Producers: The new wave behind the mixing desks

This summer, the charts are likely to be dominated by knob-twiddlers - these are the ones to watch

The producer was once the faceless person in the recording process. No longer. Producer-driven acts such as Calvin Harris, Rudimental, Naughty Boy and Disclosure dominated the pop charts last year and have heralded a new wave of producers who, while continuing to work with other singers in the studio, are also choosing to release their own music, becoming hugely successful artists in their own right.

Nowadays, producers have to finish the tracks that they demo with artists to the point where then tracks are so fully formed that they could go straight to radio. It’s little wonder they don’t want to leave half of them on the cutting room floor. “As a producer, on average you make a song a day,” points out Jax Jones, who featured on, co-wrote and co-produced Duke Dumont’s No 1 record “I Got U”. “Of these songs about one in 20 will make the cut of a singer’s album. That’s a waste of music. Being a producer you’re a workman for hire but we’re emotional too – it takes something out of us every time we make a track.”

Producer-turned-artist Tieks says: “Most producers really want to respect what the artist is about, so while we try to put some sonic imprint into a track of ourselves, it’s largely the artist’s idea we’re trying to get across. This can be frustrating when you have all these ideas of your own that you want to be heard.”

Choosing to release music under their own name, as an artist, provides an avenue for the producer’s own creativity to be heard. Here are the producers turned artists whose names you should look out for in the summer ahead.

MNEK

Uzoechi Emenike may only be 19 years old but his career trajectory already reads like an old-timer. By the age of just 15 he had already been tipped for success by NME, and as a producer, writer and remixer his credits include Kylie Minogue, Rudimental, Little Mix, Tinie Tempah and Bastille. As a songwriter he boasts a Grammy nomination (Best Dance Recording) and a No 1 single for Duke Dumont’s “Need U (100%)”.

MNEK’s buttery soul vocals are now as much in demand as his backroom skills, after featuring on Rudimental’s single “Spoons”, and scoring a No 3 smash single singing on (and co-writing) Gorgon City’s “Ready For Your Love”.

While he has future production and writing projects in the diary with the likes of Disclosure, Diplo and Clean Bandit, MNEK looks set to blow as a bona-fide pop star in the coming months. His debut single, “Every Little Word” (out 9 June) has exploded online to much acclaim, garnering comparisons with the likes of Prince and Michael Jackson. When asked to describe his signature sound, MNEK suggests imagining, “Luther Vandross if he lived in Shoreditch today.” His debut album will be released on Virgin EMI in the autumn. “It’s going to be massive,” predicts Amir Amor of Rudimental. “He’s an incredible producer, songwriter and singer. For him it flows so naturally.”

SOHN

“A lot of people describe me as an electronic producer,” explains SOHN, who is best known for his production work with the likes of LA alt-R&B singer, Banks, and rising soul star, Kwabs. However, for the Vienna-based Londoner, “the production thing almost happened by accident.” After releasing a couple of tracks as an artist, the electronic magic that he had injected into his production became highly sought after by other artists. He has recently finished a stint in LA jam-packed with production and songwriting sessions with the cream of new music talent including Lorde, SZA, Mo and Erik Hassle.

“I would have always said I’m a singer so I guess it’s kind of a remarkable thing that some people think it’s the other way round,” he explains. After a couple of years behind the scenes, SOHN jumps to the foreground with the release of his debut album, Tremors. The record is an intense exploration of textured electronica, steeped in emotion. Most importantly, it showcases his extraordinary falsetto voice, which needs to be heard live to truly appreciate it. He will be touring Europe, North America and Asia before hitting the British festival circuit.

Jax Jones

The protege of chart-topping producer-artist Duke Dumont, Jax Jones is a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He has worked with superstar songwriter Eg White and hit producer Alex Da Kid. Jones decided to release music as an artist after suffering a common fate in the music industry. “I’d produce on some big records, go to the local supermarket to check my name on the album credits and it wasn’t there.” At a time of frustration, he played Dumont an initial demo of his track “I Got U”. Dumont loved it, they worked on it together and last month the track hit the No 1 spot.

