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MUSIC:ONES TO WATCH 2022

by Alex Brzezicka

From hyperpop to hip-hop, we pick new faces that’ll wreck havoc, break hearts and bring hell (or heaven) straight to our speakers in 2022. Tune in.

In 2021 we got a bit of a taste for these rising stars, and they all got us absolutely addicted, craving for more kicks. After a year like our one, we need musicians to remind us why we’re still fighting, to mirror our fears and fantasies, to inspire us to go above and beyond. And when we hit the rock bottom, to provide a blissful haven from which we always bounce back, ready to strike. Again and again.

Sharpen your senses and get hooked on the edge-cutting lyrics, maddest mixes and ground-breaking symphonies sure to soundtrack your 2022. A year celebrating the diversity of music, with tracks thriving in the no-genre territory, where the most vibrant daydreams will find their way into real-life sounds and visions. With the creative boundaries between digital and physical becoming more and more blurry, nothing’s out of reach. We deep-dive into that glorious mess to pick the most precious uncut gems and await to see them shine bright next year.

As December is closing in and we’re catching a bit of a post-holiday-craze rest while preparing for New Year’s Eve, it’s vital to get into the right mindset, with the right music. 2021 is ending: it’s about time to get over it and be ready to log into the 2022 server any second now. Get a head start and listen closely to our new favourite soon-to-be frontrunners of the musical game. 3…2…1…

Namasenda

Signed to A.G. Cook’s electronic factory PC Music, Namasenda brings the robo-pop realness to synth-ridden melodies. Meshing Y2K nostalgia with super-polished and clean-cut 2021 production on her debut album Unlimited Ammo, she never misses a chance to hit hard. As the most efficient assassin on the scene, her bullets pierce right through any preconceptions. The Swedish musician slices through surface-level sugary-sweet beats with a nightcore-sharp knife to get to killer bangers. Collaborating with the coolest scene cats like Mowalola or Hannah Diamond, Namasenda makes sure that we know that she’s a real-deal competitor. Anyway, we’re always ready for some serious assassination.

LCYTN

British-Burmese multi-talented musician LCYTN (Lucy Tun), has been around London’s creative scene for a bit now, from DJing, producing to writing her own songs. After releasing debut EP in 2018, having cult followers binge-listening to a single ‘Ride’ and collaborating with Gucci and Schuh, she’s here to spread her sassy-sweet wings into the mainstream. Inspired by escapism she found in disco, drag, video games culture and precious friendships, LCYTN, on the synth-glittering and 00s pop canvas paints a captivating picture that we can all relate to and find our own piece of asylum in that genre-defying multiverse. Hit play on her newest project ‘Monarchy’ now.

Virgen Maria

Praised be, bitches. Spanish DJ, producer and performer Virgen Maria has stepped down from unholy heavens to blex us all with wickedly genius, ass-slapping Latin rhythms and CGI sassy cyborg aesthetics. She challenges our notions of sex and religion, embodying both to strip them out of the taboo-stained fabric and normalise notions that have been seen as subversive in our society for way too long. Shaking the club scene with hyper-digital DJ sets that A$AP Rocky, Fendi and Gucci got so obsessed over that she was flown to play at fashion week. On top of that, Maria took her holograph on the tour, expanding on what an alter-ego is in the XXI century online-craze. We’re here to learn. Amen.

Tamera

London-based Tamera’s musical landscape has always resounded with the best of the best including James Brown, Missy Elliot, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Channelling icons into her neo-soul dimension, she pays homage to the past heroes in her unique sounds. Tamera’s speciality is taking apart commonplace tragedies to find hidden beauty that lives in the shadows of them all. Like a modern-day goddess, she romantically reflects on her surroundings and spices them all in a flirtatious and cheeky fashion. In the 2021 EP Aphrodite, she lives up to the hype from the debut single ‘Romeo’, where she reminds herself and us that only relationships worth sacrificing ourselves for are those who nourish our hearts and souls. Remember her name, Tamera. Before you realise, she’ll sweet-sing at you from every radio station and Spotify’s smoother playlists.

flowerovlove

16-year-old Joyce Cisse aka Floweroflove has in abundance what a lot of older musicians wish for – raw talent, sensitivity, empathy towards Earth and a free-spirited attitude. Her flowy vocals combined with simply beautiful lyrics, make it very easy to fall head over heels in love with her artistry. Joyce’s debut EP Think Flower would melt the hardest of hearts and let us come to the realisation that in the end, you don’t need much to be fulfilled. It’s all about dancing in the rain, self-care and searching for the pots of gold inside of ourselves. She tries to teach us the toughest of all lessons, that the world is always in flux so we need to hurry up to enjoy the fleeting moments. Fingers crossed for a lot of that with floweroflove in 2022.

