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12 emerging artists you need to hear this August – DJ Mag

The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From jungle and Afro house to experimental dub and techno here’s August 2022’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of
With his face hidden to keep the focus firmly on the music, South London’s Anti Traxx channels his Jamaican heritage — “growing up around soundsystems and dancehalls” — into each heavyweight track; think tricked-out beats to skank to, ragga samples and buckets of earth-shaking bass. With 10 years of production experience under his belt and having spent the best part of 2021 dropping a mix of jungle and grimey club experiments via his Bandcamp, this year saw the mysterious artist step up for newly launched label, Devon’s Road Recordings — first with dubby weapon ‘Westpoint’ for the imprint’s inaugural ‘Time and Motion’ compilation, and last month sharing a solo four-tracker of next-level modern junglism. 
The very definition of all killer, no filler, the ‘Only Way’ EP is packed with percussive flair and propulsive low-end, Anti Traxx’s key ability being to inject movement into every part of the music. Keep your eyes peeled for his next release, ‘5.0 at my door’, dropping via Bandcamp at the end of the month, and be sure to check his techno/drone-centric ATXX project too. Ben Hindle
For fans of: early Ganja Records, Marvellous Cain, Prisoners Of Technology
Photo: Mia Lilly
DJ and producer Thorgerdur Johanna is making waves across her native Iceland and beyond. Also based in Oslo, Norway, she’s steadily been joining the dots between the scenes in both, all the while receiving acclaim further afield via Berlin, Paris, Lisbon, Copenhagen, New York and London.
Her record collection is eclectic — stretching vast across the outer reaches of house, techno and breaks — and deeply connected to music with melodies, emotion and groove. Alongside A:G, she runs the Blossy label, events and mix series. The first release on the imprint marked a collaboration between the two that travels through electro, techno and minimal. She’s also been working passionately on her own productions, with a solo EP in the pipeline. Her dedication to growing the local scene is admirable, recently bringing Berlin-based duo ERIS to play for their first time in the Nordic country, and she’s excited about what’s to come. She’ll also be spreading her wings over the next few months, with gigs in Paris, Reykjavík, Copenhagen, Darmstadt and more; keep your eyes and ears on Thorgerdur. Anna Wall
For fans of: Nemo Vachez, [email protected], Loa Szala
South Africa’s Desiree was on the radar of top-tier SA house DJs way before she stepped behind the decks. If you watch 2019 Mixmag Lab Johannesburg sets from Culoe De Song, Lemon & Herb or FKA Mash, you’ll see her bobbing front and centre. It was that same year that she got serious about DJing, hustling for sets at her local Shisanyama — a place where people barbecue meat — and digging deep for tracks in her spare time. Desiree soon got bumped up from the early afternoon to the late-evening shift and those DJs she had been watching earlier started spreading the word.
Downing tools during the pandemic, Desiree began work on production and the result was ‘Femme Tech’, her debut EP. “I’m an intersex woman and I’m in a grey area,” she tells DJ Mag. “There’s not a lot of women making this music and the EP is about challenging that status quo, showing that minorities can also do this too.” Ria Hylton
For fans of: Cincity, Kitty Amor, Lemon & Herb
Continuing dub’s long tradition of experimentation, London producer Mali-I melds classic soundsystem sonics with modern flavours from the capital’s dance music underground. Part of Bradley Zero’s award-winning Rhythm Section crew, he produces serene breakbeat and hip- hop under the Z Lovecraft moniker and plays keys for neo-soul outfit Monzanto Sound, but it’s as Mali-I that he’s made waves in 2022, with the release of his debut album, ‘In Session’, in April. Put together during the pandemic, the LP ranges from the blissed-out lovers rock of ‘Heaven Sent’ to the energetic, off-kilter dub of ‘Scorpio Riddim’ and haunting sub-shaker ‘The Murderer’. 
Alongside the cosy low-end pulses and delay-filled dreamscapes, what stands out most is Mali’s penchant for collaboration — something he says is “a crucial way to get much-needed perspective on your ideas” — with vocalists like Ms. Ray and J. Caesar bringing soulful notes, and Lincoln Barrett’s contrasting dystopian drawl. Forthcoming, Mali has a Monzanto Sound EP for None More Records, a Z Lovecraft EP for Utopia Records and some other production work. Ben Hindle
For fans of: The Colours That Rise, The Bug, Mungo’s Hi Fi
Embarking on record digging excursions daily, French-born, Berlin-based Ethel’s DJ sets reveal her deep-rooted love for vinyl, displayed in mixes like her recent podcast for Mood Waves. She seamlessly journeys through forgotten gems, ’90s house and dreamy electro, with a classy touch of acid and plenty of groove. She’s an integral part of RA+RE, an all-female DJ collective and record label based in Paris, alongside Melody (her regular b2b partner), ABI, Rohmi and many more. She also co-founded a new concept called SobreMesa alongside Sugar Free, throwing intimate parties in Berlin and beyond.
