In 2018, college radio remains an important voice in the conversation around up-and-coming artists. Part of that conversation is UT Austin’s own student-run KVRX 91.7. With a slogan of “none of the hits, all of the time,” they won’t play any artist that has already charted on the Billboard Top 200. This gives their DJs the ability to spotlight artists and communities who are not often heard from in the mainstream. With this philosophy in mind, KVRX DJs picked their top 20 queer artists of summer 2018.
Check out our Spotify playlist at the bottom of the post to hear them all.
DJ Pick: Chelsea Daniel
serpentwithfeet sings R&B influenced soul over layered yet simple ambient electro-beats, with help from experimental producers like Clams Casino and Katie Gately. His new album, soil, explores a range of subjects from breakup to the feeling of falling in love.
DJ Pick: Elise Barbin, Blog Radio (on summer break)
Shamir can really do it all, from electro-pop to indie and folk rock. Extremely versatile, Shamir’s music covers an array of styles with something for everybody. The witty pop songs are often upbeat and catchy, while the slower, lo-fi indie tracks are melodic and meaningful.
3. Ms. White
DJ Pick: Lainey Gonzales, Sunflower Sounds (on summer break)
Ms. White delivers empowering jazzy-pop which is memorable and powerful. Serving as a role model within the trans community, she helps people all over the world feel like they can be who they truly are. Much of her music pays homage to the stylings of Amy Winehouse.
4. Ezra Furman
DJ Pick: Scott Delhommer, Midnight Music Munchies (on summer break)
Ezra Furman has an expansive discography, but their latest work features baroque pop with revivalist rock n roll influences. Furman pours emotion into every song, and their clever lyricism is delivered with a lasting punch.
5. Planeta No
DJ Pick: Harold Urteaga, Andes Chest – Tuesdays 9PM
Planeta No are a Chilean group who give us hybrid indie and synth pop sound that is extremely bubbly and undeniably groovy. Performing exclusively in Spanish, the group performs danceable tracks about love and sex.
6. Mashrou’ Leila
DJ Pick: Josie McReynolds, The Passport (on summer break)
This five-piece band from Beirut has been pushing the envelope for Middle-Eastern pop music. Dubbed “The Arab world’s most influential independent band” by the Financial Times, Mashrou’ Leila addresses timely topics in their music such as politics, war, and the changing ideas of love and same-sex marriage.
DJ Pick: Aaron Martinez, The Hadal Zone – Tuesdays 11PM
Comprised of Rachel Rojas and twins Anabel and Cristabel Acevedo, this Dominican trio’s work finds influence from Latino and Dominican rhythms, reggaeton, trap, and hip-hop to create unique island dance music. Mula has made their mark on the predominantly male dominated music scene in Santo Domingo, throwing a powerful female presence into the ring.
8. bell’s roar
DJ Pick: Ariel Young, French Kissin’ (on summer break)
Writing under the moniker bell’s roar, Sean Desiree’s dream pop world is one that serves to provide queer and trans people of color with a reinforced sense of solidarity. Their debut album, We Carry Us, was previously named one of Bandcamp’s best albums of winter 2018.
9. The HIRS Collective
DJ Pick: Sam Paulsen, Electric Funeral – Tuesdays 7PM
A sonic punch. With each song clocking in at around one minute long, The HIRS Collective has one clear message: they are not here to play.
DJ Pick: Maddy Kaniewski, Crying in the Club (on summer break)
Combining elements of house, trance and pop, this Seattle electronic duo has made strides in both sound and style in their latest singles titled, “4ever” and “Intentions.”
11. House of Kenzo
DJ Pick: Rachel Wilkins
San Antonio collective House of Kenzo are keeping the vogue tradition alive deep in the heart of Texas. They are known for their avant-garde live shows such as their 2016 SXSW performance, but their mixes themselves are kinetic enough to turn any environment into a party.
12. Cakes da Killa
DJ Pick: Harold Urteaga
Cakes da Killa is a much-needed voice in hip-hop, breathing life into every track and feature. He is also a savvy collaborator, working with the likes of Injury Reserve and clipping, including a feature from the legendary electronic artist Peaches on his debut album. Cakes da Killa’s music pulsates with a club-ready energy and a charisma that cannot be faked.
DJ Pick: Aaron Martinez
Rapper and producer Le1f’s style is best characterized as nimble, expressive delivery over sophisticated beats that never feel cluttered. He gained national media attention in 2013 for pointing out similarities between his track “Wut” and Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.” Then, he gave an electric performance of the aforementioned song on The David Letterman Show in 2015. Based on the strength of Blue Dream, his latest EP, it’s clear that the world will be hearing more from Le1f in the future.
14. Quay Dash
DJ Pick: Sara Zavaleta, Pupusa Power! – Wednesdays 10PM
It’s impossible to listen to Quay Dash without feeling more confident. The Brooklyn artist’s discography is replete with good-natured braggadocio. With three solid mixtapes under her belt, she clearly has the rapping chops to back it up.
15. Elysia Crampton
DJ Pick: Jorge Hernandez, The Philosophy of Sound and Machine (on summer break)
Experimental electronic artist Elysia Crampton’s debut album American Drift was met with critical acclaim upon its release in 2015 for her ability to weave together disparate genre influences in unexpected ways. The common thread informing Crampton’s music is her desire to highlight the experiences of the LGBTQ community and the indigenous Aymara nation.
16. Octo Octa
DJ Pick: Maddy Kaniewski
Coming from Brooklyn, Octo Octa has dabbled in genres of drum ’n’ bass, IDM, house and techno since 2011. She released her latest album, Where Are We Going?, with Honey Soundsystem, a queer DJ collective from San Francisco. The album’s themes touch on the highs and lows associated with her experience coming out.
17. kamome sano
DJ Pick: Kai Foster, Far East of East
kamome sano creates fast-paced electronic music that can switch between genres and styles in seconds. She also owns the label tatsuta recordings.
DJ Pick: Malcolm Cohn, Malcolm’s House of House Music
UMFANG is an artist and DJ who co-founded the booking collective Discwoman, a group aimed to give representation female and genderqueer electronic artists. She has released 2 full albums of sparse, polyrhythmic, and sometimes grim techno.
DJ Pick: Jorge Hernandez
An artist under UMFANG’s Discwoman agency, stud1nt has made great strides in the area of experimental club sets. stud1nt’s mixes are dark, disorienting, and dynamic.
DJ Pick: Rachel Wilkins
An Austin local, p1nkstar lives up to their self-described pop superstar status. Light-up tutus, crazy colorful visuals, and choreographed dancers are all staples of their live performances.
Descriptions by Sam Paulsen, Lauren Schneider, Josh Winik, & Maddy Kaniewski