London's underground music scene has rarely been so exciting, so vivid.

Clash Live paired with Metropolis Studios to host a special gig a few days ago, showcasing two completely distinct artists from the underground.

From East London, Hak Baker's gritty but often hilarious tales of life on the edge are re-writing the singer-songwriter trope.

With a background in grime – and a stint behind bars – he speaks purely from experience, and the results are curiously heart-warming.

Poppy Ajudha is part of a new wave of energy in London's stellar jazz underground, a brave voice that tackles identity, sexuality, race, and more within the confines of 21st century life.

It was an incredible night – here are some behind the scenes snaps…

Photography: Tom Rowland / Jim Eyre (As Credited)

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Boytoy seem to exist in rock 'n' roll mythology, an effortlessly cool four-piece who make guitar music built for driving top-down across America's west coast.

Perhaps that's because their new album 'Night Leaf' was built with precisely this in mind, following sessions at Topanga Canyon, California.

Minimalist garage punk reminiscent of early PINS or fellow US underground types Night Beats, each song feels like a super-controlled blast of black-clad energy.

With Boytoy arranging their first ever UK tour, we're able to share a brand new song from the spiky quartet. 'Static Age' is all barbed wire guitars and daubs of Vox organ lines, a superbly simple, stripped back rock 'n' roll cut.

Primed, poised, and deliriously infectious, make an effort to track then down when Boytoy come to your town.

Tune in now.

Catch Boytoy live:

May
13 London Lock Tavern
14 Cardiff The Moon
15 Glasgow Nice N Sleazy
16 Birmingham Hare & Hounds
17 Newcastle Head Of Steam
18 Bristol Crofter's Rights
19 Brighton The Great Escape

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When July 7 moved from Manchester to Los Angeles, he put his future in his own hands. The 20 year old's eclectic music taste growing up, ranging from soul to jazz to hip-hop, influenced the music he makes and helped him create the soundtrack to his life. He says: "Prince, Jimi Hendrix, James Hetfield from Metallica. I could go on for days…"

Other than computers and almost going into a career which involved designing video games before failing IT in college, which he described as "a blessing in disguise", music has always been a big part of July 7’s life. "It’s in my veins. If you cut me open, notes will fly out."

From working alone in his room, doing everything from producing to singing to mixing and mastering, July has always been trying to create perfection. "Seven is the number of perfection," he explains. "It’s something that is true to me. When I was thinking of a name, it’s the first thing that came to me."

It was his self-described "tunnel vision" which led him to the other side of the world to pursue his dream. While in Los Angeles (and also Atlanta), July made sure that he took advantage of every opportunity that was available to him. It was here when social media helped him take it to another level. "The internet is so powerful," he says. "You can send a direct message or comment on a photo and get a significant persons attention. It wasn’t like that 20 years ago. I was sending my music everywhere, exploring every avenue that there was."

This led him to Travis Scott and his breakout project ‘Days Before Rodeo.’Looking back at this release, he says: "I’d say that’s his best work. I’m blessed to be a part of it."

As an only child, who was left to his own devices to discover everything, July prefers to work alone. This is unless a collaboration comes, as he describes it; "naturally. When it comes naturally, it’s always good."

This is exactly what happened when Sango reached out to him to collaborate on the track ‘Out My Way / Around You’ from Sango’s latest album ‘In the Comfort Of’. The song was played on the 58th episode of OVO Sound Radio, hosted by July’s idol Pharrell Williams. "I was sleeping. I woke up and people were tagging me in different posts. I literally said ‘Woah’. Here’s Drake, here’s Pharrell and here’s me. I plan to be here for a very long time, but the fact that I am getting noticed, it’s a nice feeling."

In March 2018, July released his debut solo project. A five song EP entitled ‘Sweets.’ Fans were waiting a long time between the release of the first single ‘Pronto’, a hip-hop inspired track with Latin vocals, in July 2017 and the release of the entire EP. "I’m always tweaking and making changes, putting on the finishing touches," he tells Clash. "I wanted to make something I was proud of. I’m getting so much love. It’s got me excited to drop more music."

WHERE: Manchester
WHAT: Atmospheric R&B with hip-hop and jazz inspiration
GET 3 SONGS: Boy, Pronto, Diamond Chandeliers

FACT: He believes Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo changed the way people create and listen to music.

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Words: Karan Teli

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Norwegian pop heroine has shared new song 'Nostalgia'.

