13 for 2013: Who’s going to smash it this year?
There are two problems with this… One is that sometimes these lists can be a bit too forward thinking, picking artists who will be big in time, but maybe not for a few years.
The other thing – and this goes for all forms electronic music – is that you can never quite predict who’s truly going to nail it. No matter how industry and marketing savvy we are, the biggest game changers still happen organically: sometimes a tune or new artist comes out of nowhere and knocks everyone for six and unwittingly influences everyone’s technique in the process.
We can make a few educated bets, though. So here are 13 artists we’re expecting to hear big things from this year. This isn’t a list of names so new they’ve not even signed a record deal… Many of these names will already be locked in your radar. Just expect that radar to bleep a hell of a lot louder this year than last. To be honest, drum & bass is in such a fruitful place with such a refreshing league of talent we could’ve included 30 incredible artists. But what with it being 2013 and all, we’ve had to boil it down to 13. So before we get started, here’s a massive big up to everyone who’s dedicated to the dark art of beatmongering… let’s make 2013 the biggest year drum & bass has ever had.
Two for the price of one: in the last two years Konichi & Decimal Bass have dominated playlists with their fine balance of raw, undiluted bass energy and a great sense of hooks and arrangement. This week alone they’ve hogged four spots in our store’s top 10 most downloaded chart. As Annix we can expect them to consolidate their solo successes and take things to a whole new level. They’ve told us to look out for a big single on Playaz this spring, DJ appearances at Innovation In The Sun, SunBeatz, Global Weekender and One Nation and big releases on their own label Tripswitch from the likes of Taxman Ruffstuff and of course themselves! Here’s a mix they gave away for Christmas…
“At the start of 2012 I set myself the goal of getting one decent release on a medium sized label,” Axon tells us. “If you had told me then that I would be talking to you now with releases on Proximity, Demand, Cyclone and Icarus Audio as well a forthcoming on Invisible I wouldn’t have believed you!”
Well, Mr Axon, it’s time to start believing. With a rich, tech-laced vibe that playfully engages with minimal space and a superbly produced sound set, it’s not hard to see why so many respected labels have collared the Guildford producer. Productions aside, he also plays a big part with Kane FM, preaching the good word of drum & bass to as many listeners as possible.
Look out for a four track EP on Basher’s Proximity featuring co-labs with Arkaik and a violinist named Joel Grainger. Following that he’s got material due on Noisia’s Invisible and an intriguing projet with dubstep/techno heavyweights Ipman and Killawatt. Here’s an Axon and 2Shy special from D&BTV…
Since he signed to Cyantific and Wilkinson’s Cyantific Music imprint last August, Dimension’s profile has gone supernova. Incorporating just the right amount of trembling euphoria and stunning hooks to his beefy beats, each Dimension track breezes with a vibrant soul that lingers in your ears for days. This includes Revolution – his first track released on our very own Summer Selection 2012.
Naturally 2013 is going to offer plenty more. And it all kicks off on February 4 with the massive soul-touched single Midnight Love. Released, once again, on Cyantific Music, it’s already enjoyed support from Annie Mac. Following that we can expect his first official remix and, later again, a whole new slew of sounds he’s currently sitting on.
“I’m gathering a nice folder of tunes,” he tells us. “I’m really enjoying having the opportunity to be gigging regularly now. The chance to audition new tracks to sweaty mobs of ravers has definitely changed the way I write my music. I’m hoping 2013 will be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to get stuck in!”
Emperor seemingly came out of nowhere last year. With cuts on Titan Impact, Symmetry, Neodigital and Ammunition he stormed the scene with no introduction… Just heavyweight beats that resonated with DJs as disparate as Rockwell and Hype.
We have it on good authority that 2013 will be even bigger. He’s already kicked off in earnest with a sample pack this week and his debut Critical release will land before the winter’s out. Following that expect releases on Neodigital and Inspected to name but two labels.
“It should be a wicked year,” he grins. “I’ll be playing shows across the country and in others. I’m ready to show people what I’m about!”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what he’s all about…
Regular readers of this blog will know all about Joe Ford; just before Christmas we scored an exclusive mix off him, and it caused major download store meltdown. Still only on his debut release on Bad Taste Recordings, Joe’s career is at a very early stage… But just one blast on the unreleased material he included on his mix, we can guarantee we’ll be hearing A LOT more from him. Gritty, funky, uncompromising and utterly distinctive, Ford’s flashing on radar so brightly we’ve taken to wearing shades 24/7. Here’s THAT mix again…
“2012 was an amazing but exhausting year for me,” he admits. “I got the chance to meet a lot of people and set up new connections, which I am really grateful for. Furthermore I had the honour to work with some amazing artists and labels through which I learned a lot and winning the Drum&BassArena award was the icing on the cake.”
But just as baker doesn’t stop after one year of cake making, Mefjus still has plenty of tasty material to come. His first full Critical release is out imminently and, he tells us, there’s some top secret collabo projects that he can’t talk about at the moment, but is “really psyched. I hope next year will continue as good as this year ended!”
Something tells us it will, in a major way. Here’s a 2012 classic to remind us how good he is…
Mr E has remained a mystery for far too long… A card carrying member of Ray Keith’s Dread crew for several years, he’s casually dropped an average of 1.5 releases a year since 2009, has appeared on Titan Impact and worked closely with another Dread graduate Bladerunner.
