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Hip hop, electronica, R&B and more. Ireland is sonically healthy.
It’s been a stellar year for all types of alternative music in Ireland. Despite the tumultuous global goings-on, great music will always find its way to our ears. Metropolis and AVA proved that festivals on the island don’t have to give in to the standards of swilling beer in a muddy field. Boiler Room landed in Dublin for the third time showcasing the best in homegrown techno. And independent festivals like Drop Everything and Openear proved you don’t need international headliners to create a memorable experience.
In the midst of this, local artists created outstanding music. Below are the artists we feel made so much noise this year that they’re bound to reap the rewards over the coming months. This is District Magazine’s musicians to look out for in 2017.
Musically, 2016 will be remembered for the death of many prolific artists, but for Irish fans of hip hop it will be remembered for vitality.
Dozens of quality homegrown artists emerged and Dyramid and Reach of Irish hip-hop duo NEOMADiC are one of our favourites.
19. Bad Bones
Dublin artist Bad Bones grabbed local audiences by the scruff this year with her unique blend of electronica and hip hop elements.
Dublin five-piece Beach had an Irish showcase gig back in mid-November, with 50 per cent of proceeds donated to charity Aware. Socially consciousand talented.
We’re excited to see what these boys have in store for next year.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Peter Fleming’s Cinema project. Since moving away from the heavier side of electronic music (he was one half of the equally as impressive bass duo Effy), his sound has become nothing short of addictive.
He launched his album at one of our parties earlier this year, and seeing it live really brings to life how beautiful the record is.
16. Farah Elle
Soulful singer/songwriter Farah Elle stunned Sin É a couple of months back with her live show and then jetted off to Italy to write some music.
We’re excited to see what the Libyan-born musician came up with on that trip.
Wicklow’s Gumshoe is made up of Conor Murphy and Keith Ferguson and over the past couple of months they’ve impressed with tracks from their forthcoming EP ‘Sun Kisses The Moon’.
Their tracks ‘ducats’, ‘yom kippur’ and more recently ‘Ninbasu‘ are exciting indications of what’s to come from this duo.
14. This Side Up
We played ‘Signs‘ by This Side Up at our Galway party last week, and out of nowhere two men burst onto the dancefloor tearing their jackets off to reveal T-shirts with the groups logo on them.
It’s only a matter of time until the same This Side Up-mania hits the East Coast. Sligo hip hop done very well.
Many people were introduced to Jack Sheehan’s Shriekin alias when he took to the controls at Ireland’s first Boiler Room.
Since then the producer has gone on to work with some of the biggest MCs in grime as well as running parties with his Wriggle collective. Read an interview with Jack from back in May here.
Wastefellow impressed over the past months with his collaborations, but it’ll be his solo endeavours that will put him ahead of the pack.
He’s an extremely diverse producer flitting seamlessly between grime, hip hop and more club-driven electronica, and each live show is more of an art exhibition than a gig.
Derry’s Orla Dooley has been putting the work in over in the UK, playing sets in Liverpool, London, and playing Manchester’s Warehouse Project this week.
She’s recently released a four-track EP on Scuba’s Hotflush Records whose title track has tinges of early Joy Orbison, while the rest of the release injects a healthy sense of experimentalism into the well-rinsed house/techno sound.
Four-piece ‘noise-pop’ band Thumper are in good company, collaborating with “fellow Dublin rokkerz” Otherkin and Bitch Falcon on one of their tracks, as well as steadily releasing music and visuals from their EP ‘magnum opuss’.
We’re yet to see the lo-fi group live, which is an exciting prospect for us in 2017.
A/V duo Clu have been on our radar for a long time, but their recent EP looks set to catapult them them even further ahead.
‘MOOD‘ came out on Gobstopper Records including a limited run on vinyl, and we’re looking forward to see what they have planned for live performances of the tracks, as well as the accompanying visuals.
08. Bobby Basil
Chris Montana (aka Tafari Pesto) and Bobby Basil are the two brains behind the Dah Jevu project, and as of September of this year they have decided to part ways. For the the time being at least.
Bobby Basil didn’t waste any time in getting music out there, releasing a video with Wastefellow (see above), directed by Hugh Mulhern, and has some big tracks with Major Grave on the way. Click here to read an interview with him.
A member of Ireland’s Gash Collective, a crew aiming to provide a platform for women to create and collaborate in electronic music, ELLL’s own music brings together hypnotic loops, samples and the harder elements of techno for a sound that subverts any conservative idea of music having an inherently feminine sound to it.
After supporting Objekt at Out To Lunch’s last gig in Tengu, an against the grain performance on Boiler Room, and a steady stream of productions, expect to see her name popping up on billings more often.
After ditching his ProFound alias, homegrown rapper Jafaris solidified his new name with the massively impressive visuals for ‘Lucid’.
He’s one of the key members of the Diffusion Lab collective, and one of the main voices guiding hip hop in Ireland into 2017.
We featured Soulé in our very first physical issue and she discussed her excitement for the coming months. Collaborating with the folks in Dublin’s Diffusion Labs, we can expect to see more from her in the new year.
After releasing ‘Love No More‘, a Kendrick Lamar cover and some standout support slots over the past while she’s quickly establishing herself as an exciting (and soulful) prospect.
Gritty and unpolished rap. But that’s why we’re so fond of Huva’s sound.
We first featured his track ‘Prize My Soul‘ back in May, and he’s since been consistent with releases and collabs, and word is there are a few more tracks on the horizon for him.
After going viral with his video for ‘Midnight Flower’, Dubliner Kojaque didn’t rest on his laurels. He set up Soft Boy Records with co-founder Kean Kavanagh and released his ‘Sunday Roast‘.
His live demeanour, relateable lyricism and strong eye for the visual aspect of his work make him one of the standout artists of 2016.
This alt-R&B singer already has the backing of Annie Mac and Mura Masa, as well as releasing two EPs this year on Dummy and Columbia Records.
Keep an eye out for her signature cartoon aesthetic and pastel primary colours, accompanying frantic beats, modern production, and her own vocals.
01. Burnt Out
This number one might be a surprise, seeing as Burnt Out have only released two tracks, but this group have all the makings of being one of the most stirring groups to come out of Ireland in recent years. It was a good day when their track ‘Dear James’ landed in our inbox.
Poignant but raw vocals, bleak imagery and simply beautiful music make us confident in placing this band at number one.