The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: March

Blog by Stef Loukes under Artist Managers, Creative & Branding, Finance, Law & Music Business, Live, Media, Music Publishing, Music Training & Careers, Record Labels, Recording & Production, Selling & Distributing Your Music

Hayes & Y - ‘The Times’

Infectious melody, toe-tapping beats and the irresistible chime of a cowbell are all served up in Hayes & Y’s fabulous and flamboyant track ‘The Times’, which skilfully manages to merge pop, disco, and funk into one delicious, intoxicating cocktail.

The four-piece have members hailing from Finland and Bulgaria, but have made rainy Manchester their home for now. They’ve been enjoying success both in the UK and abroad however; over here BBC 6Music have picked up their tracks, in Bulgaria they have supported Kasabian, and even as far afield as the US they’ve premiered ‘The Times’ on legendary station KEXP. They were also invited to showcase at the digital edition of ESNS back in January, and we’ve no doubt they’ll have made a lasting impact at the Netherlands’ answer to The Great Escape.

So how did this immense earworm come into being? “The Times" was started with the intention of writing a disco track. A disco beat that had a synth arpeggio and a vocal on top of it. It stayed like this for a while until we set upon making it into something that sounds like it's played by an actual band. In terms of the lyrics, it's very influenced by 2020 and paints a post-apocalyptic picture, which is what that year felt like to many.”

If you like what you hear so far of Hayes & Y, then fear not - you won’t need to wait too long for another dose of their buoyant sounds as a couple more singles will be unveiled in April and May.

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Antonia Carrena - ‘Stick’

Inspired by the sound of the South African house genre Amapiano, London singer songwriter Antonia Carrena’s irresistible track ‘Stick’ is also dusted with a delicious sprinkling of garage and electronic sounds, lively percussion and a gospel-tinged piano riff.

Her first foray into Amapiano music has clearly ticked a lot of boxes - Upbeat dancefloor filler. CHECK. Sultry and soulful. CHECK. And not to mention, super radio friendly. CHECK. ‘Stick’ has already been drifting across the airwaves both in the UK and on Nigerian stations, where Amapiano is very popular.

Antonia’s Nigerian roots have obviously played a huge role in galvanising her sound. “I usually write songs that explore love, heartache, and knowing your worth. My music is a blend of soulful pop with UK garage and Afrobeats elements. I also love experimenting with interesting melodies, probably to help me fulfil my dreams of being in a ‘90s R&B girl band! However, I was raised on a wide range of musical artists and genres through my upbringing with my Nigerian family and English foster family.”

Collaboration is also a key factor - Antonia occasionally works with her DJ, producer and musician sister Calaida (what a family!), and ‘Stick’ is the result of a chance online meeting with producer Growzie Presents; “He did a remix of my single ‘Oya’ and I loved what he did. He sent me over some other beats he was working on and I immediately connected with this beat in particular. I was able to write the whole song on the same day.”

Creating and styling her super sophisticated video for ‘Stick’ is something Antonia is incredibly proud of, but other stand-out accomplishments include her recently being crowned as one of the winners of the ‘100% HER’ competition, a partnership with She Said So and Universal Music, which has culminated in her song ‘Oya’ featuring on a compilation album due to be released in celebration of International Women’s Day 2021.

As well as this release, Antonia’s agenda for 2021 is filled with, of course, more creative collaboration, a debut EP expected to drop at the end of the year, and hopefully a return to live gigs as soon as possible. We can’t wait!

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Uncle Kid - ‘Supermarket Sweep’

Edinburgh artist Uncle Kid readily admits he didn’t know where his latest music project was going to take him when he initially embarked upon it, but the end result is, without a doubt, incredibly unique. Summed up in a review by Fresh Faves as "dark, brooding, understated trip hop", there is definitely a sinister, murky bassline oozing underneath the surface of Uncle Kid’s stripped back, spoken word vocals, giving on our chosen Spotlight track ‘Supermarket Sweep’ a distinctly unearthly feel.

The lyrics are laid bare and Uncle Kid shares what inspired the song; “It started out as a rough sketch around the gnarly bassline. I was playing around with one or two lyric ideas (the song was initially going to be called 'All my childhood friends are now racists'). But then lockdown happened. I remember being stood in the bare supermarket and just being overwhelmed at the absurdity of the situation. I wanted to convey the anxiety of it all, and the music lent itself really well to a flow of thought around how incompatible the capitalist world is with nature and well being. The song is essentially about being out of touch with nature.”

