Artists to Watch 2018 #20: Dagny

Dagny

Kicking off my Artists to Watch list is a singer who’s already making waves in her native Norway. Dagny first popped up onto my radar about this time last year when she was listed among Vevo Dscvr’s Ones to Watch coming off of a very solid 2016. Her debut EP, Ultraviolet, was critically well-received and contained early tracks “Fool’s Gold” and my personal favorite, “Backbeat”. It certainly set her up well for a successful year in 2017 and that’s absolutely what’s she had. In May, she released “Wearing Nothing” which is easily one of the best pop songs of the year and still one I play regularly. She followed it up with a cover of the Andrea True track “More More More” which was later used in an ad campaign by Target, further pushing Dagny into the limelight. Her most recent original track, “Love You Like That” is really what solidified her as one of the most exciting pop singers out there and one of my Artists to Watch, with its truly irresistible chorus. Dagny has a way of fusing real instrumentation and electronic textures to make something unique yet accessible in the best way. Although most of the artists on my list aren’t necessarily ones I think have the potential to breakthrough to mainstream music, I definitely think Dagny has what it takes; I’m hoping her recent placing in the top 50 of the Norwegian charts is indicative of things to come. What really pushed her over the edge for me was listening to her live performances and hearing how incredible her voice is. No matter what type of music you like, I’m confident Dagny will be able to get you moving. Check out a few of my favorite tracks below.

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Artists to Watch 2018: Preview

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I’m so excited we’re finally here! I started Symbiosis Music Blog just under a year ago after toying with the idea for much longer. One of the main reasons I wanted to start a blog was in reaction to the major tip lists that crop up at the end of each year. I always love finding new artists through them, but the more time I spent seeking out new music, the more disappointed I became when some of the artists I found most deserving were left off. It seemed fitting, then, to make my first set of posts about my Artists to Watch in 2017, a list I plan on revisiting before the end of the year in more detail, but overall, I’ve been really happy with it. But now with 2017 coming to an end, it’s time to look forward, so I have formed a new list of artists I’m excited about going into next year and beyond. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing two artists a day to count down the 20 acts I’m most excited about. They’re not predictions of who I think will have mainstream success, or even necessarily who will release albums; they are simply the artists I’m most looking forward to hearing more from. So, before we get into it on Monday, a few things about the list:

Every tip list seems to have its own criteria for who is eligible. For example, the BBC Sound Of… list (one of the biggest out there) avoids artists who have a top charting album or track. In addition, they can’t have placed in the top few of reality TV singing competitions. Even with those stipulations however, some artists who I would already deem well established make it through. To counteract that, my rules tend to favor newer acts. Artists appearing on my list have not yet released a full-length LP, and would not be recognizable to the general public. So, if they’ve had a song anywhere near the top of the charts either in the US or the UK, they’re not eligible. Of course, that’s not going to stop me from covering acts on the blog that don’t meet those criteria, but I don’t feel a tip list is the right place for them.

Now for a quick tease of this year’s list. If you’ve been following the blog at all this year, there are a few picks that shouldn’t come as a surprise at all as I’ve covered them repeatedly and in some cases explicitly stated they’d be here. Although I hope there will be a few surprises, including an act I haven’t posted about before. While I know by picking 20 artists I’m forming a longer list than most, it was extremely difficult for me to get it down this low. I started with a longlist of over 100 potential acts and have slowly been whittling it down for the last few weeks and what I’m left with is 20 artists I’m really excited about. In general, this year’s list looks pretty different from last year. I feel like I’m taking more “risks” this year by including less established artists. Last year Saya was the act with the fewest songs released with three. This year I have several acts matching that number and one with even fewer. That being said, based on the output of these artists and the trajectories they seem to be on, I feel very confident that 2018 is going to be a big year for each of them. This year’s list skews towards female vocalists compared to last year which was pretty even. Part of that is an artifact of me tending towards them anyway, but also it just seemed like this year there were so many extremely talented singers popping up. There’s also more solo acts than not, a trend which seems to be more and more common across music in general, but I tried to include as many groups as I could.

Altogether, I’m so excited for music in 2018 and these artists hopefully give you a glimpse of why. Hopefully it goes without saying that I plan on covering a lot more artists than these twenty going into the new year, but I’m particularly looking forward to seeing where these guys end up. Most of all I hope I’m able to introduce people to music they enjoy that they haven’t yet come into contact with and also help new artists on their journey even if it’s only in small ways. I can’t wait to share with you my Artists to Watch 2018, starting Monday December 11th and I hope you enjoy!

 

Banner vector created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com

Anteros // Love

Bonnie

Anteros just popped up on my radar last month with the release of their excellent track, “Bonnie”, and I’m so glad they did. Check out the post HERE. Since then I’ve gone back and listened to everything they’ve released so far and they instantly became one of the acts I’m most excited about moving into the new year. I’m glad I got on board when I did because they’ve now shared another track and it’s another winner. Love is a little harder than “Bonnie” and not quite as poppy, showing another side of their sound and it’s one I think most people will enjoy. It gets me singing along every time I listen to it. Anteros are clearly the total package and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in the upcoming months. Check out “Love” below and be on the look out for more soon.

