You've seen our DJs and Breakthrough DJs of 2018 play near-perfect sets all around the world, you've seen our stars of the year shine brighter than the rest over the last 12 months and you know what songs dominated the year just gone. But what about 2019, what about the next 12 months, who should you be listening to and keeping an eye on? Look no further as we're serving up 25 artists you need to watch in 2019.
Every January, we take great pride helping you navigate the electronic music landscape you're about to explore and this year is perhaps our most diverse selection yet. Every corner of dance music has been represented and hand-picked just for you. If you're familiar with the following trend-setters then props to you, if you haven't then believe us when we say you're in for a treat.
Get ahead of the curve and get to know the following, they'll be soundtrack your year after all.
Ariel Zetina embodies a rare quality of sounding familiar and fresh at the same time. She resides in the birthplace of house music Chicago and crafts sets and productions informed by the Midwest’s rich musical heritage. But she disrupts the conventions of Detroit techno and Chi-Town sounds, infusing a taste for palpitating club styles into aural excursions through the Caribbean, States and beyond. Zetina has a background in performance art as a member of WITCH HAZEL, and a willingness to challenge audiences defines her output. At the helm of a party Zetina seizes dancefloors in a grip of rhythmically daring beats, winning admirers across her region, including a lauded Smartbar residency and representation on Discwoman’s roster. A recent run of debut European gigs in London, Berlin and Slovenia indicates further climes are catching on to this exceptional talent. Patrick Hinton
If you’re racking up support slots for the likes of Juan Atkins, Jon Hopkins and Yaeji, the odds are that you’re doing a pretty decent job as a DJ. That’s exactly what Beta Librae’s been doing, in November last year for Juan, then Hopkins and Yaeji in May and October 2018 respectively. Most of her gigs in 2018 fell in the place she calls home, New York, namely at Nowadays (where she’s a resident), Elsewhere, Bossa Nova Civic Club and the upstate techno get-together Sustain-Release.
It’s hard to imagine European promoters won’t be hitting her up this year, such was the quality of her output in 2018. Let’s start with her album ‘Sanguine Bond’ on Anthony Naples’ Incienso: a nine-track collection of space-age ambient (‘Shy’), driving tech (‘Cosmic Machines’), dubbed out techno bliss (‘Urras’) and a break-bursting workout (‘New Feelings’) with pads straight from the school of drum ‘n’ bass hero Calibre.
She goes dark, too. ‘Subspecies’ on Allergy Season was the follow-up release to ‘Sanguine Bond’, ranging from bass-heavy downtempo to rowdy techno and vexed drum ‘n’ bass. If hitting the gym is your New Year’s resolution, this is your workout music. Just make sure catching a Beta Librae set is a resolution as well. Dave Turner
Bod’s intelligent, hyper-layered and contextually rich arrangements make their collection of 2018 musical offerings some of the most exciting we’ve seen this year. Simultaneously fulfilling and mediating between the role of fine artist and musician, Bod’s talents shine beautifully in 'Limpid Fear [清澈恐惧]' (via. Planet Mu sub-label Knives) and 'The Recurrence Of Infections [复发感染]' (released through Aïsha Devi’s ambitious label, Danse Noire). The unique position that drives their musical and artistic practices in a mergence of singing, songwriting, spoken word and ethereal productions demonstrate a creative purity and integrity that are nothing short of sublime. At times dark, rugged and violent and at others resilient, therapeutic and caring, the ambiguity in Bod’s metaphysical soundscapes provide an almost completely unparalleled level of contemporary artistry. Bod has had an extremely promising year and proposed projects for 2019 look just as captivating. Lawrence Abbott
It’s safe to say Ghanaian vocalist Bryte made serious moves in 2018. With a sound as rooted in his native Accra as it is sweaty basement clubs in East London, Bryte’s frenetic, club-ready blend of smooth lyrics and killer beats moves through afrobeats, UK funky, rap and progressive club with ease as he (and his trusty team of collaborators) offer up floor-filler after floor-filler. Earlier this year he released his infectious debut album ‘Too Good For Your Liking’ on rising underground imprint More Time Records amidst a sprawling slew of tour dates with close collaborator and star in her own right Mina. We recommend catching the pair at Berlin’s CTM Festival in January for what’s sure to be a standout show. Jasmine Kent-Smith
