After an outstanding set at AVA Festival, Armagh’s own Holly Lester has emerged as one of 2018’s most noteworthy names to watch. Bequeathed with a pair of CDJs at 14, Lester cut her teeth on electro and progressive house before bouncing between jungle, d&b and hard dance amongst other fast-paced cuts over the years.
Moving to Liverpool at 19 took Lester’s sound in another direction, building an extensive record collection of jackin’ house and disco alongside impeccable mixing skills. Seamlessly blending one track into another, Lester maintains a more than enchanting command behind the decks, a trait which has undoubtedly set her apart in the close-knit Irish electronic scene.
Following regular slots at WHP, Shine Belfast and a monthly residency at Limbo Radio, it’s safe to say the now-Manchester-based selector is set to reap the rewards this year, well beyond the UK and Ireland.
FOR FANS OF: Bicep, KiNK, Virginia
Miss Red is an outsider, descended from an immigrant Polish family who “were getting shit ‘cause they were Jewish” when they lived in Morocco, but also for being North African while living in Israel. Eventually leaving Israel, the fierce MC spent time in London and Berlin and became a regular part of The Bug’s touring line-up. For that reason, he has produced her debut album, ‘K.O.’, which does indeed deliver many knockout punches.
It’s a brash, boisterous brew of forward-looking grime, reggae and dancehall that is in-your-face and confrontational, challenging and impactful throughout. There is still room for nuance, though, such as on dark, brooding tracks like ‘One Shot Killer’, with its distant air-raid sirens and menacingly whispered vocal delivery, the rapid- re rhymes of ‘Come Again’ or the intoxicated detachment of ‘Memorial Day’. It’s a confident album from the Red label boss, and one that signals the real start of what’s sure to be a fascinating career.
FOR FANS OF: Gaika, Equiknoxx, Seekers International
Fuj is a truly global citizen. He was made in Japan but raised in Laos and Australia and is currently based in The Netherlands. He’s worked in record shops in Canada and performed across Asia and Europe, all having rst started out in music as a guitarist in the metal scene. Now though, he’s one of the most exciting drum & bass artists of the day and is an integral part of the Haunted Science crew. Next to this he runs his own digital media and events company in Amsterdam and has earnest plans to start his own Embodiment label in late 2018.
He’s prolific, too, having just dropped for Flexout’s Onyx imprint and has four EPs already lined-up for the rest of this year on Translation, Dispatch, Onset Audio and Din Is Noise Records, all of whom are fans of his dark, pulsing drum & bass. His has a reduced sound, with steppy drums and steel-plated percussion, making for sparse dystopian soundscapes that compel you to get physical as well as mentally involved.
FOR FANS OF: Amoss, Arkaik, Homemade Weapons
Yorkshire’s Thomas Grainger has been taking the capital by storm this year. Since moving to London he’s built a solid reputation via his show on Rinse FM and regular appearances in clubland at Fabric, The Nest and XOYO. He’s also had the stamp of approval from his peers, hand-picked by Skream and Dennis Ferrer to warm up for their Local Heroes Boiler Room, and Monki recently invited him into the highly coveted BBC Radio 1 booth for a guestmix on her show. A well-seasoned DJ, he’s got plenty of tunes in the bag for any occasion, ranging from classic disco to acid house; at Hideout Festival he played five gigs in 48 hours... no sweat! This month he’s off to Zurich Open Air to play the Bugged Out! stage, Lincolnshire for Lost Village Festival, and to Leeds for the third part of The Garden Party at Canal Mills. Go, go power Grainger...
FOR FANS OF: Artwork, Gerd Janson, Tim Sweeney
The electro-techno contortions of Solid Blake are generating shockwaves deep in the underground. The creation of Copenhagen-based Glaswegian Emma Blake, it was when she moved to the Danish capital (after several years working at Glasgow’s Subcity Radio) that she became emboldened to make her own material and begin playing out more.
