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the interns’ Future Class Of 2016

Written By Sam Murphy on 01/21/2016

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These are the new acts we’re the most excited about this year. The ones that are going to change the game and make the main players look old…

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Kiiara
You know you’re onto something good when you’re garnering attention all over the world and all you’re doing is popping songs up online. Kiiara is a hardware clerk from Illinois and has made a name for herself simply by uploading excellent tracks. Beginning with Gold last year she’s already crafted a consistent catalogue of auto-tuned, woozy tunes that float between pop, hip-hop and electronica. It’s difficult to compare her to anybody and that’s why it’s easy to imagine her eventually infiltrating the charts and becoming that sound that everybody wants to copy. It’s hard to imagine a 2016 where Kiiara is not the name on everybody’s lips.

Most likely to: Accidentally become a bonafide star.

Biggest strength: The low level of fucks given.

dvsn
As close as two months ago the four letter dvsn wouldn’t have meant a thing to anybody. dvsn is a project by Nineteen85, the man behind tracks like Drake’s Hotline Bling as well as Nicki Minaj’s Truffle Butter. Last year he uploaded two impossibly smooth R&B tunes quietly, With Me and The Line, and it took the internet a month or so to discover them. They have now been well and truly discovered with the wobbly bass-line of With Me infiltrating the minds of many. Since then, dvsn have followed it up with Too Deep and Hallucinations – two tracks arguably better than the first two. Just when we thought R&B was ready to subside again, something pops up that’s soulful with goosebump-inducing beats and we’re in love again. Thanks to dvsn, R&B will continue far into 2016.

Most likely to: Make a 2016 version of Boyz II Men’s End Of The Road.

Biggest strength: Their mystery

DuaLipa
Let’s get this out of the way first and say that Dua Lipa is represented by Lana Del Rey’s management which may be the reason she’s been introduced to the masses quite quickly. That may be a good headline but apart from that the Brit has little in common with LDR. She’s making international pop tunes with an indie spirit and doing so with a raspy voice that’s instantly loveable. Her latest tune Be The One is a megahit in waiting and once it does she’ll be collecting Insty likes by the thousands. Everything about her, from the look to the voice, has 2016 icon written all over it and we will be baffled if she fades into the background this year.

Most likely to: Be the artists everyone with an Instagram wants to be.

Biggest strength: Her youthful vibrance.

Sampa
Last year we spoke to Sydney via Africa rapper Sampa The Great for Cool Accidents and she charmed the pants off us talking everything from females in rap to Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper. The thing that struck us most was that she was tough, you could tell she would stand up for what she believed in, but she was also humorous. “There are many beautiful things in life to laugh about,” she concluded the interview with. That spirit is all over her brilliant debut mixtape The Great Mixtape. Rapping over experimental yet organic beats she reps for the females and calls out racism all while laughing throughout. It’s joyous yet important and there’s very few who can do that. Australia has never had a rapper like this and her 2016 evolution will be so exciting to watch.

Most likely to: Producer 2016’s most socially-aware record.

Biggest strength: Her laughter.

YoungTapz

For someone on a list of artists to watch in 2016, Kiwi rapper Young Tapz had a pretty big 2015. He turned up twice on Hermitude’s massive album Dark Night Sweet Light including the lead-single The Buzz and dropped his own track Killa which took off on Spotify racking up well over a million plays. The reason he’s on this list is because he’s only just getting started. We spoke to him for Cool Accidents late last year and he teased that there are plenty of “hits” on the way. He’s dropping an EP this year and is also heading to the States to work with producers that he couldn’t name. He’s a rapper poised for the International scene with bloggers and tastemakers worldwide touting his name. And because he’s a Kiwi we’re just going to go right ahead and claim him as our own.

Most likely to: Crack the US before Australia or NZ

Biggest strength: His looks and flow.

Maribelle
Chances are you’ll recognise Maribelle’s voice straight away. The Aussie singer featured on Carmada’s huge On Fire and immediately made a name for herself as a big-voice, ‘90s-leaning singer. 2016 is the year that Maribelle goes it alone. Well sort-of. Her latest project sees her team up with LA producer Djemba Djemba for music that will be released via her own record label Crush Club. First single Shout is a bonafide banger and reveals a singer who’s in control of the whole package from the image to the business-stuffs. She’s far too good to be ignored in 2016 and no doubt she’ll be ensuring that in front of people for most of the year.

Most likely to: Please triple j and commercial radio.

