Though he has been releasing music and recording mixes since 2018, Pretoria-born producer/DJ Thuto Moloi, aka Thuto The Human, fully emerged earlier this year. His endless dedication, talent and hard work made him come out on top of a producers’ contest judged by heavyweights Major League DJz and Gaba Cannal.
Thuto The Human’s textured production style is influenced by sounds he grew up surrounded by, such as Bacardi house music, which in his hands has been revamped and littered with punchy, highly-percussive log drums, effervescent synth basslines, and chunky congas that are associated with sgija — a hardcore, bass-heavy iteration of amapiano. His most acclaimed track to date, ‘Ke Dipatje’ — which has a production assist from Mellow & Sleazy — exemplifies this approach. With a second album in the works and his music already getting spins from Uncle Waffles, Njelic and DJ Maphorisa, the 24-year-old’s star power is primed to shine further. Madzadza Miya
For fans of: Felo Le Tee, ShaunMusiq & Ftears, Myztro
Beyond her academic work as a sustainable design researcher, DEBORAH X focuses on DJing and running the collective AMPFEMININE alongside co-founders Soft Break, Bella Hall, Nala Brown and Camgurl. The platform supports marginalised artists and those with less access to nightlife opportunities through its party series and radio residencies on Refuge and Movement.
Following milestone moments like opening for The Blessed Madonna at a sold-out De School in January and playing the United Identities stage at Orbit Festival last year, DEBORAH X continues to flourish. In recent months, the Rotterdam-based artist brought her propulsive sound of chunky bass and twisted breakbeat to BASIS in Utrecht and returned to De School in Amsterdam. At the time of writing, she’s due to play AMPFEMININE showcases across the Netherlands and make her solo debut at Soenda Festival. Stay tuned for her next project in radio, where she’ll dedicate the show to storied sounds she doesn’t get to rinse in the club. Niamh O’Connor
For fans of: Carista, Josey Rebelle, Octo Octa
Swirling with lush melodies, dreamy soundscapes and ascending synth lines, Tony y Not makes warm and wavy electronic music, as showcased on her EP ‘Your Exile In My Mind’ in April. Released on the label Live At Robert Johnson (the associate imprint of the long-running club in Offenbach), remixes from Peter Invasion & Grebor Habicht, Zombies In Miami and Jorkes are due to drop in July.
Following her indie-dance-flavoured EP ‘Send Me Up’ on Man Power’s label Me Me Me last year, the German-born, Brooklyn-based artist has supported Dixon and Sasha, and DJ’d across the globe, from Berlin’s Watergate to New York’s Elsewhere. Keep an ear out for her upcoming track on a Riotvan compilation this summer and a remix for Eluize. In the meantime, tune into her Safe Spaces podcast on Spotify and YouTube, where she interviews everyone from artists to personal coaches to amplify good mental health in music. Niamh O’Connor
For fans of: Adana Twins, DJ Seinfeld, TERR
Originally from Croydon, London’s Silva Snipa became immersed in drum & bass after falling in with the Stealth/Singularity crew, eventually learning to DJ from US junglist BC-9K and with friends in 2019. Drawn to the darker end of the spectrum, her current style draws heavily from, but isn’t limited to, the punishing breaks and mutant basslines of original tech-step. A vinyl devotee — something of a necessity in order to get hold of older tracks — she mainly loves playing wax “just because it feels right”.
“It’s nice to spend money on tracks and to collect and physically own [them], and it changes the way we experience music,” she says. As someone inspired by ’90s pirate radio, it’s a “dream come true” for her to get a residency on the relaunched Kool FM, where she plays every second Friday from 10pm till midnight. Over the summer, you can also catch her at Madruga Festival in Herefordshire, Albania’s Siso Festival and playing for collectives like Burna Records and Percy Mingle. Ben Hindle
For fans of: Dylan, Decoder, Sicknote
There’s a yearning rootlessness running through the tracks on ‘A Mirror To Weave’, the new album by Fu Liu, who produces as Mt. Fuyu. That may be due to his peripatetic upbringing: Born in Shandong, China, his family moved to the American Midwest, then up to Canada, followed by a short stint in foster care, before settling down into a routine of academia and classical-jazz studies.
