2020 has been a trying year for us all but it’s finally coming to an end. Though a new calendar year doesn’t equate to imminent change, I do believe there is a lot to be optimistic about as we move forward. Before we close the year out, we had to come back with one last installment of Focus Five. This month we have two future beat wizards, a diverse German producer, halftime, DnB, and some upbeat UKG.
I found Declan just over a week ago while I was a guest on the Above & Below feedback stream. His submission was a beautiful future beat vibe that instantly impressed. After diving a little deeper into his SoundCloud I was not disappointed. At only 16, the young Vancouver-based producer is undoubtedly one to watch. Combining upbeat grooves, choice vocal bends and just enough knock, his sound is infectious and smooth. The talking intro on ‘Golden Hour’ is fun and youthful while the track itself possesses a polished future funk feeling. Looking for further vibes? Be sure to check out the mesmerizing ‘Reverie’ or the bouncy Lil Baby flipping ‘Yes Indeed’. Expect Declan to be a name popping up more often through 2021.
Hailing from Germany, FLOWRYAN rises above the rest with his intricate sound design and arrangements. For over 4 years, the up and comer has taken the time to discover himself through rhythm and sound. Shooting through hard challenges and learning new abilities. Now it’s his time to raise the industry higher by his impact in music. Having a vast taste in different frequencies, FLOWRYAN continues to amaze with different sounding tracks. From a beautiful and lush remix of Nitti Gritti’s ‘Breathe Out,’ to his hard hitting new single, ‘Drowned Harmony,’ there’s no telling what you’ll hear from him next. His impressive and sophisticated ear for electronic music will for sure heighten the bar. His impactful drums and exuberant atmosphere’s will have you on your knees, honoring his vision to the core. So make sure to go check out his memorable discography. And be on the look out for his new stuff in 2021!
Beauty comes in many forms. Most recently it manifested itself in ‘Gap,’ a stunning work of art from Roto. Aptly titled, the track makes expert use of space and pairs shimmering synths, emotive keys, deep powerful bass and carefully selected samples (see that Timbaland “uh-huh”). The result is a work that shows why I so often preach the importance of less is more. While ‘Gap’ is an assured standout, it’s no outlier, Roto has plenty of impressive releases. ‘Scattered’ is a dizzying yet delightful groove while ‘Palace’ alongside cozy kev is a dreamlike bop. I don’t know if it’s the lack of shows and parties but I’ve been strongly gravitating towards music with a melodic and beautiful core that still brings the bump, and few artists are executing on this sound better than Roto.
scheme has been on my radar for well over a year now, and I can’t give a good reason why the Florida-native hasn’t landed on our Focus Five yet. When searching for this month’s pick, I decided that had to change immediately. Boasting a neuro-inspired sound and concocting a plethora of halftime and drum and bass inspired monstrosities, scheme first impressed with his flip of Moody Good’s ‘Jimmytics’ and has impressed ever since. From unofficial remixes of Stormzy to a wicked collaboration with Result and PKT, scheme has been wowing us for well over a year and doesn’t appear to be letting up any time soon. More recently, tracks such as ‘greg’ have tickled our bass fancy with their intriguing ingenuity and progression. scheme is one to watch, don’t sleep.
In case you missed it, I have to notify you that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get familiar with the new UKG scene. Now, we all know what usually happens to these kinds of promises. Within a month they vanish, without leaving a trace. You stop going to the gym, you spend again too much time on socials and so on. For this reason, this time I decided to play early. 2021 has not yet begun and here I am, sharing with you my first, great UKG discovery. From his base in Norwich/Durham, Zefer has been on fire in the past twelve months and he completely bewitched me with his consistency. Having discovered him in the last quarter of the year, catching up with all his 2020 catalog (fifteen tracks or more) has been one hell of a journey. From his self-releases to the ones published through imprints such Garage Shared and his “own” Steppers Club, there’s not a single tune I’ve skipped. The basslines are just too infectious to miss even a single beat and the drum patterns are always so compelling. Additionally, in each every track there’s that “plus” that keeps you glued to your headphones and drags you deep down into the UKG hole.
Words by Alessio, Colin, John & Steph