London-based An Avrin might have failed his sixth-form music tech course, but he’s been on a successful run with music ever since, with releases on London’s Scuffed Recordings and Bristol’s Slippery Sounds confirming him as a rising star of the UK underground. An experimentalist who’s comfortable across various genres and speeds, his sound is characterised by clean sampling, intricate detail and heavy bass, with his 2019 track ‘Cave People’ from ‘Scuffed Presents Vol. 3’ catching the ear of DJs like Ross From Friends and rRoxymore.
In 2021, he released an EP of nostalgic club edits — including his playful take on Fatboy Slim’s ‘Star 69’ — to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Cementing himself as a DJ with shows in London, Leeds, Glasgow and Kyiv throughout 2021, April 2022 will see An Avrin drop his second release on Scuffed, ‘Parisian Pitstop’. A four-track EP with a bonus remix by Taiwan-based producer Sonia Calico, it’s characterised by raucous breaks bouncing off warped vocals and relentless bass — an absolute joy. Kamila Rymajdo
For fans of: Ben UFO, Ian DPM, Bailey Ibbs
After moving to Peckham in South London from Manchester last year, DJ/producer Jazz has established herself on the capital’s scene via a Balamii radio residency on the second Thursday of every month. On her show, she showcases the range of high-energy club sounds she has also spun in spaces such as Tola, Colour Factory, The Cause, Ormside Projects, Night Tales and more. This year, Jazz is set for a debut release, which will land on Bluetoof’s new Infa Red Records label, and is described as “deep, rhythmic, experimental, footwork-infused techno”.
She is also set to share music under the alias Softi, with productions that explore influences from dub and jungle to broken beat and Chicago footwork. Having just played MHZ festival at Norfolk Pavilion, upcoming gigs in April include a return to Tola, Percolate’s Risen Festival, and Origins/Bambe at Corsica Studios. Rob McCallum
For fans of: CCL, TSVI, Ben UFO
A child of Washington, DC’s buzzing underground rap scene, NAPPYNAPPA’s experimental blend of cryptic verses and funky futurist soundscapes offers us a transportive listen. A spin of his very dope latest album ‘ONDAMICUNDERDACOZMICLYTZ’ is the musical equivalent to an acid trip beneath the sodium vapour street lights of his city. Of the project, he says “I was brought back to a mentality of looking at the universe, with the world as my microphone and stage. I just felt like expressing focally the many layers that texturise my existence.”
Sitting somewhere between the urgent spoken word of The Last Poets, Vince Staples’ razor- sharp lyricism and the abstractions of Pink Siifu, he’s more than worth a place in your rotation this month. Robert Kazandijan
For fans of: Open Mike Eagle, Vince Staples, Pink Siifu
Cut With are one of those rare groups that defy broad description. Are they a live band? A hip-hop outfit? An experiment in dubstep and post-punk? Or maybe they’re best understood as an energy — the kind forged through hazy, late-night jams and years of impromptu freestyle. Either way, they’ve been at this for a while, moulding a sound and dub-laden atmosphere very much their own. Sean Blake, Betty Adewole and Shem joined forces in late 2016 and spent their early days riffing in improvised studio sessions around London.
They emerged years later with tripped-out, bassy cuts and unconventional verse detailing breakups, sex and overworking. Having performed in local venues, the group are readying for live gigs further afield, as well as an EP and debut album release this summer. So how best to describe the trio? “We’re poets,” Shem replies. “This isn’t rap and we’re not just dropping bars — this is art.” Ria Hylton
For fans of: Wu-Lu, Tricky, Little Simz
Photo: Andy Cantillon
DJ and producer SUCHI is one of the most exciting fresh faces in the UK techno scene. Born in Oslo, raised in London and now living in Manchester, she’s built a reputation for an enthralling cross-genre approach, also taking influences from New York and Delhi, where she’s also lived. Her debut EP, ‘Swift’, arrived in December 2021 and expertly wove together breaks, trance, prog and Indian percussive elements, making for a deliciously diverse sonic palette.
A member of South Asian art collective Daytimers, SUCHI centres a sense of community in her artistry, wielding her brownness as a tool to convey a message of inclusion and empowerment. Following on from her recent curated compilation for boxout.fm, her forthcoming release on Jamz Supernova’s Future Bounce, ‘Seher / Lykke’, melds South Asian samples with steely techno basslines and acidic squelch. Whether in her productions, her resident slot at boxout.fm, or sets for the likes of Boiler Room, SUCHI’s experimental sonics are becoming a force to be reckoned with. Makua Adimora
For fans of: Cameo Blush, Ayesha, Breaka
Nairobi-based DJ Coco Em first made waves in 2016, announcing herself as one of East Africa’s brightest new names in Afro house. Armed with a spirited work ethic and an undeniable ability to keep the crowd jumping, she rose through the ranks in no time, playing across prominent global stages from Uganda to Israel. Now ready to test her chops as a producer, Coco Em recently unveiled ‘Land (Black) First’, the first single from her forthcoming debut EP, ‘Kilumi’, which lands in April.
Guided by percussion and featuring vocalists Sisian and Kasiva, ‘Land (Black First)’ combines spoken word and droning bass in a potent protest against systems of power and supremacy. With her EP set to explore a myriad of vibrant elements across amapiano, house, kwaito and lingala, Coco Em is definitely one to watch in 2022. Makua Adimora
For fans of: KMRU, Janice Iche, Tooker
Photo: Paddy Gedi
Beige is not the kind of DJ to hold back, to patiently let a track play out, or to build a set’s tension so imperceptibly that you barely notice it happen. In fact, the Detroit-based spinner is exactly the opposite — a go-for-broke, don’t hold back individual who’s liable to toss in gospel-tinged material, soaring deep house, disco, Afrobeat, ballroom, various stops along the UK hardcore continuum, and whatever else suits their fancy.