Now part of the Apeiron Crew of DJs, and the production outfit Historical Repeater (with Ctrls), her debut solo single ‘Mario’ demonstrated her command of dubbed-out electro beats, metallic percussion and spectral atmospheres. As a DJ, she’s in demand, which comes as no surprise when you hear her recent guest mix for Ninja Tune’s Solid Steel show: all swung techno, industrial clanks and machine funk of various hues. ‘Masha’ for Modeselektor’s latest compilation is a minimalist dancefloor dispatch of broken rhythms and abstract tones, and the forthcoming ‘Scientific Calculator’ with Historical Repeater pairs booming 4/4 kicks with horror film synths. Rock solid, we say.
FOR FANS OF: Privacy, The Exaltics, Overmono
Snapped up by Med School, Flexout Audio and Beat Machine relatively early on in his career, Lynch Kingsley has been thrust into the limelight with a sound that manages to artfully combine psychedelic d&b with a juke/jungle aesthetic to create an atmospheric, almost cinematic quality to each of his tracks.
It’s no surprise that the Rome producer is an avid film fan, influenced by an unusual fusion of French, Japanese and horror films. His breakout ‘Eden’ EP on Inperspective Records’ digital imprint, INP, showed Kingsley’s desire to grip the listener from the get-go, the same way in which an obscure film would. After the recent release of ‘Void’ on Inperspective proper, and his debut EP ‘Echosystem’ for Rua Sound, it’s clear that Lynch’s experimental approach and blend of ricocheting breaks and shimmering synths have marked him as a deeply thought-provoking artist. One to watch from the nu-breed d&b milieu.
FOR FANS OF: Om Unit, Sam Binga, Dead Man’s Chest
New York’s Abby Echiverri only released her first solo EP in June, but you’d be hard pushed to find a more accomplished debut. Arriving on The Bunker — after a track on the label’s 15 Years Of compilation earlier in 2018 — all four hardware-based tracks reimagine broken beat, techno and electro in refreshing new ways. They swing low, with booming kicks and modulated percussive lines that are all masterfully de ned and pack a visceral punch with equal cerebral clout.
Echiverri is an extensively trained musician with classical violin, flute, piano and vocal skills, as well as being a sound engineer, DJ and VJ. By day she maintains and manufactures audio equipment for studios and clubs around the world, but you suspect it won’t be long before she has to give that up to ful l all the gig and production requests that are sure to start coming her way.
FOR FANS OF: Wata Igarashi, Peter van Hoesen, Donato Dozzy
Reykjavik’s Jónbjörn Finnbogason is the brains behind Icelandic label Lagaffe Tales; alongside Viktor Birgisson he’s been signing local talent and acts beyond the North Atlantic Ocean, including L’Atelier, Munich-based COEO, and Moscow’s GuyDee. But it’s not only Jónbjörn’s A&R skills that are at play — his solo productions have been gaining some well-deserved attention over the past year. EPs on D.KO and FALK display his expertise for making deep industrial breaks, and tracks like ‘Ópall’ that veer more towards dreamy electro show that he’s versatile. He’s currently working on a very fun-sounding experiment alongside Moff & Tarkin called Lethal Weapons, the concept being that they’ll press ve dubplates given to ve worthy DJs across the globe, and will track where the record has travelled via Instagram videos and posts. Judging by Jónbjörn’s vision it looks like he’ll be following suit himself soon too...
FOR FANS OF: Benjamin Damage, Carl A. Finlow, Minimal Violence
“One of my favourite emotions is surprise and, for me, a good DJ is a master in the element of surprise,” says The Netherlands’ rising DJ Merel, to explain her wildly diverse but always cohesive sets. “This is my ultimate goal when I play music.” Originally from the small city of Leiden, but now Amsterdam-based, Merel ten Braak has generated hype thanks to her appearances on Red Light Radio and rapidly increasing schedule of gigs across Europe.
Raised on a musical diet of The Hague’s respected Intergalactic FM station, and influenced by her studies in philosophy, Merel’s sets contain everything from doomy post-punk to electro-funk, via astral ambient, jungle beats and the downright indefinable. “I don’t want to tie myself up to one style or genre,” she says, “because there is so much good music out there. Nevertheless, I would say that there is a certain colour of sound I prefer but what that exactly is, is hard to describe.”
Look out for Merel at Amsterdam’s Dekmantel festival and Germany’s roving forest rave, Camp Cosmic.
FOR FANS OF: Trevor Jackson, Elena Colombi, Andrew Weatherall