With 2015 less than a whisker away, we’ve channeled who we firmly believe will be the big stars of the music scene over the course of the next 12 months. Sure there may be some inclusions that you may have already heard of (particularly if you’re a frequent Stagedoor FM visitor), however we’d bet good money that those you’ve already heard smidgens of will stand to be pretty-huge come this-time-next year.
We’ve classified everything in a nifty little contents package, so hit the artist/band you want to read about – or if you’re simply eager to see who we’re championing for 2015, then simply click the next button to run through them all.
We massively enjoyed putting this list together (if not a little frustrating to whittle it down to just 15), but likewise we hope you enjoy reading and listening too!
[nextpage title=”Becky Hill”]
Regardless of whether an artist wins, or appears in the live finals, it become evidently a rare ability to be able to shun the chains of reality TV shows post-appearance. Bar the likes of Olly Murs, Leona Lewis, Will Young, and the obvious example of One Direction, only a fair few can claim to have been able to forge a positive imprint that’s noted as ‘credible’. However fortunately for Becky Hill, the young singer/songwriter (who appeared on 2012’s The Voice) has managed to not only retain credibility from the breadth of the industry, but also set the wheels-in-motion for what could well end up being an exciting career for herself.
Regular Stagedoor FM readers would’ve noticed we’ve been strong advocates of Becky Hill since first laying ears on her material back in the spring. From vocal appearances on Wilkinson’s Afterglow, Rudimental’s Powerless and this summer’s huge Oliver Heldens’ anthem Gecko (Overdrive) – of which she co-wrote with MNEK, things got off to a strong start for Hill. Then fast-forwarding to the sublime Two Inch Punch-produced ‘buzz track’ Caution To The Wind, alongside her official debut Losing, 2015 is shaping up to be a year where Becky Hill could become an unstoppable force. Oh, and let’s not also forget her impressive repertoire of writing and co-writing credits too (Little Mix, Conor Maynard, plus Oliver Heldens’ latest collab with K.Stewart on Last All Night Koala).
When a new artist lands in your inbox, accompanied by the words “plays drums for Jessie Ware”, you know you’ve got to sit up and take note. And that’s precisely what we did earlier this year with Dornik, the new(ish) future-soul artist signed to PMR (the home of Ware, alongside some of the biggest breakout artists over the past couple of years).
Upon first listen to Dornik, you’d be surprised he was from this side of the pond…. admittedly the UK is pretty shit at developing strong soul exports comparative to our US counterparts, but Dornik hits the nail-on-its-head from the word go. Sultry, funky, soulful, and above-all, creating some the most pleasing homages to Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall that we’ve ever heard before. On My Mind, released back toward the end of the summer, is probably the most closely-related to the aforementioned classic record, whilst there’s some clear modern-day influences thrown in to Dornik’s September follow-up, Second Thoughts. Ultimately though, what makes the prospect of British soul all the more exciting, is the fact that Dornik’s debut Something About You, achieved ‘just’ a B-grade as part of his GCSE coursework.
We’re hopeful for a full-length debut album to land at some point next year, though in the meantime you’ll just have to make do with some of Dornik’s impressive Soundcloud uploads.
Back in early-summer, a new track (Resonance) by an unheard of house collective emerged on the scene in a bizarre way – lots of fanfare, yet little in the way of content to be heard (bar the aforementioned song). After many [many] spins from the industry (and ourselves), it became clear that there was set to be something special about the then-mysterious LuvBug, and then it hit home – LuvBug was to be the new project The White N3RD, ex-JLS member Marvin Humes and JKAY. In fact, I suppose we didn’t need to look hard to find out more – Humes himself released a LuvBug UKG mix online a year earlier, so that really should’ve rung a few bells.
In fact, LuvBug has been a project the trio had been working on for almost eighteen months prior to the announcement, and the fruits of their own passions have been clearly identified in their music. Uniting with young emerging vocalists (Talay Riley, Joel Compass, MNEK, All About She, Becky Hill and more), there’s definitely something special about their sound. Perhaps it’s just great timing thanks to the UK’s reignited obsession with house music (and future house & nu-garage now becoming far more prominent), or simply that LuvBug are just making some great music, but above all, we could be edging onto something exciting here. Check out their new single Revive (Say Something) below – we can expect a LuvBug debut album to land next year:
Regular Stagedoor FM readers should be well up-to-speed about Lapsley now, the young Liverpudlian musician (real name Holly Lapsley Fletcher), whose dent on the scene has been pretty extraordinary over the past twelve months.