The sensational songwriter – and recent Clash cover star – is flying out to the UK, with her latest tour opening in just a few hours.

With fan excitement at fever pitch MØ has shared a brand new song – and it's a fond look back.

Stellar pop with a juicy chorus, 'Nostalgia' features a lyric video curated by the singer's own parents, and it's an oddly touching watch.

Featuring family snapshots from childhood and teenage years, it's a neat and somewhat intimate glimpse into the Norwegian artist's life.

Check it out now.

Catch MØ at the following shows:

March
30 Birmingham O2 Institute*
31 Glasgow O2 ABC*

April
4 London O2 Academy Brixton*^
5 Norwich UEA*
7 Bristol O2 Academy*

*supported by Skott
^supported by Anna of the North

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British-Polish multi-instrumentalist Luke Marzec hit up Brixton last night, and by all accounts it was a hot ticket.

Unfurling new song after new song, the songwriter and composer afforded fans a rare chance to enter his vivid world.

Patching together lugubrious R&B with immersive electronics, Luke's painterly touch grants rare levels of humanity to his work.

Debut EP 'Chances' arrives on April 27th, and – if you missed last night – then you can check him out at Peckham Liberal Arts Club, London on May 23rd.

With a slot at the Great Escape also on the way these are exciting times for Luke, who recently laid down a live version of a fan favourite.

Playing with 'Say One More Time' has strips the song right down, with those subtle piano flourishes having more in common with Nils Frahm than Frank Ocean.

At heart, though, it works due to great songwriting – graceful and intriguing, it subtly envelopes you and refuses to let go.

Luke Marzec explains: "This started by just experimenting with synth sounds using the kick drum as a metronome. My girlfriend at the time helped me make this song by suggesting which samples of my improvisations to use." 

"The sad irony was it was about the impending end of our relationship and our last moment together before leaving. I would walk around London with the song stuck in my head and tried to work out how it made me feel. In the end I wrote the song about my disintegrating relationship and the idea of having a last moment looking into each others’ eyes before leaving."

Tune in now.

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Get the inside scoop on how London electronista duo, Mount Kimbie, constructed ‘Four Years and One Day’, the opening track from their recent album ‘Love What Survives’, in this insightful behind-the-scenes video. The barnstorming soundscape acts as the curtain-raiser for the current Mount Kimbie tour – and so the band took a break from their sound-check at London’s Roundhouse venue to lift the lid on exactly how this track was put together.

This clip is the first part of an original content-series series called ‘A Sound In The Making’, supported by Bluesound, creators of some mightily impressive equipment for streaming hi-res audio. The premise is that a tightly curated selection of ‘sound-makers’ offer-up exclusive access to a rehearsal, a mixing session, or sound check, to discuss one of their own songs. They reveal the influences behind the material itself, the role each instrument plays, their approach to mixing, and how they feel this track sits within their body of work.

The aim is to showcase the creative or technical aspects that form the sonic signatures each band is known for because Bluesound kit aims to reveal these nuances during playback. It’s a clever project for fans of these bands or anyone intrigued by the process of making music.

Aside from Mount Kimbie, two other episodes feature Toronto jazz quartet BadBadNotGood and Montreal-based, Polaris prize nominee, Milk & Bone. The series is further enhanced (natch) by a plethora of social-media content delivered on most platforms.

BadBadNotGood

Milk & Bone

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For more info, see blog.bluesound.com or dig it out via the hashtag #aSoundInTheMaking.

We grew so fond of Bluesound kit we couldn't let it go and have installed a range of products into www.Clash-Studios.com 

Words: Alex Pell

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Before Clash heads to DGTL Amsterdam this weekend as the always-expanding electronic festival series returns to the industrial site of NDSM Docklands, Ben Jolley picks six must-see DJ sets…

With an opening party that boasts a back to back set from Floating Points and Hunee kicking off the Easter bank holiday perfectly on Friday night, the action on Saturday and Sunday is spread across six visually-stunning stages.

As well as the 65 artists booked to play – spanning house, disco, techno, funk, and electro – interactive art installations and sustainability projects are as much a part of DGTL (which also heads to Barcelona, Sao Paolo and Santiago this summer) as the killer line-up.

New for this year is the DGTL party ferry that’ll take festival-goers directly to the improved entrance; running every five minutes until 1am each night there’s no need to wait around for taxis.

