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Eight emerging artists you need to hear: September 2023

The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From peak-time tech house and restless electro into darkwave, orchestral ambience and beyond, here’s September’s 2023’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of

Photo of Aletha in front of a green mesh fence
Ollie Patterson Studios

Manchester-based Aletha started out on radio in 2017, playing on stations like MAH Radio, Narr, Sable Radio and Worldwide FM. Today, she’s a resident DJ on Rinse FM, where she broadcasts a melting pot of sounds each month, from breaks, acid and electro to chilled-out jazz and summery house. Aletha’s versatile track selections and impeccable mixing have landed her stellar bookings this year, with highlights including two b2bs with Amaliah: one at Love International’s Garden Stage, and one at Glastonbury’s radical-themed Shangri-La.

From cutting her teeth on radio to garnering two seasons as a resident DJ at The Warehouse Project in Manchester, Aletha went on to launch her own party, CITRIC, in February last year. With a booking policy that gives headline slots to women, transgender and non-binary people of colour, she joined Amaliah and SUCHI at The Loft, which promptly sold out. While she tells DJ Mag she’s working on “something bigger” for the next instalment, her upcoming plans, at the time of writing, include joining the MARICIAS crew at Barbarellas Discotheque at Dimensions in Croatia, and playing festivals Lost Village and Rise. On 30th September, find her back at The Warehouse Project with Floorplan, Daphni, Saoirse, Peach, Kettama and many more. NIAMH O’CONNOR

For fans of: Gabrielle Kwarteng, Moxie, Amaliah

Glitchy photo of ex.sses wearing a red corset dress
Arianna Birattoni and Ellora Prior

Managing to hold down an integral spot in Sisu Crew, run experimental night ~\\ LILITH //~, be part of sound and movement duo SLUG with their sibling, and host a monthly show on Netil Radio, ex.sses shows no signs of slowing down. This year alone, the London-based artist turned out ecstatic, energetic mixes for her HÖR and Keep Hush (curated by Manuka Honey) debuts, both sets showcasing a sound she describes as a “moody rollercoaster”. They also released a remix of GoodMostlyBad’s ‘Cunnilingus’ on Earful Of Wax — describing it as “overstimulated ASMR” — and contributed tracks to compilations on both Caninal and Pollination. ‘scanner’, released last year on TT, was a twotracker inspired by “Blade Runner-esque landscapes”, that showcased a joyfully restless production style.

The producer will revisit the label in October, returning with the six-track ‘undo me’ EP featuring haunting vocal loops, faster, harder hooks and dizzying atmospherics. Their productions feature sublime soundscapes, straddling the dark space between sexy, melodic and heartfelt, while still being able to flex a disorientating, percussive style. This has landed her an opportunity to release on a very revered label next year — definitely one to watch out for. RIHANA OSMAN

For fans of: Jasmine Infiniti, Giant Swan, Nazar

Photo of Omar Ahmad in front of a cherry blossom tree
Zach Hussein
Omar Ahmad

With his lived experience as a third culture musician, Palestinian-American composer, producer, DJ and sound artist Omar Ahmad creates emotive, hypnotic electronic music that defies genre constraints. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, and a member of the experimental Mesma Records label based between Paris and New York City, Ahmad structures and layers his compositions using both recorded instrumentation and live manipulation. He draws from various sources to create a distinct musical language, combining rich orchestral textures, Arab polyrhythms, vocal samples and glittering electronica.

The complexities of cultural identity are the driving force of his recently released debut solo album ‘Inheritance’. On opening track ‘A Little Time For Me’, elegant Ryuichi Sakamoto-esque piano morphs into darkly-tinted electronics with an irresistible rhythmic undertow. ‘Gesso’ begins and ends with a collage of unknown voices, while bubbling percussion drives ‘Sham Oasis’. While not your standard club music fare, the album still boasts some impressive dancefloor-oriented moments — ‘Usra’ sits somewhere between Four Tet and Nicolas Jaar and is both electrifying and undeniably moving. ‘Inheritance’ is a statement-making debut, and on the strength of the record, Ahmad is definitely an artist to keep an eye on. CLAIRE FRANCIS

For fans of: Fennesz, Fatima Al Qadiri, Muqata’a

Black and white photo of JVXTA looking out a window

London-based Charles Field, better known as JVXTA, first appeared on our radar when he launched the label Hardmatter alongside Berlin producer Zapata back in 2017. The inaugural release was an EP entitled ‘Dream’ and the music is exactly that; Field’s tracks encompass hazy and luscious synths, with glistening melodies alongside dusty and nostalgic house beats. Since then he’s pricked the ears of labels near and far, with releases that followed on Distant Hawaii, Dansu Discs, A-Z Records, NYC-based Homage and a limited-edition cassette tape that came as the sixth release on Swamp Tapes.