She’s released music on labels such as Ratiug, Picnic and Voiceless, and there’s more to come. Her 2021 EP ‘I Need You’ on Laik embodies her sound perfectly, drawing influences from the ’80s and ’90s, but also effortlessly of the present. Right now she’s creating a buzz outside of Berlin too, and over the next few months you can catch her playing at The Waiting Room in London, Badaboum in Paris, Wildt in Prague and ADE in Amsterdam — plus, there’s a USA tour before the year is out. Anna Wall
For fans of: The Ghost, DJ Tjizza, Sugar Free
Michael Diamond has had quite the musical education. Mentored by Butterz trailblazer Elijah and having watched the likes of Ben UFO, Batu and Shanti Celeste up close thanks to a DJ residency at Oxford night Simple, their influence can be traced throughout his debut album, ‘Third Culture’. It finds Michael exploring the tantalising meeting point between his jazz roots and electronic experiments, gliding between 2-step, ambient, UKG and more on hypnotic tracks like ‘Lamentations’ and the brooding ‘Exodus’.
Michael says he is a “third culture kid”, referring to someone who is born into a different culture than those of their parents. The album confronts the challenges it brings, as well as how he navigates them, waging a battle that leaves him with “a fractured sense of cultural identity”. Channelling his splintered self makes ‘Third Culture’ an essential, insightful listen and cements Michael as one of the leading voices in a bubbling hybrid scene. Lee Wakefield
For fans of: Theon Cross, Ross From Friends, Forest Swords

While London listeners may already know Ka Boukie as a regular host on Threads Radio, the rest of the world may soon recognise the Kingston, Jamaica-born artist for his contributions to the broader Afrofuturism soundspace. Last month, the experimental artist dropped a double single titled ‘Strip Away / Spooky C’ that demonstrates a keen knack for spoken-word, set against a dark backdrop of expansive-bordering-on-otherworldly beats.
Elements of jazz, hip- hop, dancehall, and other genres have always been a hallmark of his stirring creations, representing a thoughtful oeuvre that draws from different aspects of his multicultural upbringing. Speaking of which, still to come is Ka Boukie’s debut album, ‘Rnig’, a work that’s largely influenced by his lived experience as a first-generation immigrant coming of age in the UK, so keep an ear out for that, as we expect it to be both powerful and sonically potent. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Flying Lotus, Schlomo
There’s a track on Darran Pownall’s first full EP, ‘Into The Light’ (released last month on Minor Notes Recordings) that could serve as a lesson on how to create music that’s grandly luxurious out of a mere handful of elements. ‘About A Boy,’ by our count, consists of roughly three ingredients: A skeletal midtempo breakbeat, a few well-placed electric-piano chords, and a thick layer of vocal snippets lifted (we think) from The Singers Unlimited’s 1975 cover of Nat King Cole’s ‘Nature Boy.’ Like the rest of ‘Into The Light,’ it’s brilliantly simple yet beautifully lush, smartly arranged, and brimming with a jazzy feel that never becomes overpowering.
It feels like the work of a veteran artist — which is no surprise, because even though ‘Into The Light’ is his debut EP, Darran P has been around for eons. The Leicester, UK-based DJ and producer has played alongside such stellar spinners as Nicky Siano, Ian Pooley, Rick Wilhite and Benji B, and has released individual cuts on Flat White Records, The Groove Stage, and the two labels he co-founded with Jonna, City Fly and Mysterious Works. Apparently, they were right — experience really does pay off. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Key Tronics Ensemble, Moodymann, Glenn Underground
Guitarist, singer, and electronic artist Chelsea Lester, better known as Nyxen, is living proof that synth-rock never went out of style — it just needed a fresh face to bring it barreling back to the forefront of dance music. Recently, her live, reverb-rich stylings landed her as direct support for Aussie staples like Crooked Colours and Golden Features, but she’s quickly emerging as a headlining star, with a forthcoming debut LP, ‘PXNK’ (pronounced “punk”), arriving on August 19th, likely to seal that deal. Its moody strings, clashing hi-hats, and powerful lyrics culminate in a sound that would have hit just right in backrooms of the early 2000s, when the alt-electro sound in her hometown of Sydney reigned supreme — with a few modern spins, of course. 