Beige has been at it for a few years now — clubland denizens might know their big and bold style from their frequent gigging in Detroit, NYC, and beyond, while internet radio listeners might be familiar via their Chaotic Neutral show on The Lot Radio. The rest of the world will soon catch up, as Beige is about to release a landmark mixtape on a respected label. Blending a sense of anarchic energy with some serious selecting and mixing skills, it’s a super-fun listen from a DJ we suspect we’ll be hearing more from soon. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Octo Octa and Eris Drew, The Blessed Madonna, Galcher Lustwerk
Photo: Ayleigh Waterman
His bio reads like that of a B-movie hero: “While conducting an ill-advised experiment to spawn the world’s hottest chilli pepper, Boston-based scientist by day, Billy Brown, was transformed into HOT POT.” Spicy faux narratives aside, Billy Brown’s superpowers lie in his ability to turn any room into a full-blown party with his energetic, bass-driven house sets.
His original grooves, which present a playful use of vocal samples and infectious rhythms, recently took the mobile renegade cart at Dirtybird’s east coast resort party, CampINN into overdrive, and have also been released on imprints like HouseofHustle, RockBottom, Nightenjin, BrashBeats, and NV’D Records, where he serves as label manager. He’s got a fresh EP coming out via My Techno Weighs A Ton on April 22nd. For those who are fans of bubbly analog sounds and racing kicks, Hot Pot’s always got an order up. Just be careful — his stuff sizzles. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Walker & Royce, Justin Martin, Steve Darko
Casper Jansen and Benjamin Brommer make music for reveries, the kind that would feel equally at home in a sun-dappled meadow or at a lazy after-the-club comedown session. Joining forces in 2016, the Amsterdam-based friends first caught people’s ears via a handful of self-released EPs and, in 2020, ‘Daydream’ on Miami’s reliable Minds Alike label. The aptly named EP was a rich fusion of organic and electronic elements, its four instrumental tracks oscillating between sighing downtempo material and supremely laid-back house.
The duo has built upon that sound with ‘Revere’, a just-released three-tracker on the German label Nie Wieder Schlafen — and if anything, it’s even more gorgeous than its predecessors. A lilting keyboard hook and shimmering synths blanket a 3⁄4 rhythm on ‘Brothers’; the title cut is an unhurried emotive six minutes of tranquillity, with some nice acoustic guitar work to lend a focus; ‘Real Eyes’ feels like the glinting soundtrack to a sunny Sunday afternoon. Sure, it’s not exactly breaking new ground — but it’s the kind of music that makes you forget about the world’s ills, if only for a while. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: A Man Called Adam, Samihe, the Café Del Mar comps
These lads go by Obskür, but their name is intentionally deceptive. Faustas and Lorcan are quite well-known in their hometown of Dublin, Ireland, where they hold residencies at popular night spots like Konspiracy Club and Opium. The duo landed on the scene in 2019 and hit a swift upward trajectory then and there — one that’s seen them play Longitude Festival and amass more than 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify from around the globe.
Recently, they released ‘The Dark’ (via FFRR) featuring the ethereal vocals of Bklava. Her smoky tones pair well with Obskür’s minimal production and choppy keys. It’s an intoxicating house groove that has us excited for what’s still to come from the young producers. Rumour has it their forthcoming tune ‘Visions’ was signed by none other than Danny Howard, so keep your ears to the ground for that one. You can catch them play at clubs and festivals such as Warehouse Project, Index, Boxed Off and Shine over the next few months. Megan Venzin
For fans of: KETTAMA, Mella Dee, Mall Grab
Solomon Fesshaye, the pseudonym of a producer who prefers to keep his identity private, has been biding his time in fully engaging his musical talents. A handful of people came across him in 2020 when, under the Solomon moniker, he posted a handful of tunes on SoundCloud and a released a couple of celestial cuts through NYC collective House Of Feelings, including the fluttering ‘rare/blue’ — and up till now, that was about it. Biographical info is sparse: All we can confirm is that he surfs, and he likes to take pictures.
But just maybe, Solomon Fesshaye’s now committing more fully to his musical side — he’s just released a pair of beautiful tracks on Ghostly International, ‘Star City’ and ‘Save Our Place’. Like much of his previous work, they’re chiming, melodically mesmerising tunes, with their hypnotic quality brought home by the dreamy skateboard-themed video for ‘Star City.’ The release reveals Solomon Fesshaye’s as a supremely gifted talent and, we hope, signals more good things to come. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Four Tet, Caribou, Yu Su
Bklava, a Brighton-based DJ and vocalist of Lebanese descent, is having a big moment. Last month, she embarked on the Femme House Takeover tour alongside LP Giobbi, with whom she created the club anthem, ‘Sinner’. It arrived on March 11th via Defected’s D4 D4NCE sister label, and already BBC Radio’s Pete Tong has popped it on his Spotify Essential Selection Radio Playlist. It’s an emotional track that puts Bklava’s vocals front and centre, but those who catch the multi-faceted songstress in action will soon learn that her powerful pipes are just one defining attribute of her unique live act.
Her performances are equally dynamic, full of rapid-fire breakbeats and a clean UK house aesthetic that sets her apart from other pop-centric names in the space. When she’s not spinning or singing, she sits at the helm of her Spin Suga platform, which aims to close the gender gap among electronic music producers and DJs. That is pretty sweet, we must say. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Anabel Englund, Becky Hill, Four Tet