As its International Women’s Day, it seems only right to highlight some of the women in music doing incredible things. Here’s our Future Five for this year – may they have every success in 2019 in beyond!
Lava La Rue
Lava La Rue is exactly what you’ve been missing in your life, and from your go-to playlist. Representing the creative music collection NINE8, her debut EP Letra was launched in the summer of last year. She takes inspiration from Erykah Badu and Neneh Cherry and it’s clear to see that Lava La Rue is proud of where she comes from (West London); she’s passionate about sharing her music with the world. Standout tracks like Fucked It and Widdit perfectly showcase that she’s a triple threat: sickly sweet vocals, impactful lyric writing and an enviable rap flow, too. If you don’t know, get to know – Lava La Rue will be on my summer soundtrack for 2019.
Nabihah Iqbal has music woven into the very fibre of her being. Her regular NTS shows have gained a loyal following over the past year or so, as she showcases her favourite records spanning nations, decades and genre. From Italo house to reggae to punk, Iqbal never fails to surprise, educate and delight with her selections. She’s not just a talented DJ though, her skills as a producer and live performer leave audiences around the world in awe. Her debut album Weighing of the Heart (released on Ninja Tune in December 2017) is a glimmering, glowing collection of dreamy guitar pop, perfectly combining obvious inspiration from bands like Joy Division and The Cure with her own unforgettable sound. Look out for appearances in Marrakech, London and Leeds to name just a few this year.
Hailing from humble roots in the small city of Chester, Peaness have been climbing their way up the ladder of indie pop royalty. Think Strokes-esque guitar chords with divine feminine energy and a punk edge. That’s Peaness. Although still relatively unknown around the country, the three-piece have gained listens on major radio stations like BBC R1 and Radio X. With performances around the UK and Europe gaining the girls an adoring fanbase, we’re excited to see how they progress in 2019 – Kero Kero Bonito support and AYL Fest are already on the agenda. Oh, and they’ve just put out a song called Breakfast about Brexit.
It’s hard to believe that vocalist and songwriter Isabelle Brown is just 15 years old. But this incredibly talented lady could be the next MsLaurynHill; she’s that good. Her dreamy yet soulful vocals take the listener away, evoking a comforting nostalgia and familiar warmth in each and every one of her RnB tracks. Her sound is infectious too – we guarantee you’ll be humming along to Places from the moment you hear it. Isabelle has only released a handful of songs (her 03 EP was released last month) but she’s already been hotly tipped by The Fader and Vogue. We just know she’s one to watch this year.
2018 was the year that object blue started rising to prominence in the underground electronic music scene. 2019 will be the year that she climbs to the top. With a renewed residency on Rinse FM and regular sets across Europe alongside the likes of Ben UFO and Objekt, there aren’t many DJ-producers as exciting as this enchanting human being. Fans of experimental techno, if you’ve not yet heard her 2018 EP Rex – premiered by Mixmag -, you’re in for a serious aural treat. Erase everything you know about live performances and DJ sets: object blue is taking us on a journey of techno discovery, every single time she appears on stage or on the airwaves.
From Mexico City to Copenhagen via London – These are the Producers Pushing Techno Outside of it’s Comfort Zone. WORDS – JACK MCKEEVER
To the casual listener, Techno might occasionally seem like an insurmountable, soulless kind of music. But while cold, grey and metallic sounds still lay the foundation for much of the genre’s fervour, to write the most linear examples off as being representative is as dangerous as doing the same in any other genre. Artists like Marcel Detmann and the sadly passed Trevino (Marcus Intalex) have always revolved around this notion, and more recently the likes of Helena Hauff and Bruce have twisted the form to fit their uncanny, inimitable wills.
This edition of Future Five contains five rising and lesser-known artists who are incorporating a multitude of feeling, musical dexterity and evolutionary vision into their Techno orientated head space, pushing it to regions beyond its usual comfort zone.
Born in China and now based in London, object blue has a hugely rich tapestry of musical and literary culture to draw upon, and her earnest approach to incorporating both in her own productions makes for brain warping results. Her two 12” records to date have been released on Tobago Tracks and Let’s Go Swimming, proving that she’s already grabbed the ears of some of UK techno’s most forward-thinking minds. Tunes like ‘Act Like It Then’ from Do You Plan To End a Siege? Is the pinnacle of club-inflected home listening, opting for cavernous antics but using unnerving initiatives and – like most of her tunes – behaving far more confrontationally than anything that could be described as ‘club friendly’.
Her REX EP fuses Shakespeare’s King Lear and tumultuous personal experiences and takes tension to ecstatic new places; from the footwork glean of ‘(time to) Work’, to the rolling, multi-faceted sequencing of ‘Chipping Away at the Kingdom’ which sounds like a full-force charge at the palace walls. Akin to New York’s DISCWOMAN crew, her vehemently pro-equality transparency on social media seeps into the pours of her extraordinarily wonky production chops.
