Diplo in an article about quarantine collaborations

Quarantine Collaborations Are Blowing Away Electronic Dance Music Fans

Over the past few months, EDM artists have been collaborating left and right. Here are some of the most exciting projects released in the age of COVID.
September 4, 2020
6 mins read

Since early spring, social distancing guidelines have resulted in a pause in productivity for the majority of Americans. Despite the world coming to a screeching halt around them, these artists have used this downtime to work on collaborations with their fellow musicians.

Electronic dance music (EDM) artists have been hard at work over the last several months making new music for their listeners. In the absence of live performances and tours, musicians have been left with all the time in the world to create and network (virtually) with other artists.

If you’re looking to expand your horizons while still listening to the artists you know and love, here are some highly anticipated collaborations with EDM Giants ODESZA, Zhu and Diplo.

Zhu — Tinashe, Bob Moses, Kito, Jeremih

Zhu has been particularly busy since social distancing began. The artist has released three different collaborations throughout the quarantine. Each track features his usual steady yet captivating beats, iconic dramatizations and, of course, his staple falsetto.

The first of his three collaborations, titled “ONLY,” was released on May 14 with Tinashe, who is most well known for her 2014 song “2 On,” featuring ScHoolboy Q. The 2020 track’s lyrics present a protagonist’s inner struggle with their selfish, attention-seeking desires while their partner only wants to love and be loved.

The second of these quarantine collaborations was released on July 15 with musician Bob Moses and is titled “Desire.” The theatrical track explores the dichotomy of pleasure and pain when experiencing desire and was released with an interactive music video in which the viewer can click to switch the visuals from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other.

Zhu released his third and most recent collaboration, “Follow,” with Kito and Jeremih on Aug. 14. This song expresses the protagonist’s undying loyalty to their partner. Although its lyrics seemed to be aimed to appeal more to the mainstream, the song itself is catchy enough to be forgiven.

ODESZA & Golden Features — lau.ra, Gallant, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

Way back in 2018, ODESZA and Golden Features made plans to create an album under a new pseudonym while on a trip to Berry, Australia. The newly formed group released their self-titled album, “BRONSON,” on Aug. 7, and although the project’s concept was formed two years ago, the collaboration brings a fresh take to the individual artists’ sounds.

The album features 10 original tracks, one edit, and collaborations with three additional artists: lau.ra, Gallant and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. The well-timed release seems to mirror the current state of the world. BRONSON is far from what you’d normally find on the dance floor, which is fitting during a time when the dance floor has been shut down.

BRONSON’s collaboration with lau.ra is titled “HEART ATTACK” and presents the listener with an interesting disparity between the vocals, the lyrics and the song itself. Lau.ra’s cool, soothing voice contrasts beautifully with the violent lyrics and quiet intensity of the beat and bass.

According to one-half of ODESZA, Harrison Mills, the collaboration with Gallant seems to have been a long time coming. In an interview with Apple Music, Mills admits that the duo had always been fans of Gallant’s work and that they were both impressed by the artist’s talent.

“He matched the emotive R&B sound and tone we were going for perfectly,” says Mills of the vocalist’s work on the track “KNOW ME.” “It really elevated the entire message of the song to an entirely different level of depth.”

The last collaboration on “BRONSON” is with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, or TEED, and the track finishes off the album perfectly. After the deep emotional journey the listener is taken on with this newly formed group, “DAWN” serves as a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.

Diplo — Multiple Artists

It seems that Diplo has been hard at work over quarantine. On May 29, the artist released an absolute twist of an album, titled “Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley, Chapter 1: Snake Oil,” which features mainly country artists, including Morgan Wallen, Thomas Rhett and Zac Brown.

Oddly enough, the album also boasts collaborations with the Jonas Brothers, Young Thug and Noah Cyrus, making for a haphazard roster for the cross-genre album.

Diplo seems to be far from home with this country-album release, but surprisingly some of the tracks on “Snake Oil” have done the impossible and married the two genres in a way that has taken off with listeners on both sides.

The most popular song on the “Snake Oil” album, “Heartless,” features Morgan Wallen and has racked up over 160 million listens on Spotify. The song appears twice on the album, the first featuring only Wallen and the second featuring Julia Michaels as well. The track’s trap beat creates an interesting dynamic alongside Wallen’s country crooning, but with streaming numbers in the hundreds of millions, the success of the song is undeniable.

Fortunately, Diplo has since veered back into his lane in his newest collaboration with ex-YouTuber Joji. The trending track, titled “Daylight,” showcases the lower range of Joji’s voice, which is almost unrecognizable in comparison with his earlier works. The Aug. 6 release hopefully signals Diplo’s return exclusively to the EDM scene, but those underlying country tones can still be heard in Joji’s voice.

It’s inspiring to see so many artists continue to create in the face of adversity. The music industry has never taken such hard hits, and 2020 is definitely one for the music history books. Despite the limitations of the times, musicians are still striving to appease their fans in any way they can, which will hopefully lead to more artist collaborations in the future.

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