11 emerging artists you need to hear this January
The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From hyperactive gabber and intricate breakbeat science to thundering techno and gentle house, here's January 2022's list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of
Irresistible nu-rave energy, hyperpop hooks and experimental electronics form an unstoppable force in the hands of Lady Neptune, the gabber goblin queen alter-ego of Moema Meade. After several years of moonlighting as a bass player in DIY bands, the Glasgow-based singer-songwriter, producer and fashion student has adopted this creature-of-the-night persona as an outlet for her high-powered live performances. She delighted a packed audience at August’s Jupiter Rising Festival in Edinburgh and can be frequently found electrifying clubs and basement venues across Scotland.
Her 2020 EP ‘New Gorbals Gabber’ on Night School Records condensed this idiosyncratic take on peak-time dance music into six pulverising tracks full of arpeggiated synths, hardcore beats, vocal processing techniques and unapologetic trance riffs. In 2021 Meade appeared in collaboration with fellow Glasgow-based producer TAAHLIAH on the latter’s “break-up tune” ‘Tears’, and she kicks off 2022 with the imminent release of a new EP titled ‘NOZ’. Claire Francis
For fans of: SOPHIE, Arca, Gabber Eleganza
Photo: Neelam Khan Vela
Brooklyn’s Jonny Abraham, aka Poisonfrog, is the latest artist to make his mark on New York’s illustrious jungle/drum & bass history. His debut ‘Head Over’ EP on UK label Repertoire is a hypnotic excursion into intricate breakbeat science, moody atmospheres and heavy basslines, with a side order of head-twisting sampladelia. ‘Smoker’ mixes dub techno synths, rap and reggae vox snippets, and dusted ride cymbals, while immediate highlight ‘R U Up For This?’ slices up the Think break over a killer sub- bassline and a lush soul sample.
Poisonfrog got into DJing at college through a friend who grew up in the UK, and after listening to dubstep, Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, got heavily into jungle. In addition to labels like AKO Beatz, Droogs and Scientific Wax, he cites Paradox — in particular, his Amiga-based live set — as a huge inspiration.
Drawing samples from sci-fi, horror and anime movies, and citing authors Philip K Dick and William Gibson as inspirations, he’s already working on fresh jungle material. “I’m aiming to continue releasing heavy, emotional jungle tunes with labels like Repertoire that exemplify what the jungle subculture is all about,” he says. Ben Murphy
For fans of: Thugwidow, Sully, Dub-One
Iraqi-American, Berlin-based DJ, producer and founder of the Weeeirdos event series, record label and platform for local queer artists, Lolsnake is a regular and crucial part of the city’s club circuit. Whether she’s whipping out effervescent trance or thundering techno on HÖR Radio or DJing at Weeeirdos parties, Lolsnake tells DJ Mag how she has evolved over the last two years, both personally and musically: “I feel like I’m living more true to myself. I feel very connected to the music scene in Berlin by playing more and hosting frequent events. I’ve taken more risks, throwing raves in unusual locations. I found that I have an audience in Athens, a city and scene I fell in love with.”
This month, Lolsnake will contribute a track to a soon-to-be-announced V/A, and later this year, her first EP will drop on Weeeirdos. Plus, Lolsnake makes her London debut with the Technomate crew in April. Niamh O’Connor
For fans of: Hadone, peachlyfe, Hyperaktivist
Deepneue is a multi-skilled artist whose talents go beyond the scope of dance music. The Portuguese producer, Pornceptual resident DJ, DARKROOMAFiA label boss and sound designer has built a presence in Berlin’s techno scene, but there is more to him than initially meets the ear. Having composed soundtracks for two critically acclaimed alternative queer porn short films by Nicky Miller, and also the score for a dance performance titled ‘What Will Come’ for Tangente Danse in Montréal, Deepneue’s talent across a wide range of music is why his profile continues to pop.
Back in the world of techno, his next release will drop on the London-based Les Mirabilia label this year, and he has a track on a V/A on Ellen Allien’s BPitch imprint. To get a sense of Deepneue’s bouncy energy and ability to inject fun into techno, check out his Boiler Room in Sofia — a veritable vortex of vibes. Niamh O’Connor
For fans of: Randomer, Benjamin Damage, The Lady Machine
Taking up music production as a means of working through grief during the first lockdown of 2020, Lauren Duffus’ natural flair for emotional expression has quickly singled her out as a captivating addition to London’s experimental electronic scene. Her debut EP ‘Sulk’, a beguiling record characterised by its intimacy and unique use of vocal samples, was released on the fledgling Body Motion imprint last February.
She landed a spot on the 2021 edition of NTS WIP, a year-long artist development programme run by the tastemaker station. With a steady stream of DJ sets at clubs like Venue MOT, Ormside Projects and Colour Factory also under her belt, Lauren has now set her sights on scoring films and documentaries — an artistic undertaking that seems well within her capabilities. Michael Lawson
For fans of: Loraine James, Mica Levi, aya
Norwich-born, London-based Eich is the mastermind behind More Cowbell, a record label, events brand and online community dedicated to the umbrella of styles under the ‘130’ banner — a title alluding to the bpm of this hard-to-categorise sound.
“Everyone has a different name for it, right? It’s this weird, kind-of-in-between thing that I always struggle to describe,” she explains tentatively. The ‘130’ sound is perhaps better communicated through her DJ sets: a blend of bass-heavy, percussion-driven UK techno cuts, often armed with low-slung grooves and eschewing the parameters of 4/4. A new residency on Rinse FM — where a slew of artists from the wider More Cowbell community have been pencilled in for guest slots — and recent milestone gigs at fabric, Corsica Studios and The White Hotel are indicative of Eich’s fast-rising status as a trusted scene tastemaker. Michael Lawson
For fans of: Ila Brugal, Korzi, Monir
A frequent collaborator with rap icons like Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, Smoko Ono’s music begins to bridge the gap for those with more electronic sensibilities — specifically fans of trap, lo-fi, and synthpop. The Chicago-based producer recently joined forces with SG Lewis and Rich on ‘Moonlight,’ a sexy, downtempo cut that casts a gleam on a softer groove. He’s currently putting the finishing touches on a forthcoming project that demonstrates his ambitious approach to dance music, with diverse names like UMI, Lido, Joey Purpp, and MNEK making appearances, among others.
Though Smoko Ono is already a producer with clout, the new collection of tracks (coming via PayDay Records in 2022) marks a fresh chapter in his artistic journey, and based on his warm and textured take on a wide variety of genres, it should be a solid solo introduction. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Disclosure, Fred Again, SG Lewis
There’s a feeling of wistful yearning, of striving to be who you want to be, that runs throughout L I M’s graceful version of synthpop. It flows through his debut EP, 2016’s ‘Comet,’ and its 2018 followup, ‘Higher Living’; it’s there in 2020’s celebratory Pride Month release, ‘1986’,’ with its call to “be proud of who you are, no matter what”. That contemplative aura is inherent to the Italian artist’s work, and it’s the defining feature of his upcoming release ‘Glowing,’ coming out in February on the La Tempesta International label.
Written and produced with longtime collaborator Riva, the tracks on ‘Glowing’ are a touch more house-centric than much of L I M’s previous output, but it’s a supremely gentle sort of house, geared more for headspace reverie than carnal physicality. At the centre of it all are L I M’s near-whispered vocals, adding layers of emotion to the music’s delicate arrangements — it’s the kind of music that’s easy to get lost in. In the end, it’s a hopeful release: “It is about arriving late, but better late than never,” L I M says. “In the end, we have always been here.” Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Nite Jewel, Toro y Moi, diskJokke
Joshua Mbewe, better known as laxcity, just may be one of dance music’s next great sonic storytellers. The Zambia-born, Sheffield UK-based artist has developed a name for himself by way of unusual productions which see dulcet chords unfold into discordant breakdowns, equal parts jarring and gorgeous. Earlier this year, he teamed up with longtime friend Moore Kismet on ‘Flourish,’ a collaboration that puts the work of two rising sound design masters on full display. laxcity’s newest single ‘Melodies From Heaven’ dropped last month and pays tribute to his Christian upbringing.
“In most Protestant churches, there are worship songs that make you feel like you’ve entered a spiritual plane of existence or feel the presence of God,” he explains. “I intended to capture this atmosphere in this record, combined with a fun, bouncy hip-hop rhythm to keep it engaging.” The song was made in part with a Korg Minilogue, the first hardware synth in what’s likely to be a growing collection for the ambitious Mbewe. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Jade Cicada, Moore Kismet, Shadient
The Trans-Siberian Railway stretches nearly 10,000 kilometers; it’s the longest continuous stretch of railroad in the world. One of the stops along the way is Novosibirsk, the hometown of DJ and producer Natasha Bai. “It’s 50 hours by train from Novosibirsk to Moscow,” she says, “and during this time, little life happens.” The trip provides the inspiration for ‘Transib,’ the title track of her new EP, coming out next month on London label Ransom Note. Equal parts propulsive chug and melodic bliss, the EP is a collection of tunes that are the work of a fully confident artist.
‘Transib’ is Bai’s debut solo release under her own name, but her career has already been something of a journey. She’s released a pair of EPs under her ambient-pop moniker, Altai Princess; she’s DJed all over Russia, often throwing parties with her peers from the DJ collective ДК Детка; and she’s a regular guest on such outlets as NTS, Kiosk Radio, and Test FM. (Check those mixes out — they hit the spot.) Bai’s also made a dreamy contribution to a remix EP on the way from Mother Of Mars, the duo of the Rapture’s Vito Roccoforte and Gabriel Andruzzi — we have a feeling this is going to be her year. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Max Cooper, Dominik Eulberg, Christian Löffler
Quiet Bison’s debut album, ‘DAWN,’ is a statement piece. The Portland-based artist’s forthcoming LP boasts 32 tracks, each demonstrating a sweeping knowledge of production technique that’s impressive for any creator, but perhaps even more so from someone who’s only just left his teenage years behind. His newest release ‘Crash,’ featuring the ethereal tones of Madalen Duke, just dropped last month — and it’s a glimmering sonic collage that spotlights Quiet Bison’s pop- centric future trap sound.
Quiet Bison’s early stylings have been compared to those of Australian star Flume, who featured his 2018 single ‘Thimble’ on his popular Hi This Is Playlist on Spotify. In the years since, however, Quinn Brown has proven himself to be one-of-a-kind, racking up fans over at NEST HQ and other tastemaker outlets in the process. Give it a year — we have a feeling this Quiet Bison is about to get a whole lot louder. Megan Venzin
For Fans Of: Flume, Medasin, Whethan