This is Asia: 20 female artists pushing the sounds of the Far East forward
Turning the tables with a spotlight in honour of International Women’s Day aimed at increasing the visibility of underground artists in Asia
Like so many professional spheres, music can often be a rather patriarchal industry. It began as a boy’s club and while it continues to be hugely androcentric, there are plenty of female artists around the world working to disrupt and dismantle that ecosystem while rewriting the cultural rulebook — especially in Asia. Just a few months ago, our team was tasked with compiling a list of artists — with no gender specification — that were pushing the scene forward in Asia. We ended up with a shortlist of almost all female DJs, and after we mused upon it, we decided it was a reflection of the current state of the industry in Asia — women are propelling the scene forward as they challenge traditions with their boundary-breaking sounds. This was the inspiration for this list, and whittling any list down feels like cutting out members of your own family, so know that it was hard but we looked for those who, despite a pandemic raging around them, remained relevant, made some noise and empowered their community. Hear them!
Taiwan 1. Sonia Calico
The first time I met Sonia Lai she was on stage with her band Go Chic in 2009 opening for Shit Disco, or was it Boys Noize, at The Wall in Taipei. The band was brash and irreverent and clashed riot grrrl punk with electronic dance music, and Sonia was the band’s guitarist and beatmaker. 12 years, one album (produced by Peaches), two EPs and a number of singles and remixes later under her Sonia Calico alias, not much has changed — she continues to be at the forefront of Taiwan's electronic music scene, lending its music scene international attention. However her work is distinctly different, yet thoroughly compelling, from anything you've ever heard out of Taiwan before, weaving elements of Mandopop, oriental instrumentation from traditional ceremonies and Japanese anime soundtracks into her soundscapes. Her music often comes coupled with messages aimed at raising awareness surrounding contemporary social issues such as the marriage equality rights movement in Taiwan, and her most recent release called 'Iridescent Vision' feat Taj Raiden discusses visions created when human civilization meets future technologies. Just last week, she released a surreal video for 'Mukbang Roller' that's built around the audiovisual sensation of mukbang. We have it on good authority to promise you big things from Sonia Calico from Taiwan this year. Follow her here.
Key listen 'Mukbang Roller'
Japan 2. Risa Taniguchi
Tokyo is a city of stark contrasts. Ancient temples sit side-by-side with technological innovations that are far superior to the west. Sake is sold at the 7-11 right outside of the sake brewery. And the nightlife is some of the most revered in the world for audiophiles and clubbers alike despite living in the shadow of a decades-long no dancing law. So it comes as little surprise that through the lens of the innocent, Risa Taniguchi is thrashing out pounding acid-flavoured techno that's getting support by artists like Amelie Lens and Pan-Pot, the latter of which snatched her up to their Berlin-based Second State label and delivered her How We Dance Again EP midway through 2020. She followed that up with an EP called Psycho on Redrum Music, another called Rockim on Kneaded Pains and then a self-released EP called Lost In A Daydream full of music made during a long lockdown. Throughout all the releases, you'll hear that Risa Taniguchi has a special sound and style of production, perhaps influenced by a history of playing the darker side of classical music as a multi-talented and skilled player of the piano, trombone and violin. Her music is dark and distorted, with abrasive bass and elements of acid, layering her own vocals over top. Risa is setting the mark when it comes to eerie, linear, heads-down techno from Japan, where she plays at clubs like Vent, Contact and Womb, but destined for the world. Follow her here.
