New Sensations: Gina Kushka, A Swedish Katy Perry Collaborator & More Pop Finds

Carl Williott | November 6, 2015 11:00 am

New Sensations is our semi-regular roundup of emerging acts you oughta know.

Adele. Adele Adele. Adele? Adele! Adele, Adele, Adele. Adeeeeeele. Oh, and Adele.

That is going to be your life for the foreseeable future, through the holidays at the very least. Every time you walk into a drugstore, every time you turn on your car radio, every time you hear a Spotify ad, Adele will be there. Not to mention Justin Bieber, One Direction, Ellie Goulding and the rest of the big albums dropping this month. There’s nothing wrong with any of it, and I’m sure most of the material that you’ll be inundated with will be great. It’s just that you don’t have any say in the matter.

You won’t have to put in any effort to hear that blockbuster stuff. It’ll come to you. But sometimes, music is more fun when you put in effort. That’s how it used to work, before streaming. You’d buy a CD, and then even if it sucked, you’d do the mental gymnastics required to convince yourself you like it, because you already spent money on it and invested the time it takes to actually go to the mall and buy it so to not like it is to admit to defeat and bad judgment.

These days, you can still put in effort, mainly when it comes to discovery. Maybe you want to discover new music so that you can brag about it to your friends or share it with your SO or just recede from the mainstream echo chamber for a minute. Well, with the return of Adele, while everyone else is focusing on the juggernaut at the gate, that’s exactly when you should scoot around in the hinterlands scoping out the unknown, ready to introduce your findings to the others like some mystical traveler from another world.

And we’re here to help, so head below for our latest batch of new artists that need to be on your radar.

Gina Kushka

This South African-born London artist has a dynamic voice that gives off the reediness of Ellie Goulding, the melodic yelping of Charli XCX and this sharpness that just cuts through the air and snaps you into attention. On “Bring It Down” and “Mid Air,” she flaunts that versatility over some off-kilter haze-pop, and it’s totally commanding.

Sabina Ddumba

You probably don’t know her name, but chances are you’ve heard her voice. Sabina Ddumba handled backing vocals on Katy Perry‘s house jam “Walking On Air,” and the Swedish singer just premiered “Not Too Young,” her first official track to be released outside Scandinavia. Her Lauryn Hill influence is immediately apparent, but it’s her gospel background that really shines through by the time she gets to the bridge. Hear the new single below along with “Effortless,” which went platinum in her home country.

Alice Olivia

Alice Olivia rose to internet fame with a string of YouTube covers, but now she’s hoping to make the leap with her own take on dark pop with a lovely first single. Her voice’s silky elasticity brings to mind Chairlift‘s Caroline Polachek and fellow newcomers like Kiiara and Kacy Hill — certainly a strong starting point. It’ll be interesting to see how she distinguishes herself on her forthcoming Wanderland EP.


I previously featured this duo in our Silent Shout alt-pop series, but their latest is a sleek, synth-fueled sigh that will please both alt-averse pop fans and Drive soundtrack-obsessed indie snobs.


I don’t know much about this singer. Apparently she’s from London but now resides in the U.S. What I do know is that this delicate slice of slo-mo pop taps into that painful, aching side of nostalgia that the M83s of the world ignore. Pretty sure as soon as you hit play, it automatically starts raining outside and you’re transported to your couch wrapped in a blanket with a pile of old photos of your ex scattered around you.

Which new pop voices are you excited about? Let us know in the comments, or hit us up on Facebook and Twitter.