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Nine emerging artists you need to hear: August 2023

The latest and greatest DJs and producers rising to the top this month. From metal-infused batida and Aphexy electro into moody d&b, amapiano and beyond, here’s August 2023’s list of upcoming talent you should be keeping track of

Photo of Normalnada wearing a black coat with high-rise building in the background
Normal Nada The Krakmaxter

Eight years since Normal Nada The Krakmaxter’s first EP — ‘Transmutação Cerebral’ on Lisbon label Príncipe — was released, the elusive artist returned in June with his debut album ‘TRIBAL PROGRESSIVE HEAVY METAL’ on Nyege Nyege Tapes. Based between Guinea-Bissau in West Africa and Lisbon in Portugal, he previously produced under the mysterious monikers Qraqmaxter, CiclOFF and Erre Mente. As Normal Nada The Krakmaxter, however, he wields trap, bass, heavy metal and ambient, drawing initial inspiration from Angolan kuduro and tarraxinha textures. On the album, you can find anything from crisp percussion to snappy drums to erratic melodies like the penultimate track ‘Victory Dance’ or the off-kilter opener ‘Beautyful Caos’.

But the emotional and cinematic atmosphere in the final track, ‘Dedicado Ao Sem Abrigo Esperanca Ou Quando A Esperanca Morre’, shows a more poignant side to Normal Nada The Krakmaxter. Not only does it convey the explorative nature of his work, but it also emphasises his story-telling approach. Born and raised in the Republic of Guinea-Bissau before moving to Portugal aged 13 and living in Lisbon’s Santo António dos Cavaleiros housing projects for several years, he leans into batida styles, honouring his West African roots. A multifaceted artist in every sense — check out his anime- influenced ballpoint pen sketches — Normal Nada The Krakmaxter makes a welcome return from the ether. Niamh O’Connor

For fans of: Carl Finlow, Sync 24, DMX Krew

Photo of Alberta Balsam wearing a silver shirt and posing against a blue sky
Alberta Balsam

Rotterdam artist Aniek de Rooij, aka Alberta Balsam, has been crafting her own take on analogue electro, with strong doses of Detroit techno, acid and a touch of IDM. She’s just released a seven-tracker called ‘15 Billion Elektrovolt’ for Dutch behemoth Clone/Dub Recordings, which displays various moods, from sinister twisted melodies akin to the Tortured Records spin-off Electrix catalogue, to dreamy Aphex Twin-esque pads with saturated analogue drums. Her career was already off to a flying start, with a debut EP, ‘Higher Dreams’, signed to Amsterdam’s Dekmantel back in 2021.

Alberta Balsam’s DJ sets resonate with the aesthetics and vibe of her productions, with plenty of energy and twists and turns. Her Dekmantel podcast is a perfect example of her many shades and expressions, with a journey through broken beats, dusty electro and techno. She also has a hardware-based live show that she’s been road-testing, with a new one in the works that will incorporate more audiovisual components. The last few months saw her playing Tresor in Berlin, C12 in Brussels, and DGTL Amsterdam, with shows at De Sering in Amsterdam, Worm in Rotterdam, and De Gin in Tilburg to come. The next musical output in the works is an album to further explore her passion for sonics and electronics. Anna Wall

For fans of: Carl Finlow, Sync 24, DMX Krew

Photo of Amy B wearing a white t-shirt and black dungarees, standing in front of a graffiti background
Amy B

In 2019, Amy B decided to follow her passion for music beyond raving and took up DJing courses at London Sound Academy; four years later, she’s a certified rising star. Falling in with Hackney’s Subtle Radio crew, she landed her own show, In Wxmen We Trust, in 2020, which aimed to address the gender imbalance in drum & bass and further afield (including in skateboarding, another of her recent pursuits). In 2023, she rebranded the show to Sessions, opening it up to all artists, with a particular focus on underground talent. “My residency also gives me a purpose and something to look forward to every month,” she says. “I don’t just love playing at Subtle Radio, I also enjoy hanging out with the team. They’ve not just built a radio station, they’ve built a community.”

Though she’s also been known to play footwork, garage and dubstep, Amy primarily hones in on the “dark, moody” side of d&b — powerful, rolling tracks with gritty basslines. She cites Bungle, Marcus Intalex and Break as influences, along with Doc Scott’s consistently cutting-edge 31 Recordings label, and Sicknote, co-founder of South London’s Planet Wax record shop, where she’s held several ‘Amy B invites’ events. With plans for more shows — both on air and IRL — and to produce her own music, the only way is up. Ben Hindle

For fans of: Break, Skeptical, Sabrina

Photo of MIXRMOE wearing a black cap and sunglasses while posing

Where London and the Midlands have borne witness to the rise of homegrown genres such as Afroswing or beloved imports like amapiano, the North of England has, for many, seemed like an impenetrable wall when trying to break the modern sounds of the African diaspora. Cue: Mixrmoe, the Manchester DJ whose mission is to promote African music in the North, whether through his FOMO Brunch events (previous line-ups have included BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Remi Burgz and RECESS resident Super Midz) or as Afro-R&B star Gabzy’s official DJ.

Mixrmoe earned his stripes on the infamous Midlands university party circuit, a rite of passage for many London DJs due to the high-pressure nature of multi-genre, condensed sets paired with demanding audiences. A Mixrmoe set is an experience in itself — he spins everything from Afro-house to Afrobeats in a way that welcomes and pleases both newcomers and seasoned vets alike. Whatever he’s doing is working; he opened for this issue’s South African cover stars Major League Djz at the tail-end of 2022, months after playing at the inaugural DLT Malta festival, and he’s dipping his toes back into production, so keep your ears open for an amapiano-infused summer anthem. Rahel Aklilu

For fans of: SPINALL, DJ Tunez, Asake

Photo of Chace looking directly into the camera with dark shadows around him

At the intersection of melodic filth and effervescent pop sits Chace, a 24 year old drummer and producer who’s already a household name among dance music heads in his Shanghai hometown. Now based in Los Angeles, he’s winning over stateside audiences with his earworm-worthy hooks and enveloping feel-good soundscapes.