With Carista's fun, diverse and infectious style of DJing already well known to heads in Amsterdam and those that have followed her Red Light Show since 2015, 2018 was the year she blew the doors open and invited everyone to the party during a triumphant Dekmantel set. Dropping tunes like Keytronics Ensemble's 'Calypso House', Kerri Chandler's 'Hallelujah' and a very enthusiastic rewind of Antonio's 'Hyper Funk', the set showcased what the Utrecht-born artist has been doing for years - fun as fuck sets with plenty of personality. Secretsundaze recognised her talents this year, getting her along for a debut London show at their Oval Space party. She's also been booked by the Eglo and Rhythm Section crews, nights reflecting the variety of styles Carista plays. From house to hip-hop, disco to jazz, there's always an emphasis on what people can connect to (although folk might be off the table as she told us in December). In 2019, you can expect Carista to elevate herself from opening DJ to main feature as she remains a fixture at Amsterdam's finest clubs while also booking in dates in Spain, Portugal, France and the UK. Louis Anderson-Rich
Bristol-based polymath Danielle Doobay credits her father for setting her on a musical path. He’s a career musician who’s worked with the likes of Grace Jones and owner of a mighty record collection filled with house classics. She grew up practicing mixing with this bank of gold, and expanded her musical horizons further after landing a weekend job at London’s Phonica aged 18, developing a diverse taste encapsulating off-kilter rhythms and bass-rooted resonance. Danielle threads these sounds together in assured sets as a resident of NTS Radio and the Brstl club night, earning an increasingly busy and far-flung booking schedule with slots at fabric and Albania’s Kala Festival already locked in for this year. She also devotes time in helping to run the Mix Nights DJ workshops for women, reflecting her education back outwards to cultivate new talent and combat hegemony in the underground. And there’s more, she’s an in-demand illustrator working with Timedance, Room For Resistance and Livity Sound. Danielle’s imprint can be felt spreading across the underground, and she’s just getting started. Patrick Hinton
The first time we heard Deena Abdelwahed’s debut album ‘Khonnar’ (pronounced ‘ronnar’) we wheeled the whole thing up and listened to it over, and over, and over again. Releasing in November via InFiné, ‘Khonnar’ exudes the kind of abrasive spirit needed in a year like this, and showcased Deena’s ability to merge bass, techno and other experimental sounds lifted from her native Tunisia into an enigmatic concoction of concepts and styles. Dark, daunting and undeniably unique, the album (alongside previous offerings) earned Deena a legion of loyal new fans, with many clamouring to see her perform around the world as she hit up party after party in 2018. From the shores of Sicily at Ortigia Sound System through to appearances at Freerotation, Room 4 Resistance and Paris’ Concrete club (where she was recently made a resident), Deena’s been a must-see on the circuit, and with sets already confirmed at Sónar, Elevate Festival and Hope Works in 2019, it seems her star is only getting brighter. Jasmine Kent-Smith
The NY-born ATL-transplant is a tour-de-force on the Southern ballroom scene. Divoli S’vere is known for their masterfully chaotic production. In their 10-track LP, ‘DVSV’, S’vere serves a heady selection of relentlessly percussive tracks each overlaid with a dextrous flow teaming with self-empowering, sex-positive messages celebrating femme energy.
Most recently, their signature production has attracted the likes of Kelela who has featured S’vere on her ‘Take Me A_Part, The Remixes, reworking her sultry ballad ‘Truth or Dare’ into a functional ballroom anthem. As prolific as they are political, there is sure to be no shortage of heat coming from the exciting producer. Chowa Nkonde
While W11 has proven it has no shortage of talent with the likes of AJ Tracey and Big Zuu showcasing the potency of its grime scene, it’s Don Sinini who has been making some exciting moves for Ladbroke Grove in terms of future dancehall/r’n’b. This April, he released his debut EP, ‘Grove Centraal’ on Tobago Tracks, having previously released on Mixpak and Staycore and has most recently collaborated with Mina on ‘Solo’. His smooth drawl lends itself to hooks that fit a range of beats, whilst retaining elements of dancehall. He has established himself on the scene as a formidable artist to watch in 2019. Chowa Nkonde
Singer, songwriter, DJ and producer Elkka is about to set the world alight with her sun-kissed, dream-like sound. When not running femme culture alongside creative and fellow label boss and DJ Ludo, she's busy performing all around the UK and is self releasing her latest EP, 'Full Moon'. This has gained major support from the likes of BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, and 6 Music, with key tastemakers like Annie Mac, Pete Tong and Danny Howard spinning her tunes.
