Kicking off at 2pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon, in industrial South-East London, Cloud X Festival was hosted at Studio 338, showcasing a range of creatives that told their stories in bold and unique ways.

Cloud X, co-founded by David Dabieh and Ben Cross, champions soul, R&B, afrobeats and alternative sounds. The project aims to curate an inclusive space for the next generation of future greats.

The homegrown festival returned for its second year to put on a spectacular show, successfully curating a gender-balanced programme of pioneering talent.

Once we’d passed the somewhat overzealous security, who barked orders like we were at the airport, confiscated my water bottle and scanned my feet, the fun could begin. Studio 338 boasts a massive open air garden, which was transformed into a tiki bar-like oasis, with perfectly green astroturf spanning the entirety (shout out to the gentleman that swept every crumb of food and cigarette butt to maintain it that way).

Inside was the standard setup with a stage and decks towards the front. Large onbrand plastic clouds hung from the clear ceiling, providing some shelter from the sun’s rays that penetrated the dance floor.

The diverse lineup; featuring Scuti, Spinall, Nayana IZ, Sam Wise & more were all on the main stage, with a resident DJ takeover on the garden stage.

When I first saw that JOJO was headlining; I deludedly expected it to be JoJo, as in the noughties teen sensation with hit singles: Leave & Too Little Too Late. In actuality it was JOJO, as in Cloud X family and resident DJ. Having played her mixes on the likes of Kiss & Foundation FM, JOJO’s afterparty sets are legendary. She brought the energy; mixing quality bangers spanning across Dancehall, Hip Hop, Garage and everything in between. She played a few times throughout the course of the afternoon; including the opening and closing sets.

The resident DJ’s on the outdoor stage played a mixture of R&B bangers, reggae-dub, old school garage and house that took us on a nostalgic journey to a summer pool party, without the pool.

One of my top picks of the day was Sasha Keable who owned the stage with her cool no-shits-given, Adele-like attitude and exceptional vocals. The South London songstress presented her stunning voice, blending the best bits of R&B and Neo-Soul to create her own unique soundscape with her right-hand-man guitarist that complimented her beautifully. Despite recovering from a flu-like cold, she hypnotized the crowd with her relatable lyrics and emotional sound.

The highlight of my day was alternative / indie artist, Biiig Piig, who was utterly mesmerizing. Biig Piig’s name was apparently inspired by drunkenly reading a pizza menu, and her music follows the same theme of free spirited creativity. The Irish singer and rapper, is based in West London, but incorporates her Spanish influence to produce a truly enigmatic sound.

Biig Piig does not conform to one particular genre; she explores alternative hip-hop, pop, neo-soul, jungle and everything in between; effortlessly representing youth culture with her adaptability. She played her brand new song ‘FUN’ to which she danced her socks off; rather entertainingly switching between rave stomping and angelic melodies. Biig Piig’s dreamy beats and contagious carefree energy thoroughly entertained the crowd - her naturally silky vocals and ethereal aura is genuinely unique in modern pop. Closing the set with my favorite song of hers: Feels Right - she put on a spellbinding display and I’d love to see her perform again.

The garden area boasted a couple of hand-picked independent food vendors from South London who brought authentic and mouth watering cuisine from the Caribbean - the food was genuinely delicious.

Apart from the brilliant music, cool crowd and tasty food - the rest of the ‘festival’ was a bit lackluster. The venue seemed to sport a money-centric theme: the food vendors operated a cash only policy, the compulsory cloakroom charged £4 per item and it was £2 to withdraw cash from their ATM. At least Studio 338 had scrapped the ‘£20 minimum card spend at the bar’ policy that was in place the last time I frequented - and the toilets were clean thanks to the “no-spray-no-lay” guy. This, however, is more of a reflection on Studio 338 than Cloud X, and the tickets were extremely reasonably priced.

Overall; I had a brilliant time and feel lucky to have witnessed these refreshing artists take to the stage. Cloud X remains a culturally progressive event that celebrates under-represented voices across R&B, alternative hip-hop and melodic beats. Studio 338’s iconic all-weather venue and unique al fresco dance floor created a relaxed open air house party vibe with an incredible sound system. The event attracted a cool and diverse crowd that maintained the ‘good vibes only’ mantra. Cloud X successfully provided an intimate and soul-warming day out - blissfully alleviating the Sunday Scaries.