Whilst not her debut release, her most prolific cut Station sent blogs and the industry-alike into a spin following its unveiling toward the turn of the year, and things seemed to go better and better for the young artist as 2014 continued. Much of this rise could undoubtedly be thanks to the praise BBC Radio 1 provided Lapsley with, in particular the likes of Phil Taggart and Alice Levine, alongside Annie Mac – the latter whom debuted Lapsley’s Falling Short as part of her Annie Mac Presents compilation in November.
Whilst many of the bedroom-producers amongst her generational-peers may be driving clearer foci toward electronica and house, Lapsley’s sublime musicianship and craft towards more ambient/lo-fi sounds makes her someone whom we strongly believe will be standing out from the crowd for a long while to come. The rest of the industry’s support is thoroughly behind her too, having recently signed to XL Records (who are in-tow gearing up for the release of her debut EP Understudy at the start of 2015).
With some intensely-clever vocal manipulation, and soft (yet impactful) vocals in the mix, hopping on at Lapsley Station may well have been toward the start of her career, but that journey is no-where near over.
[nextpage title=”Years & Years”]
Whilst they may had been ‘bubbling under’ for a while, 2014 became Years & Years’ time to shine, and showed just how powerful the internet can be to break and support new artists.
Starting the year with the title-track from their Real EP, Years & Years’ summer cover of Blu Cantrell’s Breathe fully catapulted the trio into the blogisphere, and subsequently won them a legion of new fans. And fully justified too.
Taken from their Take Shelter EP, Breathe literally breathed new life in for Years & Years, and with collaborations starting to filter through (The Magician’s Sunlight, and most-recently with Tourist on Illuminate), Years & Years hit a turning point in their career. Desire became their first featured single to chart in the UK, and subsequently led Years & Years to impress BRIT Awards judges enough to quantify the band as a nomination for the 2015 Critics Choice Award.
With a debut album set to land soon (which we’ve already documented in our ’15 British albums we want to hear in 2015′ feature, 2015 seems likely to be the time when Years & Years achieve the recognition and credit they fully deserve.
Let’s hope we’ll be discussing Years & Years for years and years to come….
[nextpage title=”DJ Barely Legal”]
Upon first appearances, you may-well be forgiven for wondering why such big things cometh for young Chloe Robinson (aka DJ Barely Legal) – her press ‘blurb’ alludes to the youngster (Robinson’s still in her early-20s) as holding the accolade for one of “the world’s most compact DJs”, but with her eyes firmly set on driving forward the UK’s reemergence of specialist music, there’s nothing pint-sized about Barely Legal’s approach.
If anything has shown from the last year (or so), with production levels at its strongest quality in years, it’s also been the turn of the DJs to fully showcase this output, and whilst the methodology of DJing really hasn’t evolved over the years, listeners are usually at the forefront of separating the wheat from the chaff. What makes young Robinson so special, therefore, is that she not only has her fingers-on-the-pulse for championing the finest in the likes of house, bass, grime and more, but also mid-set manages to brighten the mood even further thanks to her love of UKG, both from an old-school perspective, alongside future-garage.
In fact, Barely Legal cites her biggest UKG influence as being her dear old mother (what we would’ve given to grow up in that household!), and it’s quirky qualities like that, alongside her impressive knowledge of the UK genres, that has led to Robinson churning out mixes for the likes of Rinse, Thump, Radio 1, 1Xtra and more.
Signed to Stripes Records, and receiving accolades from all-over the credible side of the industry, 2015’s looking incredibly bright, and exciting, for the Adidas-clad Barely Legal.
Check out DJ Barely Legal’s ‘Back To 99 Garage Mix’ below; it’s a free download too:
[nextpage title=”Lion Babe”]
Lion Babe may-well have only gained prominence in the latter-part of this year, however the project, a partnership between vocalist Jillian Hervey and producer Lucas Goodman, has been circumventing for well over a eighteen-months now.
