WORDS

Ones To Watch: 19 For 2019

January 31 2019: We’re celebrating the end of the first, and often most painful, month of the year with a look into what the rest of the year may hold musically…

Our writers have picked 19 acts that have been honing their heaviness, sculpting their signature and getting support from the most premier of peers, showing all the signs of setting themselves up for an exciting 2019. They could be bubbling for a few years, they could have landed out of nowhere with a fresh new sound, they come from every corner of the bass music universe… And they’re 19 of many amazing new-gen acts we’re seeing come through right now.

FYI: Whether any of these specific acts will actually smash the exact year or not is almost by-the-by… They make exceptional, forward-thinking music and if they continue to, it’s only a matter of time until they do get the recognition they deserve. They’ve already got ours.

It might be sub-zero temperatures outside right now, but these guys are heating up. Grab a cup of tea and a radar and get to know: 

 

Ace Aura

The dubstep conversation in 2019 has to begin at the top of the alphabet. When Ace Aura isn’t pursuing his computer science major at The University of Texas at Dallas, he’s busy designing the kind of bass compositions that cradle your eardrums unlike anything you have ever heard. It’s pure majesty. With multiple releases on Rushdown already vaulted, the pieces are really beginning to fall into place for this producer.

Still unacquainted with this dubstep whiz kid? Well then, an ideal place to start would be his track, Tongues of Fire – a tune that is far and away the most accurate representation of what Ace Aura consistently brings to the table… 100% grade-A certified heat. Once you’ve finished processing that masterpiece, please turn your attention to his wildly creative remixes of Snails & SVDDEN DEATH.

He’s set to release an impressive remix of Chime’s Whirlwind this week and that’s not where the new projects stop. There’s also word of a new EP in the works (Chime collab included of course), so you can expect us on high alert until further developments emerge. In a dubstep world where subgenres can literally go stale overnight, Ace Aura’s imaginative sound is truly a breath of fresh air. (Barret Nelson)

 

Akov

After the 2018 Drum&BassArena Awards, it’s nearly impossible to forget Akov, and it’s not just for his unique beats and resonant, “crunchy” (his words) basslines. Being part Russian, Akov decided to do a series of Russian-inspired promo videos in a bid for votes in the Best Newcomer/Breakthrough category, one of which ended with his (allegedly) chugging an entire bottle of vodka. While he didn’t win the coveted award this year, those videos went viral and even without them Akov proved he was mustard.

Throughout 2018, Akov was also producing some of the most massive tracks of the winter, and that trend continues into this year. Just since December, he’s had a solo release on C4C, a track on the 2019 Viper Annual, another tracks that appeared on two of Bad Taste’s compilations and a remix on Kursiva’s new Waveform Shapeshifter remix LP. In addition to that, he has two tracks on Joanna Syze’s hotly anticipated Surrender LP due out February 1 and he’s also recently announced an upcoming track with Billian and another EP on Eatbrain. Akov may have gotten everyone’s attention with his slapstick promo videos but it’s clearly his sick bass that keeps them coming back. (Layla Marino)

 

Dilemma

If you like your beats atmospheric, soulful and rolling, then Dilemma’s got you covered. The Brighton-based vibe-maker has been honing her sound since making a debut splash on Soul Deep Recordings and Skankandbass, going on to grace the likes of Flight Pattern and multiple releases on Soulvent Records since.

Her productions ooze sophistication and finesse; reaching well beyond her young years with an understated sonic signature that is rich with contrasts and simply suave. The Calibre comparisons have been thrown about for a reason; one of her greatest creative influences, she’s respectfully taken that influence on board and flourished with a unique sound of her own.

2019 is set to be the biggest year of her career to date, with 2 tracks forthcoming on the immense Five Years of Soulvent LP (one of which is a remix of Pola & Bryson’s Talk To Me), as well as projects in the pipeline with Melinki on his Four Corners imprint, another release on Flight Pattern, and a collab with one of the most respected vocalists in the scene.

