This month marks one year since we presented the first submission roundup back in March of 2020, right as the first round of lockdowns was implemented. We launched the submissions portal to find and, most importantly, shine a light on the wonderful music made by artists in our XLR8R+ member community, and to say it has been a success in that regard would be an understatement. We’re now back, one year later, to present the next batch of submissions, showcasing some of the finest music we heard from XLR8R+ members last month. As per usual, we’re flattered by both the quality and quantity of entries, and after lots of discussions across our Slack channels, these are the tracks that pricked the ears of all the XLR8R editors. While we’re pleased to welcome back Costa Rica’s Melina Blanco and Brooklyn’s Richie Gigs, whom we featured in December, March has introduced us to a slew of talented independent artists we’d never heard of, notably Fefe in Australia and Iowa’s Lam. Fifi Rong, an avant-pop songstress from China, and Myrezu are two other new entries we’re excited to follow. Please dig in, continue sending in your work, and support the artists where you can.
Editor’s note: we’ve made a point of linking each artist’s name to their social media page, or a place where you can buy their music, and we encourage our readers to support these independent artists by in fact buying their music. Let’s keep independent culture alive.
For those unfamiliar, XLR8R+ is a member-supported music community and curated music experience. Every month, you will get three exclusive tracks—sometimes more—by a wealth of great artists that XLR8R has supported over the years, as well as access to the member’s area where you can submit tracks and DJ mixes to be showcased in this feature series and to the XLR8R+ community, as well as exclusive editorial content, mixes, FREE passes to music festivals and events, playlists, and more. You can find out more here.
Bearface “Live For Life” (G Bass Mix)
Bearface, the project of Raj Panasa, one half of Afrobeat duo Bana Kuba, is a specialist in hypnotic house grooves. In March, he released his first full-length EP on Vatos Locos, titled Live For Life. As hopes of live music return, the EP’s opening cut, “Live for Life” (G Bass Mix), makes us even more excited—and we encourage you to check out the full release.
The dreamy electronica of HAELIUM, from Paris, France, is a mix of cinematic textures, ethereal atmospheres, and punchy beats. It’s influenced by the sounds of Warp, Brainfeeder, and Erased Tapes, as evidenced in its deep melancholy and childlike optimism. In March, he released a remix of MÒZÂMBÎQÚE, who makes hypotonic electronic moments flavored with experimental sensibilities, drenching the original in garage vibes.
Synth Battle is an “open plug” that happens in Wynwood, Florida on Tuesdays. It’s a hub for synth heads to perform and has now become an outlet to release music. Synth Battle Dawless Tracks is a compilation compiled by Gabo Rio, who runs the event and incidentally features in our mixes section this month, and Adam Gersten, the venue owner. Each track has been recorded with hardware rather than a computer, and we’ve picked Watergun’s “Weathered,” an uplifting slice of house, to present here.
Fefe “Termite Kolony”
Fefe is a rising producer based in Melbourne, Australia. He began sharing textured ambient tracks through his Soundcloud about four years ago and now he’s back with “Termite Kolony,” an otherworldly rhythmic soundscape that you can file alongside the likes of Djrum and Special Guest DJ. There’s little known about Fefe but keep an eye on his work.
Joao Ceser “Adda”
“Adda” is a recent production from Joao Ceser, an Italian producer who began his adventures in music by singing in hardcore metal bands. Then he discovered the synthesizer and he’s been fixated on it ever since. The track is the most danceable one from Fiumi.brz, and it has a knack for making you forget about whatever you’re doing, so immerse yourself in its intimate, deep atmosphere.
Score|Swayze & BenJamin Banger feat. DJ Ducky Dynamo “Rubberbane Mane“
Baltimore artist score|swayze has released Telepathy Club, a collaboration of 10 tracks made in collaboration with BenJamin Banger, who plays the producer on this one, leaving Swayze to drops the bars. Our standout is “Rubberbane Mane” featuring DuckyDynamo, a patron of Baltimore club.
JFM “So Deep”
Jesse Frank Matthews is a DJ-producer based in Canada, better known as JFM. He began releasing music in 2010 and recently he’s shared with XLR8R “So Deep,” an enchanting production with a groovy bubbling bass that’s perfect for getting lost to in the early hours of the club or at the beginning of the wind down at the after-party. He recorded it between March 2016 and December 2018 in Ontario, Canada using a four-track cassette. It came out in December 2018 on Upperberry.
