Introducing Alewya, the UK musician connecting drum'n'bass with pop together
With her new single Spirit_X, the multi-talented musician proves to be an experimentalist leading the charge of the future.
Header image by Joseph Echenique.
London-based musician Alewya feels like the creme of the future's musical crop; an experimentalist and creative forward-thinker willing to push the boundaries of her sound - or lack thereof - in order to create invigorating bursts of excellence unlike anything else we've come across recently. "We’re doing big tings, man – my mum is so proud," she told The Face in one of her earliest interviews. "This is what she came to England for."
Alewya is a musician whose art is indebted to the long-winding journey that's come before her. Born in Saudi Arabia to parents from the African diaspora, she travelled alongside her family until they settled in London as refugees when she was five years old; her parents electing to move to the UK to give their children better opportunities in life. In London, Alewya eventually found herself caught up in the rush of the city's artistic and creative communities, toying around with a spectrum of art forms to showcase her creative expression while paying tribute to the culture and artistic history that lays before her.
As it turns out, club music - and the cathartic connection many hold to late, strobe-lit nights - is where Alewya found her the most potent form of that expression, and it's something she's become determined to excel in ever since. The rush of creation ignited something, allowing her to channel the experimental energies of electronic's outer fringes and how she's able to connect those sounds with the ones that pay respect to Arabic and African cultures.
"That’s how I like to make music, but it’s not because I force it [in order] to hold onto my culture – it’s just what I like," she continues to tell The Face. "I’m very proud of my background, and I’m very proud of my generation."
Alewya's music is a mish-mash of sounds that's as experimental and left-field as they are energetic and exciting, capturing her complex journey through culture and community in music that feels like a reflection of it all. It's manic and chaotic in the best of ways; sweaty with its adrenaline-raising rush of club culture and the sounds that exist within them, from dark-lit house music - like shown on her debut single Sweating, released last year - to the edgier, grating sensation found within drum'n'bass and dance music's more 'undergound' sounds, where Alewya found her home.
Despite its chaotic ferocity, however, there's a slickness to Alewya's sound that feels synonymous with her production prowess, and how she's able to conjoin even the most far-reaching of sounds together with a precision you'd expect from someone twice her experience. Sweating showed an introduction to that which has been further explored through the work shared this year, with the Moses Boyd-enlisting The Code and June's single Jagna deeper defining the unexplainable world of Alewya's musical adventures, and how she brings together sub-sections of the genre umbrella you typically wouldn't find amongst one another.
Now, her new single Spirit_X sets out to prove that Alewya is worth her weight in hype. It's a level up for the London musician, capturing the heights of her sound as it reaches a new peak and showcases why Alewya is a name so commonly associated with the next generation of music's boundless future. It's an energising rush of drum'n'bass and pop, featuring a spiralling production indebted to the history of rave dancing amongst a thrilling vocal that swerves between snapshots of pop, R&B and hip-hop; butter-y and smooth, yet focused and aggressive simuteneously.
"I know that the rave can be utilized as ritual and ceremony to transform, uplift and energize a person," she says on Spirit_X, tapping into that ritual-like intoxication raves can bring in order to push the new single to the next level. "I love giving visceral experiences. I love drum and bass for that specific reason. Spirit_X encompasses all of the above in my way."
There's nothing quite like it, and considering the history of Alewya and the journey that defines her sound, it's unlikely there'll be anything like it emerging anytime soon either - unless the culture vultures latch onto her for inspiration in the years to come (which, considering the strengths of a song like Spirit_X, is something we can totally see happening).
Undoubtedly, there's plenty more to come, as Alewya continues to have a stronghold of dance music's boundary-less future, especially as it's now fuelled by accolade and applaud. Last year, for instance, she was enlisted by pioneering UK rapper Little Simz for her Drop 6 EP, being a rare collaborator for London emcee (she'll also be joining Simz on her headline tour throughout the UK later this year, on top of that). She's been remixed by the infamous Honey Dijon (on her debut release, no less), counts drum'n'bass/jungle pioneer Shy FX as a mentor and manager and now, most recently, has joined the acclaimed label leagues of Because Records, which additionally hosts some of music's defining boundary-pushers.
Alewya is someone worth being across, so take a dive into Spirit_X, and be enchanted by someone armed with a sound that no-one else around her has.
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