic style that borrows from ’90s rave sounds, her music is anything but one dimensional. The focus on melody and texture she developed early are present throughout her DJ sets and productions, creating an artful blend of sounds that pulls from influences ranging from minimal and ambient house to breakbeat to dub techno.
Joe Thornalley is the producer behind the name Vegyn, a London-based beat maker whose work has captured the attention of indie electronic music fans in recent years. His unique style of creating intricate beats has earned him a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic, leading to collaborations with Frank Ocean and releasing solo material via his own PLZ Make It Ruins label. Vegyn’s music is an elusive, hypnotic blend of ambient sounds, heavily processed samples and pop influences. His tracks are suffused with the moody atmospheric soundscapes of 1990s R&B, but his productions don’t sound like carbon copies. Part of a revival of slick, mid-tempo hip-hop tracks that don’t rely on bombast or maximalist production, he draws from both pop and club music to create moody tracks that stand out from the crowd.
Nia Archives is a unique and powerful indie electronic artist whose music is a fresh take on classic sounds. A producer, singer and songwriter, her distinct aesthetic and versatile style are influenced by a mixture of genres from across the globe—including hip-hop, soul, jazz, samba and old school jungle drum n’ bass. Her music is a genuine expression of character and emotion, written with a wide range of influences to create something fresh and unexpected. It blends pop and soul with heavy beats, channelling sensitive lyrics encompassed by an array of instrumentation. It’s an interesting combination, but when it all comes down to it Nia Archives creates fresh and innovative music which is designed to make you dance.
Ibibio Sound Machine
Ibibio Sound Machine is an indietronica group hailing from London, but their sound is one that is not easily defined by city or genre boundaries. Their music blends disco and Afrobeat together to create a completely new funk experience. Their 2022 album, Electricity, is littered with electro-pop jams that flit around the border between funk, disco, Afrobeat, and indie electronic. Produced by Joe Goddard and Al Doyle of Hot Chip, much of the album is set to syncopated rhythms that call back to the work of legendary African drummers like Tony Allen. As if sending out a message from some distant future, the songs are made for clubbing but also serve as soundtracks for long summer nights.
Vancouver-based producer/songwriter Jack J has been working his way up through the indie electronic music scene for years, having found success with singles like the instant classic “Thirstin” and signing to Mood Hut records. Jack J builds richly textured and detailed soundscapes that are deeply rooted in the history of electronic music, but also bewitch the ears with a modernity that keeps his tracks feeling fresh. His dreamy yet complex songs have unmatched detail and texture, as evidenced on his full-length debut album, Opening The Door. Showcasing a uniquely austere vibe that keeps you spaced-out grooving with every play, the album brings to mind vintage Arthur Russell imbued with the hazy, new-agey electronic vibe we’ve come to expect from Jack J and the Mood Hut camp.
Rheinzand is a Belgian collective spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist, producer and sound alchemist Reinhard Vanbergen, Charlotte Caluwaerts (vocals), and Mo Disko. The group was formed with the ambition to create not only dance floor-friendly music but also focus on the creation of well-produced pieces which would be able to stand on their own outside the club. Propelled by heavy bass lines, explosive synths and lush soundscapes, the indietronica music of Rheinzand infectiously grows inside you with each listen. With a disciplined focus on quality over quantity, the group has created a handful of well produced pieces which will have you listening again and again.
It takes a certain kind of fearless creativity to craft music that has a signature feel, yet still manages to be instantly identifiable as yours. Boy Harsher does exactly that, creating a unique brand of darkly melodic synth pop indietronica. Born in 2014, the Massachusetts duo of Jay Matthews and Augustus Muller blasted out of the gates with “Pain,” a single that racked up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Their sound is distinctly dark and gothy but also imbued with a sense of fun. Boy Harsher’s 2022 album, The Runner, is a post-apocalyptic soundtrack, and an exploration of the duo’s indie electronic sound—melodic, pulsing synth-pop beats and appealingly austere vocals that meld into an undeniably fresh and exciting sound.
Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul
Belgium’s Charlotte Adigery and Bolis Pupul are an electro-pop duo with a flair for inventive, genre-bending sound design and propulsive rhythms. With lyrics that make jabs at racism and xenophobia and instrumentation that splices dizzying percussion with rumbling bass and warped synth patters, their punchy, propulsive brand of electro-pop is also primed for the dance floor. The results are songs that are both smart and danceable – sounds you won’t find in any other indietronica act out there. With lyrics that reflect on every day life with a punky attitude and sardonic wit, their 2022 album Topical Dancer is a burner of a debut that suggests the duo are only just getting started in developing their sound.
Sofia Kourtesis creates house music masterpieces. Her signature style is awash with sounds, textures and timbres so finely crafted that listening to it is like sinking into a well-worn chair. Kourtesis’s music has been compared to that of DJ Koze, Four Tet and Pantha du Prince, but the comparisons quickly break down—she shares their propensity for bells and synths; their sense for lushness and latent melody; their love for soothing deep bass tones—but not their pacing, which allows her to carry a track’s mood from beginning to end. Her 2021 Fresia Magdalena EP fuses disparate elements to create a lush whole that swings from beginning to end while always seeming to find the right tone at the right time.
Sheffield-based electro indie artist Danae emerged from relative obscurity with her debut album Good Fruit, which saw her teaming up with prolific producer Maurice Fulton to craft an instant classic. The album bounces from downtempo R&B to four-to-the-floor house to Afro-Caribbean vibes, with every track evoking a summery, joyous feeling. It never confines itself to one genre, with Danae’s lyrics, songwriting and performances slotting perfectly into Fulton’s production.
Sofie Royer has always been surrounded by music. At the age of four she started playing the violin, and at fifteen she became an integral member of the growing Boiler Room team and an NTS Radio resident DJ. After a break-up and a family illness, Sofie moved back to her native Vienna and began writing her own music, eventually resulting in the release of her brilliant debut Cult Survivor. The album fuses an eclectic range of influences—including experimental music, ‘60s pop ballads, Todd Rundgren and Serge Gainsbourg—into a captivating indie electronic listen.