Jaguar's Top 5 Breakout Artists of 2022
Sep 29, 2022
5 min read
UK DJ, journalist, and presenter Jaguar has a clearly defined knack for identifying up-and-coming talent. Her role as the host of BBC Radio 1 Presenting Dance has allowed her to catapult underplayed artists into the mainstream conversation on British radio, earning her praise for her expert curation. She's always got her finger on the pulse of the underground and is passionate about putting on the young artists driving the culture.
As a trusted and authentic voice in dance music, getting the nod from Jaguar has star making cultural cache. So, we asked her to give Gray Area her top five picks for Breakout Artists in 2022.
Here they are in her own words.
TAAHLIAH is a massive talent that I've been supporting on my BBC Radio 1 show since 2021. Her debut Angellica EP blew me away, and she's since been gaining fans with her edits of Nicki Minaj and Kim Petras under her own 'teletech' genre. TAAHLIAH has already been named Scottish Artist of the year and is the first black trans woman to do so. I see her as an important figure in the queer scene and the next producer to change the landscape of dance and pop, blending elements of hyper pop, techno, trance, and rave, as seen by her unreal Boiler Room last month.
Her DJ sets brim with her productions that range from sugary sweet pop tunes to heavy club tracks. I named TAAHLIAH as a BBC Introducing Dance Graduate for 2022. She's someone I believe is about to break into the mainstream and impact the music industry in a way that no one else has before.
2. Nia Archives
Jungle is massive (again) in the UK. At the forefront of the resurgence of the UK-born genre that inspired grime and UK garage is Northern treasure, Nia Archives. Her Forbidden Feelingz EP truly changed the game, where she innovatively combines sharply placed amen breaks with traditional rave stabs and her own vocals. It brings me joy to see Nia, a Black woman, soundtracking an entire generation of new school junglists in their teens. She's only in her early 20s, yet Nia shows off an extensive knowledge of old-school 90s jungle in her DJ sets and sampled within her music. The EP catapulted her to be the DJ on everyone's lips and led her to win an NME Award for best producer this year and future artist of the month on BBC Radio 1.
As a vocalist, she has teamed up with jungle legends Watch The Ride for Mash Up The Dance (DJ Randall, DJ die, and Dismantle), one of the tunes of the summer in the UK. And Nia is not shy in her mission to educate audiences about the Black origins of electronic music, for the world to recognize that dance music is Black music.
What do you get when you mix up bubblegum beats with plastic techno and pitched-up madonna-esque vocals? You get Sonikku. I am obsessed with him. Hailing from Derby, based in London, and regularly playing at Adonis nights, he has consistently impressed me. From his debut album in 2020, Joyful Death, and remixes for the late SOPHIE and Benny Bridges to his recent release on Steel City Dance Discs. His track "A Thousand Plateaus" is a never-ending roller coaster of crescendoing synths that has become a staple in my sets. I feel like he could do anything he puts his hand to, and I'm eagerly looking forward to what he does next.
4. Eliza Rose
In the UK, this summer has been all about BOTA. What is that, I hear you ask? It stands for "Baddest Of Them All," the biggest tune of 2022 from East London's Eliza Rose and Manchester's Interplanetary Criminal. Rose is a DJ, producer, and singer known for her blend of garage and soul. This summer, she was catapulted to megastar status. The video for BOTA is a fun insight into East London's queer scene and will leave you feeling fierce like a bad B. Released on her label, Rosebud, it started as an underground hit and has transcended into the mainstream, currently trending on TikTok and reaching Number 1 in the official charts. Massively respected by the underground community, Eliza has been on the circuit for years, cutting her teeth working at Flash Records. She's also the first female DJ to reach number 1 in the UK in 20 years since Sonique's "It Feels So Good" in 1998. 2022 is the year of Eliza Rose, and we love to see it!
5. Barry Can't Swim
Another artist breaking through is Barry Can't Swim. Whether that's his real name or not, we don't know, but we do know that he makes classically composed, cheerful, breakbeat bops that make him stand out above the rest. This Edinburgh-born happy chappy is much loved for an emotive sound that's landed him a release on Ninja Tune's Technicolour imprint. I'm in love with "More Content," it's one of the standout EPs for me in 2022, and I also made Barry a BBC Introducing on Radio 1 Dance Graduate. Scottish producers are having a moment right now, and I imagine Barry will reach the heights of heavyweights, Bonobo and Four Tet.