FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: GLASTONBURY 2024 EMERGING TALENT COMPETITION LAUNCH
Glastonbury Festival’s annual Emerging Talent Competition, once more supported by PRS for Music and PRS Foundation, is back for 2024. The free-to-enter competition gives new UK and Ireland-based acts from across the musical spectrum the chance to contend for a spot on one of the main stages at this summer’s Festival. The eventual winner will also bank a £5,000 Talent Development prize from PRS Foundation to help nurture their songwriting and performance, while two runners-up will each receive a £2,500 PRS Foundation Talent Development prize.
Entry is open for ONE WEEK ONLY from 9am Monday 29 January until 5pm Monday 5 February 2024 via the Glastonbury website. To enter, acts submit one original song, plus a link to a video of a live performance in any setting from kitchen to concert hall. Affirming the value of the annual competition Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis remarked: “At a time when it’s not always easy for acts to get their foot on the ladder, we’re really happy to be able to offer this opportunity for rising artists. So many amazing acts have been showcased by the Emerging Talent Competition over the years – and, as with the Festival, we welcome artists from all musical genres. I’m really excited to hear what 2024’s entries bring. It’s free to enter, so it definitely can’t hurt to give it a go!”
Glastonbury ETC 2023 Final photography by Rick Mav
Once the 2024 entries are in, a panel of 30 of the UK’s best music writers (their words) including your humble scribe will compile a longlist of 90 acts. This will then be whittled down to a shortlist of eight by judges including Glastonbury’s Michael and Emily Eavis. To decide the outright winner, the last eight standing then do battle in April at the live finals held at Pilton Working Men’s Club, close to the Worthy Farm festival site.
2023 Winner N’Famady Kouyaté
In addition to the winner appearing on a prestigious main stage, in previous years all finalists have been offered spots at the festival, although this is not a given. I have a few tips to share with aspiring acts that might help focus the mind when entering. The readiness is all!
Read the rules and entry form, filling it in carefully and choose the genre that is the closest fit for your music.
Pick a strong original song – it doesn’t have to be your latest single but if you have entered in previous years don’t use the same song.
Do not submit an inferior live version of the same song as your video entry. In fact, don’t repeat the same song whatever. Choose a different live song – an original or a cover – that showcases your ability in terms of vocals, instrumentation and/or arrangement.
Your video must be a fully live performance so don’t submit a lip sync video. It can be set literally anywhere – at home, in a rehearsal studio, in the park, not just on a stage somewhere. But it must be live!
Make sure your YouTube page is up to date and reflects your wider repertoire in the best possible light.
Check that your social media links are also current and joined up.
Here is a reminder of the song that secured the genial Cardiff-based Guinea native, N’Famady Kouyaté a prestigious spot on the West Holts Stage at Glastonbury 2023. Summing up his experience, he said: “Winning Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition was amazing and has opened loads of doors for me. It gave me and the band a chance to perform on an amazing stage at an incredible festival. Winning also meant that I could take the next steps to further my career. If you think you’re ready to take the next steps too, I highly suggest you enter this year’s contest!”
Photo of The Music of Sound by Paul F Cook
Hopefully one or two of our featured acts this week will consider throwing their hats into the Glastonbury Emerging Talent ring. Let’s start today with south-east London’s The Music of Sound, the notable trio comprising composer Neil March aka Trust the Doc on synths and electronics, singer-songwriter Florie Namir (piano & vocals) and National Youth Orchestra member Elena Trent on flute. The band records for the estimable indie label Dimple Discs and has a debut album, Eleven Short Stories, now scheduled for summer release. In November, The Music Of Sound treated us to the beautifully bucolic opening track “First Light”, and has now shared a second taster.