It was, however, their collaboration with Childish Gambino on the enchanting Jump Hi, that spiralled Lion Babe into the minds (and hearts) of the blogger community, and subsequently receiving radio spins by some of the most influential DJs out there (from a UK-perspective, their rise can be thanked to the likes of Zane Lowe and Mistajam).
With their self-titled EP dropping a week ago, things really seem to be looking bright for Lion Babe – the slinky Jungle Lady alongside Treat Me Like Fire just two of the standouts included – and whilst R&B seems to have taken a ‘weird turn’ over the past decade, it seems Lion Babe are standing true to their beliefs of what the genre itself should stand for. Strong elements of soul, beautiful lo-fi electronic beats, and pretty-much a golden ticket to create visuals that stand out from the crowd, we’re expecting 2015 to be the year when Lion Babe go some way to impress the consumerists out there.
Next stage? Well summer festival appearances are massively on our wish-list, and if it so happens they end up with a set at Glastonbury 2015, come see us at the front of the crowd!
Stream Lion Babe’s wonderful Jump Hi below:
Regular readers would note we’ve been championing Elderbrook since we first laid ears on Could a couple of months back, and suffice to say, there’s something both massively interesting, and exciting, about what’s to come from the young producer.
Still only 20 years-old, Elderbrook (real name Alex Kotz), is one of Black Butter’s latest signing – an intriguing choice of label, mind, when you consider a majority of Black Butter’s repertoire concentrates more around the darker genres out there. However, clearly the label see something as special as we do in Kotz, whose dark and brooding take on minimalist alt/hip-hop beats consistently seem to offer new with each and every spin.
“I keep it minimal – when a song is broken down it leaves more room for intricacies which can be fun” says Elderbrook – a compelling ideology when it comes to making music, and something that absolutely helps him stands out from the crowd. It’s not just the beats though; Elderbrook’s moody vocals (thrown in with some slight, twisted manipulations), only help to create down-right stirring and gripping sounds, examples of which have been clearly showcased in his debut EP, Simmer Down (out now).
Collaborating with label-mates Karma Kid, Wayward and more, alongside some slick remixes already floating around the Soundcloud sphere, we can’t wait to see what 2015 holds for Elderbrook. The mysteriousness surrounding both his music, alongside his public footprint (cleverly holding back regular social media posts), makes him a captivating prospect for the future of UK music.
Stream Could below; Elderbrook’s wonderful debut collection Simmer Down is out now too.
[nextpage title=”Seinabo Sey”]
Seinabo Sey is one of those bizarre cases that you unfortunately hear too many about – someone whose sheer talents are applauded by the blog community, yet criminally ignored by the general public who buy music.
Bursting onto the scene over a year back with Younger almost a year back (which subsequently received a shimmering remix thanks to Kygo), the Swedish musician has been delivering strong output ever-since, including the infectious Hard Time, and her latest single Pistols At Dawn.
What’s interesting about Seinabo Sey, however, is the various amounts of influences that her music includes, which lead her to potentially become the ‘next big Neneh Cherry after Neneh Cherry herself’. Thanks to her family’s stint over in Gambia where she moved as a young child, Afrobeats are an obvious inclusion into her styles, alongside some enchanting down-tempo ‘future’ R&B with some alt thrown in there too.
Her thought-provoking lyrics also show maturity far beyond Sey’s 23 years, and thus-far drive her leaps-and-bounds over pretty-much anything else on the scene (bar potentially Mapei, whose producer is currently working with Sey, too).
With a full-length debut album pencilled in to land just around the corner, we hope the buying-public give in and put their money behind Seinabo Sey, who could just well be one of the shiniest cross-genre exports from Sweden we’ve seen in a while.
[nextpage title=”George The Poet”]
The backdrop to London’s 2012 Olympic Games first allowed us access to George The Poet, with his insightful look into the real inner-state of the capital in My City. More a poem than a song itself, it was My City that not only opened our eyes and ears out to the spoken-word’s impressive might at placing visual imagery into vocabulary, but also offered an alternative twist to Plan B’s Ill Manors, released around the same time.
