Three Portland Artists to Watch

Vortex Music Magazine

Blessed by electropop, R&B and hip-hop, these three rising Portland artists have polished their craft into shimmering explosions of dance music, jazzy slow jams, and a focused, honest soliloquy from the mouth of one of the city’s finest emcees. With fresh jams that need to be heard by the masses, we believe this is PDX’s hottest new music—hear for yourself.

Photo by Rob WoodcoxPhoto by Rob Woodcox


GENRE: Disco pop
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Colors On The Wall”
FOR FANS OF: Goldfrapp, Donna Summer, Daft Punk

It felt like something out of a ’70s disco. Covered in glitter and gold sparkles, Gold Casio exploded onto the PDX Pop Now! stage this past July, all psychedelic funk and new wave in a beautiful cacophony. Magnified by the light of the night, the band had no issue challenging the throne for Portland’s best new dance band.

Based out of SE Portland’s Funky Church (a 19th-century communal residence and performance space where the band lives, writes, records and produces their music), Gold Casio began as an offshoot of Adventure Galley, the creative project of brothers Forrest and Brock Grenfell. With Brock on production and Forrest’s songwriting, plus multi-instrumentalist bandmate George Schultz, the nascent pop group spent a period experimenting with vocalists until Gold Casio took on a new life with the addition of fellow Bend native and classically trained vocal gymnast Ela Ra. “[I get to] create and be this accentuated part of myself that’s new and crazy,” Ra explains. “I never got to fully be myself onstage until this.”

Ra’s impeccable stage presence sits with confidence in the context of the synth-driven, riff-replete band, creating a party to be reckoned with. With their pending full-length Fever Dreams under their belt, and with plans to tour in the new year, Gold Casio are an indelible reminder that dance in Portland is here to stay. —Jeni Wren Stottrup

UPCOMING RELEASE: Debut full-length Fever Dreams out in 2017


Photo by Tina LePhoto by Tina LeGENRE: R&B
FOR FANS OF: Mariah Carey, Little Dragon, SZA

Shouldn’t it suffice to just say: This is the new hotness? R&B jams you can dance to—whether that be a slow groove with bodies entwined, or a struttable pace, booties bouncing. These vibes are coming from a musically savvy and sexy songstress who accurately describes herself as “smooth, smoky, sultry, in the pocket, fun”—a girl who was raised singing along to Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey in her bedroom.

After signs of future potential surfaced online in the form of several one-off singles, Portland-based Reva DeVito continued planning her initial move over the last few years, collaborating with established producers Kaytranada and Com Truise, booking studio time when she could manage, and recording six cuts that show her range, diversity of influences and pure talent. Plus, she’s the type of artist who “can’t rest easy if there is a song or melody inside me dying to come out. People need to express themselves; my favorite form of expression is writing music,” she explains. “Making music is important because it’s art and it needs to be put forth into the world.”

Pleased that she didn’t rush her project, DeVito’s debut EP, The Move, “feels substantial, and work that I am proud of,” she says. While the songs tell “stories that capture a certain time, season and emotional state,” DeVito coyly says she’s keeping the “many special stories and fantasies hidden in these songs” to herself. Yet, one thing is blatant: The girl brings the “Babesquad” so look out for her moves at a club near you. —Chris Young

MOST RECENT RELEASE: Debut EP The Move released on September 29

Photo by Michelle LepePhoto by Michelle Lepe


GENRE: Hip-hop
ESSENTIAL TRACK: “Inner City Tantrum”
FOR FANS OF: Big K.R.I.T., Ice Cube, Talib Kweli

When outsiders ask what rap from Portland sounds like, nine times out of 10, my go-to answer is Mic Capes. With a drive as methodical as his original flow and content as heavy as his imposing physique, the explosive rapper from North Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood has built an impressive resume, multiplying his regional fan base with each calculated move.

His September release of Concrete Dreams—one of the most anticipated rap releases in recent Rip City history—shows growth, parallelling the 27-year-old rapper’s increasing awareness of self while solidifying his status as one of the city’s best. Capes took the term full-length seriously with the surprisingly consistent 19-track album, extending his deadline a few times as he found new inspirations and added new content in an attempt to produce and package his story as it unfolded in real time. “It took a while but I stayed disciplined and didn’t listen to any other beats but the ones I selected in the last couple of months,” Capes explains of his process. “I knew it was done when I wrote ‘O.G.K.’ That was the missing link!”

In an era of both time-sensitive and disposable music, Capes manages to make the culmination of four years’ work sound fresh—and that is no easy task. Providing a narrative that skillfully negates mainstream musings of the rapidly changing metropolis, the rap prodigy gives a voice to the city’s underrepresented masses; and what’s more, he gives them hope. Channelling the sounds of the city with a flow all his own, Mic Capes is authentically Portland. —Mac Smiff

MOST RECENT RELEASE: Concrete Dreams released on September 22

Listen to some of the hottest cuts from these rising artists below!

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