But it’s also an LP that’s full of moments of serene beauty within the largely ambient works — the swelling drones of ‘Ikaris,’ for instance, or the elegant piano chords of ‘Shells’ — that hint at optimism and peace. Now based in Kansas City, Mt. Fuyu cites influences both musical (Coil, The Caretaker, Burial) and otherwise (Carl Jung, the writer and filmmaker Hito Steyerl). Listen closely to ‘A Mirror To Weave’, and you’ll find all that and more — there’s a universe to be discovered in these tracks. It’s a beautiful collection of songs by a compositional talent who’s finding his way through the world. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Lustmord, Anja Lauvdal, Jeremiah Chiu
The West Coast has a taste for tripped-out house, and emerging producer and DJ Rodney Dinkles is dishing out more of it than most these days. The LA-based artist is a graduate of Justin Jay’s DJ boot camp, and in his breakout year, he’s racked up more than 15 releases on imprints like Dad Bod Records and Colapso, the latter of which included his funky original ‘A Aha’ on its ‘COIIAPSED MINDS Vol. 1’ compilation.
It boasts a chunky low-end and mischievous sampling, reminiscent of the sounds made popular by Claude VonStroke and other Dirtybird flock notables (at the top of the year his bubbly cut, ‘Welcome Dance’, arrived as a Birdfeed exclusive — needless to say, CVS is already a fan.) When not glued to his studio chair, Dinkles also curates lineups for his own Qwerk label parties, where there’s more swirling tech-house in store for the heads who can’t get enough. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Claude VonStroke, Lubelski, OMNOM
Mihir Chauhan and Jaiveer Singh reside in San Francisco, but the beats they build as Baalti are accented with art from around the world. The two friends launched their electronic project with a mission to spotlight old-school Indian records and other global flavours that they felt were otherwise overlooked in clubland. Their forthcoming ‘Better Together’ EP achieves that goal and more, melding a myriad of South Asian influences — samples from Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi tunes, specifically — across five, break-laden tracks. It arrives on June 28th via Seb Wildwood’s All My Thoughts imprint, and the creators describe it as a deeply personal project.
“It’s our most sincere and complete expression yet, and we’ve tried to capture all of the feelings we had from a year of touring, living with our bffs, being in love, finding amazing communities through music, and getting more connected with each other as a duo.” We suggest you connect with them through this project, too. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Jyoty, Kush Jones, TSHA
He’s released his sometimes brooding, sometimes uplifting progressive-and trance-tinged sounds on such world-conquering labels as Armada and mau5trap; his tunes have been played by the likes of Armin van Buuren and Above & Beyond; and he’s contributed music to big-ticket productions like Aquaman and The Boys. Yet despite his festival-ready production prowess and an obvious ear for addictive sounds, Australia’s James Saaib, working as Maison Ware, has thus far seemed to fly a bit under the radar.
That may be changing soon. Recently signed to Helix, Saaib will soon be dropping his strongest work yet, an EP titled ‘Hide In Plain Sight’. Two of the release’s cuts, a chugging collaboration with BRUX called ‘Hold On’, and the darkly atmospheric ‘Hideaway’, featuring Dominique on vocals, are out now — those tunes, along with the rest of the EP’s hugely emotive songs, will likely bring Maison Ware out of hiding and into the spotlight. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Audien, Aly & Fila, Ferry Corsten
An early musical education won’t guarantee bookings at top festivals like Coachella and EDC Las Vegas, but LA- based artist XIE (pronounced Shay) is proof that formal lessons may help the cause. The Chinese-American singer, songwriter, and DJ spent her formative years playing for the prestigious Premier Youth Symphony, but these days her sound’s taken a decidedly club-ready turn with releases on Casablanca, Republic, and now Thrive. The last is home to ‘Birds In Paradise’ a bass-heavy house cut that puts her hypnotic vocals centre stage.
Drenched in playful re-pitch and fueled by an intoxicating, propulsive low-end, it’s the type of futuristic jam festival crowds live for — speaking of which, she'll be providing direct support for JAUZ at Yost Theatre in Santa Ana this month so be sure to catch that. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Anabel Englund, Oliver Heldens, Tchami
The six tunes on ‘Weekend’, the new EP from the Belgium-based DJ and producer Baka G (real name: Rebecca Freitas), are nostalgia-inducing in all the best ways. The title track could pass for a long-lost relic from the most cheerful corners of the French Touch realm circa the mid-’90s; the chord structure of ‘Cooking Up’ is straight out of the Terrence Parker playbook; the skippy rhythms and bouncing bass of ‘Gimme’ carry the DNA of classic-era Victor Simonelli and Tommy Musto. It’s fitting that the EP is out on the Happiness Therapy label — this is the kind of music that could drag any house lover out of the doldrums and onto the dancefloor.
In just a few short years, Freitas has made a cottage industry out of making the kind of joyous music that harkens back to the innocence of club records of years past, while still sounding very much of the current era. Her DJ sessions are much the same — we’d highly recommend streaming her October 2021 set recorded at the Parisian club Djoon. Like most of her output, it’s sure to make your day just a little brighter. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: COEO, Bella Boo, Kyodai