DJ N.E.GIRL (Esther Wanyama) is not just a lethal weapon behind the decks, but a community-builder behind the scenes. Represented in sets for Keep Hush, Rupture and HÖR Berlin, she describes her sound as “worldy, techno-infused and sub-bass driven”. It’s dark but soulful, peppered with “fun, syncopated rhythms blending nicely into jungle”.
Esther is Nairobi-born, London-raised and Copenhagen-based, and these cultural identities sing throughout her work. “I feel like I’ve been given permission to explore the hard style of rave music popular in these parts of Europe,’’ she tells DJ Mag, after playing alongside LCY and Pearson Sound in the Danish capital. For her events, Afro Swing and Jasho Club, she’s flown over Chimpo, Mantra, Champion and Manuka Honey to represent diaspora club music in safe, often LGBTQIA+ spaces.
N.E.GIRL also edited and produced the 25 Years of AKO Beatz documentary in 2021, featuring Stretch, Goldie, 4hero and more. Rave Report
For fans of: LCY, Tim Reaper, Slikback
Photo credit: Jagoda Kotlarz
East London-based Birds, aka Katie Wilkinson, likes to fuse atmospheric sounds with influences ranging from the slower strains of ‘80s EBM, post-punk and new wave to the more industrial and acidic margins of techno. Her monthly Netil Radio show, Feed The Void (formerly named TENSE), is a two-hour excursion that she’s been perfecting for over three years, inviting guests such as Autumns, Anastasia Zems and Timothy Clerkin. Birds has also been crafting her sound through production; her early releases came on labels such as Swedish imprint Höga Nord, and Berlin’s Nein Records and Ombra International.
Her next offering comes via Freeride Millenium, and it’s an EP that displays her influences to perfection. The spine-chilling yet beautiful intro of ‘Chimes Of Solitude’ asks, “Where are we today?”, while ‘The Island’ introduces 303 acid alongside the amp-distorted, reverberating tones of her voice. It’s an EP that channels her sound in the truest sense, a taste of what you’ll hear in her DJ sets and a glimmer of what’s to come from her live performances too. Anna Wall
For fans of: Veronica Vasicka, Tropic Of Cancer, Tia Cousins
AIRGLO has been turning up the volume on US drum & bass lately. Exemplifying both his audio engineering capabilities and his classically trained, multi-instrumentalist background, his dancefloor-ready style draws influence from jungle and jump-up, forming a signature take that chimes with current popular trends in the genre.
2022 has been a huge year for the LA-based producer. After signing with Cyber Groove Agency, he embarked on his first US tour in the spring, while this summer, his tracks have been heard at huge festivals like Rampage and Glastonbury, played by the likes of Andy C, Sub Focus, Dimension and Fred V. His collaborations ‘Dubplate’ and ‘Space’ with Deekline and Ed Solo on Jungle Cakes and his release on ProgRAM titled ‘Babylon’ / ‘Big Bad Wolfgang’ have launched his sound across the globe. Kate Webster
For fans of: Deekline, Noisia, Amplify
West Midlands-based Rawtrachs knows how to balance multiple projects. He’s the founder of zine and label Futurepast Zine, and he’s one-half of Made2Faze alongside fellow UK artist X-161. On Futurepast Zine, Rawtrachs releases genre-hopping EPs and albums from artists like Analias and Necrotype on tape, CD, vinyl, lathe cut and digital formats. The zine also helms a monthly show on Sub FM, channelling breaks, bass, jungle, d&b and experimental tones.
Rawtrachs himself has an upcoming remix on Skin Teeth’s imprint Torre and a d&b tune due out on Birmingham-based label Ghost Snares. His Made2Faze project delivers DJ tools used for gliding smoothly between genres — something that’s second nature to Rawtrachs. Check out his mixes for Balamii and PRGMM Testbed to get a flavour. Next up, Made2Faze have two tracks in the works on German bass label Defrostatica. Dutch d&b artist Yorobi and Austrian footwork-focused producer Sun People have already shown their support. Niamh O’Connor
For fans of: Skee Mask, Walton, Tenebre
As the saying goes, good things come in threes, and Lamin Fofana’s ambitious new album trilogy certainly proves this to be true. From Sierra Leone and now based in Berlin, the artist and music producer sculpts static, field recordings and synth melodies into transfixing ambient music on ‘Ballad Air & Fire’, ’Shafts Of Sunlight’ and ‘The Open Boat’, the three albums released this summer on his own Black Studies label. His sound design is tactile and immediate, and the underpinning philosophical themes that interrogate and dismantle colonial ideologies give his music undeniable weightiness.