Wet Leg

The indie-pop revelation, originally from Isle of Wight, Wet Leg, are keeping all British cottagecore meets postmodern irony enthusiasm on their toes ever since releasing tongue-in-cheek debut single ‘Chaise Lounge’. With four brilliant singles so far (check out ‘Wet Dream’ if you fancy a folk-funky rendezvous), Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers accomplished nearly impossible. They’re on every media outlet and other artists like Florence Welch’s radars, proving that if you’ve got the goods, it’s only a matter of time, or a year in that case, before you’ll be the hottest sounds on the most hipster streets. Though, what’s most exhilarating to see is them setting us for a long run. It’s as if Kate Bush, Ty Segall and Daria Morgendorffer had a very excitable child.

Poppy Ajudha

Growing up around jazz and rockasteady with St.Lucian-London background, Poppy has rhythm and the need to express in her blood. Armed with a purely killer vocals and determination to go all-in when it comes to standing up for her beliefs, in 2022 she’s going in for a win. Always a fighter for marginalized groups, queer, PoC and women, she’s got what it takes to inspire. A spark. It resonates within ‘Strong Womxn’, EP ‘Femme’ and latest single ‘LONDON’S BURNING’. Teaming up with fellow ground-breakers like Mahalia, Kojey Radical or Tom Mish, Poppy’s sounds spreads. Next year, we’ll blow some air into the fire and join her on the battlefield invigorated by her fierceness.

NAYANA IZ

NAYANA IZ (‘eye-zee) is one of the masterminds behind London’s supercool collective NiNe8 (think Biig Piig and Lava La Rue), India-born, UK-raised, self-taught multi-instrumentalist and rapper. Guided by the music of MF DOOM, Tupac and Erikah Badou, NAYANA’s experiments with jazz and electronica infused hip-hop/R&B always end up as spectacular successes. Whether it’s her freshly out single ‘RANI’ (her mother’s name that translates to ‘queen’ quite accurately tbf) addressing race, identity and spirituality or debut ‘SMOKE & FLY’ EP, skipping genres and getting straight to the most juicy beats. Little birds told us that this year would be a big one for NAYANA.

Genesis Owusu

One of the most powerful and thought-provoking acts to emerge from the depths of this year’s despair is hip-hop’s new sensation, Genesis Owusu. His debut album ‘Smiling With No Teeth’ scored high, shaking us up with a gritty mash of modern R&B, edge-pushing punk and retro-soul. It’s a fitting backdrop for an open discussion about racism, depression and the idea of the self in the world that constantly tries to undermine you. Owusu won’t take it lightly though, he decides to fight back, wielding sharp sentences and throwing soul-wrenching poetry straight at you. Shields down.

Yeule

An ethereally enigmatic persona dreamed into life by Singaporean songwriter Nat Ćmiel, inspired by the Final Fantasy character of the same name and a spin on their second real name, YEULE is here to disrupt your sense of reality. Spending a lot of their teenage years as a hikikomori (a form of severe social withdrawal), YEULE has existed in virtual realities and social platforms like Twitch or Discord where they could compose their ambient, post-pop universe freely. Always an artist, first painting, then transitioning to mixed-media and music, they’re fascinated by transcending physical matter. ‘Pixel Affection’, is a magnetic example of their set in simulation sonic scenarios. YEULE is a glitch princess from ambiguous online grounds who’s now ready to conquer our world. We can’t wait to see it happen.

Dreya Mac

Dreya Mac’s musical affair has been an intensely cool one, ever since she fell for dancing, got into BRIT School, made an appearance in Stormzy’s ‘Vossi Bop’ video and got into creating rad TikTok content. Since the first lockdown, she’s taken another passion, rapping, seriously, and released her debut single ‘Skippin’’ that got her spot on the UK’s scene as one of the most exciting new faces. 20-year-old mixes singing with rapping, riffs with 808s beats into explosive fuel, juiced up with free-flowing and raw to the bone lyrics. Working her way up almost on her own, she doesn’t mind teaming up, especially if the collab goes viral like her most recent one with FelixThe1st on ‘Own Brand Freestyle’. A new wave of British rap is coming our way. Anyone who wants to ride it, better hop on Dreya’s hot stuff.

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