Yard Act, Ayra Starr, Bakar and More: Rising Musicians to Watch Out For
Listen up as we play you some of the most promising rising musicians to watch out for. They may not be the biggest thing in the charts just yet, but their potential is huge.
From classical enigmas and modern-day soul to shoegazing and Afropop, no matter your musical taste, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Wet Leg at Elsewhere, Margate (2022). Credit: Raph_PH/Wikimedia Commons
Skipping out of the Isle of Wight, Wet Leg is a British indie rock band duo founded by Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers.
Their debut single, “Chaise Longue”, caught many by surprise, as it managed to break into the “US Alternative Songs” chart.
As the track went viral, it paved the way for the follow-up singles “Wet Dream” and “Too Late Now”, as well as the band’s self-titled debut studio album in April 2022.
After meeting at a South Los Angeles community college and bonding over a shared love for Florida rapper Robb Banks, Louie Pastel and Felix officially formed their alternative hip-hop act Paris Texas in 2018.
Offering a blend of electric guitar, bass melodies, and even John Carpenter references, their Boy Anonymous EP was praised by critics for its “unmistakable intensity and energy of intention” and was followed up with the surprise release of another EP, Red Hand Akimbo.
Harnessing the nostalgic energy and atmosphere of 1990s raves and being at the funfair, London-based Nia Archives is a multi-talented vocalist, DJ, producer and filmmaker with big things in her future.
Dubbed a “jungle maverick” by Rolling Stone, Archives has made a name for herself on TikTok, on the club and festival scenes, and from her library of DIY releases available online.
Her single “18 & Over” was played in venues around the country.
Canadian twins Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn describe themselves as “music for mall goths”.
During the lockdown, they put their heads together and created Softcult. They’ve been on a roll ever since.
Covering topics close to them, such as personal trauma and social issues, the sisters are also heavily involved behind the scenes.
Phoenix records and produces all of the music, and Mercedes directs and edits the music videos.
Yard Act at Rough Trade East in London (2022). Credit: Paul Hudson/Wikimedia Commons
Yard Act is made up of a bunch of post-punk indie-rockers from Leeds, England. Their often political, sometimes surreal lyrics are accompanied by a disco-meets-early 2000s indie rock sound.
They revealed their debut album, The Overload, in 2022, which spawned seven single releases, and they were also named “one to watch” in the BBC’s “Sound of 2022” shortlist.
A quirky taste in music videos has also helped the band’s traction greatly.
SSGKobe (real name Tyreek Solomon Pellerin) is an 18-year-old American rapper from Louisiana. The DIY star in the making and his cousins experimented with music in their home studio when young.
Then he started writing, recording and releasing mixtape EPs himself.
SSGKobe’s rise to internet fame came when his single “Thrax” went viral on TikTok, and thanks to several collaborations with music video director Cole Bennett. Since 2021, he has put out five mixtapes already.
Before Star To A Young Culture, or STAYC for short, had even released their first album, the sugary K-pop girl group had already embarked on promotion campaigns and won the hearts of thousands worldwide.
Formed and advertised by High Up Entertainment, the six-piece from Seoul, South Korea, released their debut album Stereotype in 2021, and it was succeeded by Young-Luv.com in 2022.
They’ve also had millions of hits and downloads on their streaming platforms.
Ayra Starr (2021). Credit: Tomisin Afolabi/Wikimedia Commons
Nigerian singing sensation Ayra Starr began with a career in the fashion industry as a model, but she eventually refocused her goals and pursued R&B and Afropop music instead.
With only five months of experience in the business under her belt, Starr was signed to Mavin Records, and big things started to happen.
Not only did she become a brand ambassador for Pepsi Nigeria, but she also released a self-titled EP and an album, 19 & Dangerous.
California-born Yeat is an up-and-coming rapper, singer, songwriter and producer. He grew up in Oregon before graduating high school. After leaving for New York, he eventually settled in Los Angeles to make his mark in the music business.
Yeat is said to have brought to the scene his own brand of rap, capitalising on TikTok’s reach. He got his name out there primarily with the release of his mixtape 4L and debut studio album Up 2 Me in 2021.
When he left his hometown of Naples, Florida, to follow his dreams of making music professionally, Terry Presume travelled toward Los Angeles with only US$200 in his pocket.
Presume is vocal about his qualms with the idea of genre, feeling that labels restrict the creative process for many successful and would-be artistes.
