Theo Theo Theo!
If you haven't seen Theo Kottis' name about town yet, it won't be long until you do. Picked for Groovefest Malta, Hideout, Lost Village, We Are FSTVL and SIDEXSIDE at Tobacco Dock — to name only a few — over the course of the next few months, he's already laid down tunes for Anjunadeep, Moda Black and Get Physical within the space of a year.
It helps having friends in high places too. He's just been selected by Sasha for a release on Last Night On Earth and Pete Tong is also a fan, because, quite simply, he's mastered the knack of making a sick beat. Drawing upon dark, gothic textures, bold globular bass and crystalline melodies in a techno format, Theo Kottis is no stranger to line-ups featuring the likes of Joris Voorn, Kölsch and Hot Since 82, so keep your eyes peeled... not that you'll need to.
Sounds like? Tale of Us, Maceo Plex, Denis Sulta
Statement of intent
Don’t get us wrong, Francis Hsueh, aka Policy, isn’t a new artist. This New Yorker’s been putting out sparkling, singular house for over five years now. He’s released tracks and albums through 100% Silk, Steve Mizek’s Argot label and Amsterdam’s beloved Rush Hour. But on the strength of his new EP for Chrissy Shively and Alex Burkat’s Nite Owl Diner, he’s due a major breakthrough right about now. Deeply ingrained with the spirits of disco, Detroit techno, post-punk and much more, tracks like ‘Smoothness’ have something magical that mark him out as an original. Hear these and remember how you felt when you first heard Metro Area. Sounding handmade, played live, full of soul, invention and personality, we’re eager to find out — and hear — more from Policy.
Sounds like? Metro Area, Beautiful Swimmers, Tuff City Kids
A prodigy in the making
Tipped to be a ‘future one to watch’ by Annie Mac, meet dance music’s latest whizz kid, Sunil Heera, aka XO, who at the tender age of 20 has made an incredibly impressive start to his career.
Since uploading a select handful of edits online two years ago, the Staffordshire-based producer sparked attention from highly sought after tastemakers and publications in the industry from Diplo and SOHN to Redbull and Pitchfork to name few. He has had the world spinning into transcendent circles ever since, and wasted no time in starting his own label, racking up plays into the millions on Soundcloud.
Take a listen to his latest opus, 'Divine Disaster'/'Night Time Solace' and it’s easy to see why. Blends of funky electronica fused with futuristic, warped R&B, all backed by sensationally smooth vocals that further prove he has a huge future in dance music. Stay tuned!
Sounds Like? Jai Paul, Chris Malinchak, Bearcubs
The next honcho
Hailing from Reynosa, a fast-growing city in Mexico situated between the borders of Texas, lives chief mischief and beat maker Jorgito. The son of a prominent club owner, Jorgito was practically born on the dancefloor and unsurprisingly developed a strong interest for dance music early on.
It’s clear to see that his indigenous roots have played a huge influence on his creative canvas with much of his work featuring vocals from native tribes layered with jazzy tones and interesting textures from South American instruments.
As a DJ he has played regularly across Mexico and Texas, but mainly works at cultivating his own hometown residency called Compassion at The Side Room. His DJ sets are an intriguing cocktail of tribal, acid jazz and Detroit techno.
Keep an eye out for his debut EP 'Rampla' just out as the sixth release for Bodytalk, which truly showcases his bright potential as a burgeoning producer.
Sounds Like? Lo Shea, Moodymann, Shenoda
When Birmingham's legendary Rainbow Venues launched new club The Blackbox last year, we knew whoever landed a residency at the state-of-the-art mini-space would be worth keeping an eye on. Enter Lopaski — one of only three who made the cut, he's a local boy now on his way to becoming a local hero.
For someone who only has two EPs out (via Downhill Music and Berlin's Elephant Moon), Lopaski has developed quite the signature sound already. The Brummie's enrapturing take on deep house is swamped in luscious layers of swirling halcyon synths. Undeniably upbeat, each track slams a shot of tumbling pads and sunshine shuffles directly into the chest Pulp Fiction-style, yet still maintains enough off-kilter kick to keep things strictly underground. Having landed a track on Apollonia's BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix and picked up a host of support across the scene, Lopaski is on his way to the top.
Sounds Like? Jovonn, IO (Mulen), Diego Krause
Let's go outside!
