Five Must-See Acts at Bass Coast 2024

From July 12 to 15, Merritt will host Leikeli47, Machinedrum and many more

Photo: Lindsay Duncan

BY Alan RantaPublished May 31, 2024

Even before Bass Coast relocated from the actual coast of Squamish, BC, to the semi-arid interior of Merritt in 2013, the festival had earned a reputation as one of the safest and sickest electronic music experiences in Western Canada. Always boasting the region's finest knob-twiddling talent and a mini-Burning Man's worth of interactive sculptures, local crafts, visual artists, entertainers and independent food vendors, it's practically a rite of passage to see rave royalty like the Funk Hunters, Mat the Alien, the Librarian, Max Ulis, Esette (a.k.a. Isis Graham), Greazus and JPOD (the beat chef, not the Douglas Copland novel).

Bass Coast always delivers an eccentric yet accessible lineup unbound by genre that showcases burgeoning Canadian talent alongside trending international acts. Nestled riverside on the traditional lands of the Nlaka'pamux and Syilx people, this is the place to do world-class yoga, guided meditations and mind-blowing workshops in between dancing ecstatically to Handsome Tiger, OAKK, Bianca Oblivion and the Mole at immersive stages powered by PK Sound. Yet, the event is equally respected for its extensive network of safety teams, harm-reduction specialists and healthcare volunteers, with clear messaging around consent and testing. They do things right.

The theme for 2024 is reflection, but glass and mirrors are banned, and moopy things like glitter and sequins are heavily discouraged. Rather, the intention behind this year's theme is for attendees to consider the "buyarchy of needs," to think about using what they already have or to borrow, swap, thrift or make instead of buying something new. That's the sort of holistic mindfulness that goes into creating such a welcoming, socially positive event as a community within a community.

It's a challenge to only pick five things to see out of a lineup boasting all of the aforementioned area talent, as well as touring acts like Ivy Lab, Introspekt, Of the Trees, Bakey, Cinthie, Sam Binga, Breaka and the Hessel Audio crew, but you'd be particularly remiss to miss these selections when the fest returns from July 12 to 15.

Bristol-born producer Collins Nemi worships at the altar of the two-stepping, bass-warping speed garage, a candy-coated rave vibration from the late '90s that didn't quite ripple out as far as it should have. Injecting new life into the under-appreciated subgenre rather than resting on imagined nostalgia, he reps the ripest of contemporary UKG with its requisite punchy house beats, gnarly jungle basslines, smooth R&B vocals, and grimy rude boy swagger with his own booty-bouncing productions as Conducta, as well as the stable of likeminded artists attached to his Kiwi Rekords imprint. Referential yet fresh, these breaks without breaks indelibly conjure a blissful daze on sunny days. Introspekt should lace Bass Coast with a similarly ecstatic dose of UK garage madness, but my money is on Nemi to deliver one of the funk-nastiest sets of entire weekend.

When Little Simz played Bass Coast in 2017, she only had a couple albums out at the time, and, a few years later, she won the Mercury Prize. The booking of Leikeli47 looks like a similarly promising deal. The enigmatic Brooklyn rapper completed her introductory beauty series album trilogy with 2022's Shape Up, clearly announcing her arrival while still feeling like a preview. With production that links old school house to contemporary hip-hop and R&B, she spits hot fire while smoking blunts in a balaclava like MF Doom if he got into waacking. She's got the flex, the attitude, the voice, the words and bass-worshipping beats.

It's been a trip to watch Travis Stewart evolve his sound as Machinedrum, from his cerebral glitch-hop releases on Merck in the early 2000s to his uptempo EDM-tinged IDM output for Planet Mu and Ninja Tune since the 2010s. Stewart can still be heard seeking the unattainable on his 2024 album and 11th Machinedrum full-length, 3FOR82, as he shifts through unexplored phases of drum 'n' bass, trap, R&B, hip-hop and poptronica, pushing his tickle trunk IDM style further while staying true to his past, present and future selves. Simply put, he's at the top of his game, and his game is always changing.

Born in East London, Sherelle Thomas earned her reputation as a tempo-pushing club killer on the back of huge moments like her 2019 Boiler Room set, her 2020 BBC Radio 1 essential mix, and her 2021 fabric presents mix. Those achievements indicate about as high an electronic music pedigree as you can get, which is part of why SHERELLE is stylistically spelled with all-caps. She slaps the snappiest jungle and juke together so smoothly that audiences hardly register that their feet have caught fire. For one reason or another, everyone who sees her is compelled to yell "SHERELLE!"

DJ Stingray 313
Hailing from the home of techno before moving from Detroit to Germany, Sherard Ingram has been the voice of the revolution in electronic music since the early '90s. An expanding mind in a shrinking world, he founded Urban Tribe as a more-or-less-solo downtempo project before the likes of Carl Craig, Kenny "Moodyman" Dixon Jr. and Anthony Shakir joined in. While helming their albums on Mo' Wax and Rephlex, Ingram was in talks to become the touring DJ with Afrofuturist electro technicians Drexciya until the untimely death of James Stinson in 2002. Donning a SWAT mask to perform, Ingram continued on as DJ Stingray in homage to the name Stinson gave him, amassing an impressive catalogue of forward-thinking, politically-charged electro and hard-nosed sci-fi techno throughout the new millennium. Move D's all-vinyl throwdown was one of Bass Coast's finest moments in 2023, and Ingram mixed wax on the wheels of steel live at New Forms 2012, so this should be a set for the record.

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