Notion has picked the 10 musicians we expect to make big waves in 2021. Find out who made the list.

Baby Queen

baby queen

Baby Queen is the new voice of a disillusioned generation. Through euphoric choruses and satirical, self-effacing lyrics, Baby Queen is on a mission to change the meaning of pop music.

 

My career highlight so far:

Courtney Love posting about my music on her Instagram will probably be my career highlight for a very long time!

 

My goals for 2021:

I’ve started writing my first album and I’m really focused on making it as great as it can be and ultimately ending up with something that feels important. I want to push myself artistically to explore the process of creating in different ways this time around.

 

If my music were a flavour, it would be:

A really sweet gin cocktail with loads of berries in it lol.

 

How artistic expression has helped me through tough times:

I’ve always said that unless you can turn pain into something beautiful, then it’s just pain. Making music, and just writing in general, has helped me to make sense of complex feelings and accept them. I think if I can write about something difficult, it makes it worth experiencing.

 

What inspires me to keep making music:

I think I’ll always make music and would continue to regardless of who is listening to it because it genuinely is the one thing in the world that I love doing. But I think the thing that drives me to write consistently and have a good work ethic is the group of people listening to my music. They’re so supportive and passionate and I want to consistently continue to make them proud.

 

Something about myself I’d like more people to know:

I think I really want people to know that I find life difficult a lot of the time. I don’t think people talk about mental health enough and I want people to know that it’s normal to feel like you don’t have your shit together. I feel like a bit of a mess 99% of the time and I don’t want to pretend that I don’t.

Jelani Blackman

jelani blackman

London rapper Jelani Blackman had a breakthrough 2020 after his COLORS performance blew up. With an instantly-recognisable tone, addictive beats and natural charisma, Jelani Blackman is quickly emerging as one of the UK Rap scene’s brightest stars.

 

My career highlight so far:

There’s been a few but at the moment my career highlight is the COLORS performance I did – it reached so many new people and got to show what it’s like when I play live; also gave me a chance to perform in a year when I couldn’t play any shows.

 

My goals for 2021:

My goals for 2021 are to finally play a headline show again and put out a project, there’s no way I’m ending the year without doing both those things.

 

If my music were a flavour it would be:

My flavour would be BBQ Rib cos there’s layers to it.

 

How artistic expression has helped me through tough times:

Being able to express myself through music has only recently become something that’s helped me emotionally, it’s always been a way for me to take myself to a happy place mentally when I perform, but now It’s also a way for me to get out things which have weighed on my mind.

 

What inspires me to keep making music:

I don’t know if I’m specifically inspired, I just can’t stop creating, it’s in my nature. And it’s getting easier and easier, randomly a song will just flow out of me in a day or even half an hour.

 

Something about myself I’d like more people to know:

Nothing, I’m kind of private, if I wanted people to know more they’d already know it lol.

Hope Tala

hope tala

Twisting up turn-of-the-century R&B with Bossa Nova bliss, Hope Tala tackles heartache without fear. Hope has a clear love for literature and a truly matchless rhythmic flavour; every song interwoven with enchanting stories of life alongside punchy beats and soft, effortless melodies. In 2020, she found a fan in Barack Obama and cemented herself as one to watch with her ‘Girl Eats Sun’ EP.

 

My career highlight so far:

My song “All My Girls Like To Fight” being one of Barack Obama’s favourite songs of 2020, for sure!

 

My goals for 2021:

I want to make a debut album I’m really proud of this year.

 

If my music were a flavour, it would be:

Salted caramel!

 

How artistic expression has helped me through tough times:

Writing music doesn’t fix things, but it helps me come to terms with them. It just feels really great to have been productive in times of sadness, if that makes sense – to have got something out of pain. That always feels like a triumph.

 

What inspires me to keep making music:

The hope that I can always make something better than the last thing, something I like even more. And knowing that there’s people waiting for it.

 

Something about myself that I’d like more people to know:

People often make false assumptions about my ethnicity, so I’d like people to know that I’m half Black Jamaican and half white British.

Bklava

bklava

UK Garage singer, songwriter and producer, Bklava, two-stepped her way on to the music scene in 2020. Now signed to Ministry of Sound, big things lie ahead for the multi-faceted creative. With her unique live performances, where she can be found singing and seamlessly mixing at the same time, Bklava is a strong part of an exciting new wave of UKG artists.