However you label his funky, poppy, sometimes psychedelic sound though, you’ll find it tough not to smile while you’re tapping your foot.
Italian heavy shoegazers Mondaze bring a reverb-soaked, fuzzy grunge sound accompanied by waves of whispery vocals and meditative melodies. Their debut album Late Bloom arrived at the back end of 2021, and no doubt there’s more lined up in the future.
Kerrang! Magazine endorsed Mondaze, writing that “at full volume, their debut Late Bloom seems designed to demolish crockery and eardrums alike”.
Amusing, as the band’s hometown of Faenza, Italy, is known for its Museum of Ceramics.
Although he grew up in Camden, North London, experimental indie rock singer Bakar says that he was sent to a boarding school when young and that “going outside of London and hearing other tastes and how that can relate to [him], it definitely did something to [him]”.
More recently, Bakar has been climbing his way up the ladder. He released a mixtape in 2018, an EP in 2019, and a studio album, Nobody’s Home, in 2022.
Dora Jar at the Great Escape Festival in the UK (2022). Credit: Paul Hudson/Wikimedia Commons
American bedroom pop musician Dora Jar navigates a wide range of issues in her work, once stating, “I’m not someone who is that comfortable having casual conversation, I want to go deep immediately and performance allows me to do that.”
Jar’s certainly on her way to the top. Not only does she have two EPs behind her, Digital Meadow and Comfortably In Pain, but she’s also opened multiple shows for Billie Eilish.
Self-describing her sound as “a modern interpretation of soul music”, Tora-i’s Whitney Houston-inspired voice is only the first thing that will grab your attention when listening to her music.
The young lady from London often takes listeners on a journey to another world with her fusion of styles, and her debut EP Cavalier garnered her the attention of many people. One of which was Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra, who Tora-i then supported on a tour.
Singer and Rapper PawPaw Rod fell in love with writing at a young age when he travelled around the globe as a military brat. The man from Oklahoma brings a blend of hip-hop and 1960s soul to the table, and he’s on the rise with two EPs behind him already.
His biggest hit to date is “Hit Em Where It Hurts” from his 2021 A PawPaw Rod EP, and in 2022, he released Another PawPaw Rod EP.
When American pianist and soprano Chelsea Guo was just nine years old, she made her piano debut with the Tianjin Symphony Orchestra. This led to her becoming a Young Scholar at the Lang Lang Foundation and winning a Chopin Foundation scholarship.
Guo released her debut album in 2021, where she shows off some solo Chopin works and even accompanies herself in pieces by Rossini and Chopin.
She has also performed at Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall.
When Canadian rapper Skiifall released his 2020 track “Ting Tun Up”, fans and critics alike were calling him Montreal’s greatest rapper.
Mixing trap beats, jazz, roots, reggae, dancehall and drill-infused hip-hop, Skiifall’s gripping sound is hard to ignore.
Although he’s currently limited to a host of singles available online, numerous music videos on YouTube, and collaborations with the likes of BadBadNotGood, it’s only a matter of time before Skiifall starts releasing full albums.
Leia Zhu with Marrinsky Orchestra at Mariinsky Theatre (2019). Credit: Zhutek/Wikimedia Commons
Teenage British violin prodigy Leia Zhu has the classical music world talking, and for good reason. After making her performance debut aged four, she has worked with some of the most prestigious musicians and orchestras on the planet.
By the time she was 12 years old, Zhu had performed in over 18 countries. She was later appointed artist-in-residence with the London Mozart Players in 2021 when at just 14.
The anonymous South Korean artiste behind the shoegaze-emo band Parannoul has a side-project they’d like us to all enjoy. Combining ambient piano melodies with ethereal strings, Mydreamfever does exactly what it says on the tin and creates a comforting soundscape for all.
Mydreamfever’s debut LP, Rough And Beautiful Place, is available online.
The artiste also showed their appreciation for physical media by selling limited-availability tape cassettes of the album too.
American rapper Saucy Santana started off as a makeup artist for the City Girls before releasing his debut single, “Walk Em Like A Dog”, in 2019. He was also a recurring guest on the reality television show Love & Hip Hop: Miami.
In 2021, his music career began to look even better. His singles “Walk” and “Here We Go” went viral on TikTok, spawning their own internet challenges.
He’s also managed to work with Madonna too.
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Writer | D.B. Damage
D.B. Damage is a freelance content writer passionate about creative subjects like music, film, and video games. He studied I.T. and music technology at college and has a background in managing and promoting local bands.