The story of “Aanandi” is a universal one yet very much inspired by the real world journey of Sherry Sahayaraj Neil’s MA student who assists him at gigs and with PR and admin. She filmed and starred in the accompanying video too. The song written by Neil charts the experiences of a spirited young person as she conquers anxiety, homesickness and the entrenched attitudes of some in her community to travel thousands of miles in pursuit of her dream. It is Sherry’s story yet can be applied to anyone in a similar situation; Aanandi means ‘happy woman’ in 12 languages and may even be a male name. Musically the song is a pleasing blend of dream pop with classical tones, colourful flute, anchored by resonant piano and topped by Florie’s soprano flourishes. This Sunday (28 Jan) the band plays a showcase at The Amersham Arms, New Cross before taking a break from live shows till the summer album launch.
After releasing its third album, the outstanding Downer Disco in 2021, Dublin-based five-piece, The Crayon Set took a break before embarking on a nicely spaced-out series of self-produced singles. That’s spaced out in the sense of being issued at intervals rather than spaced-out, man. With the band’s founder and chief songwriter, Robert Baker, at the helm, the first two of these, the elegiac “Love is a Real Place” and louche “Sunlounger” were quite different in feel and signalled a little divergence from the sweeter synth-pop colours of Downer Disco while still retaining the band’s characteristics.
The latest single, “Elvis is Alive”, takes a pop at conspiracy theories and how sometimes they may seem more comforting than the truth or the reality of your situation so you cling on to brittle hope despite all the contrary evidence: “I’ve no time for your nonsense / You’ll be back home soon.” Using the late rock ‘n roll star who so many appear to believe is working in a Burger King in Colorado and with whom I share my birthday of 8 January, the song builds from chiming guitar to atmospheric strings courtesy of the band’s long term collaborator Ali Comerford and crashing chords. The unison harmonies of Kate Dineen behind Robert’s lead vocal add a distinct otherworldly touch. Fresh On The Net voters placed this song among its Fresh Faves last week. What great taste they have.
Photo of Ratboys by Alexa Viscius
From Elvis is Alive to "It's Alive!" by Ratboys which actually came out last June as the lead single ahead of a fourth studio album, The Window, released in August 2023. Hailing from Chicago, Ratboys cannot enter the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition of course but then again the band already seems to be pretty established with a current Japanese tour and a North American one lined up for spring. Ratboys edition of indie rock underlines how well many US outfits work the seam, combining homely downbeat togetherness with classic rock spikes and a touch of slacker about songwriter Julia Steiner’s appealing vocal drawl which reminds me a little of Waxahatchee.
I was drawn to "It's Alive!" via a press release announcing the tour and showcasing a live appearance on for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s #LateShowMeMusic series (quite a mouthful that, and not absolutely sure of the cut n’ paste grammar). Anyhow the live TV video featured above both captures the band’s stage aptitude as an ensemble while especially highlighting the fluid, expressive lead guitar work of Dave Sagan. The album is called The Window and this song seems to reflect the confines of being behind the glass; of seemingly being close to someone or something without being able to embrace it. For a reflective song lyrically it still rocks on like the best of its genre.
Our final two songs this week take us back to home turf. Both of these acts entered songs to the Listening Post (19 Jan) on Tom Robinson’s Fresh On The Net and were relatively new names to me. Firstly, Nottingham singer-songwriter Katie Keddie garnered sufficient votes to make it to Fresh Faves with her song, “Last Weekend”. I particularly like the way the track mixes acoustic instrumentation with some soaring electric guitar which duly elevates the piece while the soft clarity of Katie’s vocals adds distinction.
South Londoner Hannah Lloyd aka Hallworth didn’t make that week’s Listening Post cut but got my vote, impressing me as one of the standout songs in the Full Inbox of 200 entries. “Places You Are” may tread a familiar songwriter path by charting a break-up but with a neat little twist which turns the light on to the other party who might realise what they had lost when she is no longer there. It’s a short bittersweet song beautifully voiced by Hannah.
You can tune into the latest Listening Post here. It’s another strong entry week.