In partnership with Wide Awake Festival
Perhaps it’s no surprise that London is inundated with incredible acts at the moment – the capital seems to be a natural at inspiring a new generation of genre-blurring experimenters who push boundaries.
It’s an ethos that also runs through the musical veins of the Wide Awake line-up, but subversion isn’t just limited to the bill’s abundance of top-notch post-punk bands and pop shapeshifters. For the beat-lovers, there’s also plenty of left-field gems to catch on the dancier end of the spectrum.
Here are NME’s top picks of the electronic acts you need to catch at Wide Awake 2023 on May 27.
A veteran of London’s dance scene, Archway’s Erol Alkan first broke through in the late ‘90s as the host of cult night Trash. Bringing the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Peaches and Yeah Yeah Yeahs to the now-closed Oxford Street club Plastic People early in their careers, the indie night was a favourite of Bloc Party, 2manydjs and the late Amy Winehouse. Since then, Alkan has struck out as a DJ and producer – and reflecting the cross-genre pollination of Trash, it’s tricky to pin his stuff down. Over the years he’s produced albums for Mystery Jets and Late of the Pier, reworked psych-pop bangers by Tame Impala and generally brought the anything-goes spirit of indie influence right onto the dancefloor.
Oneohtrix Point Never
Making the trip to Brockwell Park from Brooklyn, Daniel Lopatin – AKA the experimental producer and singer-songwriter Oneohtrix Point Never – is another must see. Drawing on the fluid waves of early synth music, the cheesy grin of commercial ad jingle music and the foundations of classical music, Lopatin has explored vast amounts of ground across eight albums. The Warp-signed artist has also collaborated with everyone from FKA twigs and Soccer Mommy to The Weeknd and Rosalía.
Another beatmaker who grew up loving indie, Bournemouth-born Daniel Avery played in a number of bands before getting his first early break as a DJ and producer. Mentored by the late Andrew Weatherall, Avery’s soft-edged, often melodic interpretation of techno has established him as one of the biggest and best names in the scene.
An eclectic name – influenced by trip hop and The Beach Boys in more or less equal measure – Joy Orbison first reached underground legend status with his influential 2009 single ‘Hyph Mngo’, which took the then-everywhere genre of dubstep to brand new, inventive places. Still, he’s not just a throwback – Peter O’Grady finally released his debut full-length project, ‘still slipping vol. 1’, two years ago, an eclectic collage of colourful memories and varied touchstones.
Born in Poland and now based in London, VTSS has played everywhere: from iconic German club Berghain to our capital’s Junction 2. Often tapping into the saturated excess of hyperpop with her bold, brash productions, Martyna Maja has now found a renewed sense of creativity in the UK after originally honing her techno-chops during a stint in Berlin.
Coucou Chloe’s dystopian take on dance – heavily inspired by hip-hop beat-making while deconstructing the essence of club music in new ways – is a must-see. Also affiliated with the hyperpop scene, the French-born producer has remixed Charli XCX pop favourite COBRAH and is a co-founder of the music collective Nuxxe along with Sega Bodega and Shygirl.
Mysterious duo Two Shell are also representing the newer end of dance with their sherbet-fuelled, mega-speed take on the UK underground. Pulling from the warm pulse of garage and the thump of bassline while mangling R’n’B vocals through a distorted lens, this set will be very good fun indeed – cartoonish bangers all the way.
The alias of Jannis Stürtz, Habibi Funk is one for the cratediggers, and will see the DJ skilfully pick his way through the best of vintage funk, jazz, soul and disco from across the Middle East and North Africa. His label, Habibi Funk Records, is an unbeatable destination for finding Arabic funk and soul, with Stürtz working to reissue and platform many otherwise under-the-radar classics from between the ‘60s and ‘80s.
DJ duo JD Twitch and JG Wilkes are best known for heading up the Glasgow dance institution Optimo (Espacio) – a legendary night in the Scottish city which took on cult status over the course of its 13-year run. Though it shut down in 2010 (as one witty punter scrawled on a David Cameron campaign poster: “Optimo (Espacio) 1997-2010: Getting out before the Tories get in”), its snobbery-free influence still endures. Expect plenty of eclecticism from Twitch and Wilkes at Wide Awake.
Find out more about Wide Awake 2023 and purchase tickets here.