With a debut set at fabric in February as well as an appearance at Hospitality on the Beach in July, it’s clear that Dilemma is just getting started, and we’re all ears… (Maja Cicic)

 

Distress Signal

Last year was a very good year for drum and bass. Whether it was the growing choice of events to attend or the copious list of certified shoe throwers, 2018 well and truly represented. But there was something else the year provided – a refreshing explosion of up and coming producers stamping their sounds on the scene. Introducing Kanine, K Motionz and Simula, three producers driving the new wave of jump up talent surging through the genre. Round Ere, The Shadows, and a weighty remix of MC Bassman’s Heavy & Dark – in a short space of time the trio have been responsible for a flurry of gargantuan releases. So when they announced they would be joining forces to form Distress Signal, excitement levels got cranked up several notches and extra supplies of shoes were ordered.

Combining Kanine’s ferocious basslines, K Motionz’s intricate productions and Simula’s relentless energy, the group has the potential to become one of the ultimate jump up powerhouses with an arsenal of dancefloor devastators and IC3 on mic duties. This potential has been recognised by Rampage who, alongside releasing the group’s first track Earthquake on Rampage Recordings in December, invited the trio to play the biggest show of their careers with a slot at this year’s event. Combine this with a second single release incoming very soon, then you’ve got a group in Distress Signal who are set to light up the scene this year. (Jake Hirst) 

 

DJ Hybrid

DJ Hybrid has been on this for way more than a minute now. Relentlessly grafting and contributing a huge amount to the scene since 2012, he’s developed two seriously consistent labels Audio Addict and Deep In The Jungle.

These imprints haven’t just given him a platform to sculpt his own craft but have also been responsible for presenting the likes of Kumarachi, RMS, Epicentre, Euphonique, Conrad Subs, Scartip and a fat stack more next-gen beatsmiths to the world. The releases range from classic D&B club cuts to hair-raising, skin-melting breakbeat jungle… A venn overlap which DJ Hybrid is happiest flexing in as he can just as easily bust out an icy atmospheric stepper like War Horn as he can a cut throat breakbeat battle dub like You Come At The King, You Best Not Miss, one of the biggest tunes in the Jungle Wars 2018.

Expect plenty more full-spectrum slewage this year as the Coventry DJ has even more shots to fire… Both on his own labels and the established likes of Natty Dub and Serial Killaz. He’s also set to drop a Welcome To The Jungle compilation with Dope Ammo on Jungle Cakes, his third artist album later on this year on Liondub and will making his debut at some of the biggest festivals in Europe. Seek and support… If you’re not already. (Dave Jenkins)

 

Droptek

Droptek is a name we’ve been following for a while; standing out for his incredibly technical sound design and intricate neuro-esque arrangements, there is no questioning that Droptek is a ridiculously talented producer. Releasing primarily on the prestigious Monstercat, Droptek’s seven year career has been nothing short of impressive – and 2019 is about to be even more so.

2019 has new management, new agent, new logo, and a new album all in store for Droptek and his fans – recently releasing on new Dutch imprint Korsakov’s debut compilation with the gritty and energetic 0K, the London-based producer has plans to release a plethora of new music on the label, as well as playing some of their biggest events around Europe.

With a background in artificial intelligence, it’s no surprise Droptek’s music has such an entrancing sci-fi feel to it, going above and beyond the definition of traditional neurofunk to create music that is consistently memorable and groundbreaking. Look out for plenty of new Droptek in 2019! (Rhiannon Mccarter)

 

Felix Raymon

Felix Raymon is a producer that we’d never heard of before 2018, which makes his rapid ascension up our Spotify playlists even more remarkable. Mostly working with Addictive Behaviour so far, the label has proven an able platform for displaying the range of sounds Felix Raymon has up his sleeve. His harsh, techy tones – epitomised by Got Plans, which came out on their Rotation Pt. 3 LP – sit perfectly alongside his deeper, more melancholic side.