Biggest strength: She’s a boss.

JessKent
It’s rare that you can place your bets on an artist after one song but occasionally that song is so good that you can’t ignore it. Jess Kent is an English-born Sydneysider who uploaded her debut, dancehall-flavoured track Get Down on triple j Unearthed last September. It only took a few months for the song to become the most played song on triple j and makes its way over to commercial radio because quite simply, it’s that good. Get Down places her somewhere between M.I.A and Lily Allen with a vibrant energy that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Major Lazer set. Just last week she dropped another track with Paces that only proves she’s in for a huge year. Australia desperately needs a commercial popstar with a youthful personality and Kent looks to be our gal.

Most likely to: Fill festival tents.

Biggest strength: Her attitude.

Bonzai
The UK has always been the first place we look when looking for fresh dance music and it looks like Bonzai might be the face of UK electronic music in 2016. The enigmatic producer and singer has played support for Mura Masa and GoldLink but her music begs to be the main event. Her debut EP Royah is bursting with energy marrying dancehall-infused beats with eccentric sounds and soulful vocals. It’s hard to remember the last time there was an interest with production as interesting as this who was also singing over and that should make her a powerful force in 2016 able to communicate to both clubs and festival audiences. She’s already nabbed Annie Mac’s Hottest Record In The World for Doses and we have a feeling it won’t be the last time.

Most likely to: Give the electronic music scene a shake-up.

Biggest strength: The flair for innovation.

ClubCheval
Club Cheval are a French producer supergroup, the likes of which the world has never seen before. Consisting of Sam Tiba, Myd, Canblaster and Panteros666 and are making music which blurs the lines between electronic and R&B music. First single From The Basement To The Roof was a smooth, bass-driven piece of work but the follow-up Discipline blew it out of the water, nabbing a spot in our best songs of 2015. A live video suggests that these guys are poised to play these songs completely live – a development which has really worked for producers like Shlohmo and Lido this year. There’s an album on its way and it’s sure to be pretty incredible judging off what we’ve heard so far.

Most likely to: Be the best producer supergroup since Jack Ü.

Biggest strength: They can play the songs live.

Wafia
WAFIA goes into 2016 in an enviable position. Her solo debut Heartburn was an instant favourite when it dropped at the end of last year. It’s a simple melody with gorgeous, minimal production that proves sometimes all you need is a tune and a voice. The Brisbane songstresses voice is crystal clear and heartbreaking. That paired with some of the best producers around like Ta-Ku led her to one of last year’s best EPs, the Future Classic released XXIX. Already she has hundreds of people singing her songs back to her and it won’t be long before those hundreds become thousands.

Most likely to: Break hearts.

Biggest strength: That pure voice.

MuraMasa
Young gun British producer Mura Masa is the only sole producer on this list and he’s also the best around right now. While he released a long-player Soundtrack To Death at the end of 2014 it was his 2015 EP Someday Somewhere that really got tongues wagging. He combines soulful, emotional vocals with bouncing, luscious beats pulling us towards the dancefloor while tugging at our heartstrings. His work with Nao, Denai Moore and Shura has provided them with some of their best material, particularly regarding the latter. Love For Me with Shura was one of the most achingly beautiful things to be released last year.

Most likely to: Become the pop world’s go-to producer.

Biggest strength: His ear for beautiful minimalism.

Formation

Originally we were pegging Formation to be the band that would cure us of our LCD Soundsystem longing but it seems that’s not really needed anymore. The DFA signees bring a similar vibe to LCD Soundsystem but it’s cleaner with the vocals more soulful and manicured than James Murphy’s. The South London twin duo released one of the tightest EPs of last year in Under The Tracks featuring four effortlessly groovy tracks. All The Rest Is Noise is an undeniable smash and something that sounds far more mature than a band in their infancy. You get the feeling these guys are ready for the mainstage – they’ll just have to steal it off LCD.

Most likely to: Make a better album than LCD Soundsystem this year.

Biggest strength: Their effortless groove.

ElfKid
We watched Skepta and Stormzy blow-up last year as the grime wave carried itself across the world and it looks like Elf Kid is up next. The London MC impressed us last year with his verses over Jamie xx’s Gosh but his original Golden Boy shows he’s got charisma and showmanship as well as some furious bars in him. The track samples Amerie’s One Thing but turns the tempo up more than a few notches. It’s manic but that’s what’s so thrilling about it.

Most likely to: Be the grime poster boy of 2016.

