12 emerging artists you need to hear this February
The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From rich, experimental techno and ambient to festival-ready house and trance, here's February 2020’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of
With roots in South America and France, but based in the Canadian music hub of Montréal, Ourielle Auvé, or Ouri as she’s better known, pours a host of influences into her striking electronic compositions. Debuting in 2017 with the ‘Maze’ EP on Make It Rain Records, the follow up, 2018’s ‘We Share Our Blood’ EP on renowned taste-making label Ghostly, was a dazzling blend of alt-R&B, techno, ambient and house.
“My main influences are musicians and artists that belong to no school but really create their own path,” she says, “like Alice Coltrane, Theo Parrish, DJ Nehpets, Arca, Brian Eno, The Neptunes, Aphex [Twin], Four Tet. I love when there is a total freedom, raw energy and refined feel.”
Illuminated by Ouri’s own soulful vocals, her music has an emotive power that also derives from her musical training in cello, harp and piano. Last year, ‘Trance Parent’ was a subtle merge of new age tones and R&B vox, while more recently, Ouri has shown her club-forward side, with the slamming breakbeat roller ‘So Sad’ propelled by a classic vocal sample. Check it on her SoundCloud and look out for a new LP full of collaborations soon.
For fans of: Kelela, Serpentwithfeet, James Blake
At the end of February, Decibella will make her debut at Fabric — a great start in what’s set to be a breakout year for the London junglist. She first got the electronic music bug while tuned into some of the capital’s naughtiest pirate stations, when hardcore, garage and jungle would blast out the speakers, leading her to hunt down tape packs and real- life parties like One Nation and Raindance.
Fast-forward to now and she brings her own soulful perspective to what she calls “rude girl jungle”. She always looks to the contemporary scene and the latest red-hot dubs for her weaponry, balancing the light with the dark, the heavy with the more airy, for enthralling sets that keep you guessing. After playing some of her tunes for DJ Stretch, she was signed on the spot and has music coming on his AKO Beatz label in the near future.
For fans of: DJ Stretch, Mantra, Threshold
Puerto Rico-born, Brooklyn-based artist Xiorro loves hard techno. His beats range from 145 to 160bpm, as do his DJ sets and the music he puts out on the label he runs with pal Adrestia, Whirlwind Trax. The pair also run a rather celebrated Brooklyn party, The Black Hole. It started in 2016, aims to highlight the diversity in techno, and asks that egos are left at the door.
Hard-nosed, fast-paced techno and industrial blasts dancers through the night, and the party has welcomed plenty of guests, while also giving Xiorro a chance to showcase his own skills, leading to international gigs at places like Tresor, and a residency at sorely missed Berlin venue, Griessmuehle. 2020 already looks busy, with a party collaboration with Discwoman, a solo EP on Whirlwind Trax, and cuts on Naples’ WarinD Records, Glasgow’s Voight-Kampff and a remix for Argentina’s Gomboc Records all in the works.
For fans of: WarinD, D. Carbone, Remco Beekwilder
You have to be a pretty special DJ for a club like Corsica Studios to book you to play all night long, but that’s just what they did with Joe Corti at the end of January. The Londoner duly delivered and showed off his wide-ranging sound, which takes in soul-drenched US house, fuzzy disco, classic cuts, and plenty of rough-and-ready party-starters.
The Rinse France regular also runs his own China White label and party, where he continues to serve up sample-heavy grooves and filtered disco loops that feel alive and lived-in thanks to their lovably frayed edges and humid pads. His latest missive, ‘You’, lands this month and has already been backed by Radio 1 tastemakers like Annie Mac. And with guests like Leo Pol and Marquis Hawkes having already graced the China White dancefloor, you can expect more quality throughout 2020.
For fans of: Brame & Hamo, Chaos in the CBD, Detroit Swindle
Londoner Manuka Honey (real name Marissa Malik) has an approach to DJing that’s more about vibe than genre. In the last few years, the DJ, producer and astrologer has become increasingly ubiquitous behind the decks, playing at Fabric, appearing on Boiler Room (last June), hosting her own Rinse FM show, and guesting on NTS and Reprezent.
In a Manuka Honey set, you’re likely to hear electronic reggaeton and cumbia mutations, amid kuduro, techno, grime and indefinable, advanced forms of bass music. “I’d describe my style as sexy, unpredictable and hard,” she says. “I don’t really stick to any one genre, although I do emphasise Latinx sounds in everything I do, and prioritise the crowd being able to shake their asses properly.”
It’s a merge of styles also evident in her production work. On ‘Siren Spell’, a track made with NARA for the Super Kitchen label, a barrage of sub-bass and Latin American percussion flips into four-four midway through for maximum devastation.
“I met NARA at Hub16 in Hackney, and a few months after we began writing tracks together,” Manuka Honey says. “She’s one of my main collaborators right now. Fusing our styles and finding common sonic ground has been an amazing journey, and I’m excited to see where it goes.” Look out for a new EP from her in March.
For fans of: DEBIT, Riobamba, Errorsmith
Argentinian-born, New York-based artist Maŕa has brought her own unique take on ambient and experimental music to the underground clubs of Brooklyn. In the last few years her work — including a cassette EP on label Human Tapes and shows on The Lot and Newtown Radio — have been steadily gaining her recognition worldwide. Launching the label Cultivated Sound, which she runs alongside Chamberlain Zhang, in 2015, it’s since become a home for artists of a similar ethos from NYC and further afield, bringing together a multitude of talent for their first compilation, ‘Special Interest Group’.