This year he released a debut album, ‘Euston Blues’, that came on Brooklyn-based label Scissor & Thread headed up by Francis Harris and Anthony Collins. True to the sound of his early releases, it delves into the deeper side of house music, with a nod to the classic sounds of the genre through subtle vocal samples and piano chords, all infused with a smooth jazz vibe. Right now he’s working on several projects, including a V/A remix EP on Project Indigo alongside Lawrence and Al Zanders. He’s hosted a string of Hardmatter parties in various locations in London and there’s more to be revealed, as well as plenty of label releases in the pipeline, so watch this space. ANNA WALL

For fans of: Lawrence Guy, Frank & Tony, Seb Wildblood

Photo of Born Days wearing a black dress and mesh shawl standing in front of a large tree
Erica Contreras
Born Days

Melissa Harris, a Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist, has been releasing tracks under the Born Days banner since late 2016, with a gorgeous synth-and reverb-drenched sound that draws from darkwave, dreampop and various strains of gothiness. But her debut full-length, ‘My Little Dark’ — coming on October 6, 2023 via AudioSport Records — was born of difficulty. The album was originally supposed to be recorded in Harris’ home studio in Chicago, but the pandemic and her subsequent agoraphobia and anxiety made that impossible. Harris decided to drive across the country to the deserts of Arizona, where she spent three months writing and recording much of the album in a tiny bedroom closet.

Out of adversity comes amazing music, apparently. ‘My Little Dark’ explores Harris’s struggles with mental illness, trauma, and destructive cycling — despite those themes, or perhaps because of them, its highly textured songs are haunting gems, the kind of music that’s easy to get lost in. Give a listen to the album’s massively emotive title track, released early last month — with its pulsing bass tones, oceanic synth pads, her plaintive vocals and a cathedral’s worth of echo, it’s a subtly powerful tune that will resonate with many. BRUCE TANTUM

For fans of: Juliana Barwick, Neggy Gemmy, Glüme

Black and white photo of Rich DietZ playing behind the decks
Rich DietZ

From South Florida by way of New Jersey, Mike and Joe of Rich DietZ start a party wherever they land. With releases on DJ Susan’s Hood Politics Records and Word On The Street among others, the duo has garnered attention for their scorching brand of peak-time tech-house and funloving energy. Take this summer’s ‘The Come Down,’ for example — clocking in at a smooth 126bpm, this sizzling original comes jam-packed with roaring builds, scattered claps, and bellowing synths, culminating in a cut that hits like an early morning Red Bull and vodka (though much like indulging in the cocktail, you’re bound to be winded after).

The twosome also happily share their work with fellow DJs and producers through their Rich DietZ TreatZ feed on SoundCloud, where their free bootlegs, edits, and mashups are always on hand to add flavor to any set. Though the Sunshine State may be where the crowd knows them best, they’re building an international reputation too, with regular plays on SiriusXM, BPM, and BBC Radio 1, plus performances at Amsterdam Dance Event in October and Your Paradise in Fiji still to come. Now, let’s get full on these beats. MEGAN VENZIN

For fans of: Chris Lorenzo, Cloverdale, Westend

Photo of BUZZ wearing a silver corset in front of a gradient background
Nas Bagado

Katy Perry, Bebe Rexha, and Kylie Minogue are stadium-filling superstars, but in the world of pop, it takes a village to attain that kind of recognition. For example, all three can credit LA-songwriter BUZZ for Platinum-certified hits, which she worked on before launching her solo project in 2021. This May, the electropop artist dropped her most ambitious collection yet, titled ‘On Matters Of Searching’ EP. Written almost entirely in the mountains outside of Los Angeles’ city limits, the eight-tracker pulls inspiration from nature and science, at times begging the philosophical question: What exists beyond humanity?

This query is especially apparent in ‘Different Sun’, an atmospheric production with profound lyrics about accepting a world all but doomed, and what it takes to start again. BUZZ’s airy vocals spin the chilling topic into a call for hope — a theme captured well throughout the project’s moving selections. “It’s constantly putting me in different scenes in my head — scenes that all have a tone of wonder and awe for nature, its unknowns, and the mystery of consciousness,” BUZZ says of her self-produced debut EP. “It’s a soundtrack built outside of the gender binary, and outside the dimension of this reality, into a more innate essence of life apart from society”. It’s also one of the more poignant listens we’ve encountered this summer, so pop it on. MEGAN VENZIN

For fans of: BANKS, Ellie Goulding, London Grammar

Photo of Kingcrowney holding a trumpet in front of an industrial background
Sally Twigg

Mark Crown isn’t exactly a stranger to the music biz. The DJ, producer, and trumpet player has worked with Rudimental for years, and has contributed his horn skills to songs from Rita Ora, Gorgon City, and Jess Glynne, among others; he’s also released his own tracks, largely in the straight-up-house-with-a-touch-of-jazz mode. Yet despite his years of experience, and even though his releases have a confident swagger to them, he’s somehow remained a bit under the radar. ‘Coat On’, released in late August on Soul Quest Records, might be the song to change that.

The tune is a collaboration with his fellow Londoner, Zoe Kypri, who is herself something of a veteran — those are her passionate vocals on Made By Pete’s recent ‘Horizon Red’, for instance. ‘Coat On', brimming with lush vocal harmonies, emotive melody, and subtly effective instrumentation, is a beauty — reminiscent of the kind of material that labels like Naked Music or OM Records used to release in the late ’90s, but with an extra dollop of soul. And that’s no bad thing. BRUCE TANTUM

For fans of: Jay Denes, Lisa Shaw, Tortured Soul