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Eight emerging artists you need to hear: March 2024

The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From masterful footwork and radiant house, to striking Latin beats, eclectic electro, breaks and beyond, here’s March 2024’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of

Photo of cay horiuchi wearing a grey fur coat
Credit: Evan Benally Atwood
cay horiuchi

“I want to see the bodies riding soundwaves, sparkling sweat in the air, and infectious smiles,” says cay horiuchi, whose DJ sets seek to create “a sense of joy, a sense of euphoria, a sense of catharsis”.

There’s magic in this Portland-based, Japanese-American DJ and community organiser’s approach to music. Listen back to their set from 2023’s Honcho Campout and you’ll feel it. They closed the beloved queer festival’s Grove stage with three hours of radiant house, techno and freestyle, peppered with ecstatic flourishes of EBM and trance. Inspired, as their sets often are, by a book — Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea — they considered the story’s thematic resonances, and the journey of its protagonist, and translated them for the dancefloor. “I thought about my own journey of being a trans immigrant,” they say. “What it means to leave home. I thought about queerness and its history. Our collective pain, memory, and joy... how we need one another.”

This message of togetherness filters into everything horiuchi does. As co-founder of the UwU Collective, they elevate QTBIPOC DJs and visual artists through underground DIY events. In their DJing and community work, they strive to invoke the lessons of unity passed down by their own ancestors, and by dance music’s originators. It’s a sincerity of purpose you can hear in every beat. EOIN MURRAY

For fans of: CCL, DJ Voices, Ciel

Collage image of Ëda Diaz wearing a hat in front of a cloud background
Credit: Gaëlle Correa & Misael Belt
Ëda Diaz

With her cultural identity straddling two continents, Ëda Diaz’s luminous, rhythm-rich music is an exercise in connecting seemingly disparate genres into one unique, dance-adjacent whole; think Colombian French touch, and you’re halfway there. She spent more than a decade studying classical piano performance at Paris’ Conservatoire de Boulogne-Billancourt and also sings, and plays double bass, and since the release of her first EP ‘Ëda’ in 2017, she’s been cultivating an increasingly experimental electronic sound with the help of producer Anthony Winzenrieth.

This leads us to the release of her debut album ‘Suave Bruta’ via French label Airfono. There is a whole host of inspirations behind these 11 tracks, from music that Diaz grew up listening to in her family home — Buena Vista Social Club and salsa icon Joe Arroyo — to the literary works of Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda and Gabriel García Márquez, which inform her lyrical creativity. Add in field recordings, her pitch-distorted double bass and “samples from tracks close to the singer’s heart”, and the results are magnetic, from the striking Latin beats and rumbling bass of ‘Sábana y Banano’, to the glitchy, tropical almost-rap of ‘Al Pelo’ and the rousing ‘Tiemblas’, which draws on traditional Colombian vallenato music. She plays a show in Paris in March, with more hopefully to follow — we predict big things. CLAIRE FRANCIS

For fans of: Lucrecia Dalt, Álvaro Ernesto, Björk

Photo of DJ Lucky holding up his hand in front of neon white lights
DJ Lucky

A true footwork lifer, DJ Lucky was first mesmerised by dancers at elementary school, and grew up to become a dancer, DJ and producer. “I truly get inspired by the battle aspect of footwork, so I’ll go find and watch all the new battles, listen to what the DJs are playing and what type of tracks the dancers are going crazy to, and it’ll instantly make me want to either match that energy or make something that I feel is better,” he says.

Part of the iconic Teklife crew, he dropped his debut album ‘Triple 7’ with the label in January, highlighting the sonic versatility of the Chicago-born sound. Tracks like ‘War’ and ‘Demon Time’ are stripped to the bone and draped in sleek, sci-fi synths; ‘GAWD’ matches abyssal subs with glitchy bleeps and choral ambience; ‘Spazz Out’ and ‘1366’ draw from trap’s machinic playbook, while ‘Your Emotions’ and ‘Lost Without U’ use soulful touches to juxtapose their plodding beats, and ‘G.B.G.W’ is an explosion of breakbeats and sirens.

“Variation is extremely important to me,” he says. “Footwork can get rather confusing to a person that’s hearing it for the first time, so I try to show people that different styles and vibes can be created and still be in the guidelines of footwork.”

Currently living in Las Vegas, he’s trying to grow the scene there as part of the local chapter of Chicago-based crew Terra Squad and through teaching footwork workshops, and promises lots more music is on the way in 2024. BEN HINDLE

For fans of: DJ Rashad, DJ Manny, Plain James

Photo of Free Zing smoking out of a window
Free Zing

The past year was a standout one for Madrid-born, London-based María de Castro, aka Free Zing. Passionately carving her way throughout the London club circuit, she’s fast become one of the most beloved DJs on the scene. Inspired by the city’s nightlife and frequenting parties since she was 18, collecting and spinning records was an early obsession. “It became everything I could think of, my way to communicate, to connect with people. But it all made sense the first time I got to play for a crowd, and I understood the big part the dancers play in my music path,” she explains.

With unstoppable energy in the booth, and a wealth of knowledge through a boundless record collection, Free Zing knows how to captivate a crowd. Her vinyl collection is vast and eclectic, from early electro and breaks through to wonky techno and groove-led house, constantly discovering new and unexpected records to weave into her DJ sets.

