On Our Radar: February
Hailing from Bristol, UK, Ashley Thomas (AKA Otik) has been carefully crafting his sound since he was 15 years old. Now, over 10 years later, clubland is taking considerable notice of the DJ-producer’s hard-hitting club productions, intrepid DJ sets, and wild rhythmic ideas. Primarily bass-driven and informed by his interest in UK techno, dub, breaks, and more, his tracks add substantial weight and atmosphere to any dancefloor they come across. With past releases on Durkle Disco, Brotherhood Soundsystem, Boom Ting, Infinite Machine, and Dext Recordings, Thomas continues to amp it up considerably with his forthcoming Wetlands EP, which drops via Midland’s Intergraded imprint on February 27. In early March, the world will get to hear his frenetic single “NDE,” which will appear on Berlin collective Mothers Finest debut label compilation alongside other forward-thinking productions from the likes of Laurel Halo, Violet, Mosca, Hodge and more. In good company and hitting all the right notes, more appearances from Otik on the world stage do not feel far off.
The underground momentum that Sophie Cooper (AKA EFFY [UK]) has created for herself in just under a year is truly astounding. Back in April of 2019, she was booked to open for Helena Hauff after winning a DJ competition. Since then, word of her skill behind the decks has spread far and wide, landing her a residency at E1 in London and opening slots for DJs like Martyn, Scuba, Honey Dijon, Peggy Gou and more. At just 24 years old, EFFY’s full-bodied, warehouse-oriented sound is just making the rounds and leaving a deep impression on anyone who crosses it. Her journey into production is only beginning, and following her debut offering on La Fluer’s Aphelion Remixes EP, she’s now released her first original single, “Fluffy Clouds,” via her brand new EFFY Music imprint. The track is a dreamy melodic groover that’s received support from Kiss FM UK, BBC Radio 1, Jaguar Worldwide, and more. With only two tracks to satisfy our curiosity at this point, we can’t wait to see what EFFY comes up with next.
For DJ/producer Sophie Ruston (AKA S Ruston), it’s all about speed. As a champion of the sex-positive party scene, and a resident of Lecken — the Berlin-based collective shaped by queer-feminist principles — S Ruston’s radical sound is bringing innovative ideas to the world of breaks and bass. Early on in her career, she helped breakbeat and garage innovator Deekline run all five of his labels, learning the ins and outs of the music industry. She began DJing and producing under the moniker Ghettozoid in 2010, moved to Berlin, and started releasing singles and remixes on labels like Houndstooth, 541 and her own One4Ho imprint. The demand for her knockout DJ sets has only skyrocketed since, as she returns to the studio as S Ruston and gears up to provide us with a new EP titled Narcosexual. Packed with brooding atmospherics, thrilling breaks, and razor-sharp spoken word, it’s a sexy kick to the gut that won’t leave you disappointed.
JAD & THE
First taking the stage as the frontman and keyboardist of a four-piece disco/electronica act called Mitzi, between 2010 and 2016, Australian musician Jad Lee’s dancefloor ambitions came into full view. After enjoying plentiful success in Mitzi, the adjournment of the group allowed Jad to move to Berlin and pursue his love of electronic music with spirited determination. He’s released grinning disco cuts, bewildering breaks, and juicy house numbers on labels like Sonar Kollektiv, Exploited, 2mr, Axe On Wax, Beats Of No Nation, and the ever-popular Toy Tonics for his wildly successful 2017 EP, Strings That Never Win. His DJ sets are about as massive and bouncy as his fuzzy hair, so if you get the chance to watch him spin, don’t sleep on it.
After working behind the scenes at NTS radio for some time now, Southeast London selector Kanyin Williams (AKA OK Williams) took UK airwaves by storm in 2019. She touched her first pair of decks two years earlier after dropping out of university, and fell headfirst into learning the art of DJing after visiting her friend at the Boiler Room Studios in London. Listening to her weave various strains of techno, afrobeat, electro, club music, house, and more, you can’t help but sense the overwhelming feeling of power and self-actualization that she brings to the craft. Knowledgeable, widely respected, and outspoken about the white male-dominated club scene, Williams hopes to motivate other young black women to explore the music scene with resolve and enthusiasm. We have no doubt she’ll be successful.