Before you take in Coachella headliners Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar, make a point to check out these musical artists, who might be some of the best acts you’ve never heard.
This stylish R&B up-and-comer, who is part Native American, Spanish and Filipino, could give Rihanna a run for her money one day. She’s already rocking cool-kid streetwear labels like Palm Angels and prefers the borrowed-from-the-boys oversize look to overly sexy clothes. Born Kehlani Ashley Parrish in Oakland, Calif., (also home of G-Eazy, with whom she’s collaborated) the 21-year-old started out as part of the teen pop group Poplyfe, and can sing, write songs and dance. Her current album “SweetSexySavage” is all those things.
A Los Angeles-based girl band that’s popular with the fashion crowd, Warpaint’s specialty is live performance. (They’ve been to Coachella twice before and have headlined at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood and Long Beach, Calif.’s Music Tastes Good festival.) Led by singer-guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman and backed by drummer Stella Mozgawa and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg, the four women can sing and play together as if they have crazy creative ESP, or maybe it’s the 13 years they’ve been making music together.
Nottingham, England native Neo Jessica Joshua, who goes by the stage name Nao, is bringing her soul R&B sound, which she’s dubbed “wonky funk,” to Coachella for the first time (she played Glastonbury last year). Trained in vocal jazz at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, she’s been a professional back-up singer and member of an a cappella group for six years, so she’s got serious vocal chops. Now 29 and a solo artist whose debut album, “All We Know,” earned her a Brit Award nomination for Best British Female Solo Artist, she’s poised to make herself known to Stateside audiences.
Swet Shop Boys
Those who are fans of Pakistani-born actor Riz Ahmed, either from the “Star Wars” franchise or his Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated turns in “The Night Of,” probably already know he’s also part of the hip-hop band Swet Shop Boys, going by Riz MC alongside rapper Heems and producer Redinho. Formed in 2014, the Indian-American-British-Pakistani group takes on topical issues with humorous lyrics and isn’t afraid to try and break down racial stereotypes.
Japanese-born singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki, 26, studied at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and now makes her home in New York City. This weekend marks her Coachella debut. The rocker’s 2016 album “Puberty 2” was lauded for its sophisticated, punk-meets-folk-sound that some of have compared to St. Vincent and Bright Eyes (not bad for a fourth studio album). Her song and video “Your Best American Girl” touches on raw emotions, female vulnerability and ultimately, empowerment. Another track, “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars,” also featured intelligent lyrics and shows off her dramatic vocal range.
The Interruptors is a Los Angeles-based, ska punk band fronted by Aimee Allen and brothers Kevin, Jesse and Justin Bivona. The group met in 2009 when Allen, a solo artist at the time, was touring with the Bivona’s band Telecasters. After touring with Rancid, The Transplants and Devil’s Brigade and playing at Riot Fest and Amnesia Rockfest, they released a self-titled album in 2014 that made its debut at #95 on iTunes. Its lead single “Take Back the Power” was featured in places as disparate as a T-Mobile commercial, the Showtime series “Shameless,” MLB’s 2016 Home Run Derby and the Michael Moore film “Where to Invade Next,” proving their universal appeal.
GoldLink, as rapper D’Anthony Carlos is known, is only 23, but he’s had as auspicious start: his 2014 debut mixtape received critical acclaim and the next year he was chosen as part of the XXL Freshman Class. His debut studio album “At What Cost” showcases his brand of chill rap, which should set a good tone for Coachella.
The Seattle quartet is also making its Coachella debut, and their appealing surf-punk sound is perfect for sunny days in the desert. Their most recent album, “Lost Time,” and the catchy track “I Hate the Weekend” actually evokes weekend-loving vibes. Band members Emily Nokes, Bree McKenna, Lelah Maupin and Eric Randall have a quirky, Pacific Northwest appeal that makes feminist and social commentary with catchy sing-along lyrics (see: “Men Explain Things to Me”).
Who doesn’t love a good-looking guy who’s unafraid to wear skirts and lipstick? In these gender-bending times, it’s good to know the current social acceptance spills over to the music festival scene as well. Furman isn’t exactly a newbie, he has six albums and two EPs to his credit, but it’s his first time at Coachella. The Chicago singer-songwriter’s calling card is a sardonic, confessional style set to lo-fi rock, backed solidly by his touring band Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends (yes, they’re cute too).