New year, new tips!
Like the Big Bang or a shellshocked lamb, here we are in 2018, exploding from nothing into something and likely arriving off the back of a New Year's Day comedown. It's going to be a minute before anyone can even think about producing some kind of coherent work but that's OK because over the holidays we had BBC DJ Jamz Supernova choose some of her favourite picks for 2018. And then once she chose them, she asked them questions. Read the results of that below.
Anik Khan isn’t afraid to speak his mind, let you know what he’s been through and where he’s going. I love the way he has managed to fuse cultural and political themes into feel-good music looking at the current climate of America and being an immigrant – all coupled with incredible production and song structure. “Renegade” was the first record that caught my attention and in my eyes, he’s been on fire ever since, touring with Jidenna last year. His mini album Kites is flawless from track to track.
Jamz: How do you toe the line in your music between conscious and turn-up?
Anik: I don't really think about it. I do what comes natural. Some days something really fucked up happens and I write what I feel. Some days I just wanna get smacked and write music that makes my friends dance while riding through the city together.
You’ve been such an advocate for issues around immigration and the experience of brown and black people; do you ever worry it might pigeonhole you?
Thank you! But, I honestly don't think about being pigeonholed or feel like I am. I'm just speaking my truth and at the end of the day, these topics are really important to me. They're everyday discussions for me and my crew because it’s a reality for a lot of us. But this is just one facet of me and what I do. I'm still a young a 20-year-old Queens, New Yorker going through the growing pains of life and that makes up other parts of me too.
If you could describe what your 2018 will be like in 3 words what would they be?
With the shits.
I've been familiar with Rachel's work for some time now, I've actually forgotten where I first came across her. For me it's Rachel's tone that really draws you in: it's one of those unique voices that catches you off guard. We rarely get to hear and enjoy a female vocal in a lower register and hers is packed with soul attitude and sensuality. She put out two EPs in 2016, played a London headline show last year and has now been in the studio for about seven months cooking up new stuff. "It went past so quick!" as she puts it.
Jamz: You have such a rich deep tone. How important is to you for your vocals to sound unique?
Rachel Foxx: Thank you! I'm influenced by amazing women like Toni Braxton and Sade, also artists like Jon B and Donell Jones – I love deep tones so much. My voice sounding unique is by accident I guess; it’s just a mix of all my inspirations.
What song do you wish you wrote and why?
I wish I wrote “On and On” by Erykah Badu. It’s just a song that is so iconic, and gives everyone that same happy, chilled feeling. I’d love to make people feel like that.
In the early days of your career you built your name on Soundcloud. How have you seen the music industry change and what does that mean for new artists?
I’ve seen streaming grow so much in the last couple of years. When I used to put my stuff on Soundcloud I didn't know what streaming was and now it’s basically leading. It helps new artists a lot because it opens you up to new listeners that may not usually come across your stuff.
Who’s your tip for 2018?
I love Jamal Woon, he’s an R&B singer from south London and I’ve been watching him a while now.
Oscar Jerome is a true musician. I was put on to him by my radio producer early in 2017 and caught up with him at a packed out show at the Great Escape festival. His music matches his personality: laid back yet thoughtful. Having built his name as part of the super exciting jazz-influenced renaissance coming out of southeast London, Oscar is one of those artists you have to see live. I love that his latest single is 6 minutes and 42 seconds long.
Jamz: Tell me a little bit more about the southeast London scene you're a part of?
Oscar Jerome: This scene has grown out of a melting pot of young people coming together and creating, collaborating and supporting each other. I was studying jazz, playing around the area. I started playing in a hip-hop band called Sumochief and through that was meeting a lot more rappers and producers. Around that time this night Steez started popping off – a space for us to meet musicians and a platform for people to play in front of big audiences of like-minded people. You had loads of young people listening to poetry and improvised music and really appreciating it.
I love the fact that not only can you sing you can play the bass guitar. Which came first?
I’ve always sung ever since I was tiny but my entry into music was through the guitar. I studied classical when I was a kid, and not long after that I was pissing off the neighbours playing rock music in my parent’s garage. At that point I started being a lead singer too but guitar has always been at the centre of my music.
Who do you want to see blow up next year?
There’s an amazing rapper and poet called Brother Portrait who is one of my favourite lyricists. He definitely needs to be heard by more people. Wu-Lu is an amazing producer/singer/bassist who is sitting on a lot of incredible material and also helped produce some of my new EP. Poppy Ajudha is set to take over the world which I look forward to witnessing.
Jaz Karis holds a special space in my heart. I was lucky enough to be introduced to her just before the release of her EP Into The Wilderness. There was something so pure and innocent in her voice, something so poetic about her writing. Her song structure showed that she understands music on a deeper level. It can be really hard to make “traditional R&B” sound current but her attention to detail and love of live instrumentation takes her music to a whole other level.
Jamz Supernova: What were you doing a year ago?
Jaz Karis: Twelve months ago I was gigging anywhere and everywhere I could, was at home a lot writing on my piano and had started working on Into The Wilderness.
You’re a BRIT School alum – how did your time there shape you as an artist?
BRIT really allowed me to open up my musical library and learn to appreciate different genres I hadn’t grown up listening to. It also allowed me to grow more confident as a performer. But honestly I think the best part of BRIT was meeting other musicians that I still make music with today.
“Sugar Don’t Be Sweet” is based on The Alchemist, how much does literature influence your writing?
The Alchemist created such a colourful vision in my head that I just had to try and put it on paper. Most of the time when I'm writing new music I tend to draw inspiration from anything I’m inspired by at the time, whether that be a book, movie or a real life situation.
You’re surrounded by so many amazing artists as friends. Who would like to see smash it next year?
I definitely have a lot of talented musical friends such as Otta, Alex Blake, Eyes and many more; I really think next year will be a great year for all of us. I am also a huge fan of IAMDDB and Joy Crookes.
If you saw Kwaye across the room at a bar you wouldn't forget him. Could be his hair or the way he dresses but he will be imprinted in your mind. Signed to Mind of A Genius (home to Gallant, They. & Zhu) I was shown a video for “Cool Kids” in a little cafe a year before it came out and was like “can i play this?” ”No." "WTF why get me excited??” The 12-month wait was worth it though, as it sounded so good on the radio when I finally hit play. At 22, it would be easier to re-imagine the late 90s/early 2000s sound, but Kwaye’s 80s influence is a real ear pricker.
Jamz Supernova: Mind Of A Genius is a great label. How did that link up happen?
Kwaye: Back in 2014 while I was studying abroad at UCLA, I was in an Uber near downtown LA and played the very first demo of “Cool Kids” to the driver. I found out later that he was a former music executive. He asked where he could find the song and my information, and a few days later he got back in touch. He then showed "Cool Kids" to a friend of his who was the head of a new indie label Mind of a Genius.
With an onslaught of regular releases, 2017 felt like your year. How long was that music in preparation?
The Solar EP found its beginnings in LA back in 2014/15. The tracks on that first EP were three of many songs I created with producer Leong the Professional over that year. When I returned to LA in the spring of 2017 I met slenderbodies for the first time, and two of the tracks we made in that time were “Lost In My Boots” and “Jasmine”.
Talk to me about those 80s influences in your earlier releases.
Some of my favourite artists soared in the 80s. There’s something in the music of that time which feels electric and new. There was also something about living in Los Angeles for the first time, which inspired a sense of euphoria that naturally emerged as what you hear in my first EP. It was about capturing the magic of bygone eras in contemporary lived experiences.
I feel like your last two releases feel like a slight departure from that. Where are we heading next?
I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m departing from one particular sound to another, but rather I’m wanting to introduce listeners to the various styles that make up my sound. Although it may take slightly longer I feel like I’m challenging people to take that journey with me. You can expect future releases to open up styles not yet explored in these first five songs.
Who do you want to see win next year?
Jadu Hart, Sabrina Claudio and Daniel Caesar.
It's not easy to straddle multiple worlds but Mina Rose does it effortlessly, with one foot in soundsystem dub culture the other in hip-hop and soul. In the long run the dub influence will be what really sets her apart. As soon as I heard her debut record “Lemons And Limes”, released last autumn, I wanted to play it on my show & share it with David Rodigan and Toddla T. Even the attention to detail from her is dope, with the artwork for the singles being inspired by old skool 45 vinyl records. Definitely the new kid on the block but straight out the gate with a clear message of who she is and what she stands for!
Jamz Supernova: Where did your love of dub music come from?
Mina Rose: My first festival was Glastonbury 1995 when I was only two months old – not that I have any recollection – and from then on, my summers were full of live music and soundsystems. My mum raised me on all the local artists and systems like London Pose, Jah Shaka and Saxon. She also introduced me to films and documentaries that capture the culture like Babylon and Young Soul Rebels. My love for dub was topped when I discovered a sound system from Luton called Leviticus Collective at a festival I've been going to since I was young. There's something really special about people coming together to feel the vibrations of the music.
Tell us about your EP, Issues 25.
Issue 25 is almost a diary of the issues I was experiencing or thinking about last year, combined with my influences at the time, both people and sounds. It feels like the 25th issue in a volume and captures a specific part of my life.
As an artist what are the kind of goals on your bucket list?
The list goes on forever but here's a few: record in Jamaica; start a soundsystem called Rose Dub; make a documentary on Roma ancestry; Have Mad Professor remix one of my tracks; make a music video with Hype Williams.
Who do you predict will have a big year next year?
Hak Baker's got it in the bag. I love a bit of Cockney rhyming slang!
What a pair! Made up of producer Prinz George and singer Rosita Bonita, I came across them in the tale end of 2016, not long after the release of their EP Brazil, and of course loved the 90s/00s references. The production makes it sound less like the duo are trying to mimic the 90s and more like they're lifting the whole Aaliyah, Missy and Timbo thing to new heights while merging more of a UK sound into it. 2017 was a good year for them, with a steady flow of releases and shows – they have everything in place for 2018 to be massive.
Jamz Supernova: The 90s sound has been re hashed so many times. How have you guys approached this differently?
Rosita Bonita: Because we haven’t approached our creations with that in mind at all. It's everyone else that is tarnishing us with that brush because it’s fashionable at the moment and people just copy specifically aesthetically.
If you could collaborate with one person from that era alive or dead who it be?
What were some of your highlights of 2017?
Having the opportunity to have my best friends dance on stage with us at our first S4U & FRIENDS party, and at Boiler Room. It felt such an accomplishment after so many rehearsals and working with Diana Vizcaya on some of the routines. We are getting stronger and nothing has beat actually getting so many phenomenally talented artists collaborating with us on our next project.
We haven’t had a body of work from you guys in a while – is this something we can expect?
Yes we have written a number of singles, and a short film and a mixtape, all coming next year. That’s not really half of the work we have been doing. We have been very busy shooting for magazines and directing/filming/casting/styling our next video “REFRAIN” with JD Reid coming in January amid many many more curations.
Who should blow up next in 2018?
The greatest most deserving hard working and dedicated innovative artist that deserves to blow is Norvis JR and from the UK, Jeshi, Daries, Klein and Larry B. They are a cut above the rest with exciting ways of storytelling. Their artistry is also unpretentious and has a humour to all of their journeys which I find so refreshing in this snaky waters of confused copy cats with no substance.
A blog post led me to the soothing sounds of Mac Ayres' Bandcamp, making me an instant fan one purchase later. Straight out of New York, an easy comparison for Mac would be picking up where Jon B left off. His debut EP Drive Slow is perfection and he’s part of the new wave of artists being able to fund their art from healthy streams. In 2018 we’ll see him smash it on the live front and hopefully drop another body of work that blows us all away. Daniel Caesar watch out!!!
Jamz Supernova: Tell us a bit about the creation of Drive Slow?
Mac Ayres: When I started creating Drive Slow, I wasn’t really looking to make a full-length project. I was at school in Boston, and I was just posting tunes that I was writing on Soundcloud to show my mum I wasn’t just skipping class and wasting my life. Eventually, the initial idea for Drive Slow came about and I just went with it.
Where you surprised by the reaction?
I still am, every day. But it’s a happy surprised.
What’s the environment like at the moment for a new artist to prosper in New York?
The shows are always a great time, especially in New York. It always feels good to play for your hometown. People love to come out and show their support and I’m super appreciative of that.
Who would you like to see in your position in 12 months?
Chris Anderson and Zach Berro, who happen to play in my live band, have their own incredible solo projects; my man, Psalm, a phenomenal R&B vocalist, as well – I’d love to see those guys get some more recognition.
Kadiata is an alternative rapper from south London, a council estate visionary who makes what he describes as art trap. Again, he's one of those artists who has been bubbling for some time. I was drawn to his dreamy productions and clever wordplay – you can really hear him define a lane of his own. From a UK perspective we’ve seen so many styles of MC’ing reach incredible heights from grime, drill to afro swing. It’d be really cool for someone like Kadiata to lead and fly the flag for a new wave of alternative rappers from the UK.
Jamz Supernova: So, how would you describe art trap?
Kadiata: Art trap is a blend of proper ratchet, ignorant trap music, classy sonic structure and a deep substance-driven subject matter.
How far do you think the sound can go in the UK?
The majority of people that hear it seem to have it on repeat and appreciate, so I think I'm already a few steps ahead of the common 2017 "hear it once, love it, then throw it away" music that surrounds us.
You also produce. Who have you been working with?
I've currently been working with Sam Wise from House of Pharoahs. He just dropped a new single I produced called “Rack Up”. I've also been working with Miles from Kinshasa – it's always sick to co-produce on his music because his sound is so unique. I've also been working with JGrrey creating some things that have never been done before. Look out for it.
Your latest single “Art Hoes” ups the levels you've already reached. Sonically where are we going in 2018?
Thank you. At this point I'm just trying to create things people can connect with but also being different enough to be proud of the artistic challenges/boundaries I can take the music to without it sounding too weird.
I think Sam Wise 2K18 you know! He's honestly one of the best rappers in the UK and in 2019 I'm gonna remind you I said this. But to be honest all the artists I mentioned that I've been producing for can go clear at any moment, they're honestly making some really epic music.
One of my fave past times is spending hours looking at blogs, listening to every post, reading every article. I came across Utrecht during one of those sessions. This sounds super silly, but I’ll be reading the post, see they are from London and think, 'I’m from London how come I haven’t met them before??' as my intrigue grows. Clearly this thought process is flawed as London is HUGE! But nevertheless I wanted to find out more about Utrecht AKA James Macintosh and his EP Next Time was a great place to begin. His sound fuses club focused instrumentals with catchy hooks. It’s like if Underworld and Disclosure had a love child.
Jamz Supernova: How would you describe your sound?
Utrecht: I grew up playing in guitar bands, but through my parents ended up listening to a lot of 80s soul and disco records. It was only really at 16 that I became enamoured with electronic music – French house, electroclash, that second wave of dance-punk – and started DJing. I think you can hear little bits of all those genres in Utrecht.
How much does club culture play a part in your sound?
My formative clubbing years were spent playing out in a post-Trash London: sweaty and inclusive club nights focusing on electro, blog house, and bootleg remixes of indie bands. There was a real playfulness and variety there that I think has shaped the way I write music, and which you won't often find on a night out now. A lot of clubs today are quite po-faced and one-paced with their music policy, which I think is the most boring thing in the world.
If you could have any producer remix one of your records who would you go for & why?
If I could choose anyone from past or present, I'd probably go for Larry Levan – the king of the extended mix with an amazing attention to detail. Would have loved for him to have a go at making a ten-minute, funked up version of one of my tracks.
Who should we be looking out for in 2018?
Miink is a fantastic new artist from near me in west London, with a real ear for wistful melodies and unusual, skittish beats. I think he's going to have a genuinely great 2018.
You can find Jamz on Twitter.