Toppa Top 20: LargeUp’s Artists to Watch For 2016

Jus Now (Trinidad/UK)

The partnership of Trinidad-based percussionist and producer Keshav Singh (aka LazaBeam) and British DJ/producer Sam Chadburn (known as Interface), Jus Now are pushing soca music into the future. With a sound that pulls from Trinidad’s tribal percussion traditions as well as British bass culture, the duo have successfully paired Trini and U.K. talent on tracks like “Cyah Help It” with Bunji Garlin and Ms. Dynamite. (On his own, LazaBeam has also been producing Carnival-minded tracks for Bunji, Machel Montano, Ataklan and others). Fresh off their recent Feel Up Records EP Cyah Help It, the duo are set to release their debut LP later this year. —Jesse Serwer

How would you describe your sound?

Interface: I once described it as “Tribal Bladerunner”! We like to fuse ancient percussive riddims with bass-heavy futuristic sound design.

Lazabeam: Auto-update historical music with futuristic tendencies and a heavy reflection of our upbringings. Aggressive with sensitivity. Tringlish.

Tell us a little bit about the place you come from…

Interface: I grew up in Glastonbury, home of one of the most famous and diverse music festivals in the world. I first visited the festival in my mother’s womb, and it has had a huge impact on my life ever since. Unfortunately when the festival isn’t on, Glastonbury is a pretty boring place so I left Glastonbury in my late teens and moved to nearby Bristol: An amazing city with a strong sound system culture and a rich history of groundbreaking electronic music.

Lazabeam: I’m from Trinidad & Tobago, which is the southernmost island in the Caribbean. We’re a multicultural society that’s seen an interesting colonial past, having led to our uncommon diversity. Calypso, Limbo, Steel Pan, Soca, Doubles and Jillionaire come from my country. The old and new world converge in T&T. We’ve got African, Indian, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Syrian and Lebanese heritage. It’s because of this we have a unique musical palette.

Tell us about the moment where you knew you had broken through as an artist…

Interface: Part of me feels like that hasn’t actually happened yet. I think when I tuned in on the radio to hear the legend David Rodigan in a BBC soundclash with Zane Lowe and intro our track “Tun Up” featuring Bunji Garlin. He talked at great length about how he felt it was the kind of track that could cause a “Deep Forward,” a forward from the back of the lawn! I definitely felt like I had made it at that point!

Lazabeam: Not sure that’s happened as yet. Every moment on stage for Sam and I has to be a breakthrough, and if it isn’t then it doh feel right. We feel fortunate to be able to be given that chance.

What were your highlights in 2015?

Interface: We started the year in Brazil. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to visit Brazil and it didn’t disappoint! We also spent a few weeks in Trini working with the legendary Leston Paul. Linking with Ms. Dynamite and putting her on a riddim with Bunji Garlin was also a big highlight!

Lazabeam: We got to tour a couple cities in Brazil and that was something that left a lasting impression. Glastonbury Festival is one of the most prestigious that one can play at and this was our 3rd in a row. It remains one of the moments that we look forward to each year, equally as anticipated as Trinidad Carnival.

What should we expect to see and hear from you in 2016?

Interface: We spent most of 2015 locked in the studio and we are now sitting on a large body of work that we are very excited about. We are now working out how to present that body of work to the public. Keep an eye on our socials for more info.

Lazabeam:Album.

What artists are you watching in 2016?

Interface: There is a huge amount going on in Manchester U.K. right now, the collective pride and spirit in the city is really inspiring. There are so many sick artists coming out of that city — the crews Levelz, Grey Collective and Swing Ting are a good place to start. Our homie Poté has got some sick stuff going on right now, too. Watch out for a young female rapper by the name of Nadia Rose, she is gonna have a big 2016. Over in T&T, there is a young artist by the name of Chalmer John that I think has a very bright future. He recently spent a month in the U.K. working with us so hopefully you will be hearing him soon.

Lazabeam: We’re always looking and listening for new music that move us. Ibeyi made a big splash with their first album and I’m curious to see how they follow it up. Olatunji Yearwood and Mista Killa from the soca world are killin it. Sufjan Stevens, Cat Stevens’ son, has a very intense album out right now. Yemi Alade from Nigeria is also on a rocketship to worldwide listenership.