Yorkshire Evening Post music writers Faith Gledhill, Tom Newton and Duncan Seaman choose five acts from the Leeds City region to look out for in 2018.
Sounds Like A Storm
Sounds Like A Storm are the rapturous Leeds based rock ’n’ roll quartet comprised of Sennen Ludman, Joseph Schofield, Cormac Connelly and Connor Passey.
Despite only having been together little over a year and all being aged between just 17 and 19, they have become known and respected throughout the UK for their dedicated work ethic, articulated sound and galvanising live shows.
“Sounds Like A Storm focus on hard work and graft. Nothing comes for free and if you put so much in, you will get so much out. Simple,” says frontman, Sennen.
2017 has undoubtedly brought huge success; two studio singles, Emission and Blind And Deaf were released to huge acclaim and the band have worked tirelessly to perfect their live performances.
“Going from playing the same venues week in week out, we suddenly became this band who play the majority of our shows out of town. It all just seemed to take off,” Sennen says.
They’re already hoping for more of the same next year.
“We’ve already confirmed a big Leeds support slot early next year, alongside some festivals later on. Hopefully we’ll just continue what we’ve started... smashing the live shows and producing some banging singles.”
Watch this space, because a storm is most definitely coming. FG
Two differing acts have stood out personally for me, head and shoulders over their contemporaries.
New-prog, indie-prog, the prog awakens, there’s always some prog pre-fix to the outstanding Leeds band KOYO.
Rocketing to the BBC Introducing stage at Leeds Festival, finishing in the top 40 or higher in many music publications top 100 end of year lists and bringing out one of the best albums of the year, this has been a huge start for the band.
If you have a new year resolution to get out and discover something you haven’t heard or seen before, track a copy of the album down and keep your eyes open for upcoming gigs by KOYO in 2018.
Coming out of the bleak obscurity of Wakefield, is the wonderful Louie James. The young acoustic singer-songwriter has gone from busker to genuine authentic troubadour in a relatively short time.
Taking it back to grassroots DIY open mic gigs or releasing new single Different Worlds, Louie takes it in his stride and keeps his talent and ability firmly the focus over ego. He is understated and underrated by himself, but the numbers on his VEVO channel show a different story with his fans, reaching some 12,000 in less than three months.
A champion of the local music scene and a genuine talent, Louie James is heading for a bright future in 2018. TN
For grime artist Dave-O the past 12 months have been “very promising” in terms of laying the foundations for future musical success.
“Ideally I would’ve loved to have done more but I’ve just been busy preparing other stuff behind the scenes,” he says.
Nonetheless three singles have helped him “pick up momentum”, and his profile was further raised by a starring role in the video for Leeds’s bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.
Dave-O’s latest release, Yeah Yeah, features fellow Leeds MC Graft, aka Jovanni Sterling, who’s also a promising footballer who plays for Rotherham United.
“I’ve known Graft for a couple of years and I’ve been following what he’s been doing,” Dave-O says. “I’m going to try to work with him a lot more in the next year as well, not just in terms of collaboration on a feature but maybe even producing for Graft. So the next year should be a good year for both of us.”
In November Dave-O trod the red carpet as a VIP guest at the MOBO Awards ceremony at the First Direct Arena.
He says it’s all helped to get his songs played more on radio. “Because of the Capital of Culture and the MOBO Awards I guess you could say it’s risen my profile slightly but I feel like it’s more down to the quality of the work we’ve been doing, which people are recognising and then bigger platforms are coming to us, which is a great thing for what we want to do going forward.”
Production projects with Leeds MC Dialect and singer songwriter Bianca Gerald may have restricted the amount of time that Dave-O has had for gigging in 2017, but that’s something he intends to change in 2018.
“In the next year the plan is to be performing. Any time there’s a gig in Leeds I want to try to be on the bill. Next year definitely is the year where we try to branch out and make a bit more noise in terms of the live performances.”
As regards new releases, Dave-O says he has an album’s worth of material in the bag but he’s going to start with “feelers and testers here and there to build up the profile a bit more”.
