The next big things in music

Who are the acts to watch in 2015? And how did our predictions for last year fare? We asked some music industry insiders to look into their tea leaves and make some predictions

 

ANNIE MAC
BBC Radio 1 DJ

LAPSLEY

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Eighteen, Scouse, sassy, self-taught: there is nothing not to love about Holly Fletcher. She stayed up late at night learning GarageBand while her mum thought she was studying. I’m excited for what she’ll be bringing out on XL next year.

JACK GARRATT

His sound is impossible to pinpoint, but the man can sing and he has a pop sensibility with none of the formulas. Sometimes his music reminds me of Sohn, sometimes of Jai Paul, but mostly it feels like nothing I’ve ever heard before.

LITTLE SIMZ

Another sassy young lady who makes rapping look completely effortless, and she’s been doing it since she’s nine. She’s very focused and ambitious and, crucially, America is starting to love her. I think she’s really got what it takes.

 

PENNY HART
Producer on RTÉ Radio One’s Arena

IBEYI

Nineteen-year-old twins from France inspired by the music their dad, Cuban percussionist Angel Diaz, played for them growing up. I hadn’t heard a thing about them until the single Mama Says and was blown away. Their self-titled debut album is out in February on XL.

SOAK

SOAK_WEB

It’s hard to believe that Soak will release her debut album in 2015 because it feels like she’s been around forever. Like most people, I first heard her when she performed her song Sea Creatures on Other Voices a couple of years ago. It’s an incredible track that she wrote when she was just 13 and her writing since then has just gotten better and better.

 

MARK CROSSINGHAM
Universal Music Ireland managing director

JAMES BAY

Amazing voice, incredible live performer and huge songs – James is sure to conquer Ireland next year. He’s already spent time here building up his live following with spots supporting Kodaline and a recent sell-out show at The Academy in Dublin.

WALKING ON CARS

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These Dingle natives racked up big numbers on YouTube and were selling out shows nationally before they signed to Virgin/EMI. Hit song after hit song will propel them to domestic and international stardom.

BRIAN ADAMS
Head of music at Today FM

LITTLE HOURS

Talented duo from Killybegs who popped up out of nowhere at the end of the year with a really catchy track It’s Still Love, sounding somewhere between Coldplay and Kodaline. If they can produce more of the same quality (and the buzz from their showcase gig says they just might), they are definitely ones to watch.

COLUMBIA MILLS

COLUMBIA-MILLS_WEB

 

Lovely atmospheric melodies with a sense of cool, these Dubliners might just have the retro sound (think laid-back Mary Chain) to light up the new year.

 

JENNY WREN
Body & Soul festival booker

WE ARE SHINING

British duo with an unrestrained and raw debut album Kara, which is as much Fela Kuti as it is Jimi Hendrix. I feel this coming year will bring them the attention the album deserves.

GROUNDS FOR INVASION

I have a copy of their soon-to-be-released debut and I’ve listened to all of it, more than once. This alone speaks volumes.

 

AOIFE WOODLOCK
Other Voices TV show booker

LAPSLEY

Holly Lapsley Fletcher is a Liverpool producer and songwriter who I first came across via Huw Stephens and Annie Mac. Songwriting since 12, recording at 17, a bright electronic star.

IBEYI

Paris/Cuban Lisa-Kaine and Naomi Diaz work under the name Ibeyi, which means twins in Yoruba. Pop beats, soul and blues. I was thrilled to book them for Other Voices in December.

JAMES BAY

Hertfordshire singer-songwriter with a lot to look forward to in 2015. He’s had three strong EP releases to date and some profile-building tours.

GREY WIND

Kerry sister and brother Steph and Paul O’Sullivan have quietly gone about their business, securing management and releasing a very strong single. These secret squirrels will give Paramore a run for their money.

WYVERN LINGO

Hozier’s backing vocalists, these girls have melody and delivery nailed. The real deal.

GUGAI
Booker at Róisín Dubh, Galway

COURTNEY BARNETT

Probably more a tip for 2014 but I think she’s going to become a bit of a household name next year, most deservedly.

NOT SQUARES

They’ve been a favourite of mine for years, but their new record is incredible. It’s going to blow people away, I think, when it is released on Strange Brew next year.

MAX ROCHA
Happy Valley Records

TOBIAS JESSO JR

I think 2015 is going to be a really exciting year for him as he released some of the most exciting singles of 2014. He’s working with some really talented people at the moment like Chet ‘JR’ White from Girls. Hollywood is the first taste of music from his debut LP to be released in March via True Panther Sounds.