Key Listen 'Sodium'
South Korea 3. Park Hye Jin
박혜진 Park Hye Jin is an anomaly — she did not grow up in the club. Born and raised in Seoul in a generation galvanized by girl bands and K-pop, at 15 she started rapping, at 17 she was DJing and by 18 she had moved into producing — but the door to Seoul's clubbing scene remained tightly shut. Unperturbed, off to Melbourne she went, then Europe and finally North America, landing in LA where she is currently stationed, playing Panorama Bar in Berlin and DC-10 in Ibiza along the way as well as scoring a personal invite to play alongside Jamie xx in London. Skirting coming up in her own hometime, it would appear that Seoul missed the boat on this one. Funny, that, since she's credited globally with ushering in a new, hypnotic wave of K-house from her current home in LA, alongside Peggy Gou and Yaeji. In 2018, she made a startling debut with an EP called IF U WANT IT, which transcends the boundaries set out by her K-house companions. The EP is effortlessly dreamy and thoroughly spellbinding, mixing lo-fi techno with hip-hop and lyrics sung in Korean and English. These characteristics are echoed in her propulsive 2020 Ninja Tune EP called How Can I, in which she ups the ante by adding veneers of trap and juke, all-together working towards a slightly darker persona. A musical polymath that blends wanderings of her native Korea into an audible language that is only hers to speak, we're huge fans — and you should be too. Follow her here.
Key listen 'I Don't Care'
China 4. Yu Su
Seemingly out of nowhere (but actually not at all), Keifang-born Yu Su has recently managed to connect with a lot of people, really damn fast. Her debut album came just last month, a downtempo number that pulls cuts from all over the place: touching on ambient dub, synth-pop, left-field house and punchy dance music. Named for China’s famous heavily silted Yellow River, which runs alongside her hometown of Keifang, Yellow River Blue is intended to allow the Vancouver transplant (since 2013) to connect more deeply with Beijing, where she's co-founded bié Records, a label focusing on “emergent and diverse” music from China. But her longtime fans will vouch for her — she's the real deal, and her 2016 cassettes under the guise of You’re Me are a testament to that. Following that, her 2017 ‘Infi Love' single was called a "low-key" hit by RA and was succeeded by a meditative mini-album called Preparation for Departure on Arcane, then Roll With The Punches from Second Circle and finally a Ninja Tunes single 'Watermelon Woman' before last month's album. A skilled selector, she’s well versed in unravelling her dance floor and taking them to unfamiliar expanses. Stick with this one. Follow her here.
Key listen 'Xiu'
Indonesia 5. Apsara
Sometimes it seems like Indonesia’s music scene operates on a separate linear from the rest of Asia. The music community isn’t part of the regular exchange that happens across Asia, and little is known about its vast pockets of music culture, despite it being such a large scene (and one of our biggest audiences). Perhaps the disconnection comes from it being such a densely populated nation that makes it come across as intimidating and impenetrable to an outsider. Meet Apsara, an Indonesian-based DJ and producer from Tokyo via San Fransisco, where she began her career in 2009, who's instead working from the inside out. Since the genesis of her job as a DJ, she has never catered to music trends. She’s always done what she wants, oscillating between trance, techno and progressive house circles. Apsara now resides in Jakarta and her global trajectory has perhaps been limited due to her geographical location — but 2020 was a big year for Apsara as a producer and that trajectory seems to be shifting in a new direction because of that. Inside Jakarta, a massive city by any comparison, electronic music is a thrilling place to be for local artists and offers perhaps one the most raucous opportunities for DJs to cut their teeth in Asia (looking at you, Stadium). Taking full advantage, Apsara has also made herself memorable by putting her prowess as a performer on full display during her sets. But it’s thanks to her continuous production effort, releasing on labels like Truesounds Music, Desert Heart Black, ZeroThree Music (Toolroom Records) and many more, she fell under our radar last year as one to watch and helped launch the Mixmag Asia SELECTS series with ‘Biocat’. She returned last month with 'Simply Red’ on Super Flu's Monaberry imprint and has a slew of releases slated for this year. Like we said, one to watch out of Jakarta. Follow her here.