Biggest strength: His youthful exuberance.

OkayKaya
Most of the names on this list are providing us with music built around a beat but there’s always room in a year for something a little more demure. Allow Norway’s Okay Kaya to provide that for you. Last year she released three of the most stupidly beautiful songs to drop, coupling sparse piano melodies with a voice that teters on the brink of breaking. She was originally a model but she started writing tunes in isolation in her bedroom and we’re glad she took that path rather than the former. She recorded vocals for London ballet show Tree of Codes which Jamie xx composed the soundtrack for and wrote her latest track I’m Stupid (But I Love You), demonstrating she’s impressing people all around. She’s not into writing happy songs but that’s ok because she does sad so well.
Most likely to: Create the darkest record of the year.

Biggest strength: The intimate, fragile vocals.

KoiChild
Last year we saw Koi Child debut their show for the first time out of WA at BIGSOUND in Brisbane. All we’d hear was their excellent debut Black Panda but it didn’t seem to matter how much we knew in the end. The rap/jazz collective brought an energetic improvisation to their set, looking as if they could jam on the same song for 30 minutes with vigour. They’re by far the best new live act in Australia right now and that’s also noted by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker who produced their self-titled debut record due for release in March. It’s psychedelic music for sure but above all it’s energetic music made by people who just really fucking love what they do. When you’ve got that, you’ll always go far.

Most likely to: Become a mainstage festival player this year.

Biggest strength: The love for what they do.

SunflowerBean
The bluesy, laid-back guitar riffs of Brooklyn trio Sunflower Bean may have you reaching to call them slacker rockers, but don’t. Sure, they fit between Mac DeMarco, Real Estate and Wild Nothing sonically but there’s nothing slacker about what they’re doing. This band has a determination to them. Their guitars riffs are immediately recognisable, their melodies are sharp and they do little hiding below reverb. They’re prepping for the release of their debut album Human Ceremony next month and it genuinely feels as if it’s going to be one of the year’s best. Current single Easier Said is a sun-washed, silken tune with vocals that pierce through so clearly it’s impossible to ignore. If you’re looking for the coolest new band to gloat to your friends about, this is them.

Most likely to: The band everyone is trying to sound like at SXSW 2017.

Biggest strength: Their clarity.

Illustrations by Bianca Bosso

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These are the new acts we’re the most excited about this year. The ones that are going to change the game and make the main players look old…

Kiiara
You know you’re onto something good when you’re garnering attention all over the world and all you’re doing is popping songs up online. Kiiara is a hardware clerk from Illinois and has made a name for herself simply by uploading excellent tracks. Beginning with Gold last year she’s already crafted a consistent catalogue of auto-tuned, woozy tunes that float between pop, hip-hop and electronica. It’s difficult to compare her to anybody and that’s why it’s easy to imagine her eventually infiltrating the charts and becoming that sound that everybody wants to copy. It’s hard to imagine a 2016 where Kiiara is not the name on everybody’s lips.

Most likely to: Accidentally become a bonafide star.

Biggest strength: The low level of fucks given.

dvsn
As close as two months ago the four letter dvsn wouldn’t have meant a thing to anybody. dvsn is a project by Nineteen85, the man behind tracks like Drake’s Hotline Bling as well as Nicki Minaj’s Truffle Butter. Last year he uploaded two impossibly smooth R&B tunes quietly, With Me and The Line, and it took the internet a month or so to discover them. They have now been well and truly discovered with the wobbly bass-line of With Me infiltrating the minds of many. Since then, dvsn have followed it up with Too Deep and Hallucinations – two tracks arguably better than the first two. Just when we thought R&B was ready to subside again, something pops up that’s soulful with goosebump-inducing beats and we’re in love again. Thanks to dvsn, R&B will continue far into 2016.

Most likely to: Make a 2016 version of Boyz II Men’s End Of The Road.

Biggest strength: Their mystery

DuaLipa
Let’s get this out of the way first and say that Dua Lipa is represented by Lana Del Rey’s management which may be the reason she’s been introduced to the masses quite quickly. That may be a good headline but apart from that the Brit has little in common with LDR. She’s making international pop tunes with an indie spirit and doing so with a raspy voice that’s instantly loveable. Her latest tune Be The One is a megahit in waiting and once it does she’ll be collecting Insty likes by the thousands. Everything about her, from the look to the voice, has 2016 icon written all over it and we will be baffled if she fades into the background this year.

Most likely to: Be the artists everyone with an Instagram wants to be.

