Rising Roster

It goes without saying that 2020 was an interesting year. From enduring the effects of a global pandemic, including learning how to interact with family members, coworkers, and peers in a socially distant manner, we now understand that things may never be the same as they used to be. As tumultuous as the year has been, it would be illogical to ignore the bright moments that 2020 is also responsible for. While the entire music industry was changing, the way we discover music began to shift as well; which is what lead to the creation of Early Rising. For the past 8 months, it has been a blessing to unearth and support some of the worlds most promising artists. It’s an undeniable fact that 2020 was filled with great music. As we reflect on every release and debut, it’s only right that we take time to acknowledge some of the artists who left their mark on this unforgettable time in our lives. For the past few months, the team at Early Rising handpicked a roster of 15 artists who not only stood out as some of the most accomplished rising talents this year, but they are also the 15 who we believe will reach unprecedented heights in 2021. Without further ado, enjoy the very first installment of the Rising Roster!

Alex Banin

Words by: Richard Pichura; Photo by: Michael Salisbury

OBSERVING, REALIZING AND APPRECIATING SMALL MOMENTS HAS BEEN PARAMOUNT IN FINDING THE LIGHT IN 2020. ONE OF THOSE SMALL YET MAGICAL MOMENTS FOR ME HAS BEEN THE FEELING OF WAKING UP ON A FRIDAY AND LISTENING TO MY RELEASE RADAR AND EVERY SO OFTEN THERE IS A SONG THAT CONNECTS WITH MY SOUL. ALEX BANIN IS A COMMON FACTOR IN MANY OF THOSE MOMENTS AND SINCE HEARING HER FIRST SONG, “HOLLYWOOD (NO THIS ISN’T)” I HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTELY HOOKED. IF YOU’RE NOT ALREADY, I THINK MANY OF YOU WILL BE AFTER BANIN’S HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED 2021.

AS A CHICAGO RESIDENT, BANIN TASTEFULLY INCORPORATES SOME OF THE SOUL AND CULTURE FROM THE WINDY CITY’S HISTORICAL MUSIC SCENE. HER RHYTHMIC GROOVES MESH WITH ETHEREAL SOUNDSCAPES THAT COMBINE WITH HER SOULFUL VOCALS AND PROFOUND LYRICS TO CREATE SOMETHING EQUAL PARTS POETRY AND PROSE. THIS MIXTURE LEAVES ME NEEDING TO HEAR EACH TRACK AGAIN AND AGAIN. FOR ME, WHAT IS MOST NOTABLE ABOUT ALEX BANIN IS NOT THE SWEET SOUND THAT SHE DELIVERS WITH EACH SONG. IT IS THE VULNERABILITY IN EACH LINE OF HER WRITING THAT EVOKES HONEST AND PURE REACTIONS FROM THE LISTENER. SHE ALSO CARRIED OUT SEVERAL LIVE PERFORMANCES ONLINE WHICH SHOWCASED HER RAW TALENT, MAKING ME EVEN MORE EXCITED TO SEE HER PERFORM ONCE LIVE SHOWS ARE BACK IN BUSINESS.

IN 2020, BANIN KEPT BUSY AS SHE FOLLOWED HER DEBUT 2019 SINGLE WITH THREE NEW SINGLES, EACH HAVING ITS OWN CHARACTER AND VIBE WHILE REMAINING TIED TOGETHER BY THE COMFORTING SOUND OF HER VOICE. SHE DIDN’T CALL IT QUITS AFTER THESE RELEASES, BUT RATHER, SHE BLESSED US WITH BREATHTAKING VISUAL ACCOMPANIMENTS FOR “HAWTHORNE” AND “ABOUT APRIL” THAT CAN BE FOUND ON HER YOUTUBE PAGE. AS WE WAIT OUT THIS PANDEMIC AND REMAIN STRANGER TO THE “NORMAL” WORLD, WE HAVE TIME TO DIG INTO NEW ARTISTS, OBSERVE THEIR GROWTH, AND UNDERSTAND THEIR STORIES. I THINK THAT NOW IS THE TIME TO DIG DEEPER INTO ALEX BANIN AS SHE IS BOUND TO TAKE OFF AND HIT NEW HIGHS IN 2021.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