Those with a more-than-passing interest in dance music and political activism will probably be peripherally aware of New York’s DISCWOMAN collective. While Jamaica native SHYBOI is slightly less prolific than her comrades Ciel and Umfang in terms of her own productions, it’s with her DJ’ing that she’s starting to make a thunderous stir. Her Resident Advisor podcast has been one of the most replayable examples of searing, intense and fun hours of techno music so far this year. Its visceral, warehouse, feel is laced with a virtuosity that smashes gritty unknown edits & mind crushing classics together with immense confidence before a glorious denouement that rolls through tracks from Krome & Time, Sax, Future Sound of London and Tessela.
Like the rest of DISCWOMAN, SHYBOI’s unrelenting fight for equality and her musical nuance to match make her an essential figure to watch.
Copenhagen’s techno scene is becoming one of the most encapsulating in Northern Europe, and it’s all thanks to artists like Nikolaj Jacobsen. A producer, DJ and mastermind behind the city’s Fast Forward Productions outfit, his latest four-tracker for Euromantic – No Sex Only Feelings – not only has one of the best titles of any release this year, but also some of the most mammoth tunes. His music is a kaleidoscopic rush of bubblegum energy via the 140bpm format, embracing big room emotion that stops well short of cheesiness and offering enough percussive virtuosity to make for immersive home listening. He’ll appear on Kulor 001, the debut primer from Copenhagen legend Courtesy’s new label later this year, which will be sure to stamp both his and his rising futurists’ music on the map.
Originally from Tel Aviv, Mor Elian now spends her time between LA and Berlin, fruitfully contributing to two of the world’s most exciting party scenes. She’s a booker for LA’s Into The Woods crew, who have secured names as resonant as Kassem Mosse, DJ QU and hosted Bunker NY’s 15th anniversary session back in March. Later this year she’ll be knuckling down at two of Europe’s most legendary clubs, Phonox (London) alongside object blue and then a week later at Amsterdam’s De School with Randomer and Galaxian, proving the swiftness of her rise.
That ascent is as equally spurred (if not more so) by her productions. Across EPs such as Cymatic Ring and 2017’s Fairplex Drive, Elian has melded EBM, electro and expansive techno into one core. While the techno scene may be awash with examples of that same artistic expression at the moment, Elian’s work is amongst the most vital, frequently veering between rib-cage deconstruction (‘Feral chime’) and meditative, long-form dreaminess (‘Paralysed Focus’). She’s unafraid to wield a now slightly-worn formula into gripping new shapes and lead it down steely, gloomy alleyways and – at the same time – courage permeates highlights from behind the decks, like her excellent FACT mix broadcast in June.
Tomas Urquieta is a Chilean producer now based in Mexico City who I first heard through Mumdance’s NTS residency earlier this year. Just like a wealth of Mexico City’s techno outliers, his music is supremely primal, owing as much to industrial scree and eerie sample-based innovation as it does earthly Latin rhythmic sensibilities. His latest single is the title track from his forthcoming debut LP for Infinite Machine, Duenos de Nada, and in a way it fuses all the most experimental, spacious and precision-guided tendencies of the EPs that preceded it; smoky synths and dizzying bleepery feed off of each other, using their elemental cores to spur themselves along in deeply mesmerising fashion, particularly reminiscent of the no-nonsense rampage of his earlier track ‘Koob’. The darkest corners of Mexico City’s hulking city scape are laid bare across La Muerte De Todo Lo Nuevo and Manuscript too, making Urquieta’s work a beautiful introduction to the region’s techno mire.
In the wake of controversial leaders an apparent need for change is still rife in 2018 – however, the support for equality and representation within the media for previously segregated and outcasted communities has never been more prevalent. If you’ve been wondering why so many rainbow flags have been flying high, outfits have been adorned with the same colours on major red carpet ceremonies (by the likes of Janelle Monae at The BET Awards earlier this year), or your timeline has been flooded with a talk of Pride – you’re in luck. June is Pride Month; celebrated each year to honour the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan – the major US Gay Liberation Movement – The LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Gender Fluid, Intersex and Asexual + more) community is pushed into the spotlight, as an advocacy of support and freedom they once lacked. Throughout history, the queer community has been largely misunderstood – and even been taboo talk – with the media ignoring, misrepresenting and largely unsupportive in turn acting as a further struggle for many. Pride Month aims to combat this and at MCR Live, we too want to fly a flag celebrating the musicians that are helping to change the perception of what it is to be queer – those musicians that are helping others accept and understand the community & celebrate the individuality we all have, using their differences as a platform to help others to be themselves regardless of sexuality.
Bec Sandridge is the Australian singer of queer women’s power anthems we never knew we needed. Despite being around for several years, Bec Sandridge’s recent releases have become more assertive with her LGBTQ+ experiences – her older songs reference her experiences as a queer woman poetically, whilst her current songs are blunter. For example, Sandridge’s most recent single ‘I’ll Never Want a BF’ recounts an experience many gay women will experience – having friends and family rejecting their sexuality, assuming that they just haven’t met “the right guy” yet. Sandridge vehemently rejects this stating “I’ll never have a boyfriend, just ‘cause you think I should”. Her songs defy the heteronormative expectation that a femme, queer woman should be primarily attracted to men.
