Arguably the most exciting realm of the electronic scene is the up-and-coming, where fresh artists with fresh sounds build on the aural history of the genre — and its thousand sub-genres — while pushing the music ever-further into the future.
As we settle into 2022, our eyes are on a crew of new artists doing exactly that — putting their own spin on electronic music and in the process making names that we expect to see rising up lineups and label rosters in the coming months and years.
Get in on the ground floor, with these 10 electronic artists who deserve your attention in 2022.
Having gone from NCAA basketball athlete to a sailor in the U.S. Navy, to now a well-renowned DJ, HoneyLuv is adept in adaptation. So when the COVID-19 forced the entire world into isolation, she was ready for it, coming out the other side a transformed artist. Pre-quarantine, HoneyLuv (real name Taylor Character), was already rocking dancefloors with R’n’B and hip-hop throughout the U.S., but once live stream culture set in, she transitioned to the realms of house and techno. She quickly became a regular artist on prominent channels like Desert Hearts, Groove Cruise, and LP Giobbi’s Femme House, with her connection to funk and rhythm culled from her history with RnB and hip-hop making her a fan favorite in Twitch chats.
She released six tracks between April and December of 2021, and when events started reappearing, fans were eager to hear this music on a proper system. Last year, she played gigs like Audiotistic San Diego and had an opening slot for Chris Lake at Brooklyn Mirage. In 2022, Character’s already got several festivals booked including Beyond Wonderland, Lightning in a Bottle, and Okeechobee. It thus might be hard to catch HoneyLuv on a live stream these days, but in 2022, the masses will have a chance to see her do her thing up close and personal. — HARRY LEVIN
Nia Archives’ Twitter bio reads, “I like 2 create stuff.” Simply put, she embodies the DIY spirit. According to a Mixmag profile, the producer, DJ, singer-songwriter and HIJINXX label founder taught herself how to make music using YouTube tutorials when she didn’t receive any responses from potential collaborators. Their loss: Today, she’s one of the many artists opening up drum & bass and jungle to a new generation of fans by combining the genres’ hard-hitting, heartrate-jacking beats with dreamy melodies and diaristic vocals.
From her debut EP Headz Gone West, released last April, the title track and single “Sober Feels” in particular caught fire with listeners; the sound was dubby and melancholy, with relatable lyrics musing about surviving from one day to the next with (or without) the help of vices. On more recent singles “Forbidden Feelingz” and “18 & Over,” Archives seems to shift her focus to the production, going darker and sharper, more severe. With an EP due out soon and support coming from every which way, Nia Archives is in position for a star-cementing 2022. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
With throwback vocal samples approaching critical mass in tech house as of late, it can be hard to cut through the noise — but Ewan McVicar did it to grand effect. From his hometown of Ayr, Scotland, the DJ and producer catapulted from local up-and-comer to a global artist to watch following his smash hit “Tell Me Something Good” (sampling Rufus and Chaka Khan’s 1974 classic of the same name) on Patrick Topping’s Trick label. Its brisk pace, rave-y stabs and sultry vocals were magic for festival main stages as well as on the radio, leading to a 19-week stint on the Official U.K. Charts top 40 and the title of BBC Radio 1’s dance track of 2021.
McVicar’s catalog further displays his ability to marry old-school dance floor sounds with a cheeky modern bent, whether he’s making stomping vocal house for Nervous Records (“The Rhythm”), infusing tech house with lethal electric charge on Dance Trax (“Punch The Wall”) or raving it up on Shall Not Fade (the Amnocairn EP). A forthcoming EP on Optimo Music Digital Danceforce, Movin’ on Over, is McVicar’s first release of 2022 – a banging start to what looks to be another good year for the promising artist. — K.R.
Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Diego Raposo is taking dance music to the next level by mixing sounds from his native Caribbean with elements of electronic music. In 2018, Raposo released his debut album, Caribe Express, which featured the alluring “Desconocidos” with fellow Dominican act Mula. As a producer, he is also helping other Latin music acts find their groove. Raposo gave an electronic glow to Danny Ocean’s “Apartamento,” supplied Blue Rojo with surging synth-pop in “No Te Kiero Olvidar,” and co-produced Martox’s disco-influenced anthem “No Es Normal.”
Beyond these remixes, 2022 will find Raposo coming into his own as an artist. He’s currently work on his second album that set to release later this year. Raposo first previewed the album last August with his breakthrough hit “Work That $–t.” Blending baile funk with an electronic edge, Raposo co-produced the song, which featured fresh rhymes courtesy of Dominican acts Etsy and Mediopicky, with American producer Sango. “It’s a solid concept that fits with the album and with what I want to represent, which is not one of the most complex structures in the world but it is a structure that is not heard right now and that is what I’m trying to create,” Raposo tells Billboard. –– LUCAS VILLA
Seattle-based Kumarion dropped one of our favorite bass tracks of 2021 with his swaggering buzzsaw headbanger “Bad,” and one of our favorite bass tracks of the year prior with his ominous, wobbly “Want It.” (This latter song got play from biggies including CloZee, Martin Garrix and RL Grime.) Our eyes are thus fixed on the 27-year-old producer born Omar Kadmiri, who works across the bass and d’n’b genres and has a string of single releases lined up for 2022 on Philadelphia-based Jadū Dala and other imprints. He’s also dropped music on Monstercat, Play Me Records, RL Grimes’ Sable Valley the venerable U.K. bass label UKF. In the live realm, he’ll be dropping bass bombs at upcoming festivals including Florida’s Okeechobee and New Orleans’ BUKU, both in March, and Texas’ Ubbi Dubbi in April, with more likely to be announced. — KATIE BAIN
Bklava is one of the faces of U.K. dance music’s next generation. Named for the Middle Eastern treat (a nod to one of her favorite desserts as well as to her Lebanese heritage), the South Londoner is a multi-hyphenate who sings, writes, DJs and produces what she once described to Beatportal as “non-stop bops and flava,” blending U.K. garage with house, breaks and singalong pop sensibility. Following a string of independently released singles like the bright and upbeat “Cntrl” and “Got It Good,” Bklava was quickly snapped up by Ministry of Sound, with whom she released her debut self-titled EP in late 2020 followed by last year’s Autonomy EP.
