Six emerging artists you need to hear this November
The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From screwed-up, breaksy house and experimental club mutations to top-notch techno and hip-hop, here's November 2020’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of
Nikki Nair is an artist in high demand. Hailing from Tennessee, USA, he’s been part throwing the Teknox parties there alongside Alex Falk, Saint Thomas LeDoux and Dialectic Sines for the better part of a decade. The past two years have seen his name skyrocket as a producer, with labels on both sides of the Atlantic hankering for a piece. Nair dropped EPs via UK labels Scuffed and Gobstopper in 2019, along with Brooklyn’s Discovery Recordings, and one for TRAM Planet, to which he returned this year. 2020 has also seen him drop via Barely Legal’s Pretty Weird label and recent DJ Mag Vital Label pick Banoffee Pies. And that’s not even counting the various originals and remixes he’s put together for Worst Behavior, Gutterfunk, Dirtybird and many more.
So what does it all sound like? Well, that’s where Nair becomes even harder to pin down; from release to release he’s as likely to touch down with distorted electro as he is choppy Baltimore club, slick footwork or screwed-up, breaksy house. Whatever the result, two things are certain: he’ll bring the bass and perc to start a party, and it’ll be an absolutely essential addition to your record box.
For fans of: Addison Groove, Alex Falk, Mr. Mitch
Meshing East Asian instrumentation with fragments of dancehall, gqom and garage, Sonia Calico is at the leading edge of Taipei’s experimental electronic scene. The Taiwanese producer’s debut album for rising UK label More Time, ‘Simulation Of An Overloaded World’, explores her manifold influences, combining traditional sounds with club music mutations to create a unique hybrid style. The album’s lead track, ‘Club Simulation’, is this idea distilled, where plucked strings combine with the percussive bustle and ominous synths of gqom. The record was inspired by the weird sensation of hearing DJ sets online during lockdown, and never in person. “It reflects my state of mind experiencing all the musical events that went virtual,” she has said. “We’re witnessing the time of club simulation.” Collaborating across the album with like-minded club music futurists Dustin Ngo, Taj Raiden and Air Max 97 (the latter on the gnarly square wave- driven grime/trap of ‘Division By Zero’), Sonia Calico is a name to watch.
For fans of: DJ Lag, Debit, Gooooose
In a world where cookie-cutter techno is ten a penny, Alex R’s take on the genre is anything but. Take his debut solo EP ‘Last Attempt’, which dropped recently via Darwin’s SPE:C label; in just three tracks he weaves together the lurching negative space of dubstep, bumping syncopated beats and lashings of scattergun polyrhythms. An earlier track from the label saw him on a punchy breakbeat tip, while over on Meld — the label he runs alongside mod-r — Alex has dabbled in luxuriously synthy garage and electronica, and more crunchy techno too.
It’s a compound style that owes a lot to the lineage of soundsystem culture in the UK, with echoes of Bristol, London and the Midlands merging with touch-points more local to the Glaswegian, such as Rubadub, Mungo’s Hi Fi, Numbers and the free-wheeling style of Optimo. With this hybridisation keeping things fresh and in line with the UK’s current crop of cutting-edge producers, the words ‘bright future’ feel more than fitting for an artist still in the early stages of his development.
For fans of: Second Storey, Appleblim, Pearson Sound
This spring, when the world was coming to grips with lockdown, Detroit crew No Way Back hosted an A/V live-stream that, among others, featured Bay Area artist Christina Chatfield. Among jewel-toned psychedelic waves, she performed a live set of deep, sparkling modular acid techno that made the rest of the world dissolve, if only briefly. On 27th November, Chatfield will release her ‘Ascent/Descent’ EP: the first release on As You Like It Recordings, the new label from the decade- long party series of the same name; a community bonded through grief after 2016’s tragic Oakland Ghost Ship fire. The label is devoted to the memory of those lost, and to showcasing underground Bay Area sounds. Chatfield’s EP features remixes from Noncompliant, Tin Man, Tapeghost and Lily Ackerman, and teases at what’s to come — her debut album is due soon, on the New York-based label Mysteries Of The Deep.
For fans of: Donato Dozzy, Voices From The Lake, Wata Igarashi
Croydon rapper Adz is only 17, but already has a dedicated following in the US, Canada and the UK. Drake is a fan, and Adz’s music has garnered 300,000 streams on Spotify and Apple Music since March, thanks to a succession of strong singles that show his variety of flows and influences. ‘Cold Events’ finds his AutoTune vocals coasting over an addictive soulful loop and crisp beats, while ‘Doubted’ is in a classic hip-hop vein, its jazz guitar samples underpinning Adz’s slick deployment of double-time rhyming.
On Instagram, his frequent freestyles rack up hundreds of thousands of views, and show he has skills far beyond his years. The video for his new single, ‘Lurking’, meanwhile — his slickest track yet — was viewed 100,000 times in just six days. Receiving plaudits from influential UK radio DJs like Ras Kwame and Toddla T, Adz is sure to go supernova.
For fans of: Billy Billions, Double Lz, Ghostface600
Montréal DJ Ludo Lacoste has been grinding on the Canadian city’s underground circuit for the last 10 years, but more recently, it seems the hard work is paying off. His sleek house productions have been turning heads, with big UK dance imprints Toolroom, Cr2 and Glasgow Underground all releasing his tracks in recent months. ‘When You Were Down’ takes a classic approach with its funk bassline, M1 keys and snippets of a familiar soul vocal, while ‘One More Time’ (not a Daft Punk cover!) goes full filter disco — all warm loops and glorious diva vocals. ‘Freedom’, however, indicates that Lacoste can be versatile: it’s a heavier tech-house cut with menacing synth interjections amid its jacking beats. Lacoste is already making incursions into the higher reaches of the Beatport and Traxsource charts, and his next single, ‘Just A Little More’, lands on Solotoko this month.
For fans of: Chris Lake, Johan S, ATFC