Musicians I’m Diggin’: HAAi

Though more relevant in the indie electronic music-sphere, HAAi has been delivering captivating performances (mixes) and beautifully conscious techno rhythms that shift the parameters of the dance floor vibe. Centered within techno, Haai brings this unique range of electronica and IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) sounds into the undercoating of hypnotic rhythms and enigmatic timbre tones of techno. The IDM is subtle; there’s the atmosphere that is ambient and intriguingly staticky; the low-tempo percussion, coming from varying drum notes influenced by the breakbeat aesthetic, just more tempered on the pace. But this is just me describing her debut album, Baby, We’re Ascending (2022). It doesn’t amount to varying styles she’s infused into her mixes, where she brought the heaters with her two Boiler Room sessions and fantastic, about 2-hour set for the Lot Radio (an independent radio station based out in Brooklyn, New York City).

HAAi has this antiquated energy with how she approaches the techno sound, seemingly incorporating the old with intriguing experimentations. It’s pertinent to her DJ and producer side, but equally, her choice of songs, whether smooth independent records, either original or remixed, adds a similar feeling when performing for a crowd. HAAi has given us a few performances through festivals, videos, and uploaded mixing sessions on streaming platforms. What makes these varying mixes unique is this constant desire to switch it up; tracks that carry over get placed in a different order to test the crowd’s vibes without sidestepping from the bombastic techno rhythms emboldening the ID tracks. It’s heard within her Boiler Room and MixMag sets; they aim to bring out the best of her style while leaving room for enough experimentation to keep those ears twitching with delight. Other mixes flesh out that unconscious danceability where you’re constantly hyped within the moment, taking in this beautiful mix of songs hidden behind the ID and grooving without realizing, taking your motions up a notch as the music gets injected into you.

HAAi may not be everyone’s cup of tea as she gets down to the nitty-gritty of the techno aesthetic, almost letting it explode from the fingers and mind and creating a boastful performance that never feels too long. Her hands seem to never pulsate toward implementing notions of pop, shooting for a vibe as opposed to melodic EDM-like vocals. She brings a finite start and end that keeps the tempo moving with consistency – at times, HAAi takes the rhythms to another level, elevating the timbre to work with the nuances from the drum machines. It’s even more captivating when you hear her set at the Movement Electronic Festival in Detroit. These audio versions of the sets aren’t as immersive as being there or seeing the scope on video, where the crowd’s energy brings you goosebumps as you might yearn to be there. However, as you listen to it, you get a better glimpse of someone who can select and excel without incorporating their own work into the fray.

It’s interesting how different it is. When I spoke about Nia Archives last week, I explored the intricacies of the genre, as it differs from the more recognized (comparatively) EDM and techno. For HAAi, she’s taking it to a different level, which may not seem as much at first, but you end up seeing the nuances of her craft. That’s how I latched on so swiftly to the music. You have this remarkable balance between the performance and studio, yet, there is so much more. I wasn’t as hyperactive with Electronic releases last year, but when I say HAAi’s debut is stellar, I’m not capping. But as I keep delving more into this world – beyond hitting play on a random mix – write-ups will continue.

Musicians I’m Diggin’: Nia Archives

I’ve always had an affinity for all electronic music. It’s been more of a personal love that lives rent-free in my head – hitting play on any given playlist – becoming entranced by the variety of sounds these artists create; it’s like finding yourself at a DJing venue, vibing while one’s close to the DJ. Often, when they come into my ear’s plane of existence, personal discography deep dives bring these beautifully enriching DJ Mixes, but more importantly, self-produced tracks that embolden their identity. Hearing and seeing the intimate and more focused live radio mixes to the more illustrious and fun curations by places like MIXMAG and The Boiler Room, it’s not hard to hear their talent, especially within the ID tracks or newly printed singles. I’ve spoken about Nora Van Elken and Telenovel in the past; however, I never made a concerted effort to blog my thoughts about more of these artists, which had found innate replay amongst the varying electronic music I keep in a personal playlist. I’m planning on changing that because these artists have me return without hesitation, so to start the New Year, I thought, why not the artist I’ve been vibing with recently, Nia Archives.

2022 was full of momentous splashes for Nia Archives’ career – a multi-talented artist that can mix, produce, sing, and write music whose craft expands to new realms where blending styles can come subtly and delve the music to unique depths. Sometimes we get subtle dance/EDM influence in the vocals, like on “Luv Like” off her Forbidden Feelingz EP. Yet, she continuously creates these luscious and hypnotically rhythmic breakbeats and jungle/drum-n-bass overtures that are ever-shifting in tone. It also blends into her solo work as some of her chorus performances embody the grooves influenced by dancehall and reggae, like on “18 & Over.” Jungle and Drum-N-Bass – like all electronic music – take from the rhythmic soil that elevated particular instruments to the forefront. Despite House music growing with percussion as one of its core features, the sound and other instruments/sounds started to focus more on synths — not all, but some of the more popular styles we know, like EDM or Tropical House. Jungle and Drum-N-Bass take from varying influential sources like dancehall, funk, and reggae and synchronizes them with these energetically powerful percussion patterns. These genres also embolden the nuanced influences that helped elevate the standards and quality of Grime music, which, in turn, finds common ground with these genres coded from a similar camp.

