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Khali Ackford

Five On It: Grove is the experimental artist set to shake up alternative music

Grove is satiating our desires in their new electrifying single ‘Feed My Desire’. Plus new music from Doja Cat, Nova Twins, Shygirl and Wallice.

13 May

It’s The Great Escape this week, and as any new music fan is aware, the annual Brighton festival is the British hotbed of percolating talent about to blow. 

One such talent is Grove. First emerging in 2020 with their track ‘Sticky’, it was last year’s abrasive single ‘Ur Boyfriend’s Wack’ that really grabbed attention. A mix of bubbling 90s rave and jungle breakbeats, the track and accompanying video was the perfect introduction to precisely what Grove is about as an artist: confrontational, relentless, and inventive. 

From lyrical barbs to tongue-in-cheek humour, the track is, in Grove’s own words, “part satire about wack boyfriends who do The Bare Minimum”, and is informed partly by their experience of rejecting their own sexuality when younger. “It is a steezy reclaiming of pride in that queerness, and departing the space where shame was part and parcel of my lived experience,” they told MixMag last year. The video plays with gender fluidity, with Grove flipping between corseted and heeled hyper-femme, and pink-bearded masculine. 

“‘Black’ featuring Griz-O celebrates Blackness in its many facets: family, heritage, culture, history”

Their debut EP QUEER + BLACK is a candid and political exploration of all aforementioned, traversing self-discovery into self-assuredness, with a heady portion of politicism to boot. ‘Fuck Ur Landlord’ tackles the impact of wealth divide in communities, whilst ‘Black’ featuring Griz-O celebrates Blackness in its many facets: family, heritage, culture, history. These two songs alone flip between dancehall, jungle, hardcore rave, and electronic noise. 

As a non-binary Black artist making genre-flipping music in an alternative space, their visibility and success has power and influence. In an interview with MixMag, Grove reflected that genres such as dancehall have historically had “an openness with which people would be anti-gay” and that for them, “making dancehall that is actively queer friendly and queer-centric is important. There are so many people of colour of Caribbean descent that are queer and who want music that is of Caribbean descent and queer.”

It is clear to see that Grove has grown as a songwriter; exploring, broadening, and even softening the scope of their sound. Their follow-up EP, Spice, leans further into dancehall and reggaeton on tracks like ‘Skin2Skin’ and ‘Bloodsucka’, prioritising sludgy grooves, deep bass and playful melodies over the relentless breakbeats of their earlier work. Don’t be fooled into getting complacent, mind: EP closer ‘Soft Cheeks’ slides into darkly and artfully arranged noise following its ominous yet alluring foreplay. 

To the present, and new single ‘Feed My Desire’ strikes a balance between the sound of QUEER + BLACK and Spice that, quite simply, slaps. Describing it as their most collaborative release to date, collaborating with Kursa and partner EJ:AKIN, the track deploys a skippy UKG beat, gurning synth and a frenetic sense of urgency, Grove flipping between the soft and hard tones of their vocal. Born out of “sweaty and interlocked nights, with the rises and rests of intensity that entails,” it is an lusty flashback to heady nights and is “passionate, cheeky and queer through and through.”

Grove – ‘Feed My Desire’ 

Grove’s latest outing ‘Feed My Desire’ captures the anticipatory air that comes with desire and intoxication. Following in the wake of their recent collaboration with SCALPING on ‘Remain In Stasis’, the track’s sludgy groove is ready for a sticky night in the club. 

Doja Cat – ‘Vegas’

Doja Cat and Elvis isn’t a likely duo by the stretch of even the wildest imaginations, but then again, Baz Luhrmann has never been known for being conventional. The director of Moulin Rouge! and upcoming biopic Elvis enlists one of the biggest female artists in the world right now to add her signature twist to the film’s soundtrack, and ‘Vegas’ doesn’t disappoint. Incorporating a sample of iconic track ‘Hound Dog’, Doja’s first track since featuring on Tyga’s ‘Freaky Deaky’ is a swaggering, stomping dose of fun.

Nova Twins – ‘Puzzles’

After the incredible success of their 2020 debut collection Who Are the Girls?, Nova Twins’ forthcoming second album Supernova is hot on many a list for this year. Whetting appetites with a slew of singles including ‘Cleopatra’, ‘K.M.B’, and ‘Antagonist’, new release ‘Puzzles’ is inspired by the band’s love of R&B and explores a commandeering, sex-positive narrative. “We wanted to make a heavy rocked-out version of a song that makes us feel powerful,” explained the band. “It’s always been fine for men to vocalise liking sex, so why can’t the same rules apply to us?” 

Shygirl – ‘Firefly’

And just when we were beginning to wonder what had happened to Shygirl, here she returns! Hotly anticipated after the release of her 2020 EP Alias, not to mention last year’s iconic singles ‘Cleo’ and ‘BDE’, Shygirl’s debut album Nymph is set to be an experimental exploration of dance music – no doubt on her own terms. Dropping on 30 September, the collection is preceded by new single ‘Firefly’, a glitchy yet shimmering introduction to her new era with a pulsing, club-ready beat.

Wallice – ‘Funeral’

Having just dropped her second EP 90s American Superstar, Dirty Hit wunderkind Wallice is on an unstoppable roll. Landing hot on the heels of the title track, latest outing ‘Funeral’ offers a somewhat softer side to the imaginative Los Angeles talent. Weaving a tongue-in-cheek tale of her own funeral – including fantasising her casket inside a muscle car – the track combines elements of her dreamy yet punchy rock sound with her classical and jazz roots,” Wallice explains. “It’s taking the EP’s ‘larger than life’ concept of being a celebrity (or at least trying to) and having this funeral be a massive party.”

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