LGBTQI+ Electronic Artists To Follow (Part 1)
As most of you will know, this month we celebrate LGBTQI+ Pride month. As far as we have come, we still rely on this month of visibility to raise awareness and talk about issues that we face everyday, yes, it IS still very much needed. As sad as that feels to say, we still have so far to go.
Now let's go back a bit... Most dance music we hear today originated from the underground scene, a scene that was built by people who felt they didn’t belong in the mainstream; predominantly queer people and people of colour. It was created for people to have somewhere to go where they didn’t have to hide their true self and the music was a reflection of the fun and freedom enjoyed in these safe spaces. Some might say that over the last few decades, this has slowly been lost to a world where dance music, specifically house music, has become mainstream commercial. Obviously, this has some positives but I am so passionate about making sure that we do not forget the roots and that we celebrate what this music represents; and there is no better time to do that.
So, I’ve chosen 10 LGBTQI+ artists to shine the spotlight on and this week we focus on the first 5. I have chosen from people currently releasing music, some you may know well and others may be a discovery, either way I hope it inspires you to go out there and actively seeking out music made by queer and trans people, people of colour and minority groups, there are so many more to discover new and old. I promise you will not regret it.
Top Track - ‘Downtown feat. Annette Bowen & Nikki-O’ - Honey Dijon - Classic Music Company
Honey Dijon grew up in Chicago in the 1970’s and as a teenager, she was drawn to the underground scene that was bubbling away in her home city...which were indeed the beginnings of House Music. Inspired by DJs and producers like Frankie Knuckles, the godfather of House, she began to DJ and explore underground genres in clubs across Chicago, she was even mentored by the great Derrick Carter. By the 00’s she was producing and had expanded into New York, where she was and still is making waves in fashion, as well as music. She has described in interviews the feeling of belonging in the underground scene and as a black, trans woman, she found somewhere that she could express herself. I get a sense of an incredibly smart woman, who speaks with assurance and has a strong picture of who she is and what she believes in. She continues to be a vocal advocate for trans rights and awareness and she often recalls her experiences in interviews, talks and roundtable discussions.
She now splits her time between New York & Berlin and continues to shine with her original tracks and remixes, ‘Downtown’ featuring Annette Bowen & Nikki-O, ‘Not About You’ featuring Hadiya George and her insanely cool ‘Realness’ remix of Lady Gaga’s ‘Free Woman’ to name a few favourites, as well as her eclectic and fresh DJ sets. Notably her recent performance at Glasto Live 2021, where she played a perfectly curated set which featured Róisín Murphy - here’s a link to her set playlist - https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2fdO4wjyJ2ThpdbJRla1zg?si=8258309f03574315
Her style has evolved into a mix of all of the best things about traditional Disco, House and Techno... it’s hot, classy, funky and fabulous - all in one, plus musically brilliant. I guess it’s an insight to what she grew up on in Chicago, merged with the styles and cultures she's onboarded on her inspirational journey and I cannot wait to see what she does next.
You should go and check out her music and keep your eyes out because from what I’ve read, we could be in for plenty more Honey Dijon treats to come this year!
Top Track - ‘String Theory’ - ABSOLUTE. - Family Planning
ABSOLUTE. (real name Anthony McGinley) from Torquay, Devon found a love for electronic music at a very young age. It all started listening to rave mixtapes and taking note of what the DJs were playing at the local roller disco but quickly progressed into learning to mix at the tender age of 14. His passion for creativity shone through and he drew inspiration from acts such as Daft Punk and The Progidy, which is still evident in his music today. Before long, he sought to spread his wings and make his mark on London town and went on to become a leading figure in the underground LGBTQI+ scene, planning events and parties such as ‘Super Electric Party Scene’, which is sadly no longer but he described it to One House Artists as “a hotspot for club kids and drag queens, a really colourful East London crowd”.
Over the last few years he has exploded. Since realising his talents for producing he has broken through with Beatport chart topping EPs such as ‘Malfunction’ released on Twin Turbo (Part of Turbo Recordings) and the creation of his own label ‘Family Planning’ from which he released the sensational ‘String Theory’, which was also selected as Pete Tong's Essential New Tune.
He is an activist for human rights and is passionate about issues such as climate change, race and LGBTQI+ justice. His EP ‘Rave Against The Machine’ was inspired by his experience at the first Extinction Rebellion action in London and featured a sample from a speech by Greta Thunberg and he describes his label ‘Family Planning’ as a homage to the chosen families that so many LGBTQI+ people first meet on the dancefloor.
During lockdown, ABSOLUTE. invested huge amounts of time in creating music, culminating in the release of his first album ‘Wonderland’, which he will showcase on tour later this year. Check out his Spotify ‘PRIDE:London’ takeover here - https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DXbzDJ9T2RGq5?si=41c955d994ab450b and try to catch him on the road - it will no doubt be an incredible show.
Top Track - ‘Reclaim Me’ - Wax Wings Feat. NIMMO
Another shining light born out of the London underground LGBTQI+ scene - Wax Wings. Wax grew up on alternative music, his mum was a big fan of David Bowie and he has been expressing himself through music, fashion and art from an early age. However, it wasn’t until he was exposed to House and Techno music in Leeds that he learned to DJ and started to inject influence from electronic music into his creations.
Wax Wings became part of ‘The Weird and The Wonderful’ (An international, multi-faceted talent consultancy, record label, events curation & management collective) after dropping one of his remixes in a set at an East London rave. They fell in love and later so did the rest of the industry when he released two EP’s on their label; ‘System’ and ‘The Love Inside Me’.