Key listen 'Biocat'
Japan 6. Licaxxx
Versatility and acumen are qualities that usually describe a well seasoned veteran DJ with three decades of experience, and Licaxxx. Though she might be just shy of 30, the Tokyo-based DJ and producer boldly plays with the heart of an old-timer — the vintage-sounding house music icon knows a lot more about music than your average punter (in thanks to discovering Gilles Peterson). In fact, she rules her dance floors by delivering a gamut of genres with a track selection that has even the most hardened DJs reaching for Shazam. In clubs across Japan, Licaxxx bespeaks the influence of a new generation of artists, one that breaks free from the ultra-elite music community created by her predecessors and enjoys a modern praxis when it comes to dance music, having nurtured her own more digitally connected community by founding Tokyo Community Radio and contributing to Tokyo 20xx as a writer. A sangfroid in spades, she's played alongside Peggy Gou and Mall Grab in Japan and flexed her skills as a selector in front of a crowd at places around the world like DC10 in Ibiza and Into The Valley Festival. When not behind the decks, she produces ambient music which she calls her own "strange" kind of house and techno, and has been picked up in the world of fashion and used in shows by Chika Kasai for their Milano collection and dressedundressed for their Tokyo collection. Cool as a cat, make sure to catch the prowess of Licaxxx if the opportunity ever presents itself. Or watch her 2016 Boiler Room appearance which racked up 600,000 views and a comments section full of pleas for track IDs (plus the guy who said he wanted to do pills in the shower for her set). Follow her here.
Key listen High In Japan
South Korea 7. Closet Yi
Listen to Closet Yi with your eyes closed and you’ll probably find yourself traversing some kind of atmospheric expanse influenced by Closet Yi's Korean heritage and a love for nature that exists in her imagination. But if you haven’t yet heard of the Korean DJ, it’s because she’s a relative newcomer on the pan-Asian music circuit but don’t let that discredit her — it’s love at first listen, we promise. We recommend starting with her Self Portrait mix for Stamp The Wax, one hour of 100% unreleased music made between 2018 – 2019, which if you can believe, are her early days as a producer. There is something to be said about hard work, which is an encapsulation of the 10,000 hours theory because in the two years that followed, she started churning out more official music with an air of Asian femininity. Her first release official release came on a label she calls home today, Honey Badger Records. ‘murumuru palm tree’ was part of a compilation released by the label, which is one of South Korea’s oldest and most renowned electronic music imprints. Then came an EP called Basalt on London based label No Bad Days and Ruminate in May of last year again on Honey Badger. Just last week, she remixed ‘Miasma’ by JNS once again on her home label Honey Banger. In the last month alone, she’s landed mixes on 88 Rising, Circoloco Radio and done a mixtape for Bicep. Sidelining producing with a career at the Hyundai Card Music Library as a resident DJ and librarian helped lend this young artist her experimental edge, which sees her injecting Korean old beats, city pops and world music into her creative process with confidence and with panache. Follow her here.
Key listen 'When Tigers Used To Smoke'
China 8. MIIIA
Existing on a vastly different social network from most of the world, China can be a tricky one to keep tabs on. While the majority of artists remain connected via VPN, it can still be difficult to get a clear picture inside. But for the better part of the last decade, there’s one name from China that’s been consistently appearing on line-ups all over Asia: MIIIA aka SanTaiZi. (San Tai Zi is the latest addition to her moniker, and is representative of her live sets). The Shanghai-based DJ’s early days can be traced back to Canada’s rave scene in the late 90s before she made the trip across the pond to China and started building the framework to her foundation through a weekly radio session on uDance, the first 24-hour underground music radio station in China where she hosted the highest-rated show. Since then, she’s consistently been pushing the boundaries of Shanghai’s underground music scene with her incendiary performances and was recognized for her efforts with an invite to perform at China’s first-ever Boiler Room event, which was the most viewed set of the whole show. Over the years, she’s played at every Shanghai institution there is as well as bouncing between regional clubs and festivals. Today she calls 44KW home where you’ll probably catch her performing under her Liamii guise, and it’s under this alter ego that she’s just released an EP called The Devil’s Tooth via 44W’s newly minted in-house label Volt Records. Ignited by a relentless passion for creation, MIIIA is at the forefront of her musical dream-world and movement in Shanghai. Follow her here.