This year sees Maŕa and Zhang revealing a new live performance and sound installation in Budapest as part of their residency at 4D Sound Institute. Musically,Maŕa’s productions project her voice across diverse soundscapes, with minimal use of percussion allowing the atmospherics to breathe. This month she has a track coming on Silent Servant and Rrose’s compilation for Air Texture, and stay tuned for her debut album dropping this May.
For fans of: Silvia Kastel, Penelope Trappes, Rosa Anschütz
Blossom spent 12 years playing violin in an orchestra before she first fell in love with dance music. On nights out with friends, it was the likes of Tchami, AC Slater, and the vast soundscape of house that really sparked her imagination. In 2015, she enrolled herself in classes at Dubspot, an electronic music production and DJ school.
It was at Dubspot that Blossom met Petey Clicks, a Night Bass- signed artist with whom she immediately identified. Their friendship would eventually help her find a place on the Night Bass family roster. In 2019, Blossom dropped two EPs: her debut, ‘Big Shot’, and follow-up, ‘Strapped’. Her latest release is a remix of BIJOU’s ‘Crown’. Watch out for her first releases of 2020, out on BIJOU’s Do No Duplicate imprint, and AC Slater’s Night Bass.
For fans of: Destructo, Chris Lake, Proxy
Sean Burchill, or Burchill as he’s known to most, has been a fixture of the western Canadian dance music scene for the last six years. An open-format performer, his only prerequisite for mixing a song into his live rotation is that it must be “good,” although his sweeping selections routinely change and feature a wide array of funk, house, and bass music. Burchill holds down a monthly residency called Field Trip at Calgary’s legendary Hifi Club, where he recreates that rarefied West Coast festival energy all year round. His latest mix, ‘BrrChill Vol. 1’, is downtempo bliss: smooth, chilled-out house with the perfect touch of lively funk. Look for upcoming tour dates, as he sets off through western Canada in the first quarter of 2020.
For fans of: SkiiTour, The Funk Hunters, Nightmares On Wax
Francis and Chuck of FABRIKATE let their music speak for itself. The Montréal-based duo, who often sport black masks or disguise themselves in silhouettes, may not have instantly recognizable faces, but that hasn’t kept their unusual sound print from leaving its lasting impression on dancefloors worldwide. Their retro-inspired house beats, which evoke memories of the golden age of disco and ’80s action movies alike, have already garnered support from names like Diplo, Oliver Heldens, Don Diablo, and Keys N Krates, just to name a few. In 2016, FABRIKATE dropped their synth-laced debut album ‘Bodies’ to rave reviews, and in 2019, their funky, vocal-driven single ‘Love Was Real’ kept the party going. They released their new album, 'Made Me Feel' in November 2019. These two produce tunes that possess a soulful je ne se quoi, that feels timeless yet fresh, and with each new release they shine brighter — despite their best efforts to hide behind the dark and mysterious personas they’ve created.
For fans of: Mercer, Soul Clap, Busy P
Although Nostalgix fell in love with music at a young age, she did not truly delve into the electronic scene until she began studying at the University of British Columbia. She snagged her first live gig at UBC’s infamous Pit Pub because the scheduled DJ called in sick. After that, it didn’t take Vancouver audiences long to recognize Nostalgix’s strong artistic scope, and in 2019, she took house music by storm. After releasing two singles on Tchami’s prestigious Confession imprint —‘Locked & Loaded’ with Danny Time, and ‘Mess With Me’ — she unveiled her debut ‘OG Sins’ EP, out now on Night Bass. Starting off the new decade with a release on Dim Mak’s New Noise series, ‘Brat’ with Vouti, Nostalgix promises lots of new music and shows throughout 2020.
For fans of: ANGELZ, Brohug, AC Slater
Goran Paradjina, aka Reblok, is getting big nods for his self-proclaimed “savage house” productions. With releases on Repopulate Mars, Hot Creations, Sol, and Elrow, the Split-born artist has cultivated a new wave sound that’s hard to pin down — one that’s bubbly and discordant, catchy and curious, all at the same time. This is especially apparent in his new ‘Alone With You’ EP, which dropped just last month. The two-track release features a smooth, vocal-forward title track and a second tribal groove called ‘Bosfor’, that builds steam with a percussive bassline. Now living in Novi Sad, Serbia, the new wave producer has already appeared at major events like Exit Festival, with more tour dates on the horizon.
For fans of: Lee Foss, Mikey Lion, Nightcrawlers
Some progressions intentionally provoke deep feelings of excitement, euphoria, or even fear. Artists who produce for the frisson thrill trance genre are especially astute at bestowing these multi-sensory experiences on their listeners. The expansive productions of Steve Brian (real name Stefan Brünig) fall within this category, and his 2019 ‘Asteroid Factory’ EP strikes all the aforementioned emotional chords. Incorporating elements of house, soaring vocals and atmospheric beats, this five-track release floats like an astronaut in space.
However, this celestial symphony is just another notch on the German powerhouse’s long list of achievements, which also includes a debut LP released via Euphonic in 2010 and a bevy of remixes for trance heavyweights like Audien, Cosmic Gate and Tritonal, among others.
For fans of: Above & Beyond, Cosmic Gate, Yotto