Meet our Most Promising Artists of 2020

Pictures by Annika Wallis

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Our first three awards go to three young Belgian artists with a bright future.

As with every edition of the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards, our team puts upcoming talent in the spotlight by personally selecting three new artists who are on the verge of breaking through. In the previous years, Farrago, Cellini, Témé Tan and blackwave are just a few of the artists that have been given the honour. Whether it’s making beats, spitting bars or singing melodies, these artists have one thing in common: a promising potential to make it big in the music scene.

MEYY

The 20-year-old Charlotte Meyntjens makes the kind of music you put in your bedroom playlist. As MEYY, the Brussels-native has sprung into the Belgian music industry with a critically acclaimed debut EP (Spectrum, which also received a nomination in the Best EP category) filled with seductive and alternative R&B.

My music always revolves around a certain mood.

What was your first reaction upon hearing the news?

“Even though I'm only just getting started, receiving an award like this feels like a confirmation that I’m doing well. The nomination of my debut release in the Best EP category is the cherry on the cake”.

For those who have no clue who you are, what type of music do you make?

“It’s hard for me to describe my music with only a few adjectives. I guess my music has a kinda dreamy vibe to it, and all my tracks revolve around a certain mood. That said, most of my material that’s out there now is music I made when I was 16 years old. My current output is very different; it's more versatile. You may have been able to put the neo-soul and R&B label on my tracks thus far, but my upcoming material will be a lot more electronic".

It’s clear you keep a close watch over your visual style. How important is that for a modern artist?

“You’re right, I do. I notice that when I like an artist, I mostly like the vibe they represent, as opposed to just the genre they represent. For example: even though Travis Scott and Ariana Grande musically have nothing in common, I both love them because of their distinct individual style, regardless of the music they make. That's why I think it's essential to have a visual identity towards the outside world. That said, I still don't know what that identity is exactly. Luckily I'm surrounded with great creative friends who help me out along the way".

Are there any goals you have set for yourself?

"My daily goal is to be proud of my output. Down the line, my ultimate goal is selling out a headline tour around the world (laughs). I know that’s a high bar, but you have to dream big, right”?

SMAHLO

Sometimes you stumble upon a voice so pure, that it instantly gives you goosebumps. By bringing together the warm sound of African gospel and the lyrical depth of rap, the 23-year-old Smahlo hits the sweet spot in incredibly powerful fashion. The Brussels vocalist may only have released three singles (Ma Couleur, Esili and La Nuit), his talent is undeniable.

My most important goal is to connect people.

Can you tell us why you make music?

“Music is everything I have, so that’s why I do what I do. I hope my tracks have the power to unite people and give them the strength they need. That’s what it comes down to; that’s what I want to tell with my music”.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

"I get a lot of inspiration from artists from my motherland, the Democratic Republic of Congo, like Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide or Mike Kalambay. So, I listen to a lot of soulful music, rumba and gospel – but at the same time, I’ve grown up in Brussels with hip hop and rap all around me. I guess I take influences from both".

Have you set any objectives for yourself? What’s your end game?

"In the short term, I want to make more music. So far, I have two singles out, but in 2021 I'll be coming with a bigger project. My most important goal is connecting people. If I succeed in doing so for a bigger audience while my platform grows, I'm happy".

TSUGI

It’s been a while since we’ve encountered such a fresh take on alternative club music. Kaito Defoort, 21 years old and Brussels-based, clearly spent a lot of time in the clubs and on the internet. As the son of famed classical composer Kris Defoort and the younger brother of one of Belgium’s hottest beatmakers, UM!, creating music seemed like the only viable option.

I’m very interested in the foundations of music.

Can you give a short introduction of yourself?

"In short, I’m a producer and DJ that uses alternative electronic music as a central starting point to address a wider range of different genres, like ambient, IDM, club, rave, hip hop, jazz".

Tell us something more about your first EP, Dreamstate.

"It's my first solo project that was released in January. In many ways, this project was a way of proving to myself I have a place in the music industry. Keeping a DIY mentality throughout the production (ranging from the sound choice, the mixing, the music videos and cover art) helped me create an audiovisual world that can stand on its own. Musically, this EP is right at the crosspoint of analogue synths and hip hop beats. Fellow Brussels-based artists Martha Da’ro and Sam Blaca delivered excellent vocal support on two of the tracks".

You don’t strike us as the type of producer that only listens to one genre of music. Where do you look for inspiration?

"I’m very interested in the foundations of music. Why does a certain chord leave an impression on me? How does the interaction between certain rhythms and melodies result in a particular groove? My upcoming, more club-oriented EP, for instance, is an exploration of what you can do with the wide variety of drum breakbeats, including the legendary amen break. Together with my dreamy sound, I use these drums to work explore different genres like garage, jungle and club music".