Key Listen ⁂⁂⁂
China 9. Temple Rat
The traditional Chinese Erhu is a genuinely mysterious two-stringed folk instrument that is played with a bow and made from carved wood and snakeskin. In the Western world, it’s often called the Chinese violin or the Chinese two-stringed fiddle. Temple Rat started playing the instrument when she was nine, and when she began to indulge in electronic music, she found herself fusing the two worlds together. She usually starts her shows with traditional Chinese folk music, to “create a sense of space, mystery and surprise among my audience” before adding electronic and industrial sounds to fill the space. She’s taken this unique blend of Erhu performances and 4x4 electronic beats as far as KitKat Club Berlin and RedLightRadio Amsterdam during ADE, but also around her native China where she delivered a much-praised performance for Boiler Room in Shanghai. Her 2019 album Spring Dawn on kagerou was a sonic representation of 春曉, which are Chinese words that explain the season between spring and summer — Temple Rat called refers to this time like daydreaming. Between heaps of podcasts, a mix for NTS she's been busy all year taking her signature Erhu tunes to the airwaves with music that sounds like an ode to a beloved Cantopop film star and his trip to 1980s Tokyo discos. Follow her here.
Key Listen Boiler Room
South Korea 10. Yaeji
Crazy Yaeji probably made the most headlines of any Asian artist last year. What pandemic? She just kept churning out content and music and content and music. From her What We Drew 우리가 그려왔던 mixtape in April, a seamless blend of DIY pop and underground club music, to a music video inspired by classic anime opening sequences based entirely on Yaeji’s own original character designs and illustrations, to an Animal Crossing merch collaboration, Yeaji seduced us into her multiverse and we’re still stuck there hitting repeat. And we haven’t even touched on her Boiler Room extravaganza yet, a 60-minute spectacle where she transports viewers into the wild and wacky house of Yaeji (literally, she broadcasted from her living room) and from her sofa she serenaded her fans with sweet lyrics no one could understand yet still begged for more. The stream was artistic, unique, complicated and truly amazing – it might be the freshest set you’ll see and hear in ages. Though Yaeji is based in New York, and born there, it’s impossible to discredit her as an Asian artist. She never really Americanized (apparently her dad censored the Pussycat Dolls from her before shipping her to South Korea to prevent that from happening) and for that we are thankful — her music combines all the best elements of Asia, from pop culture references to her Korean identity, all delivered via lyrics sung (or rapped) in Korean to a majority western audience. And for that, she landed a Mixmag cover in October. Did we mention her Boiler Room yet? Watch it below and follow her here.
Key listen Boiler Room
Hong Kong 11. Xiaolin
Music is Xiaolin’s raison d’être. Made in Hong Kong, Olivia Dawn Mok’s story starts with playing the violin and piano at five. Soon she was at The Juilliard School enrolled as a classically trained violinist before heading to Berklee Valencia (Berklee College of Music's Valencia campus) for contemporary performance and music technology where she picked up a double master’s degree in jazz and music technology. Armed with literally everything needed for a full-fledged career perhaps in a symphony somewhere in Europe, Xiaolin — her current moniker — discovered electronic music. And ambient music. And disco, breakbeat, acid and electro. Her next move was to bring her many worlds into one, and by doing that, she crafted herself a sound that is coming off as dreamy, punchy and edgy all within 60 seconds. As an avid synth and vinyl collector as well as lover of Japanese street culture and sounds from the 80s, nostalgia runs strong through Xiaolin’s music, which is apparent through her side project where she produces Cantonese-inspired music that pays homage to the past. Xiaolin is currently a resident at Hong Kong's 宀 Mihn Club where she hosts her own night HEX. She also appeared on the club’s namesake label with her debut EP Lanterns — a 140bpm, well-rounded, bottom-heavy breakbeat spectacle that makes for pure energy on the floor, or perhaps the ideal soundtrack to a heavy-burning late-night workout. Not losing any momentum, Xiaolin has teamed up with Hong Kong compadre Mr. Ho for an upcoming release with 20/20 Vision’s ‘Exit Planet Earth’ compilation. Follow her here.
