Territory: Italy

Performance: DJ set

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2020 was a sobre, still, introspective time for many. For HAAi — the Australian-born, London-based DJ and producer — it was no different. For someone so used to spending multiple nights a week in the club, surrounded by sweat, strobes and dancing, lockdown felt particularly weird.

"Before the pandemic, I was playing a lot of really long sets. I was so immersed in music all the time," she says now. "I love touring! I have ADHD, so I feel like I have the stamina to play late shows and go to the airport. So much of how my brain is wired lends itself to the life that I have." When all of that was taken away, HAAi threw herself into producing, mixing and writing tracks to compensate. "I would never have taken that much time off before."

The result is Baby, We're Ascending, a 13-track journey that takes you along for the ride — from hardcore, echoey beats to sweeping, colourful synth lines and bright, warped vocal samples. The voices on the album, set for release on Mute, are vast and eclectic — from Jon Hopkins and Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor to singer Obi Franky and spoken word poet and activist Kai Isaiah Jamal.

HAAi's ascent has been swift from the start. After releasing a couple of well-received EPs on her own label, Coconut Beats — Feel Good and Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Musik — she came out with Systems Up, Windows Down, released on Mute in 2019, followed by Put Your Head Above The Parakeets in 2020. "That's when it all kicked off," says HAAi. Baby, We're Ascending marks her debut album and her first full-length release since clubs have opened again.

Now that clubs are open and planes are running, HAAi has spent a lot of time being back in the booth, surrounded by noise and beats and people. It's where she feels most comfortable, most herself. "You get to play a party where you feel like it's your birthday party every night," she says. "It's important to take breaks now and then. From now onwards, it's going to be crazy busy."