Biggest strength: Her youthful vibrance.

Sampa
Last year we spoke to Sydney via Africa rapper Sampa The Great for Cool Accidents and she charmed the pants off us talking everything from females in rap to Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper. The thing that struck us most was that she was tough, you could tell she would stand up for what she believed in, but she was also humorous. “There are many beautiful things in life to laugh about,” she concluded the interview with. That spirit is all over her brilliant debut mixtape The Great Mixtape. Rapping over experimental yet organic beats she reps for the females and calls out racism all while laughing throughout. It’s joyous yet important and there’s very few who can do that. Australia has never had a rapper like this and her 2016 evolution will be so exciting to watch.

Most likely to: Producer 2016’s most socially-aware record.

Biggest strength: Her laughter.

YoungTapz

For someone on a list of artists to watch in 2016, Kiwi rapper Young Tapz had a pretty big 2015. He turned up twice on Hermitude’s massive album Dark Night Sweet Light including the lead-single The Buzz and dropped his own track Killa which took off on Spotify racking up well over a million plays. The reason he’s on this list is because he’s only just getting started. We spoke to him for Cool Accidents late last year and he teased that there are plenty of “hits” on the way. He’s dropping an EP this year and is also heading to the States to work with producers that he couldn’t name. He’s a rapper poised for the International scene with bloggers and tastemakers worldwide touting his name. And because he’s a Kiwi we’re just going to go right ahead and claim him as our own.

Most likely to: Crack the US before Australia or NZ

Biggest strength: His looks and flow.

Maribelle
Chances are you’ll recognise Maribelle’s voice straight away. The Aussie singer featured on Carmada’s huge On Fire and immediately made a name for herself as a big-voice, ‘90s-leaning singer. 2016 is the year that Maribelle goes it alone. Well sort-of. Her latest project sees her team up with LA producer Djemba Djemba for music that will be released via her own record label Crush Club. First single Shout is a bonafide banger and reveals a singer who’s in control of the whole package from the image to the business-stuffs. She’s far too good to be ignored in 2016 and no doubt she’ll be ensuring that in front of people for most of the year.

Most likely to: Please triple j and commercial radio.

Biggest strength: She’s a boss.

JessKent
It’s rare that you can place your bets on an artist after one song but occasionally that song is so good that you can’t ignore it. Jess Kent is an English-born Sydneysider who uploaded her debut, dancehall-flavoured track Get Down on triple j Unearthed last September. It only took a few months for the song to become the most played song on triple j and makes its way over to commercial radio because quite simply, it’s that good. Get Down places her somewhere between M.I.A and Lily Allen with a vibrant energy that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Major Lazer set. Just last week she dropped another track with Paces that only proves she’s in for a huge year. Australia desperately needs a commercial popstar with a youthful personality and Kent looks to be our gal.

Most likely to: Fill festival tents.

Biggest strength: Her attitude.

Bonzai
The UK has always been the first place we look when looking for fresh dance music and it looks like Bonzai might be the face of UK electronic music in 2016. The enigmatic producer and singer has played support for Mura Masa and GoldLink but her music begs to be the main event. Her debut EP Royah is bursting with energy marrying dancehall-infused beats with eccentric sounds and soulful vocals. It’s hard to remember the last time there was an interest with production as interesting as this who was also singing over and that should make her a powerful force in 2016 able to communicate to both clubs and festival audiences. She’s already nabbed Annie Mac’s Hottest Record In The World for Doses and we have a feeling it won’t be the last time.

Most likely to: Give the electronic music scene a shake-up.

Biggest strength: The flair for innovation.

ClubCheval
Club Cheval are a French producer supergroup, the likes of which the world has never seen before. Consisting of Sam Tiba, Myd, Canblaster and Panteros666 and are making music which blurs the lines between electronic and R&B music. First single From The Basement To The Roof was a smooth, bass-driven piece of work but the follow-up Discipline blew it out of the water, nabbing a spot in our best songs of 2015. A live video suggests that these guys are poised to play these songs completely live – a development which has really worked for producers like Shlohmo and Lido this year. There’s an album on its way and it’s sure to be pretty incredible judging off what we’ve heard so far.

Most likely to: Be the best producer supergroup since Jack Ü.

Biggest strength: They can play the songs live.