Key listen 'Lanterns'
Thailand 12. Elaheh
We didn’t pick everyone on this list on our own (that wouldn’t be objective). We asked around, and one name that kept coming up over and over was Elaheh, a Bangkok-born DJ with Persian roots. If you’ve ever explored Bangkok’s underground music scene beyond just scratching at the surface, you’ve probably heard of Elaheh. And if you haven’t, then I promise you’re hanging out with the wrong crew. The Elaheh evolution began as an exploratory odyssey through the darker and heavier realms of electronic music but homegrown heroes DOTT and Junesis rubbed off on her, leading her towards the light. But Elaheh credits Eric Volta for her biggest shift in direction, one that sees her taking more risks and embracing variety in her sets, which she describes today as being deep, cosmic and psychedelic, yet always groovy. This blend of deep-tech and minimal grooves, a signature in Bangkok, has won her a residency at UNSTๆ playing their monthly nights at Bangkok Beam and De Commune, as well as resident of forward-thinking and leftfield-driven movement known as Soundistan. She’s also a member of Collect/Save, a project created to inspire knowledge in artists through a series of workshops and production masterclasses by industry experts. A DJ that exemplifies the art of being forward-thinking without ever being indulgent, Elaheh (named for her grandmother), is one of the city’s truly forward-thinking selectors. Follow her here.
Japan 13. Powder
Like most superheroes, Momoko Goto Shibata led a double life. For many years, during the day she worked as a clerical worker for a tech company in a windowless office 43 floors above Shibuya. By night, she shed her corporate costume and assumed the guise of Powder where she became enmeshed in the push and pull of electronic music. Grinding like this for years, as many in Japan do, the intricacy of her life became apparent in her music, which clashes her two worlds. Ceremonious and otherworldly in nature, today Powder is regarded as an artist from the upper echelons of Japan's music community with her productions and performances over the years lauded for being cosmic, intergalactic and entirely leftfield. The buzz around her started in 2015 with her debut 12-inch called 'Spray' via Stockholm-based imprint Born Free, and three more 12-inches followed in the coming years that ran through anything from ambient sounds to intense industrial psych-disco. In 2019, she was tapped by Tim Sweeney’s Beats in Space Records to put together the inaugural mix in an offshoot series for an episode called Powder in Space. The mix is an off-kilter piece of work, sculpted by cuts that span glitch, ambient, psychedelia, acid house, classical and more. It was released alongside a trippy and anime-influenced "biographical video of her evolution from 9 am-to-5 pm desk worker in Tokyo to 9 pm-to-5 am acclaimed DJ around the world" proving that Powder is the anime superheroine the music industry needs. Follow her here.
Key listen 'New Tribe'
Philippines 14. Samantha Nicole
Please meet the busiest woman in music in the Philippines: Samantha Nicole, wearer of an uncountable number of hats. A homegrown talent through and through, you can trace Samantha’s roots in the Philippines to Today x Future — a queer dive bar in Quezon City that intersects different subcultures and demographics, and exposed her to a motley of musical styles. Drawing influence from that experience, as a DJ her mercurial sound flows between leftfield house and techno, electro, acid and breaks, and she’s picked up a reputation for being not just a fine selector but also for being a sharpshooter when it comes to injecting the occasional cuts and surprising transitions. But it’s her work beyond gigging that really places her at the forefront of Manila’s music scene. Forever grinding and hustling, she’ll never run out of things to do. Samantha is a co-founder of UNKNWN and CC:Concepts — two initiatives that are regionally lauded for pushing for a community-driven experience around music, art and culture. Then there’s co-founding and directing Manila Community Radio as well as her role as music director at a local subculture space called Futur:st. Even during lockdown, music has been her refuge and she’s stayed busy propelling all of the above, not to mention unlocking a new chapter on her super list: she is also Mixmag Asia’s newest contributor, reporting on music and culture from the Philippines. Follow her here.