2020 was the year I learned to appreciate what I have & I figured out what is important to me. Music was a big part of that, and I’m grateful that I get to do this.” – Alex Banin

Asha Imuno

Words by: Matthew Rudas

Our next artist used 2020 to show that he is completely primed for his time in the spotlight. Moving forward from his 2019 project Full Disclosure, Asha Imuno released Good News and made sure he flexed his ability to craft unbelievable hooks and rap among the best in the game. The 19-year-old member of Raised by the Internet completely dropped jaws with his 2020 catalog. 

Reigning from Moreno Valley, Imuno garnered major buzz with his track “SIX PACK,” which highlights his ability to hit a golden falsetto and immediately jump into a killer verse. Moreover, Immuno really perked my ears with the massive range of sounds he was able to completely master on Good News. From a bouncy R&B banger like “Questions” to an unbelievably soulful take on “SWITCHES,” Imuno can do it all. My personal favorite was “LATELY” a bouncy 90’s vibe with an amazing feature from Alan Worhol. Once again, Imuno delivers an amazing hook and his rich vocals shine on the verses but the track goes even further with an unmatched instrumental. From a killer jazzy guitar solo right into a cold beat switch, I believe “LATELY” displays exactly what makes Imuno a special talent. Imuno is able to craft a plethora of sounds even within an individual track; each chord strikes with emotion, each lyric a clever insight, and on a macro-level each track a well-executed piece of art. 

2021 will surely be huge for Imuno. I hope to see the young talent continue to release high-quality tracks and continue to speak for his fellow kids, all raised by the internet. Luckily, not much has to change for Imuno. With a distinctive sound, a clear agenda, and great music, it is only a matter of time until the world takes notice. Each release is a step closer to stardom and I am blessed to have stumbled across Good News. Personally, I hope 2021 sees Asha Imuno land on several festival lineups so I can bounce around in a crowd and enjoy the star in the making. From Early Rising to the world, Asha Imuno is undoubtedly next up. 

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“2020 has been a year full of firsts for my life on all fronts. Spending all of my time inside has brought me face to face with certain details that would’ve fallen through the cracks of a “normal” year; some good and others kind of terrifying. I’ve spent the past 8 months trying to get better at telling stories that embody that range of emotion through music. It’s taught me that I have a lot more on my chest than I might have thought.” – Asha Imuno

347Aidan

Words by: Samantha Short

17-year-old Ontario native, 347aidan took 2020’s music landscape by storm. From starting the year as a promising newcomer, he ended 2021 as a Billboard-charting artist. This past year, the young creative garnered rave reviews from editorial outlets and Spotify playlists alike, which helped him end the year with over 4.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify and over 32.8 million streams on his infamous track, “Dancing in My Room.” Despite his young age, 347aidan has proven through his discography that he possesses an immense amount of musical wisdom, as he has found a way to seamlessly fuse traditional alternative pop/rock and hip-hop elements together to create a distinct sound for that is not confined by genre. I believe that 347aidan’s ability to create brilliant synergies between styles is what ultimately separates him from other rising artists in the music industry today.

No matter what this young artist plans to take on in 2021, I am sure that he will be met with open arms from his fans and incredible praise from media outlets and pop music charts alike. When touring life resumes, I have no doubt that 347aidan will be mastering and dominating the art of a live show, filling seats in sought-after music venues with thousands upon thousands of fans who will have driven miles to see him perform “Demons and Monsters” in real time. 