Wafia
WAFIA goes into 2016 in an enviable position. Her solo debut Heartburn was an instant favourite when it dropped at the end of last year. It’s a simple melody with gorgeous, minimal production that proves sometimes all you need is a tune and a voice. The Brisbane songstresses voice is crystal clear and heartbreaking. That paired with some of the best producers around like Ta-Ku led her to one of last year’s best EPs, the Future Classic released XXIX. Already she has hundreds of people singing her songs back to her and it won’t be long before those hundreds become thousands.

Most likely to: Break hearts.

Biggest strength: That pure voice.

MuraMasa
Young gun British producer Mura Masa is the only sole producer on this list and he’s also the best around right now. While he released a long-player Soundtrack To Death at the end of 2014 it was his 2015 EP Someday Somewhere that really got tongues wagging. He combines soulful, emotional vocals with bouncing, luscious beats pulling us towards the dancefloor while tugging at our heartstrings. His work with Nao, Denai Moore and Shura has provided them with some of their best material, particularly regarding the latter. Love For Me with Shura was one of the most achingly beautiful things to be released last year.

Most likely to: Become the pop world’s go-to producer.

Biggest strength: His ear for beautiful minimalism.

Formation

Originally we were pegging Formation to be the band that would cure us of our LCD Soundsystem longing but it seems that’s not really needed anymore. The DFA signees bring a similar vibe to LCD Soundsystem but it’s cleaner with the vocals more soulful and manicured than James Murphy’s. The South London twin duo released one of the tightest EPs of last year in Under The Tracks featuring four effortlessly groovy tracks. All The Rest Is Noise is an undeniable smash and something that sounds far more mature than a band in their infancy. You get the feeling these guys are ready for the mainstage – they’ll just have to steal it off LCD.

Most likely to: Make a better album than LCD Soundsystem this year.

Biggest strength: Their effortless groove.

ElfKid
We watched Skepta and Stormzy blow-up last year as the grime wave carried itself across the world and it looks like Elf Kid is up next. The London MC impressed us last year with his verses over Jamie xx’s Gosh but his original Golden Boy shows he’s got charisma and showmanship as well as some furious bars in him. The track samples Amerie’s One Thing but turns the tempo up more than a few notches. It’s manic but that’s what’s so thrilling about it.

Most likely to: Be the grime poster boy of 2016.

Biggest strength: His youthful exuberance.

OkayKaya
Most of the names on this list are providing us with music built around a beat but there’s always room in a year for something a little more demure. Allow Norway’s Okay Kaya to provide that for you. Last year she released three of the most stupidly beautiful songs to drop, coupling sparse piano melodies with a voice that teters on the brink of breaking. She was originally a model but she started writing tunes in isolation in her bedroom and we’re glad she took that path rather than the former. She recorded vocals for London ballet show Tree of Codes which Jamie xx composed the soundtrack for and wrote her latest track I’m Stupid (But I Love You), demonstrating she’s impressing people all around. She’s not into writing happy songs but that’s ok because she does sad so well.
Most likely to: Create the darkest record of the year.

Biggest strength: The intimate, fragile vocals.

KoiChild
Last year we saw Koi Child debut their show for the first time out of WA at BIGSOUND in Brisbane. All we’d hear was their excellent debut Black Panda but it didn’t seem to matter how much we knew in the end. The rap/jazz collective brought an energetic improvisation to their set, looking as if they could jam on the same song for 30 minutes with vigour. They’re by far the best new live act in Australia right now and that’s also noted by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker who produced their self-titled debut record due for release in March. It’s psychedelic music for sure but above all it’s energetic music made by people who just really fucking love what they do. When you’ve got that, you’ll always go far.

Most likely to: Become a mainstage festival player this year.

Biggest strength: The love for what they do.

SunflowerBean
The bluesy, laid-back guitar riffs of Brooklyn trio Sunflower Bean may have you reaching to call them slacker rockers, but don’t. Sure, they fit between Mac DeMarco, Real Estate and Wild Nothing sonically but there’s nothing slacker about what they’re doing. This band has a determination to them. Their guitars riffs are immediately recognisable, their melodies are sharp and they do little hiding below reverb. They’re prepping for the release of their debut album Human Ceremony next month and it genuinely feels as if it’s going to be one of the year’s best. Current single Easier Said is a sun-washed, silken tune with vocals that pierce through so clearly it’s impossible to ignore. If you’re looking for the coolest new band to gloat to your friends about, this is them.

Most likely to: The band everyone is trying to sound like at SXSW 2017.

Biggest strength: Their clarity.

Illustrations by Bianca Bosso 

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