The Monti Ark label boss isn’t exactly new to the EDM game — he dropped his debut ‘Destination’ EP with Barong Family back in 2016, including a sugary-sweet collab with Dutch production trio Yellow Claw (who once referred to Chace as “one of those extraordinary musicians you encounter only once every few years”) — but it’s clear the rising star’s sound has reached a richer maturity since then. July 14th marked the arrival of ‘Don’t Get My Hopes Up,’ an inviting groove that sees the Chinese export transform slow R&B-tinted energy into a rolling radio-ready heater. It’s the type of tune that bores its way into your head, and lives there rent free. Go ahead, let it stay awhile. Megan Venzin

For fans of: DJ Snake, Medasin, Yellow Claw

Photo of Pettson with shadows across his face looking to the side

The Netherlands’ Roeland Bouwman, who works under the Pettson banner, has been perfecting his sonic magic for a while now. His Soundcloud page is brimming with DJ sets that veer between elegant ambience and jacking assertiveness, much of it endowed with the kind of vibey musicality that’s a rare find. There is also a handful of productions that are equally rewarding — a set of tunes succinctly titled ‘Some Productions 2021-2022’ is well worth a listen.

But his recent ‘Satchidananda’ EP, a five-track collection released on Infinite Pleasure, might be the best thing he’s done. Coming on like a cross between the crystalline burbles of Mixmaster Morris’ Irresistible Force project and the experimental dancefloor workouts of Luke Vibert, Bouwman happily pulls in multiple influences — he’s particularly fond of skittering breakbeats, it seems — to create something quite beautiful. Sign us up for more. Bruce Tantum

For fans of: Ian O’Brien, Or:la, Global Communication

Photo of Carréin front of a mesh background with red lighting

If you’re from the LA area, and if you’re into hard-charging, bass-heavy techno and breakbeats, you’re likely familiar with Fast At Work, the crew that’s been helming some of the best ravey get-togethers in town over the past couple of years. One of the forces behind its success is Carré, who co-founded the party and serves as one of its resident spinners. She’s a great DJ, one who’s willing to take chances and drop whatever’s good and whatever works into her sets, but she’s never been known as a producer.

Until now, that is — Carré has just released a two-track EP dubbed ‘Tilted’ on the Berlin label SPE:C, and it’s pretty darn awesome. The deep-as-they-come title track is a slinky dubstep-tinged groover, almost minimalist in construction yet ineffably sexy; ‘Fainting’ boasts an equally walloping low-end and a propulsive 152 BPM pace, yet flows by like a reverie; either would do some serious business over a big sound system. ‘Tilted’ may be her first EP — but it almost certainly won’t be her last. Bruce Tantum

For fans of: Pangaea, Martyn, Shed

Photo of a.k.a. skips sitting on the floor wearing a blue harness and holding a silver sphere
a.k.a. skips

During Pride month, a.k.a. skips hit the stage at San Francisco’s Record Bar in the company of fellow notables Cakes Da Killa, Uffie and Jasmine Infiniti. During this debut, listeners got an introductory taste of the producer’s fierce underground rave aesthetic, but it’s hardly the first time they’ve been exposed to his work. Before the SF-bred, LA-based producer became a.k.a. skips, he was Ducky, an artist known for guitar-slinging live performances and releases on labels like Astralwerks, Deadbeats and Dim Mak. Two years ago, he retired the moniker and went on hiatus, taking that time away to transition privately.

Now, back in the spotlight, a.k.a. skips is showing off his many talents (he’s a painter, photographer and tattoo artist, too) and most importantly a fresh new sound. August 2nd marks the arrival of his bass-happy single, ‘I.T.C.T.M.’, and earlier this summer, he dropped ‘My Only Mistake’, a menacing dancefloor driller packed with sawtooth synth stabs and feverish percussion. Both are cuts that send the heart rate soaring, and mark a departure from Ducky’s atmospheric, pop-tinged 2021 LP ‘It’s Gonna Be Great’ — but as the lingering title track from that first (and last) album suggested, this chapter is looking to be even better. Megan Venzin

For fans of: Altern 8, Schacke, Hadone

Photo of Asch Pintura surrounded by green plants in front of an orange background
Asch Pintura

Asch Pintura has been living life on fast-mode — but when she’s guiding clubbers through one of her marathon sets or mixes, it feels like time has been suspended. Born and raised in New York state, the celestial selector relocated to London five years ago amidst the surging melodic house movement. Ever since, she has been enthralling UK crowds with her deep, flowing, and emotive DJ sets. Citing Mees Salomé and Eelke Kleijn as influences, Pintura’s selections span melodic techno and the deepest-of-deep house, with pit stops in progressive trance and minimal. Her sets are dreamy and decadent, but can just easily blow your wig off without a moment’s notice.

They’ve made her something of a must-see on the London melodic circuit, with recent warm-up sets for Sven Väth and Recondite at E1, and slots alongside Vintage Culture and Yotto at Printworks for Odd One Out. When she isn’t party-hopping across the capital, Pintura also helms a monthly radio show, REFUGE, flinging out all the deeply-dug house gems and underground rhythms she doesn’t get to rinse in the club. She’s also lending her melodic touch to a takeover of Frameless Digital Art Gallery in Marble Arch next month, for an immersive fusion of art and electronic music. A must-see for discerning fans of either. Olivia Stock

For fans of: Redfraya, TSHA, Yotto