Friday, 8 February 2013

Glastonbury Emerging Talent Contest 2013

Earlier this year I was honoured to be asked to take part in the 2013 Emerging Talent Contest run by Glastonbury Festival. In the past its entrants (for better or worse) have become well known bands, The Subways, Stornoway and 2011's winner Treetop Flyers all come instantly to mind.

The 2013 contest kicked off in early January when new and emerging bands had just a week to enter to win a chance to play on the main stage at the festival (and boy did they enter). Over 8000 entries were received in that time, a record number. That meant 40 of us bloggers (full list) later received a list with approximately 200 acts to listen to, our task was then a relatively simple (but incredibly difficult) job of whittling that number down to just three acts each.

What happens next? Well all the bloggers short-lists (which will be announced in full on Friday March 8th) are sent forward for a panel of judges (including Emily & Michael Eavis) to pick eight (just eight from 8000+) acts who will play at a grand, live final in Pilton in April. The winner of course will play a live pyramid slot at this years Glastonbury but other acts might just find their way onto the bill too. In 2011 I saw Emily & The Woods on the Acoustic Stage after she made the bloggers short-list. All in all, a useful exercise then...

Anyway, bringing the competition to the blog, this long post will hopefully bring a bit of exposure to a dozen of my favourite acts discovered through the competition. Of 200 acts on my entry list not a single act had previously featured on this blog. A singular statement that goes to highlight the breadth of talent in the UK - Glastonbury ETC was UK artists only - whilst naturally the list was a bit of a mixed bag in terms on my own particular taste there were a great number of exciting acts to discover.

Of my own particular short-list some are brand, brand new with only a handful of YouTube/Soundcloud plays (by far the most popular source of stream for entrants - although two bands did go 'old school' with MySpace links!) and some acts that already have a number of EP's and albums to their name with hundreds and thousands of plays. Hopefully you'll enjoy them as much as I did during the judging procedure. The acts are ordered alphabetically in order according to the track I've included in the post.

Please note that I cannot and will not say which of these acts are in my final three until the full results are revealed on March 8th, please don't ask.

Lillian Todd Jones - Butter Soul (website)

"Butter Soul" is the striking, captivating debut from Lillian Todd Jones. Raw and passionate throughout it's a rare track that is dark, intriguing and beautiful all in one go.

Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker - Done (website)

A gorgeous blend of traditional folk and masterful instrumentation topped by a vocal radiant and clear. "Done" is sparse yet uniquely captivating.

Little Bear - The Few and Far Between (website)

Although not the typical band to feature here Derry's Little Bear have music steeped in dreamy, swelling instrumentation and joyful beauty, "The Few and Far Between" is well-crafted, shimmering and has simply exquisite harmonies.

Joyce the Librarian - Follow Me, I'm Right Behind You (website)

"Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You" is a laid-back little beauty with a gentle, whimsical melody and precious, delicate harmonies. Pretty much perfect for an early morning, sun-soaked set at a Festival then (yeah, who am I kidding at Glastonbury).

Sally Archer - For Us (website)

"For Us" is taken from Sally Archer's debut EP Fades, an EP which could lay claim to the young London based singer-songwriter being the UK's answer to Regina Spektor, a strong, passionate vocal and sweeping, emotive sounds.

Luke Wylde and The Japes! - Ghost (website)

A super sweet track that you can imagine being played on both Radio Two and BBC Six Music, gorgeous call and response vocals and full of beautiful, catchy pop hooks, very nice indeed.

Couldn't find an embeddable player - listen at their website here.

Lucid Pattern - Hanging Here

I couldn't find any further information about this act at all but the track submitted "Hanging Here" is all smouldering dual vocals and shimmering guitar textures, they may be a college band or something for now but a few more like this and that might not be the case for too long.

Katey Brooks - In Light of You (website)

A jaw-dropping vocal performance around gentle acoustic plucks, "In Light of You" spends two minutes as a genuinely gorgeous melancholic lament before transforming with a breezy, airy melody that will have even the hardest of souls toe-tapping before the end.

Lion The Weak - Midnight (website)

"Midnight" is a slow-burning minimalistic pop beauty, ethereal, moody and mellow, the sort of track that propelled The XX to headline The Park stage a few years ago...

Lowood - The More People (website)

Another artist I failed to find anything on, Lowood, I'm guessing is a solo, bedroom electronic project of London based Cheryl ..., "The More People" with jaunty synths and cool, smooth vocals highlights a sound with infinite potential, definitely one I shall be following in the future.

Maglia Rosa Group - Nighthawks (website)

Swirling with Siouxsie like mysticism "Nighthawks" is a dark, gorgeous beauty that shines through sparse, rhythmic drums and shimmering guitar textures whilst haunting vocal swoops immerse you fully in its atmospheric grace - a wonderful track.

Gerard and the Watchmen - Stables (website)

Gerard and the Watchmen have a sound that is full of rich, restrained melodies and affecting lyrics. "Stables" is heart-warming and truly beautiful.


  1. I've been keeping an eye (ear) on London based producer Ludwig Amadeus for a while now and I've never heard anything quite like it. 2013 will be his breakthrough. You heard it here first :)

  2. I'm loving Maglia Rosa Group's Nighthawks EP! I like my ladies to sound quirky or wayward, but there's nothing else out there that sounds remotely like this. Daisy's vocals are exquisite! If you're a fan of Bat For Lashes, Laura Marling or Kate Bush (to name but three) this may well be for you too,

  3. If there was a way I could vote, it would be Maglia Rosa Group all the way. I heard about them through a friend and have to say that Nighthawks is only one of their many truly addictive tracks. If you like their sound, you should definitely see them perform live!

