2 days, 8 stages, and more than 45 artists. That's Festival Downtown in Rotterdam in a nutshell. For their 9th edition, the festival curates electronic music in its broadest way possible, and then some. With that many performances coming up, it might be hard to find the ones you want to go and see. We selected a few artists you might like!
"Redefining Rotterdam, Reshaping the Narrative"
Festival Downtown always has a strong focus on artistic innovation and cross-overs between various genres, which is where a lot of new music stems from. Steppin' team members often discuss this and see this as a great vantage point for exploration. A lot of the booked artists definitely seem to be fitting this description, which means their programmer understands the assignment and direction clearly. Every year they serve a broad palette of music, in-and-outdoors, from the contemporary r&b of Joya Mooi to the afro-futuristic sounds of Onipa, they know their stuff and are not compromising in their curation. To help you a bit in your choice, we browsed through the line-up and here are a few artists we really like:
The Rotterdam-based Brintex Collective have been closely affiliated with us since both of our origins. During the Covid era we initiated live studio sessions together with the Amarte Fonds and Brintex was the 2nd artist we worked with, the above video came from that performance. Led by keyboardist and composer Brenn Luiten, their sound is influenced by UK jazz, electronic music, cinematic atmospheres and always contains a beautiful melody that you'll take with you and start humming weeks later. The groups' self-titled EP came out in April this year and carries five strong tracks and an interlude. They were also featured on Carista's 2nd Modern Intimacy Vol.2 compilation with the track 'Whistle' and on our live compilation Loyal To The Soil Vol.1.
Kofi The Unknown
Born and raised in Rotterdam, Kofi The Unknown is a composer, music producer, beat maker and DJ with a strong passion for rhythm and groove. Rooted in hip-hop and funk, Kofi mostly draws inspiration from world grooves these days, such as Afro-Cuban syncopated Guaguanco rhythms or indigenous vocal chants. He creates a mixture of electronic and percussive music to explore the universality that music holds. Years of experimenting in the lab led to a self-released EP called JELIYA. It caught my ears and after connecting digitally, we met in real life and in 2021 he released his official debut The Late Bloomer EP on Wicked Wax, click here to read a full article that Mo Wrights wrote around that time. Catch Kofi playing a DJ set this Saturday where he'll most likely give you a sneak peek of some forthcoming broken beat bangers!
One of the top Belgian groups in todays' contemporary jazz and electronics crossover field. The quartet from Brussels took some inspiration from the DJ style format of building a non-stop ascension into their sets and this approach results in an explosive, high-energy live set you simply have to experience. They played a killer set at last years' Super-Sonic Jazz Festival in the intimate upstairs room and it looks like the Dutch audience is ready for more, since they played at Lowlands, ESNS, Transition, and Rockit all in the same year.
"The Imaginarium is a place where reality and fiction fuse into one." - Anton de Bruin
A new project led by Rotterdam-based keyboardist/producer Anton de Bruin, who we've seen with his other group Dragonfruit, or shred on the keys with Y.O.P.E or Peter Somuah Group. This group is so new that currently there is no music released yet, an album is in the pipeline though. And we heard there's a featured track coming on the 'Super-Sonic Family Vol.2' compilation as well. Their sound blends jazz, funk, dub, afrobeat, and cinematic elements, which results in a colorful and rich sound that would work just as well in a club setting as outside in nature. Stay tuned for their forthcoming music and make sure to catch them live this weekend.
A new project by producer Jameszoo and frequent collaborator keyboardist Niels Broos. Both have been working on each others solo efforts for (at least) the last 8 years. Niels' signature synths and keyboard playing have been heavily present at both the Fool and Blind album by Jameszoo, which came out through US producer Flying Lotus' label Brainfeeder. Known for pushing the envelope in today's music with uncategorizable sounds and fully free in their way of presenting it to the world, ROLROLROL released their album, simply titled MUSIC, earlier this year in June on the German label Ilian Tape. It's another fantastic release in their series of unique projects, now let's see how they'll execute it live.
’‘A gleeful and quaint celebration, expressing our love for making music together.’ - ROLROLROL
Look through the rest of the line up below and don't be afraid to go see someone you don't know yet. This is most definitely a festival where you can find your favourite new artist!
Full Line-up: Aquarian (DE) | Arp Frique & Family | Austin-J | BADGUYZ | Bricknasty (IE) | Brintex Collective | Carlos Valdes | Cheb Runner | CHRONICLE | Raptor | Bragz | Dharana | Conjunto Papa Upa | DeathToAkuma | TetsuaKera | DEFORMER | ECHT! (BE) | Flowdan (live) (UK) | Followed by Drama | hackedepicciotto (DE) | Helmond Lang | Imaginarium | Ivy Lab (UK) | Jaskelis | Joya Mooi | JUICY | JUJU MOURA | Keenan Mundane | Kessler | Kofi The Unknown | LE MOTAT | Maurino | Nusantara Beat | Onipa (UK) | Ray Fuego | ROLROLROL | Ruwhel & De Bigi Blues Band | STREYS DE DJ | SUBFICTION | Unruly Phoenix | Upvampin | Wavy Wess | Hoji Blanca | DIENAAR | Baba Laman & Hugo Out | Wowi | YGN KAMI
For more info: festivaldowntown.nl
Steppin' Into Tomorrow stands with artists & labels and encourages listeners to support them by buying their music directly from Bandcamp. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to our monthly newsletter to stay in the loop.