And with the aim of becoming one of the first ‘circular’ festivals by 2020, this year’s edition focuses heavily on recycling, sustainability and being eco-friendly; so much so that urine will be converted into drinking water, plastic into oil and there’s a waste-free food court on site…

Back to the music though – these are our six essential DJ picks.

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Or:La

With her own label Deep Sea Frequency – which has already seen releases from Pepe and DJ Seinfeld – the Derry-born selector’s blend of breaks and house are perfect for an early afternoon slot; just watch her legendary Boiler Room set and you’ll see why!

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Amelie Lens

Antwerp’s unstoppable techno queen is known for delivering thunderous, punishing stompers – and with the announcement of her own label this week, Amelie is bound to play to a crowd of thousands as she does most weekends.

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Honey Dijon

Known for creating an endlessly energetic atmosphere when ever she’s in control, missing the Chicago DJ and producer is unforgivable: funky, party vibes guaranteed.

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Mall Grab

Australia’s Jordan Alexander aka Mall Grab is responsible for catapulting the lo-fi house scene out of the underground, thanks to his euphoric releases on Hot Haus Records and more recently his European Nonstop Feeling tour. Always carrying an eclectic record bag, Jordan’s DJ sets are an unpredictable mix of bubbling house grooves and older classics.

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HAAi

A recent Phonox resident and with her own label in the form of Coconut Beats, watching HAAi bring her journeying, explorative sets to an intimate space like Gain is high on our list this weekend.

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Denis Sulta

Like Mall Grab, you never know which direction this Glaswegian party-starter is going to go when he steps up; from house, techno and disco to a bit of ABBA or Prince, nothing is off limits.

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DGTL Amsterdam runs from March 30th to April 1st. For tickets visit www.dgtl.nl

Words: Ben Jolley

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Blue Lab Beats are special; their necessity to the London underground scene is evident in their debut album, ‘Xover’.

It’s 16 tracks long, which seems like a lot, but each track brings something unique to the table. Collaborating with some of London’s finest (Kojey Radical, Moses Boyd), it’s no surprise that this teenage duo are steadily on the rise.

The record puts a unique spin on jazz and marries it with hip-hop, lo-fi, rap, and in places, pop. If this debut is anything to go by, the duo is well on the path to success.

9/10

Words: Genevieve Torabi

Dig it? Dig deeper: Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, Poppy Ajudha

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Jenn Whiteman and Samantha Howard first met in Paris, two strangers drawn together in a foreign land.

Bonding over a mutual love of music, the pair began to swap influences, name-checking classic albums, deep-diving into each other's worlds.

Soon, they began to write songs together, fragrant hymns of Americana, gilded countrified concoctions, folk-hewn nuggets of highly personal wisdom.

Somewhere during that time RYVOLI was born. Now based in Lexington, New York, the duo seem to leap forward with every new track, blossoming in potential and ambition.

With a new project incoming RYVOLI are able to share wonderful new song 'Sleep Talking', an attempt to personify anxiety.

Describing mental health issues as a spectral presence, the sparsity of the arrangement seems to amplify those perfectly poetic lyrics.

The pair explain…

Sitting comfortably in your leather recliner is a stranger. He’s been visiting you every day since you can remember, but he’s still a stranger. You haven’t asked him his name because you’re afraid to.

So he sits calmly, smugly, waiting for you to fall asleep each night. But you never can, because he’s there. 'Sleep Talking' is a lyrical picture of anxiety manifesting itself as a person. In moments of fear, it’s difficult to confront the things that scare us. But if we take a step back and ask the stranger to name himself, he loses his grip.

We become familiar with his ways, and his oppression is demystified.

Tune in now.

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Glasgow's Breakfast Muff are a curious beast.

Stalwarts of the city's ever-prodigious guitar underground, the group share members with Spinning Coin, Rapid Tan, Hairband, and more.

2017's full length 'Eurgh!' was a blast, a freewheeling display of creativity that veered from fetid garage punk through to brittle post-punk and beyond.

New EP 'Crocodile' is incoming, following an intense one day recording session in which they – somehow – managed to get everything down.

The results are typically distinctive. A band like no other, Breakfast Muff's surrealistic approach makes each song a journey into the unknown.

'Patient' airs on Clash, and it seems to tumble down aural rabbitholes, an inspired gem full of sharp corners and strange turnings.

Tune in now.

Related: Glasgow's Underground Has Rarely Been So Strong

Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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