The results are in.
It’s fair to say that we’ve had another rollercoaster of a year. Political turmoil and uncertainty, rising global tensions and the current climate emergency have all dominated the headlines.
But despite all that we’ve also seen yet another incredible year for underground music. The pool of international talent has deepened once more, with a wealth of new technology, artists, labels and promoters entering the scene and keeping it vibrant, fresh and future focussed. While there are still problems to be addressed, 2019 has brought with it some positive progress, with policies of diversity and inclusivity slowly becoming the norm throughout the scene. We think that all these achievements are well worth shouting about!
It has been a mammoth (but fun) task for the Hyponik office to return to our Hyponik Awards poll once again and we’ve received an overwhelming response to each of our 8 categories, mounting to over 3000 votes with fans of all nominees showing strong support. The acts and imprints shortlisted by us were chosen to spotlight those that we felt had a particularly prolific year, and judging by the reception the awards received it looks like most of you can agree! Read on to see all of our 2019 winners below.
Record of the year: Shanti Celeste – Tangerine (Peach Discs)
With production spells on her Peach Discs Label, Idle Hands, Future Times and Apron Records that date back to 2013, long-admired UK DJ and producer Shanti came proper with the release of her debut album, Tangerine, earlier this year.
Having previously claimed she could feel tied to the dancefloor when making music for EPs, it seems the album format gave Shanti the freedom to create – unchained from restriction. Across the LP we find music that is multifaceted and multi-dimensional, and whilst her previous efforts have always radiated a warm and wholly welcoming club glow, here there’s a sure upgrade in the richness of sound. Tangerine is a project that Shanti has quite clearly poured herself into, manifesting in a unique body of work that injects tasteful colour and flavour.
Barker – Utility (Ostgut Ton)
Loraine James – For You And I (Hyperdub)
Slikback – Tomo (Hakuna Kulala)
Track of the year: Special Request – Vortex 135 (Houndstooth)
Paul Woolford originally emerged as a seasoned producer making sharp, floor-filling house music for the masses. But as the years have unfurled the lid has been slowly lifted on Special Request, his rave and hardcore alias, luring in a specialist audience looking for tough, nostalgic club weapons. It turns out these SR tracks weren’t as new as their release dates may have suggested, but an extension of Woolford’s ongoing love affair with early pirate radio, underground culture and the product of years of experimentation in the studio.
It’s off the back of Special Request’s most active year to date that we find him topping our list for anthem of the year, with the highly-explosive rave bomb ‘Vortex 135′. A slowed-down version of ‘Vortex 150’ that came out on limited-vinyl run, both cuts come designed to do absolute damage on any dance floor via a fierce frenzy of whirlpool breaks and red-line chaos. It’s more that often been the main suspect in your favourite DJ’s arsenal and what we’re trying to say is – if you haven’t lost your marbles to this one at least once this year then you’ve been hiding away at the wrong raves mate!
LOFT – That Hyde Track (Tri Angle)
Lady Lykez and Scratcha DVA – Muhammed Ali Remix (Hyperdub)
Overmono – Le Tigre (Poly Kicks)
DJ of the year: Skee Mask
Skee Mask has had another year for the books. After his stunning 2018 album Compro (which incidentally took our 2018 album of the year award) the studio craftsman has remained busy. October saw him release the fourth episode in his Ilian Skee series via his family label Ilian Tape and he’s been cropping up on line-ups in venues and festivals the world over.
He has leant his meticulous production skills to a range of styles from ambient to jungle, while always sounding unmistakably Skee Mask and his DJ sets come no different, brilliantly weaving through a multitude of genres and tempos whilst never seeming to lose focus or energy. There’s no doubt the Munich wonderkid will continue to blaze a trail for many years to come.
Riz La Teef
Eris Drew & Octa Octa
Live act of the year: Giant Swan
In a first for us, we are seeing last year’s winners Giant Swan maintaining their spot for a second year! And while competition was stiff, the acknowledgment for the Bristol duo’s talents remains unrivalled. This comes as little surprise though; the rise of Robin Stewart & Harry Wright’s brainchild has been unstoppable.
Their brand of stripped down, noisy and aggressive dance music paired with some of the most chaotic live shows around has found their fanbase stretching far beyond the ravers. They are just as at home tearing up Berghain as they are supporting the The Horrors or Metz. and with the recent release of their highly anticipated debut album living well up to the hype, it’s clear these two will keep breaking the mould whatever pathway they choose to run riot through.
Label of the year: Idle Hands
Chris Farrell’s Idle Hands has become an essential part of the fabric of Bristol’s long and storied electronic music history. A dig in the record shop is a must visit for any heads moving though Bristol and the label which launched back in 2009 has been home to broad range of Bristol based names including Peverelist, Kowton, Bruce, Shanti Celeste and Om Unit.
After years of hard work and cementing there reputation as a Bristol institution, it comes as little surprise to us then to see Idle Hands topping the poles this year for the number one spot as Label of the year, with standout 12″s from talents like K-Lone, Daisy Moon, Crump and Dan HabarNam.
Sneaker Social Club
Breakthrough act: 96 Back
Steel City born talent Evan Mujumdar-Swift aka 96 Back started early, making a bold production debut in 2018 with four-tracker Provisional Electronics via legendary imprint Central Processing Unit. An offspring of long running Jive Turkey promoter Matt Swift and an apprentice to the ever dedicated Sheffield flag bearer Liam O’Shea, it’s hardly a surprise that Evan’s natural course has led to a life of mangled electronics.
Sitting on more ideas than we can imagine, Evan has wasted no time this year, following up his debut on CPU with both an album and EP to make three outings on the label in just 12 months. With each release he’s continued to sways the worlds of electro, techno, ambient and IDM into new directions, cementing his place as not just a highly promising figure for the new generation of electro producers but one of the underground’s most exciting figures.
Mix of the year: Hyp 408: Doctor Jeep
Originally inspired by the alien sounds of UK imprints like Hessle Audio and Hemlock, Brooklyn native Andre ‘Doctor Jeep’ Lira in turn has developed a sound identity that mirrors the success of those labels, as his sonic quest too ensures the lines between genres remain blurred with a focus on beats that can mould to various club movements of the underground.
With past releases on Trouble & Bass, Bun The Grid, Tumble Audio, Chaos Clan and more, Jeep also heads up DRX, the label where he just slid out his latest batch of twisted rave experiments. This year it’s his addition to our own mix series that has taken the top spot as mix of the year. It was a close race, but it’s his hour-long dive into the lower BPM’s and murky worlds of dancehall and electro that took the crown.
FACT mix 724: Ciel
Bruce Boiler Room x Dekmantel
Nawty banger of the year: D Double E – Fresh N Clean (Silence the Critics)
Now for all the shitstorms we’ve had to ensure throughout the course of 2019, who would have known that hearing “Bluku bluku” come out from the box over the festive season was the Christmas miracle we needed.
We’ve got to big up the genius sat round the table who had the balls to take control of the team brainstorm and get D Double’s ‘Aim High’ freestyle on that projector. It could have well been a messy job following their earlier cock up this year with the Ikea ‘Jerk chicken with rice and peas‘ dish, but it’s safe to say they got this one absolutely bang on the money, silence the critics indeed!
Never before have we be shouting for a pull back on a tv advert, but the demand was so high that D Double has done the right thing and given this banger a full-length release. So shouts to the Newham General and Swedish furniture giants – you get our FINAL SALUTE OF 2019!
Thanks to all those who voted and for your continued support on Hyponik.
Words: Justin O’Brien Manley, George Hancock, Sophie McNulty, Callum Wright