‘Ballad Air & Fire’ crackles with latent energy, while on ‘Shafts Of Sunlight’, the title track feels akin to walking through a dark, dripping tunnel to emerge blinking into the light, and ‘Ode To Impurity’ is so immersive, its 29 minutes sail by. ‘The Open Boat’ is the zenith, traversing an aquatic path through deconstructed dub moments and oceanic synth burbles. Artistic statements of intent don’t come much more powerful than this. Claire Francis
Revisit Lamin Fofana’s 2019 DJ Mag mix and interview here.
For fans of: Space Afrika, Kelman Duran, Huerco S
Photo credit: Taliesin Gilkes
Primed with sultry, slow-burning beats with a dark tint, Mayo’s music pulls you into a vortex of EBM, breakbeat, techno and obscure sounds. Earlier this year, her debut release ‘Sad Violin Music’ on Carista’s label United Identities displayed Mayo’s penchant for punk-edged electronic music, dipping into noisy textures and moody grooves. The Amsterdam-based artist produces music from her self-built synths and follows an open-minded approach amid a tangle of wires. Guest mixes on NTS Radio and HÖR have helped her reach a global audience, and in June, she played at Tresor in Berlin for the first time.
September marks a busy month for Mayo, with an industrial-driven 12” inch coming out on Z.I.P.P.O’s label Fides Records, followed by a limited lathe cut on London-based label Brokntoys. She’ll also return to United Identities on the imprint’s upcoming V/A. Ears at the ready for Mayo’s contribution, ‘Personal Reality’. Niamh O’Connor
For fans of: Alienata, Broken English Club, Batu
Ask the Brooklyn-based artist bad tuner what he hopes to achieve with his four-on-the-floor creations, and one word comes to mind: “balance”. The multi-instrumentalist, producer, and DJ uses music to both manage his mental health and foster a healthy social life, an objective that gives shape to grooves that are equal parts introspective and energising. His ‘back to my <3’ EP arrives on September 9th via Virgin’s LG105 imprint, and damn does it drive that sentiment home.
Originally created as a continuous mix, the now four-track collection unleashes a narrative told straight from the dancefloor. From the first moments of a lengthy club-night to fleeting last call embers, it boasts an ever-building energy fueled by that raw desire to dance one’s self clean. Hazy, percussive, and impeccably lush, it’s a memorable listen that begs an audience, but works its magic as a lively soundtrack for low-key evenings at home just as well. That’s to say, mission-achieved, bad boi. Megan Venzin
For fans of: A-Trak, Folamour, TOKiMONSTA
Photo credit: Anna Koblish
There’s something innately appealing about understated deep house done right, and ‘Bad Braids,’ off SMTHNG SMTIME’s recent debut, the ‘Geographic EP,’ is done very right indeed. Boasting a skeletal but hugely effective rhythm, filtered organ-esque tones and some of the best bass sounds we’ve heard in a while, it’s a highlight of the release. But the SMTHNG SMTIME duo — the UK and Dubai-based Megane Quashie, aka Megatronic, and Australia’s Eddie O’Loughlin, otherwise known as Edseven — aren’t one-trick ponies by any stretch. Released on the excellent Lebanese label Feedasoul, the EP also boasts samba-tinged Balearica (‘Morning Love’), jazzy breakbeats (‘New Soul Interlude Part 1’), and something approaching late-’70s jazz-funk (the title track).
‘Geographic’ is SMTHNG SMTIME’s debut, but neither Quashie nor O’Loughlin are newcomers to music: The former is a DJ, singer, and “culture producer” who hosts the Global Music Movement show on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM, while the latter is a DJ and producer who’s been active on the Sydney scene for years. While this may be the pair’s first release together, fingers are crossed it’s not the last — it’s that good. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Gilles Peterson, Wonderwheel Recordings, DJ Spinna
Photo credit: Lori Gettelfinger & Curls
Ann-Marie Teasley first came to our attention through her pandemic-era collaborations with her fellow Detroiter Ken Clements under the HLX-1 banner; others may know her as a contributor to Ash Lauryn’s Underground & Black blog. But it’s as The AM that Teasley’s really come into her own. Debuting as a solo artist with this past winter’s ‘Black Majik’ EP, released on no less a label than Berlin’s mighty Tresor, she’s spent the months since playing in her hometown and beyond.
