Sonar is back in June 2017 with an exciting line up and program of cultural delights.
Here’s a breakdown of the bass music artists we recommend you take time to go and see.
Some artists are especially gifted when expressing themselves on the microphone. AJ Tracey falls into this category and has already become, in just a short period of time, one of the key names in today’s burgeoning grime scene. Tracey -who forms part of the MTM collective alongside other young MCs like Big Zuu, Jay Amo, PK, Saint and Lyrical Strally- needed just two EPs, “The Front” and “Alex Moran”, to jump straight in to the genre’s premier league. He recently collaborated on a track for the new Clams Casino’s album (sharing the mic with none other than A$AP Rocky) and has worked with legendary garage producer MJ Cole. In December, his most recent EP “Lil Tracey”, managed to surpass in quality even his previous two releases.
“Too Many Voices” (Modern Love, 2016) marks the latest excellent chapter in Andy Stott’s career. The Mancunian producer continues to re-write his own style, implementing small changes to each new work: in this case the use of overlapping voices, bringing further expressiveness to his already magnetic material. Stott has discovered his own singular sound where house music is immersed in a dense sea of dub, and dance rhythms are soaked in mercury. His recent output has made him one of the most respected producers in the world, and his concert at SonarComplex is a Sónar by Day program essential.
The rapper Bejo, delivers prodigious rhymes and a fully developed sense of humour. The artist, originally hailing from the Canary Islands, now resident in Madrid, recently garnered media attention thanks to his impudent video clips made by confidant Cachi Richi, with the hope of going viral (he describes himself as a YouTube tutorial addict). Also noteworthy, of course, are his lyrics that brim with friendly witicisms drawing ontypical, sweet accented turns of phrase peculiar to the Canary islands. He first caused a stir last summer with the track “Mucho”, followed by the amusing “Poco”. When his fans had hoped that his latest hit would be called Bastante, Bejo went off on a tangent and reaffirmed himself with the track “El puto amo de casa”.
Many things have changed since Malaga’s Sergio Ruiz (aka Stay Puft) and Enrique Gervilla (aka Broken Lip) renamed themselves as BSN Posse in 2011, shedding their previous BackStreetNoise moniker. The first music styles delivered under their new alias were dubstep and future garage, but over the years they have been assimilating everything they have discovered en route. Consequently, soul, roots, funk and hip hop have merged with their footwork sound of recent years. This unusual combination has served to define their own work as well as the first two years of their label, Iberian Juke. The Americanized Andalusians will return to the festival following their amazing SonarCar show in 2014.
Christian Tiger School
Cape Town duo Christian Tiger School – comprised of Luc Veermeer and Red Bull Music Academy alumni Sebastiano Zanasi – blur the lines between house, techno, instrumental hip-hop and experimental electronics. They released their debut album, Chrome Tapes, in 2015 through the legendary Tommy Boy label and have opened for touring acts like Little Dragon and Hudson Mohawke. The duo’s shimmering “Hey Arnold, Dad’s Here” is beautiful and banging, an ethereal escape that hints at the future of instrumental music.
A few years ago, Clams Casino became one of the most important producers in new underground and atmospheric hip hop, almost overnight. He recently cemented this reputation with “32 Levels”, his first record in four years. For the album he recruited several of the American scene’s best MCs, including Vince Staples, Lil B, Kelela and his friend and regular accomplice A$AP Rocky, all sharing their respective talents with the producer, although the real strength of this record are the slow, ghostly and addictive beats that are the hallmark of his sound. The New Jersey beatmaker -who prefers to remain in the background and is averse to media attention- will offer a special DJ set at Sónar by Night, in one of his rare public appearances. Expect narcotic rhythms, hallucinating sounds and beats from another world.
Earl Sweatshirt is a critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful rapper who releases through his own Tan Cressida imprint on Columbia Records. His debut album, Doris, debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts and he followed it up with the self-produced and equally celebrated album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. His highly technical and deeply personal raps have been praised by influential media such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NPR, and The New Yorker amongst others.