Dan Hegarty
2fm/2XM

THE ALTERED HOURS

It seems that The Altered Hours don’t know how to write bad tunes. The Cork band have that rare pedigree where you feel that their debut album is going to be something truly special. An excellent band.

 

ELEANOR McGUINNESS
Agent at Pitch & Smith

PRINCESS

A Dublin-based quintet led by Aoife McCarthy and Liam Mesbur, Princess have huge determination and attention to detail for a band only together 18 months. Their charisma onstage is fantastic, something that can’t be taught no matter how good the songs are.

SHAMIR

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On the Regular is the most refreshing track I’ve heard in years. His vocals are brilliant, utterly flexible yet controlled. I can hear the hooks playing over and over in my head by just writing the song title. He reminds me of early DFA and LCD Soundsystem.

 

RICJIE EGAN
Jape

HILARY WOODS

Her Night EP floored me. The attention to detail and mood, coupled with amazingly ambiguous and emotional lyrics were a joy to get immersed in. There’s a deftness and consideration to her music which draws you in and then gets better with every listen. She’s one of the best songwriters in Ireland in my opinion.

 

HARRY MARTIN
Domino Records

SHAMIR

Before we put 2015 to bed, I suspect he will be far more widely known. From Las Vegas, a wonderful voice. Fun and funky.

GIRL BAND

Domino were delighted to sign Girl Band. A pounding, powerful Dublin four-piece. Groove-laden, mesmeric, punk music.

FAT WHITE FAMILY

Haphazard, depraved, but thrilling sounds from the London squatter scene.

 

EOIN CREGAN
Bodytonic music booker 

TOM MISCH

Nineteen-year-old singer/producer from London making great soul/hip-hop in the vein of Robert Glasper and J Dilla.

BLONDE

Warm house music stars like Blonde had a big year in 2014. Her I Loved You was a big hit. Her debut live show and tour to come in 2015

THE UNDERACHIEVERS

Brooklyn duo snapped up by Flying Lotus for Brainfeeder released their debut album last summer.

QUIRKE

His debut EP Acid Beth for Young Turks spanned everything from dark electronica to soulful sounds.

BLOOMS

Dublin producer Blooms is making some amazing deep and spacey electronica/R’n’B with infectious vocals. Her first EP was produced by fellow Dubliners Sacred Animals and her subsequent hit Guilty by Kobina. She’s performing her debut show in London in February.

 

COLM O'SULLIVAN
Today FM DJ

MKAI

Irish band who released their debut EP in 2014 produced by Rob Kirwan. The music draws on melodic influence of Jeff Buckley and sounds vocally quite like old Irish band The Prayer Boat.

CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN

Welsh band signed to Communion Records. Stylistically think of The Vaccines and, in part, The Libertines.

 

RICK O'SHEA
2fm DJ

SOAK

I’m aware this might seem about 12 months too late, but she’s been doing great things over the last year or so. Her appearance on the BBC Sound Of 2015 list might just be the thing to propel her on to an enormous stage, seeing as previous winners include Adele and Sam Smith.

 

STEVIE GRAINGER
Red FM DJ

In soul music I’m loving the new Silk Rhodes album on Stones Throw. Saun & Starr on Daptone are great too, while Kali Uchis could finally blow up. In hip-hop, Goldlink, Dej Loaf, Nico Segal and Rae Sremmurd should all become bigger names, while Childish Gambino is finally ready to release an album worthy of his talent. In Ireland, watch out for ApocalypsE and Talos.

Rights and wrongs: the art of tipping acts
It’s always good to start these things with a look back to the previous year to provide a reminder of what you got wrong. A year ago, I was tipping great things for Bondax, Kids of The Apocalypse, Josef Salvat, Bipolar Sunshine (far right), Broods and Twenty One Pilots. But, hey, I did also tip George Ezra (above).

The problem with tips is definitions and timing. Just what exactly are we tipping acts to do? And when do we expect them to do it?

The art of tipping has become something everyone now has a go at, but expecting all your tips to come good in a clearly defined 12-month time period is a little unrealistic.

Acts need time to come good. For instance, we were tipping Soak for great things two years ago, but it looks like 2015 rather than 2013 will be the year when the still teenage Derrywoman reaches a much bigger audience.

Now that that caveat is on the record, here are three acts I think people might be lauding in 2015. From Madrid, Deers make ramshackle happy-go-lucky indie pop with intriguing melodies right at the heart of things. Vérité is a New York singer-songwriter with a great line in infectious, smart, wonky electro-pop that is full of style and substance.

And finally 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. Come back in a year to see how the acts got on.

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