Toronto musicians to watch in 2018: electronic edition

The city's underground scenes are rising fast and these six artists are primed for impact


OBUXUM

It’s amazing how many influences OBUXUM is able to distill into a handful of beats, and how quickly her expansive repertoire is coming together. It’s just in the past year that the Somali-Canadian musician started playing live, with appearances at Electric Eclectics, Venus Fest and a release show for the H.E.R. EP at Double Double Land in the fall.

You couldn’t pick a more electrifying 10 minutes of music from last year than that EP: woozy synth pads and clipped vocals sit atop deadly beats that hit Dilla levels of being in the pocket. Her expert layering of digital manipulations alongside the button-smashing freneticism of triggered samples indicates a deep understanding of the traditions she’s working with, even as she uproots and rewrites them in her singular voice. She’s prepping two projects for release in 2018: a full-length and a collaboration with NYC producer Furozh

OBUXUM plays Wavelength Winter Festival at the Garrison (1197 Dundas West) on Friday, February 16. See listing.

Korea Town Acid

Jessica Cho has been making smart and nervy house tracks for a few years under her own name and a handful of aliases. She’s stuck to Korea Town Acid for the last year, and it comes at a time when she’s boiling over with ideas. Her recent music is intensely focused and cerebral, with expansive rhythms that unfurl into loping dance beats and skittering footwork accents. Each track is a slow surge of momentum carefully controlled by her unconventional approach to performing discreet elements live and in real time.

After a year of levelling up with analogue gear, she’s got an album coming viaCosmic Resonance in April, and she’s landed some performances in NYC, her first major out-of-town gigs, for around the same time. 

Ziibiwan 

After supporting A Tribe Called Red at all three of their sold-out Danforth Music Hall shows in January, Ziibiwan is already having a big year. Their new material shows they’ve already come a long way since 2016’s excellent Time Limits EP, which garnered nominations for best new artist and best album at the Indigenous Music Awards last year, and culminated in a knockout set at Yonge-Dundas Square during Pride. They’ve been busy in the studio, too, and the new songs showcase a startling expansion of their raw songwriting power alongside already formidable production skills. No word just yet on when a release is coming, but the demos that are circulating show enormous musical growth and potential.

Roam

A recent collaborator with Hard To Kill, who we profiled in our hip-hop edition, and a fellow member of the DSTRY collective, Roam makes moody, layered dark pop. His 2017 single Say It strikes paranoia, swathed in distended vocal samples both sumptuous and menacing. It’s a bracing update of trip-hop, early 2000s minimal house and UK garage. The prospect of some of those classic genres taking root here in Toronto is too good not to root for, and Roam may very well help move things in that direction when he puts out his debut LP, Remnants, on Valentine’s Day. 

Internet Daughter

Some day, people will be telling great stories about how much the Bedroomer collective contributed to this era of Toronto electronic music, but for now it’s fascinating to watch it unfold in real time. Internet Daughter was one of the great Bedroomer stories of last year, touring Asia with labelmate/senior collective member Eytan Tobin, and capping it off with the release of Deleted Tweets, an EP of lush, synth-heavy, trap-inflected beats. All of that was groundwork, in a way, as her pace has picked up ever since and she’s already got more music to send out into the world. Word is that there’s a fresh EP on the way in the next couple of months, but watch out also for loads of collaborations this year. 

Shagabond

A co-sign from Ryan Hemsworth, a string of shows with Kaytranada and an opening slot for DJ Shadow at the Danforth Music Hall are pretty big accolades for someone who’s only 21. While his age makes him a newcomer by default, Shagabond’s already well connected, having played the Red Bull Sound Select series alongside Jazz Cartier and Charlotte Day Wilson. The tracks on 2017’s The Metamorphoses Of Lonesome Charlie are structured epics full of gleaming tonality and well-defined texture. It’s a huge sound, seemingly ready for the international stage, if that’s the move he wants to make.   

Don’t miss: Forth wants to put Toronto on the dance music map.

music@nowtoronto.com | @streetsbag

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