 

What’s been your career highlight so far?

I’ve been grateful for a lot these past few years, especially the opportunities I’ve had to connect and collaborate with new people and perform on different radio stations and in different venues, and there’s a lot I’m looking forward this year as well! But my biggest career highlight so far would have to be the release of my debut EP. It feels like a bit of a milestone for me because it’s something I’ve manifested for years but wasn’t ready for, until now. I’ve spent years creating but not being too sure about what I wanted to do and the music I wanted to make. The second I stopped caring about specifics, I began creating music that I wanted to put out. It feels good to be sure of my work!

 

What are your goals for 2021?

My main goal for 2021 is EP 2, but also, looking after myself as best as I can, learning a new language and to start performing again! I’m eager to get out there. I’m desperate for a rave. I need it in my life to feel connected to others; it’s the community that makes it so special and I miss that more than anything. I want to take my live performance to the next level and blow people’s minds.

 

If your music was a flavour, what would it be?

I reckon it would be chocolate orange because it’s sweet and a lil’ zesty. Also, who doesn’t love chocolate orange?

 

As a musician, how has artistic expression helped you through tough times?

Whether I’ve been aware of it or not, artistic expression has helped me through a lot of dark times. On my lowest days I’d put all my thoughts down on paper, it’s a form of escapism for me. Even if you’re not a musician it just helps to write down how you feel because it gives you a bit more clarity. It doesn’t matter if it makes no sense at all, quite often feelings don’t make sense. Writing it down does seem to help release those confusing emotions, though. Singing at the top of my lungs is another form of escapism for me. On days when I’m struggling to write, I’ll go and record a cover and get really into it, then if I go back to writing, I feel a little bit more inspired.

 

What inspires you to keep making music?

The people around me have inspired me to keep making music because I get a lot of joy seeing my friends creating their next big projects and that fuels my drive! I know that this is all I wanna do. Every shitty job I’ve had in the past has pushed me to wanna do music more because it’s something that makes me happy, and that I believe I could do for years and years and hope I do!

 

What’s something about yourself that you’d like more people to know?

I’m very proud of my Irish/Lebanese heritage and named myself after my favourite Middle Eastern treat! But I also practise Pole fitness and crocheting! One day I’ll incorporate all those things into a performance somehow [laughs].

Joesef

joesef

Scottish musician Joesef has gained support for music that embraces vulnerability and oozes experience beyond his years. With dreamy, lo-fi melodies and angelic harmonies, Joesef will have you escaping to a much more peaceful world.

 

What’s been your career highlight so far?

I played a sold-out show in my home town Glasgow, in one of the biggest venues in the city which was mental, it took a while to absorb that many people were there to see me, can’t even imagine that many strangers in a room now.

 

What are your goals for 2021?

I’m trying to write an album, hopefully get to play a show, maybe shake someone’s hand who knows.

 

If your music were a flavour, which would it be?

Like a really cold alcoholic beverage on a summer’s night when the suns going down but it’s still warm and the sky’s all pink.

 

As a musician, how has artistic expression helped you through tough times?

It’s given me something to do besides drink alone and lose my mind, I honestly don’t know what I’d have done if I wasn’t doing this, very lucky to have that as an outlet.

 

What inspires you to keep making music?

It’s just something I’m never bored of, there’s nothing like finishing a good tune, it’s like finishing a puzzle or really good sex, its kind of draining but the end result is really satisfying.

 

What’s something about yourself that you’d like more people to know?

I write all my own stuff, produce it all, only recently started working with other people to help me make stuff, and I’m Scottish and I’m tall x x x x

Lost Girl

lost girl

Since going viral on Instagram in 2017 with her gorgeous cover of Yxng Bane’s “Rihanna”, Tinie Tempah has slid into Lost Girl’s DMs and signed her to his publishing company. In 2021, Lost Girl plans to bring old school garage back into the charts. Tune in for honest music that draws you in, providing comfort and reassurance.

 

What’s been my career highlight so far?

Shooting my first two music videos. That’s when it all becomes real, from your notes to the Studio to the Shoot, it’s like watching my favourite movie unfold. I love the energy, my team and seeing the final product materialise.

 

What are your goals for 2021?

Firstly to be and stay happy and healthy. Secondly, to keep creating more songs and offloading my thoughts into music. And Lastly, to perform live!!! I’m itching to get on the stage.