Her recent Pleasure Club mix is a perfect example of where her head is at musically. She’s a resident for the off radar parties of 14Lab and Neotropiq, last year making her debut at fabric and spinning at other respected clubs in the capital including Lion & Lamb, Village Underground and Pickle Factory, as well as gigs further afield in Barcelona, Lisbon and Berlin. María has long since been making music, and this year will see the release of her first productions: watch this space. ANNA WALL

For fans of: Craig Richards, Sonja Moonear, Silverlining

Photo of Volaris standing in a carpark wearing a black coat

“You will fly.” That’s the English translation for “Volaris”, and a phrase that holds special meaning to the producer Nathan Cozzetto, who adopted the word as his moniker two years ago. Cozzetto has been soaring since signing to labels like Experts Only, Purified, and mau5trap, but the name hints at the more complex details of his personal story as well. It’s been a series of highs and lows for the UK-born artist who was battling cancer when he learned his first child was on the way.

Those emotional peaks and valleys are heard in his stunning originals, which weave elements of melodic techno and progressive house, with his 2023 Armada debut ‘Through The Night’ alongside Nightlapse and Nathan Nicholson a particularly accessible example, awash in sing-along worthy vocals and fervent builds. His newest stunner, ‘Close To You’, comes via his freshly-launched HORIZN label, and it’s an uplifting gem elevated by buoyant synths and a hypnotic low-end. The glimmering vocal, “When I’m with you, nothing else matters” adds a layer of pure anthemic energy. After working as a software salesman for the better half of two decades, in Volaris, it seems, Cozzetto has truly earned his wings. MEGAN VENZIN

For fans of: ATTLAS, Nora En Pure, Rinzen

Photo of fknsyd standing against a white wooden wall wearing a big black coat

Bass fiends may recognise the ethereal tones of fknsyd, the Toronto-based siren who’s appeared on tracks with heavy hitters like RL Grime, SLANDER, and REZZ, just to name a few. She’s become a frequent collaborator with the last name on that list, in 2022 landing on REZZ’s HypnoVizion imprint alongside the label boss herself, as well as with UK producer, Shadient. The trio’s downtempo creation, ‘Blue In The Face’, boasts an atmospheric- bordering-on-chaotic quality, with layers upon layers of sound erupting into a quasi-human cacophony.

Judging by that 2023 tune and the eerie ‘Taste. test’ mixtape that followed, those are the kinds of surreal soundscapes that Sydney strives for most — with beats brooding and distant, and glassy vocals that lend an unmistakable sheen. On 26th January, fknsyd returned to HypnoVizion with ‘Apparitions’, another filter-drenched cut that melds textures of electronic music and alternative rock for an intoxicating effect. The track also represents the first time in which fknsyd is taking the reins solo, though based on the salient nature of this single, there’s more haunting heat to come. MEGAN VENZIN

For fans of: Arca, Banks, Elohim

Photo of Plebeian wearing a blue jumper while holding a mug in front of an high-rise office background

The latest release on the Parisian label Grid Recordings, the ‘Contrast’ EP, is a low-key stunner, its four tracks full of dub-kissed shimmers and pulsing low-end. The EP is the handiwork of New York’s Andrew Nerviano, who works under the Plebeian banner — and it’s not the first time he’s impressed with his knack for producing sinuous music that feels both translucently ethereal yet intensely corporeal. There’s this past January’s ‘Ephemerides’, for instance, released on the Isabelline imprint’s ‘Common Welfare’ sampler, or 2021’s ‘Tannins’ EP, out on Eternal Ocean — it’s the kind of sound that’s easy to get lost in, whether in front of a bone-rattling soundsystem or within one’s own headspace.

Nerviano’s been perfecting his sound for a while now, starting in the mid-’00s via his involvement with the Sweat Equity party and label. He engineered and mastered much of the label’s music; his own releases for the label, like 2015’s ‘EP 1’ and 2017’s ‘Spiritual Egg', have the feel of a producer willing to experiment to discover their sound. With ‘Contrast’, we’d say he’s found it. BRUCE TANTUM

For fans of: Objekt, Skee Mask, Huerco S.

Photo of Chewlie wearing glasses and pink lipstick with a smudged lens

“We breathe in oxygen, transform it into carbon dioxide and breathe out,” reads the bulletin accompanying ‘Transforming Matter’, the just-released album from Switzerland’s Julia Häller, who makes music as Chewlie. “One simple witness of transforming matter. With this album I became aware of this inevitable movement and my deeply-rooted need to live that.”

Those words obliquely get at the LP’s sound, with its angular rhythms, pulsing bass, and lingering chords wavering between inspiration and expiration, between tension and release. Its tracks feel like living organisms, existing just outside our understanding — no small trick for a producer who up to now has only put out a 2022 set of tunes on the experimentally-minded label YUKU and a 2023 cassette-only release on Bruk Records (both well-worth tracking down).

There are ghostly hints of breakbeat formality and general soundsystem culture — these tracks would sound amazing over a big rig — but they stray far beyond anything you’re likely to hear in the clubs anytime soon, and are all the more exciting for it. BRUCE TANTUM

For fans of: Jlin, Ital Tek, aya