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12 emerging artists you need to hear: January 2023

The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From thumping house and techno through experimental electronics and beyond, here’s January 2023’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of

Boo
Boo

Boo cites Burial as one of her influences, and listening to her track ‘Air Is My Element’ on Anetha’s label, Mama Told Ya, it’s no wonder. The Teesside-born producer, vocalist, DJ and founder of the Ghetec party series and label stitches ambient and electronica flavours across her productions, and weaves her own celestial vocals into her work too. Since she landed support from BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders, who included her in his Next Wave feature, Boo has poured her energy into music production and mapping out the next steps of Ghetec. 

Following the platform’s Boiler Room edition last December, Boo is gearing up to release her debut EP ‘Emotional Freedom Technique’, which is due out on Ghetec soon. On 11th February, she’ll be in promoter mode, running the next Ghetec party at Cobalt Studios in Newcastle. With a guest mix lined up for Circoloco too, we have a feeling that 2023 will be Boo’s breakout year. Niamh O’Connor

For fans of: Burial, Anz, DJ Gigola

Michelle
Michelle

Michelle Viagi’s latest release comes on DJ Masda’s inimitable Cabaret Recordings, and it’s a true representation of where she’s at musically: envision stomping drums laced with driving basslines and ubiquitous synth melodies. It follows a release on Time Passages — under her alias Bricks And Synths — that progressed on a similar trajectory, alongside hints of acid and rave stabs. Michelle has a love of hardware, and it’s palpable through her live sets, as well as her well-crafted productions.

She grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay, and has since become an integral part of its burgeoning scene. In recent years, she has also been making a name for herself across Europe. She began performing her live sets at venues in South America, such as Hipódromo de Maroñas in Uruguay, and Avant Garden in Buenos Aires. In 2022, she branched out, with shows in Europe. while October saw her tour the USA from San Francisco to Massachusetts via Miami, sharing her unique blend of mesmeric rhythms and emotive synths. Anna Wall

For fans of: Binh, Two Phase U, Nicolas Lutz

O.
O.

South London duo O. prove what’s possible with just two instruments, a few effects, and a whole heap of imagination. Made up of drummer Tash Keary and saxophonist Joseph Henwood, they’re a formidable live presence. Henwood’s sax takes on an unearthly power, with riffs that resemble tearing dubstep basslines one minute, and sludgy doom metal guitars the next. Keary performs extraordinary feats on her kit, playing neck-snapping polyrhythmic beats at jungle tempo, before slowing to a subtle funk rhythm or stuttering groove. 

Though played on acoustic instruments, O.’s music has the heft of the most potent club records. The band formed during lockdown, practised at a Peckham studio, and resolved to make their music entirely reliant on this pared-down, two-instrument sound. Evidently, their sound resonated, and tours with Black Midi and PVA followed, along with a growing audience clamouring for a release. Their debut single ‘OGO’, out now on Speedy Wunderground, is a neat distillation of their intoxicating, late-night emissions, with a more spacey remix, ‘DubbO’, by Dan Carey on the flip-side. Watch them fly. Ben Murphy

For fans of: The Comet Is Coming, Red Snapper, Ezra Collective
Photo credit: Holly Whitaker

GOMID
GOMID

GOMID are Nigerian-British vocalist Iyunoluwanimi Yemi-Shodimu and British producer Samuel Scott. The band formed in Manchester when Iyun stumbled upon Sam’s home studio while he was on a date, with the two combining Iyun’s gothic vocals with Samuel’s post-industrial ambient production. They released their debut EP ‘Seduction Of A Hunter’ in July 2022, quickly followed by a release on TT (fka Tobago Tracks). Promoting them with a flurry of gigs in Manchester and London over the summer, GOMID showed they are as compelling to watch live as they are to listen to. While the duo bring to mind acts like Space Afrika and Ekiti Sound, they have a unique style and aura that’s accentuated by their artful visuals; whether minimalist monochrome, like for their track ‘GO’, or kaleidoscopic, as in the video for ‘YUMMY’, it’s evident they strive to employ all their senses in how they create and present. 

“Our music is a reflection of space,” GOMID write collectively over email. “Different worlds have different textures, different ways of being. We are enveloped by their iridescent colours and their strange patterns of life. Traversing these worlds strips us of everything, and in the rawness and the cold we are left with a callous, manic vulnerability.” But, they add, “Ultimately the music’s just gotta bounce.” Kamila Rymajdo

For fans of: Space Afrika, Ekiti Sound, GAIKA

Sara Dziri
Sara Dziri

A leading light on the Brussels scene, Sara Dziri is in a league of her own. The DJ, music composer, producer and performer has an ongoing residency at Fuse club and heads up her own platform, Not Your Techno, which highlights “diverse and upcoming talent in electronic music, with a focus on female-identifying, queer and POC artists”. 

