Ones to Watch 2014
To bring in the New Year and to give a bit of personal insight into the artists we feel will go on to have a successful 2014 (and beyond) we’ve compiled a list covering some of our favourite picks of late. Some of our selections have already enjoyed releases with reputable labels, while others only have a couple of tracks on Soundcloud to their name. Either way, the list consists of artists we feel deserving of more recognition. We’ve been really into what these guys have been doing over the past year and they’re representative of the kind of music we search for and listen to. From the spectrums of house and techno to the more experimental side of things with a little jazz & soul thrown in, it’s full of great variety and embodies a diverse selection of very talented producers.
Silk 86 comprises London-based beatmakers Finn Casey and Thomas L, two artists who’ve primarily spent the last decade djing, promoting and immersing themselves in the London Underground scene. The collaborative project sees Finn and Thomas bring together a rich texture of warm, hypnotic sounds and crisp house productions. Having officially made their foray into the production world in 2013 with two EPs – firstly on UK Manucci’s Mistress and then as the first release on Andy Bird’s label Sneaky Music – the duo are gradually making a name for their distinguishable sound and look set for a busy 2014.
Seven Davis Jr
Seven Davis Jr’s is a hugely talented artist (a vocalist, writer and producer) who we’re sure will go on to become quite a revered name in electronic music. He made his first debut in 2012 on Kutmah presents World Wide Family Vol 2 on Brownswood Recordings with the track Thanks – a stunning introduction into his artistry and one of the best tracks we heard from that year. The L.A based producer’s One EP on Jay Simon’s Must Have Records last year sat somewhere between the lines of Theo Parrish, Andres and Sun-Ra, and the self-titled EP track highlighted Davis Jr’s strong affinity with Prince. Stylistically he’s pushing funk forward without restoring to house as the operative framework – particularly reminiscent of said American artists – crafting a very cool signature sound in the process. Keep an eye out for his forthcoming release on Apron Records early next year.
Damiano Von Erckert
One thing that bounds the names on this list is that they’re artists who are all seemingly unrestricted by genre specific constraints. Damiano Von Erckert is no different. The German’s broad interest and appreciation of a wide spectrum of genres – funk, house, soul, hip hop and disco to cite a few – resonate throughout his productions with a brand of music that retains the classic elements of house while fusing genres and recreating highly original productions. In 2011 he founded label Ava, which is “not only a label but a collective of Cologne`s House music scene.” He was one of 2013’s big breakthrough artists and 2014 looks set to continue in much the same vein. Catch him playing at Sankeys for the the inaugural Music Is Love launch night.
Jay Daniel is one of the latest emerging talents of Detroit electronic music, a hotly tipped DJ and producer who had his first EP, Scorpio Rising, released on fellow Detroiter Theo Parrishs’ Sound Signature label in September. Daniel’s runs the monthly Detroit night fundamentals at Motor City Wine with close friend Kyle Hall, and is set to have a release on Hall’s Wild Oats label very soon. Having had an impressive 2013 with his Scorpio Rising release and performances at the likes of Warehouse Project, 2014 looks set to blow up for Jay Daniel. With the likes of Theo Parrish and Kyle Hall supporting your music you get the sense that Daniel’s career looks set to flourish.
For anyone to be making the kind of music Kaelin Ellis is at 16 years old is truly inspiring. He’s one of a number of American beat-makers we’ve been listening to a lot through 2013, together with the likes of Ackryte, Elaquent and Kaytranada. Coming courtesy of HW&W Recordings – a label we’ve been strongly supporting for a while – we came across Ellis’ dope Intopureimagination track last year and were blown away. A virtuous electronic beat characterised by off-beat Dilla-eque drums, a heavy bassline, sonic glitches and haunting key melodies reminiscent of Flying Lotus. Expect a couple of EPs out on HW&W as well as La Luz in 2014.
London producer Stray has released material on labels like Blu Mar Ten and Hospital, and we featured his last EP on Exit Records on the site last year. His productions span various different styles, blending genres like jungle, trap and hip hop to give an overall musically versatile aesthetic to his artistry. Matchsticks was one of our tracks of the year in 2013, an excellent demonstration that his musical ambition is certainly not limited to any fixed style. He’s just completed a FABRICLIVE Promo Mix and his Ivy Lab EP is dropping in February on Critical Music, followed by another solo EP on Exit Records around March.
