- United Kingdom
- South Africa
- South Korea
- North America
- United States
- Cayman Islands
- Latin America
In 2016 Mercedes Nasta, former vocalist of Mexican electronic rock band Disco Ruido, undertook her solo adventure. Creating her own downtempo, hypnotic brand of cumbia (the carribean-infused folk music of northern Latin America), Nasta took the reins of the project as she developed her production skills; this, combined with her deep poetry, soft voice and the collaboration of gifted musicians under her direction produced a masterful project inspired by basalt, the form of cold lava from which the album takes its name. ‘Basalto’ is a experiment, record with a soulful, psychedelic touch that whispers a nostalgic and mystical lullaby, exploring a range of themes including architecture, internal transformations and pre-hispanic art.
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21-year-old Azamaan Hoyvoy is carving a niche by applying modern electronic production techniques to influences from RnB, funk, folk & jazz, creating a unique balance of these diverse musical attributes while still maintaining core soulful elements within his material. Currently working on his first EP with the use of vocal harmonies and funk-infused bass lines over minimalistic percussion, Hoyvoy is a member of a burgeoning new generation of Indian artists to watch out for. His single ‘Taking Off’ taps into the wanderlust desires of an individual who travels all over the world in pursuit of spiritual experiences, capturing the emotion with searing vocal intensity supported by a rhythm section focused on boiling funk.
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Tomás Justo delighted listeners this year with his debut solo album ‘Ronco y Bruxo’. A former member of successful acts Onda Vada and Michael Mike, the composer and vocalist moved away from constant touring life to create his most sincere and romantic work to date. In addition to taking care of the bulk of the composition and production of the album’s 11 songs, Justo also handles most of the instrumentation, playing guitar, bass, synthesisers and a range of analog and digital percussion, resulting in a unique blend of electronic folk and progressive pop.
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Korean singer Crush has been establishing a reputation in the contemporary R&B world through his sensual vocal presence. Just in time for the sunshine months, the Seoul based artist served up summer-ready EP ‘Wonderlost’, launching the project as a sequel to last year’s ‘Wonderlust’. While the previous release was a collection of downbeat and calm introspective stories, the latest offering is a stark contrast, filled with lighter melodies and uplifting beats driven by Crush’s mellow vocals. Lead single ‘Cereal’ is an infectiously smooth anthem, with guest support from rapper Zico, one of the most striking characters in Korea’s hip-hop scene through his work with the K-Pop group Block B. The chemistry of these two 27-year-old peers pumps the energy of the track up and exemplifies the country’s exciting and diverse pool of talent.
London-based Aaron Taylor returns with a pair of irresistibly smooth new tracks. After winning fans across the world with the slick, timeless neo-soul sound of his breakout EPs ‘Still Life’ and ‘Better Days’, Taylor’s star has grown steadily over the last couple of years as he has developed as both a songwriter and producer. D’Angelo-esque soulful RnB jam ‘I Think I Love You Again’ follows the vein of his past releases, but he showcases his versatility on ‘Spaceship’ as his impassioned falsetto drives a psychedelic funk-infused jam that would be guaranteed to light up just about any midsummer dancefloor.
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Jada arrived on to the Danish music scene in January with her debut-single ‘Keep Cool’, giving a taste of her her personal brand of of honest, emotional wisdom. Her strong, confident vocals drive the carefully layered, minimalistic production that mixes elements of 00’s r&b with electronic nuances. Her style is sincere, presenting a refreshing break from classic templates, and has caught the eye of fans both within her home country and abroad.
Seinabo Sey is the soulful voice of empowerment and womanhood. The Swedish artist creates music that reflects her own life experiences and explores themes of feminism, identity, body positivity and self love. Sey has taken control of the creative direction for her new record into her own hands in order to elevate her art, spending several months in Gambia where she filmed the music videos for ”I Owe You Nothing” and ”Remember” featuring Birmingham’s Jacob Banks. This is the first chapter of a more mature and confident Seinabo Sey, showing that her gift for songwriting can perfectly capture wordless emotions and translate into music.