Following the release of her track ‘The Runner’, featured in Biologic Records’ V/A ‘MRS ~ BXL’, and her debut album ‘Close To Home’, released on Optimo Music last year, Sara’s sound is the definition of far-reaching. She can produce anything from funky tech-house to chuggy techno, and she’s collaborated with live artists, like Italian soloist Valentina Bellanova and Belgian-Moroccan dancer/ choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Like her generous output so far, 2023 is set to be a promising year for Sara Dziri. Niamh O’Connor

For fans of: Bradley Zero, Djrum, Lena Willikens

Natalie Robinson
Natalie Robinson

Berlin-based Natalie Robinson represents the classic sounds of house and garage in their purest form: feel-good, soulful, deep records with copious amounts of groove. With German-Ghanaian roots, she was raised listening to gospel, funk, soul and traditional Ghanaian sounds from a young age — influences that still resonate with her today, and led her on the path into house music. In recent years, she’s been making a name for herself in the Berlin scene, playing some of the city’s most renowned clubs, including Watergate, Tresor and Heideglühen. 

Over the coming months, you can find her sharing her magic at clubs such as Kater Blau, Prince Charles and ://about blank, and also hear her returning to Berlin’s grassroots, not-for-profit radio station Refuge Worldwide. As well as perfecting her craft technically, for Natalie, it’s all about sharing house music from its origins. Whether that be classic or hard-to-find tracks from Detroit, Chicago and New York, or deep house records from all corners of Europe, one thing is for sure: she’ll be educating any well-versed dancefloor. Anna Wall

For fans of:  Cinthie, Nat Wendell, Heléna Star

Black Forces
Black Forces

For those lucky enough to have stumbled upon it, Black Forces’ self- titled debut EP, released on Brooklyn’s 2MR in late summer of 2020, was something of a revelation, its four cuts of serrated house music laced with moments of celestial beauty. A hugely accomplished work, punctuated by musings on racism and systemic controls, it was all the more impressive thanks to the fact that the Atlanta-based artist had only released a handful of tunes before then. House devotees awaited more — and waited a little longer, and then longer still.

Finally, over two years after the release of the ‘Black Forces’ EP, the producer’s follow-up, the ‘Back To Black’ four-tracker, has hit the shops. It was worth the wait. Again released on 2MR, it hits all the right notes: Crunchy drums and hollowed-out bass tones underpin floating synths, with the musician’s spoken-word vocals obliquely extolling the pleasures of dancing. (The outlier is the EP’s closer, the brilliantly bonkers ‘Pressure,’ which takes more of a kitchen-sink approach.) It’s a great release — hopefully we won’t have to wait another two years for more. Bruce Tantum

For fans of: Rick Wade, Ananda Project, Theo Parrish
Photo credit: Kirsten Freeman

WERK
WERK

An unbridled night on the dancefloor can do more for the body than a whole shelf full of supplements. The Vancouver-based producer WERK is tackling that notion with his largest body of work to date, titled ‘Club Medicine’, which arrived just last month. What started as a “just for fun” project has since developed into a diverse nine-track collection that sees the house artist drop into a phase fueled by pure creative expression. “The concept behind the project is to spread positive language in the nightlife realm,” Werk shares of the ‘Club Medicine’ mission. “DJs often refer to banger songs as ‘weapons,’ and I felt like although the tracks fit that definition, I wanted to flip the wording into something with positive energy.”

The result is an upbeat romp through various styles and genres — often gritty and infused with old school rave sounds, drawing from influences of techno, acid and various house sub-genres. ‘Addict’ is a particularly invigorating cut with swirling, modular elements that will — just as its title suggests — keep listeners wanting more. Lucky for them, ‘Club Medicine’ delivers a full sonic bender with none of the nasty side effects. “Each track can be thought of as a vitamin or dose to reach the next level,” he adds. Well, we’ll happily take that prescription. Megan Venzin

For fans of: Lubelski, Mat The Alien, Wyatt Marshall
Photo credit: Brandon Artis

Speaker Honey
Speaker Honey

Kirsty Parker grew up playing violin, piano, and guitar, shredding it out in local bands before she became enamoured with synthesisers and Ableton. Now she uses those modern tools to shape the dark techno productions that flow from her as Speaker Honey. It’s a name that’s already on the lips of Mau5trap fans.

