There’s a slang word Kenyans use for what French/Kenyan artist Stephane Stalon and producer KiliHippie have achieved with their collab track “IMMM.” The word ‘tamu’ (directly translating to “sweet” in Swahili) is hummed and howled by Nairobi audiences when they hear a silky smooth, jazz-infused track, led by laid back melodies and spaced out drums with brave lyrics and vocal vulnerability delivering subtly powerful truths. Stephane Stalon is a member of young music collective called “Bahati Bookings” on a mission to transform the Kenyan scene with their heartfelt energy, fearless fusion music and skilled lyricism, bridging the space between rap and jazz culture.
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Don Ngatia’s voice exudes an angelic melancholy spirit that belies his youth. Graceful melodies weave around a soulful plucked guitar, echoed by delicately layered harmonies to build a eerily beautiful atmosphere. Born in Kenya, Ngatia relocated to Boston after attending Berklee College of Music. His songs speak of mortal pain and resilient spirituality, painted by poetic lyrics revealing his deep-rooted romanticism. His 2014 breakout hit “Solitude” seamlessly ebbs and flows from sadness to joy, channeling raw acoustic energy to create a truly poignant piece of music.
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Esther Kirabo is a Swedish singer-songwriter and producer whose musical journey began when she joined a church choir at the age of six, learning to play drums and honing her vocal skills. Fast-forward to 2017, and her debut single ’Kill U’ was released to the world; a song about insufficient love, it showcases the power of the 23-year-old’s graceful voice, and attracted significant attention leading to a performance at the Swedish Grammy Awards. The track’s B-side ‘Blunt’ is inspired by Shakespeare’s classic tale ‘Romeo & Juliet’, with production blending an early 00’s garage sound with more contemporary upbeat R&B. As fans eagerly await new music, the excitement builds around this distinctive talent.
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In the Aymara language, “Churupaca” is a giant adaptable, multi-talented insect that can swim, fly, jump and hunt, amongst other skills; thus, the Buenos Aires neo-orchestra found the perfect name for their project. Formed by a diverse group of musicians of various disciplines, Churupaca stand out for their acoustic sentimentality and the romanticism of their lyrics. Together, members Juana, Fefo, Ricardo, Darío, Joaquín and Pablo gave birth to their second record this year, entitled “Antes de Mañana” (“Before Tomorrow” in English). The fifteen-track masterpiece guides us on a journey through countless textures and styles from across Latin America and the world, with folk and soul influences alongside classic elements of the tango, burlesque and waltz. The album’s instrumental exuberance is defined by the dramatic qualities of the wind and string sections, the sumptuous accordion melodies and Juana’s emotive, longing vocals, creating a rich, multi-layered body of work to be savoured.
“Oh Wah” is a powerhouse collaboration between Kenyan artist Blinky Bill and Nigerian singer-songwriter Nneka. Featured on Bill’s new album “Everyone’s Just Winging It And Other Tales”, the song showcases his rich production skills, as a heart-wrenching blend of echoing guitars, tribal chanting and driving percussion interweave beneath lyrics crying out for peace. The chemistry between Blinky Bill’s thick, low voice and cryptic wordplay and Nneka’s husky voiced howls creates a distinct energy, making for an infectious anthem with an important message from an African perspective.
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Claire Mortifee’s debut album “Medicines” possesses several gems and her collaborative track “No Rollies” with David Morin is one of the smoothest. The combination of Mortifee’s songwriting and Morin’s sweet vocals make for a timeless cut, with all the softness of old school R&B melodies, as harmony stacks and the suspense of a standout bridge bump against a warm fat bassline and shamelessly sassy snare hits. Active in her hometown community of Toronto, Mortifee pops up often in California for her uniquely dynamic live shows, displaying her depth of lyrical delivery and showcasing the physicality of her music as she snakes across the stage in metallic spandex with an endless smile and powerfully natural magnetism.
