Sometimes all you need is a spark. When Grey Collective’s Adio Marchant (Bipolar Sunshine) and Gaika started expressing a keen interest in the music of HMD, it led to an interview on Manchester’s influential underground radio station Reform Radio. As a regular listener of late night show ‘The Witching Hour’; I was immediately drawn to the story of Hamdi Hassan, who spent his formative years in a small rural town in Denmark. Hassan was kicked out of art school for disruptive behavior in music class, and then consequently became addicted to MTV whilst he waited an entire year to get another placement. Eventually finding his way to his now adoptive home in Manchester; he discovered hip hop, grime and a supportive musical community – as well as his first recording studio, which was stationed above legendary nightclub Sankey’s in Beehive Mill.
HMD is beautifully representative of the new Mancunian order, where a growing number of young black artists are finding their voices being carried far wider than the limits of the city borders – and slowly dismantling any outdated perceptions of what a Mancunian artist should look and sound like. Latest release Dayz, a tender collaboration with Ruby-Ann Patterson (another artist making a name for herself with hip hop/soul band Family Ranks) feels like a breakthrough moment for both of them . HMD’s sparse but pretty production gives them both the freedom to showcase their rich vocals. Remiscent at times of Sampha, this is raw, emotive and utterly magical. Sometimes all you need is a spark.
Chicago’s Keiya is the kind of artist I get very excited about… her latest self-produced tracks are beautiful cuts of contemporary R&B with smooth harmonies and hazy beats. Typical manages to combine hip hop influenced electronic dub, reminiscent at times of Hype Williams, with the sweet soul in Keiya’s yearning vocal. The chorus has a raw, playful energy that would translate well to the dance floor. In contrast, the late night melodies found on Maybe highlight her sensuality. Wrapped up in a dark and lush atmosphere, Maybe is an infectious and seductive track made strictly for the bedroom.
Tom Hickox was the first artist I ever promoted in Manchester, and last night (almost 6 years later) he found himself on Jools Holland. I’ve always tried to be forward-thinking, to help artists out at the beginning of their journey… to book with my heart.
I’ve taken the same approach for my stage at this year’s Sounds From The Other City. Headliner Rosie Lowe has the kind of voice that makes your spine tingle, with the ability to be both seductive and heartbreaking. Having collaborated with producers Kwes and Dave Okumu (The Invisible) to create the unique and beautiful Right Thing EP, it’s fair to say Rosie is an artist with a very clear vision. This will be my first opportunity to see her in a live setting, and all indications are it’s going to be a very special performance.
I swear, London’s Yerosha Sound may have dropped one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard all year. The production is clever, minimal and elegant – an emotive tapestry of sounds and textures that build slowly to showcase her soulful controlled vocals. If MKS (the original Sugababes) worked with Gold Panda you might get something like New Moon… honestly I’d be pretty amazed if A&R’s weren’t already sending her adoration. I will be.
I’ve been ruminating for a while now about new Manchester producer Oceaán who has been receiving pretty heavy rotation across the blogosphere. Perhaps I’ve been trying too hard to resist?
The swoonsome RnB production in Neéd U is good, really good infact. Oceaán is the light to Holy Other’s dark. With repeated listens it cuts deep into your soul, fills you with optimism and love.
Am I keen on the anonymity? It’s an interesting approach, mythology can be far more exciting than reality, especially in a time when we’re constantly battered with information. Manchester has a rich modern history from Wu Lyf to my own band Stay+. Oceaán’s debut video only fuels the fire… but its an exciting journey and I’m glad we’re on it with him.