  4. Maglia Rosa Group are the best unsigned act in the country, in my opinion. The EP they released called Nighthawks is a flawless piece of indie pop and there is no doubt in my mind they will be selling platinum albums in the very near future. The tracks they released prior were equally as good and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

  5. really nice post I'm a fellow judge and was in 2011. lucky enough to get Louise and the Pins through to live final. We recently featured Maglia Rose Group on our site Play Pause rewind, I also had them in for a live session on my radio show last week. You have some great acts on the list have enjoyed listening to them all must say that they would be in my top3. Of course we all like different things and music is very emotive one thing I can say is that they are top people as well as talented musicians

  6. If ever a new hugely talented band deserved a chance of exposure,then The MAGLIA ROSA GROUP fit that catergory!& obviously Glastonbury would be the ideal stage!.Listened to the 'Nighthawks' EP over & over( thanks to a friend's link on fb), title track is my favourite , but 'Buckling','Blood Orange'&'Fallen Daughter'contain a consistent pattern of exciting mixture's of melodic guitars & rhythm.
    Refreshing music, colourful & absorbing. Vocalist Daisy has the most beautiful classy expressive voice & a fine band of musicians,including on guitar,her Brother Sam. Not a better new young band of fine musicians & vocalist surely exists at present in the UK !.Best of Luck:-)

  7. What Glastonbury needs is some "Naughty nighty Nighthawks"

    I have seen Maglia Rosa group play a few times and they're brilliant. Like my friend says if there was a way to vote, they would definitely be my top choice.

    Good luck!

  8. MRG are without doubt my favourite unsigned band. Daisy has a great vocal range and their songs are innovative and thought provoking. They are particularly impressive live as evidenced by their recent local radio slots. Their EP Nighthawks has a haunting quality throughout as does their previous track "Atlantis", which is absolutely mesmeric and deserves to be heard by a much larger audience! I truly believe this band to be destined for great things.

  9. I have seen Maglia Rosa Group a few times and at their recent EP launch gig they were especially fantastic. Daisy is captivating and her expressiveness draws the audience in. They've really developed as a live band and it's great to see them getting deserved recognition like this. They would definitely be at home on the Glastonbury stage in my opinion. It's time for the world to hear MRG! It would be a waste if they didn't.

  10. Maglia are rather a dashing group! A quirky band and never heard anything like them before. BEAUTIFUL! I have had the privilge to see them numberous times and they are terrific!

  11. Many people have mentioned this before me, but I would definitely choose Maglia Rosa Group to go forward in the contest. I've followed what lead singer Daisy and her brother Sam (guitar) have been doing since seeing them play an acoustic set at a festival in 2009, and the band's 'Nighthawks' EP is marvellous. Not only does it show off their wonderful songwriting abilities, but also how well all four members work together as a band: nothing seems out of place in the tracks. Mysterious and exciting, their songs draw in the listener with beautiful vocals and interesting soundscapes. A very worthy band to go forward in the contest :)

  12. Josienne Clarke/Dave Gerard tunes in there are beautiful.

  13. Wow lots of talent, but I have been captivated by "Maglia Rosa Group" and have a copy of "Nighthawks" EP. To me, the sound has an essence of 10,000 Maniacs mixed with a beautiful hint of Lisa Gerrard. But whatever the style you think it reminds you of, you will be drawn in and hooked, should come with an addictive warning. Good luck to all. x

  14. I think Maglia Rosa Group would be perfect for Glastonbury! I love the Nighthawks EP, and their many other gorgeous tracks that definitely deserve to be heard by a large audience. They're fantastic live too, and would be great on the Pyramid stage.

  15. Loving the sound of Maglia Rosa, particularly the vocals which are almost choral, absolutely stunning. Hopefully Glastonbury and further success awaits - good luck x

    Dave P

  16. Have followed Daisy of Maglia Rosa Group for a long time a beautiful voice and very talented. Now with a band the finished article Nighthawks is such a beautiful track from their debut EP. Truly an awesome sound and although compared to other artists a unique act. I challenge anyone not to be swept along by this up and coming fan pleasing band. Worthy winners of any contest with so much on offer. Xx
    Baz C

  17. It's lovely to see Derry's own Little Bear making your list. Been a supporter of them for a few months now, they've got some interesting stuff worth keeping an eye.

  18. I saw Gerard and The Watchmen perform at The Slaughtered Lamb in London last week, it was the best live performsnce I have seen in a long time, they were briliant. 'Stables'is absoutely fab, and the variety of numbers made for great entertainment. They were so darn good I have bought tickets to the High Barn even though it is a bit of a trek. I love Emily and the Woods too, but did not make it to Glastonbury to see them.

  19. I had the priviledge of watching Gerad & the Watchman at the Peace & Love festival, and they were absolutely brilliant. Some fantastic tracks but Stables was my fav.


  20. Luke Wylde And The Japes is this years discovery at the U.K bandstage !!!!!!!!

  21. Luke Wylde and the Japes are ace, seen them a few times, they always pack a place out and create a great atmosphere :-)

  22. Luke Wylde and the Japes are amazing. Every time they play , crowd gets filled with pure-awesomeness !

  23. I saw Luke Wylde and The Japes at the O2 in Birmingham a few weeks back and they were superb. Well crafted songs, full of sing along hooks and melodies with great lyrical content. Their best stuff isn't recorded yet! They are going to go far! Good luck guys (and Toni)!

  24. Luke Wylde and The Japes for Glastonbury - who only have to listen to their music and you can feel the sunshine!

  25. Go The Japes! Best unsigned band I've had the pleasure to play with on manys an occasion. Their songs are always an instant hit with any crowd - they're a very hard act to follow. Definitely deserve a crack of the Glasto whip!

  26. LUKE WYLDE AND THE JAPES sound awesome!!I would love to hear/see them live!!!!