With the release of their sophomore album ARENA, Chicago trio Pixel Grip share their Top 5 local electronic artists to keep an eye on. ARENA arrives not long after the release of their single & video for ‘Demon Chaser’ featuring the iconic MONĀE (formerly Cae Monãe). “Being in an audience of freaks, queers, fetish people, all in the same room sweating together, and we all knew our purpose, and we were manic and arrogant,” Pixel Grip vocalist Rita Lukea says. Lukea and bandmates Jonathan Freund and Tyler Ommen used crowded clubs as inspiration during the pandemic that cut off safe socializing, remembering nightlife as a respite from the combative conditions of everyday life. Pixel Grip’s songs confront wealth disparity, mental illness, and gun violence alike with over-stimulated confidence, audible in the relentless beats, and Lukea’s unmistakable vocals. No matter where or when, Pixel Grip’s music is is meant to be screamed along with at maximum volume, as practice for the day they can share their energy with all in crowded venues once again.
VISCERAL ANATOMY “Solution” Powerful femme-fronted EBM emanating from a cold, concrete basement in the desolate Midwest! Hannah is an excellent performer, and their EP, Modern Anguish, is full of bangers. Hannah and Vinny also play together as Wingtips, who we also love. They’re an unstoppable force together in either project.
CAE MONĀE “Butter” Chicago’s mage. Cae Monāe creates everything from gorgeous makeup art inspired by impressionist paintings, to brutal trap and techno beats largely informed by her experience as a transwoman. It’s truly inspiring to be around someone who has such a grasp of their art across so many different mediums and formats. Rita invited Cae to rap a verse over our song Demon Chaser, which was the first time we had collaborated with another vocalist as Pixel Grip- check out the video too!
GRÜN WASSER “123 Windows” This duo has captivated us pretty much from the first listen. They draw from a lot of different influences like trip-hop, industrial, techno, and more. They aren’t afraid to use bold textures or unsuspecting instruments in their music. Keely and Jessie’s spirit just seem aligned with our vibe, and sometimes that’s all it takes to love someone’s music!
BEAU WANZER “Aylmer’s Glue” All it took was one outing to Beau’s monthly event “Hot On The Heels” and we were all hooked. His party, hosted at (sadly retired) Danny’s Tavern, felt like the place to hear the freshest techno and electronic acts from Chicago and beyond. It’s impossible not to be seduced and entranced by Beau’s sludgy, menacing, yet playful songs. He’s somebody that we really admire and one of the most important electronic musicians in Chicago.
ARIEL ZETINA “Compact Mirrors at the Bottom of the Sea” Ariel Zetina not only stirs up the dancefloor with her eclectic DJ style, she’s also a really supportive music community member and puts a lot of effort into uplifting the voices of others. I also love how her story informs the techno soundscapes in her productions- particularly highlighted in this aquatic-sounding track of hers we selected. She did a cool remix of our song ‘Soft Peaks’ from our first album, Heavy Handed. Definitely worth a listen!