 

If your music were a flavour what would it be?

Haha! What a question.. I’d have to say.. Peri- Tamer!!!! My music is full of personality and substance, sometimes sweet for everybody and sometimes really personal and relatable.

 

As a musician, how has artistic expression helped you through hard times?

It’s been my only therapy. When you’re someone who tends to internalise their thoughts – songwriting is like an escape from reality. You can write how you want, when you want and about who you want. That’s exactly what I did to get through my toughest times. 

 

What inspires you to keep making music?

It’s my life. It always has been. I do it for myself, my family and friends. I keep making music to show others just like me, that its possible to make a career out of it. I do it because I’ve always felt like my presence on earth is to spread a message – I feel as though I have something important to say and music is how I will spread it.

 

What’s something about yourself that you’d like more people to know about you?

I’m down to earth and real. I go through trials and tribulations, we all do. I have good days, bad days, really bad days. But nothing will stop me from achieving what I want to. I guess I’d like more people to know who I am, and that I am here to stay.

Lowertown

lowertown

Atlanta-based duo, Lowertown, are the Dirty Hit signees consisting of Olivia Osby and Avshalom Weinberg. The modern-day duo offer an exciting DIY sound of electronic and lo-fi instrumentation that complements candid, melancholy and authentic lyrics. Get set to see Lowertown and their music everywhere this year.

 

What’s been your career highlight so far?

Avsha: At the moment, I think my career highlight was playing a show with Beach Fossils at a venue in Atlanta that I had been going to for years. It was a real full-circle moment, and it felt crazy performing with just Olivia and I standing on stage. We usually play really intimate shows, and it felt like a real push to a new place, but we were still the same people playing the songs we wrote when we were 16 and 17. 

Olivia: A career highlight for me has been signing to Dirty Hit before graduating high school. Never in a million years did I think I would sign a record contract, much less this early into my life. I’m extremely grateful for all the opportunities that we’ve had with music so far. I’m trying to make the most of it all right now

 

What are your goals for 2021?

Olivia: I’d love to drop some music on my solo project (since the last time I did was in January of 2020), I’d like to get better at production, I want to get better at playing live for touring in 2022, and I also want to get better at playing either drums or bass. 

Avsha: I also want to drop music on my solo project as I haven’t dropped anything in years. I also want to become a better musician and work more on my classical piano playing. I’d also love to build an electronic instrument.

 

If your music were a flavour, which would it be?

Cinnamon.

 

As a musician, how has artistic expression helped you through tough times?

Olivia: Writing music and creating other forms of art has helped me healthily distance myself and process events that have been difficult to articulate or think about. Most of the music I write is about experiences or people from my own life. Before I started writing music to process these part of my life, my coping mechanisms when I was dealing with depression, anxiety or thinking about past events were extremely unhealthy and more destructive, but I found once I introduced music to help process these things, it took focus away from these terrible coping habits and turned the negative feelings, experiences, and pent up energy into something much more productive and positive. I’ve been trying to use music to deal with these things ever since, and so far it has been a very healthy outlet for me.

Avsha: It usually starts out as a really great distraction, honestly. If there’s ever a time I don’t want to be with my own thoughts, I’ll play music. While I’m attempting to distract myself, I end up facing my internal thoughts but not in the forefront of my mind. Being able to approach my thoughts as an afterthought helps me get perspective on situations. It doesn’t help me all the time, but the thoughts always end up coming out in the music which I feel like is a more comfortable way to bury yourself in your own head.

 

What inspires you to keep making music? 

Avsha: I think there are aspects of inner and outer inspiration for me. I usually find it really inspiring to see the boundaries pushed by other artists and to see the reflection of important cultural shifts shown through one person’s creative work. I think internally, I’ll always want to express emotion through music because it feels like the most natural way for me. It’s nice to be able to say things that won’t be criticized as harshly because it’s in the context of music. People usually give more leeway to crazy things under the guise of artistic expression. 

Olivia: Making music is one of the only times I feel closest to myself. It opens me up and forces me to be vulnerable and work through feelings and thoughts I put off or ignore. It’s my healthiest outlet for any negative emotion. It also gives me the greatest rush and release of energy when I’m doing it. I think if I stopped making music, I’d just go crazy because It’s been an integral part of my life for so long, I don’t know how I would deal with anything properly without it. I think what inspires me is the fact that I’ve found it to be one of the most positive forces in my life and I don’t know what I would do without it. 

