After successfully reaching their goal in an incredible Crowd Cover Scheme, the team at Brainchild festival hasn’t looked back. Their long-awaited return after an imaginative virtual weekend last year, includes the likes of London drummer and producer Moses Boyd, Hyperdub signee Loraine James and one of 2020’s biggest risers India Jordan. They’re followed by other notables including Ok Williams, Lava La Rue and a Touching Bass takeover.
Away from the top billing, there’s a lot more to be discovered further down the lineup. Here are our picks for 2021.
South London DJ and producer Anja Ngozi is not one for sitting still, from a residency with all-female DJ crew Creole Cuts on Worldwide FM and her own show Dulcet Tones on Threads, to co-curating the 2019 Jean-Michel Basquiat-inspired ‘Untitled’ compilation. The release, led also by Lonely Table and the Vinyl Factory was a collaborative album exploring the life and work of the New York-based artist, working with 18 artists across the UK. A more recent project has been the collective-come-label, Síbín, which Anja runs alongside Maxwell Owin, through which the two, run nights, host radio shows and support talent via audio and visual media. Somewhere amongst this, Anja finds the time to fit her own musical projects in the mix, the latest ‘B Brave‘ with vocalist Byulah coming via the label; a slow r&b brooder, highlighting Anja’s affinity for soulful and lo-fi sounds. We feel there are big things in store for Anja.
It’s no easy feat creating that perceivable mark or feature in one’s music, yet, it’s her wandering melodic lines sung in rich lacquered tones that rise above everything else in the concise and impressive portfolio of Oxford producer and singer-songwriter feeo. Equipped with a vocal command that belies her years, it feels like feeo’s storytelling could translate in any sonic direction and she seems aware of this as she loosens the envelope of her experimental neo-soul sound. Traces of Kate Bush’s avant-garde can be found in songs like ‘Yeti’ or ‘feels like we’re getting older doesn’t it’ whilst simultaneously spilling over with Portishead electronic atmospheres. We can’t wait to see where this exciting talent goes next!
A sixteen-piece band bringing together the sounds of folkloric West Africa and Black London, doesn’t sound half bad does it. Balimaya Project was formed in 2019 by percussionist Yahael Camara Onono who was born in London to Nigerian and Senegalese parents. Through his city upbringing, and a musical creativity fueled by liberal exposure to the sounds of his heritage from an early age, Yahael has built a deep appreciation for the cultural teachings as well as the music behind it. Balimaya, meaning kinship in the Mande language goes beyond blood, and symbolises an extended family through marriage, cousinage or even shared experience. This is the basis of the group and what stitches together their musical backgrounds in one immense force. Balimaya’s debut album Wolo So is released soon via Jazz re:freshed.
Also known as a member of the Ross From Friends live project; Cameo Blush is the burgeoning solo project of London producer John Dunk. John’s first EP of the project Murky Waters, came in 2019 via former Ostgut Ton manager, Nick Höppner’s Touch From A Distance label, this was followed by a memorable debut live performance at Field Maneuvers that year. Earlier in 2021 John was the first artist to feature on the new conceptual label ‘unknown untitled’; his In Cadence EP really setting a marker for the project and rightly gaining support from the likes of Moxie, CCL, and Peder Mannerfelt. John has really honed in on his own blend of London dance music that holds the break-beats of techno, emotively drawn-out synth chord progressions and reverberant iterative percussion all in the same space. Music simultaneously hypnotising head and body.
Led by founder, musical director and trumpet player, Axel Kaner-Lidstrom, Levitation Orchestra was one the standouts for STW HQ at Brainchild 2019. It was almost impossible not to get swept up in the energy of this twelve-strong lineup, with musicians and artists performing and in and with many notable projects, including Alabaster de Plume, Nihilism, PÆN and more. Their journeying set at the Kite Bar, would’ve made for an interesting watch for those not in attendance as it seemed the whole tent kept up with every note, dynamic change and battering-ram solo that was thrown at them by Axel and co. “Formed with the shared goal, to create original suites of music completely collectively, with each member contributing freely and equally”; a LO live set certainly meets the notion, each player full-heartedly vibrating their very essence through their instrument into the space. This October the band release their most ambitious work to date, Illusions & Realities via Gearbox Records and hoping to stage cohesively the individual spirits and stories through their collective music connection. The tone has been well set.
Photo credit: Jordan Matyka