Following the drop of her debut single ‘Shoyu’, which appeared on the label’s ‘We Are Friends Vol. 9’ compilation in 2019, Speaker Honey has racked up numerous releases on the star-making imprint — for instance, her 2022 EP ‘Animate Life’, a shadowy, two-track pairing that defies her sticky-sweet namesake with its dark and percussive low-end and haunting swells, is the stuff of sweaty after-hours legend. And speaking of late night mayhem, she recently appeared as support at the official Kx5 (Kaskade and Deadmau5) after-party that followed the super duo’s record-breaking performance at LA Memorial Coliseum last month. 

There, she ushered in a new wave of admirers to wrap up a transformative year for the producer and multi-instrumentalist. Speaker Honey will be back in action on the seafaring Groove Cruise departing from Miami on January 19th — but if seasickness is a concern, we hear she’s got some pretty ill tunes queued up in the cannon, too. Her newest cut, ‘SOUL’, is due out now on the ‘We Are Friends Vol. 11’ compilation, so keep an ear out for that crusher. Megan Venzin

For fans of: Deadmau5, i_o, No Mana

Derek Russo
Derek Russo

The title track of the ‘Club Cuckoo’ EP, the latest release from Brooklyn’s Derek Russo, takes something of a kitchen-sink approach to house music, with the track boasting a jacking kick, throbbing timpani, spacious synth chords, a touch of bubbling 303, and distorted spoken-word vocals — courtesy of Jack Nicholson! — intoning “I’m a goddamn miracle of modern science,” among other bon mots. It’s perhaps the standout track of the release, though all four cuts would easily fill any house-oriented dancefloor.

Russo’s been DJing for years — before Brooklyn, he was spinning house, boogie, Balearic, techno, and more in Colorado — but he’s a relatively new producer, with a discography that stretches back all of three years. His years of DJing give even his handful of earlier releases, under his own name as well as his disco / funk edit persona LuvFreak, a high degree of clubland savvy. He’s got a lot more going on as well, with a loft party called Xoloft, a new show by the same name on Face Radio, and a course instructor gig at Garnish Music Production School all on his packed schedule. Bruce Tantum

For fans of: Derrick Carter, Dam Swindle, Felipe Gordon

Baby Weight
Baby Weight

Cara Eser is in her glow-up era. While many fans became familiar with Baby Weight following her chunky house sets at flagship events like EDC Vegas, Dirtybird Campout, and Firefly Festival this year, the Washington D.C.–based producer has actually been shaping a diverse space within dance music since 2017. That’s when she launched Chub Rub as a creative home base for “a ragtag group of weirdos”, later releasing her Beatport Chart-topping debut LP ‘Phases’ in 2019 via the inclusivity-centred imprint. In the years that followed, she’s continued on an uphill trajectory defined by both an affirmation of self (she came out as transgender in 2020) and a slew of No.1 hits (take the bubbly ‘Rave Police’, for example, which remains a favourite among Claude VonStroke’s flock), leading Eser to become a symbol of positivity and purpose for electronic music lovers as well as the wider queer community.

Her 2022 track ‘House Princess,’ featuring Karnage Kills, appeared on Femme House’s first-ever compilation and also clocked a feature in Calvin Klein’s 2022 Pride Campaign, further demonstrating Baby Weight’s ability to bridge scenes with her upbeat, four-on-the-floor grooves. She’ll appear at Insomniac’s next Project Glow event, taking place April 29th and 30th at RFK Fairgrounds in the nation’s capital, so be sure to catch her in high hometown spirits. Megan Venzin

For fans of: Kevin Knapp, VNSSA, Walker & Royce

Toumba
Toumba

The ‘Petals’ EP, out next month on Hessle Audio from the Jordanian producer and DJ Toumba, pulls off a tricky balancing act: Its four tracks manage to stay true to their Levantine roots, while at the same time sounding utterly at home on the London imprint, amid work by the likes of Objekt, Shanti Celeste, and label co-founders Pangaea and Pearson Sound. Sinuous hand percussion glides over woofer-ripping bass tones; microtonal melodies and swinging rhythms reference Jordanian wedding songs and dances; digital precision merges with an ages-old aura. It’s a sublime 20 minutes of music. 

Toumba, who’s also a curator at MNFA, a club and arts space in Amman, has been refining his sound since his 2020 debut, the juke-oriented ‘Sabah Fakhri’ / ‘Tidallal’ EP, and the fantastic ‘115’ EP from earlier in 2022. But ‘Petals’ feels like a huge step in his synthesised approach to music. It probably won’t be the last — while he’s certainly not the first to fuse the sounds of UK club culture and the Middle East, he’s currently one of the best producers doing so today, and we’d expect more great Toumba tunes to come our way in the coming years. Bruce Tantum

For fans of: Untold, Pearson Sound
Photo credit:  Tayma Abu Hakmeh