Truly imaginative music tends to defies conventional description. The label “experimental” has a poor reputation, but absent any defined genre tags, it’s the only way to do justice to Onhell’s music in a single word. The California-based artist has an ingenious touch for bending rules and expectations to craft a smooth, infectious sound with a personality of its own.
Still, it’s unfair to summarize Onhell’s music in only one word. The Sub.mission Agency artist isn’t quite like the dark dubstep dons often associated with Sub.mission, but his immersive sound shares the depth, texture, and low-end emphasis that defines the 140 tradition. Onhell takes a hybrid approach to bass music, fusing elements of hip-hop, trap, low-tempo, and even grime to shape his irresistible style. His highly accessible, dance floor-ready sound marries the edgy attitude of UK grime with a familiar West Coast swagger. The result is a unique brand of futuristic bass music laced with the kind of liquid energy that flows contagiously through his productions and mixes, a momentum that lends to private headphone sessions and road trip soundtracks as well as live sets.
On his Facebook page, Onhell articulates his “band interests” as “Making people feel amazing” – an admirable principle audible in his music. The artist samples Beyonce, remixes Rich Boy, and pays homage to iconic American rap in his tracks and in the mix. But Onhell’s tributes to established fan favorites are far from artistic shortcuts. Much like fellow Sub.mission Agency artist DMVU, Onhell breathes new life into traditions that we didn’t realize needed refreshing – until hearing his interpretation. Onhell’s music is made to touch us in an inspiring and optimistic way. Throw on one of his mixes – or the free Darkness EP – as your soundtrack to a better day.
There’s much to look forward to from Onhell. It’s clear that this young artist is only just winding up. Give his SoundCloud profile a thorough rinse, and follow to stay up to date with tunes from the West Coast visionary (such as a collaboration with Tsuruda rumored to be in the works). Stay locked to Onhell’s Humboldt County-based label Phantom Wave for beats co-curated by the artist.
This winter, Onhell embarks on the STYLSS tour with NastyNasty and Sigrah. To book these masterminds in your city, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For tour dates, booking information, and more, peep Onhell’s agency page.