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Mopiano takes the definition of DIY as a serious matter. The rising Swedish artist writes and produces all of his work; starting out creating his own music from his bedroom back in 2012, he found it hard to find artists who could adapt the sound that he created, so he started to sing by himself. He went on to work on projects such as DEXYxMO, best known for the hit song ‘Project X’ and is currently active with his debut EP ‘Late Night Outdoor’. Newly-released single ‘Undercover Paper Chaser’ is as smooth as the name of the title, with a beat to make even the stiffest dancer move and a melodic blend of sung and rapped vocals. What’s for certain is that this is only the beginning for Mopiano and his home-cooked smooth bangers.
Nairobi based artist Loa Myst drops her debut single “In The Waters”, a soulful blend of synths and live instrumentation side chained to the pulsing heartbeat of minimalist drums and a surprising bassline that slides across an intricately layered sonic collage. Myst’s voice is strong, smoky, soothing and sweet all at once, switching effortlessly from rich RnB melodies to percussive rap breakdown as the track’s production morphs fluidly as the track progresses; the song is produced by Kenyan artist Nu Fvnk, a co-founder of the fast growing Producer/DJ collective, EA Wave, producing an eclectic cross section of some of the most alluring alternative pan-African artists. The pair’s full length collaborative EP “WADE” is set for release in November 2018.
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Danish synth-pop duo GENTS are uniting the retro energy of the 80’s with a forward-thinking approach to create emotional, futuristic music. The band consists of Theis Vesterløkke’s productions and Niels Fejrskov Juhl’s warm, deep vocals, combining to create a distinctive rich sound; their latest release ‘Moments’ serves up a pair of airy, Bowie-esque songs with a consistent melancholic tone, building anticipation for their next moves in 2019.
Korean duo Offonoff met at university, and developed such chemistry in their musical collaborations that they decided to drop out of school together. Comprised of vocalist Colde and producer 0channel, the pair released their official debut single ‘Bath’, and Colde has now made his solo debut with a project called ‘Wave’. Crossing multiple genres, the enterprising singer’s drowsy but absorbing voice has a unique quality to draw in the listener and create an easy, laid-back atmosphere; lead single ‘Sunflower’ sees Colde’s murmuring voice spinning a relaxed melody, describing his adoration towards his crush with a hazy energy reflected in the song’s visuals.
La Garfield emerged five years ago in the Mexican city of Guadalajara as the victors of a high school band contest project. The 8-piece group were originally focused on jazz, but have been adding elements of funk rock, pop and disco as their sound has progressed over their three released albums to date. The intention of the band is to spread positive and loving sensations through their music; grooving basslines, rhythmic percussion and melodic wind sections provide the idyllic bohemian sound to La Garfield’s latest release “Todo Lo Rico”, while the soulful voice of lead singer Sofia contributes latin flavour and pure uplifting vibes.
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The daughter of a musician father, Regina Amado grew up with a passion for the beats of rhythm and blues alongside influences from the dancehall scene as a member of a multi-award-winning all-female crew. She has roots in both Sweden and the west African island nation of Sao Tomé & Principe from which her music draws inspiration; her debut solo single ‘Care For You’ is a powerful song filled with soul, with her delicate vocal melodies paying homage to golden era of RnB over a bashment-infused bounce for a vibrant modern sound. An authentic and charismatic rising star, Amado is definitely one to watch.
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Ruru delivers flair and originality to the Manila’s vibrant music scene. Her use of mellow synths and percussion alongside a smooth and soulful voice hold influences of RnB and bedroom pop for a captivating mixture on her latest EP ‘Far Out.’ The artist, born Ru Qumbo, describes her music as “scenes that seem to have been taken straight out of a living room party involving balloons, aquariums, fizzy drinks, and a lot of introspection.”
