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Artists to Watch in 2019: HAAi

7 January 2019 | 8:02 am | Caitlin Medcalf

Few artists had a bigger breakout year than Perth-via-Sydney-via-London's HAAI. On the surface, the year saw her kick a bunch of goals any budding producer or DJ could only really dream of. You'd be correct in saying that you've potentially seen her face somewhere before - her move to London was originally as part of a group, Dark Bells, but after releasing a run of singles and playing a bunch of shows, trying their luck in the UK, the group fell apart.

It's been four years since Dark Bells disbanded, but looking back, it's funny how life takes us on these potentially soul-crushing journeys only to lead us to something more. HAAi's journey is the perfect example of this.

At the time, she wasn't heading out to many clubs, but she was crate digging. In an interview with Time Out, the publication says her collection was 'mainly ’60s and ’70s as well as African and Turkish stuff which she felt had psychedelic sounds she connected to.'

It was a trip to arguably one of the club capitals of the world, Berlin, that changed her outlook on electronic music. Citing a spiritual experience at Berghain, her interest in the style of music began here.

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She was first discovered at a Dalston tiki joint called Ridley Road Market Bar by the booker from Phonox after holding a two year residency. She spent the better part of those years spinning psychedelic rock, house and techno on wax to the bar's patrons.

In 2016, she took over from Jasper James to become the newest resident at London's Phonox - a club globally renowned for hosting world-class DJ's in an equally as world-class environment.

The two years she held this residency saw her really hone in her style of DJing - one that is driven by patience and characterised by her history with and love of psychedelic music. Exploring everything from Thai disco edits to driving percussive cuts to really off-kilter techno tracks, her time at Phonox arguably took the club to new heights, and helped solidify her as a selector to watch.

2017 saw her begin to put her own sounds out, and in 2018 she put out her first full length EP - Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Musik. Encompassing everything that is loved about her DJ sets, the EP is both chaotic and calming. This EP arguably saw her make the switch from psychedelic rock to hard-hitting techno with absolute ease, and it shows - one listen through and you can instantly hear where she's headed whilst never forgetting where she came from.

The EP is a reflection of her DJ sets and successfully captures the energy and scope of her knowledge and understanding of electronic music as a whole. What continually draws me in to her work is that I genuinely feel like her approach to electronic music is 100% no bullshit. Her sound and vision is consistent across all forms, and it's evident.

To top it all off, she toured the globe in 2018, heading back to Australia in late October for Output Festival and a bunch of other shows, did a smashing mix for Pete Tong's seminal Essential Mix series, was nominated for an award for Essential Mix of the Year and then topped off the year by winning the award too.

2019's going to be bigger and better for the producer, and tbh we're on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what's to come.

Photo via Facebook