As listeners to the best music in 2019, we’ve become used to the fact that the stuff we dig probably won’t find its way into the mainstream, or appear on radio, so that thrill of recognition when a track from our side of the tracks suddenly and rapturously pops into everyday life, has gone. Or has it?
Simz, born Simbi Ajikawo to Nigerian parents in North London in the mid-’90s, started early, rapping and singing from the age of nine, hooking up with the Space Age collective of musicians, photographers and artists, and creating her first two mixtapes, ‘Black Canvas’ and ‘X.Y.Z’d’ at home in-between college lessons.
Kelly Lee Owens doesn’t believe in compromise. As renowned for her interest in exploring spirituality and sound’s potential healing properties as she is for laying down dancefloor eviscerators either live or in a DJ set, she’s equally comfortable allying both these worlds – as highlighted by her transition from Björk to DJ Koze’s ‘XTC’ in the mix she has supplied for her DJ Mag Podcast.
Hey Kelly. How are you? 2018 was obviously a pretty massive year for you. What have been some highlights? What have you learned along the way?
“Hey! I'm well, thanks! About to embark on a holiday for the first time in a couple of years. The past few years have been intense. Yeah, so many highlights – Feeling chuffed that people keep connecting to the music, that it keeps rippling and that I keep getting wilder opportunities to explore presenting it...
Good club music, DJ sets that actually feel resonant and meaningful – all of that requires a real empathy and internal awareness from an artist. Would you agree? Do you ever feel as though your previous career as a nurse impacted the way you approached music?
Few DJs represent the spirit of UK dance music like Jack Adams does. A lifelong student of hardcore, drum & bass and grime, he is utterly devoted to the culture, obsessive in his eagerness for discovery, and passionate in his want to share his knowledge with others.
Over the past decade, he’s had it all, lost it, and rebuilt himself in such a way that he’s now more confident, more creatively minded, and more comfortable with his art than ever.
“The John Peel show is what I used to listen to when I was young, ’cause it just used to baffle me. Hearing fucking black metal, then a techno track, then a drum & bass track, then some Motown. It made no sense, but perfect sense”
In the end, Jack put a stop to the series, as it had begun to take over his life. While not planned, each show took a solid two days of prep, and having gone head-to-head with some of the world’s best DJs, figuring out how to top those names was proving difficult. Radio has always been a huge part of Jack’s life, though, and he’s certainly not disappeared from the airwaves, now hosting a monthly show on NTS instead. The back-to-backs are something he’d like to revisit, he says, but on a less regular (and less stressful) basis.
Grime quickly became a new obsession, with Jack going to see crews like Roll Deep and Ruff Sqwad perform in Brighton, before following the sound to its roots in London around 2008. There, he got involved with MC and producer Jammer, of Boy Better Know fame. “I learnt how to make grime in Jammer’s basement, so I don’t think it can get more grime than that,” Jack says. “I had a very good grime education, directly from Jammer, and working with Trim and Badness and all the people like that. I feel very lucky that I was able to learn from the source.
“I’ve always liked collaboration, I love the collision of ideas,” says Jack. “I like the fact that you do something which is the sum of two people’s parts, it’s not one person, it’s not the other.” He also admits to getting bored when left alone in the studio for too long, and being liable to “piss around with something for fucking ages and not get anything done” — an issue most can relate to.
￼When Eric Estornel, now best known as techno titan Maceo Plex, was just three- years-old, things in his native Miami started to change. From April to October 1980 more than 100,000 Cubans reached Florida by sea, often in dangerously overcrowded boats, where they sought exile from Fidel Castro’s rule. The Cubans traveled from Mariel Harbor, 25 miles west of Havana, in what became known as the Mariel boatlift, an event that marked a milestone in Cuban- American history.
Damon Albarn has said that it may be 10 years before we hear another Gorillaz album.