Sunday 12 April 2015

Declan McKenna - Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition Winner 2015

Yesterday in the UK there were 2 important competitive events, both beginning with the letter G. The first was the Grand National, but it was the second, the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, which music lovers would have probably been more interested in. The competition represents an opportunity for new and emerging artists who aren’t signed to major labels an opportunity to compete for a slot on one of the main stages of the world famous festival. The winner of the free to enter competition is also awarded a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize, with two runners up receiving £2,5000 to enable them to help their develop their music even further. 

For the last four years Breaking More Waves has acted as one of the first round judges, helping compile a long list of 120 acts from the 6,000 or so that entered. From those 120 a judging panel that includes festival organisers Michael and Emily Eavis selects a final 8 who each play a short 10 minute 2 song set at Pilton Working Men’s Club before a winner is determined by the panel. Breaking More Waves was in attendance at the final last night.

If you were a betting man or woman you’d have probably already had a flutter on the National (the sporting event not the band) but if you had wanted to continue there were 2 clear favourites for the Emerging Talent Competition. One was Shields, a Newcastle band we first introduced back on the blog way back in 2012, who are already reasonably well established and known for being a slick live act having supported the likes of Placebo and played the BBC 6 Music Festival. The other was Declan McKenna, who whilst only being 16 years old has already picked up support from many of the usual early adopter websites, has been chased by many a label / publisher and has received play on Radio 1 with his hooky looped guitars, keys and beats football protest anthem Brazil.

The form book came good and last night it was Mckenna that charmed the judges with his idiosyncratic one man band set, with Shields coming second, with a blistering last performance of the evening. Third place went to the bizarrely named K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade, a brilliantly tight and infectiously groovy afropop / soul / funk 9 piece who despite being first on got the crowd dancing in their allotted 10 minutes – that’s no mean feat. A quick mention also to Surrey based Princess Slayer a group that we’ve caught live in the past and hadn’t been impressed with but have come on leaps and bounds with their crowd pleasing mix of heavy electronic pop and indie. If there was a fourth place we’d have given it to them.

At the end of the night when McKenna was announced as the winner there was good news for all 8 finalists as they were told that they would all be offered a slot somewhere at the festival, so nobody went home disappointed – including us, for what was another very special night. The Emerging Talent Competition always delivers.

Hear McKenna’s Brazil below. We’re looking forward to hearing this again in a (hopefully) sunny field in Somerset this summer.

Declan McKenna - Brazil

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