WESLEE // Boy Like You

Boy Like You

Enigmatic duo WESLEE are holding on to their cards pretty tightly. Despite releasing music since March, I can’t figure anything out about them besides the fact that they’re currently based in the UK. Although that’s frustrating, their output so far has spoken for itself and the added layer of mystery makes them one of the most exciting new acts making music. I covered their first two releases, Gassed and Bathwater, on the blog earlier this year and if you missed them you should check them out HERE or HERE. Now the duo are back with, in my opinion, their best track yet, Boy Like You. As soon as the Stranger Things-esque synths came in at the beginning, my interest was piqued, and it only got better from there. “Boy Like You” has the most powerful vocal performance we’ve seen from the duo yet with an absolute earworm of a chorus. The production and intricate beats fit perfectly here and together make one of the best songs I’ve heard in a while. Even without their first two strong tracks, “Boy Like You” would make WESLEE an artist to watch, but taken together and with the growing exposure of the duo, I’m convinced WESLEE have big things on the horizon. Check out “Boy Like You” below and get on board!

Bruno Major // I Think It Must Be Christmas

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To be totally honest I’m usually kind of a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas music. As much as I really do love it, I’m not the kind of guy that can be listening to it months before Christmas and forego all other music for part of the year to listen to the same stuff over and over again. It was always torture when I was teaching lab classes and my students would hijack the music and start playing it in November. Take all of that with a grain of salt because I’m sure I’ll be listening to the latest from Bruno Major on repeat all month long. He’s had a breakout year with the release of a song every month until his compilation, A Song For Every Moon, was finally released at the end of August, and now he’s putting that finishing touch on. Of course if you’ve followed Symbiosis at all you’ve heard all of this before because Bruno is by far the artist I spent the most time talking about this year. If you’re new and haven’t heard from him yet, I would recommend checking out “Fair-Weather Friend” or “Cold Blood” (click HERE or HERE to check them out).

But moving on to the main event, today Bruno has shared his incredible new song, I Think It Must Be Christmas. It hadn’t struck me before this week but Bruno Major’s sound is perfect for a modern Christmas classic and that’s absolutely what he’s delivered. With beautiful jazz instrumentation, a simple beat, and Bruno’s gorgeous vocals musing about one of the best days of the year, it’s a track that immediately brings a smile to my face and makes me excited for the holidays. Bruno Major’s 2017 has absolutely been stellar and this song is the perfect way to cap it off. I said when he released his album that I was sad we wouldn’t be hearing from him as much, but with his music video last month and this new track, I’m happy he’s staying at the forefront. Be sure to check out “I Think It Must Be Christmas” below and click HERE to see the dates of his recently announced North American tour.

alayna // Bliss

Bliss

alayna is an artist I’ve been really excited about since I heard her debut track, “Falling Autumn” back in February. Her take on smooth R&B was instantly attractive and her gorgeous vocals sealed the deal. She followed it up with the even better “High Off You” which showed a more powerful side to the New Zealand native. “High Off You” is definitely a contender for my songs of the year list I make for myself every December (check out “High Off You” HERE). On the strength of those two singles alone, alayna became one of the artists I’m most excited about. This week she shared her third track, Bliss, and that trend is only continuing. Finding itself in between the laid back, mellow sound of “Falling Autumn” and the belting chorus of “High Off You”, “Bliss” ticks all the boxes of an incredible R&B song. It seems like alayna is gaining traction with every release and I can’t wait to see what she does next. She certainly is an artist to watch. Check out “Bliss” below.

Soft Punch // So Don’t You Go

So Don't You Go

Soft Punch are a five piece hailing from Norway making extremely enjoyable indie pop music. Originating from all over the country, the group formed after time spent studying jazz in Stavanger. Although everyone in the band, minus the bassist, is still studying jazz spread out across Europe, Soft Punch’s music is an attempt to make more accessible music after being inundated with jazz, and the results are wonderful. The band released their debut single, “We Can’t Stay” back in June, and it’s definitely worth your attention. It’s the kind of track that’s almost guaranteed to get you dancing along. They have since followed it up with the slightly more laid back So Don’t You Go. The newest release shows a different side to the band: a darker and more mellow side, but of course not without a romp of a chorus. It’s stuff like this that continues to make me more and more excited about the music coming out of Norway at the moment, and I hope acts continue having success in breaking through internationally.

Before I wrap up I just have to throw in my family connection. When I was in Norway this summer traveling around, I got to meet a bunch of family that I hadn’t before including a bunch of cousins close to my age. One of them just so happens to be behind the producing, recording, and mixing of the tracks by Soft Punch. The more time I spend listening to new artists, the clearer it is that good recording and mixing makes a huge difference, and it’s obviously well done here. So there’s my claim to fame for the day! Be sure to check out So Don’t You Go below and get on board with Soft Punch.