8 Emerging Canadian Artists You Need to Hear in March 2021
Meet Exclaim!'s latest New Faves, including Halifax's prolific young rapper and Charli XCX's protégé
Published Mar 03, 2021It's been a year since Canada began locking down, but the efforts of artists to create and share their feelings with the world are stronger than ever. Whether churning out releases on their own or following the guidance of internationally renowned stars, these New Faves demand attention.
For fans of: Arca, Ash Koosha, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Montreal-based producer Bénédicte has very little under her belt, but it's enough to garner significant excitement for her newly released debut EP, When It Binds. Through field recordings and severed vocal samples, she creates a restrained world, rife with feeling, and lifted skyward with soaring ambient columns. Coming across her music is like finding an entirely new species in your backyard.
For fans of: J. Cole, GOOD Music, G Herbo
Halifax's Kye Clayton is the future of Canadian hip-hop. With a resume that boasts seven albums, Odd Future-style rap collective Let Dreams Be Noticed, and his own label, LDN Records — all amassed before his 20th birthday — the world is his. February's Hard Times, his latest EP, sees him tackle life's tough stuff with great poise and poetry.
For fans of: Jeff Rosenstock, Like a Motorcycle, Pretty Matty
The members of Cluttered have been in Halifax bands including Future Girls, Century Egg, Designosaur, Book Buddies and Alright Already, but unlike their name and CV, their pop-punk tunes are anything but busy. Their self-titled EP fleshes out in-your-face vocals and earworm riffs with clean production that highlights every little detail, like disco drums and tight backing harmonies. Take notice — Laura Jane Grace already has.
For fans of: Allie X, Clairo, Caroline Polachek
ELIO makes soft-focus futurepop with world-weary quality that belies her relatively young age. Born in Wales and raised in Toronto, this Charli XCX protégé now splits her time between the 6ix and L.A. After remixing Charli's "Forever," Charli returned the favour, reworking and adding a new verse to ELIO's "Charger" from January's Can You Hear Me Now? EP, part of a forthcoming remix collection.
For fans of: Moor Mother, Elysia Crampton, JPEGMAFIA
DEBBY FRIDAY's burbling mix of heady electronic production, chopped up vocal samples and self-assured spoken word is tense and disorienting but utterly captivating. New single "RUNNIN," FRIDAY's first track produced outside of her bedroom, expands on the formula she explored so well on 2019's DEATH DRIVE EP — plus, the beat is a trip-and-a-half in headphones.
For fans of: Frankie Cosmos, Devours
Future Star is a perennial romantic. On Valentine's Day, she released When Will the DJ of Luv Grant Me My 1 Request via Kingfisher Bluez, a pop album about being alone forever. She's in a fulfilling romantic relationship now, though — and, along with her solo work, she finds creative satisfaction as a member of Vancouver experimental pop quintet Only a Visitor.
Leslie Ken Chu
For fans of: Anderson .Paak, Jorja Smith, Chance the Rapper
With colourful neo-soul steeped in his family roots, Milla Thyme is an artist to follow. Inspired by jazz and hip-hop, his tracks are flavourful and heavily influenced by stories of his life. He's released two singles from his debut album Everything Has Its Thyme, due on April 2 via URBNET: "3 dimensions" is a soulful ode to his childhood in Toronto with a video filmed in his new home of Pointe-Saint-Charles in Montréal, while "Borders" is a hymn about the political divide currently raging in the world.
For fans of: Lucy Dacus, Julia Jacklin, Jay Som
In their agile pop-rock tunes, Virgo Rising — Emily Sinclair and Lauren and Jenna Wittmann — pinpoint a weariness that's so familiar you will utter a stunned "oh" in response. The Winnipeg trio's debut EP, Sixteenth Sapphire (due out March 12 via House of Wonders Records), is a magical release that centres on gritty guitar tones and Sinclair's magnetic vocals and signals that great things are on the horizon for Virgo Rising.