2017 will finally see the release of the long awaited first album from Evian Christ; on none other than Warp Records, as well as a brand new live show, which he is currently in the midst of preparing. Sónar by Day will offer a rare opportunity anywhere in the world to see him perform this year. The young and extraordinary British producer has already discovered a very personal and instantly recognizable sound. From day one he has mixed hip-hop beats with 90s trance progressions and resonances, adding elements of advanced grime. His last performance at Sónar saw him collaborate with Emmanuel Biard for his onstage show and reached prodigious heights. This year promises to be even better, after months of intense work in the studio.
Matthew Barnes has finally finished recording the third Forest Swords album. It has been three years since the release of the highly acclaimed “Engravings” (Tri Angle, 2013) and expectations for his new material and live show remain sky-high. At this moment in time information is still limited: we do know that he has recorded several passages of strings, vocal parts and a wind section for the album, and that his transition to live will be supported by scenic and visual elements (his compositions effortlessly evoke images) created especially for the occasion.
The incredibly talented Barnes has released the “Dagger Paths” EP (2010), the single “Rattled Cage” (2010) and the LP “Engravings”, in addition to the music created for the dance piece “Shrine”, which came out in the summer of 2016. Each of these works is thoughtful and exceptionally well produced, discovering an unprecedented territory between ambient, ancestral folk and slowed down techno-dub. If we take into account the quality of everything he has made to date, his concert at SonarHall is expected to be one of Sónar by Day’s high points.
Ghostly Enemies is the collaborative project of electronic music producer Steven Sanchez and singer Juanjo Pedro. Their sound combines soaring, melancholic melodies with slick, gloomy production, settling somewhere in the pocket between electropop and synth-laden trip hop. At Sónar Festival 2017, the Barcelona duo will be representing for their very own hometown crowd.
In the crowded and competitive UK/ and grime scene, Giggs is a solid bet. Some may have only recently discovered him, but for many years he has been working intensively on rhythms and rock-solid rhymes, with a deep, incredibly varied and seemingly limitlessly creative discourse. 2016 was an important year for him, releasing his latest album, “Landlord” (featuring a collaboration with Stormzy), and launching the SN1 label, also the name of the collective he leads. The labels’ first release was mixtape on which he shares the limelight with co-conspirators including Joe Grind, Kyze and T. Boost. After many years of hard work, Giggs is now experiencing a particularly good moment in his career and will perform at Sónar by Night. Born in Peckham, South London – one of the capitals centers of grime – Giggs released his debut album “Walk in Da Park” in 2008, a record full of verbal twists and word plays. The following year he signed to XL Recordings, and has since been perfecting his style on numerous albums and mixtapes; A street style sustained by his enviable communicative ability and beats often closer to hip hop than to grime, without shying away from the dominant trap sound of recent years. “Landlord” has been heralded by critics and audiences alike, and has seen Giggs reach the top of his game, with no signs of slowing down.
Jerrilynn Patton will touch down at Sónar after astonishing the world with “Dark Energy”, and is about to do so again with her long awaited second album “Black Origami”, on Planet Mu. The American producer uses footwork to build amazing rhythmic structures, but the truth is that her sound is already so personal and unconventional that it is hard to attribute it to one particular genre. Performing live, Jlin is even more passionate than when in the studio, constructing exciting meshes of percussions, timbres and melodies. Her Friday night concert at SonarLab is highly recommended, arrive early…
2017 will finally see the release of the debut album from Lunice. Its title (in principle) will be “360”, in reference to his global and panoramic vision of dance friendly rhythms, chiefly based around grime, trap, hip hop and new electronic trends derived from beats and breaks. Lunice is extraordinary: a top quality producer and a magnificent showman on stage, where his dance routines and movements already form an integral part of his concerts. After a gestation period in which he has focused on finalizing the details of his long-awaited album, the Canadian will present his new material at Sónar by Night with a typically energetic and supremely entertaining live show.
