“Dance music this year has become pop in so many ways,” says Annie MacManus, who as Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac finds herself in the centre of the bridge where euphoric early hours nightclub sounds meet the daytime mainstream. The Dublin-born 33-year-old’s early evening Friday night show sends clubbers off into their weekends but also launches the careers of dance acts, including Katy B and Magnetic Man, who have gone on to pop chart stardom.
She’s in the right place at the right time, with DJs such as Swedish House Mafia and deadmau5 becoming big enough to headline arenas and festivals, while French producer David Guetta has a new sub-genre all to himself putting dance beats beneath A-list American rappers. “It’s like we’re back in the Nineties and the era of the superstar DJ all over again,” she tells me.
With the demand for this stuff reaching unheralded levels, she’s worked hard to become a brand herself. Her regular Annie Mac Presents club night returns to Koko in Camden tomorrow
Harlem 19-year-old who raps and sings, currently unsigned. She has a background in the performing arts and a sharp tongue. Free download Runnin’ at azealiabanks.com
“She’s my new obsession. She’s just put this song out called 212, and I haven’t watched a video that’s excited me so much in a long time. She’s completely unstyled – she does the whole thing with no make-up in a Mickey Mouse jumper and a pair of jean shorts. It’s rapped but over a house beat so it sounds very contemporary. The whole thing is understated and deceptively saccharine as it’s also very very crude. It’s about oral sex basically. I think she’s got the capacity to cross over the way Nicki Minaj has as she’s way better. She’s fun and she’s fresh.”
London singer with connections to members of the dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man. Stream 10 songs at myspace.com/youngmanmc and download five free tracks at soundcloud.com/youngman
“Yes, I have sung, ‘There’s no need to feel down…’ at him – he’s too young to get the reference! I first came across him watching DJ sets by Skream and Benga from Magnetic Man. He was their hype man, working the crowd on the mic while they played. Then he started getting Benga to produce his songs. He’s got a really brilliant singing voice, a classic R&B style but with Benga’s production it turns into R&B dubstep. He seems to be the only guy doing this sound as far as I’m aware, but it works really well. It’s reeally glossy and poppy and accessible. It sounds like the future of pop to me, weirdly familiar because of the style of his voice while the beats and production take it to another place. His track with Benga, Tear it Out, is on my album as one of my tunes of the year.”
Married Canadian duo based in Brooklyn. News at relaxyourmind.wordpress.com. Stream seven tracks at myspace.com/newlooknewlooknewlook. Debut album New Look is released this week on !K7.
“No connection to the clothing chain – they’re a couple from Toronto. He does the drums and electronics and she sings. She’s got a really pure, amazing voice. It’s kind of garage-y R&B, very lo-fi, very soft and lovely. It’s one to listen to at home, really lovely iPod music. The best comparison is with The xx – that late night sound. I know Romy from The xx loves them. Sometimes I cover for Nick Grimshaw’s Radio 1 show (Mon-Thur, 10pm-midnight) which is nice because my Friday night shows have to be all upbeat party music. When I’m filling in I get to play stuff from across the board. This is a great example of a band I’ve fallen in love with and try to play whenever I can. The song to look out for is called Nap on the Bow.”
THE 2 BEARS
Joe Goddard of Hot Chip’s side-project with DJ Raf Rundell. Info at the2bears.co.uk. Stream 20 tracks at soundcloud.com/the2bears. The Bear Hug EP and the Follow the Bears EP are in download stores now on Southern Fried.
“These guys are playing at my Koko show tomorrow night. They’re hilarious, two big hairy guys which is why they called themselves 2 Bears. I’ve been playing them since the start of the summer, starting with a song called Bear Hug. I just heard the album recently and it really is special. It’s essentially house music but with roots in reggae and garage, a really beautiful work of art about love and unity. As a whole it reminds me of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica – there are a lot of soundscapes in there and it tells a story as a whole. It’s not just nine club tracks shoved together. Joe’s main band Hot Chip are definitely coming back but I hope this project gets the popularity it deserves.”
Solo artist Tyson Speede from Shepherd’s Bush, formerly of briefly successful funk-pop trio Unklejam. Info at facebook.com/Tysonofficial. Five free downloads and 12 tracks to stream at soundcloud.com/tysonmusic
“He’s representing a different sound again – modern disco. He makes really Eighties disco anthems, power ballads really – big, hooky pop songs. He sounds a bit like The Communards but cooler. He also looks fantastic, this very skinny black guy covered in tattoos, with a shaved head. I heard about him because he’s on a label called Backyard, as are [Canadian electropop duo] Chromeo and I’m a big fan of them. At Radio 1 the evening DJs are the gateway for the specialist music that can go on to get in the pop charts, so the daytime producers are always looking out for the artists that we support heavily. Someone like [Swedish dance singer]Robyn, who’s now a proper pop star, was getting played very eary on by us. Tyson reminds me of her in a way, he’s making really accessible tunes. He’s taking great care over his videos and his look. He definitely has the ammunition to be a pop star, if he wants to be.”