Ballistic breaks firing wildly from all angles; gut-punching basslines that rumble and roar; celestial pads that paint otherworldly pictures — these are the sounds of a VXRGO mix. A fast-rising star in modern jungle, she only began DJing in 2022, but her decade- spanning sets have already been heard at institutions like fabric and Rupture, and on her monthly residency with legendary station Kool FM.
Describing herself as an “old soul”, her life growing up in South London reverberated to the smooth sounds of soul, Motown and lovers’ rock played by her mother, while her sisters brought drum & bass, garage (which VXRGO also DJs) and hip-hop into the house. All these elements can be heard in the music she plays now: heartfelt vocals rub shoulders with dubby lows and chunky sampled drums, and you’re as likely to hear a classic by DJ SS or Origin Unknown as you are a fresh cut from FFF or Kid Lib. “It has all the parts of music that I love: soul, rhythm, danceability and bass,” VXRGO says of jungle.
Currently studying production at university, 2023 saw VXRGO drop her first track — the low-slung, militant ‘It’s Not So Bad’, which samples a 1998 UK pop classic — and she plans to release more come spring/summer. “They’re quite dark but definitely experimental and soulful,” she says of her works in progress. BEN HINDLE
For fans of: Tim Reaper, Kid Lib, Charla Green
Over the past few years, Cousin’s buoyant beats have emanated outward from his Sydney home, and rippled through speakers across the globe. The producer, DJ and Moonshoe label founder’s music floats at the iridescent intersection of dub techno, deep house and downtempo; his releases feel primed for limb-loosening warm-up sets and the post-rave afterglow, but pair just as nicely with blissed-out nature walks or riverside reveries. His recent ‘HomeSoon’ EP for Vancouver’s Mood Hut label originated from one such stroll, along the Angophora forest path on New Year’s morning, when he felt the plants around him come alive.
He channeled this sensation into five tracks, which breathe and pulse with organic percussion, earthy bass and flourishing dub textures. It’s a vibe he’s conjured across a prolific run of recent releases, from his mind-massaging debut for Priori’s naff recordings through the club-tuned studio jams of the ‘Unsolicited Joints’ EP on Butter Sessions with his brother Ben, into the free-flowing kosmische of his ‘With The Birds’ album as Posm. He linked up with Priori once again in December, closing out the year with a collaborative suite of psychedelic bass steppers, co-released by Animalia and naff. With a hit rate like this, Cousin’s rippling rhythms are fast becoming waves. EOIN MURRAY
For fans of: Priori, Roza Terenzi, Parris
London-based Kimi Otsuka, aka faux naïf, likes to unearth the undiscovered sounds of EBM, with a deep-rooted knowledge and unwavering passion for genres from the '80s, including dark wave, goth and post-punk. Inspired by acts like Boy Harsher, HTRK, Lebanon Hanover, Silent Servant and the output of Blackest Ever Black, it’s this music that encouraged her to realise that there was a space for her sound in clubs and on the dancefloor, and is often woven into her DJ sets. She is an integral part of London’s queer scene, a resident and curator of the LGBTQI+ collective Love Child alongside Josh Caffe, runs her own parties under the name Mouth II Mouth, and recently launched a new night called Elegia in Manchester with Conor Thomas.
Her sets tell a story that evolves with her mood and the surroundings; she’s well acquainted with the dancefloors of esteemed clubs like fabric and FOLD, and providing the soundtrack to kink parties like Klub Verboten and Torture Garden. Expect arpeggiating basslines, '80s-style snare hits and an abundance of emotion. She’s just been announced as a new resident on Rinse FM as part of the Love Child residency, and her debut is a high energy mix that travels through EBM, electro, acid and more. ANNA WALL
For fans of: Veronica Vasicka, December, Silent Servant
EG sets are full of sonic leaps — whether it’s low-swung funk blending into future jazz, or puckish Italo rubbing up against bumping house, every selection feels heartfelt and sincere. And then there are her releases, deep house excursions with detailed percussion and muscular 4/4. We’ve had ‘U Know What I Want’, the second single from her debut EP ‘Unexpected Journey’, on repeat for days. It was a few years in DJing that EG began thinking about working in music full-time.
