Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The business of tips

Terms and conditions apply when it comes to predicting the sound of 2015

The sound of 2015? Ibeyi

Mon, Jan 5, 2015, 09:31


As is customary at this time of year as people trundle back to work after the Christmas break, we’ve asked a bunch of people for some predictions and tips as to the bands and acts they expect to make a splash in 2015. You’ll find what people like Annie Mac (BBC Radio One), Harry Martin (Domino Records), Richie Egan (Jape), Aoife Woodlock (Other Voices booker), Eleanor McGuinness (Pitch & Smith), Rick O’Shea (2fm), Colm O’Sullivan (Today FM), Dan Hegarty (2fm), Brian Adams (Head of Music Today FM), Penny Hart (producer RTE Radio One’s Arena), Mark Crossingham (managing director Universal Music Ireland), Max Rocha (Happy Valley Records), Jenny Wren (Body & Soul), Gugai (booker Roisin Dubh, Galway), Eoin Cregan (booker Bodytonic Music) and Stevie Grainger (Red FM) have to say about the sounds of the 2015 here.

Going on the frequency of what they see in their tea-leaves, 2015 is likely to be a very good year for Lapsley, Ibeyi, Soak, James Bay and Shamir. As luck would have it, four of those five names appear on the BBC Sound of 2015 longlist, the crowdsourcing guide to who people expect to see a lot in the coming 12 months.

Naturally, I’ve also thrown in my own predictions, but they come with some terms and conditions. Looking back at who I tipped for greatness in 2014, I’m sure there are many music fans (not to mention record labels, agents and promoters) waiting to turn a profit on such tips as Bondax, Kids of The Apocalypse, Josef Salvat, Bipolar Sunshine, Broods, NoNoNo, Chloe Howl, The Academic, PANES and Twenty One Pilots. Yes, you could say my tips came to pass with the inclusion of George Ezra, who had a blooming brilliant 2014, but we’re still waiting for the others to do something which makes a mark with the mainstream.

Of course, as we see with the inclusion of Soak on many tipsters’ betting slips for 2015, the art of developing new acts is not something which adheres to a fixed 12 month time period. Bridie Monds-Watson first began to feature in new music columns back in 2012, but it’s only now that she’s signed to Rough Trade and got her debut album together for release in 2015, that she’s found her way into the reckoning as far as the mainstream is concerned. Similarly, I remember Lisa Hannigan featuring on acts-to-watch lists for a couple of years before her debut album ever appeared on a release schedule.

There are also many acts who never feature on these lists who go on to define the following 12 months. Very few people had heard of Lorde back in December 2012 when we were looking for the sound of 2013 and yet, the New Zealand teenager went on to have a fantastic year. You could indeed say she was head and shoulders ahead of acts like Haim, Angel Haze, CHVRCHES and AlunaGeorge who featured on the Beeb list that year in terms of mainstream impact.

Then, there’s the very definition of what exactly are we tipping these acts to do and what those acts actually want to do. Many of those featured will be glad to be still in the same business a year from now. We expected Bondax to have lit up 2014 like, say, Disclosure had in 2013 and Josef Salvat’s electro torch songs seemed a dead cert to make a big impact in the last 12 months, but life got in the way. It takes time to get your ducks in a row and your team together. Indeed, there’s every chance that the sound of 2015 will be made by acts tipped to do so in 2014.

I could probably give you a list of 20 or 30 acts you should keep an eye on in the coming months (and a totally different list by the end of this week), but for the purposes of ensuring you don’t fall alseep, I kept the tips to three, one each from Madrid, New York and Dublin. They could well be the sound of 2015 – or, indeed, 2018.

Deers are the women making ramshackle, happy-go-lucky indie pop with intriguing melodies right at the heart of things who look like one of many acts from Spain to have people talking in 2015.

Vérité is a New York singer-songwriter with a great line in infectious, smart, wonky electro-pop that is full of style and substance.

From Dublin, Hare Squead are a bunch of fast-improving kids making funky, punchy, infectious pop music with the potential to make some big commercial splashes.