Photo Credit: Joshua Oluwagbemiga on Unsplash
10 Independent Artists to Support on Bandcamp Friday (May 2021)
The final (for now) Bandcamp Friday of the year is upon us. This month, we highlight new projects from Elaquent, lastnamedavid, Lava La Rue, and more.
With summer 2021 just around the corner and the country finally approaching the midway point in its vaccination effort, it seems independent artists may finally be heading back to the stage in the months ahead. Which is to say, the gigging musician is about to be reactivated in some capacity. And as if they'd sensed all along that touring and festivals would somehow reenter the fold by June and July, this is the final installment of the Bandcamp Friday campaign (for now.)
Launched last June as a means of putting a little extra cash into the pockets of independent musicians and labels during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bandcamp Friday has been a nearly monthly opportunity for artists to collect the entirety of their sales on the day. The fee-waving event has generated more than $52 million to date for artists (on Fridays alone) from roughly one north of 800,000 fans and supporters. All of this is to say the artist-friendly music market really came through with an effort unmatched by any DSP. And just when musicians needed it most.
For the final run of Bandcamp Friday, we've assembled some criminally slept-on talents from all corners of physical and musical map. There's ghostly boom-bap sermons via NYC, high-fidelity beat clinics from north of the US border, obsessive synth-and-drum-machine tinkering a la oddball Angelinos, and a number of dynamic new voices in the greying spaces between R&B, house, and hip-hop.
Scroll on for May's picks of Bandcamp Friday selections. And even if this is the last official fee-less day for a minute, maybe consider still supporting a platform that genuinely supports independent musicians? Just a thought.
On his latest instrumental tape, Canadian producer Elaquent delivers a high-fidelity beat clinic tailor made for after hours smoke sessions and late-night lounging.
Barely in his 30s, Eyedress has already lived a number of musical lives. Following a brief run as the leader of Manila-based psychedelic noise outfit Bee Eyes and a solo stint, the tinkering Los Angeles transplant has linked with fellow oddball Angelino YUNGMORPHEUS on a pair of slithering synth-soaked singles.
Lava La Rue
Over the last three years, Lava La Rue has proven to be a dynamic new voice in the greying spaces between R&B, house, and hip-hop. On her recently released BUTTER-FLY EP, the London-based artist maintains the genre-agnostic songwriting, showcasing an expanded comfort operating in those margins.
Under his VAGUETRACKS imprint, Selim X has released nearly two dozen synth-and drum-machine-driven dreamscapes of varying lengths. On his latest tape, FULL MOON REFLEXION, the Bay Area-based producer submerges the set in a dissolving distortion, pushing dance-floor-ready electronic beats through thick waves of noise, as if being blasted from the floor of the ocean. And yet, it makes for a helluva ambient score above ground as well.
If you didn't catch wind of lastnamedavid's jagged and feature-heavy 2020 album, FTN: There Isn't Time, there's no time like now to get acquainted with one of the year's quiet triumphs. And as a potent palette-cleanser (or just more catalog fodder for those curious) follow that up with the producer's delightfully murky sequel to the 2015 tape, gymastix, for a batch of entrancing edits and instrumentals.
After roughly a year of teasing a project, Mara TK has delivered his debut album, Bad Meditation. On his first solo studio delivery, the former frontman of New Zealand future soul outfit Electric Wire Hustle writes and produces a collection of sprawling compositions, intimate ballads, and fun R&B experiments.
With five projects released over the last three years, Koncept Jack$on has been one of the most active pens in the consistently great Mutant Academy collective. On his latest tape, the rapper locks in with ohbliv for a joint project that's as cutting as it is leisurely.
Earlier this year, Rami stepped out with a hypnotizing four-track project for Dolfin Records. And just last month, as a proper warm-up for a slightly safer summer than our last, the Dallas-based house specialist delivered a recalibrated version of the set, featuring remixes from Ben Hixon, Mony/Poly, Ghostdrank, and more. Hear it below and hold tight for his next transmission.
In late 2020, after already putting up the guiltlessly fun and trippy DOG, in the fall, Kahlil Blu blasted out of an unquantifiably shitty year with a jolting sequel to his 2017 album, LONELY. Described by the Harlem rapper as "a prequel to DOG in the over arching story of my life, " the ten-track project finds Blu lighting up a broad range of sample-heavy and self-produced backdrops.
Over the last year, Gabe 'Nandez followed his 2019 sophomore album not with a tertiary full-length dispatch, but a pair of staggered EPs. And somewhere between the release of 2020's twangy, trap-happy Grove and his burly, barrel-chested Ox project from earlier this year, the New York rapper and producer snuck out this ghostly boom-bap sermon on his Bandcamp page as a proper placeholder.