She’s been busy in the studio as well, it seems: Teasley’s latest release as The AM is the ‘Sexworker’ EP, released on September 12 on the Dutch label Deeptrax Records. The music is Detroit to the core, albeit Detroit by way of the cosmos — there’s an otherworldly feel to these tracks that imbues their rhythms, even on a bumping electro-acid number like the title track, with a celestial aura. But there’s a Motor City starkness to these tunes as well, especially on ‘Black Galaxy’, Teasley’s stripped-down, tension-heavy collaboration with TrackMasta Lou, aka SCAN 7. Teasley may be relatively new to the production game, but ‘Sexworker’ is a fully confident release, one that does her city’s legacy proud. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Ectomorph, Anthony “Shake” Shakir, Drexciya
With releases on leading labels like Hospital, Shogun, Viper, and UKF, Bristol’s Ruth Royall is burning up the d&b scene with her swift-moving beats and soaring vocals. However, fans of the genre will know she’s been edging toward greatness for some time, first launching her career at 14 when she provided her voice to the official X-Factor video game, and later when she served as direct support for Fred V & Grafix on their final tour back in 2018.
Last month, Royall kept sparks flying with ‘Light The Fuse’ out via New State, one of the UK’s largest independent record labels. At just under three minutes, it’s a rapid-fire stunner that puts her crystalline voice on full display, and never lets up. Her background in jazz and soul is highly apparent in each emotional verse and fiery refrain, and after nabbing multiple nominations for Best Vocalist at recent instalments of the Drum & Bass Awards, it’s looking as though Ruth Royall may one day be crowned d&b royalty. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Andy C, Koven, Sub Focus
Hailing from southeast Louisiana, world bass producer Savej spent a good portion of his life nestled between swamplands and the musical city of New Orleans. As such, he always felt a deep connection to nature and art, something that later led him to study guitar, as well as plant medicine and neurochemistry in his teenage years. At the heart of his mind-bending works, which integrate elements of hip-hop, heavy vibration, and ethereal strings, is a keen desire to forge bonds between the ancient world and modern cultures. Earlier this summer, he released ‘Ka’ via the Austin-based imprint Gravitas Recordings, and it does the trick.
“‘Ka’ is intended to be a groovy, mystical journey of remembrance of the ancient celebration of life,” Savej explains of the immersive cut. “Crafting a certain sacred vibe and combining it with ecstatic and danceable rhythms serves as a bridge for people to enter a special state of consciousness on the dancefloor, as they move what is essentially a linguistic pattern of sound through their bodies and remember our primal connectedness.” In other words, it cuts to the core of our basic essence with a progression that’s complex, wonky, and a little weird — just like humans, come to think of it. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Bass Temple, CloZee, Lil Fish
Throughout the mid-’90s, Reflective Records was one of North America’s go-to labels for contemplative electronic music — largely ambient-tinged and IDM-esque techno and house, as suited for deep listening as it was for dancing. Run by Jonah “Spacetime Continuum” Sharp, the label put out music, some of it quite gorgeous, from the likes of Velocette, Single Cell Orchestra, Mixmaster Morris, and Sharp himself, but by 1996, the label had seemingly closed up shop.
Or perhaps Reflective was simply on a very long break, as Sharp has recently resurrected the label — and he’s done so in grand fashion, via the recently released ‘Every Moment’ EP, the premiere release from Cahl Sel. The Bay Area artist, whose musical background was in punk bands before switching over to performing and producing with vintage analog gear, has got that Relective sound down cold, the EP’s four cuts brimming with crystalline sound design and ethereal melodies. From the gossamer techno of the title track through the muted deep house of ‘Routine’ and the flowing ambience of ‘February,’ it’s a wondrous debut, both for Sel himself and the reborn label. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Spacetime Continuum, The Irresistible Force, Lawrence