Dancing Astronaut’s 2022 Label of the Year: Afterlife
In the modern music industry, social media is more than just a promotional tool—it is almost a non-negotiable in 2022. But this year seemed to find social media driving the direction of popular trends in music in an even more direct fashion, especially with the continued rise of TikTok. In the emergence of the post-pandemic environment, we’d be hard pressed to find anyone who took advantage of the reels, reposts, stories, and retweets at our disposal better than Tale Of Us and their Afterlife imprint. Despite the fact that Afterlife’s sound, and melodic techno as a whole, is generally still breaking into to markets in United States, Afterlife-branded shows have become some of the most sought-after dance events in all of the world, making it this year’s clear winner of Dancing Astronaut‘s Label of the Year.
At Ultra‘s Bayfront Park homecoming earlier this year, Tale Of Us took over the Megastructure stage and turned in what was debatably the most talked about RESISTANCE set of the weekend. With a set almost completely comprised of unreleased music, three out of four tracks throughout the duration of the set were still nameless Afterlife-signed IDs at the time. At Miami Music Week this year, the duo’s inspired performance felt like their official announcement to the United States that Tale Of Us were here to take over.
In June, Tale Of Us took command of the White Isle, holding down the most popular Ibiza residency of the summer, which included guest performances from RÜFÜS DU SOL, CamelPhat, Stephan Bodzin, Dixon, and more. Roping in both established veterans and the best up-and-coming producers from the record label, the Afterlife brand quickly became synonymous with can’t-miss revelry, establishing itself as a top-tier outlet for dance programming. Moreover, while they regularly delive shoulder-to-shoulder packed sets at their label’s stage at Tomorrowland, this summer Tale Of Us was offered the opportunity to make their first main stage appearance in July. With a shorter set than normal from the pair, Anyma and Mrak played some of Afterlife’s most well-known tracks, engaging one of the largest midday crowds in Tomorrowland history earlier this year.
Following the summer swelter, in October Afterlife took over Seaside Arena in Beirut, Lebanon with more than 20,000 people gathering for an artfully classic, visually inflected Tale Of Us performance. The following month, Afterlife took over the iconic Printworks in London for not two, but three separate nights in never-before-seen fashion. For Anyma’s solo set, the Italian DJ masterfully manned the decks below for the debut of his audiovisual experience, GENESYS, which included an appearance from singer SEVDALIZA, who suspended in mid-air while their unreleased collaboration was unveiled. Quite the spectacle indeed, but Afterlife events promise a certain type of flair, which the label and events powerhouse never seems to miss.
Looking ahead towards 2023, Afterlife has announced back-to-back shows at the Arca Arena in São Paulo. If the above destinations and events don’t convince you that Afterlife has established themselves as the leading global brand in dance music, then nothing will.
Outside of the massive label showcases that Afterlife hosts, the label’s release output in 2022 has truly vaulted it to elite status. With melodic-techno remaining the quickest-rising electronic genre across the globe, this year saw multiple breakout stars emanate from Afterlife’s roster. Included in Dancing Astronaut’s Artists to Watch in 2023, Chris Avantgarde supplied one of the most popular melodic techno tracks of 2022 with Anyma, in “Consciousness.” Amassing more than 12 million streams on Spotify between the original and the ensuing Eric Prydz’s remix, numbers like these indicate that techno is no longer the underground genre of yesteryear, but rather the sound of the moment, largely behind the work of labels like Afterlife and its contemporaries.
In addition to Avantgarde’s presence on the list, Kevin de Vries—another one of Dancing Astronaut‘s Artists to Watch in 2023—produced arguably Ibiza’s biggest tune of the summer in “Dance With Me.” An inescapable bass line and catchy splice vocal instigated one of the most popular melodic techno tracks of the year, supported heavily by the likes of Tale Of Us, John Summit, CamelPhat, MEDUZA, and even SLANDER. What’s more—the label’s third inclusion on the list of Artists to Watch next year is none other than Goom Gum, with some of most-anticipated IDs for 2023 lined up on Afterlife’s release schedule. Outside of these of these talented up-and-coming forces, Afterlife also blessed some considerable deliveries from veterans of the label. Early in January, Argy turned in “Tataki,” a slower melodic techno single with tribal-inspired vocals. Amassing more 7 million streams, “Tataki” was the transition tune into higher energy bass lines for many Afterlife artists.
The most successful solo EP of the year came from Massano, where he delivered “System,” his remix of “Drown” by Oostil, “Odyssey,” and a 2022 remaster of “The Feeling.” Played on the biggest stages by FISHER, Vintage Culture, Dom Dolla, and many more, this was one of the jumpiest melodic techno tracks of the year. Finally, “The Sign” from Anyma and CamelPhat, adds further ammo to the Afterlife arsenal, as one of the label’s most-streamed track of the year. “The Sign” brings together two of melodic techno’s heavyweights. CamelPhat’s signature deep and unique layering paired with Anyma’s melodic mastery, created one of the most in-demand dance tracks of the year. Enlisting Alessio Devechhi’s unrivaled visuals, “The Sign” vaulted to Beatport’s number one selling melodic techno track in 2022.
What’s next for 2023? Oh, just about 10 highly anticipated, presently unreleased IDs…that we know of. CamelPhat have been teasing a rework of Fideles, Goom Gum and Argy have “Pantheon” underway, and Anyma has both “Welcome to the Opera” alongside Grimes and “Eternity” with Chris Avantgarde under the hood. Afterlife is clearly putting together the traction to have another big follow-up run in 2023, and if Tale Of Us continue to ride this year’s momentum further, their label could continue to push melodic techno into one of the American audiences most sought-after products. As the imprint continues to grow its global presence, 2022 will be defined as the year Afterlife took over as Dancing Astronaut‘s Label of the Year.
Featured image: Tomorrowland