If I had to put my money on any artist to top the Billboard charts this next year, it would surely be 347aidan. So, if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out the rising artist on all streaming platforms so that you can claim that you “knew him when…” 

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“2020 personally has meant to cut out all the evil around me, and just focus on the things that actually matter. Musically, it’s meant to be in a place where I can try to give people an outside view of the lockbox they’re in”…

“That I can do whatever the fuck I want and be whoever I want to be” – 347 Aidan

Boys World

Words by: Mackenzie Brown; Photo by: Lindsay Ellary

Charismatic and uplifting, newcomers Boys World definitively deemed themselves as a group on the rise in 2020. Consisting of five members (Olivia, Elana, Makhyli, Queenie, and Lillian), Boys World offers an empowering edge on pop music, full of vivacity and verve. Their visual presence is nothing short of engaging, with all of the girls exuding an individual aura combined with impressive choreography and esteemed creative direction. 
Releasing their first single in October titled “Girlfriends,” Boys World proved that they’re a force to be reckoned with, garnering over one million streams on that track alone. “Girlfriends” is the quintessential introduction to the group that precisely captures their magnetism—they’re all about the value of genuine friendships and girl power. 

In 2021, the sky’s the limit for Boys World as they will surely grow and continue on the path of becoming a household name. From their ability to create relatable and bubbly tracks to their charming personalities, Boys World offers a compelling and fresh take on pop that anyone can be a fan of. We have yet to hear the best from Boys World and look forward to seeing all they accomplish in the new year!

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“It’s definitely the year of self reflection, optimism  and growth; both personally and musically. We released our first single and music video this year which is such a huge step in our careers that we will remember for a lifetime.  Elana , Lillian and Olivia ended up getting “GF” in honor of Girlfriends tattooed. We all also became more   aware of issues in ourselves  and the world we’re living in. Lillian and Elana voted for the first time this year and we are so proud of them for that. We also went to a BLM protest this summer and spray painted signs that we brought to the protest together. We started to really understand and  figure out what we can do to grow from the issues around the world and within ourselves as well as try to change them for the better… “

“2020 has taught me to really focus on the present. we waste so many days worrying about the future and stressing over the unknown. I’m just thankful for today.” – Elana

“I’ve  learned to be more gentle and to not be as hard on myself.” – Lillian

“I’ve learned that I can hibernate if I really need to. Of course I love peeps but I can also go into cocoon mode as well; best of both worlds!” – Makhyli

“2020 for me personally was all about growth within myself, it was a year of soul searching.” – Queenie  

“I realized this year that I need to stop focusing on trying to find love and find it within myself instead. The mood I’m carrying into 2021 is all me.” – Olivia 

Dava

Words by: Joey Legittino

2020 has been a tough year for just about everyone, but has hit the music industry especially hard. That hasn’t stopped ruthless artists like Dava, though. Pushing through all of the ups and downs, she’s put out her best music to date, and has flourished while doing so. Her silky-smooth vocal ability and songwriting has proved herself as a notable up-and-coming artist to watch out for in 2021.

The 25-year-old out of Ada, Oklahoma hit the ground running this year with her electric single ASOS.” The song instantly stood out from any other female artist. She showcased a flow I hadn’t heard from anyone releasing music. Lyrically, Dava is unbelievably sophisticated and mature. She has so much control over the listener’s emotional state with her writing. Close your eyes, and she puts in a utopian world of your own. Her vibrant vocals put you in a trance of lucid dreaming in every song of hers.

