Best of Phoenix 2018: Music Scene Creatives | Phoenix New Times

Best of Phoenix 2018: Music Scene Creatives

Our favorite DJs, bands, and other music-scene faves of 2018.
DJ Javin runs her radio spots the same way she runs her live shows: like a true master.
DJ Javin runs her radio spots the same way she runs her live shows: like a true master. Courtesy of BRAVO! Entertainment
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Whether you're a DJ, singer, dancer, rapper, or any other kind of artist, there's plenty of room for you in Phoenix's expansive, eclectic music scene, and our list of our favorite bands, musicians, record labels, and other artists proves it. It was hard to narrow down the best from the rest, but we hope we've done just that. Here are our favorite music scene creatives for 2018.

Best Live Artist: Haboobs
Being a live artist at a nightlife and music event can sometimes be a tough gig. You've got to transform a canvas into a masterpiece in only a few hours, all while dealing with gawkers, constant interruptions, and inebriated patrons. Local artist Kelley Boesel, better known as Haboobs, manages to excel at the task and has done so at a variety of local parties, shows, and DJ nights. Back when Motown on Mondays was a regular thing, Boesel busted out with evocative portraits of the same R&B, funk, and soul legends being bumped on the sound system, legends like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Rick James. She did the same at last summer's tribute party for the late Sharon Jones at Crescent Ballroom, painting a stunning rendition of the dearly departed singer.

Best DJ: DJ Chris Villa
Most DJs wait forever for their big break. Chris Villa got his at age 13. In 2001, he was spotted doing turntable trickery at a local Guitar Center by a personality from Power 92.3 (now Power 98.3/96.1). It led to an appearance on the hip-hop station, and later, a full-time job after graduating high school. And Villa's gotten exponentially better since then, developing into a rock-solid selector who can effortlessly spin mixes on the fly, dominate in DJ battles, and rock a crowd. Having just turned 30, he's only hitting his stride. He plays at clubs five nights a week, posts hit-getting performance videos to industry website, holds it down weekdays on LIVE 101.5, and works as an official Arizona Diamondbacks DJ during baseball season.

Best Turntablist: DJ Javin
DJ Javin has only been in the scene for a handful of years, but she already has made her mark and become the best turntablist in town. Every weeknight, you can catch her scratching, selecting, and cutting with skill and style on hip-hop station Power 98.3/96.1. And every weekend, she's usually busy dominating the decks at hot spots like The District and the W Hotel in Scottsdale. In between all her gigs, Javin (pronounced "Jay-vin") can usually be found sharpening her DJ skills at home, laying down tracks for a weekly show on Pitbull's SiriusXM Globalization channel, or gearing up to open for hip-hop stars like Snow Tha Product when they roll through town.

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No Volcano are back with a reflective record.
Mike Dee

Best Band: No Volcano
No Volcano almost threw in the towel and didn't release their third album this year. They lost their original bassist, leaving guitarist Jim Andreas wondering if the project was destined to not happen. Nevertheless, they persisted. Andreas, guitarist Jeremy Randall, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Kennedy recruited James Karnes to take over on the four-string. Even if the quartet hadn't released Envy in the Valley, they likely still would have won the title of best band in Phoenix. The music veterans release evocative music videos, and make every live show an event by mixing onstage visual elements with their well-crafted rock songs.

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Raquel Willand of Panic Baby.
Jim Louvau
Best Vocalist: Raquel Willand
Raquel Willand was born to sing. If her participation at this year's Phoenix Rock Lottery wasn't proof enough of her talents, do a Google search, and chances are you'll come across her old SoundCloud page. Even on those old tracks, she showed tremendous promise as a vocalist. Fast-forward to 2015, when Willand answered Jared Wood's Craigslist ad looking for bandmates. Since then, the Phoenix quartet went through several name and stylistic changes before settling on the bluesy rock elegance of Panic Baby. The single "Don't (Lie to Me)" brings out the passion of Willand's vocals, which will serve the band well as they prepare to release more music this year.

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Local hip-hop artist Teek Hall.
Daniel Spiegelman Photography
Best Rapper: Teek Hall
Rapper Teek Hall turned 33 in January, so he threw a big party at The Rebel Lounge to celebrate. But it was those in attendance who received the real present. The Detroit native shared his latest album, The Living Daylights, which was produced by Charlie Mumbles, one of Arizona's hottest producers, and features collaborations with Open Mike Eagle and Mega Ran, Hall's co-host for their wrestling podcast, Mat Mania. Hall's latest effort is chock-full of clever pop-culture references, personal lyrics, and sharp rhymes that skewer his contemporaries. The Valley's hip-hop scene already has the talent, but The Living Daylights is sure to bring it the recognition it so richly deserves.

Best Queer Musical Icon: The Doyenne
The Doyenne is a certifiable legend. A songwriter, producer, electronic musician, rapper, alt-R&B sensation, and dance-music machine, Syeed DiJon Poole has been freaking out the squares and wrecking house shows for years as The Doyenne. The Doyenne had been a fixture at shows at the old Trunk Space and Funny World, often playing alongside musical polar opposites like Dinosaur Love, Space Alien Donald, and Sugar Skull Explosion. What The Doyenne shares with those bands is a love for dressing up, a willingness to be abrasive and confrontational with the audience, and a contempt for milquetoast indie-rock culture.

Best VJs: Gestalt Theory
The members of Gestalt Theory get hearts pounding, fists pumping, and bodies moving at many of the bigger DJ nights and dance music festivals around town. As VJs, or video jockeys, they control the rapid-fire streams of graphics, animation, and video being broadcast over the array of LED screens onstage or projected onto walls, matching the sounds being blasted almost beat by beat. They've been dishing out this addicting eye candy at local EDM events since 2014, and have worked at Shady Park in Tempe and Monarch Theatre, as well as festivals like BOO! Arizona and Bassrush Massive.

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RPM Orchestra
RPM Orchestra
Best Live Accompaniment: RPM Orchestra
Live music during a film screening used to be commonplace, and there are still groups today that are keeping the silent film score tradition alive. One of the more active groups is right here in Phoenix. The experimental music collective of Pete Petrisko, Jocelyn Ruiz, Jim Dustan, Eric Hunter, and Vic VOID hold one-night-only screenings at FilmBar, where they perform original scores to film classics like Alice in Wonderland, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and The Penalty. Combining old-timey instrumentation with radio sounds, haunting samples, and modern noise, RPM creates compelling and timeless soundscapes.

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Fervor Records' COO Jeff Freundlich with founder and CEO David Hilker.
Courtesy of Fervor Records
Best Record Label: Fervor Records
If you've heard local blues artist Hans Olson playing on your favorite network-television procedural drama, or the catchy guitar rhythms of CooBee Coo over a swanky men's clothing commercial, that's the work of the licensing gurus at Fervor Records. When the Sunnyslope-based label isn't putting Arizona music in your ears as you binge the most recent season of your favorite Netflix show, it's releasing new music from The Pistoleros and Fayuca, or compiling our state's musical history into one of its collections. One of its latest offerings, Mid-Century Sounds: Deep Cuts From the Desert, celebrates the work of Phoenix studio owner Floyd Ramsey, who recorded Waylon Jennings and legendary guitarist Duane Eddy.
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