Mydgar, from Bordeaux, France, is a producer of rich, powerful electronica and downtempo pop. And it’s all influenced by old sci-fi and retro synthesizers. “Vertigo” is the first taste of a new album, scheduled to land this spring. Just like a movie, the track unfolds slowly before reaching an explosive conclusion, deftly oscillating between utopia and dystopia.
Detroit’s Filthiest “All White Buffs” (Will Simpson Remix)
Detroit’s Filthiest, real name Julian Shamou, began DJing as a teenager in Detroit in the mid-’90s and has since gone on to produce hundreds of tracks under multiple aliases. Despite growing up in Detroit, Shamou never planned on a career in electronic music, but he became a part of the city’s emerging Ghettotech, known as DJ Nasty. His music today moves through hip-hop beats, bouncing electro bombs, smooth house cuts, and pumping warehouse techno, and “All White Buffs” is a new cut that falls into the latter category. We’re sharing a remix of the original by Will Simpson, who will soon be delivering a solo release for Shamou’s MCEC label.
Myrezu “Soft Shell”
Myrezu is the creative alias of Myles Valle. His production exhibits an obsession with otherworldly sounds, harnessing inspiration from artists like Jon Hopkins, Aphex Twin, and Four Tet. H4AL, his new album, captures the “tumultuous journey of an ocean dweller’s afterlife” through four tracks of captivating ambient. “Soft Shell” is the sublime closer that we keep coming back to.
Melina Blanco “Tulip“
Melina Blanco is an artist from San José, Costa Rica who incorporates different styles and textures into her sets and productions. She released her debut EP, Lila, in 2019, which she followed with a new single and then Eter, her second outing fusing breakbeat with atmospheric soundscapes. We featured it in our December 2020 submissions roundup. Now Blanco’s back with “Tulip”, a track that cements her as one of South America’s most exciting producers across ambient, glitch, and deconstructed breakbeat.
After a prolific 2020, where he released La Cité des Etoiles on Astropolis Records and Cirrus on Hip Dozer, French producer Blutch has returned with a new single. Channeling a musical identity that fuses abstract hip-hop with house music, Cobalan is a nostalgic tale named after the street where Blutch grew up. The EP comes with a Lauer remix, but we’re streaming the Mézigue iclc take here.
Secret of Elements “Cassini”
Secret of Elements is Johann Paetzold, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist from northern Germany. “Cassini” is the first single to come from his new album, Chronos, which is named after the Italian space probe that came closest to Saturn. In combining emotive, cinematic orchestration with warm, dense layers of synthesis, the track creates a deeply moving sound picture that narrates Paetzold’s personal struggles. Micha Blanos, one-third of Amorf, features across the album.
Lam “chlor dub”
Lam is an alias of Lily Moresi, better known as shorn silk, and based in Iowa City. There’s very little known about the artist personally but this track, with its continuous, low pulse and aquatic murk will draw you in and not let you go. It’s Lam’s first release and we can’t wait for more.
Richie Gigs “Neon Wundaz”
By taking elements of sound often foreign to one another and blending their worlds, Richie Gigs tries to make “something beautiful,” he says. There’s nothing else known about the Brooklyn, New York sound artist, although, we featured a track of his back in August’s roundup. “Neon Wundaz” is an old track, originally shared six years ago, but its warped-out beats remind us that the best music is timeless.
Synthetyq “Sky Memory”
“Sky Memory” comes from Synthetyq, a mysterious producer only known as “Alex.” He’s believed to be based in Russia. The track, a hardcore electro jam, opens Hdrive EP and is an absolute mind-melter.
Fifi Rong “Only Man”
London-based Fifi Rong has shared “Only Man,” taken from her upcoming solo album, There Is A Funeral In My Heart For Every Man I Loved. While Rong was born in Beijing, China, she is based in London having studied in Manchester and Bristol. Her work pulls from the trip-hop stylings of Portishead, Helicopter Girl, and Tricky and can be filed alongside the likes of Björk, FKA twigs, and Massive Attack, with its seamless blend of electronica and alternative R&B.
Gabo Rio “At Blue Room Dance Hall“
Gabo Rio grew up in Managua, Nicaragua but is currently based in Miami. His sets are mostly done on wax, and this one features three tracks that he’s worked on, namely Discosexo “Venus in Gemini”, Mata & Mala “Full Drink,” and Pro Ghost “Lando Norris Acid.” Expect just under an hour of fun and timeless house music mixed with precision.