8 new musicians you need to know in 2021
From Toronto's brightest young songwriter Mustafa to Miyazaki-inspired popstar Raissa; Chicago jazz kid Sen Morimoto to bedroom pop wonder, Claud.
Claud by Jeremy Reynoso; Sen Morimoto by Dennis Elliot; Priya Ragu via IG; Goya Gumbani by Diogo; daine by Phebe Schmidt; Louis Dunford by Alex Kurunis; Raissa via IG; Mustafa from "Air Forces".
Let’s face it, it’s an incredibly tough time to be starting out in any industry. But one in which the first year of business typically revolves around travelling (banned) to perform in venues (closed) and at festivals (cancelled) across the world? Unless you’re blessed enough to be based in the post-pandemic haven that is New Zealand, well… good luck. Thankfully, given the disastrous state the world has been in for going on a year now, there’s actually more of a need than ever for music to console, distract and entertain us.
There are therefore still a whole lot of new artists out there, making more hours of music than there are in the day to consume it all. Knowing you’re probably keen to refresh what you’ve had on rotation recently, here are eight artists we believe are going to make big bad music moves in 2021, you know, despite everything…
Songs about England’s capital are nothing new. Few, however, are as emotional as “London’s Requiem” by Islington born and raised Louis Dunford. On it, the singer-songwriter draws from lived experiences to tell tales of homelessness, knife crime, sirens screaming through the night, and young lives lost too soon. Follow up single “Regretamine” is a paradoxically beautiful acoustic number about the time Louis accidentally did ketamine… twice. Released just a few weeks ago, it has already been lovingly adopted by his fans -- a loyal following who ensured his handful of live shows sold out within minutes -- as a sort of ode to the sesh they’re missing out on. Both songs are taken from Louis’ forthcoming debut EP The Morland, named after the estate he grew up on. It’s out 15 January via RCA and set to be packed with more smart lyricism from a very impressive storyteller.
When dark lord Phoebe Bridgers reaches out wanting to sign you to her new Saddest Factory Records label, you know you’re doing something right. That’s what happened to 21-year-old Claud, who last month described their sound as “pop music that goes well with a late night snack” in an interview with i-D. Things really popped off for the rainbow-haired artist in the hell year of 2020, releasing hits including “Gold”, “My Body” and the massive “WISH U WERE…” Out 23 February, Claud’s debut album Super Monster will undoubtedly win you over with its relatable coming-of-age story and collaborators including their pal Clairo, who they recently started a band called Shelly with. Fun!
While Mustafa is only 24-years-old, he has been active in the worlds of music and poetry for over a decade. The Toronto-raised, LA-based artist found poetry in his early teens after realising the power of words, soon establishing himself as a young pillar of his Regent Park community. Nurturing his talent before setting verses to music and eventually lending his songwriting skills to artists including The Weeknd and Camila Cabello, it wasn’t until years later that Mustafa decided to release his own music after losing close friends to gun violence. With a sound that he describes as “inner city folk music”, his mournful vocals and deeply personal lyrics, through which he processes grief and anger, will move you. On the 2020 single “Stay Alive”, Mustafa urges those around him to keep going against the odds -- the weightiest affirmation. When Smoke Rises, his debut LP, is due within the next couple of months, promising features from James Blake (check out the Nabil-directed video above) as well as Sampha and Jamie xx.
Seriously great pop writer? Check. Inspired by Miyazaki? Check. Signed to the same label as King Princess? Check. 23-year old Raissa is right up our street. Raised in cities across Asia and Australia, the half-Spanish, half-French singer, producer and visual artist only started sharing her music in early 2020, after a move to London. Cue a rapid fire release schedule of bangers including anime-kissed synth pop “Bullying Boys”; the 14 Feb special “Valentine” ; “Go Fast Baby” with its high-speed Bedroom-directed music video; and the Howl’s Moving Castle-influenced “Crowded”. Stay tuned to see what this fantasy nerd offers up with her debut EP HEROGIRL, which she filled us in on here and which we’re told is coming very soon via Mark Ronson’s Zelig.
Tamil-Swiss singer Priya Ragu quit her job two years ago and decamped to NY on a mission to write a whole album in just a few months. It worked. Fusing R&B, funk and elements of Tamil folk, on debut single “Good Love 2.0” Priya sings (and occasionally raps) soulful stories of an all-powerful love atop sample-heavy production by her brother Japhna Gold. A mash-up made in heaven. The track has already bagged three remixes (courtesy of Little Dragon, Joe Goddard and Honey Dijon) and a spot on the FIFA 21 soundtrack. We can’t wait to hear the aforementioned album!
Singer, songwriter, rapper, saxophonist, producer, poet and label owner Sen Morimoto released one of our favourite sorely underrated albums of 2020. The Kyoto-born, Chicago-based artist’s eponymous record, which came out in October, sits in a sweet spot somewhere between jazz and bedroom pop -- a sound Sen has mastered recently. We highly recommend you follow his work over the next 12 months, keep an eye out for more experimental music videos and the minute he announces a live show, book it. Sen Morimoto and his band are something special.
Brooklyn-born, London-based rapper Goya Gumbani makes mellow 90s-inspired hip-hop with the sound of his adopted city woven through it. He’s a skilled storyteller, using his new Truth Be Sold EP -- produced by Oliver Palfreyman, with brilliant artwork -- as a vessel to reflect on life, death and materialism. Listen and learn lessons. When Goya’s not making music, you’ll find him fronting campaigns for the likes of Nicholas Daley and generally dressing really well. Come for the laid back flow, stay for the fashion.
Look! It’s the artist from your wildest dark pop fantasies! 18-year-old Filipino-Australian musician daine took inspiration from early 00s Midwestern emo and her local hardcore scene in Melbourne, channelling the two into her own melodic introspective sound. It was her 2020 debut single “Picking Flowers” that first won us over -- with sedated trappy production courtesy of Circle Pitt and a CGI music video in which daine floats above a forest while singing about demons and astral projection. What’s not to love? Plenty more where that came from in 2021.