Predictions 2017: Billboard forecasts the year's breakthrough artists, key shot-callers and industry innovators.
Mark Johns wasn’t even looking to land a record deal when, a year ago, she posted a cover of “N—s in Paris” on SoundCloud. Recorded with her producer friend Sable, “In Paris” utterly transformed the Jay Z/Kanye West track, with Johns’ alluringly layered vocals flitting over shimmering electronic beats. It also quickly attracted the attention of Skrillex. He posted the song on his Twitter and on his “Skrillex Selects” SoundCloud page, asking Johns for more music, which she sent him. Then he asked her to come to Los Angeles. Suddenly, Mark Johns, who’d only started making music a few months earlier, found herself the first solo singer signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label. She released her first EP, Molino, in October, and she’s at work writing her first album.
“I wasn’t one of those kids who’s like, ‘I want to be a singer when I grow up!’ ” says the 22-year-old (real name: Naomie Abergel) while curled up in a studio deep within downtown Los Angeles’ warehouse district. “My mom would play Celine Dion and Aerosmith in the car, and I would listen to whatever was on the radio. Music was never really a huge part of my personality.”