On Our Radar: May 2021

Welcome back to On Our Radar, Beatportal’s monthly roundup of the DJs and producers we can’t get enough of.

7 min
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May 13, 2021
Alice Austin
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Straight outta Singapore, Halal Sol’s known for his tight, ‘90s-style house tracks, but his upcoming Dijamin EP on South East Asia’s imprint Darker Than Wax demonstrates Halal’s raw ability to cross genres, continents, and cultures. As unexpected as it is deft, the five-track EP glides between acid, techno, breakbeat, and garage. “Dijamin” means “guaranteed” in Malay, and is a promise from the artist to produce with unconditional love and passion for music in all its forms. The EP also serves as a homage to Singapore’s thriving underground scene, with Bongomann appearing on “Rushin’” and Darker Than Wax’s co-founder Kaye sprinkling some soul on “Hearing Deficit.”

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Nothing about Nia Archives is predictable. She turns genres inside out and upside down, blending garage and R&B with lo-fi jungle and heartbreaking vocals. Inspired by the imperfect, old-skool tapes she grew up listening to, Nia’s productions accelerate the genres that shaped her. Nia moved from Leeds to Manchester when she was 16 and spent her weekends attending house parties, which explains her penchant for sampling everyone’s favourite gun finger tracks. On April 28th Nia released her debut EP Headz Gone West, with her single Sober Feels getting shout-outs and mentions from The Independent, i-D, DJ Mag, Complex, CLASH and more. Check out her new video for Crossroads, directed by Delphino Productions, to get a taste of Nia’s world.

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London-based Elkka AKA Emma Kirby isn’t a perfectionist. She prefers to ride the wave of impulse, an approach beautifully captured in “Burnt Orange,” an optimistic electronica track made for open-airs and Aperol Spritz. Emma moved from singer/songwriter to DJ/producer in 2016 and launched the Femme Culture label the same year with the aim of championing womxn, non-binary and marginalized artists. On May 21st ELKKA’s set to release her five-track EP Euphoric Melodies on Ninja Tune’s imprint Technicolour, exploring themes of warmth, euphoria, and nostalgia. Emma counts Four Tet, Floating Points, and SHERELLE as fans, and says that her new EP is a celebration of what they value most — the ability and freedom to be oneself.

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London-based Cameo Blush returns with the unflinchingly energetic floor filler “Lucky” on Ross From Friend’s Scarlet Tiger imprint. John Dunk debuted his Cameo Blush project in 2019 with a legendary performance at Field Maneuvers, followed by his Murky Waters EP on Nick Höppner’s Touch From A Distance label. Since then Cameo Blush has become known for hardcore pounders and peak-time bangers designed for festivals and after-parties alike. Earlier this year, Cameo Blush was the first artist to feature on the new conceptual label Unknown Untitled with his In Cadence EP which caught the attention of Moxie, CCL, Peder Mannerfelt, Disclosure, and more. “Lucky” is Scarlet Tiger’s second release and will include artwork from Ross From Friend’s photography archive.

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Shanghai’s Laughing Ears (Li Jingping) is a conceptual electronic music artist with a knack for blending otherworldly atmospherics with heavy basslines that explore space, melody and rhythm to create complex yet tranquil productions to get lost in. Following four critically acclaimed EPs, Li’s all set to release her Losing Track EP on Hemlock Recordings in late May. China’s club circuit is a great place for a young DJ/producer to cut their teeth — bass, electro, techno, disco and garage get an equally enthusiastic response from the crowd — which explains Laughing Ears’ ambitious and unselfconscious creativity. With releases on Chinabot, Ran Music, Decisions and more to come this year, no one can ignore the talent and brilliance of Laughing Ears.

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Salute’s spent the best part of 2021 getting his listenership hyped for their return to clubland. The Austrian-born, Manchester-based artist wrote many of his tracks in 2019, working throughout lockdown to get them ready to rip when clubs re-open. “Jennifer,” a dreamy house track full of warmth and optimism, got air time on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, BBC 1Xtra. His latest release “Want U There” on Echorex is a genre-bending speed garage track, inspired by the French House he grew up listening to. Salute’s ambitious Condition EP trilogy is an air-tight taste of what’s to come from the artist, with the single track “JTS” premiered as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record upon release. Now we just need those clubs to open.

Alice Austin is a freelance writer from London, based in Berlin. She writes for Mixmag, Beatportal, Huck, Dummy, Electronic Beats, and more. She likes to explore politics and youth culture through the lens of music, a vocation that has led her round the world. She can be reached and/or followed via Twitter and Instagram.