Jones describes his signature sound as “tropical”. “I’m generally a happy guy and I just want to evoke happiness. My solo single, ‘Go Deep’ [released in June] definitely fits into that.” Jones’s debut album is expected later this year and he  has also worked on the majority of Dumont’s debut record.

Jakwob

The 24-year-old Leicester-born James Edward Jacob, known as Jakwob, is something of a production polymath. His first introduction to the masses came following his hugely successful dubstep remix of Ellie Goulding’s breakthrough hit “Starry Eyed”. Since then he has remixed some of the biggest names in pop, from Lily Allen and Laura Mvula to Usher and Lana Del Rey. He recently produced rising star Kyla La Grange’s new album and is also working with artists including Tom Aspaul, Jess Glynne, Little Simz and FTSE. Mentored by legendary DJ and producer Shy FX, Jakwob’s forthcoming single “Somebody New” follows last year’s top 40 hit “Fade”. “Somebody New” is a bass-heavy track topped by the sombre, sultry vocal of Tiffani Juno.

“People are far more emotionally connected with dance music these days so I try to make my music as engaging, exciting and physically moving as possible.” When asked to describe his signature sound, Jakwob says. “I love the idea of contemporary classical, dance and pop music working together. Injecting some soul and emotion into the dance floor.”

“As a producer and DJ he’s already a huge deal,” states Amor. “But in terms of getting out there as a mainstream artist, this year he’s set to become a household name.”

Tieks

Tieks’s debut single, “Sing That Song”, to be released in August, is a dance hit waiting to happen, with an earworm hook and happy-go-lucky zing that will undoubtedly soundtrack the end of the summer party season.

London-based Mark-Anthony Tieku is a studio veteran having worked with the likes of The xx and Ed Sheeran, and Florence and The Machine on her hit debut album Lungs. He was recently an additional producer on Duke Dumont’s No 1 single “Need U (100%)” and co-wrote his follow-up single, “Hold On”, alongside other top tip, MNEK.

It was Dumont’s manager who heard Tieku’s own material – “a mish-mash of American disco and French house” – and encouraged him to release it as an artist. A major-label deal followed along with a new moniker, his nickname “Tieks”. Teaser track “Cake” is Chicago-house-inspired, featuring the vocals of late Louisiana rapper Ceddy Bu. He recently mixed the EP for hotly tipped neo-soul singer, Ben Khan, and is producing for cult label PMR’s signing, Ryan Ashley. “Tieks is one of the rare production talents out there,” remarks Amor.

MNEK’s single “Every Little Word” is out on 9 June. SOHN’s debut album, ‘Tremors’, is out now, and he headlines London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 12 September. Jax Jones’s  single “Go Deep” is out in June. Jakwob’s single “Somebody New” is out now. Tieks’s single  “Sing That Song” is out in August

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

    Caught in the web of legal imperialism

    The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
    Bruce Robinson: Creator of Withnail and I on his new book about Jack the Ripper

    'Jack the Ripper has accrued a heroic aura. But I'm going after the bastard'

    The deaths of London prostitutes are commonly pinned on a toff in a top hat. But Bruce Robinson, creator of Withnail and I, has a new theory about the killer's identity
    Simon Stephens interview: The playwright on red-blooded rehearsals, disappointing his children - and why plays are like turtles

    Simon Stephens interview

    The playwright on red-blooded rehearsals, disappointing his children - and why plays are like turtles
    Holidaying with a bike nut: Cycling obsessive Rob Penn convinces his wife to saddle up

    Holidaying with a bike nut

    Cycling obsessive Rob Penn convinces his wife to saddle up
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef pays homage to South-east Asia's palate-refreshing desserts

    Bill Granger's fruity Asian desserts

    Our chef's refreshing desserts are a perfect ending to a spicy, soy-rich meal
    Fifa presidential election: What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison