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10 New Artists You Need to Know: January 2016

Aurora, Daya, Troye Sivan and more

Aurora, Troye Sivan

Aurora and Troye Sivan are two of the new artists you should not miss this month

Courtesy of Glassnote, Laura Lewis

Once again, we talked to 10 of the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos. This month: Top 40 bubblegum R&B singer Daya, grime sensation Lady Leshurr, metal-inflected trap DJ Lookas, critically acclaimed art-rapper Milo and more.

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Spencer Wells

Milo

Sounds Like: Hyper-literate, thoroughly self-engrossed art rap

For Fans Of: Open Mike Eagle, Serengeti, Busdriver

Why You Should Pay Attention: Rory Ferreira's immersion in underground hip-hop dates back to his youth: His uncle is respected Chicago MC Nizm, and he has known Open Mike Eagle since childhood. The latter led him to Nocando, a host at the iconic L.A. beats showcase Low End Theory, and owner of the Hellfyre Club imprint that released his early work. While Milo (who took his name from the hero in Norton Juster's children's classic The Phantom Tollbooth) honed his craft through modest releases like 2012's Milo Takes Baths, he studied philosophy at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. His collaboration with beatmaker Kenny Segal, So the Flies Don't Come, marks his finest work to date, and earned a position on Rolling Stone's best rap albums of 2015 list. "I want to focus on radical freedom in the art that I'm making, and the way that I live as an artist," says Milo, who dropped out of school to focus on music, and now runs his Ruby Yacht imprint in Milwaukee. "I have a perspective that people think of as not that common in rap, and for that reason alone it has value."

He Says: A highlight from So the Flies Don't Come is "Napping Under the Echo Tree," which has a beat eerily similar to the Twin Peaks theme and a title inspired by a Henry Dumas poem. "I had been reading a lot of [Martin] Heidegger, man," he says, adding that he consumed the German intellectual's collection of lectures, What is Called Thinking? "I flew to L.A., and I had all this cumbersome, weird, mid-20th century German continental philosophy words in my mind. Kenny had a very weird beat that he had done. I was thinking about Sun Ra and Heidegger, and how [both are] obsessed with being in time. And there's Henry Dumas who is kinda like a talk box in a lot of ways for Sun Ra — as a friend and collaborator — and his poetry is obsessed with being in time. So I wanted to make a piece that's a synthesis of all those different people."

Hear For Yourself: The lo-fi clip for "Re: Animist" finds Milo and his Ruby Yacht crew exploring the woods and practicing tai chi. Mosi Reeves

Roly Porter

Photo Courtesy of Roly Porter

Roly Porter

Sounds Like: Unsettling, wordless sonic narratives that are sometimes blissful and sometimes sinister.

For Fans of: Haxan Cloak, Tim Hecker, Philip Glass's collaborations with Godfrey Reggio

Why You Should Pay Attention: The onetime member of dubstep duo Vex'd is returning with Third Law, his first album for acclaimed avant-garde electronic label Tri Angle. Porter's unpredictable forays into composition and narrative make for an album that contains moments of quiet beauty and ominous fury. This is music that's constantly in flux, challenging while remaining accessible. Devotees of heavy metal, ambient and contemporary composition will all find elements to embrace.

He Says: After two albums with relatively clear narrative lines, Porter opted for a slightly different approach for Third Law. "It was more about sonic ideas that I wanted to explore, that had to do with pace and rhythm and things like that, finding new ways to inject speed and beats and rhythmic ideas that didn't fall into any genre ideas but that propelled this soundscape along in a different way," he said. "It's kind of about pace and intensity, but without using any traditional rhythm structures." Porter notes his fondness for metal and noise, both of which can be heard here. "I grew up loving metal, and I'm still listening to a lot of metal now," he says. "But I'm still waiting for some kind of variation on metal that works for me. The intensity and the noise is there, but there's some variation, especially with bass ideas, that hasn't happened yet, and I'm still hoping will happen."

Hear for Yourself: The exhilarating "Known Space," which closes Third Law, embraces the low end and the abrasive before letting in an unsettling chorus of voices and giving way to John Carpenter-like minimal synths. Tobias Carroll

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