DJ, producer, software developer and an ardent fan of music and technology, Mario Nieto will demonstrate his indisputable skills with a set at Sónar by Night, prior to the DJ Shadow show. His extensive experience as a turntablist, the specialty for which he won several awards in his youth, enables Nieto to treat the decks and mixer as one more instrument. With this, he shapes his method of understanding and enjoying music, resulting in a rhythmic feast that continues to incorporate the hip hop sound that first defined him, but which in recent years has naturally evolved into the new forms of bass music and the sound spectrum we refer to as future beats.
If 2016 was all about Lady Leshurr, 2017 is Nadia Rose’s year. The young rapper from Croydon (only 22 years old) has posted just a couple of videos that have captured everyone’s attention: the first was “Station”, which demonstrated her amazing natural lyrical flow, followed by “Skwod”, a hip hop hit with ultramodern production and a pure London flavour, in which Nadia takes over the streets dancing and moving as if a star, an obvious metaphor for what is now actually happening to her. “Skwod” recently won the best video at the Mobo Awards (where she was also nominated as Best New Artist) and served as Rose’s perfect letter of presentation. More hits have followed since then, including the aptly entitled “Boom”, while her first album is due to appear imminently. We will be able to witness her skills first hand on the SonarVillage stage, and at this rate of growth her popularity will indeed transform her into a truly global star.
Many still remember the set from the St Louis redhead at SonarVillage two years ago, which is not unusual as Hook’s sessions always leaves a long lasting impression of his charisma and energy. Popular with his peers, Hook has an enviable ability to attract talent around him, recently releasing an album eloquently entitled “Relationships”, on which he collaborated with the young and promising Novelist, 21 Savage and Bulletproof Dolphin. He will demonstrate his versatility, reputation and DJ skills at Sónar by Night, playing between the concerts of Fat Freddy’s Drop and De La Soul.
Hsin-Lei Chao, better known as RayRay, works as a resident DJ at a couple of the biggest clubs in Taipei, Taiwan. Meanwhile she teams with friends in the studio to conjure trippy hip-hop and future bass bangers with a Technicolor touch. She’s competed in DJ tournaments in Asia and Canada, having won the Red Bull Thre3style national championship in Taiwan in 2013. She’s recorded with Skrillex, ghostwritten pop songs for Taiwan’s pop stars Kimberley Chen and JPM, and contributed a song to the soundtrack for the hit 2013 Chinese film Tiny Times 2. Chao grew up on hip-hop – indeed, in college she founded a club dedicated to it – and now she’s infusing her own grime- and trap-inspired dance productions with soulful grooves and jazzy harmonics, à la her heroes J Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest.
The meteoric rise of footwork has been well documented in recent years, but even as this once regional battle music has assumed an international dancefloor presence, not all of its figures have received their proper due. RP Boo, AKA Chicago producer Kavain Space, operates largely outside of the crew-based dynamics that dominate much of the footwork world, and while that means his younger counterparts occasionally receive more shine, there’s no denying that it was he who quite literally invented footwork with his 1997 track “Baby Come On”. Given that Space was first taught how to produce by Windy City legend and Dance Mania affiliate DJ Slugo, it’s no surprise that his productions are often raw and rooted in unorthodox sampling techniques.
He simply had the foresight to bump up the tempo, establishing a new template that lit a fire under an entire generation of dancers and producers. While Space’s archival records for Planet Mu (Legacy and Classics Vol. 1) have been widely celebrated, it’s important to note that he isn’t content to simply be a historical footnote. He’s continued innovating, and his celebrated 2015 album Fingers, Bank Pads, And Shoe Prints is proof that even as footwork has spread around the globe, there’s still no one that sounds quite like RP Boo.
Soulection presents Joe Kay + Jarreau Vandal
Hailing from Los Angeles, Soulection came to be in 2011 and is described as a global platform for moving culture. It could also be described as a collective of open-minded musicians and djs or as a label consolidating West Coast beats and bands. Whatever the descriptive tag, Soulection is great news for contemporary urban music in the United States. Soulection follow a Do It Yourself philosophy akin to punk with a catalogue consisting of reggae, soul, funk, house, jazz and any sound accompanied by a groove and a futuristic approach. A visit to Sónar was therefore inevitable and in 2017 two of its principal representatives, Joe Kay (co-founder) and Jarreau Vandal (a dj of Dutch origin and key member of the collective) will take over the controls to impart a deluge of sounds in their set at SonarVillage, the perfect time and place to enjoy their kaleidoscopic take on music.
