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January: Six artists you need to check out this month

Start your 2019 off right

  • Words: Molly Gardner, Aaron Holden, Andrew Kemp, Jasmine Kent-Smith, Kamila Rymajdo, Will Simpson | Photography: S CARLO CAMPI, Jamie Kendrick
  • 8 January 2019

Farai

Having studied in Manchester and lived in China for a year, Zimbabwe-born vocalist Farai had been on quite a journey before she met Guyanese-Welsh producer TONE while promoting shows at a South London squat. The duo mix buzzing synths and punk-funk rhythms with their frontwoman’s impassioned vocals, regaling stories of life on the breadline and experiences of the African diaspora. After the ‘Kisswell’ EP on NON Worldwide, the duo signed to Big Dada for debut LP ‘Rebirth’ in November.

Ocean Wisdom

After taking the crown of world’s fastest rapper from Eminem with the pacey wordplay of debut single ‘Walkin’ in 2016, Camden’s Ocean Wisdom has continued to make his mark. His second album ‘Wizville’, out in 2018, showcased a never-ending arsenal of intricate flows. It features guest spots from Dizzee Rascal and Method Man, and Ocean Wisdom matches their skill bar for bar. His stage presence is fierce, too, making his live shows infectious energy storms.

Povoa

The scouts at Moshi Moshi know where the sweetest fruits hang, and they’ve picked a golden apple in Jules Rosser, aka Povoa. A graduate of Paris’s American School of Jazz and Modern Music, his debut single ‘Okopipi’ is all cosmic melodies and textured backgrounds, walking a line between club-ready house and video-game whimsy. It’s on the ‘Hiatus’ EP, a delightful set of hot and humid soundscapes with croaking acid and woodpecker percussion.

VAJ.Power

Holly McGowan and Sofya Staune aka VAJ.Power met at the city’s School of Art, where they started creating club visuals before their love for dubstep, grime and UK funky spurred them to start their own night. They launched FUSE in 2016 to push bass-heavy and experimental sounds. Lauded for their inclusive approach, they’re now applying the night’s diverse ethos to a booking agency and mix series, Representing a diverse range of talent, from Ghanaian Keyzuz to Glasgow’s NOVA SCOTIA the TRUTH, FUSE by VAJ.Power promises to be the first of its kind in Scotland.

Alex Virgo

Alex Virgo blends upbeat house rhythms with an old-skool disco flavour. Making an early splash with groovy club favourite ‘Ze Dance’, the producer made it two hits on the trot with follow-up ‘Sexy Boy’, a bumping, sax-based belter. The London-based DJ is a favourite of Patrick Topping, who played six of Virgo’s records in one night at Glasgow’s SWG3 last October; Eats Everything has also shown support from the get-go. Virgo plans to launch his own label, Pomme Frite, in 2019.

Nazar

Nazar’s recent Hyperdub EP ‘Enclave’ is highly personal in both its inspiration and stone-cold sound design. Across six tracks, Nazar, who’s fast become one of our favourite young producers, explores his family history in the Angolan civil war through his abrasive, exhilarating take on the country’s upbeat dance style, kuduro. It’s politically charged and devastatingly dark, and we’re confident we’ll be hearing more from him in 2019.

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