With high hopes that 2021 pans out brighter and better than 2020, there is no doubt in my mind that Dava will sky rocket as an artist. From her abilities to put you in your happy place and writing phenomenal tunes, this next year will be huge. Spending the past year continuously writing and recording, we’ve yet to hear the best from her. As our eagerness grows for showcases to return, she’s toward the top of my list of artists I absolutely need to see perform. Dava explains that 2020’s been an obstacle to say the least, but not one that’s stopped her in her tracks. This year has taught her not to take anything for granted and to stay optimistic about her future. As much as she would love to be back out on the road in 2021, she’s grateful to be safe and sound at home in full health. Whatever happens in the future will only push her to work harder and therefore, become a bigger part of our lives.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“In the beginning of 2020 I signed a record deal and since then everything I thought I knew about what my career would look like has changed. Not in a bad way, but in a “back to the drawing board” sort of way. I began recording my project when the world still felt ‘normal’ and since then I have changed as an artist and person. I think in the beginning I felt the weight and responsibility of being a signed artist on my back – I wrote songs from a different place. When I was a kid it was always just me and my guitar. Even when I started recording music in Denver I would slide 50 bucks to an engineer and even if it was kinda shit that song would go up on soundcloud and that was it. It felt like there was all this time to get better. I thought I needed to change when I signed a deal.Now I see that it isn’t really about changing, just growing in the same direction. Which seems to be happening, I’m sitting on a lot of music that I’m very proud of…I’ve learned that alone time is a very positive thing for me. At some point loneliness triggers the ache to be better and to do more.” – Dava

Fana Hues

Words by: Lily Bunta

This year the world told us to stop. And because we physically could not go anywhere, we decided to listen. Listen not only to what was going on globally, but listen to voices we had not heard before. It brought us to moments where musical discovery peaked, streams soared, catalogs became current, and new artists had a chance to rise. In 2020, the world was introduced to Fana Hues. The moment we heard her unmistakable voice, loud and clear, as she entered proudly and confidently with her debut single “Notice Me.”

While the current timeline might not follow her personal one, Fana Hues was humbled into a plan she had to reimagine. Dropping her debut album Hues earlier this month, fans and listeners dove into the colors of her world, stepping along her paths and looking out toward her horizon. 

In a time where we could not be with our communities, Fana Hues’ warm melodies felt like one. When we could not hug each other, Fana Hues stretched her arms out wide. When we did not know what to pursue, Fana Hues saw a silent power in being patient and an endless gift in being present.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“2020 taught me a lot of patience I would say first and foremost. The year literally forced me to sit down. I was thinking my music is starting to get recognition now so all these things are going to happen at once. The world said no it doesn’t happen like that. It taught me to be patient and to be humble, not in the traditional sense, but in the sense that things can be taken away like that. Nothing is solidified so enjoy everything that’s going on. Really live and be present in the moment because nothing is promised. / I  was a theater kid growing up and I wanted to incorporate that into my music and my live shows, so I figured since 2020 there were no concerts going on I asked ‘How can I make this work? How can I introduce the world to what my live shows will be? Let me write a one woman show.’ Growing up as a theater kid, the stage is everything. So I’ve been dying because I haven’t been able to be on stage at all. I am super excited about it and really really excited to introduce that part of me to the world.” – Fana Hues

HONG KONG BOYFRIEND

Words by: Matthew Rudas

In 2020 few acts hit the scene with such a strong sense of artistry and uniqueness in sound as the next artist on our list—Hong Kong Boyfriend. With immediate acclaim, the young and vastly talented singer-songwriter introduced himself to an extremely receptive public with his first two singles, “Cold Waters” and “Tiramisu.” 

At just 21-years-old, Hong Kong Boyfriend captures a sound that is reflective of the Bay Area native’s fascination with the likes of musical legends Bon Iver and Frank Ocean. His use of lush synths highlights a masterful creation of panning soundscapes that capture a special glisten only a few other artists are able to master. Accompanied by more traditional hip hop style drums, Hong Kong Boyfriend showed his fans an enlightened blend of groove, beauty, and undebatable coolness. I personally found solace in the rich vocal layers of “Cold Waters” and was even more drawn in by the gorgeous visuals that accompanied “Tiramisu.” 

Surely, 2020 was a predecessor to great things for Hong Kong Boyfriend. Looking into the new year, I am hopeful for a full-length project that will quickly project the 21-year-old newcomer into indie R&B mainstream and who knows how much farther. A cohesive project where Hong Kong Boyfriend is able to craft his narrative will surely attract a demographic of fans able to resonate with the love-struck ballads and lush worlds Hong Kong Boyfriend seems to mold with each release. I see nothing short of huge acclaim in the coming months, from Early Rising favorite to Billboard charts is not unlikely for the blossoming star and we are excited to have been here to see it begin in 2020. 

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“In 2020 I found myself in a lot of rooms where I had as much to learn as I did to offer. This year has pushed my pen in many different directions and I’m learning to trust myself and to not take everything so seriously!” – HKBF

HVN

Words by: Liam Clements

When it comes to our favorite artists, we consider ourselves lucky if one of them debuts an album or even just a few singles over the course of a year. Houston native HVN, however, separated himself from the crowd after releasing three different projects—an EP and two singles, all in 2020 alone! Throughout all the madness that consumed everyone this year, HVN found a way to cultivate an unmatched sense of determination to accomplish his goals.

At only 20-years-old, HVN is already making incredible strides in his career. He balances his roles as a rapper, event curator, and brand owner with precision and excellence. His brand, Don’t Die, has become widely popular throughout the Houston and serves as a major influence in the city’s fashion and live event scenes. As one of the main supporters of the underground music scene in Houston, Don’t Die held various events featuring friends and associates of HVN’s, such as BBY Kodie and Fade Em All over the past five years.

Outside of his work with Don’t Die, HVN began to make major strides in his own rap career as well. Despite only dedicating himself to his music career for a little over a year, he managed to release a myriad of songs and projects throughout 2020. His debut project, Welcome to Heaven, dropped in February, with notable hits such as “323” and “Backhand.” The album’s success earned the attention of DJ and entrepreneur Virgil Abloh and rapper Kevin Abstract. After a few months, HVN was lucky enough to score co-signs from both Abloh and Abstract. He draws inspiration from Houston’s signature chopped and screwed style and weaves it with his own style and energy to create a distinctive edge to his music. Gritty vocals, booming 808s, and ethereal melodies are just a few ways to describe HVN’s riveting sound.

Looking ahead into the new year, HVN shows no sign of slowing down. With the ambition and work ethic of this talented artist, we can only expect to see him continuing to rise and grow. You can listen to HVN on all streaming platforms now and be sure to check out the music video for his newest single “Demon” directed by Trey Lyon.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

 “2020 sucked. But if something is meant to happen, it’s gonna happen regardless.” – HVN

Jany Green

Words by: Brooke Schaffer

Jany Green’s artistry was a beacon of musical light during a dim 2020. As he released a handful of singles throughout the year, Green rose from relative anonymity to up-and-coming stardom, proving with each song that he’s got more than enough talent to go the distance. Hailing from Anchorage, Alaska, Green exudes a surprisingly sun-soaked and sanguine feeling across his tunes in stark contrast to his cold and dark hometown. “Little” was undoubtedly a career-defining release for Green, as the feel-good track instantly gained traction with its upbeat rhythm and effervescent vocals. Synthesizing authentic lyrics, infectious melodies, and a buoyant and grooving rhythm, Green’s sound struck a chord with many throughout the year, rightfully garnering wild momentum and a loyal following for the young hitmaker.

Jany Green embodies the current shift that music is undergoing, led by the likes of fellow artists like Dominic Fike, who seamlessly incorporate a melting pot of genres to form a crossover of their own. Green’s music is an answer to the increasing popularity of both indie and hip-hop music, putting forth a fusion of sounds that not only meets but exceeds the sonic desires of his audience. As an artist, Green is a powerful force in this transition toward genre fluidity that is actively sweeping the industry. Aside from his genre-bending powers, Green also has the power of positivity on his side. From his first release of the year “Call My Parents” to his most recent track “Move,” Green consistently radiates a feeling of unrelenting optimism that is truly contagious. In a year filled with unexpected challenges and changes, Green’s joyful and exuberant music has been much-needed and thoroughly appreciated.

This year, Green firmly established himself as a budding talent who has only begun to scratch the surface of possibility when it comes to his vast potential as an artist. His five stunning singles of 2020 each brought something new to the table, yet all portrayed Green’s uniquely pleasing sound. With a promising year behind him and an equally promising year ahead, Green will easily rise to household-name level popularity, given that he continues pioneering his own genre-fluid, positively jubilant space in music. We can’t wait to see what the coming year holds, as Jany Green continues on an unstoppable upward trajectory, spreading joy and groove to all that listen to his music.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“2020 for me has definitely had its ups and downs. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to continue making music that I’m proud of and passionate about, and being creative with my closest friends. Although it may not look like it from the outside, behind the scenes this year has definitely kicked me down a few times. I’m trying to stay level headed for the most part; feeling joy and celebrating the small accomplishments when I can, but still not letting the highs get too high. I am happy with how things are turning out for me and the people around me, I feel blessed / I’ve learned that in the past I would let myself do or feel things out of pressure, not knowing or planning out steps in my everyday life. I’ve learned to slow down and look at things with patience.”Jany Green

Mack Keane

Words by: Sam Morrison

In my opinion, there were few artists who had a year as impressive as Mack Keane did. The Los Angeles native made it onto our radar earlier this fall for the release of his unbelievable song called, “Hurt People”. From the moment the team and I listened, it was evident that we stumbled on not just a singer, but a pure star at its finest. Mack Keane has the “it” factor. From the sound all the way to the look; his artistry stands apart from a lot of artists who are making music these days and it’s all thanks to his innate talent and confidence that he exudes. Rather than riding the wave of the impressive offering of “Hurt People”, Mack followed up with a dynamic EP that caught the attention of many of the industry’s most respected tastemakers. Boasting songs like “Unholy Matrimony,” the release of this project proved to be the turning point in Mack’s career as he is honestly making some of the best music that I’ve had the chance to witness this year.

2021 is looking to be a bright one for this up and comer. What I enjoyed most about Mack’s 2020 display was his willingness to elevate his sound and try new things. It is clear that the singer/songwriter has a plethora of gifts in his arsenal and his music displayed that in its fullest. At the least, if Mack follows up this next 365 days with the same exact energy that he attacked this past year with, I envision that he will become a household name in no time. It was a blessing getting to cover Mack on Early Rising and we can’t wait to support him more in the future!

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“2020 for me personally has been a year of tremendous change and self realization. It’s as if this year put a mirror in front of me, and for months forced me to look at every part of me. It helped me see the good and the ugly, which was very uncomfortable at times. The only thing that is consistent is change, and i’m aware I need to embrace that as an artist and as a human being. But more so than any year in my life, 2020 has really shown me that nothing is permanent and that is okay. Musically speaking, 2020 has done a very similar thing. I’ve really begun to look outside of myself as an artist and musician. I’ve begun to be more of a supporter of myself rather than a critic. In the past I’ve been that strict music teacher throwing drumsticks all over the room, but this year has shown me that’s just not productive. What’s productive is encouragement. And although people show me encouragement, it isn’t going to mean shit unless I am able to give myself encouragement and be open to it. Now I feel more free to explore other sides to my creativity, and experiment with new sounds and styles. / What i’ve learned about myself in 2020 is that for too long I’ve been putting others happiness before my own, and not really prioritizing myself. I feel like I was masking my own self progression with helping others progress. It was a harsh reality to face, but now that I know I believe I’m truly able to come into myself as a person and artist.” – Mack Keane

MAY-A

Words by: Sam Morrison

From the moment MAY-A made it on to our radar, it was a unanimous agreement amongst the Early Rising team that she would go down as one of the coolest artists who we’ve had the chance to discover this year. While it requires most artists to release many songs in a year to gain momentum, this was not the case for the 19-year-old singer/songwriter. After only releasing two songs in 2020, MAY-A has seamlessly created a name for herself all thanks to the two stellar offerings, “Green” and “Apricots” that she blessed us with during this interesting year. The singles stand alone as some of the best music that we’ve heard this since starting Early Rising and the critical response matches that assertion. Both tracks have managed to rack up nearly 4 million streams combined on Spotify alone. As much as numbers aren’t the most important thing when measuring the quality of music, it is definitely encouraging to see how many people are enjoying MAY-A’s art. From her soothing vocals, to her intentional songwriting, the up and comer has immense intrigue which is going to translate into pure stardom in the year 2021. If you’ve heard her then you know what I mean when I say that I could listen to her for HOURS. Her spirit bleeds into her music which allows you to fully connect with everything notes and lyric that she lays out for us.

It’s safe to say that MAY-A has solidified herself as one of the brightest spots of 2020, but it’s extremely apparent that she is going to achieve some amazing feats in 2021 as well. If you haven’t hear her music already, the links are up there, so take time to indulge in this amazing artist and be on the lookout for her rise in the coming months!

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“I think 2020 has changed the process in which I make music. It’s changed the way that I listen to music, and what I’m listening for specifically. I’ve realised how much I value authenticity and honesty from artists and their music. From being stuck inside and listening to Spotify constantly, pretty much all day, the artists that stand out the most are the ones that genuinely have something to say. So I guess that’s what i’ve learned from this year musically and personally.” – MAY-A

Raissa

Words by: Meghan Brianna

With 2020’s reflection beginning to fade in the rearview mirror, it may be difficult to discern stand out moments amongst all of the monotony the year brought. Breaking up the routine of our day-to-day life is British artist Raissa.

The 22-year-old, London-based artist embarked on her musical journey in January with her debut single, “BULLYING BOYS.” Approaching the one-year anniversary of her debut, Raissa has garnered over 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and half a million views on YouTube. With an already impressive catalogue of music carved out from 2020, Raissa pairs hyper pop with artful lyrics, ultimately creating a masterpiece.

If 2020 tells us anything, we know that Raissa is a force to be reckoned with. With an admirable work ethic and impressive creative direction, I am eager for the new year. Pushing forward like a bullet train, 2021 is full of endless possibilities for Raissa.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“I think 2020 has both been a year in which I have been very fortunate – EP socially considering how difficult, or devastating even it has been for many others and for that I feel lucky and also responsible to make sure my head and heart are in the right place when doing what I do creatively. This time has reinforced in me things that I had already learned in 2019, that I love people, and that everything I do is because of that love I have of people – being apart fro pls and unable to connect with new people both on stage and in my personal life due to to Covid has made that even more apparent – I can’t wait to be able to get out there again and love people!!” – Raissa

Saint Lyor

Words by: Brett Friedman

Getting his start in 2019 and growing exponentially throughout 2020 has deemed Saint Lyor an upcoming threat in the rap game. Pushing hard through the toughest year ever in music, it is safe to say that Saint Lyor is focused and has tunnel vision when it comes to his success. His endless flow and witty punchlines have slated himself as an artist to keep an eye out for in 2021

The 21-year-old from Brockton Massachusetts surprised many with his 2019 single Gossip and kept the momentum going into 2020 with the release of Aunt Jemima. The single is unique in all aspects of his artistry. From his sporadic rhyme schemes to the knocking beat, Saint Lyor showcases his raw talent and captivates the listener from start to finish.

If 2021 is anything like 2020 in relation to Saint Lyor’s releases, I think its best that we all strap in for the ride. From his exceptional work ethic and ability to stand out from the crowd, this next year will be incredible. If shows return by next year, I highly suggest you go out and see him if he has a stop in your city.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“2020 was like the first year of the future to me. The future that we see in movies and stuff. People living in pods, virtual reality. If it hasn’t happened yet it’s already here. We’ve had to rely on technology way more than we’ve had to in the past and I think that trend is going to continue. I’ve embraced it though and I want that to reflect in my music. I want it to be innovative and I want it to be necessary. I want to help people make sense of the world around them because this can all get very confusing. / People are dynamic. Their values can change and it can happen fast. Popular entertainment has a lot to do with that transformation also so it puts me in a unique position as an artist. I just want to be aware of those things moving forward.”Saint Lyor

Sally Boy

Words by: Gabe Kessler

Sally Boy made a tumultuous impact in his most transformative year to date. The 21-year-old Philly native boomed onto the scene with his first-ever EP EREZ released in early November. The project received critical acclaim for its collection of vulnerable, stylistic tracks that are not only contemplative but also upbeat and vibrant. Currently a student at University of Southern California’s esteemed Thornton School of Music, Sally Boy has the tools and talent to take the industry by storm.

His first self-titled single “Sally Boy” introduced fans to his soothing, sincere voice and unique writing style. His ability to seamlessly mesh a bold production style with idiosyncratic, replayable lyricism truly sets him apart from the pack. Sally Boy offers such a rare sense of refinement that is hard to come by with artists this young. This narrative reigns true with artists like Hong Kong Boyfriend and Contradash, both of which are members of creative studio/artist management company Ourros. The company played a role in the breakout of 21-year-old UMI, and Sally Boy is shaping up to be the next great sensation from the tight-knit group of musicians.

With such expertise and poise displayed on his first EP, there’s no doubt in my mind that 2021 will elevate Sally Boy to new heights. His catchy, introspective style is bound to gather a vast fanbase heading into the new year, and I’m incredibly excited to see on the horizon. He’s already established a look and feel about him that is as distinct as it is special, paving way for what will become a long and impressive career.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“2020 taught me how to bet on myself, but more importantly it taught me how special the people around me are. From the friends that became my family in periods of deep isolation to my team with whom I practically mind melded with at points in creating the EREZ EP, the people that surround me, helped me through what has been easily the most eclectic year of my 21 so far. / I learned that I’m very critical of myself. It’s hard to recognize your own talent or give yourself props for hard work, but having to sit with myself for so much of this year, I think I got a little bit better at giving myself a pat on the back, even if it was a light one.” – Sally Boy

Sycco

Words by: Benjamin Kronenberg

2020 could most definitely be the year that Australia took over the music industry.  With rising talents ranging from Hope D to Death by Denim, the Australians stole the show, however, no artist made a more significant impact than Sycco.  The 19-year-old Brisbane native released three singles this year, including her breakout hit “Dribble” and her most recent “Germs” that’s already garnering significant critical acclaim.

Before she turned her second decade, this teenage supernova captivated audiences by creating an experience dominated by a striking blend of distinctive Australian pop, soul, and psychedelic jazz.  After releasing “Dribble,” Sycco established herself as one of the most powerful and creative rising artists across the globe.  As she transcended to worldwide acclaim, Sycco brought on RIZ LA VIE as a feature for the “Dribble” remix, she became a top contender on Triple J’s Hot 100 list, and she’s now one of Early Rising’s best bets for 2021.

Fresh off of her Germs A/B side, Sycco is prepared to hit the ground running in 2021, presenting new music that will showcase an entirely new side of her artist project while propelling her into the limelight in front of live audiences.  There is much more than meets the eye to Sycco and we’ve barely even scratched the surface.  Make sure to stay up-to-date on Sycco as she continues to break boundaries and transform herself into the hottest artist of tomorrow.

ER: What has 2020 meant for you personally/musically? What is something you’ve learned about yourself?

“2020 has been about a whole lot of personal growth and awareness, connection and revelations on what matters most to me. Personally, this year has taught me so much about myself and I am so grateful that I had the time to work that all out. Musically it has been difficult with not much inspiration to write and produce but I feel super proud of what I have been able to create & now I know I can do it. I’ve learnt to appreciate the lows more and learn from them!” – Sycco


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