Ones To Know is a new, recurring series where we not only highlight some of the best and new rising talent but do so from within the viewpoint of an artist who has fought to establish themselves as a unique voice in music. Whether it be in the realm of pop, hip-hop, indie, electronic, rock, r&b, soul, or any genre fathomable, Ones To Know is here to let you know which artists you need to be keeping on your radar. So, for our inaugural Ones To Know, we handpicked an artist who was deemed a voice of his generation before he even entered adulthood in order to explore some of the rising UK artists that you need to know.
The British Invasion started with the Beatles in the ‘60s and saw a second wave in the ‘80s with the rise of new wave and punk bands. Since then, in large parts due to the rapid rise of globalization, it no longer feels like there will be another “British Invasion” in the same sense, yet the UK has not ceased to house some of the most noteworthy names in the emerging music scene. Chances are you are already aware of King Krule, or one of his many other aliases à la Zoo Kid or Edgar the Beatmaker. Actively evading simple classification, blending elements of punk, jazz, darkwave, trip hop, and indie-rock, King Krule established himself amongst the UK’s indie and rock elite. Now in the same vein, a series of young genre-bending artists are emerging from the UK to craft what they see as the next wave of sound for the UK, so we went ahead and picked some of our favorites who may just end up becoming the UK’s next big thing.
Citing such seemingly disparate influences as Nina Simone and Connan Mockasin, Nilüfer Yanya’s music is a testament to this apparent musical contradiction. Existing in a space and time that feels wholly new and experimental, yet reminiscent of the jazz and R&B greats before her, Yanya creates atmospherically enticing sonic pieces from the simplest of elements. Making the most of her powerfully soulful voice and simple guitar riffs that were taught to her by The Invisible’s Dave Okumu, Yanya’s music is timeless. Beyond its timeless feel, Yanya’s latest EP, Plant Feed, is a short and sweet exemplification of her strength as an artist in a range of genres from R&B to pop. Be sure to catch her at upcoming NYC & LA shows.
Loyle Carner may very well be the most apparent standout on this list, as Carner is first and foremost a hip-hop artist. However, Carner’s unique and refreshing take on the genre couples old-school beats and jazz instrumentation with self-recorded audio samples for a sound that feels inventive and exhilarating. His debut album, Yesterday’s Gone, showed the full extent of what Carner was capable of as an artist, placing poetic confessional soul-tinged numbers like “Florence” and “Mean It In The Morning” right alongside the hard-hitting, rock-influenced “NO CD.” Carner’s active experimentation with jazz, hip-hop, soul, rock, and even gospel permeates his music as much as he himself does, creating an honest listening experience quite like no other.
Jordan Cardy was given the unflattering childhood nickname of RAT BOY and coopted it into a DIY music project that would produce some of the most enjoyable musical experimentation in recent memory. Combining everything from hip-hop, reggae, indie-rock, punk, jangly guitars, and odd vocal samples, RAT BOY is hard to pin down, yet that is where his appeal lies. Abrasive, explosive, unapologetic, and undeniably genuine, RAT BOY’s debut album SCUM serves as an absurdist and satirical soundtrack to contemporary London. To top it all off, SCUM echoes all the musical inventiveness of ‘80s and ‘90s innovators Beck, Blur, and the Beastie Boys. RAT BOY’s music may contain catchy melodies and mesmerizing production, but the sentiment behind it all is punk without a doubt. RAT BOY time and time again proves himself as a force to be reckoned with in an ever-changing music landscape as he actively throws together whatever seems to work, and makes it work exceptionally, without a care for typical conventions.
Cosmo Pyke is the epitome of cool, modern London youth. From appearing in Frank Ocean’s “Nikes” video, moonlighting as a spray paint artist, skating, modeling, and now dedicating himself to his work as a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Pyke is clearly one to look out for. Infusing his indie-rock with a helpful dose of reggae and elements of hip-hop, Pyke’s music is effortlessly laidback and seems to float effortlessly through the air. Having only released a single EP as of now, Just Cosmo is a shining example of the young artist’s ability to transform his daily life experiences of local pubs, girls, and other day-to-day facets into complex musically transformative experiences. At the end of the day, Just Cosmo is just that. It’s an explorative look into a young artist shaping the world around him into infectious, timeless song.
The youngest here among his peers, 17-year-old George van den Broek is surely no less talented. Creating music under the moniker Yellow Days, Broek released the 2016 EP Harmless Melodies along with a handful of singles that left listeners wishing for more. 2017 would see these wishes fulfilled with Yellow Day’s spellbinding debut Is Everything Okay in Your World?, which solidified the young artist as a rising talent well-beyond his years. Experimenting with disparate vocal samples, hints of electronic production, and touches of instrumentation evocative of King Krule, Yellow Days’ brand of indie-rock feels like a beautiful psychedelic dream. However, while inventive, Yellow Days is merely not blindly pushing forward into the future. Layering his songs with blues style guitars and vocals, Yellow Days adds another sonic layer, much like his peers, that creates a whole new sonic element entirely–one that is undeniably enduring regardless of change in taste, bridging the old and what is yet to come.