Top 10 Montreal Music Acts You Need to Know Now

by Carine Buncsi
From buzzy electro acts like A-Trak, Chromeo and Adventure Club to homegrown indie rockers Arcade Fire to the ultimate DIY pop sprite Grimes, Montreal's ground-breaking, booty-shaking music scene is as diverse as the city itself. But alongside these better-known acts, there's a ton of emerging talents quickly taking over warehouse parties and airwaves. From dream-trap to synth-heavy hip-hop, get to know ten acts dominating the city's music scene right now.

1. High Klassified
Whether it's opening for Chromeo or performing at Kanye West's Yeezus tour after-party, the Montrealite beatmaker is not short on swagger. Often draped in designer duds and wacky glasses, High Klassified (a.k.a. Kevin Vincent) first burst on the scene with his hard-hitting track, "Drama Trap," and an atmospheric "trap refix" of Rihanna's "Stay." The self-taught producer, whose musical interests include everything from electro to bossa nova, was recently invited by A-Trak to release an EP on Fool's Gold and the result, Palindroma, is four standout instrumental tracks that are best blasted on repeat.

(Photo by Ash Kingston)

2. Kaytranada
The Haiti-born, Montreal-based DJ/producer has been rapidly attracting fans in the underground club scene with his bouncy party tracks that incorporate everything from disco and funk to R&B. With wildly popular bedroom-produced remixes of Azealia Banks, Busta Rhymes and Janet Jackson under his belt and forthcoming North American and European tours, the young beatmaker is gearing up to have quite the summer.

3. A K U A
Before launching her synth-heavy solo act, A K U A spent time singing music covers in a Dubai hotel bar while writing music and trying to overcome a bad case of stage fright. Building up her confidence with some liquid courage and years of experience, the talented artist, who's often likened to early Sade, was tapped by Solange to be one of her back-up singers. Eventually transitioning from back-up act to frontwoman, she graced the stage at last year's Pitchfork Festival and has made waves (literally and figuratively) with her well-received debut EP, One's Company, and her video for "Gravity," which sees the singer appearing as a beautiful mermaid.

4. RYAN Playground 
A model by day and DJ/producer/singer/rapper by night, RYAN Playground (a.k.a. Ryan Martel) can often be found commanding the decks in sweaty, underground clubs or in the studio working on her debut EP (out late May or early June) that'll feature the artist singing and rapping over her own productions. Keep your eye on this one. 

5. Nick Wisdom
The sultry, instrumental hip-hop tracks laced with funk from Montreal-by-way-of-Vancouver producer Nick Wisdom are a perfect backdrop for lazy weekends. His house-infused remixes like "Snoopin'" and chill-out tunes like "Things Ya Do To Me" and "Under The Moon," have attracted the attention of super cool Montreal collective-cum-management agency, Saintwoods, who signed him to their roster (they also rep other names on this list like High Klassified, CRi and RYAN Playground, FYI). Locals can catch the producer at the weekly party Melt at Blizzarts while non-Montrealites can see him when he goes on a North American tour this summer in support of his fourth album, Missus Peel 

Dabbling in shoegaze, post punk and indie pop, CTZNSHP (a.k.a. Jesse LeGallais, Scott Delaney and Florent Clavel) have won fans with an acclaimed EP, Swan Dive, and appearances at festivals like Pop Montreal, NXNE and M For Montreal. The haze rock trio also have a knack for making seriously cool videos featuring vintage footage of youthful summer love and sun-kissed skateboarders, as seen in "On A Roll" and their album teaser video "Doom Love." 

7. Iron Galaxy
Aptly named Iron Galaxy (né Adam Hodgins) takes you on an intergalactic musical journey with experimental sounds fusing the likes of techno, acid-house and bass. His melancholic 2012 debut single "Attention Seeker" received rave reviews, leading to opportunities creating mixes for Mixmag, playing Boiler Room sessions and churning out tracks on renowned UK DJ/Producer James Zabiela's label Born Electric. You can also find Hodgins producing tracks under the alias Sex Life (his duo with fellow producer Dave Shaw).

Though the easiest way to describe the kind of music ANDRU (a.k.a. Simon Rosen) makes might be "dreamy trap," the Montreal producer doesn't really fit into any one particular genre. His music blends lush atmospheric soundscapes (the kind that might seem more appropriate in some sweeping art house flick) with hip-hop, creating songs that are both eerily ambient and joyfully uplifting. (Just listen to "Fun" and "I Cnt Stop" to get a better sense of what we mean.) Busy cranking out remixes and singles, keep your eye for bigger things to come from ANDRU in 2014. 

(Photo by Sabrina G. Jolicoeur)
9. CRi

Upon listening to Cri's debut EP, Eclipse, you can't help but think it's what daydreams are made of. Blending down-tempo electro and hip-hop, it's easy to pick up on influences like Jon Hopkins, James Blake, Mount Kimbie or Lone. The EP's lead single "Chemin" was tapped by Louis Vuitton to accompany images from their Men's AW13 collection on their site. Currently busy composing scores for plays and short films, CRi is also placing the finishing touches on his follow-up, still-untitled EP, out May 19.

10. Lunice
Many folks might recognize Lunice's face from his cameo in Azealia Banks' career-making video "212" and it's likely many more recognize his music. The young DJ/Producer born Lunice Fermin Pierre II has quickly established himself as a tour de force in the dance music and hip-hop scenes with his stand-out sounds mixing bass, twisted electronica and futuristic hip-hop. His remixes have been released on buzz labels like Mad Decent, XL and Lucky Me, he's produced mixes for BBC Radio 1, and his larger-than-life stage performances at Diplo's annual Mad Decent Block party have proven the Montreal producer can rock dance floors and airwaves all across the globe. 

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