- Sid Vashi is a recording artist from Mumbai, India. In 2017, he released the concept album ‘Azuma Kazuma,’ which received critical acclaim for its ambitious narrative arc and intricate musicality. The final collateral release from the album’s universe, the single ‘Birds’, was released in May of this year. Azuma Kazuma is a Bildungsroman set in the outer solar system in the far-flung future, telling the story of a young nondescript man overwhelmed by existential fear, the finality of capitalism and wistful memories. Over seven tracks, the album swings wildly from bass, to jazz, to indie ballads, all coloured in the tones of Sid Vashi’s warbling voice and labyrinthine electronica. In 2019, he plans to begin a fresh release cycle inspired by new surroundings and old musical traditions, tempered by his own unique irreverence.
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Danish band Barselona make smooth DIY-pop for every walk of teenage life. Rud Aslak and Rasmus Theodor met each other at an ‘efterskole’, a unique type of independent boarding school for young people between the age of 14 to 18, and together have risen to be one of the most promising duos in Danish music. Barselona’s tracks are characterised by slow-paced summery warmth, retro synth elements and vividly descriptive romantic storytelling about adventures in the sun. Their sophomore EP ‘Sommerkys’ (meaning ‘summer kiss’) adds extra layers of depth to their dream-like universe, with big things to come for the duo.
‘Koopa-Cabras’ is a unpredictable celebration of monsters and folklore. The latest release of Tropa Mágica, the musical project of brothers Rene and David Pacheco, the track stars modern mythological creature Koopa merged with a more cryptic Latin-American character in The Chupacabras, who’s name comes from the beast’s reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock.
The track starts with synth arpeggios that mark the “arcade videogame ultimate villain feeling”, before suspensive percussion appears followed by a bassline and surf style guitars that creates the tropical punk mood characteristic of the Pacheco Brothers. The siblings, based in Los Angeles but of Mexican roots, collaborated in this occasion with two other Latin artists: Fredo Ortiz and César Mejía.
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Kemunto’s delicately smooth vocals belie her raw, emotional vulnerability. Born and raised in Nairobi, the artist describes her sound as “afro-urban soul driven music”, penning a range of RnB inspired slow jams infused with reggae grooves. Accompanied on guitar by Edwin Majanta, her new acoustic version of the track “Maybe” is angelically haunting, consoling and beautifully heart wrenching all at once.
After an extended break from releasing music, Danish singer-songwriter Coco O. has returned to embark on a new two-track project. Previously known for her work with electronic outfit Quadron, her new solo singles “Bled For You” and “A Minor Detail” are united under the project title “Dolceaqua”, and thematically revolve around heartbreak. Featuring mellow, acoustic guitar accompanied by rich, cinematic strings, the songs are carried by her strong and sincere vocals; her lyrics are introspective and poetic, delivered over rhythms infused with the laid-back softness of Bossa Nova, a departure from her previous collaborative work with producer Robin Hannibal.
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Olympia is an enigmatic R&B/soul artist based in the Philippines. Born Anica Feliciano, she’s fast become one of Manila’s best kept secrets and has already worked with a number of notable artists within the Filipino scene, featuring on records from the likes of CRWN, Pamcy, Aries and more. ‘You’, the first single off the artist’s upcoming debut solo album, is a smooth melodic track filled with mellifluous tones reminiscent of laid-back afternoons.
SUMIN defines versatility. As a producer, creative director and singer-songwriter, the Seoul based artist’s talent was fostered under the care of her piano teacher mother, and music became the focus of her life. After years of successful projects in the K-pop scene, this year she finally released her first studio album ‘Your Home’, a diverse project filled with multi-faceted songs that express her perspective on love. Under this romantic theme, factors like affection, anger, difference, and sensuality are portrayed through the different styles & genres that represent each emotion at its best, with blasts of 80’s synthpop, R&B and house. The title track ‘너네 집(Your home)’ featuring guest vocals from Xin Seha, creates a fantastic feeling of dazzling adoration as synthesized dream-like melodies flow through a pulsating beat.