His recent Memories – released on Addictive Behaviour’s five year celebration album – is Alix Perez-esque in its sultry manipulation of your emotions and the talent it displays is easy to spot. Felix has multiple releases coming on Delta9 Recordings this year at the very least, and we’re expecting him to do big things. (Ben Hunter)

 

Fox Stevenson

Every year is a big year for Fox Stevenson, and, like a fine wine or a bad pun, he seems to only get better with age. Last year saw an impressive number of releases on a variety of labels, some of our favourites being the charming and poignant Out On My Own on Disciple’s Jericho compilation, the high- octane rock n’ roll sing-a-long jam of all jams Bruises on Pilot’s Destinations EP, and the infectiously upbeat Never Before on Liquicity, to name but a few.

Fox Stevenson has proved consistently that he is the ultimate bass music frontman – serving dreamy, original vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and consistently catchy, trademark tunes that take us back to our youth spent front-row screaming the words to every My Chem or Fall Out Boy song like our life depended on it – nostalgia for the younger generation of bass music aficionados. But what we love most about him is his ability to always create something different, constantly pushing the boundaries of electronic music and infusing that raw rock n’ roll energy that we simply adore into his productions.

With plenty of new music in store for 2019 (we were asked not to mention any specifics, only that he has been working with some of his personal heroes on some top secret projects and there is a lot to be excited about), Fox Stevenson is set to captivate audiences old and new across the globe – we’re hoping there’s a live show in store at some point because you know we’d be swooning front and centre. (Rhiannon Mccarter)

 

Jool

War! What is it good for? Absolutely everything… If you mean the lead track from Jool’s latest dubstep blunderbuss on Odio Records; the jaw-breaking, tremor-making War EP. A five track EP out this week, it’s the freshest cannon in a consistent assault that kicked off on NSD Black Label a year ago.

Little is actually known about Jool himself besides the fact he seems to work with the best in this field of dubstep (NSD Black Label, Never Say Die, No Tomorrow and Odio); he makes bass textures that sound like digital ghouls screaming for freedom; he’s got a broad sonic signature that’s tied together with strong Middle Eastern motifs and instrumentation and he’s based in Cairo.

Oh, and he’s about to batter down 2019 in similarly militant style with a whole stack of new power jams. Expect a whole load more face-melting Arabian drama on the likes of Odio in the coming months and more twists in the dense musical narrative he’s weaving… Including at least one big unifying vocal track. Jool: one of the shiniest jewels in this year’s dubstep crown. (Dave Jenkins)

 

Kanine

Kanine gnashed the jacksy off 2018 with his broadsword approach to subgenres, firing out shot after shot with massive cuts including I Want You, Dancefloor, Bloody Knuckles and his cheeky bootleg of Hackney Parrot. Now one month into the new year and it’s clear he’s biting even harder onto 2019 as a similarly slick slew of all-flavoured cuts are expected to land. It’s already happening… Christmas day saw the London artist go all techno with Go on Critical’s New Energy compilation and he’s since dropped the obscene stank-packed groaner Calculate and next month sees him go into battle with the unique dark funk of Dubplate Soldier on Friction’s Elevate. Deeper into the year expect more self releases on his Headlock label and appearances on the likes of Shogun, Critical, Crucast and that’s before we get to his part of the Distress Signal crew who also appear in this list. Trust us, Kanine’s his bite is worst than his bark… (Dave Jenkins)

 

Lakeway

Do yourself a favour and listen to Lakeway’s War Dub on Hospital’s Sick Music 2019 album. Then, once your chakras realign from the severe sense bashment experience, listen to Buss It. His collaboration on kindred rule breaker Rockwell’s new Obsolete Medium label, once again it captures the brazen essence and utter undiluted gully of this relative newcomer.

And once you’ve recovered from that particular neck breaker, there’s a fat stack more hurters waiting for you. My Ting, Stomp Your Soul, Death Becometh are more examples of how Lakeway fuses elements of grime, jungle, wave and halftime into his dense, unabashed brew. There’s also a whole clutch of EPs on Diffrent and its sister label Sweet Box, two of the key labels who began presenting the young artist to the world. Each record galvanising why Lakeway really does have a sound of his own and how that sound joins the dots between every silly little subgenre you can possibly imagine.