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Two members of the Tribal East collective, Somali-born HasH and Hand Bandz combine their creative talents to create ‘Darkside of the Moon’. Bandz’s haunting melody is difficult to shake once heard, and is offset by his emotionally charged bars, delivered over the chilling production of Evrgreen (now known as AKA Blobby).
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While some musicians are born with an instrument in hand, Prateek Kuhad was a relatively late bloomer. Growing up in the small city of Jaipur, he went to the USA to pursue a university degree at New York University, where musical discoveries such as Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan & Woody Guthrie inspired him to get serious about the guitar and write his own songs. A pair of early EPs – one in English, one in Hindi – put him on the map with a sound that blurred the lines between organic folk intimacy and lush pop appeal, and his full-length debut was an instant hit. ‘did you/fall apart’ showcases Kuhad’s poignant and introspective approach through his rich, vivid lyricism, transcending genres and borders in order to speak to the deeper truths of shared human experience in all it’s messy splendour. His mesmerising vocals tap into deep wells of emotion, floating over gently fingerpicked guitars and ethereal synthesizers. Having garnered a slew of international accolades and honors through a recent publishing deal with LA-based Cutcraft Music (alongside the likes of Chet Faker, Izzy Bizu, and CP Dubb) Kuhad has cemented his status as a breakout star not just in his native India, but across the world.
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The UK’s resurgent contemporary jazz scene is smouldering with incredible talent. After making waves as a member of celebrated duo Yussef Kamaal with their hugely successful 2016 record ‘Black Focus’, the highly-respected drummer Yussef Dayes set off to pursue a different direction as a solo artist. Here he returns to link up with pianist Alfa Mist for ‘Love is the Message’, a hazy, ethereal tune filled with warm keys and infectious percussive grooves as well as a scene-stealing guitar solo from Mansur Brown.
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Ondi is a Kenyan artist who considers her poetry as important as her music. Her voice is reminiscent of the soft, husky haze we attribute to classic blues legends like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, and although Ondi looks young enough to be a high school student she performs with a soberly mannered, delicate movements of someone twice her age. While she is considered a cultural outlier, moving indiscreetly through the shadows of the alternative scene since parting creative paths Nairobi based funk/soul band Yellow Light Machine some years back, she has continued to influence the city’s collective growth in independent artistry through self-released music, pop-up art installations and impactful community-focused events that challenge traditional societal norms through musical gatherings. Her forthcoming crowd-sourced album is composed mostly on the ukulele, featuring stripped down compositions of bare instruments and vocals, much like the spacious atmosphere of her beloved song ‘Empty Pages’.
Aditi Ramesh quit her job as a corporate lawyer and set forth on pursuing a career as a full-time musician. An exemplary vocalist with a herculean voice complemented by a range of techniques and tonal modulations; her inspiration stems from blues, jazz and traditional Carnatic music in which she trained in her childhood. A remarkable rise in her career was instigated with the launch of this year’s EP ‘Autocorrect’, demonstrating her true calibre as a composer, showcasing her classical training and strong musical sensibilities. The EP’s strongest track ‘Efflux of Time’ is a masterful exercise in building looping melodies, and contains one of the most deliciously unexpected vocal transitions; conveying a message of time being the healer of all wounds.
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Polo Reyes, frequently known as Mellow Fellow, is an independent dream-pop artist based in the Philippines. Describing his music career as a “project to release sad shit,” he already has three albums under his belt and is in the process of producing a fourth; on his latest single, ‘Don’t You Dare’, the singer explores the feeling of mistrust in relationships. He has also collaborated with foreign acts such as Clairo and Floor Cry, reflecting his status as a promising act with a growing profile in the international music scene.
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Omar Banos, better known as Cuco, is a teenage prodigy. In May, the 19-year-old chicano producer already delivered his third album: ‘Chiquito’, a record that floats through the movements of summer love. With uniquely calibrated synths and lyrics sung in both English and Spanish, his deft mixture of R&B, hip-hop and psychedelic pop has won him the support of Kali Uchis, Kevin Abstract and Steve Lacy, not to mention his loyal band of fans known as “Cuco Puffs”, who have turned him into something of a modern day dream-pop icon.
