We’re done rounding up the definite sounds and moments of 2021 now, from the best tracks, albums and mixes to the the top DJs, breakthroughs, labels and live performers. It’s time to look ahead through 2022 and the ecstatic dancefloor moments and music it will bring. In the list below, we’ve compiled 25 artists who are getting us excited for the year ahead (in alphabetical order).
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California-via-Melbourne outfit &on&on, comprising Worth Way and Noni, launched at the start of last year with the ‘High Desert’ EP. The six-track release is said to be inspired by “halcyon desert days” and was released on Barcelona’s Simplexia Records. They came to wider attention later in 2021 when their fast-paced club mix of dance track ‘Don’t Say a Word’ featured on Disclosure’s 2021 ‘DJ-Kicks’ mix compilation. Now both based in the US, they have big plans for breaking through further in 2022. Keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming album ‘Midnight’ on Los Angeles label Low Recordings, as well as their respective solo projects, which will surely bring a slew of sonic wonders that’ll go on and on and on repeat.
2 Authentically Plastic
If you like having your mind melted on the dancefloor then don’t sleep on Authentically Plastic — their music could reduce diamond to a pool of bubbling liquid. Taking influence from high-octane genres such as singeli and techno, the multi-disciplinary Uganda artist glides through these styles and pulls in political intent and thematic exploration to conjure sonic masterpieces. They co-founded the queer ANTI-MASS party in Kampala in 2018, fighting against police crackdowns on LGBTQIA+ to create a space for the community. Last year an ANTI-MASS label arm was launched with ‘DOXA’, a ferocious six-track outing featuring fellow residents Turkana and Nsasi alongside Authentically Plastic that we picked out as one of the best releases of 2021. Authentically Plastic’s forthcoming debut solo album, due in 2022, will be essential.
[Photo: Daniel Dent]
Brooklyn-based DJ and producer Ayesha isn't new to the DJ circuit, having begun her journey back in 2013 in her native DC under alias Ayes Cold. However, this year releases on Scuffed Recs and Daytimers have pushed her into international recognition, making appearances on either side of the pond. Excellent mixes on Rinse France, The Lot Radio, Balamii and Noods have allowed her to showcase her trademark blend of bubbling bass, tough techno and vibrant UK funky, always repping the South Asian diaspora by channelling the sounds of her youth into rich, heady dancefloor moments. Her star looks set to keep on rising.
[Photo: Karla Del Orbe]
Popping up at a handful of Keep Hush events over the past few months, you might have heard Bakey’s name lingering around the dancefloor in the aftermath. Now running with the Time Is Now crew, Bakey’s tireless sets serve everything that the group embody - splicing breakbeat with garage and everything 140 and beyond to create high-tempo, percussive and off-kilter sounds. There’s an unlimited amount of energy still left to give from this producer and selector after an already stellar year, with Bakey’s charm sure to return to the decks in 2022.
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5 Black Cadmium
Bringing the Detroit sound direct to clubs thousands of miles across the pond in Rotterdam, Black Cadmium are at the forefront of a new wave of techno in the European circuit. This Netherlands-born duo lean into the raw end of the spectrum with acid and electro influence, and through their relentless crate-digging always whip up a dancefloor with their solid selection. They put out the ferocious four-track acid-weighted EP ‘Intertia’ last year after a string of back-to-back releases in 2020, and show no signs of stopping anytime soon.
[Photo: Brendan Reterink]
6 Cameo Blush
Cameo Blush should be on everyone’s watch list for next year. Making his first step onto the scene in 2019 when he performed a synth-driven live set at pint-sized festival Field Manuevers, Cameo Blush went on to appear on Bicep’s mix series just weeks later and, through 2021, things only got better for the producer. Nourishing his discography with the utmost care, Cameo Blush released three separate three-track releases, including the ‘Lucky’ EP on Ross From Friends’ Scarlet Tiger imprint. The London-based producer nods to decades of frenzied dance music, with leftfield production leading the synth master down a one-way road to future bill-topping success.