Now signed to Med School they’ve confirmed we can expect more of Lakeway’s unique mutations later on this year. We can’t wait. Literally the only thing we can fault this man on is that he’s called Lakeway but he doesn’t have a favourite lake. (Trust us, we asked him this in 2017) (Dave Jenkins)

 

 

Mark Dinimal

Mark Dinimal seemed to emerge out of nowhere last year, but as 1/3 of Data 3, he’s certainly been around for some time before launching his recent solo project. Taking the murkiest corners of drum & bass by storm, heads were turned with releases like the eerie, mysterious, inimitably groovy Arrival and the sinister weapon Crinimal, both on Ram’s Program imprint.

Successfully creating a distinct sound that the entire drum & bass world had been unknowingly craving, Mark Dinimal has been responsible for some of last year’s most warped bass faces and some of the darkest, most menacing tunes in the game to date, so we’re really excited to see what 2019 has in store for Mark Dinimal – expect to see several new EPs as well as some remixes this year! (Rhiannon Mccarter)

 

Mind Of A Dragon

There’s a reason Mind Of A Dragon’s tunes appeared three times on Conducta’s recent new-gen heralding Kiwi Manifesto mix this month: His tunes absolutely bump. A crucial balance of shades, soul, weight, tension and sass run throughout his sound that sits somewhere between classic two-step, grime and UK funky.

Whether he’s cutting straight to the chase with wheel-up grizzlers like OMG, sliding in from the side with early 2000s-style breakbeat garage like Ringz or sweeping you off your feet with emotion Need Luv or chopping you down with tribal UK funky like Damage, Mind Of A Dragon’s noir-nuanced blend of UK beats, bass and soul is the perfect snapshot of where UKG music is at right now, where it’s always been and where the London craftsman wants to take it.

He’s super prolific, too; last year saw him drop three album-sized Vibes & That collections and a number of singles including collabs with Kastle, Jack Junior and Royal Flush. He also remixed UK garage don MJ Cole. Cosigns don’t come any more sincerity than that. This year will be even busier as he plans about to drop a remix of Donae’O’s Chalice, more singles, collaborations with Conducta and Prescribe Da Vibe and another album, this time with Smokey Bubblin’ B under their SMOAD alias.

For a taste of these and plenty more follow him on Facebook and prepare yourself for an almost daily dose of unreleased teasers. They’re usually accompanied by soothing footage of old school media players that’s very easy on the eye, too. Mind Of A Dragon, chops like a butcher, vibes of a serious G… (Dave Jenkins)

 

Missin

Initially emerging as Missing in 2017, since dropped the ‘g’ this young Serbian newcomer seemed to shoot off the blocks in 2018, making a huge splash with his Directions EP on Delta9 Recordings and his track Split on the MethLab Sentinel series. He’s also had multiple releases on Terra Firma, VALE and Overview, so the industry is definitely taking notice. Missin’s beats are clean and technically sound but he’s also incredibly diverse in his style, going from ambient, melodic tracks like Give Me a Feeling on his Delta9 EP to dark experimental halftime tracks like People Do Things on the very same release. He’s a fun wild card with the technical prowess to back up his genre-hopping.

Missin will likely have many more groundbreaking sounds in 2019 with confirmed releases on Signal and Abis’ new label DIVIDID and MethLab, for a start. “One to watch” is an understatement in the case of Missin; one to salivate over, more like. (Layla Marino)

 

Mofaux

Pull up!!!!! Brighton bass bandit Mofaux has been on the bubble for the last few years. Any minute now that big pot of sticky, riffy low end treacle he’s stirring is going to froth over…

As his name suggests, there’s no messing around; this mothertrucker deals strictly in strongarm bass music that flirts mischievously within the realms of house, bassline, electro and garage and has enjoyed support from the biggest of big bass guns such as Jamie Duggan and My Nu Leng. Just listen to that depraved second drop on My Emotions, the fortified funk of Girls or the Zinc level riff intoxication of Soldier and you’ll know exactly why they’re playing his records.