In Electronic music, there is so much infusion that sometimes you never know other sub-genres (like melodic house or glitch); it’s easy to get lost through many avenues you’ll never know you’ll find yourself in; all you have to do is explore. That’s what I did, and when I hit play on Nia Archives’ Luvleh Mix, it hit me, creating an unwavering head bopping. The way she blended these arcane breakbeat tracks into one illustrious cohesion that doesn’t temper its progression, wavering fantastic levels that keep you engaged, whether you’re already a fan of the genre or discovering. We hear her blending these mesmerizing beats that shift in style, whether it’s atmospherically more echo-y or the tempo is sifting between distinct melodies with tracks that evoke danceable tangibles in the performance like that of mixed song “Greetings” by Red Light. On her Luvleh Mix, the intangibles are there as you get percussion is as vibrant as the rainbow through a glass prism.

Nia Archives has released a few Singles and EPs that embody the essence of breakbeat and jungle/drum-n-bass sounds, bringing this echo chamber of nuance and showing us upbeat energy within her performances. You can hear it in the energetic and fun “18 & Over,” which also sees Nia Archives encouraging her love of the genres that influence her. It’s continuously effervescent in the music she creates, like the monstrously bombastic “Baianá” or the more melodic (comparatively), “So Tell Me,” which brings an essence of dance grooves in the choruses while keeping to that core breakbeat aesthetic. That blend gets heard enormously on her Boiler Room set from September in London; here, we hear these luscious transitions Archives’ creates, seamlessly mixing breakbeat with these overly vigorous percussion notes.

Check out Nia Archives’ work, and let me know how you vibe. I’ll be writing about varying artists and how it was to discover them in the moment. From her EPs to her Mixes, there is a treasure trove of music to play. Unfortunately, for Spotify users, many of these mixes are accessible through Apple Music and YouTube – the former has Mixes available to stream without having to play a video. But regardless, we have that treasure trove of options to seek and listen to, and I hope you do so with Nia Archives, a DJ that I will have on steady rotation all of 2023.

We Vibin’ – Live DJ Sets To Listen, and View.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard and read conversations on house music and its re-emergence into the mainstream, highlighting Drake’s latest album and Beyoncé’s latest single as primary examples. And I get it, but house music is far from really breaking that mainstream barrier again like it did in the late 80s and early 90s. They are at a peak where they can make the sound trendy, and once it kicks, the singularity will continue since it’s hard to orchestrate a tangential mix like Dua Lipa’s Club Future Nostalgia. But Drake and Beyoncé are on a hierarchy, especially compared to artists who have made or featured over dynamic electronic and house productions. Drake made it work on his album, and Beyoncé delivered a powerhouse Dance-House hybrid that oozes 90s nostalgia, specifically in the percussion. And despite their status, I have doubts; doubts that it will push to exponential heights as its peak during the 80-90s transitional period. But I hope I’m wrong.

See, it’s a genre with uniquely fantastic quirks that artists of Drake’s caliber needed to bring out styles influenced by House–Jersey Club, Hip-House, and Techno–to sustain transitional fluidity within the pop-sphere and the groove. Most of the time, the tracks were fantastic that they showed Drake’s appreciation for the nuances of the genre. These hybrids or transitional sub-genres have allowed artists to create something unique and wonderful. They often get their biggest hits remixed, but this isn’t a genre that will find itself in the trenches of Hot 100 Radio, specifically with new hits monthly. It’s a tight-knit community that is more than just the production; it’s creating an atmosphere and mixing in real-time.

What’s different for Beyoncé is that she has shown that sense within her new single, “Break My Soul.” I’d love to get into the nitty-gritty, but it’s contextually deep. Albeit my doubts, maybe Beyoncé could, as we’ve seen her bridge genres prior. I just have to wait and see. Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan of Switched On Pop delivered an eloquent and thorough breakdown on their podcast, which you can listen to here: Beyoncé’s House. I’m in a different lane. I love the singularity it can take, but nothing hits like a clean mix. House isn’t singular either, as it has branched into varying subgenres and new stylistic directions, like Trance, Dubstep, Techno, and more. The unique talent of DJs is unbound, specifically due to the more real-time, time-sensitive focus to allow for smooth transitions and an ongoing vibe. Here are some of my favorite sets to check out.