In 2019 she moved to the UK for an architecture internship and discovered Jayda G. “I was pretty alone in London, I didn’t have a lot of friends here, so I found refuge in the music,” she tells DJ Mag, “and I remember watching Jayda G’s Boiler Room set in my room and I thought, ‘OK, this woman is fucking amazing’.” In the years since, EG has hosted parties with her Parasol collective, launched a DJ-focused podcast, and racked up gigs across Europe, including London’s fabric, Rex Club and Djoon in Paris, and Fuse, Brussels’ longest running techno club. Stay tuned for her next release, which isn’t too far off. RIA HYLTON
For fans of: Jayda G, Jeremy Underground, Black Loops
Kremwerk resident and Seattle-based producer Mirin Doja is a staple of the Pacific Northwest’s vibrant drum & bass scene. Sitting at the helm of the club’s monthly TURBO night, she’s welcomed artists like Sam Binga across fierce line-ups that fill the nightspot’s Timbre Room with juke, jungle and footwork fire. Last autumn, Doja released her ‘Emotional Intelligence’ EP on the DJ Mag Best of North America-nominated breakout label Delusional Records, lending a taste of her airy, drum-driven stylings — and fans of her expansive productions received a belated holiday gift on December 27th when the imprint dropped a full remix compilation of the gorgeous, skittering work.
Peel back the wrapping paper, and find a six-track release that delivers exceptional treatments from QRTR, Bored Lord, Mars Kasei, Aria Bare, Trovarsi and Delusional co-founder, Maude Vôs. Don’t store this one away with the decor just yet — it has the glitz and garland to keep listeners vibing well into the new year. MEGAN VENZIN
For fans of: Anna Morgan, Bored Lord, The Librarian
With a discography spanning the lengths of melodic house to Detroit-style techno, the Tel Aviv-based duo Hard To Tell boast a diverse sound that lives up to the name — it is indeed hard to pin down. Members Roi and Roy debuted as solo artists more than a decade ago, but together is where they’ve shown their strengths — specifically via their dynamic productions and when spinning their five-to-10-hour DJ sets, in which the two leave few tricks untouched.
Now regulars on Dixon and Âme’s Innervisions label, Hard To Tell kicked off December on a high note with ‘Last Forever’, an ethereal, drum-driven cut that fits the imprint’s dreamy scope. Then, on 8th December, they reiterated their range with the ‘Love Pedal’ EP on TAU, a rapid-fire collection of three distinct two-minute grooves that weaves atmospheric elements with peak-time rhythms. Awash with bold breakbeats, ascendant keys and sterling samples, it has serotonin levels rising even faster than they are. MEGAN VENZIN
For fans of: CamelPhat, Dixon, Echonomist
“Do I truly understand what this reality is?” That metaphysical query is posed in the spoken-word lyrics of ‘Galaxy’, one of the three gorgeous tracks off of the new EP from East London’s Slxm Sol. We can’t answer that question, but we can say that the release, coming out on Soul Quest Records on January 19th, is a deeper-than-deep affair, with floating piano chords and sinuous basslines laying atop a bed of placid house rhythms and, in the case of EP highlight ‘Wish You Could', vocalist Elsa’s jazz-kissed delivery.
To describe these tunes as “chill” would be an understatement — yet despite their laid-back-to-the-max vibe, all three are fully intoxicating as well. At least in part, that’s because Slxm Sol, who also works as Michael M and got his start as a pirate radio DJ, isn’t exactly new to the game; he’s a long-time sound engineer, and in the past has worked with the varied likes of Rudimental, Dream Mclean and the glorious House Gospel Choir. His earlier productions, like a lush remix of KingCrowney & Zoe Kypri’s ‘Coat On’ and his own ‘The Othering’, both from earlier this year, are worth tracking down as well — and we can’t wait for more. BRUCE TANTUM
For fans of: Kai Alcé, Moodymann, Malik Hendricks
Do we already have a candidate for house track of the year in the form of ‘Dance Like We Are Lovers’, the latest from the Brooklyn-based phenom Michael Cignarale? Well, not unless we can bend the space-time continuum to our will, as the tune actually came out in the waning days of 2023 via Spotlight Records. But like much of the best house music, the song — ping-ponging synths over chugging rhythms, and Cignarale’s whispered vocals floating above it all — has a quality that transcends mere release dates. The cut could be from 20 years ago or 20 years in the future, as could a pair of propulsive remixes from Justin Cudmore and Bashkka.
Cignarale is a relatively new producer, but he’s already packed a lot into his career. Though currently situated in NYC, he’s been an integral part of the Shanghai queer scene for years, having cofounded that city’s long-running MEDUSA party; his hybrid DJ/live PA sets, at MEDUSA and beyond, are a trip. The 2019 piano-led stormer ‘To The Sky’, and a 2021 full-length, ‘Operatic Orgasm’, proved him to be something of a house savant; upcoming releases on the Polari and Maximum Airtime labels will undoubtedly win new fans. But for now, simply revel in the awesomeness of ‘Dance Like We Are Lovers'. BRUCE TANTUM
For fans of: Romy, Heller & Farley, Bella Boo