You can expect to hear his beats even more this year, too. Following a very successful 2018 (during which he released on the likes of Southpoint, Saucy, Four40 and Bass Cakes and DJ’d at the likes of Fabric) man like Mo is about to drop a four track EP on Southpoint, a collaboration with the equally unstoppable Dread MC and Detroit… Which he’s giving away for free, so keep those peepers peeled!

 

Nasko

Germany manufactures top-notch dubstep producers like it’s their #1 export. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Nasko finds himself here only a couple short years after first exploding onto the underground dubstep scene. Recently recognized by Disciple, the young musical genius literally has potential oozing out of his pores. His talent knows no bounds.

From his earlier days with tantalizing tunes like Feeling and Dragonborn, to some of his more notable recent works like About You and Overdrive (a collab with Detrace), he always delivers upper-echelon bass madness fit for only the most sophisticated sets of ears. Another real winner is Glide, a drumstep dream of a track that guides you on a hair-raising romp through the various noises that make up Nasko. It’s a different side of his sound, but one we definitely can’t resist.

In regards to what’s next to come for this teenage dubstep titan, stay on the lookout for new collabs with both Panda Eyes and Subsurface. He also just unleashed a new dubstep banger via DSV Audio on January 28th, so give that a listen as well if you fancy. With a variety of other ventures already in progress, 2019 is shaping up awfully nice for Nasko. (Barrett Nelson)

 

Paul T & Edward Oberon

Paul T & Edward Oberon are hardly newcomers to the scene… Working together for over 10 years now and gracing the likes of V Recordings, Shogun Audio, Mac II and more, the duo have found their groove with a perfect balance of soulful musicality, coupled with a raw, gritty twist.

If you’ve been to any D&B festival over the past year (and lucky to catch someone who has the dubplate in their possession) then chances are your ears have been graced with these sweet little words: “All I ever wanted was thiiiiis….”

What follows after this dreamy, atmospheric intro is quite frankly diabolical. I am, of course, referring to Moon In Your Eyes – their highly-anticipated collaboration with legendary beatsmith Serum. A beautifully harmonic working relationship that spans four years now, the tunes speak for themselves… Joining forces in the past on Burning via Shogun, Take My Breath Away and In Too Deep via V; and with Moon In Your Eyes one of the most coveted dubplates of this past year, it’s clear that something special falls into place every time they put their minds together.

With another epic collab with Serum also ready to see the light of day on V, as well as a few with Makoto, along with some pure fire dubplates we can’t mention just yet (which are already floating about in some high-profile mixes…), and some huge festival dates set in the calendar (like Liquicity, which they’ve just revealed), expect a big year for the burgeoning duo. (Maja Cicic)

 

Rizzle

In the land of the rollers (style not subgenre), Rizzle is a rapidly emerging prince with serious kingly ambition. For those not in the know, Rizzle has a canny knack for crafting tracks that excel in their depth and thrive in their darkness, music which gives you a bass face but still packs sophistication and complexity. His State of Evolution EP garnered support from all across the scene and you only have to listen to the swelling roughness of Disturbance to find out why. Off the back of his biggest year yet, 2019 looks set to be even more bumper with yet another Dispatch EP on the horizon, remixes for Ill Truth and Context Audio as well as whisperings of an album. Pure dancefloor killers from a young, hungry and talented producer. We spoke to him last year, this is what he had to say… (Ben Hunter)

 

Think Tonk

What a ting! Ever since this mysterious Manchester outfit came out all guns blazing on V with the soundboy bashing Bury Dem and the wild west gun-toting Magnificent, they’ve meant serious business. For now all we know about Think Tonk is that one of them is called Dan, they were heavily hyped by DJ Fresh in our most recent interview with him, they make a mean dancehall brew… And they really couldn’t give an ish about tempos or genres.

One minute slapping your booty on a bashment flex, the next they’re sizing you up at 170 but the island vibe runs fiercely throughout like a punch that’s seen way too much Wray & Nephews. And there’s more refreshment to come… Following last November’s Tonic Wine they’ve told us we can expect “a fresh Dutch pot of dubs for summer 2019.” Tasty. (Dave Jenkins)