[Photo: Claire Fleming]
7 Eden Burns
DJ and producer Eden Burns from the deep south of Aotearoa New Zealand, has been invested in the electronic club sound since he was a teen. His first outings as part of the duo Sandboards on Feel My Bicep and Cold Tonic soon led him from the Taieri Plains to clubs and stages worldwide. Now as a solo act, Eden works with colourful productions and has found himself a home on Munich’s multifaceted outlet Public Possession. Together they released the ‘Big Beat Manifesto’ series with numbers V & VI already lined up for 2022. Whether Eden is in the booth at NTS or in front of crowds in London, Dunedin or Japan, he always spins a rich set with unpredictable sounds and curveballs.
8 Ghetto Kumbé
Bogota-based Ghetto Kumbé explore Colombia's Afro-Caribbean heritage, exploring the hypnotic force of African house beats to produce intense, futuristic tribal soundscapes.After a successful 2021, which saw them play internationally, the trio have a lot planned for 2022. Ghetto Kumbé will be on tour in Europe between June and August, and will be releasing a remix album. 2022 will also see them release collaborations with artists such as Nickodemus, Studio Bros, Uproot Andy, Trooko, Montoya and Cero39. They’re finally getting the international recognition they deserve, and 2022 will see them further solidify Colombia’s position in the global Afrobeats scene.
[Photo: Kata Garces]
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9 Hadiya George
Atlanta-based Hadiya George first surfaced this year with her debut downtempo, neo-soul-R&B crossover track ‘Hot Flavor’, which landed the newfound artist a haul of remixes from Nick Godmode and Kaidi Tatham. Since getting noticed by Horse Meat Disco and Honey Dijon, the singer-songwriter has now scored vocal additions on tracks with the big-timers, and her recent venture into production has given an even stronger name to this refreshing breakout artist.
2021 was a huge year for London rapper Jeshi but the artist is planning for an even better 2022. Ever since releasing his debut EP ‘Pussy Palace’ in 2019, he has not stopped creating music and collaborating with artists from a huge range of genres. For instance, in 2019 he featured on Celeste’s song ‘Summer’ and Vegyn’s track ‘I Don’t Owe U NYthing’, in addition to touring with slowthai. Jeshi released six singles in 2021, including the forceful ‘Hit By A Train’ from sensational self-destructive anthem ‘Sick’. Today, he is as open-minded as ever when it comes to music and says: “We live in a time right now where people are so intent on boxing everything in... it’s all bullshit. My music, my story and my take on the world at the end of the day.”
11 Mainline Magic Orchestra
Based in Barcelona, Mainline Magic Orchestra are an eccentric live house band that released their first single and videoclip ‘Xumba Xumba’ on Public Possession in collaboration with Primavera Labels in 2021. Since then, they have released more work and taken to the stage in their bizarre black and white geometric costumes. At the end of October, they released their first EP called ‘Tettsui’ via the same imprints. To create the cover, they called friends and family together to take a picture in the swimming pool of the gym in their local town, as they didn't have a name for the EP, they named after the gym the image was taken in. Their zany, fun performance style is a tonic ready-made to life our spirits in 2022.
[Photo: Neelam Khan Vela]
Hyperpop star Namasenda from Stockholm caught the eye of the public after independently releasing her debut EP ‘hot_babe_93’ back in 2017. Since then, she has been signed to label PC Music and finds herself on the way to icon status in queer music circles. 2021 saw her release her first full-length project ‘Unlimited Ammo’, which has a bright, energetic and highly electronic vibe. Namasenda was seen performing Boiler Room London and Pitchfork Festival, as well as a mini tour in Spain and Italy. She tells us that she’s been writing more than ever and said: “I’ve started working on new projects that I’m very excited about.” Us too.
Read this next: The best albums and EPs of the year 2021
13 Nia Archives
2022 will be the year of Nia Archives as she trailblazes a new era of music in the age of Gen Z. 2021 saw the success of her ‘Sober Feels’ EP, and in 2022 she’ll be releasing another EP, ‘Forbidden Feelingz’, which she described to Mixmag as “different” to her other projects, focus on the club and soundsystem culture sounds. Nia has played at the likes of fabric, City Splash, Manchester International Festival and more, and 2022 will see her play at more landmark clubs and events.