Key listen Bandwagon Mix
Indonesia 15. Ninda Felina
Ninda Felina makes music that celebrates the planet, and for that we celebrate her. We serendipitously stumbled upon her one year at Wonderfruit where she was playing in the Rainforest Pavillion. She played a track she made called 'Birds of Paradise', made with sounds from Indonesian rainforests, and our ears were effectively perked. The track was made for Greenpeace’s Save Our Sounds project with sounds she captured during a 10-day trek through the Papuan rainforest to captures pristine recordings and integrate them into electronic music. Long before this, however, Ninda has been making music that’s an amalgamation of rhythm, beats and the sounds of nature — something she says is because she was born and lives in nature. Her breakout tune 'Helophilia' was released in 2015 on Laxity Recordings as an homage to tech-house with melodic grooves combining the driving force of techno with the soulful swing of house, her interpretation of the voice of Gaia. In the last few months, Ninda’s been flooding our feed with videos from a livestream done in collaboration with Wonders Indonesia, a project aimed at present the wonders of Indonesia to the world by capturing nature, creating magic with audio-visual experience. Streaming from the Forest De Djawatan, Banyuwangi Regency, amid a backdrop of ancient beautiful trees that grow up to 10 meters tall, Ninda solidified her place not just music industry but also as a guardian of the planet. Follow her here.
Key Listen Wonders Indonesia
Malaysia 16. Rimka
Something that Asia does a lot of and well is nurturing artists who combine electronic music with traditional elements, the purest representation of a region rife with culture and diversity. Part DJ and producer, part electronic music evangelist, Rimka identifies as an artist with a focus on global ethnic centric music through a penchant for weaving ethnic elements into her sets and now, her production. From Paris to Kuala Lumpur with a couple of stops at a kaleidoscope of clubs around the world on the way, Rimka now lives in Malaysia's capital city where she is credited with being a stateswoman of the city's electronic music uprising through a residency at Sweatbox where she's known for laying down late-night sets that balance tradition and modernity, and transporting audiences onto exotic cerebral mindscapes. Inspired by these late-night shenanigans as well as her own local cultural involvement, last year, she wrote, produced and recorded her debut EP Budaya — meaning culture in Malay — which was released via KL-based label Sweatbox Records where she was the second female artist from Malaysia to release on the label alongside artists like Loco Dice and Mark Fanciulli. Sidestepping cliches, the EP was quickly lauded for its use of rare live samples of Malaysian traditional instruments like the percussion kompang and Malay bamboo flute seruling. Rimka’s ever-upward trajectory became entangled with the ensuing club closures in KL as a result of the pandemic, so she shuffled back to the studio to work on refining her unique sound signature, releasing ‘Ta’dum’ last month on Lump Records. Follow her here.
Key listen 'Budaya'
Hong Kong 17. Ocean Lam
Ocean Lam’s ongoing ascent in the world of electronic music is more than worth watching. Her contributions in keeping Hong Kong’s fragile music scene alive have been tireless, overcoming one hurdle after another. With roots at Yumla, Bassment and oma to her latest hub at Social Room, everything she's ever touched has been central to Hong Kong's once fledgeling scene and supportive of artists experimenting with new sounds. But in a place that once offered certain freedom from the rest of the dance music world, Hong Kong has changed teams almost overnight after several years of turbulence. But regardless of what happens in the live events sphere, artists have never been barred from the introspective art of producing, and somewhere in between the bouts of calamity that have cast a dark cloud over Hong Kong, Ocean Lam found calmness in her studio. Having always had a home on Typhoon8 Records, last year saw Ocean explore international waters and delivered a multilayered EP called The Same Boat which is dedicated to love, friendship and global understanding on Berlin-based imprint Biotop. Just prior to that she made her Boiler Room debut at Shi Fu Miz, a feat well deserved after more than a decade of travel gigging between Europe and Asia, and always standing up to support her fellow DJs from Asia from the middle of the dance floor. Follow her here.
