Rarely have most of us lived through a year so rife with conflict. As of this writing, multiple wars are raging; thousands of innocent lives are being lost, and thousands more are suffering through horrendous hardship. It can be overwhelming — but while it’s admittedly easy to say for those of us not directly impacted by conflict, there is solace in music and clubbing, in art and community. They’re not a solution to the world’s seemingly intractable troubles by any means, but we all need a salve now and then — and in this issue, our End of Year lists put the spotlight on some of the tracks, LPs and compilations that helped to get us through 2023.
It was just this past August when Taylor Character, better known to house fanatics as HoneyLuv, took the top spot in the Breakthrough Producer category in our annual Best of North American poll; just a few months later, she’s gracing the cover of the magazine. It feels like it’s been a meteoric rise for the DJ and producer — and it certainly has been, over the span of just a few years — but her life’s path has taken plenty of twists and turns to get her to where she is today. With a sound based in the classic house of Chicago and New York, but yet sounds utterly modern, she’s found her calling.
Elsewhere in our year-ending issue, we catch up with three artists with fantastic new releases: Russell E. L. Butler, who’s just put out a haunting album brimming with deeply meaningful moments; Anané, whose latest release is a throwback to the glamour and sheen of the disco days; and Lauren Mia, who recently unveiled her debut long-player, ‘RE:BIRTH.’ There’s a look back at this October’s Amsterdam Dance Event; a check-in with DJ Spun’s rejuvenated Rong label, celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the mighty Armada, which is marking a full quarter century of mainstage action; a dive into the world of South African ballroom; tons of reviews and tech news, and plenty more. A happy New Year to all — and, we hope, a peaceful one, too.