The 11-track long-player sees Nyxen explore ’80s-era influences with a strong focus on instrumentation, and a title track that boasts hazy keys, raw drums, and effortless vocals. It’s one of those night-driving grooves best enjoyed with the top down during fleeting twilight hours, but with soaring gas prices on the mind, a recent live recording on her YouTube page should aid in replicating such feels. On first watch, her multitude of on-stage talents is wholly apparent, and we suspect the triple-threat has her eyes set on the global stage still to conquer. Megan Venzin
For fans of: OLAN, Phantogram, Two Door Cinema Club
They go by @the_sound_sculptress on IG, and for good reason — LA-based artist Maude Vôs has a diverse output that leaves listeners with a real appreciation for sound experimentation. Tapping into acid house and techno techniques, the Delusional Records co-founder has clocked releases on Rules Don’t Apply, Glory Hill, and Desert Hearts Black, which dropped their melodic cut ‘Opulence’ last year. 
Meanwhile, Vôs helps shape the musical voices of other marginalised artists in their perimeter. Alongside Marie Nyx, they celebrated the one-year anniversary of their inclusivity-focused label in June with a 15-track compilation designed primarily on modular synthesisers and analog sounds by women, LGBTQIA+, non-binary, and BIPOC individuals. And on top of all that, Vôs, who was featured on Perfect Circuit, is an accomplished writer to boot — their forthcoming book is coming via Patch & Tweak soon, so always prepare for an education when this one’s involved. Megan Venzin
For fans of: Avalon Emerson, Lauren Flax
Nervous Records, home of releases by major players such as Louie Vega, Josh Wink, Kerri Chandler and, now, sillygirlcarmen. This Detroit-born artist is the real deal; you can’t say you’re a Motor City DJ and not be so, as you wouldn’t last a second. Already in her young career, she’s played her hometown’s Charivari festival multiple times, and has shared bills with the likes of Moodymann, Claude Young, Terrence Parker, DJ Minx, and Delano Smith, among plenty of other Detroit names. As a DJ, she ranges from deep and emotive to full-steam jacking — we’d recommend checking out some of her house-centric SoundCloud mixes ASAP.
That her new track, ‘Try,’ has just come out on the Best Label winner in our Best of North America poll proves that she’s no slouch in the studio, either. Produced with John Zott, it’s just her second official release, but ‘Try’ is a fully confident tune — a percolating house number boasting a melody, defined by her hushed vocals, that gives the song a strong pop edge. It’s the kind of track that can kickstart a career. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Anna Lunoe, Adriatique, Gene Farris
It normally takes years, decades even, of honing your music-making skills to get yourself on a label like Radio Slave’s Rekids — but Mona Yim, it seems, is a quick learner. It was only this past spring that the clubbing world first caught wind of the Berlin-based DJ and producer, when she remixed DJ Seinfeld’s ‘Tell Me One More Time’ into a gently swooning, dubbed-out clubland love song — and the recent Rekids release, the ‘Gotta Do This, Gurl / Dots Obsession’ EP, marks her debut as a creator of original music. Both tracks are intimate and engrossing house cuts, with Radio Slave himself supplying a touch of his trademark throb with a pair of remixes.
In reality, of course, Yim (real name: Simona Miranda Melzer) didn’t just come out of nowhere. Growing up in Singapore and Germany, she studied violin for years; later, she began to make beats on her laptop, and later still started hitting the clubs. “I was out in Berlin at Berghain, Printworks in London, and clubs in France and America,” she says. “I got this real sense of community, and experienced the music with all of my senses, and how DJs played it.”
In 2019, she landed a spot in London at The Roundhouse as part of their ‘Rising Sounds’ artist mentorship program — and now she’s already on one of the world’s most respected dance music labels. It won’t be the last time, we’d wager. Bruce Tantum
For fans of: Sofia Kourtesis, Kornél Kovács, Bella Boo
Thrust Publishing Ltd, Unit 3, 30-40 Underwood Street, London, N1 7JQ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44(0)7940488008


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