Last year saw him make waves with the mighty Dirty Bitch and his outrageously naughty Cyberdread EP, and this year things are set to get even bigger with the release of his debut album Black Dragon. Due this spring on Dread, it will consolidate his past accomplishments with chop-slapping audio glee. Before that expect a new collabo joint with Bladerunner on Dubplate Dread and, of course, the obligatory album sampler. Here’s a reminder of his raw bass power…
Not to be overlooked… Sorry, we had to include that in this little write up. But it’s true. This ice-cold geezer from Bournemouth really shouldn’t. His robust, mechanical soul conjures up memories of early Headz and Reinforced flavours and has already scored him releases and appearances on some of the most respected labels in the game; Renegade Hardware, Horizons, Alignment and Samurai. With support from the very top, this year is only set to get much bigger. Its starts with Three Shards on Narratives in February and we’re told more Samurai releases are in the pipeline too…
Welsh vibe maestro Pennygiles achieved some beautiful musical moments last year thanks to the sharp A&R ears of Demand, Rubik, Influenza, SP Breakz and Inform. With a hyper-sensitive nose for great samples and a killer sense of groove, his deep, soul-touched sounds fit myriad DJ styles in the same spirit conjured by the likes of luminaries Marcus Intalex and Calibre. Not that Pennygiles would ever let this get to his head. To him, his eager passion for progress is merely “enough to stop him being lazy and productive.”
“I think 2012 was a really fast paced year full of ups and downs,” he continues, more earnestly. “If it’s left me with any changes going into 2013 is that sticking to your guns, staying humble and enjoying what you’re doing are the keys to a good year in drum & bass. I’m really looking forward to what 2013 has to bring and also trying to step my production game up more each month.”
With a Mr Joseph co-lab on Liquid V, a remix of Random Movement on Inform and a 12” for Alignment all locked and loaded for the first part of 2013, his game is clearly upped.
Big things are bubbling for Stealth right now. Sure, big things have been bubbling for a while with releases on the likes of V, Ingredients and Subtitles in the last year or so, but we have it on good authority that things are about to go well and truly ‘next level’ for the young London producer. Like a lot of things in D&B, we’ve been sworn to silence until the ink is dried on the contract, but we can tell you that he’s in talks with some of the biggest labels in the scene right now. And they’re not just inviting him round for a pleasant cuppa and a gossip; they’re talking major movements.
We can also confirm that he’s got forthcoming material on Ram’s faultless Program label. And we can also share a few good words some major players have said about him…
Ulterior Motive: “Keep your ears on Stealth in 2013: Serious beats.”
Calyx: “Definitely one to watch in 2013 – Stealth has been writing inspired music for a long time and he’s produced some secret weapons in my sets for several years. In the last year he’s really stepped it up, both technically in the studio, and also by being more prolific and focussed with his output. I’ve got high hopes for him this year – he blends the old with the new, he’s got a natural and rich sense of musicality and he’s twisting it up and coming with the sickness more and more each month!”
TeeBee: “”I’ve know Ali for many years and it’s been amazing to watch him grow into the promise he is showing today. Amazing attention to detail and a deep understanding of the music’s roots, he has every basis covered for making a huge impact on not just dnb, but music in general. I’m a fan!”
Showcasing a deep, rolling sound with elements of soul, captivating melody and silky slinky grooves, Technimatic peddle a sound that’s the ideal antidote for those suffering with electro fatigue. Naturally we can expect to hear plenty from them via Shogun throughout the year.
“Becoming part of the Shogun Audio collective, having our first ever Shogun Audio release and playing at some fantastic parties around the world have all made 2012 a year to remember,” they tell us. “We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the people who have supported and followed us to this point and we are already hard at work to ensure 2013 is even bigger and better than ever.”
Here’s their UKF podcast. It’s beautiful…
Like we said – some of these dudes will already be well and truly on your radar. Tyke is one of those dudes. He’s been hammering out the badness on Grid for two years now with huge tracks like Drug Pusher and Buzzards and, it seems, he’s quite the funny fellow.
“I’m not a drug pusher or neither do I have infected headphones or keep a buzzard,” he tells us on a short-but-sweet email. “I’m a gash pusher, I wear sterilised Sennheisers and I got a pet budgie called ‘Mugabes Love Child’”
What he’s failed to us there is that he’s just signed up to Playaz! We can’t divulge release information yet, but trust us – 2013 will have a massive Tyke bite mark by the end of the year. In the meantime, let’s check out this mix he did for Fabric last summer. Naturally, it’s for Playaz…
We haven’t picked him on his family connections, though. His music speaks for itself. Whether it’s his awesome contributions to Level 2’s Viva Brazil album last November, his remix of A-Sides Keep Stepping, or his massive remix of Dr Meaker’s Fighter, each Unreal production sparkles with a rough-edged soul that packs more energy than a lorry of Lucozade. Don’t take our word for it, though. Here’s what V boss Bryan Gee said about Unreal’s remix of Dr Meaker…
“It’s been a while since I signed a track from a new artist and they blow up like this one … Just one out of 6 mixes, they’re all great in their own style but Unreal’s remix reminds me of when you had a big tune in the scene that got dropped by everyone. The vocals are uplifting and the bass is just get-down dirty. For a new producer this one smashes it!”
No future releases details have been announced yet but we guarantee you’ll be hearing A LOT more from Unreal very soon.