Read our five-point guide on the best new sounds from the periphery
Soundcloud’s a busy place, isn’t it? To help you out with the internet’s abundance of new music, we’ve refined the search to a selection of five emerging acts you need to get on your radar – before everyone else does. From deep soul to diasporic Cuban and Iranian sounds, via reggaeton and R&B, scroll down to discover more.
Even if you think you haven’t heard Shay Lia before, there’s a very good possibility you have. She was the soulful genius behind the vocals on Leave Me Alone, arguably the biggest dancefloor shaker on Kaytranada’s debut record, 99.9%. The Montreal-via-Djibouti singer slows it down in her own music. From the slick, sultry production of Cherish, to the unique melodic progressions of the Badbadnotgood and Kaytranada-produced Blue, Shay Lia is illuminating Canada’s future R&B scene.
Kelela / Charlotte Day Wilson
Ariwo are here to prove that ancestral music can mix seamlessly with electronica. With a name that translates into “noise” in Yoruba, the experimental four-piece features members from all different cultural backgrounds. Treading the bridge between ceremonial Cuban and Iranian music, it’s a sonic journey through the diaspora, challenging all the stereotyped perceptions of ancestral music in today’s society, one buoyant, slow-burning banger at a time.
Hello Skinny / Kondi Band
When Youth Lagoon hung up the proverbial towel after three albums in 2016, we weren’t sure what was next for the orchestrator behind the project, Trevor Powers. Then, in early May, Powers released Playwright, the debut single under his own moniker. The song is characterised by its high-pitched, almost-languid vocals, which carry the scattered synth-harps and bursts of abrasive bass into an otherworldly territory. Where Youth Lagoon was confined by the at-times mawkish parameters of indie, Trevor Powers takes all of his tools and creates a whole new and expansive dimension for himself.
Westerman / Lets Eat Grandma
Reggaeton is finally having the moment it deserves. Gone are the days where those thumping dembow beats were confined to NYC’s bodegas. Now, reggaeton is blasting in the club, your mate’s car, NTS mixes, the local fair, your neighbour’s BBQ – you name it. Specifically leading the way for the waist-winding genre are women, with artists like London-via-Colombia newcomer Lao Ra showing everyone how it’s done. With musical nods to traditional Cumbia and razor-sharp lyrics about body positivity, casual sex and daddy issues – all speak-sung in Spanglish, of
course – she’s shaping up to be the Latinx feminist icon we all need.
Bad Gyal / Kali Mutsa
The Flying Stars of Brooklyn NY
The Flying Stars of Brooklyn NY is your new favourite deep soul project. Led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Frazer, a member of Indiana neo-funk band Durand Jones & The Indications, Frazer captures the laidback Sunday side to soul. The sparse, raspy vocals, blues-laden grooves and patient, galloping drums of debut single My God Has A Telephone and the comforting chord progression of B-side Live On have a special, timeless quality to them, transporting you to eras you never even knew you felt nostalgia for. Somehow, his music already feels like home.
Whitney / Charles Bradley