On Our Radar: September 2020

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

8 min
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Sept 18, 2020
Cameron Holbrook
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Canadian artist Renee Thompson (AKA SeeMeNot) has arrived on the scene with poignant lyricism, powerful vocals, and a desire to redefine what it is to a Black female artist. A successful model during her teen years, her fashion career in New York was sabotaged after she appeared in The Colour of Beauty — a short exposé about the structural racism that affects Black models in the fashion industry. Leaving the ruthless enterprise in her rearview, Thompson found solace in music, using the powerful singing tradition of her family’s Jamaican roots to spur her creative spirit and voice Black solidarity.

After four years of reflection and music exploration, Thompson has released her first single, “Borderline,” — a compelling deep house hymn with transportive lyrics and snappy percussion. With a forthcoming remix of the track from Roman Flugel, and another remix from Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard for her second single “Chez Renee” (coming this October), SeeMeNot is well on her way to becoming a profound and recognizable voice in the global electronic music scene.

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After a four year hiatus, Australian producers John Hassell (Seekae) and Lucianblomkamp join forces once again as Brutalist. The duo’s 2016 debut EP, Brutalist Mixtape, received love and coverage across the spectrum, but as their solo careers and ambitions led them in different hemispheres, their joint venture took a back seat. But the two never lost touch, describing themselves as “kindred spirits.” And after carving out just a single morning of studio time in Sydney, they laid the groundwork for a new EP.

Mixing their passion for classical music with their knack for creating heady, elegant, and melodic electronica, Brutalist have successfully dreamed up their new five-track EP, Michael J Fox — out now via Good Manners Records. Teeming with personality, the EP opens up with a grand classical entrance before plunging into a diverse collection of tracks, such as the lonely and erratic “Movements,” the feathery glider “South Street,” and the rugged “Balsalke” — featuring the London underground’s enigmatic songwriter, LYAM.

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Black Girl / White Girl (Karin and Ty) are all about celebrating what sets them apart and brings them together, both musically and personally. Separately, Karin is Jewish and of Israeli-Portuguese descent, while Ty is a Black artist from the tiny island of Curaçao in the West Indies. Together, they are a couple living in Amsterdam and have emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Their knack for crafting buttery tech house, craggy acid, and jackin’ techno is only outmatched by the palpable collaborative energy they bring to their DJ sets.

They’ve released music on celebrated imprints such as Green Velvet’s Relief Records, Lee Foss’ Repopulate Mars, Jerome Hill’s Super Rhythm Trax, and Skream’s Of Unsound Mind. They have earned support from heavy-hitters such as Eats Everything, Jamie Jones, Truncate, Maya Jane Coles, DJ Deeon, Mark Broom, and more as DJ-producers from across the spectrum continue to weaponize their tracks. According to Karin and Ty, they’ve barely left each other’s side since 2012, and we couldn’t be more pleased that they’ve decided to keep it that way. Their love of music first brought them together, and their talent for crafting such off-the-wall bangers sets them apart.

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Swedish DJ/producer and “dancing queen of Stockholm” Clea Herlöfsson (AKA DJ Clea) made her production debut in early 2019 with her fantastic Fantasy EP on DJ Haus‘ Hot Haus Records, but by no means is she green to the scene. She’s been a staple of Stockholm’s scene for over ten years, where raving regulars and party tourists alike could consistently catch her delivering a boisterous mishmash of trance, breaks, and house at the city’s various underground venues. Having hosted radio shows at RBMA and Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM — with additional time spent time as a music columnist for Metro Sverige and editor for Red Bull Music — Herlöfsson’s tastemaking and DJing expertise is eclectic and full of pleasant surprises.

Buckling down to focus more fully on building her production prowess, she’s released on labels such as Ghostly International, Velvet Pony, Anjunadeep, and Study Records. Her latest Historia EP, which dropped earlier this month on Seb Wildblood’s Church imprint, is perhaps her best work to date. The four-track release swims between free and easy retro synths, tumbling breaks, and ruminative basslines that are perfectly tuned for “nostalgic feelings of mid-rave contentment and dance floor togetherness.”

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Hailing from Australia via Poland, Jakub Fidos (AKA Subjoi) has been on a multi-year winning streak, dropping serious heat on labels like Lost Palms, Distant Hawaii, Night Vision Music, and Shall Not Fade recently, even finding himself next to names like Ross From Friends, Mall Grab and Mella Dee on the Shall Not Fade 3 – Years of Dancing compilation as early as 2018. But Subjoi isn’t one to be boxed into any category, with a catalogue that touches on garage, breaks, and plenty more. Though arguably, deeper shades of house are his forte.

Now Subjoi comes to our attention again with his excellent EP In Absentia on the distinguished 13th Hour Records. The four track package is Subjoi’s first outing on the New York-based label, containing three originals and one remix from Loure, who turns up the bounce on “High Street.” As if to prove our point, the EP’s high point comes on “Without You,” a beautifully sublime piano cut that seems tailor made for sunrise moments — if those were still a thing. We can dream.

Cameron Holbrook is a staff writer for Beatportal. Find him on Twitter.