In fact, George The Poet’s rise to where he is now (real name George Mpanga), has been fairly arduous, but nonetheless a wondrous take on graft and determination. Coming from a Harlesden council estate, his mother’s strive for success placed him at Barnet’s Queen Elizabeth’s Boys School (in a bizarre twist, the same school where our own editor also spent many of his young years), and subsequently led him to study in Cambridge. However, one must supposedly thank his upbringing to allow Mpanga awareness to the young grime and crime culture that was emerging in London toward the late-90s/early-00s, and it was thanks to this that he started creating poetic stories far more mature than his young years.
It’s not just observational however, George The Poet’s output packs more punch than a politician’s candidacy speech, whilst almost every piece of his collection ignites some kind of thought-provoking stimulus.
Ultimately, George The Poet may have lost out on the BRIT’s Critics Choice Award for 2015, but nevertheless it finally shows the respect he fully deserves from an industry that has finally cottoned-on. Teaming up with the likes of Bodhi and Jakwob throughout the year (the former taking centre-stage on October EP The Chicken and the Egg), we’re hopeful for more of the same as Mpanga ventures into his 25th year. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke…
Stream the thought-provoking My City below:
We first laid ears on Shura way back at the start of the year, when the young Londoner unveiled her debut release Touch on Soundcloud. Pretty much without any kind of fanfare, Touch quickly drove acclaim – whilst it didn’t take long for the track to make it into the playlists of both bloggers alongside various radio mixes (and, like many new artists breaking this year, have much thanks to pay for Annie Mac’s inclusion of her music into her Sunday night shows).
Very much along the Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) vibe, there’s something impeccably-exciting about Shura – the haziness of her sounds will instantly place you in a dream-like ‘summery’ state; regardless of how shit the weather is outside, you can count on Shura’s music to lift spirits. Further tracks have appeared online while the year progressed too, with each release being picked up by more and more of the online community… plus it hasn’t taken long for the rest of the industry to play catch-up. Self-taught on Ableton, Shura produces a majority of her work, alongside taking the helm on the singing and writing credits too…. and it’s these, amongst many other reasons, as to why she’s on this ‘Ones To Watch’ list.
Probably one of her finest moments however came during the summer, when Shura dropped her surprise remix of Jessie Ware’s Say You Love Me – essentially a fucking brilliant piece of output, that sidelined her more 70s-inspired soul/funk to an icy lo-fi electronica approach. Now as we turn the year, Shura’s new single Indecision gets its own remix treatment (thanks to the Nile Rodgers-esque Formation edit, alongside Jungle’s recently-unveiled take).
Now Shura, where’s that fucking album?
Whilst the world has been captivated by EDM for the past few years now, Norwegian producer Kygo has set himself aside as essentially being one of the spearheaders of an entirely-new dance-offshoot, ‘tropical house’.
First finding acclaim thanks to his exciting remixes of of Seinabo Sey’s Younger and Syn Cole’s Miami 82 at the turn of 2014, Kygo’s prominence has been fairly-heavily documented since then, and it’s probably to Ed Sheeran that he needs to thank for this rise. The producer’s remixes of Ed’s I See Fire, alongside a perfectly-formed reinterpretation of Sheeran and Passenger’s Thrift Shop / No Diggity ‘mashup’ essentially help catapult Kygo into the big-league, particularly in front of the eyes of Avicii – the latter whom hand-selected Kygo to remix his own Dear Boy. Meanwhile an appearance on Diplo’s Radio 1 Guest Mix in the first-half of the year also caught the attention of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, in turn reaching out to Kygo to remix Midnight, the lead track from Coldplay’s [at the time, forthcoming] album, Ghost Stories.
With a new genre pretty much at his feet, there’s lots to be excited for from Kygo, hence the reason why he’s on our list. Whilst 2014 may have been all about the young 23-year old finding his feet, we’re certain 2015 will lead with Kygo breaking out on his own anticipated material. He’s already unveiled his debut track, Firestone, which enlists emerging Australian artist Conrad on what sounds like a sequel to Porter Robinson’s infectious Sad Machine, and with output of this quality, we can’t wait to hear more panpipes and steel-drums enrich our iTunes over the course of the next year.
