Sounds Like: That great late-ish Nineties dovetailing of soul, R&B and downtempo electronic sounds, updated via social media
For Fans of: Jessie Ware, Lianne La Havas, slowly easing into a leisurely Sunday morning
Why You Should Pay Attention: Singapore-raised, L.A.-based artist Mark Johns boasts the kind of discovery story that can only happen in the social media era. She came to music late, as a freshman during a college stint in Miami, uploading covers — including Yung Lean's "Gatorade!"— with a low-budget USB mic and eventually collaborating with friends online. She started to upload them publicly and reluctantly made a Twitter account where she got an unexpected DM — from none other than Skrillex. Almost unbelievably, he had found her cover of Kanye West and Jay Z's "Niggas In Paris," produced by pal Sable, while surfing SoundCloud. Subsequently, Johns is the first solo singer signed to his OWSLA imprint. And while the label's known more for its electronic sounds, Johns' upcoming debut EP bucks all the expectations — it's old-school, full of organic instrumentation and a chunk of classic hip-hop beats.
She Says: "The EP is very reflective of where I'm at right now, and I think a lot of young adults can find themselves in this place," she says of the quarter-life existentialism and nomadic life examined on her new material. "Things don't happen as fast as you want them to, and you realize there are a lot of other people out there with the same dream as you. You start to ask yourself what you're contributing, and if it matters."
Hear for Yourself: Most of Johns' output floating around online features her guesting on more purely electronic tracks, but "BTFU (Mommy Issues)," a kiss-off to a whiny would-be beau, hints at her EP's new direction. Arielle Castillo