The Soulection discography is wide and varied. Artists such as Kaytranada, Mr. Crmack and Ta-Ku have already featured on their label and they continue to regularly release top-quality material from emerging names on the American scene, as well as compilations in collaboration with other groups or related platforms. In addition to all of this, they have their own radio station, which began broadcasting in 2011, which already has more than 280 shows, some of them in collaboration with other stations, like the London’s Rinse FM. Their chief motto is “The Sound Of Tomorrow”, but the fact is, the music they love, release, play and share is timeless.
Star Eyes b2b Jubilee
With Star Eyes and DJ Jubilee behind the decks, you’re in for a wild ride and one hell of a good time. As members of two of the mightiest bass music empires in recent memory – Mixpak (Jubilee) and Trouble & Bass (Star Eyes), they’re known to navigate power frequencies with ease and expertise. Their selections can range from latin freestyle to Miami bass, grime, dancehall, hip-hop, techno and yet-uncharted territories and their unique chemistry sets them apart from the pack. With this dynamic duo in control, you won’t be leaving the dancefloor sweat-free or with a frown on your face.
Jelacee & DJ Lukey make up Stööki Sound, the most recent sensation to emerge from the bass music universe and London’s underground scene. Upon hearing them, Diplo -always on the lookout for new talent- immediately signed them to his Mad Decent label, resulting in a double artist release with Troyboi -another up and coming name from the UK- who also performed at last year’s Sónar. Jelacee & Lukey quickly felt the need to create their own environment in order to progress and have just taken two decisive steps in this direction: the creation of their own editorial platform, Ö.N.E. Worldwide, and the release of their first official work, “Ösiris”, an excellent EP consisting of grime, hip hop and future beats and brought together through live instrumental pieces, vocal tracks and guest MCs. They are guaranteed to make an impact at Sónar 2017 where they will perform on the SonarVillage stage at Sónar by Day.
Stöoki Sound began working together in 2013 and in just a short space of time have shown that with talent and without prejudice it is still possible to create music that sounds innovative and fresh in the overcrowded spectrum of bass music. The English duo’s compositions blending elements of trap, grime and hip hop are equally at home working in mid or high bpms. They have collaborated with producers and vocalists from their own generation, such as Hucci, Mura Masa, Mr. Carmack and Troyboi, with whom they share an afinity in their open and natural approach to composing and promoting their art form. These Londoners hope to conquer the world, hence the creation of the Stööki Movement together with designer Nadia Abbas, which includes the label, a fashion and jewellery line, commissioned visual projects and several other artistic strands. Next stop: SonarVillage.
t q d (royal t, dj q & flava d)
t q d are Royal-T, DJ Q y Flava D; three of the most important producers in British garage and bass music. Seperately each of them have carved out a solid career and reputation on the scene, but by pooling their talents they have created an even greater resonance than we could have hoped for. Together they will offer one of the most explosive sets of Sónar 2017, as part of the program curated by Resident Advisor at SonarLab: instrumental grime from the past and present, garage classics and 2Step, new bass house anthems, exclusive dubplates and bangers that spontaneously provoke the need to dance compulsively. Mark Taylor has been releasing grime and garage bombs for almost a decade as Royal-T, and has released new material on key labels from the English underground such as Butterz or Rinse. DJ Q was the youngest DJ to have his own show on BBC Radio 1Xtra, which denotes the high standard of his sets and his commitment to the bass community. He has released two albums, the last of which, “Ineffable”, on Local Action, boasts having created one of the bassline scene’s most breath-taking hits, “You Wot!” Next to MC Bonez, Flava D is probably the most influential and relevant woman in the entire scene, with two different releases on Butterz (two separate collaborations with her colleagues from tqd) and several grime and bass music hits that bring her own personal touch closer to pop and house music.