Last year’s edition of Osheaga featured a stellar lineup headlined by Arctic Monkeys, Florence + the Machine, and a fashionably late Travis Scott. This year, the festival is not only back at its newly-renovated old site at Île Sainte-Hélène, but is also being topped by Childish Gambino, the Lumineers, and the Chemical Brothers, with Tame Impala, Sigrid, Janelle Monae, Flume and City and Colour also slated to perform. That said, Osheaga’s undercard is almost always as strong as the headliners, and this year is no exception. With that in mind, here are five artists to watch at this year’s edition of Osheaga.
As far as viral sensations go, this guy is certainly up there. After initially making a name for himself as YouTube star Filthy Frank, Joji (born George Miller) has transitioned from online comedian to full-fledged singer-songwriter, and done so seamlessly. The 26-year-old Japanese-American artist retired his channel in late 2017 to pivot to a music career, and it’s thus far led him to notable commercial success — his 2018 debut LP Ballads 1 went all the way to #3 on the Billboard 200. His lo-fi take on R&B and trip hop has earned him comparisons to James Blake (who Joji cites as an influence), and his haunting single “Slow Dancing in the Dark” has gone platinum in the United States.
Friday Aug 2, Scène de la Vallée Honda, 6:50-7:40 p.m.
Now, for some Canadian content. Originally hailing from Toronto, MorMor (born Seth Nyquist) has transitioned from Ryerson University dropout to buzzed-about artist in a rather short amount of time. On top of that, he’s essentially a one-man band; playing, writing and producing all of his music. After first achieving success online with his debut single, “Heaven’s Only Wishful”, in early 2018, the 27-year-old has expanded his repertoire with moody singles like “Whatever Comes to Mind” and “Waiting on the Warmth”, as well as his newest EP, Some Place Else. With an introspective, hazy style of indie pop and R&B, MorMor’s style will be an excellent fit for his early afternoon set at this year’s edition of Osheaga.
Saturday Aug 3, Scène de la Vallée Honda, 2:20-3 p.m.
After releasing three EPs between 2016 and 2018 that garnered her significant critical buzz, British artist Nilüfer Yanya has already put her stamp on 2019’s musical landscape with her acclaimed debut album, Miss Universe. With her bluesy voice and stylistically diverse sound mixing elements of jazz, grunge and soul, Yanya has successfully gone from uploading music to SoundCloud as an 18-year-old to festival circuit fixture in impressive fashion. She’s also toured with the xx, Mitski and Fleet Foxes; played Glastonbury back in June; and recently made it to late night American TV with a performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. You’re going to want to show up early for this one.
Sunday Aug 4, Scène de la Montagne Coors Light, 1:40-2 p.m.
Never underestimate the power of YouTube algorithms. After initially starting Boy Pablo back in 2015, Chilean-Norwegian artist Nicolás Muñoz saw his song “Everytime” suddenly go viral in 2017 after appearing in many users’ recommended videos lists; going from a few thousand views in its first several weeks all the way to nearly 23 million more than two years later. Despite initial comparisons to Mac DeMarco thanks to his similar guitar sounds, Muñoz and his Boy Pablo bandmates have proven they’re more than just a lo-fi slacker act. On top of delivering hilariously entertaining live shows, they released an excellent EP, Soy Pablo, last October, as well as single “Never Cared”, with Jimi Somewhere — though it’s unknown when their debut LP will surface.
Sunday Aug 4, Scène des Arbres Perrier, 6:45-7:30 p.m.
Unfortunately, those wanting to watch both Boy Pablo and this artist will have to choose. That said, Tierra Whack is worth the sacrifice. After signing with Interscope in 2017, the Philly rapper/singer initially gained momentum off her single “Mumbo Jumbo” (and its accompanying music video, which was nominated for a Grammy), and followed that up with a well-received debut album, Whack World, the following year. Not only is it impressive that Whack World would find itself on multiple year-end best-of lists despite literally every song clocking in at one minute each, but Whack has garnered further attention with a string of singles released throughout 2019. She’s also found herself working with Flying Lotus, Childish Gambino, and even Beyoncé — the latter of whom she features with on “My Power” from the soundtrack of this year’s Lion King remake.
Sunday Aug 4, Scène de la Vallée Honda, 6:45-7:30 p.m.
Words by Dave MacIntyre