Along the way, she’s received major co-signs from UKG heavies Wookie (who produced “Cntrl”), Todd Edwards (who remixed her single “Back to Then”) and Conducta, who pulled her into his Kiwi Krush collective via the Juiced 3 (Kiwi Kick) remix compilation. Just as these figures have helped further raise her already-ascendant star, Bklava too is paying it forward as a co-founder of Spin Suga, a platform for elevating female and non-binary DJs, producers, presenters and musicians. In March, she’ll support LP Giobbi on a stretch of the latter artist’s Femme House tour, which feature clubs shows at night and workshops on music production by day. Pretty sweet, indeed. — K.R.
Scanning the recently released Coachella 2022 lineup, you might have caught a name that the good folks of Los Angeles already know and love. SOHMI is a producer-singer-songwriter with a cool, moody blend of grace and funk that’s got the house scene on fire. Her selection and style behind the decks has earned her major spots at Outside Lands and Ultra Korea, opening slots on tour with Boris Brejchka and Chris Lake, upcoming sets at Electric Forest and Diplo’s house festival Higher Ground in Cabo — and, of course, her aforementioned Coachella debut.
In the studio, SOHMI’s talents shine strong. Her background as a lifelong piano player helps her build strong, hypnotic grooves, and her original vocals seal the deal with a signature, smoky chill. Singles “Want U 2 Love Me,” “Sunday Sunset” with Josh Butler and “Small Talk (Okay)” with Booka Shade are perfect examples of her so-called “minimal pop techno” sound. 2022 is bringing some big releases as well, with Hot Since 82 recently teasing a SOHMI collab on his social media. – KAT BEIN
Barry Can’t Swim
He may not be able to swim, but the man sure can produce. The Scottish newcomer (real name: Joshua Mainnie) creates the kind of house music that makes summer more a state of mind than a season; the kind of sun-flecked, jazzy house music you don’t just hear, but feel. Mainnie’s tenure in the dance world thus far has been brief but sharply trending upwards. His earliest and independently released tracks, such as 2020’s “Sunday at Glasto,” showed even then his potential. In July 2021, he released his debut EP Amor Fati on Shall Not Fade.
The tastemaking label was a perfect match for Mainnie’s smooth and low-key sound, suited both for indoor play and outdoors from the smoky “Jazz Club After Hours” to the beachside festival opener “Lone Raver.” Since then, his profile has grown even more with his debut on Ninja Tune’s Technicolour imprint, a soulful piano-house collab with Anish Kumar called “Blackpool Boulevard,” and a remix of Elderbrook and Bob Moses’ “Inner Light.” For now, little else is known about Barry Can’t Swim; hopefully that will change sooner rather than later. — K.R.
Luke and Tess Pretty, the 20-something brother and sister who make up electronic act Tennyson, have been “artists to watch” since they were tweens. The pair were raised by art-hippie parents to play jazz sets in Canadian cafes, with Luke on keys and vocals and Tess on the drums. Those skills came in handy when Luke started writing experimental beats on a DAW and recruited his lil’ sis to play them live.
Tennyson’s early work, namely the 2012 eponymous debut album, is a pastel-explosion of cute motifs blended with breakneck rhythms. Prodigious and precocious from the start, the duo signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label early on. This year, though, Tennyson emerges as a more grown-up machine. Studio productions are now helmed by solely Luke, who wrote Tennyson’s forthcoming sophomore album, Rot, while suffering from mold sickness, which caused a sudden hearing condition, the repercussions of which have not yet fully disappeared. The beats are still a bit mad, but they fit snugly into catchy synth hooks and lyrical refrains. Rot is dropping on February 18 via Counter Records, with Tess joining her brother for live performances, featuring guitar and bass, that will begin when Tennyson embarks on a North American and European tour in late March. – K. Bein
Born in Beverly Hills and now based in Brisbane, Australia, jamesjamesjames makes clean, house and techno with a hint of melancholy and a lot of punch. Simultaneously sounding like the future while also embracing the ’90s rave sound, jamesjamesjames most recently released his excellent 2021 EP James2007, out via U.K. label Shall Not Fade. Last summer he also remixed “Visions” from Lastlings’ 2020 First Contact LP, with that edit coming on the heels of remix of Ben Böhmer and Panama’s “Weightless,” which has amassed more than seven million Spotify streams. He’ll play Melbourne’s Pitch music festival — as part of a lineup also including Maceo Plex, Jayda G and Floating Points — next month. — K. Bain