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Six emerging artists you need to hear this May

The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to top this month. From experimental ambience and hardcore to UK rap and future-facing trance, here's May 2021’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of

VRBA

On her new release for London experimental electronic label TT, Pittsburgh’s VRBA wants to take you to another realm, somewhere that “makes you want to sit on the ground and have your eyes roll back into your head and start levitating”.

Across nine tracks of eerie ambience, lucid sound design and deep, hypnotic beats, VRBA builds a sonic world inspired by personal experiences, late nights and early mornings dancing with friends in the underground LGBTQ+ music community, and a fascination with frequency, satanism and meditative musical zones. It’s a striking introduction to the artist, who has been exploring deeply personal themes through electronic music production for almost a decade, but who fully hit her stride in 2019 and has gone on to self-release several EPs through her Bandcamp.

An artist devoted to the euphoric, empowering and healing potential of sound, who has a lot more music to come this year and big plans to start DJing more frequently once clubs start reopening, VRBA is another name from Pittsburgh’s flourishing scene that you’ll be hearing a lot more from in the coming months.

For fans of: Laurel Halo, Beatrice Dillon, Actress

Mixtress

Tune into a Mixtress radio show or guest-mix and you’re more than likely to hear the clattering of breakbeats, the guttural pulse of sub-bass and probably a keen-edged rave stab or two. Hardcore and jungle are the backbone of the London DJ’s sound — as her brand new Balamii show Hardcore, Amen puts in no uncertain terms. But they’re far from the be-all and end-all of what Mixtress has to offer. On her Netil Radio show Everything Is Fine, she delivers reassuring combinations of ambient, soul, R&B and other easy-listening gems — still with occasional splatters of breaks.

Elsewhere she’ll delve into electro and acid techno, like on her recent set for The Beatriarchy’s Threads takeover. Alongside dropping enthralling mixes by the bucketload, Mixtress tackles the issue of gender inequality in the music industry head on. Having previously run DJing workshops for women, she’s now creative lead for the Sisu crew, a collective who provide educational courses, events and opportunities to help elevate women and non-binary DJs and producers, and has a similarly focused club event launching later in the year too.

For fans of: Angel D’lite, Mani Festo, India Jordan

Snakebite 616

Dubliner Nathan Jones has been active on the Irish electronic music circuit since 2009, playing a plethora of DIY raves, festivals and clubs across the country. Now based between Berlin and Ibiza, Nathan produces under Snakebite 616, a moniker which signifies the next chapter in his creative journey. With a record collection blurring the lines between cosmic and bass-driven cuts made for the dancefloor, the sound of Snakebite 616 is built on dynamism.

Releases on Ogma Records and Delinquent Delivery detail his affinity for spiralling rhythms, while his podcast series, Mute Frequency, is an ASMR treat. Combining conversation and techno, Nathan invites a range of DJs to dive deeper into the tracks that have impacted their trajectory and made lasting memories. The recent launch of his 1:1 online mentorship program — designed to demystify the art of DJing and production — amplifies Nathan’s artistic approach: techno without pretence.

For fans of: Anetha, Luke Slater, Rødhåd

LUXE

LUXE’S debut release — ‘Falcon’s Rise’ on Banoffee Pies’ V/A ‘Limited Series 09’ — is a gorgeous ambient jungle tune written with masterful subtlety. Now residing in London, the Brighton native spent four formative years in Manchester as part of the collective B.L.O.O.M., refining her skills as a producer and DJ and building on her classical music training.

“DJing is something I pour a lot of creative energy into,” she tells DJ Mag. Inspired by “old prog-house, neo trance and bouncy, tech-y, psychedelic influences”, LUXE isn’t tied to any one genre. “I’ve worked hard at refining my sound. It’s something that I feel very excited by, but never too settled in.” Showcasing a ravier side, LUXE self-released her ‘Re-imaginations’ EP back in February. “I feel like things in electronic music are still at the beginning for me, I want to do more and more!”

For fans of: Coco Bryce, Bartholomew Kind, Tim Reaper

DC

Greenwich’s DC stands out in UK rap’s hectic landscape with his laidback delivery and down-to-earth lyricism. His new EP ‘In The Loop’ cuts through any hyper-masculine posturing with a dose of refreshing honesty. “The project is full of vulnerability, probably the most vulnerable I’ve been to date. There’s no exaggerations, no fabrications to make any of the stories more than what they are, I’m not trying to be ‘the man’ in any of the situations – but paint true accounts of the feelings I’ve felt,” he says.

DC’s sound draws on warm textures and tones, with TSB handling much of the production.“TSB — he’s a real wizard,” says DC. “It’s a blessing to work with someone that you connect with musically and be on the same wavelength.” ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ is a standout cut, bubbling into UK garage territory. It’s 2-step energy with a deeper meaning.

For fans of: Jevon, Knucks, Kam BU

Golden Medusa

“I’m basically always working on a mix,” Lara Golz, aka Golden Medusa, writes over email. “I have one in the works right now for Brooklyn-based artist Sheepshead and his Newtype Rhythms series.” The Berlin-based DJ and affiliate of the label and party Leisure System is a dedicated collector of emotive sounds, as displayed on her mixtapes on SoundCloud.

Along with heading up her bi-monthly show RESONATE on Refuge Worldwide, Golden Medusa’s ability to blend experimental, trance, breaks, IDM and genre-bending noise defines her as an artist who is both flexibile and tenacious. She admittedly prefers selecting over performing, something that has perhaps fuelled her desire to experiment with multiple soundscapes. Depending on COVID-19 restrictions, she’s down to play at Berlin’s Fluid Festival next month. If not, her RESONATE sessions on Refuge will help fill that void.

For fans of: Animistic Beliefs, JASSS, Gabber Eleganza

Words: Niamh O’Connor, Rob Kazandjian, Dan Brashaw, Eoin Murray, Ben Hindle