With Uncle Kid’s marvellous debut EP ‘Indistinct Chatter’ released just over a week ago on Revkon Records, it’s still quite early days, but already he has been saluted by BBC 6Music’s Tom Robinson and has seen his tracks connect on a wider scale, “My music, particularly Supermarket Sweep seems to have resonated with a lot of people, which is a nice and unexpected thing for a weirdo who makes music in his living room.”

Some new material is on the cards over the coming months, and Uncle Kid also plans to record his next music video in Newcastle, when travel restrictions allow. And of course, the end goal is to get out on the road and play some gigs which we are certain would be a wonderful, intriguing experience, and not only for the audience... “Ironically I'm not the most talkative person so performing spoken word could be a bizarre experience.”

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Sub Cultures - ‘Enjoy Yourself’

Imagine the finest indie music ingredients spanning the ‘90s with a few choice, hand-picked ‘80s influences thrown in for good measure (think The Cure and The Police), topped with some current day alternative sprinkles (think JAWS and Shame), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a bonafide, dynamic banger. ‘Enjoy Yourself’ is youthful, vibrant, robust, and guaranteed to bring back those visceral memories of drunkenly flinging yourself around the dancefloor at your local indie disco on a Wednesday night.

Recorded at Rockfield Studios, ‘Enjoy Yourself’ is taken from the four-piece’s debut EP which will drop later this year. Encouragingly, the track has already been picked up in the blogosphere, as well as across the radio airwaves, but after a turbulent 12 months for all of us, it is particularly heartwarming to hear how much making music during this time has brought Sub Cultures together, “One of our favourite thing about this band has to be how close we’ve all grown to each other since starting this. We all have our different roles in the band which are all equally as important and I think without one of those elements, it wouldn’t be the same.”

The band were steadily building up their reputation on the live circuit prior to COVID hitting, and although they’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of gigs in the past 12 months when restrictions allowed, they are definitely itching to get back to playing live and taking on some festivals too. With new material also on the way, let’s hope we see them on a stage soon!

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Stanza Divan & DJ Yess - ‘MOVE’

If you like your hip-hop with a classic, old school feel, a la Mos Def and A Tribe Called Quest, then ‘MOVE’, a collaboration between artist Stanza Divan and producer DJ Yess, is guaranteed to tick all your boxes.

Meeting 3 years ago at a gig in their hometown of Leicester, the pair decided to work together on a track and ‘MOVE’ is their first offering. DJ Yess has been producing for over 30 years, and has chalked up experience with independent record deals of his own in the past, as well as DJing and gigging across Europe with a Portuguese act.

Stanza’s smooth and accomplished rhymes have pricked up the ears of DJ Target on BBC Radio 1Xtra, as well as his local BBC Introducing in the East Midlands show.

The duo’s vintage sound on ‘MOVE’ is also reflected in the brilliant video for the track, complete with retro touches in the form of portable TVs, Street Fighter video game and an LL Cool J influenced red bucket hat.

With more new solo releases from both DJ Yess and Stanza Divan lined up over the coming year, we know our supply of the finest UK hip-hop won’t be drying up any time soon.

DJ Yess: Facebook   Twitter   Spotify

Stanza Divan:   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Spotify

How can I get featured on the Spotlight blog?

Our Spotlight blog is compiled every month from fresh new music submitted to us by our members. We want to hear from you!

We select 5 of the best tracks from our members to champion on Spotlight. As well as being featured on our new music blog, your track will also be played on our monthly Reform Radio show, get a free release package from CD Baby, plus the 5 tracks are also forwarded onto a select bunch of music industry professionals...including folks from Big Life Management, Club Fandango, Decca Records, Memphis Industries, Rocksound, DIY Magazine, Transgressive Records and The Great Escape. Find out more about Spotlight here.

To be in the running you’ll need to sign up as a member to The Unsigned Guide, then follow the instructions in your Welcome email to submit a track for Spotlight consideration to us.

Members of The Unsigned Guide get access to our huge directory of over 8,000 UK music industry contacts, spanning 50 areas of the music business. Check out our quick video to find out more about the directory & other services we provide to help emerging bands and artists.


Unsigned and emerging bands and artists can submit their tracks to Spotlight new music blog


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