The team at Westwood Recordings has just wrapped up an unprecedented year and we couldn't be more excited to reflect on 2021 with one last label release, our annual Best Of compilation album. We’ve taken our grassroots fanbase powered by Canadian scenemakers to an artist-first music company that has now developed far beyond the scope of a traditional label to include holistic efforts of creative sync licensing, events, sample pack deals, artist management, and more. In 2021, Those efforts culminated in a first-ever partnership with Monstercat, which witnessed Westwood deliver an all-Canadian superstar lineup to both a collaborative compilation and full-fledged stage at Monstercat’s Compound event. And, while our recent accomplishments mark surefire milestones, our heart remains true to music, which ultimately took center stage this year.
In months where Canada saw mostly lockdowns, live music and events took a backseat. As fans turned towards music amid the uncertainty, the Westwood fam rose to the challenge in its curation of premiere electronic talent, diversifying its release roster and recruiting staples like The Funk Hunters, Defunk and Stickybuds alongside new welcomes from Dr. Fresch, Cazztek, Stylust to Akylla.
Like all celebrations, 2021 wouldn’t be complete without giving appreciation to some of the amazing multi-dimensional electronic music released on our label—from bass house, dubstep, electronica, mid-tempo to groovy house, bass, breakbeat and everything in between. Join us as we look back one more time with our Westwood staff picks of the year.
Nick: Empire (Dr Fresch Remix)
Gotta give this fav track of the year shoutout to the man Dr Fresch. Tony Fresch has been absolutely killing the bass house world this past year in a big way, showing up at almost every major festival with his unique bass house sound and big productions. But what first made us all fall in love with his sound here at Westwood was actually his midtempo releases. So to see him combine both - Midtempo & Bass House - into this unique 116bpm remix of “Empire” was a dream come true for us. I’ve heard this remix played around North America all year in clubs and at festivals alike and it just seriously goes off. To sweeten the pie I think it’s one of the coolest music videos Mack from our design team cooked up this year too and the remix itself just really elevates the incredible vocals from UK grime legend, Flowdan. It’s a perfect 5/5 from me!
Alex: KR3TURE & Adrea Castiano - Lot Like You
In a year full of great tunes to pick from, KR3TURE and Adrea Castiano’s “Lot Like You” is my choice. It became a personal favorite from the moment I first heard it as a demo!
One of the things I find most impressive about KR3TURE’s production is how calming and easy to listen to they are, yet they pack a lot of emotion and authenticity. You can feel the chemistry between KR3TURE and Adrea from the first note, from the atmospheric vibe to the vulnerable lyrics. They are definitely artists to look out for, their music just keeps getting better and better!
Jordan: Krafty Kuts - The Sauce feat. PAV4N
This year we had the pleasure of releasing a tonne of incredible music, but there is one that was particularly special to me; Krafty Kuts - The Sauce feat. PAV4N. Even though The Sauce is a new tune it hit me right in the feels with a serious dose of nostalgia. I remember back in 2009/2010 when I was starting to get into dance music and hearing PAV4N (Foreign Beggars) on heaps of groundbreaking Dubstep/Hip Hop crossover tunes and being in awe of his aggressive flow and unmistakable voice. The king of breaks, Krafty Kuts, has always held a special place in my heart from my early days of record collecting and seeing him at my very first Shambhala back in 2010. So needless to say, having both Krafty and PAV4N on one track was a real treat and will go down as one of my all time favourite Westwood releases!
Jess: Akylla - To Feel
Since we got Akylla on “Warn Ya,” I’d been super amped on what we’d have coming from her. She killed it with her solo releases this year on Westwood and I absolutely love this new direction she’s pushing in. Drum & bass has had heaps of history and impact on the scene; the genre possesses this innate energy, a trait that Akylla delivers with everything—her soulful voice, instrumentation, production—so it’s awesome to see her imbue her own spirit on “To Feel.” She absolutely shines as a musician and artistic visionary on this track, and I can’t wait for what she’ll bring in 2022!
Mack: The Funk Hunters x Eskei83 - Hit Like feat. Rusur
As a digital artist/animator at Westwood I get to spend plenty of quality time with releases while developing visual content for each project—and let me tell ya… there was a lot of great music this year! The songs that I connected with the most were the ones that had full-length music videos; Dr.Fresch’s “Empire” Remix and “Warn Ya” by The Funk Hunters x Defunk x Akylla can’t go without mention, but the track that resonated with me the most was The Funk Hunters x Eskei83, “Hit Like” featuring RUSUR.
Combining explosive hybrid-trap production with versatile vocals, “Hit Like” perfectly blends some of my favourite styles and genres—so working on the music video was a blast! We took an abstract approach to the visuals this time, referencing vaporwave and tech/sci-fi aesthetics, while crossing RUSUR’s greenscreen performance footage with text, motion graphics, 3D elements, live-action footage, and all sorts of special effects & animations! From absolutely loving the track the moment I first heard it, to seeing the music video up on the big screen for The Funk Hunters live sets; to me “Hit Like” was undoubtedly one of the best from 2021!