[Photo: Melissa Gardner]
Having been featured in Disclosure’s ‘DJ-Kicks’ instalment in 2021, released their essential ‘Tapes of Utopia’ mixtape and played several standout shows including appearances at We Out Here festival and WOMEX’s online screenings, ONIPA enter 2022 with the wind in their sails. The Afro-Futurist collective hail from Ghana and London, featuring members of K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade, Nubiyan Twist and Steam Down. Their energetic approach weaves deep storytelling into the fabric of their rhythmic and uplifting sounds. ONIPA are kicking off 2022 with some UK tour dates and plan to keep pioneering the way for futurist collectives to incorporate multiple musical inspirations.
OSSX make the type of records that can rescue any dancefloor — their music is so instantly feel-good that a quick wheel-up and cut in is all a DJ needs to save them from a clanger or deadout set handover. That’s why their productions and edits are so sought after, such as the Blaze-sampling DJ Swisha collab ‘Luvli Dae :)’ that had people clamouring for its release all of last year. DJs were delighted and Bandcamp servers were overloaded in equal measure when it eventually dropped on the ‘Heard U’ EP in December. A full set of their tracks, such as the 100% unreleased material mix they put out last year, has the vibes at 100 from start to finish.
The group, founded by New Jersey artists EQUISS and Lektor Scopes and now joined by Juke Bounce Werk member Elise, made their name as edit specialists, with the aforementioned mix featuring reworks of September’s ‘Cry For You’ and Rod Lee’s ‘Puff That Lye’ alongside tracks sampling hits by the likes of Modjo and Janet Jackson. And when they dropped their debut EP of original material ‘Split Wig’ via Allergy Season last March, it arrived sounding like a classic, packed full of joyful melodies and breakbeats. OSSX’s 2022 plans to put out new material, including some of those unreleased bangers, and tour to new cities in the US and abroad should pique the interest of anyone who likes having fun in the club.
2021 saw London-based DJ and producer Otik release on Club Qu and Martyn's label 3024, as well as make appearances at Corsica Studios, Boiler Room Festival, Waterworks and support Ross From Friends’ live show at Hope Works in Sheffield. Regular slots on Rinse France and appearances on the CRACK and Dekmantel podcasts have allowed him to show off a real technical approach to DJing, skillfully flitting between jungle, bass and R&B - always leaving time for a cheeky edit or two if the occasion calls for it.
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Pocket’s eclectic range, bouncy melodies and emotional sound are cementing him as a standout producer. In 2021 he put out popular tracks such as ‘Without You Here’ and ‘Different Ways To Love You’, and caught the attention of Spotify for inclusion in their editorial playlists such as Planet Rave, In 2022 he has more releases to get excited about, including working with a label that he is greatly inspired by in March. 2022 will see Pocket become a sought after name for many rosters.
Holding residencies at both Rinse France and The Lot Radio, quest?onmarq is a rising star who deserves all of the attention coming their way. 2021 saw them showcase their selections at Bossa Nova Civic Club and Panorama Bar, gaining a reputation for fluid, unpredictable three-deck sets that often use their own vocals as an extra dimension. A debut EP on Jamz Supernova's label Future Bounce also arrived full of big beat Jersey house rhythms and electrifying EBM acid riffs. Holding a particular talent for the remix, quest?onmarq has given Burial's 'Archangel', Ikonika's 'Nobody', L-Vis 1990's 'Yeah Yeah' and Anastasia Kristensen's 'Volshebno Stretched' Brooklyn club makeovers. We can't wait to see what they do next.
19 Samurai Breaks
UK’s own Samurai Breaks promises nothing but lightning-quick, donky bangers with each release. A master of all things speed garage and, much like his name, breakbeats, this producer has been constantly informed by the brash tunes pumping out from the UK rave scene. Since his debut record dropped in 2017, Samurai Breaks has gone on to release an EP on NAINA and SHERELLE’s Hooversound imprint and buddied up with Coco Bryce who remixed the whopper anthem ‘Jitterbug’ this summer. With more potential releases on the horizon and the Super Sonic Booty Bangers impront he co-runs with D’TCH firing, next year is looking like a good one for this breakneck producer.
