Six emerging artists you need to hear this October
The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From luminous hip-hop and experimental pop to lucid UK techno and d&b, here's October 2020’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of
SeeMeNot is the alias of Canadian-Jamaican singer and producer Renee Thompson. Formally a model, Thompson found herself shunned by the fashion world after featuring in the 2010 documentary The Colour Of Beauty, which highlighted racism within the industry and the perverse standards models of colour are held to. She found healing and a new outlet in music and this summer released her new mixtape ‘Long Overdue: The Sound Of A Revolution’, a deeply personal, emotional set, on which she sings original material (plus a Ray Charles cover) alongside samples of powerful speeches on racism, over a mix of Afro, deep and progressive house by close friend and DJ, Oliver Baptiste.
This month sees SeeMeNot’s debut single ‘Borderline’ finally drop — the kind of hypnotic Afrohouse cut that would be soundtracking every party in Ibiza right now if the clubs weren’t shuttered. It’s a bold first statement that speaks of big things to come.
For fans of: Black Coffee, Culoe De Song, Themba
Named in BBC Asian Network’s Future Sounds 2020 list back in January, North London’s NAYANA IZ is a hotly-tipped rapper and model. She’s part of the music and arts-focused NiNE8 Collective and queer femme rap offshoot Hydration Studios, and releases music as a solo artist which merges inspiration from her Indian heritage with forthright lyrics and a devastating flow. Her new EP ‘Smoke & Fly’ showcases just how impressively adaptable she is as an MC, employing hard-hitting rap alongside soulful flourishes — its biggest single ‘TNT’ a stone-cold trap cut with drifting sing-along chorus.
At just 19 years old, she’s already toured with Irish rapper Kojaque and been working with a number of big brands — including soundtracking a recent Schuh campaign with her energetic hip-hop track ‘How We Do’, and partnering with Adidas and North Face. In the process of learning Hindi and traditional Indian dance, and keen to incorporate both into future work, expect this up- and-comer to set herself apart from the pack even more as time goes on.
For fans of: Little Simz, IAMDDB, Lauryn Hill
Another talent rising fast from the thriving UK rap scene, Wesley Joseph matches an assured flow with contemplative beats, resulting in part-blissed-out, part-melancholy tracks ideal for home listening. A polymath, Joseph not only produces his beats and spits over them, but directs his own videos too. His debut track ‘Imaginary Friends’ landed back in April, and since then the twinkling follow-up ‘Martyrs’ — which features a juxtaposing tough verse from Monks — and emotional short film Pandomony — which scored backing from the BAFTA Association — have only increased his fanbase, with the likes of friend Jorja Smith and Annie Mac singing his praises.
July saw Joseph on a collaborative flex, teaming up with Joy O to produce ‘Ghostin’ and bringing in a former Pixar technical director to create a fully animated video. The track itself is a soft, synth-led affair with Joseph’s delivery smoother than ever to complement the neon-lit night-time vibe.
For fans of: Jesse James Solomon, Jorja Smith, James Blake
Born and raised in Taiwan but now based out of Shanghai, Scintii is a vocalist and producer who’s with the local SVBKVLT collective and label, and now signed to Fabric’s Houndstooth label for her latest release. While her 2017 debut EP ‘Mica’ was all thumping kicks and abstract composition, her sound has refined since to mix an electronic classical aesthetic with a subtle club pulse, and put Scintii’s own delicate vocals at the forefront. Half jagged deconstruction, half ambient dream sequence, on 2018’s SVBKVLT EP ‘Ariel / Paperbags’ it was Scintii’s vocals that provided both the main melodic tool and lyrical draw.
New single ‘Times New Roman’ (produced by PC Music’s Danny L Harle and paired with a captivating video by Arca-associated director Kynan Puru Watt) goes even further, layering Scintii’s whispered tones to build atmospheric harmonies around slow cinematic swells. It’s a stunning piece of modern pop-electronica, and reinforces Scintii’s place as a thrilling new talent.
For fans of: Björk, Sofie Letitre, PC Music
Continuing the long illustrious history of hybrid UK sounds, Breaka has been dropping buy-on-site releases for two years now. His debut release ‘Rory’s Theme’ / ‘Puffer Jackets’ for Desert Sound Colony’s Holding Hands set the tone immediately — one a glistening breakbeat construction, the other low-slung, jittering club fodder. Both received high praise and high plays, and announced the London-based producer as one to watch. He’s returned to the label since, and made stops on Beat Machine and the mega ‘In Order To Care’ comp on R&S, but his most notable drops have come via his own self-titled label — both bringing more ecstatic rave nostalgia, adding hints of deep house and 2-step, and fixing it all firmly in the modern era via upfront percussion, crisp sampling and widescreen synthwork.
His latest, ‘The Startup’, opens scoring for the new label from UK promoters Off Beat; the title track stomping forward with irresistible determination, while ‘The Ambush’ rolls out in a laid-back, cosmic jungle fashion. Essential.
For fans of: Bruce, Ploy, Benton
Samual van Cleef has been DJing since the mid-’90s, when he first discovered the fresh and thriving sounds of breakbeat, jungle, drum & bass and hip-hop. Operating under the alias Sam-C (and slight variations on it), he began playing and organising events within the free party scene in his home country of the Netherlands and further afield too, bringing his crew’s soundsystem to warehouses, abandoned swimming pools and disused military spaces and other such prime raving sites.
Over the years he’d mainly spin hardcore, acid and tekno, and headed up the Dosis Decibel label group. In 2018, however, Sammie returned to his jungle/d&b roots with the launch of his Cat In The Bag label and alias Tommy The Cat. Since then, he’s been releasing beastly tearout junglism via the outlet, and alongside the likes of Tim Reaper, FFF and Pastaman, while the following year he added another imprint, Park Sessions, to his repertoire, delivering the kind of ethereal beats LTJ Bukem would be proud of.following year he added another imprint, Park Sessions, to his repertoire, delivering the kind of ethereal beats LTJ Bukem would be proud of.
For fans of: Tim Reaper, Digital, FFF
Words: Anna Wall, Shawn Reynaldo, Ben Murphy, Kristan J Caryl
Pics: Ishmil Waterman (SeeMeNot), Hailun Ma (Scintii), Nathanial Joseph (Wesley Joseph)
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