On Our Radar: March 2021

Welcome back to On Our Radar, Beatportal’s monthly roundup of the DJs and producers we can’t get enough of. For Women’s History Month, we highlight six emerging female/non-binary artists from around the world that are blazing new trails in dance music.

6 min
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Mar 10, 2021
Richard Akingbehin
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ONYVAA spends her time between Los Angeles — the muse city for her latest EP on Charlotte de Witte‘s KNTXT label — and Europe, where she learnt her craft in the studio and DJ booth. She started making her first tracks whilst living in Paris, releasing them on her own label, Passeport Records, but it wasn’t long until the fast-paced, driving techno was picked up by some of the genre’s biggest names. Richie Hawtin included her on his Plus 8 compilation, leading to the debut ONYVAA live show in LA as a warm-up for Hawtin’s CLOSE project. Most recently, her Lost Angeles EP came out to a great reception on Charlotte De Witte’s KNTXT. When the clubs finally open up and ONYVAA heads back to Europe, expect to see and hear a lot more.

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Grove’s recent Queer + Black EP is as strong an introduction to an artist’s vision and current headspace as you could ever hope for. The Bristol-based producer and performer draws from their Jamaican roots, their politics, their identity as a non-binary person, their punk spirit, and their love for songwriting and rave. All these elements result in a remarkably unique package by any standards, let alone for an artist in the early stages of their career. The lyrics, which are delivered somewhere between rap and spoken-word, add a layer of consciousness to some impressive beatmaking, ranging from drum & bass tempos to hybrid dancehall. Equally inspired by the pioneering activist Angela Davis and artists like Sevdaliza or FKA Twigs, Grove’s protest music transcends any dancefloor.

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Canadian-born, Melbourne-based artist Jennifer Loveless has long been a force in the Australian underground scene as a DJ, and made her production debut in 2020, releasing on Andy Garvey’s label, Pure Space. Her second release, Water, on Sleep D’s Butter Sessions is even better. Both an ode to the dance floor and a sonic interpretation of liquid, the five tracks channel the dreamy, high-energy, sweat-drenched feeling of her club sets while keeping an elusive, indefinable quality that makes them stand out. Word of her talents is traveling fast, as she takes on a Triple J radio residency and the sonic ripples of Water spread far and wide.

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Having already excelled with traditional music-making — learning violin, piano, guitar and playing in bands — Speaker Honey turned her sights to futuristic, big room techno and trance. Her debut release came through EDM superstar deadmau5’s label, mau5trap, and led to a blossoming collaboration of multiple EPs and performances which continues today. She is also leading a community of budding producers through her Discord channel and delving into the world of fashion, showcasing her multifaceted vision as an artist through different mediums. From her home in California, Speaker Honey is growing through the ranks and looks set to be a star of dance music for many years to come.

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Lis Sarroca is another mega-talented Barcelona resident on the ascent. With a hotly-tipped release on Shall Not Fade coming soon, as well as recent heat on DJ Haus’s label and Mobilee, she is keeping fine company. It’s hard to put your finger on Sarroca’s sound, which takes in classic house, disco updates, acid breaks and techy, late night rollers with ease. She has been DJing for over a decade, honing her craft through time spent in the world’s best record stores, and has been producing since 2016. Her reputation for creating classy dance music with her own stamp is catching up with her name as a DJ, as the two sides continue to influence and inform each other. Lis Sarocca’s phenomenal No Wait EP drops on March 26 via Shall Not Fade.

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ISAbella is a DJ and producer from Colombia, living in Barcelona and active as co-founder of the queer collective, party, and record label, MARICAS. Together with two partners, ISAbella set up MARICAS in 2018 in response to the lack of safe spaces for queer folk to party to great music in Barcelona. Having thrown a series of much-loved dances in the city, as well as in Amsterdam and Paris, MARICAS became a label in 2020. ISAbella was entrusted with the first release, delivering five-tracks of wide-ranging rave music which embody the free-spirited ethos of their parties. Her livestream DJ set for Beatport is a perfect primer for the cutting-edge sounds that define ISAbella and MARICAS.

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