East London-based, Danish-born singer/producer and Wu-Tang collaborator Mont Jake 5-track EP2 fuses a diverse range of music cultures to create a fresh and original sound. On standout track ‘Come Closer’ the artist (born Jacob Hammershøj) collaborates with saxophonist Leland Whitty of Badbadnotgood and rapper Gene Fisher, showcasing Jake’s innate ability to absorb a broad range of influences and bring them into his sultry and soulful world. A triple-threat, Jake writes, produces and records his own music which has led him from his home in Copenhagen to sign with Island Records in the UK.
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Muddy Monk’s music is driven by poetic nostalgia, romantic torment and a need to escape, whether through long motorcycle rides or by traveling within through his soul and thoughts. Using his voice as an elegant melancholic instrument, the Swiss artist offers ‘Ocean’, a mermaid’s song that hypnotizes and immerses the audience into mellow waves made of sliding laments and celestial synths.
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Born and raised in Manila, Rome Gomez captivates with his shoegaze R&B sound. In 2017, the singer/producer relocated to the United Kingdom to further progress his career internationally, and soon began working closely with The 1975, with lead singer Matty Healy calling Rome “his muse.” On ‘Seventeen’, taken from his forthcoming EP ‘RIP Indo Hisashi’, Rome delivers enchanting vocals over a dreamlike beat, offering a tantalising taste of whats to come.
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Koreans are becoming increasingly familiar with the phrase; ‘Trust and listen to Jeebanoff’. The 26 year-old singer has gained this faith as his star has risen in recent years, winning ‘Best R&B/Soul song of the year’ at the 2017 Korean Music Awards just a year after releasing his debut single ‘Hide’. Hailing from Ansan, his self-produced songs are mostly nostalgic and down-tempo, but never lacking in energy thanks to his fluid melodies and dynamic usage of percussion. This pacing is balanced by his lilting voice, depicting personal memories of love and everyday life in his songs. Taking another step forward a full-length independent project, he announced his forthcoming album ‘주마등:走馬燈’ (Panorama) with a self-directed trailer with Japanese styling; on pre-released track ‘Good Place’, the artist bears his insecurities about a past relationship over a powerful piano melody.
Sounds drenched in reverb and reversed synth textures echo together to create a dreamy musical backdrop, painted with Jim Chuchu’s intimate lyrics. With vocals seemingly inspired by 70s psychedelic crooners like Robert Plant, Chuchu is part of a new wave of artists transcending the traditional pigeonholes of creative media. Known today as one of Kenya’s bravest contemporary filmmakers – he grabbed attention at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival for his locally-banned, internationally-acclaimed indie film based on true stories of homosexuality in Africa – Chuchu rarely mentions his core musical role in Nairobi’s legendary group, Just A Band. While co-producing the band’s first three studio albums alongside Dan Muli and the renowned “Blinky Bill”, Chuchu also largely drove the group’s visuals, including the beloved music video “Ha-He” – which CNN, Wall Street Journal deemed Kenya’s first viral internet meme. After breaking away from the group to pursue his solo career and co-founding film platform “The Nest Collective”, Chuchu continues to produce and release his own music.
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Mumbai-born singer-songwriter Nikhil has travelled far, wide and within, the better to write his songs and give voice to his innermost feelings. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Jeff Buckley and Ray LaMontagne, he also incorporates a range of Indian instrumental influences to create heartfelt, irresistibly melodic compositions, some excavated during his adventures and honed over time, some with the paint still wet. His romantic lyricism and the crisp folk-soul versatility of his voice has taken him all over the world, from Singapore to the United States to London, England, where he is currently based. His album ‘Silver & Gold’, which includes the single ‘Love is a Liar’, focuses on the difficulty of sustaining modern day relationships; a hopeful ode to falling and staying in love, and a tribute to the ones who have made it last over the years.