When she's not taking over the world she can also be heard on Reprezent Radio, inviting amazing guests such as Jossy Mitsu and CID RIM to join her. 2018 really saw Elkka come into her own and define her sound, moving forward as her own entity away from femme culture. She is an artist in her own right whose upcoming shows will leave you captivated and elevated. If you are in to Bonobo, Poté and Throwing Shade then you will love Elkka. Sherelle Thomas
With a name like Ex-Terrestrial you’d expect the music to sound like it was made for faraway from earth. The output so far from Adam Feingold’s alias definitely does that. If rave and sci-fi were to meet on the big screen, I’d love to listen to what Ex-Terrestrial had to offer on the soundtrack. This year’s acid-inflected ‘Urth Man’ on Pacific Rhythm is certified cosmic rave, injecting your ears with those euphoric moments you crave whenever you step foot on a dancefloor. See also: ‘Portal Vision’ on NAFF and 2017’s ‘Dance Of The Nymph’.
With banging tunes come DJ bookings, and this year he didn’t just have shows in his home country of Canada locked in. European shows stacked up, including one at boat-turned club Concrete in Paris and in London with Magicwire, with whom he released the ‘Euphorbia’ 12” in November. Make space in your ‘cosmic rave’ music folder. We promise it’ll be filled with gold. Dave Turner
2018 was another trying, turbulent time for reasons we won’t delve into here, but there were cornerstones of reliable order through it all. One recurring theme we were able to hang our hat was 2018 being the year of looking up a track that blew us away in a mix and discovering it’s by Flora FM, aka Seattle-based artist Taylor Hawkins. DJs across the planet have been drawing for his music, from Move D throwing down on New York’s The Lot Radio in the West to Cleymoore’s closer at Dommune Tokyo in the East via Ross From Friends stepping up in our very own Lab LDN (and lots more besides).
Each time one of Flora FM’s bubbling, atmospheric techno productions crops up it signals a standout moment in any set. Hawkins, who previously made music under the name Community Corporation, founded his Flora FM project after moving from Detroit to the Pacific Northwest. He blends influence from his industrial roots and the more organic environs of his new home into enchanting dancefloor gems, underpinning lush textures with frisky foundations. Two first-rate records arrived in 2018 on Argot and Vanity Press, while a third EP (‘Mycelination’) coming on TerraFirm in early 2019 hints there’s plenty more to come from this compelling artist on the up. Patrick Hinton
What do I know about Intentionally Cold? From Lambeth. Aesthetic that nods to graffiti culture, suburban streets in the depths of night. Affiliations with heads who like to dance on sticky floors in dive basements. And that’s about it, which I’m into. I don’t really want to be told too much – let the music rise from the shadows on its own. Like Ruff Sqwad for the Trance Party generation (shout out Tobago Tracks), heavy as hell with these melodies that are either triumphant or mournful (or both). Start here and wait eagerly for the next one, let’s see where this goes. Seb Wheeler
2018 was a huge year for producer, visual artist & DJ, L U C Y. With over 30+ dates this year in the UK and across the world, we can safely confirm that she's smashed it. Since winning Red Bull’s Riddim Rally, she has released two EPs, one with Trapdoor and the other, a self-released record called 'Primary'.
