Bandwagon noun (pl. bandwagons) 1. A large wagon used to carry a band of musicians in a parade.

Friday, 30 March 2012

BBC Introducing: False Hope or Thumbs Up?

The Original Rudeboys

Launched in 2007, BBC Introducing aims to “support unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar musicians”. Florence + the Machine is one of the key artists to have successfully skyrocketed into the charts after being championed by BBC Introducing.  But how much has BBC Introducing helped other acts boost their music careers?

Last Summer I was thrilled to witness some exciting new acts performing on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading Festival. Amongst my list of favourites was slow mo house band Black Diamond Bay, who managed to get the crowd’s toes tapping despite their early stage slot. Other highlights were Sam Sure & Giacomo, a hip-hop electronic duo based in London and the south east, and Irish indie hip-pop trio The Original Rudeboys. I was lucky enough to catch up with the latter two groups and find out how much impact BBC Introducing has had on them.

I’ll start off with Sam Sure & Giacomo, not just because I love their tunes, but Sam looks good enough to eat. At Reading they absolutely wowed the crowd, and the cheeky-chappy feel good vibes made this the best performance I saw the whole weekend. Sam reflects on his experience of BBC Introducing, saying it was “incredible…the sun was setting and the crowd got bigger as the set went on. By the end I was saying things between songs like "this is the best day of my life!" and I really meant it. I was absolutely buzzing! Since then our career has been going from strength to strength and a lot of that can be attributed to the help we got from BBC Introducing”. I am ecstatic to report that Sam Sure & Giacomo’s new cutting edge 360 degree interactive digital music video for ‘Dark Inside propels them to the forefront of contemporary hip hop. The click and drag aspect of their modern-twist video allows us to jump into Sam’s surroundings on the Portabello Road and Oxford Street so that we connect even further with the lyrics. BBC Introducing seems to have done a lot for the boys’ confidence and I really hope to see them getting bigger and better in the coming years.

Next, The Original Rudeboys, who describe themselves as “kind of original, not very rude, and definitely boys”, have achieved success, predominantly in Ireland, as a result of playing the BBC Introducing stage at Reading.  My Friday morning was enhanced by listening to the soft Irish tones of Den, rapper and songwriter of the trio, who agreed to chat with me on the phone. Den responds to the question of what animal The Original Rudeboys would be with an unexpected answer - “sloth”… Luckily he explains this is “because I’ve never heard of those animals up until a week ago and that’s the way people tend to take our music: they’ve never heard it and like it”. He goes on to mention that the other two lads in the trio look like sloths, probably a tongue-in-cheek comment in light of earlier claims that “the ladies seem to go for Walshy [Ukulele player] a lot”. 

But back to the point - prior to the festival, the boys had about a thousand online fans, but six months on they have acquired over 19,000 Facebook fans, and recently hit a benchmark of 1 million hits on YouTube. Playing the Introducing stage was a definite high-point for The Original Rudeboys, since Ed Sheeran’s producer, Jake Gosling, spotted them by luck whilst waiting to see Sheeran’s guest performance. He immediately offered to work with them on their debut album, ‘This Life’, which is to be released on 23rd March. But does BBC Introducing give aspiring musicians false hope? Den thinks “The BBC can supply the stage but it’s up to the artists to get the fan base on their side”. It’s clear then, that BBC Introducing gives aspiring artists a platform on which to showcase their music, but the artists must put hard work into collecting fans in order to come away from the experience with a blast.

Another group who have experienced BBC Introducing are folk-indie band Cattle & Cane, whose lush harmonic pieces have been likened to those of Mumford & Sons. The deeply emotive lyrics of ‘We were children’ make it a personal favourite of mine, but ‘Sold My Soul’ should not go unmentioned. Drummer Paul Wilson considers BBC Introducing stages at major UK festivals as “invaluable opportunities for artists to gain some heavy experience and the prestige that goes along with it”. Cattle & Cane played the BBC Introducing stage at T in the Park, but Paul also highlights the importance of other aspects of BBC Introducing, saying, “we saw the airplay given to us on BBC 6Music as a seal of approval in regard to the music we were creating and this gave us further impetus to improve and move up the ladder to get a wider exposure”. Overall, Paul’s view that “BBC Introducing can only be a positive thing for artists trying to break through into what is an increasingly overcrowded industry” is a positive indication that BBC Introducing gets a big ‘thumbs up’.

The Cattle & Cane drummer’s sentiments are echoed by Ben Dancer, front man of five-piece koala-loving band Vinyl Jacket: “I truly believe that the continued exposure that BBC Introducing provides for new bands like ourselves is critical in the prosperity of the diverse music scene in the UK.” He can’t speak highly enough of the overwhelming support BBC Introducing has given them, saying, “They have provided us with invaluable guidance and allowed us to take our art to the next level in both a creative and commercial capacity.” The band’s slot on the Introducing stage at Glastonbury, the Maida Vale session, and support from Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Greg James, who premiered Vinyl Jacket’s recent single 'Red Light’ has given the boys “huge confidence and belief” in their musical direction. And thank goodness, because the energy they bring to the world of music, with their synchronized moves (see their ‘Koala’ music video), crazy luminous paint, and upbeat tracks, should not be wasted.

Sam Sure & Giacomo, The Original Rudeboys, Cattle & Cane, and Vinyl Jacket all demonstrate why BBC Introducing is so important to the UK and Ireland. Have a listen to some of the mentioned tracks on The Bubble Music’s YouTube channel here:


This article was previously seen on The Bubble on 24th February 2012.

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