If there’s one thing that gets most of us through the day, it’s music. Whether we’re scrolling through SoundCloud looking for mood tunes to get us through a case of the Mondays or listening to a mixtape someone has sent our way, not a day goes by without some kind of music playing in our office.
Since our inboxes tend to get inundated with lots of projects from artists interested in coverage, we decided to spotlight some of the names we’ve been hearing about every month.
Since Highsnobiety was live at the scene at this year’s Lollapalooza festival, we’ve decided to dedicate this week’s Buzzworthy to the emerging acts who really held their ground against the celebration’s more high-profile artists. Check them out below before they get big.
Take a look at past installments here.
Though Illinois-native Kiiara amassed a modest amount of Internet buzz for her low-key bedroom pop jam “Bring Me Back” in 2013, it wasn’t until she dropped her ultra catchy, icy R&B 2015 single “Gold” that the singer would land a deal with Atlantic Records. After the song reached platinum in Australia, a near year later, Kiiara unveiled the track’s stylishly moody music video, which now holds over 17 million views on YouTube.
The clip’s popularity ushered in a sizable cult following for the artist, and after giving her debut EP, low kii savage, a listen, it’s not surprising to see why. Kiiara’s breathy vocals, atmospheric electro-pop melodies and trap hooks serve up just the right formula for what’s trending with both indie and mainstream audiences (in a similar vein to alt-R&B darlings Tinashe, Kelela and FKA twigs).
Though her set was met with rain halfway through, the crowd, an eclectic mix of alt bros, teen girls and fuccbois, stuck through until the end. She may not have a surplus of tracks under her belt yet, but the singer did give Lolla audiences a few previews of cuts to come. Stay tuned, because my guess is that Kiiara’s going to be the next big thing in a year’s time.
Contrary to my preconceptions, Big Grams, the brainchild of Big Boi (the less-memorable half of Outkast) and Phantogram (a band whose hype I never quite understood) was undoubtedly one of the more fun sets I spectated at the festival. The unlikely pairing actually brings out the best components of both parties’ musical talents – Phantogram’s lush, indietronica production and shoegazey vocals seamlessly compliment Big Boi’s dirty Southern rap hooks, making for an experiment so odd that it somehow works.
The group currently has only one EP, Born to Shine, to their name, but the project has enough bangers on it to satiate crowds for an hour-long set, serving as a much-needed pick-me-up as that 4pm slump (along with 92-degree humidity) hastily reeled in.
I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth for contemporary pop music, but I have to admit, when I first heard Dua Lipa’s infectious hit “Hotter Than Hell” back in May, I immediately slipped it into my “Summer 2016 Playlist.” Low-key, but it’s been on repeat ever since.
The London-bred, Albanian singer was scheduled to perform at the festival proper, but when I found out that she was going to give an intimate set at one of Virgin Hotel‘s after-parties, I opted for the latter. Lipa’s sound grabs bits and pieces from a multitude of chart-topping pop starlets – a mix between Sia’s soul-tinged chops with the punky Tumblr-tude of Charli XCX and Rita Ora’s sultry sex appeal – but her delivery is something that stands on its own. She also has some pretty on fleek style.
Buzzy British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jack Garratt has been a slow-burning success story for a minute now. After signing with independent Universal imprint Island Records in 2014, Garratt gradually climbed his way to a number of BBC Sound polls, landed televised spots at a few major festivals and won the Brits Critics’ Choice Award for 2016. His debut studio album, Phase, also managed to scoop up the number three spot on the UK charts.
Though Garratt isn’t a foreign name in his homeland, American audiences have yet to catch on, which was apparent after seeing the humble-sized cluster of folks who took part in his viewing his performance. But their loss really, because it was lit.
A bit of a sway from the live acts mentioned above, but I definitely need to give a shout-out to Chicago-based DJ Heaven Malone. His gig at Virgin Hotel’s inaugural after-party, which took place on the first day of Lollapalooza, kept the good vibes rolling with a flavorsome set filled with Bowie hits, new wave and post-punk classics and a slew of rhythmic house cuts (we were in Chicago, after all).
- Lead Image: Jason M Peterson / Highsnobiety.com