Sandridge’s style is a synth-laden, 80s inspired sound with unbelievably unique acrobatic vocals. Her combination of LGBTQ+ experiences in songs and unique sound make her a standout in her field & Bec is bringing the popular “independent woman” pop-trope (thanks Spice Girls) to queer women in an 80s package tied together with plenty of red lipstick and blunt brows.
If you’ve heard popular music in the last two years, you’ve probably heard Big Freedia’s voice. However, If their name doesn’t sound too familiar, it’s no surprise – though their voice has been heard by millions in both Drake’s ‘Nice for What’ and in Beyonce’s ICONIC ‘Formation’ videos, few people know the queer artist bringing New Orleans’ bounce music to the mainstream. Being a black, gay artist from deep south US, Freedia has overcome major adversity to reach success. Despite almost being a “ghost” within the mainstream of the typically challenging industry, Freedia is constantly creating and advocating to secure their position.
Freedia is a massive influencer for the LGBTQ+ community by simply being themselves in a genre of music that has little queer representation. Freedia accounts for their ability to be out and proud in such a public way to their mother, who they tragically lost to cancer in 2014. By being apologetically queer and innovative in music, Freedia is streamlining the way for many queer artists of colour as well as paving the way for a completely new style of music in the mainstream.
Recently headlining LA Pride, SUPERFRUIT are well known for their influence within the LGBTQ+ community. Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying, members of acapella group Pentatonix, created their duo SUPERFRUITfour years ago through YouTube. However, the lads only just released original music in 2017 with their debut album Future Friends. The album features pop dance bangers including ‘How You Feeling?’ and ‘Imaginary Parties’. The album also features LGBTQ+ anthems like ‘GUY.exe’ which openly discusses the lads desire to find the perfect man, as well as the song ‘Bad 4 Us’ which boasts an iconic music video – an animated Super Mario style princess abduction story. However, in true SUPERFRUIT fashion, the video ends a-typically with the two princes getting together, alongside the two princesses getting together.
SUPERFRUIT constantly break stereotypes with their videos – another instance being ‘Worth It’ which features two young dancers in reversed gender roles being both a beautiful video, and extremely well choreographed. Whilst it doesn’t make a loud statement, the constant denying of norms and affirming gender expression has lead the group to become a face for pride throughout the US for many young individuals.
Mykki Blanco is possibly one of the most open queer artists around at the moment. Having opened up about being HIV positive and experimenting with a trans identity, Blanco is truly an advocate by example. Similar to Big Freedia, Mykki Blanco is a gay, black artist who faced adversity from a young age. After gaining traction in the early 2010s after touring with Björk and quickly adopting a celebrity fan base, Blanco began to feel stagnant and restricted by hiding his HIV secret; Blanco feared that by telling the world that man behind the fun Mykki Blanco character was HIV positive, it would ruin his career and any chances at further growth. However, he was shocked by the positive response – being the only openly HIV positive artist in twenty years, Blanco represents part of the community that is often forgotten alongside highlighting the struggle that defined the early years for LGBTQ+ equality.
Upon listening to Blanco’s work, his rapping style stands out incredibly. Showcasing both male and female expression, Blanco uses music to convey personal hurdles – at the start of his career the singer struggled with his gender identity for a while, identifying as trans with female pronouns whilst he was figuring himself out, but now Blanco tends to use the male counterparts and fully embraces fluidity. Blanco recently said in a statement that at the start of his career he believed that “becoming a trans woman would make life ‘easier than being a femme gay man’ and we all know this is not true. I am a Gay man, but my Trans journey is who I am.”
Blanco’s experience is extremely valid but is often judged harshly and today there is still a stigma toward those unsure, or experimenting, with their identity. Whilst equality and acceptance of LGBTQ+ is at a better place than ever before – and about time, too – there is far less understanding and acceptance of gender and sexual fluidity. By being a prominent artist who has been open about his struggles with gender and sexuality, Blanco is a wonderful role model and advocate for the community.
Affectionately dubbed “lesbian Jesus”, Kiyoko is well known for her visually stunning, short film-like, music videos. With her first video, “Girls like Girls”, Kiyoko made it known that LGBTQ+ issues were a focal point of interest within her platform. The video shows the process of two adolescent girls falling in love and the difficulties many young queer women face. As with all her videos, Kiyoko had a massive creative influence over the story and direction an all of Kiyoko’s videos deal with lesbian relationships & their beauty as well as the harsh realities.
In mainstream media, there’s a lack of representation for queer women but Kiyoko is gracefully changing that spotlight. Instead of the glorified and hyper-sexualised lesbian relationships that so many influencers typically portray, Kiyoko’s videos are realistic and from a queer woman’s perspective. The perspective and outlet that Kiyoko showcases is massively helping many young LGBTQ+ people in the fight for acceptance and understanding amongst the masses. Though Kiyoko’s songs may not be as vocal about her sexuality – similar to Sandridge’s – she uses her visual platform to give young queer women a place to both understand, and accept themselves.