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Gaika turned heads in 2016 with bleak, inner-city tales and bags of menace

The Londoner's austere take on club music led to an EP on Warp Records

  • Dave Turner
  • 15 December 2016

Selling out four London headline shows in five months (in increasingly bigger and more esteemed venues) is no mean feat. But it’s something Gaika Tavares has ticked off the to-do list this year. One of those was at The Waiting Room in North London back in June 2016, a dark, sweaty rave pen where the Brixton-based artist whipped through the Mixpak-released ‘Security’ mixtape. Ostentatious but gritty, his performance was a manic, strobe-flickering ride through his array of pensive inner-city tales.

A key gig for sure, but it was his show at the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Masāfāt festival that proved that people were getting thirstier for his mix of shrilling synths, menacing vocals and bleak, gothic atmospherics, a sound he calls ‘ghetto-futurism’.

“It was at the ICA show I realised the success,” the former member of Manchester grime collective Murkage tells us at East London’s Ace Hotel. “The other shows you can put down to us promoting it. It was really close to the Roundhouse gig I played, too, so I was like, ‘Is anyone gonna be there?’ But it was packed.”

The Londoner claims that his music isn’t political, but listening to ‘Security’ it’s hard not to feel that his darkly foreboding output mirrors the general vibe of a year in which the whole world seems to have fallen into flux. As a result, he’s attracted attention from those pushing for change.

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