key listen 'The Train'
Vietnam 18. Abi Wasabi
A founding member of Nhạc Gãy, a Saigon-based party collective with a rave spirit and a playful mindset that has been making a lot of noise recently, Abi Wasabi is pushing the cultural envelope further in Vietnam through her work with the collective, dedicating herself to creating a different future for youths in the country, as well as forging a fascinating reputation for herself as a DJ in Vietnam. The latter is probably credited to her reputation for destroying dance floors with sets intense with energy, and employ a motley of genres including hard drum, metal, rap, bass, industrial techno, hardstyle, psy-trance and vina house. Honestly, it’s a trip watching her go with the kind of whirlwind speed and knowledge you’d expect to see from someone whose been at it for a couple of decades. But it’s her work outside of music, but for music, where she impresses most. Together with Ahn Phi, the movement they founded focuses on helping youths in their journey to discovering their own identity. Via Nhạc Gãy organizes raves and art events with the intention of creating a safe place and playground for self-expression for all types of genders and sexual orientations, boldly challenging the status quo and what it means to be a part of a new generation of youths in Vietnam. Via a recent compilation she assembled for Nhạc Gãy just last month, she donated towards a fund dedicated to spreading mental health awareness, including depression and suicides, a topic about which she vehemently discussed in the public sphere yet is still taboo in Vietnam. “Ya know I talk way too much about this stuff,” she says on her Instagram. We commend you, please keep talking. Follow her here.
Key listen BaylenFM pres. House Arrest
Indonesia 19. DBRA
What might be new information to many of you isn’t to anyone in Bali: the lone name that comes up over and over again is DBRA. Her days of being tagged as emerging are a thing of the past, DBRA’s been spending many spells at parties across Bali for years with luminous DJ sets laden with hypnotic rhythms, organic sounds and enchanting melodies, a style that resonates well with sunset rituals on the Island of the Gods. A resident practically everywhere on the island at one time or another, often playing with the Mantrapeople collective at Savaya or Gardens of Babylon, even soundtracking many of the islands ecstatic dances, she’s cemented her reputation as a fine selector. And so, onto the chapter. With the pandemic hitting Indonesia hard, DBRA channelled her island energy into the studio and her December 2020 EP on WAYU Records called Balangan made it onto several Beatport organic house charts. Her single ‘Balian’ was picked up just months before on Kora Records, and before that, she had releases on Shango Records, Exotic Refreshment, Deep Bali Records, Lump Records and Wanderlust Musica. Throughout most of last year, we remained consistently impressed at her ability to continue elevating her music scene, without really hitting the decks. Go on, what’s next? Follow her here.
Key listen 'Balangan'
Veitnam 20. Vynnibal
The Observatory is a solid contingent as one of the institutions responsible for Vietnam’s nascent onto the global electronic music map and is where a lot of Vietnamese talent cut their teeth. And Vynnibal is their newest resident as of the middle of last year. Also their first female resident. Which is an impressive feat considering that Music Director and owner Dan Bi Mong (aka Hibiya Line) is known to be pretty regimented with his bookings and programming. But for a long time, the nocturnal creature of the night was a dedicated figure on the dance floor at the Observatory and her evolution saw her take the cultural reins, eventually becoming an integral part of the community responsible for birthing the beginnings of the music scene there. Lauded as a deep-digger with a keen ear for tracks that boom with raw, dance floor-moving energy, she is never afraid to explore uncharted territories with her “unique goofy, banging yet delicate sound”. Adding to her already a monumental year, she was picked up by United We Stream Asia and streamed to the world. As all eyes continue to be on Vietnam, Vynnibal continues to be one to watch. Follow her here.
Key Listen Phởq Sessions 007 @ The Lighthouse
And that's all she wrote...