20 SHE Spells Doom
SHE Spells Doom came to our attention last year and instantly transfixed us with his productions. The Zambian artist’s tracks are sometimes enchanting with heavenly melodies guiding the way, and sometimes propulsive with palpitating percussion hitting from the core. Labels such as Tresor, All Centre and Monstart have tapped him for releases so far, and DJs such as Ikonika and Tash LC have hosted his guest mixes on the radio. With another release confirmed and tastemaking imprints from the UK and US getting in touch for demo submissions, keep an eye on SHE Spells Doom for more vital sounds tracing a line between bliss and dynamism in 2022.
South African drum ‘n’ bass artist Stay-C has had a hugely successful year in 2021, and only has more to come. In 2022 she’s planning to release more music with labels she looks up to and imbue more African and South African flavours into her music in an organic way that feels true to her. As part of Stay-C’s Impact interview, she told us that she was wanting to become a better collaborator after being a solo producer for her whole music career, so in 2022 she’s got some d’n’b collabs in the making. After many delays due to COVID, at the end of 2021 Stay-C came to the UK and performed several shows, including her Bristol and Manchester debuts. She’s excited to keep touring as well as keeping the d’n’b scene firing in South Africa with her night Onyx.
22 Stolen Velour
Stolen Velour leans into the chaos of club music with ecstatic results. HIs tracks are volatile and delirious, making you imagine murky dancefloors sent into overdrive with strobes illuminating screwfaced grins. ‘Onyx’ from his recent Kindergarten Records EP is the type of track that would have people who don’t even DJ want to learn so they can guarantee hearing it in a club. At the helm of the Treehouse label and party he curates next-level club sounds and experiences, serving up ‘Techno, Galactic Club and Pop Anthems’. Seek out his sets or releases in 2022 for a taste of the action.
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You may recognise SUCHI from her enlightening set at the Daytimers Boiler Room takeover last August, where she flexed her deep understanding of wafty house and nostalgic rave records. Despite her incredible mixing skills - as highlighted by slots on New Delhi-based Boxout.fm, Reprezent Radio and Mixmag Asia, SUCHI's production chops are gaining her underground recognition with releases on Coastal Haze, Stamp the Wax and Krunk Kulture. With even more exciting releases chalked up for the New Year, the Oslo-born, London-raised selector is one to watch.
Melding together floaty house records and booming rave favourites, a Swoose set has become synonymous with A Good Time. A wafty release on Shall Not Fade this year, as well as a showstopping appearance at The Cause and a slot on the Boiler Room stage at AVA in his hometown Belfast, have placed him as an artist we want to keep our eye on in 2022 - we're ready to "strut our funky stuff" as Swoose fan Julian Simmons - the TV broadcaster who introed his AVA set - would put it.
TAAHLIAH grew up on rave and hardcore music in Kilmarnock, developed an interest in the emotionally-charged songwriters in her teens, immersed herself in experimental electronic music upon moving to Glasgow to study at the School of Art, and spent six months living in Berlin amid its hedonistic club culture on a student exchange. Influence from across this broad spectrum is channelled into her fearlessly innovative productions and sets, that can hit as hard as the Berghain soundsystem and dazzle as brightly as maximalist electronica made by Glaswegian pioneers in equal measure.
After breaking records in 2020 by becoming the first artist to win in two categories of the Scottish Alternative Music Awards in one year, as well as being the first Black trans artist to pick up nominations, TAAHLIAH kept firing across 2021 with her debut single ‘Brave’ in February, debut EP ‘Angelica’ in May, and follow-up reworked mini-album ‘Angelica (Extended)’ landing in December, as well as contributing to SHERELLE’s BEAUTIFUL label launch compilation. Exploring styles spanning gabber to pop, the music is bold, shapeshifting and always compelling, Closing out the year with support slots alongside Kelly Lee Owens, Lone and Elkka and an interview with Jaguar on BBC Radio 1, she enters 2022 on a wave of momentum that doesn’t look set to fall away any time soon, with tour dates alongside VTSS, Or:la DJ Stingray already in the calendar.