[nextpage title=”Rae Morris”]
With a plethora of EPs arriving over the past couple of years (three of which in the past twelve-months alone), young British singer/songwriter Rae Morris has developed something of an ever-growing fan-base. No less thanks in part to her shimmering early-2014 cut Do You Even Know? (which received some stunning remixes from the likes of Oceaán and Two Inch Punch), Morris continued the year with further solid output (Closer, all the way to her latest single Under The Shadows), all of which have been leading up to the release of her anticipated debut album Unguarded (set to drop in January).
You could potentially pull some similarities from the Florence / Laura Welsh / Feist camp when it comes to Rae Morris (from a more ‘euphoric’ comparison that is – Morris stands firm on her own with some dramatic, yet understated vocals). Yet like the aforementioned, Morris also has the knack of being able to be a crossover artist [she’s collaborated on cuts from Clean Bandit and Bombay Bicycle Club] without losing any of that special sparkle that makes listeners sit up and take note in the first place.
Additional excitement continues when we hear Rae Morris has been working with acclaimed producer Ariel Rechtshaid for Unguarded (Charli XCX, Major Lazer, Kylie… all the way to Beyonce’s latest release 7/11), so in that respect there’s a lot riding on the project. However, with that, we’re also convinced we have very little to panic about – Morris’ aforementioned EPs have all shown impeccable strength (and maturity too), and with Rechtshaid at the helm, we could now be seeing the UK continue to be the unstoppable force of delivering quality solo exports.
Stream Under The Shadows below; Unguarded lands on 26th January [preorder via the iTunes link]:
Still incredibly-early in his career, French/American-born producer and singer Speelburg already seems to have the who’s-who of the industry firmly at his feet. Already heralded by the likes of Zane Lowe, alongside Radio 1 DJs Phil Taggart, Huw Stephens, Gilles Peterson and Tom Ravenscroft, the youngster (real name Noah Sacré) first hit our radar with Aubrey back in late-summer – quickly making his mark as someone who’s shunned house in favour of melancholic lo-fi electronica beats.
Featuring some swirly, haunting vocals, Aubrey‘s follow-up Kline took things slightly further – an almost ‘big-band’-inspired cut, that once again proved our theory that if you throw some horns on a track, it’s pretty-much destined for some form of success…. and it was Kline that made Lowe et al sit-up-and-take-notice, thanks in part to the epic track’s climatic conclusion.
Coupled with Speelburg’s wonderful remix of Bondax’s Something Good back in November, Speelburg’s unique fusion of genres definitely dangles a carrot over to what’s set to come over the next year – he’s relocated to the UK (Brighton) and there’s certainly some huge British influences in his output, no less thanks to the impressive quality of exports the UK’s music scene has been creating over the past couple of years. Whether you’re an indie fan, or more into alternative styles (or even the aforementioned house offshoots), there’s something in Speelburg that’ll appeal to many – think Jamie XX, James Blake and Mount Kimbie, and you’re probably on the right lines.
Solid stuff indeed!
With two astonishingly-brilliant EPs already under her belt (The Duchess & Alchemy), 25 year-old TALA seems to be heading in the right direction for success. Having been signed to Aesop (and counting the likes of Sylas, Wayward and SOHN as label-mates), TALA’s releases have been seen to be nothing short of astounding since we first laid ears on The Duchess‘ title-track back in May.
Featuring soaring beats that are fast-becoming TALA’s signature, her songs seem to border along the lines of epicness, whilst her creativity also seems to be placing a firm two-fingers up at generic female pop-stars. With that in mind, TALA’s output is a million-miles from pop – think more alternative-electronica and you may be getting warmer (with some obvious comparisons to SOHN, or, being gender-specific, FKA Twigs). Meanwhile, both EPs have shown consistency throughout (you won’t find any project-fillers on either of the collections), and her Iranian heritage certainly shows influences in her musical styles. From a visual standpoint, there’s also some obvious creative influences from FKA Twigs in TALA’s videos, all of which seem to showcase flair and panache and full-on vibrancy.
With both The Duchess & Alchemy setting the wheels in motion, we’re certain 2015 is set to be an exciting time for the young artist.
Stream the impeccable Black Scorpio below: