It’s a new year but Focus Five remains the same. As always we’ve rounded up our five fresh new finds of the month that deserve a greater spotlight. Volume 59 explores the talents of ESCPE, HDrizzle, She, SYNTHYA, and VISLA. Get familiar with the group below. From DnB to phonk, trap and various forms of bass music, we’re got something for everyone.
We could all use a break from reality. A disconnect from our to-do lists, chores, and the never-ending cycle of stress that can dominate our reality. Enter ESCPE. The Nashville-based producer is giving us a dose of what his namesake suggests in audio form. Blurring the lines between phonk, trap, bass, and wave, his works are beautiful, bumpin’, and otherworldly. ‘ROLLIN’ is a perfect introduction pairing fresh rap bars over thunderous bass lines and transportive soundscapes. It seems impossible for a song to be so stunning yet so hard but ESCPE masters this tightrope walk throughout his catalog. On ‘DUBLCUP’ he doubles down on the approach with pitched-down vocals that’ll have you longing to smoke or sip something to take your elevated mindstate to new heights. Looking for something that ups the intensity? ‘BONES’ is the bet. A few weeks back BACKWHEN told me not to sleep on his boy ESCPE. This is a wake-up call for everyone.
Hailing from Canada’s West Coast HDrizzle moves between a multitude of bass subgenres ranging from bassline to DnB, garage, and more. ‘Locked’ is the first track that truly caught my ear, pulling me in with a moving vocal sample that’s looped for maximum impact. Driving drums and deep pulsing basslines serve as the cornerstones making it an undeniable dance floor groove. On ‘Youngers’ the producer flips the grime legend Stormzy’s iconic vocals from ‘Wiley Flow’ into a gritty and dark DnB roller. If you’re in the mood to explore the range of what bass music can offer, take a deep dive into HDrizzle’s SoundCloud which spans back years.
She’s unique and impactful presence in the spectrum contines to shine as his tracks grow stronger and heavier. Hailing from Los Angeles, this artist’s hard-hitting sound design combined with sheer energetic drums can instantly break the dance floors. Emmeating pure passion and perseverance, his talents are continuing to evolve and shine on a whole new scale for himself with each track released.
‘4 you’ is a calm-natured atmosphere with an atmosphere of magical chaos. Keeping that same heaviness while portraying an electrifying melody soaring throughout the arrangement. Making it a soothing and powerful essence from beginning to end. ‘Metaphysical’ features She’s purely upgraded tactics and skills. An exciting and colorful ray of technique from the melodic structure, carefully crafted tones, and spine-tingling feeling it leaves on your soul. Marking a brand new chapter for his sound and overall style. Contributing to pushing the riddim genre into the future.
I’m betting big on the name I chose this month. I challenge you all to gather on this page one year from now, in January 2024, to see how right I was. He may not be playing on festival stages at that time, but he’ll certainly be on his way and will have earned a prominent place and a devoted following in his niche. “A love letter to Trance / Dnb / Progressive house and early 2000s computer era aesthetics,” this is how SYNTHYA defines the audiovisual experience he offers. A very nostalgic premise, which nevertheless turns into a very modern approach and modern sound. Just a drop into his first release and the comparison with Virtual Self will come naturally. Nothing wrong with that. Even SYNTHYA himself makes no secret of the influence Porter Robinson’s side project had on him, but his characterization goes much deeper than just being a rip-off. “I worked on both the music and the aesthetics for more than a year and a half before feeling comfortable to publicly launch the project,” SYNTHYA texted me. The art direction so far has been spot on. Direct, consistent, immersive. This is one of the rare cases where visiting the producer’s Instagram profile is an experience itself, and not just a doomscrolling through a series of press releases. What about the music you might wonder now? Well, the funny thing is that we still have yet to get a SYNTHYA original. The first four releases were all remixes. Three of them solo and one in collaboration with drum & bass producer Mazare (which was even uploaded on UKF). I know you didn’t expect this, but trust me. These are top-notch remixes that fearlessly go over classics from Above & Beyond, Seven Lions, and I_O, and do them justice. Hearing is believing.
My last two Focus Five features have been budding drum and bass producers, and today, my streak continues. Living among the plethora of weapons in the underground bass scene, VISLA has recently popped on my radar with his impressive four-track EP on the coveted Critical Music. With each track flexing a distinct style of drum and bass, it takes no time to realize just how swiftly creative the English producer can be. Jumping from grungy to uplifting with ease, VISLA weaves his way through subgenres just as well as the best in the game, earning support from FUXWITHIT favourites such as IMANU and gyrofield. With premieres on reputable imprints such as Skankandbass and STUDIO, and a fun bootleg of 100 gecs’ ‘Hand Crushed By A Mallet,’ it’s evident that VISLA takes his art seriously enough for important outlets to take note, all while having fun with it. Don’t sleep on VISLA.
Words by Alessio, Colin, John & Steph