Every month at HumanHuman tons of discoveries are added, but only a handful, are labelled as promising. These artists are agreed upon by our users as ones to watch and are well on their way to becoming the next big thing in music. What you see below, are the top five promising artists, as decided by the HumanHuman community.
For many, the month of October represents change, as one season fold into another, whether it’s the leaves turning and the air growing cold in the Northern Hemisphere or the first markers of summer in the South Hemisphere. Often, we find ourselves looking for music to match that transitional feeling. Well, we have a fair few contenders here at HumanHuman and especially our top five Promising Artists - Serpentwithfeet, Zoey Lily, Abi Ocia, Yellow Days and Giungla. Take a look and a listen for yourself.
Right at the start of this month our attention was alerted to Baltimore-born New Yorker Serpentwithfeet (aka Josiah Wise), who became a Promising Artist nine months after Thomas Konings initial discovery. As song after song of Harlem-influenced gospel and modern R&B rolled in, so did our jealousy of Koning’s outrageously good discovery grow. The tipping point came with the completion of Wise’s blisters EP, released via Tri Angle Records and produced by none other than Bjork-collaborator Haxan Cloak. The EP’s title track provides the most accurate listening experience for residents of the Northern Hemisphere at the moment, as Serpentwithfeet’s soft falsetto repeats, “The darkness of the leaves has come,” but this is a two-sided coin, because “forgiveness has not” arrived in the same seasonal transparency. “blisters” is a delicately-compose example of Wise’s self-chosen pagan gospel, a destination to which this classically trained singer found after experimentations with soul, funk and R&B. From “blisters” to the vulnerable piano-led romance of “flickering” to the theatrical “four ethers” to the brief hypnosis of “penance” to the alternative hymnal in “redemption” - serpentwithfeet’s EP welcomes the listener into his world and into his cognitive experience, but in less than twenty minutes ejects you. It’s relatively short, but it’s powerful, beautiful and represents a snapshot of the unapologetically queer creative community who are drawing our ears further into New York’s diverse underground music scene.
One year ago, new name Zoey Lily appeared online with an impressive, touching demo called “Edges”. Discoverer EarsOnly hopped on this find and within a month that original demo had racked up 5,000 plays on SoundCloud. Not long after and we were treated to the finished version of “Edges”, which showcased Zoey Lily’s unique style, which she refers to as melo-noir, in full. While the production from James Kenosha (who has previously worked with Rhodes and Dry The River) provides an ethereal filter through which to view the 19-year-old’s immaculate songwriting, it’s the fact that the London-via-Les Mayons musicians has so closely, so intimately with the track which makes it feel so special. Inspired by late night deep-thinking and written in her bedroom, “Edges” is the product of privacy and of a young artist grappling with life’s apparent certainty in these unstable times. The standout lyric, “They said the world is round, but how can something round have so many edges?”, sounds more like a piece of philosophy than your run-of-the-mill song words. That’s because Zoey Lily is far from you regular, predictable popstar wannabe, she’s a multi-instrumentalist, a songwriter, a poet and a pre-producer. This burgeoning talent is something we hope to see in fruition once again in her highly anticipated second single.
It’s only been a month since we heard Abi Ocia’s sincilating debut “Running”, but the capacity of our music discovery community hits another home run thanks to The Indie Curator spotting the languid vocals of this UK artist a whole eight months back. It’s most likely the source of this discovery was a glitchy EDM track called “Home” from London-based producer Draper, on which Abi Ocia’s slightly accented London voice features. The singer has since continued to work with Draper on the production and writing front of “Running”, which also welcomed another British production talent Mkulu to the team. As evidenced by the single, this trio work perfectly together. Abi Ocia’s honeyed vocals flows smoothly atop a hedonistic mix of warped strings, finger snaps, vocal snippets, grasshopper-like chirps and layers of percussion. You’ll also notice another voice battling with Abi Ocia for centre stage, which presumably belongs to a preacher who repeatedly asks, “what are you afraid of?” This elements hints towards the origin of Abi Ocia’s musicianship, because she first began singing in a church before experimenting with a guitar and her brother’s keyboard. Speaking on “Running”, she explains “I wanted to explore an inner dialog with myself, following a journey of seeking out something greater than what you are used to, even if it means purging yourself of things you hold dear.” Complete with a mysterious, colourless video, Abi Ocia has certainly made her mark.
We’ve already discussed the pervading presence of R&B in our current sound spectrum, but another style which listeners can’t seem to consume enough of is bedroom surf-soul. Okay, that sounds like a fairly niche genre, but with artists like Only Real, Mac DeMarco and Unknown Mortal Orchestra as leading examples it’s obvious that there’s an active audience for this kind of lo-fi recording. 17-year-old musician Yellow Days is certainly set to join the aforementioned ranks. Over the past nine months since Hillydilly’s discovery, Yellow Days has gradually released his abstracted soul songs such as “You Are Nothing That I Can’t Get Over”, “My Own Way” and “Little Palace”. It’s his fourth track “Your Hand Holding Mine” that has garnered the most support from the online music world and definitely from our users who sent the agrees flying his way. Listening to this recent release, you can’t fail but to be moved by the sincere, raw emotion portrayed by George Van De Broek’s expressive voice. It sounds like willingly falling down a well of amorous longing. The UK-based artist explains the motivation behind these feelings: “[this is] a song about that first love ending and how you used to tell each other you’d stay together till you’re old and grey but it hasn’t worked out like that and you’re now dealing with the fact you always thought it would be their hand holding yours, but it isn’t going to be. [...] the tune is like an account of me dealing with that odd feeling.”
Italian indie-rocker Emanuela Drei, who goes by the moniker Giungla (which translates to ‘jungle’), was discovered by Going Solo a year ago as a surefire future Promising Artist. If you’ll remember, last year the writers behind music blog Going Solo also contributed a wonderfully detailed guest article explaining why it’s so difficult for independent artists in the Italian music industry. However, it looks as though the tide might be turning with Giungla at the helm. Here’s one artist bucking this national trend and gaining popularity on both sides of her home country's borders. Three of the Going Solo team (Mattia Villa, Marco Masoli and Marta Frantin) were so invested in the success of Giungla that they signed her to their record label Factory Flaws. We’ve had a stream of deliciously riotous tracks that take their cues from the world of pop, punk and alternative rock, making up her debut Camo EP. One EP tune, “Sand”, is another seasonal soundtrack which clings to the dying light of summer in nostalgic preparation for the coming winter. It’s possibly her most lyrically complex song yet and shows that this young artist is already developing her anarchic sound.