Wax has gone on to work with and remix the likes of Eli & Fur, Skin (of Skunk Anansie) and GAPS. As well as having his own work remixed by the likes of ABSOLUTE., Jay Shepheard and Alinka and he often supports and opens shows for global artists such as Joris Voorn, Alan Fitzptrick and regularly, Maya Jane Coles.
Sonically Wax is expansive and exploratory, he blends elements of hip-hop, trip-hop, techno, trap, rock, dub, house, UKG and electronica. His genre bending is bold just like his visual creations and personal image. Having studied Fine Art at UAL’s Camberwell College of Arts, he uses this to take full creative control of his live shows, capturing the audience and giving you a complete sensory experience.
After a hatful of charting tracks, notably his collaboration with NIMMO ‘Reclaim’ released by HE.SHE.THEY, ‘AF2TF’ a peak time techno track released on Kneaded Pain and his deep indie remix of Bronski Beat’s ‘Why?’ plus many many more, there is a rumour there may be an album on the way! In the meantime you can catch Wax Wings at clubs all over London & the South East this Summer. A top recommendation would be the Community Rave, a one off night at Orange Yard Soho on Monday 21st June 2021, where he is teaming up with LSA’s own Samantha Togni once again.
MAYA JANE COLES
Top Track - ‘Piano Magic’ - Maya Jane Coles
Maya Jane Coles is another artist who was born to make and play electronic music. Starting again at a tender age, she was producing by the time she was 15. You may have heard of Maya’s alter ego, Nocturnal Sunshine, which she uses to release her darker side; hip-hop and dub influenced, bassy vibes. While her real name is reserved for composition, techno and house production and playing sets to thousands at events in an impressive total of 40 countries, leading to her becoming one of the worlds biggest and most sought after headliners in electronic music.
Maya is one hell of a talented woman and on most of her records she will have composed, produced, mixed, mastered and performed every element herself and she has even been known to feature as the top line singer too!
She began with hip-hop and meandered through a dubbier, more underground sound, adding house and techno to the mix while playing clubs and warehouses in East London in her late teens, culminating in her first release ‘Sick Panda’ on Dogmatik in 2007 and ‘What They Say’ on Real Tone in 2010, which catapulted her career. Ever since she has been prolific as Maya Jane Cole and Nocturnal Sunshine; releasing on top labels, as well as her own imprint I/AM/ME and winning massive awards including Beatport's 'Staff Pick: Artist of the year' and ‘Best Producer', ‘Best DJ’, ‘Best Compilation’ or ‘Best Underground Track’ from Mixmag and DJ to FACT and SPIN and Best Producer at the DJ Mag awards in 2015.
She has worked with some of the best the industry has to offer and possesses one of the longest lists of remixes I have ever seen, boasting names such as Depeche Mode, The XX, Massive Attack, Sia, Florence & The Machine, and even the legend that is Ella Fitzgerald!
Some of my favourites of her repertoire include - ‘Run to You’ feat. Claudia Kane (I/AM/ME), ‘Piano Magic’ (I/AM/ME), ‘Keep It Moving’ (CARE4LIFE) and her remix of London Grammars ‘California Soil’ (Ministry Of Sound Recordings).
You’ll find her headlining from LA to London and Glasgow this summer and I expect we will hear even more wonderful music from Maya in the years to come.
Top Track - ‘Rhymes’ - Hannah Wants and Chris Lorenzo - EMI
To put it simply Hannah Wants is a house music legend and winner of some of the industry's most prestigious awards such as; Mixmag and DJ Mag Best Breakthrough DJ (2012), Mixmag Star of the Year (2014) and DJ Award for Best Bass DJ (2015).
She began as a teenager gigging locally in her hometown of Birmingham, fully embracing and building on the sonic the Midlands has become known for. At one point she did this while juggling a career as a footballer, as well as a university course! In 2006, her track ‘Rhymes’, a collaboration with Chris Lorenzo featuring a sample from Busta Rhymes “Touch It”, went on to reach No.13 in the UK Singles Chart - which still to this day is an admirable feat for a dance music artist. But it was in 2010 when her music career really took off, she was on a summer break in Ibiza and was asked to fill in for a DJ headlining at the Es Paradis club and the rest is history.
She has since been a regular in Ibiza, returning season after season and is now known name all over the globe. She has signed music to labels like Armada Subjekt, Ultra, Toolroom, Sola and EMI, while also launching her own label Etiquette, which has enjoyed success promoting other artists' work as well as her own. Some of my favourite Etiquette releases are ‘Bang Bang’ - Jaded and ‘Passion’ - Eskuche but the catalogue is growing fast and the talent is strong.
If that’s not impressive enough, Hannah has toured the West & East coast of the US, plus multiple tours of the UK & IRE, where she played to thousands of loyal fans that she has built up over a long and successful career.
Hannah speaks often about lessons she has learnt on her way and describes her journey as ‘wild’, she now uses this to help and inspire future generations of electronic music lovers.
You can see Hannah headlining nearly every festival around this next year; Beachjam 2021, One Out Festival and none other than Creamfields. Plus, there are a tonne of new releases in the pipeline. This is in addition to an already successful start to 2021, boasting releases such as; ‘Oh Really’ (Armada Subjekt) and ‘Lift Off’ (Ultra). Don’t blink or you’ll miss something, Hannah Wants is absolutely on fire right now.
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