He senses the grime scene in Leeds is about to make a significant impression nationally. “At the MOBO Awards we were mingling with the stars and quite a few of them recognised our names or our faces or had seen our videos. I feel slowly we’re bridging the gap between us and the London artists. This year the more we be consistent it’s going to be beneficial for everyone, not just one artist like a Graft or a Dialect but all Leeds artists. There are so many things planned and a lot of opportunities that we’ve got coming up that I feel is going to springboard not just Leeds artists but the whole city.” DS
Electro-pop duo Emma Duffy and Rachel Lissenburg began working together in 2012. Duffy says: “Rachel had just graduated from Trinity College of Music in London and she decided she wanted to move back home – she’s from up north – but she wanted to find a bandmate or someone she could work with and she found me online. I’d recently posted a few songs and she got in touch with me. We met in Nando’s, which is really cute, a little blind date, and that’s how we started.”
The pair released several tracks under a different band name before settling on Park Fires. Three singles ensued – Watch Me Go, Home and Deadbeat City. They’ve also been “gigging constantly” for the last few years. “We used to be under management and it didn’t work out too well. As soon as we came out of that we went ‘Right, we’re taking control’ and booked ourselves lots and lots of gigs and got ourselves onto lots of festivals.”
Musically Duffy says she and Lissenburg have similar tastes. “We just work together – it sounds really cringey but it’s true. We’ve both been working in music for such a long time, with and without each other, but when we started working together it just clicked because we have very similar music tastes and we hear similar things. At the same time we bring different ideas but it works really well. We both love Chvches, we both love that electro-pop feel.”
As songwriters, they “write about different things but also meet at the same time”. “Deadbeat City, for example, a song that we wrote a couple of years ago, was about the struggle of balancing work and music. I’ve got a little girl, so it’s very much about trying to balance trying to make it in the music industry while trying to hold down a job and raise a child. For me it was about that whereas Deadbeat City meant something very different to Rachel.
“We write about things that are true to us but in a way that can be relateable to other people as well.”
They have so far resisted making a full album – “We’ve always said when the time comes it’s got to be something that we can give absolutely everything to,” Duffy explains – but an EP is “much more likely”.
“Writing an album is writing a story so we’ve got to be able to commit a good year to being in the studio and writing tracks and going back to them. We wouldn’t want to put an album out unless it was perfect and we’re very conscious of that. I think a lot of people rush putting an album out these days when actually it’s such a big commitment. It’s not just 11 or 12 tracks joined together, for me it has to tell a story.”
In the autumn Duffy and Lissenburg also launched their own publicity company, HER Music PR. Duffy admits it’s a big undertaking but says: “We’re doing it for the right reasons. Throughout the five years that we’ve been working together there have been a lot of things have gone against us and for a long time we were very ignorant to it; we thought it was because we weren’t good enough or because we needed to improve on the demo or there was a better band for the festival or whatever. Then it came to light that amongst the hundreds of gigs that we’d done there was only ever us who were female on the line-up and a lot of the top people within the label, all of the label heads and the A&R scouts, were male. A lot of the labels we were getting in touch with the rosters had tons of male bands but there would one or two female singer-songwriters and as we started to look into it more we realised there was such a huge gap within the industry. It’s such a male-dominated industry. PRS themselves have come out with figures saying only 16 per cent of their registrations are female, yet we know there’s a lot more female singer-songwriters out there or female-fronted bands but they’re obviously not getting that sort of support to get themselves onto PRS and they’re not getting picked up by managers and A&R scouts so that opened our eyes. So rather than paying big companies to do our PR and also coming out of our management contract which we felt we weren’t given the same treatment as male acts, we thought ‘We can do this ourselves’ and when we did we started getting much better results, we were getting booked at much better festivals and by doing our own press we were pushing it much more we were more passionate and we were writing the right things.
“We weren’t just focusing on the fact that we were female; we were talking about the songs that we’d released and what it meant. Rather than being a female duo, we were an electronic duo. We were really proud of the outcome, so we just decided to start doing it for other people and as we’ve done that we’ve spoken to so many people who felt the same way that we felt. I think this year it’s something people are starting to recognise and it’s definitely become more noticed.”
In February Park Fires will release a track on the Leeds singles club Come Play With Me. “That’s what we’re excited about for the beginning of the year,” says Duffy. “We’ve been wanting to work with Come Play With Me for so long, they’re fantastic.” Then it will be back into the studio in March and April.
See Park Fires at at Hyde Park Book Club on February 2 and at the 360 Club at The Library on May 4. DS