Beats 1’s Julie Adenuga and Matt Wilko Share Their Ones to Watch in 2019

From Clairo to Alicai Harley and Slowthai, the two London-based tastemakers share their thoughts on the artists to look out for this year.

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Jan 7 2019, 3:34pm

Julie Adenuga and Matt Wilkinson, of Beats 1 (Photos via PR)

You've made it through the first week. Soon, by the time term starts up again you'll return to knowing what day of the week it is, after that blurry eight-day period between Christmas Eve and New Years where your main concerns were finding the next piece of cheese and/or pastry to angle into your month. If you've been back at work since January 2, salute. For all of us, 2019 has fully arrived, the memes are already popping off and so on—but what about the music you should care about?

We've already run a couple of pieces on all the music you might've missed over the holiday period, the staying power UK afrobeats/afroswing deserves, and how collaboration took on new textures last year. Now, we've enlisted the help of Beats 1's Julie Adenuga and Matt Wilkinson to talk us through the acts they're expecting great things from in 2019. Both DJs steer the Beats ship during the week, from the global station's London studios, using their time to highlight incredible music coming out from the UK and beyond. Keep scrolling to listen to and find out more about the artists they rate, and are looking forward to hearing even more from this year.

MATT’S PICKS

BAD GIRL($)

Who are they? Brand-new Manchester act who make me wanna leave London and move north.

What do they sound like? Old-school UK indie (Jamie T) meets the production values of Frank Dukes. Nobody else is doing it like them in the UK right now.

Where should I start? Expect something to drop in early 2019… Until then follow them at @badgirls_tv.

JPEGMAFIA

Who is he? My favorite new music interviewee of 2018. The best thing I saw at SXSW last year too.

What does he sound like? Intense, angry, political, difficult and compelling. He’s an ex-military rapper who sounds like America looks right now. Him and Slowthai need to work together.

Where should I start? Veteran, the album.

OTHA

Who is she? Otha. She makes reverb-drenched dancefloor hypnotism from Norway.

What does she sound like? She reminds me a bit of Kedr Livanskiy, who came out of Russia’s John’s Collective scene. Her music’s got that cold, desolate European feel about it.

Where should I start? “One Of The Girls” is epic.

MORMOR

Who is he? The best new singer in Canada. Scott Vener, who presents Othertone on Beats 1 with Pharrell, put me onto him about a year ago. We got sent some tracks which then weren’t released properly for months, which was agonizing because they were all so great.

What does he sound like? The Weeknd in the studio at Paisley Park with Badbadnotgood backing him up.

Where should I start? His EP title track “Heaven’s Only Wishful” floored me when I first heard it.

BLACK MIDI

Who are they? Black Midi. Or as they’re also known, London’s worst-kept secret. In terms of live bands there isn’t a tighter act in the country.

What do they sound like? Is it more prog or punk? I dunno. Bits of their set make me think of Devo and Talking Heads. And the drummer is ridiculously good.

Where should I start? Go to a gig!!!

SLOWTHAI

Who is he? Just a breath of fresh air. He can sum up how you’re feeling better than you can!! It’s rare to hear a musician with such clarity and charisma.

What does he sound like? He sounds like he doesn’t give a fuck. Seeing him and Octavian play back-to-back at Noisey’s Great Escape party last year was amazing—they’re both rock stars in a world where rock stars don’t exist.

Where should I start? It’s all great, so play his latest single “Doorman” first and work your way back.

CLAIRO

Who is she? She’s a star—totally gifted when it comes to song construction and harmonies, but with this real down-to-earth thing going on too.

What does she sound like? It’s bubblegum pop for the post-Brockhampton, post-Billie Eilish generation.

Where should I start? “Pretty Girl,” “4Ever” and “Flaming Hot Cheetos” are what kicked it all off.

AMYL & THE SNIFFERS

Who are they? I saw them live at Bigsound festival in 2017, which is Australia’s version of SXSW. I mainly went because the name made me laugh out loud. Anyway, it was amazing±I remember Amy, the singer, had a cold and was spitting over everyone in the front row. Good times!!!

What do they sound like? AC/DC with dirtier fingernails.

Where should I start? “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled).”

YVES TUMOR

Who is he? Part of Dev Hynes’ crew, but on a far funkier journey than anyone else in that world.

What does he sound like? His London gig last November was riotous: a mix of nudity, raw energy and classic funk. It’s what I imagine OutKast might have been like early on. Funkadelic and Jane’s Addiction vibes too.

Where should I start? “Noid,” then definitely see him live.

YAEJI

Who is she? I love the fact she's become pretty huge already despite shunning the limelight and fuss around her.

What does sound like? You can hear some real pop sensibilities in what she does, and it's still weird to hear a dance artist make music which is so overtly emotional. Yaeji makes rave tunes sound intimate.

Where should I start? “One More.”

Matt Wilkinson presents on Apple Music's Beats 1 on Monday to Friday from 11AM to 1PM UK time (apple.co/B1_MattLive) and on-demand at apple.co/B1_Matt.

JULIE’S PICKS

MELVILLOUS

Who is he? Jamal Edwards introduced me to Melvillous a few years ago as a new artist that he felt was making great music. Since then I’ve been listening to his music and inviting him down to Red Bull boat parties to spit on sets with my favourite DJs. He released one of my favorite EPs this year called No Choice and I was completely blown away by how strong the project sounded from someone who was relatively new to the game. He’s clearly a student of the grime scene and is doing a great job of representing it in his own way, with subject matters that are real to him.

Where should I start? “Rocket Man.”

JAYKAE

Who is he? Jaykae is a Birmingham representative and has been about, murking for a while. I’m a big fan of aggressive and emotive lyricism. Stuff that lets you know the person you’re listening to has a story to tell and isn’t going to hold back on telling it. Jaykae is that guy.

Where should I start? “Moscow.”

MAHALIA

Who is she? Mahalia is a singer and songwriter, originally from Leicester. She’s been putting in work for a while and over the last two years has finally been able to shine in and amongst the UK R&B scene the way she always should have. Watching her support Jorja Smith on tour at Shepherd’s Bush was great! She’s comfortable on stage and knows how to win the crowd over. So humble, honest, and open. Not to mention the amount of bangers she’s worked on this year.

Where should I start? “I Wish I Missed My Ex.”

HAMZAA

Who is she? A 19-year-old singer, songwriter and producer from east London. I’m super excited about hearing the story of a young black woman from London by someone so bold and with such a beautiful voice.

Where should I start? “Breathing.”

OBONGJAYAR

Who is he? A 25-year-old artist from London who was born in Nigeria. He features on the Mercury-nominated Everything is Recorded album and supported King Krule on his last tour. There's something about listening to Obongjayar that makes you feel spiritual and more in tune with yourself. His music has the power to make you think deeply and almost feels meditative. And then, to top it off his voice and style of singing takes you right back to his origins and heritage.

Where should I start? “Endless.”

DAYO BELLO

Who is he? A 20-year-old singer, songwriter and pianist from London with a beautiful, beautiful voice. It’s soft and silky. It’s incredible.

Where should I start? “Mine.”

ALICAI HARLEY

Who is she? She’s a Jamaican dancehall artist who keeps releasing my favorite songs. No matter how big Alicai's audience is, she never performs on less than 100! Her vibe is sick—a must-see for live shows.

Where should I start? “Naah Done.”

Julie Adenuga presents on Apple Music’s Beats 1 on Monday to Friday from 2PM to 4PM (apple.co/B1_JulieLive) and on-demand at apple.co/B1_Julie.

This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.

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