Gorgon City, Cyril Hahn and the pop house stars of 2014

Dance music acts such as Rudimental and Disclosure took over the charts in 2013. Now a new wave of artists, singers and DJs are ready to build on their success. Here are five you'll be hearing more from this year

In the lunar cycle of dance music, where bass darkness waxes into 4/4 light and back again, we are now in a full-moon phase. From Disclosure to Duke Dumont, Storm Queen to Ben Pearce, last year house music was mixed with UK garage and topped with pop, to huge chart success. Now, the way has been paved for more underground stars to break through.

The chart botherers – Gorgon City

Gorgon City ft. MNEK - Ready For Your Love on MUZU.TV.

The duo of Matt Robson-Scott and Kye Gibbon are already in the top five of the singles chart with Ready for Your Love, co-written and sung by pop house Zelig MNEK. They've also produced the new Klaxons single that emerged this week.

The pair reconfigure their bassier work as Foamo and RackNRuin to make "house music, but with techniques that jungle producers use to create bigger, forefront basslines", as Robson-Scott puts it. "House has endless possibilities – it's all about building suspense and tension in a crowd. The breakdowns last for ages, and people start losing their minds because it's so intense."

They base their sound around plaintive minor chords that are common in the new pop house scene. "It's an old Chicago and Detroit thing – everything was minor sevenths, jazzy chords," Gibbon says, referring to the mid-80s originators of house music. "Minor chords just sound more clubby, darker, eerier."

And yet this mood has brought more people to dance music than ever before. "These kids who are 19, 20 years old, they get it, they understand it and love the way it's restrained and stripped-back," Robson-Scott says. "They don't think house is some random thing that only older people like – it's part of their culture now. They probably got bored of being murdered with massive wobbling basslines."

He is referring to dubstep, particularly the ultra-aggressive form it took in its twilight years. "It did start getting ridiculous," Gibbon continues. "I loved dubstep when it was first around, all the sounds were so unique and out of this world, but [later] you could tell that someone's just tried to get as much noise as they can out of a synth. It doesn't sound like real music."

But, as Robson-Scott suggests, house music's dominance could ultimately come down to good old sexual preening: "It might be to do with dubstep parties being 90% boys with their tops off moshing, and them wanting to party with girls. House brings girls and guys dancing together. It's really refreshing."

The bedroom star – Cyril Hahn

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Swiss native Cyril Hahn was studying art history in Canada and considering a career in archiving: "A really quiet job, just me sitting alone in a room with books." But he started "fiddling around" with electronic music, putting together tracks with R&B vocal samples just "to learn the programs and get familiar with them".

When he posted the results on SoundCloud his word-of-mouth popularity quickly exploded. Hahn's mournful, pitchshifted remix of Say My Name by Destiny's Child – only the second track he ever made – has now been played 3.5m times on SoundCloud.

"It was crazy because I had no plan whatsoever. I had no intention of touring, and I had to reconsider that," Hahn says. "It was a really steep learning curve. It hasn't even been a year since my first tour in Europe, and now I've done five."

Now Hahn has moved on from the sample-heavy work that made his name and is busy writing deep, original tracks. "I'm not riding the R&B train as hard any more," he says. "It's really been milked. I feel like I've heard every R&B sample there is, so I've really enjoyed working with vocalists and creating something new."

Still on that upward learning curve, he's taking inspiration from old hands including Four Tet and Caribou. "I love to see how they're both dads and they go to shows and drink water, but still love what they do," he says. "They don't need to party, they just need to keep reinventing themselves. It's great to see, because I see a lot of drunk people, doing what I do."

The tastemakers: Eton Messy

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Just as the scene first began to blossom Adam Englefield decided to set up a YouTube account to post his favourite tracks. Now the channel Eton Messy has received 24m views. Along with co-founder Charlie Wedd, Englefield now puts out mixes and DJs around the country. The pair are also about to start their own label and head out on tour with a number of the acts they have championed.

"We spend three or four hours a day looking for new music," Wedd says. But some of their material comes from email submissions from unknowns. "We probably get 20 to 30 emails a day – if I'm honest, maybe 1% is any good. But it's all part of the process. I follow almost 1,000 people on Soundcloud with a little rogue account, for people who have potential but haven't quite made it yet."

Wedd's explanation of why the pop house sound is so popular is one that will enrage house purists. "It's completely inoffensive," he says. "Anyone can relate to it. You don't have to be from a certain place, you don't have to be accepted by anyone else. It's just fun. The kind of people you get at raves these days are your general, normal person rather than someone who is really heavily into the music."

And with that broad popularity come ever more bedroom producers filling up the Eton Messy inbox. "Back in the day, people used to play on PlayStations. Now they play on production software," Wedd says.

The singer: Javeon

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Singers have played a key part in lodging dance music in the top 40 and Javeon's soulful croon could soon dominate the charts. Schooled in Bristol with the grime outfit Cold Hearted Crew and having worked with such innovative producers as L-Vis 1990, Joker, Guido and Julio Bashmore, he brings edge and feeling to a sometimes overly slick sound.

"Chords really draw emotion out of me, they make it a lot easier to sync with my feelings," he says of his songwriting process, which is also indebted to old-school UK garage. He namechecks the likes of Wookie and Sunship, "but the main one was Craig David actually. He was coming from the underground but he was a singer and he MC'd, and that's what I wanted to go into. I idolised him."

Javeon shares a label with Hahn, and the pair have collaborated on the newly released Breaking and are about to start a co-headlined tour. He is also working with current chart-toppers Clean Bandit, as well as the aforementioned MNEK. "The kid's a genius," he says. "He has helped me to work faster and not get stuck – I feel so much more open than I did before. It's an amazing feeling. I don't feel like I've written my best song yet, I've got a hunger to learn."

The northern expat: Kidnap Kid

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Unlike dubstep, which began in south London, pop-house is not a geographically specific scene. Take 22-year-old Matt Relton, aka Kidnap Kid, who is from Sheffield, now lives in London and cites a brief spell in Leeds as what galvanised his production. "I'd go out to nights like Sub Dub, and there was a whole community around dance music." he says. "I realised it wasn't just a pipe dream." Brought up on drum'n'bass, he shifted to house "as I got older, and I couldn't keep up with the faster tempo", and eventually added song structures.

"It was a tricky transition for me – it took me a good six months to write things that weren't just percussion-based," he says. "I spent a long time banging my head against a table working it out. Amir from Rudimental said to me: 'Songwriting is stupid, production is clever. Make sure the original idea is ridiculously simple, then once you've started producing the track, that's when you make it sound big and posh.'"

But, with the scene now heading overground, Relton is going in the opposite direction. "The stuff I've been writing recently, I've sent myself back deeper and darker. I'm slightly shying away from the poppier audience," he says. "So many people found this music through its poppier aspects and have since explored its roots and are getting more interested in the weirder end of it. People are going to splinter off."

Five future pop house stars

Wayward – Motown-sampling former D&B heads.

Bondax – Scarily young and successful duo who already have their own label.

Chris Malinchak – US producer whose So Good to Me is one of the scene's most ubiquitous tracks.

Route 94 – Secret house identity of well-known producer, working with Katy B.

Karma Kid – Ultra-summery garage-inflected hits from Derbyshire.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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