 

What’s something about yourself that you’d like more people to know? 

Olivia: I also do other work besides music. I’ve been doing painting for most of my life and I think I’ll soon start being more open about my work in fine arts.

Avsha: I think I have the capacity to be the next biggest actor in the whole world. I’m not very good at it, but if it came down to it, I could be amazing. 

Nayana IZ

nayana iz

Nayana IZ is the West London rapper and vocalist who dances between breezy, jazzy rhythms and hard-hitting bars with ease. Watch her fly in 2021.

 

What’s been your career highlight so far?

Definitely meeting listeners in person and seeing how my music has spoken to them on a personal level, really means the world to me that they felt the music that deep. When it’s helped them in any sort of way, that is the ultimate blessing for real.

 

What are your goals for 2021?

Release this next project, which I am so proud of and see what happens next – this is my second project, quite different from the last but a part of me I’ve been waiting to show the listeners.

 

If your music were a flavour, which would it be?

Spicy, rich with lots of layers.

 

As a musician, how has artistic expression helped you through tough times?

Music always has been the only place where I truly express myself, I feel I’ve always struggled with words and struggled with saying what I truly feel. It all comes out when I make music. The first thing I do when I’m upset is write – it’s my comfort zone.

 

What inspires you to keep making music?

Music for me is like talking and I got a lot to say. Life fuels my music, so does my pain. Music was the first person I told my pain to and it’s kept me strong ever since.

 

What’s something about yourself that you’d like more people to know?

Do everything you wanna do before it’s too late.

Priya Ragu

priya ragu

Swiss-Tamil artist Priya Ragu saw success last year with her single “Good Love 2.0”, and has been collaborating with her brother to create the uplifting and vibrant electro-pop grooves we hear today.

 

What’s been your career highlight so far?

There have been so many highlights so far, it’s hard to pick one! The first thing that comes to my mind, is my first photoshoot in London. This was my first professional shoot so far and it felt so good haha! Just to see how many people were involved was mind-blowing. I had so much fun on the set and it looked like that everyone else was enjoying it too.

 

What are your goals for 2021?

To create more Jams with my Brother and release them with the sickest visuals.

 

If your music was a flavour, which would it be?

Sweet & sour – because the music is somehow familiar to the people and at the same time it’s not.

 

As a musician, how has artistic expression helped you through though times?

Making art keeps me very much in the moment. It’s very meditative. So art and meditation is all I need to keep my sanity during tough times.

 

What inspires you to keep making music?

A clean room! Before I start to create any music, my room has to be super tidy. My mom always used to say that the Goddess of Music, Saraswathi will never come by if the room is a big mess! There is definitely some truth in it!

 

What’s something about yourself that you’d like more people to know?

If someone has ever helped me once, I will help that person twice & more & forever.

Rose Gray

rose gray

Rose Gray’s sound is simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. Shaking up the music industry with her debut mixtape, ‘Dancing, Drinking, Talking, Thinking’, she blends 90s rave with 00s indie, Balearic house and soul to create an instant dance party.

 

Career highlight

Yesterday I was in an Uber and “Save Your Tears” came on the radio when BBC Radio 1 were playing it, that was a kinda surreal moment for me.

 

What are your goals for 2021?

Stumble in at 3am, after being in an overly crowded sweaty club… I never thought that phrase would come out of my mouth. And of course play live, preferably a festival as the sun sets.

 

If your music was a flavour what would it be?

Petits Filous apricot and strawberry.

 

Artistic Expression

I’ve been going through a lot, the world is. 2020 was A LOT. Everyone is feeling it right now. It’s mad but there were some days in Autumn I wasn’t really functioning properly, but I was able to sit and write songs for hours/ days even. Making music is my self-expression – every lyric, every chord is a direct representation of how I was feeling in that very moment. It’s my release, sometimes when I write I figure things out on the spot, that I didn’t even think I could articulate, but somehow through the music it just makes sense. The process of making music makes life make sense to me.

 

What inspires you to keep making music?

I can’t really imagine doing anything else. I love it. I’ve got a lot to say and can’t really help but write. Also bringing joy and light to someone else’s day, my growing little fan base, this thought makes me so happy.

 

Something about yourself you’d like more people to know

I can astral project.

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