Alfresco Disco is a name on the lips of dance connoisseurs up and down the land. It’s famed for its parties in the West Country and abroad, always with an emphasis on the good groove — a rep gained quickly in spite of, or perhaps because of, its hush-hush, word of mouth vibe. Staying true to the underground-but-fun ethos of the party, Bristolian founder and DJ Jamie Morrison (or just J. Morrison) has taken the next natural step into making beats of his own.
After a strong debut on Alfresco Disco’s first compilation EP, ‘Maximum Joy part 1’ (the track ‘Some Fella’), his first full release on their own label is a doozy. ‘Freedom’ is a wicked piece of looped up, lubricated funk, tough floor-ready house beats and a filtered Afro-disco bassline powering it along, while ‘Stay High’ is percussion heavy, loose-limbed tribal like they used to make. ‘Soft Play’ is probably the most club compatible, big bass and drums doing the business. Watch for J. Morrison’s name — you’re gonna be seeing it a lot.
Sounds like? Mark E, The Revenge, Tiger & Woods
Time to call a Truce
Aptitude for music often runs down bloodlines, and newcomer Truce is but one example of this rule. His dad is esteemed Calypso artist Shorty, and he cites studio time with him as being the biggest influence on his work today, along with the likes of Frankie Knuckles, Dennis Ferrera and Kenny Dope.
Having already made movements on labels like AudioWhore and SOTU Recordings, the somewhat elusive east Londoner has now upped his debut for Keysound Recordings, who seem to be rolling in a bit of a different direction with this new 4x4, two-tracked 12”, containing traces of new Durban sound Gqom. ‘Be There/Uhh’ is a dancefloor-oriented slice of supple, ice-cold bass — a slab of wax that has already gained plaudits and airtime at the hands of DJ EZ, Shiba San, Ras Kwame and Amine Edge & DANCE. Let the deeptech movement continue...
Sounds like: Beneath, Adam Cotier, Maya Jane Coles
Larger than life
The word 'big' doesn't even come close to describing the sound of Gaist. 'Huge' doesn't do it justice either. Ginormagantuan... that'll have to do, we guess. The UK duo have found a way to make any environment feel like a warehouse, opening up space with lashings of reverb and echo, but without losing percussive impact.
And then there's the bass; intense and enveloping, with the crushing weight of a trip to the bottom of a river in concrete boots. Dropping a series of EPs across Clandestine, Kontakt and Dualism Records last year, Gaist and their tyrannical techno have already attracted the attention of Richie Hawtin and Claude VonStroke. Now with a sumptuous new two-tracker out on District-9, Gaist are going to be turning heads all over the place — they'll be as big as their bass before you know it!
Sounds Like? Jay Lumen, Victor Ruiz, Pan-Pot
Wheelz on fire!
Why have two hands when you can have four? That’s the philosophy behind DJ duo Tuff Wheelz — aka Leroy Washington and Sevenfive — and their famed four-handed sets. The Bordeaux house heads take their name from old school, souped up bikes, and have a penchant for spinning steel-framed sets of chunky four-to-the-floor.
When they’re not playing out, they’re running their The Dead Speaker Office label and producing fodder for their sets that pair the new with old - by getting stuck into a deep groove.
Their southern French studio is piled high with bits of analogue equipment and vintage synthesisers to make any audio nerd cream, and the latest product it has pumped out is the pair’s ‘Prophecy/Legacy’ 12”. The EP, out now on London’s Arkhive, takes us through some of the familiar house motions while tipping its hat to the no-nonsense stomp of techno. Tuff Wheelz lead the way!
Sounds like: Hot Since 82, Maceo Plex, Paul Woolford
Ronnie Spiteri was always destined to be a DJ. Son to big time promoter from the height of the '90s rave scene, Spiteri went to his first illegal rave at seven-years-old and took to the decks at age 11. The Southampton spinner has since earned himself a residency at local underground haunt, Junk, and turned his focus to the studio.
With it history like Spiteri's it's unsurprising that he's taken to production like an early morning raver to a bottle of Evian – already scoring a release on Toolroom, and quickly building a catelogue through his own label Kenja Records. His latest effort 'Spiral' in fact marks the imprint's 10th release, with Spiteri delivering 6-minutes of his trademark driven house grooves.
With a remix from Leeds favourite Darius Syrossian sure to attract further attention, expect Spiteri to be tearing up dancefloors around the nation very soon – only this time it'll be legal!
Sounds Like? Darius Syrossian, Patrick Topping, Cuartero
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.