It's that time of the month again, so grab your headphones and set aside some time for music discovery. The July 2019 installment of Ones to Watch is coming in hotter than the Fourth of July.
This month we've got electronic-flavored psychedelia, body-drop dubstep, underground house out of SoCal, South African dance rhythms and Floridian future bass. While these musical offerings are mightily varied, they all slap in their own special ways. Let's get to the goods with our five July favorites below.
Meet VNSSA — a house and disco devotee with Costa Rican heritage and Orange County roots. Originally a drummer, the LA-based artist has long been a slave to the beat, but after transitioning to DJing and producing, she found a home among the nocturnal ne'er-do-wells of clubs, warehouses and festivals. Since her first original track “Daddy Like,” released in 2016, VNSSA garnered praise from Chris Lake, Claude VonStroke, Green Velvet, Solardo and Idris Elba, all of whom have dropped her tracks. In February, she collaborated with Walker & Royce on “Word,” a spooky, grimy underground banger which shot to #1 on Beatport. After a guest spot on Anna Lunoe’s Beats 1 show HYPERHOUSE and appearances barrage of marquee spring festivals including Lightning in a Bottle, EDC Las Vegas and Coachella, VNSSA continues her festival sojourn at August's HARD Summer, Moonrise Festival in Baltimore and October's Dirtybird Campout in Modesto. Add this to her upcoming release with Astronomar and TKTK. — MORENA DUWE
SoCal duo Pioneer 11 is named after NASA's 1973 robotic space probe of the same name, so you know their commitment to cosmic exploration is real. The duo melds sultry, scintillating guitar and lushly layered electronic elements into spatial jams that evoke Rufus du Sol, Four Tet and Flying Lotus and help fill the black hole left by the dissolution of the beloved Nicolas Jaar side project Darkside. Released in June POW Recordings, Pioneer 11's debut album Gravitorium is a rare long player, captivating from start to finish and made up of 11 (naturally) tracks that are at once intimate and far out. Primed for the desert, this is music that works as well in the sunlight as it does in the dark. — KATIE BAIN
Representing for South Africa, Shimza comes through with a hybrid of native influences and international styles to create something authentically fresh and inspired. His live mixing style earned the nicknames “Effect Master” and “Vinyl Assassin,” as well as bookings around his native continent and beyond — from Angola to Uganda, Croatia to Ibiza. (Each Christmas back in his hometown, he also hosts his One Man Show event series, a philanthropic event supporting local kids that he's thrown since 2009.) As a producer, Shimza blends traditional South African instrumentation and rhythms with classic house atmospheres, Detroit techno industrialism, and international urban sounds in a style he calls “Afro-tech.” The bilingual party tune “Makhe,” the soulful sensuality of “Faith” and the bedroom groove on latest single “Surrender” showcase his range and embody the fresh, multicultural hybrid of styles. Next up is Eminence, a dark, driving, club-forward EP on Cadenza Music set for release July 12. — KAT BEIN
Sometimes you want to want to have an ethereally blissed-out dance floor experience, and sometimes you want to experience music that just grabs you by the collar and drags you along for the ride. Put the music of North Carolina native Ray Volpe in the latter category. Volpe (pronounced "VOLE – PEE") has been steadily releasing massive bass and dubstep tracks that fit snugly alongside contemporaries like Kill the Noise, Excision, Zomboy, Skrillex and other genre mainstays, with his most recent releases "Curb Stomp" and "Body Drop" establishing him as one of the most promising producers of that particular style of insanely aggressive dubstep that your mom hates. Volpe recently delivered a standout mix on Sirius XM program The Cookout, is currently on the tail and of a summer tour with Ubur and promises that he's got new music coming in the next few months. We'll wait. — K. Bein
Bonnie x Clyde
Paige Lopynski and Daniel Litman met in high school, where they honed their party skills by starting chants in the lunch room. These days, the vocal bass duo presides over much larger crowds, but the infectious energy it generates is just as rowdy. Bonnie x Clyde cut its teeth in the Miami scene, growing from a festival act at Life in Color to rock the final sunrise set of this year’s EDC Las Vegas. Musically, Bonnie x Clyde bring a fresh perspective to dance-pop with house grooves, rumbling bass lines and catchy, self-written and self-sung lyrical hooks. The pair recently Tweeted an explosion of excitement over its next, yet-named single, but if you’re looking for grooves right now, we suggest the jackin’ cocky sing-along vibe of “The Good Life” or the future bass grandeur of “So High.” –– K. Bein