Musical Acts We Can’t Wait to See More of in 2019
Eyes and ears are peeled for these 10 artists on the rise
Exciting times lie ahead, spurred by all the “new” that comes with the New Year. In music, we’re talking upcoming album releases and hot new EPs. We’re likewise stoked for international acts finally coming to town and seeing about how long-beloved annual music festivals decide to switch things up this year.
As pleased as we are to witness a new era unfold for industry vets and well-knowns (shout out to Rihanna, The 1975, Ariana Grande and Lana del Rey), we’re equally thrilled to see what 2019 has in store for the new crop of artists who more than showed promise the year before.
In the roundup ahead, fresh faces with even fresher perspectives, up-and-comers mixed with seasoned artists easing into their momentum and genre-bending gems you’ll want to keep on your radar in 2019.
Hailing from Toronto, this 22-year-old cross-genre producer and artist has shown a mastery of his craft well beyond his years. His bio reads: “I see myself as an analogue artist in the digital age,” a thought mirrored in his handling and fusing of contemporary hip-hop, Afrobeat and R&B. He captivated listeners last year with his first studio album entitled Analogue and made his music video debut with “Story” with early listeners already looking forward to new music and more appearances in 2019.
Nathan & Mercury
Nathan Huang, Alex Samonte, Karlo Maglasang and Daniel Monong make new band on the block Nathan & Mercury, a local pop and R&B group whose one-time gig in 2017 spun into a full-blown commitment to creating music together. With only two singles available on their streaming platforms thus far, fans and followers have the band’s first EP to look forward to this year.
English artist Nao is a rarity in the industry for her airy yet perfectly rounded vocals. As earlier singles like “Take Control of You,” “Bad Blood” and “Apple Cherry” prove, Nao breathes new life into R&B, soul and the many other genres she marries together.
While her first EP So Good from 2014 flew under the mainstream radar, it did earn her a sizable fanbase that steadily grew with her subsequent releases: her debut studio album For All We Know in 2016 and sophomore album Saturn in 2018. Looking ahead, she kicks off her North American tour on January 12 with the rest of her world tour next.
A R I Z O N A (the band, not the state as the threesome aptly points out) know a thing or two about unconventional beginnings. Zachary Charles, Nate Esquite and David Labuguen were discovered in 2015 on social news website Reddit. They hit the ground running and paved their way in the early aughts with singles like “I Was Wrong” and “Oceans Away.” In 2017, A R I Z O N A released their first studio album GALLERY and made appearances in various music festivals like Governors Ball Music Festival, Firefly Music Festival and Lollapalooza. This year, the electropop band heads to Coachella.
Indie rapper Tahj Malik Chandler (more commonly known by his stage name Saba) is the latest Chicago native to spring onto the hip-hop scene. He first garnered recognition in 2013 when he collaborated with fellow Chicago-born artists Chance The Rapper and BJ The Chicago Kid on “Everybody’s Something,” a track that appears on the former’s mixtape entitled Acid Rap.
A fully realized artist now with two studio albums under his belt, Saba capped off his 2018 with the release of the “SIRENS” music video featuring singer and producer theMIND and being named “Chicagoan of the Year” for music by The Tribune.
Britain-based collective Superorganism is the newest supergroup to step into the synth-pop space. Fronted by pintsized 18-year-old Orono Noguchi, the eight-member crew is what The Telegraph’s culture writer Patrick Smith likens to The Monkees…had they been Millennials. Eclectic and upbeat, Superorganism has won over the internet with notable singles “Something For Your M.I.N.D.” and “It’s All Good” that now appear in their self-titled debut album. Like A R I Z O N A, Superorganism are slated to perform at Coachella come April.
Indonesian singer, songwriter and producer Nicole Zefanya, better known as NIKI, got her start on YouTube uploading covers of contemporary hits and creating mashups. In 2017, she signed on with international media collective 88rising (Keith Ape, Rich Chigga and Joji), who introduced her as the “next R&B princess straight out of Indonesia.” Fans, meanwhile, made references to Kehlani, Tinashe and Jhene Aiko. Not even a year into getting signed by a major record label, NIKI was enlisted by American singer Halsey to join her on tour and open for her on her shows in Asia.
Leaning into music at the tender age of 12, Manila-based artist Fern Tan AKA Fern. has since been working on his music. Now 18, he busies himself both behind the scenes and in front of the mic, producing music for singers like Julie Anne San Jose and Claudia Barretto alongside tracks of his own.
His debut single “Into You” topped Spotify charts on the same day of its release and was followed by equally well-received singles “Are You Mine” and “Wanna Dance with You.” Both appear on his 2018 EP Fern.
Actress and singer Kiana Rose Brown has gone from high school student in the slasher anthology series Scream to regular college kid in the family-oriented sitcom All About the Washingtons and now, solo R&B artist with a budding career as Kiana Ledé. In 2016, her mashup of Drake’s “One Dance” and Rihanna’s “Needed Me” peaked at #1 on the United States Viral 50 chart on Spotify. After releasing several other mashups, she began dropping original tracks through 2017 and released her first studio album Selfless last year. Working with R&B singers she aligns herself with, Kiana Ledé has gone on to open shows for Daniel Caesar and is currently on tour with Ella Mai.
Evidently there’s more to music in Seoul than K-pop. One band changing the landscape of indie music in South Korea is ADOY. Like pieces in a puzzle, the electronic rock band’s five members (Juhwan, Zee, Dayoung and Geunchang) were previously signed on with other well-known musical groups before coming together in 2016.
The single “Grace” from their mellow retro beat-filled EP CATNIP earned them a nomination for Best Modern Rock song at the 15th Korean Music Awards. The following year, they released their sophomore EP entitled LOVE, a six-track compilation recounting salad days and almost romances. Those looking to see ADOY live can catch them at Wanderland Music and Arts Festival in March 2019.
This is the musical palate cleanser, if you will, that ought to give your playlists a refreshing zing for the new year. Like what you hear? You know what to do. Hit that follow button.
Featured Image Superorganism on Facebook
Art Alexandra Lara