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London native Gaika makes dark, uncompromising music that fuses strands of grime, dancehall, R&B, and hip-hop. Often singing through Auto-Tune, his voice balances toughness with vulnerability, and his lyrics similarly express frustration and disgust at the political system and social injustice, in addition to personal heartbreak and grief. After releasing several well-received mixtapes and EPs, his debut full-length, Basic Volume, arrived in 2018. He's continued his prolific output with releases like 2022's War Island OST (created as part of an art installation) and the post-punk-influenced Drift (2023). Gaika Tavares was born in the south London district of Brixton to Jamaican and Grenadian parents. He first became known as part of Murkage, a group which emerged from the Manchester-based club night of the same name. Blending grime with the darker sides of house and garage, the crew began releasing mixtapes in 2009, and received acclaim from publications such as Mixmag. Gaika co-wrote most of the songs on Murkage's 2013 EP SFSG as well as their 2014 full-length debut, Of Mystics & Misfits. The collective's weekly club night ended its eight-year run in 2015, and Gaika began releasing solo material. His debut mixtape, Machine, appeared near the end of the year, and he made appearances on Kahn's remix of Kelela's "All the Way Down," as well as Eric Volta's "Until I Dissolve." His song "Chrome" was included on NON Worldwide's first compilation. In 2016, Gaika collaborated with Mykki Blanco on a song called "Push More Weight," and released his acclaimed second mixtape, Security. He then signed to Warp, which released his Spaghetto EP that year. He was featured on labelmate Darkstar's Made to Measure EP, as well as Babyfather's 419 mixtape. In 2017, he remixed "Glow" by 18+, and Warp released The Spectacular Empire I and II, two 10" singles that featured frequent collaborator Miss Red, a dancehall MC originally from Israel. Additionally, he made a guest appearance on L-Vis 1990's 12 Thousand Nights mixtape. Gaika's debut full-length, Basic Volume, appeared in 2018, and included tracks co-produced by SOPHIE, Jam City, Dutch E Germ, and others. Aside from music, Gaika also wrote for Dazed magazine, including an article criticizing the Metropolitan Police's crackdown on U.K. drill music, and developed an audiovisual sculpture installation titled SYSTEM, in collaboration with Boiler Room and Somerset House Studios. Gaika released the 2019 mixtape Heaters 4 the 2 Seaters (with appearances by Dean Blunt, Rome Fortune, and Spragga Benz) before leaving Warp. His 2020 album Seguridad was released by Mexico City's NAAFI collective, and featured artists like Debit, Tayhana, and Lechuga Zafiro. Gaika then developed an installation at the ICA in London, and its music was released as War Island OST (2022), with contributions from Felix Lee, Mun Sing, Nick León, David Sitek (TV on the Radio), and others. Gaika's 2023 album Drift, released by Big Dada, incorporated more live instrumentation and sounded closer to post-punk and dub than the artist's earlier work.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo


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