It explores everything from the ambient to hard-hitting grime cuts and her track ‘NIGHTS’ perfectly displays her versatility as an artist. She supported Chase and Status on their RTN II JUNGLE tour around the UK and has played alongside Dilinja Royal T, and Champion, not to mention also featuring alongside Kode9 for the sold out London date of FAUZIA and Friends. If L U C Y’s 2018 is anything to go by, 2019 is going to be a fucking amazing year for her. Sherelle Thomas
If you’ve not knowingly come across Locked Club yet you may still have experienced the ground tremors that can be felt miles away whenever one of their records is slamming out of a system. Debuting in 2017 and clocking up another two releases this year on PRIVATE PERSONS and TRAM Planet, the Russian duo are making some of the most raucous electro in the world right now. Their music can regularly be found popping up in the sets of DJs who specialise in spikey, incendiary sounds such as Elena Colombi and Helena Hauff, who included ‘Baikal Boogie’ in her momentous Cover Mix. Recent EP ‘Svoboda’ (translates as ‘Freedom’) channelled frustration surrounding political crackdowns on club culture in Russia and beyond into pulsating dancefloor ammunition. And with governmental behaviour across the globe getting sketchier by the day, they should at least find inspiration to continue thrilling us over the next 12 months and beyond. Patrick Hinton
When Hyperdub taps a new artist, let's just say we take notice. Like, pen and paper at the ready kind of notice. And this year, Kode9’s imprint released a brand spanking new debut EP from young Angolan producer Nazar. Titled ‘Enclave’, the EP offered up a rough, tough, confrontational take on localised kuduro that conjured up real-world visions of war and conflict over aggressive club beats that we (alongside many, many others) fell hard for. In fact, eager-eared listeners may have caught EP cut ‘Konvoy’ on Kode9 & Burial’s head-spinning ‘FABRICLIVE 100’ release. As one of the imprint’s newest crew members Nazar’s made appearances at multiple label outings, hitting up Hyperdub’s coveted Corsica Studios club night Ø as well as the label’s Concrete Lates takeover. Further afield, he played his debut set at cult experimental festival Unsound Kraków this year. Be it more music or more shows, we’re eager to see as much as we possibly can from Nazar in 2019. Jasmine Kent-Smith
Do you ever listen to certain piece of music and think, ‘I wish I’d made this’? That’s what Eli Osheyack’s compositions sound like. Time after time, Shanghai resident Osheyack releases a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners blend of techno and hardcore deconstructions tempered by a deep understanding of contemporary China’s sub-cultures. Producing music that sounds intensely bodily; tracks that pulsate, clamour and transform into something visceral and physical, these are territories dominated by Osheyack through 2018 releases 'Sadomodernism', 'Proof Of Concept' and 'Empty Hell'.
Pummelling high-tempo tracks ’Parataxon’ and ’I Not Me’ from 'Empty Hell' (the second EP from Osheyack for SVBKVLT) dispose and reconfigure the emphasis put on techno and gabber in recent years and give birth to something unadulterated by standardised notions of club culture. The sheer anarchic and ritualistic energy in tracks like ‘A Rivers Mouth’ and ‘Split’ (Sadomodernism) is simply intoxicating. You’ll be hard pushed to find a more singular producer this year. Lawrence Abbott
2018 saw the rise and rise of object blue. Be it her releases, her sets or her beguiling live shows, when it comes to her musical direction it’s less about convention and more about warped, visceral emotions – but don’t expect her to don a dressing gown at every gig though. Jumping from tenacious techno into dark UK bass via indulgent ambient, out-of-club sound design and more, we recommend kicking back, closing your eyes and drinking in the soundscapes so expertly crafted by object blue in whatever form possible. Our advice? Start with her debut EP ‘Do you plan to end a siege?’, (which landed via vital London label Tobago Tracks this year), before taking a detour through her Rinse FM residency, her ‘REX’ EP and her live set recordings. One to watch this year, next year, and every year. Jasmine Kent-Smith
It’s no secret that Berlin is one of Europe’s most creative hubs when it comes to electronic music, as such the German capital is often where a lot of artists flock to when in need of a injection of energy into their career. New York-born, Berlin-residing P. Leone is one artist who did just that and since his move to Germany, he’s been releasing a slew of super-original, wholly-danceable bangers and that’s with a little help from Spencer Parker. The London-born producer and selector also made the move to Berlin and after the pair got introduced through Caiazzo, they hit it off and the rest is history.
Think of his sound as hard-hitting techno that lets the sunshine in through the curtains; It always bangs but there’s a lightness and element of fun to his productions. He's released three amazing EPs via Parker’s Work Them Records, including the certified dancefloor stormer, ‘El Dorado’ and last year he made his way to Rekids for two more releases. He’s been bubbling for a few years but 2018 has set him up for a blinding 2019 and we’re going to be there for all of it. Funster
Honestly, there might be nobody else on this list that's had a bigger breakthrough year than Roza Terenzi aka Katie Campbell. It's been fantastic witnessing the Perth native's meteoric rise this year as she's gone from Melbourne scene figurehead to one of the most exciting producers and DJs across the world. It began with the release of her debut EP on Good Company at the end of 2017, and has only picked up steam from there as a mix of flexing techno and electro jams with lashings of acid have come to define her forward-thinking sound.
EPs on Kalahari Oyster Cult, Voyage Recordings, Salt Mines and Australian institution Butter Sessions have all been highly anticipated and brilliantly received, while she also founded the Planet Euphorique imprint with regular collaborator D.Tiffany. Terenzi's first overseas tour last year also saw the DJ play De School and ://about blank where she struck up a friendship with Jayda G which resulted in an EP released at the end of 2018. Having brought in the New Year at a massive Animals Dancing bash, developed a live show and with slots already booked at Concrete and in Ukraine, there's a reason why we're so excited to see what more Terenzi can offer in 2019. Louis Anderson-Rich
When Danish DJ Courtesy launched her new imprint Kulør towards the end of last year she described it as "a platform where I have as high ambitions with the visual aspects as I have with the music.” Despite only releasing one compilation in 2018, she's already caught the attention of frenetic techno fans around the world and 'Kulør 001' featured ten tracks of pure adrenaline-soaked fire. Of all the tracks, the one that garnered the most attention was from fellow Copenhagen-hailing artist, Schacke. 'Automated Lover' featured highly in our Top Tracks of 2018 list and alongside an even more hectic remix from Rune Bagge, it became the weapon of choice for DJs like Nina Kraviz and of course Courtesy herself. For that reason, it's worth keeping your attention on Schacke and recent mixes for HATE and Ismcast, as well as previously incredible releases via Ectotherm showcase a high-octane, trance-flecked sound that never dips below 130bpm and certainly never loses focus. That focus? Pace-laden heat designed to make you sweat. Funster
For those of us who weren’t at Unsound, the FOMO was compounded by clips of Slikback creeping onto IG Stories, of thick, twisted bass shapes unfurling in a dim-lit room somewhere in Krakow. The Kenyan is one of the newest artists to emerge from the club music wave, having released the lacerating ‘Lasakenku’ EP on Nyege Nyege sub-label Hakuna Kulala last summer, pulling the spotlight over to East Africa and the Congo, where the sound is bubbling. There’s something visionary in the way Slikback spans BPMs and redefines familiar elements of club music, meaning future releases may well put him on a par with those who’ve already proved they’re two steps ahead, like RP Boo, Amnesia Scanner or the members of the NUXXE crew. Seb Wheeler
Weight: that’s one word to sum up the productions of DJ and producer Solid Blake. This year’s ‘Warp Room’ on Seilscheibenpfeiler is a drum-bundling assault on the senses, joined by ‘Soap Cube’, a grinding electro shoot-’em-up powered by the guns of the Stormtroopers. Originally from Glasgow, you’ll now find her residing in Copenhagen where she makes up one third of the Apeiron crew alongside Smokey and Mama Snake. Solid Blake and Mama Snake teamed up at Dekmantel this year, putting together a relentless techno and electro workout to put you through your paces.
As well as that set at one of Europe’s most prestigious festivals, Blake ticked off a few of Europe’s best clubs in Robert Johnson in Frankfurt and De School in Amsterdam. Still undecided? She’s got the approval of masked electro assassin DJ Stingray, who got onboard to remix her deathly horror film score-meets-electro track ‘Mario’. Now let’s see what other scintillating surprises she’s got in store for us. Dave Turner
Stratowerx co-helms a label and radio show called Caught London Sleeping. And 100 miles north of the English capital at Houghton Festival in August, he impressed with a thrust of corrosive, intoxicating records while the bulk of the festival snoozed (or tossed around restlessly) in tents. We were taken with his sharp mixing and the assuredness with which he played to a desolate dancefloor in the graveyard slot, and delving deeper into the London-based artist’s work revealed a string of releases and mixes engulfed in punchy electro and techno. He’s recently contributed the throbbing ‘GmbHZolhoff’ to Cultivated Electronics’ ‘From The Dark’ compilation. Sync 24’s label has slow burned into a revered outlet for electro-charged sounds over the past decade. Don’t stay sleeping on Stratowerx, he’s headed the same way. Patrick Hinton