Being musically educated from a young age and having spent time as a session musician for Earth Wind and Fire, Chic, and Prince, Alex Israel’s fascination for the more outlandish, experimental side of music has led him to be enthralled by the techno and house sounds of Detroit and Chicago. His funk and soul upbringing coupled with a fascination of house and techno has resulted in a unique and intriguing breed of electronic music.
Kyodai is the project of two brothers from Berlin. They’ve had a strong flurry of releases on the likes of Freerange Records and Local Talk, and have received heavy support from various reputable people including Gilles Peterson and Jimpster, and Kerri Chandler dug it enough to include on his RA podcast. The duo have gone from strength to strength with their remixes and productions, and are well worth checking out if you like your house music with depth and deepness.
Not much is known about Le Nonsense, besides the fact he’s an 18 year old producer from Peru making pretty special tracks like this. Heavily influenced by French house, citing the likes of Daft Punk, DJ Falcon and Le Knight Club as prominent inspirations, Le Nonsesnse’s intricate craft around a beat far supersedes some of his peers.
Willow holds down a residency at Nottingham night 808 as well as DJing around various parties in the UK. She’s set to have a release on German imprint Workshop with track ‘Feel Me’ and Move D has recently included it in his his upcoming Fabric mix, projecting it as the best new track he’s heard by his favourite new artist for one of his picks on The Guardian: “This should become huge for a debut; Willow appears to have been breastfed with UK bass and garage, naturally absorbing the essentials of these styles. Next generation!” With such support and endorsement from Move D based on her debut release, you can rest assured that Willow is destined for a bright future.
Only recently came across Jungle and haven’t been able to put down their music since. Part of their appeal – other than their hypnotic grooves – is that no one actually knows who Jungle are. The anonymous London duo arrived on the scene in May 2013 to wide spread acclaim with their debut track ‘Platoon’, which saw a release, along with track ‘Drops’, on Chess Club Records, with later tracks ‘The Heat’ and ‘Lucky I Got What I Want’ conjuring up an alluring neo-soul funk sound, with a mesmeric groove and focus on subtly and melody. There is a feeling of anticipation around what the London unknowns, arguably the most exciting band, for want of a better word, to come out of the UK in the past year.
Samuel Prather Groove Orchestra
The latest project from Samuel Prather features a Washington DC based collective of musicians and vocalists trained in jazz. Bound by a shared love and affiliation for groove, soul-inspired music from all corners of the world, the barriers of jazz, funk, latin, brazilian, afrobeat, r&b, soul, hip hop, and modern gospel are all being utilised by this band in a way that amplify’s the traditions of said genres while pertaining to something fresh and contemporary.
The back end of 2013 saw North Londoner Tev’n – formally known as Tev’n Kennedy – return with the track ‘Rose Petal’. After pulling virtually all of his previous productions from the web, the beatsmith emerged with a shortened name and a renewed sense of purpose. Working on a fresh mixtape, his fractured and introverted take on R&B has a uniquely English slant.
Netherlands up-and-comer producer Ganz has ties to both the beat-oriented HW&W label and the more house-centric outposts like Bmkltsch. Raised on a diet of old soul, garage and hip hop his beats are melange of bass and RnB with the with hip hop-inspired rhythms which have so far has been recognised and released on said labels, as well as Saturate! Records and Terrorhythm . Now a part of the HW&W family and intent on taking his eclectic sounds across the globe, GANZ is an artist very much on the rise.
Shanti Celeste brought out her first release on BRSTL – the vinyl only house and techno imprint that has a prominent focus on releasing material solely produced by those stemming from, fittingly enough, Bristol. Dishing up some serious underground dance floor flair for her debut release, Celeste showcased an ability to mix things up with an up-lifting house groove on Need Your Lovin‘ while demonstrating her versatility with the rougher, techno infused roller Result. The EP was a solid introduction into Celest’s beat-making abilities and looks set for big things in the future.
HNNY is a Stockholm native and debuted with an unlikely, hypnotic Mariah Carey edit released on Studio Barnhus in 2011. The year after that he broke through in the underground house scene with the huge EP Tears, released on Local Talk. 2013 saw the release of another sure shot house anthem, “Yearning” (again on Local Talk), and a simple yet brilliant edit of Brandy & Monica is currently doing the rounds as a limited white label.