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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: UK singer/songwriters showcasing at this year’s SXSW

By on Friday, 9th March 2018 at 11:00 am

The list of solo singer/songwriters showcasing at SXSW 2018 is predictably lengthy. Festivals lend themselves easily to the traveling troubadour types: setting up shop with a single person and instrument is easier than carting a full band’s worth of gear around town to play show after show. However, the singer/songwriter genre is becoming increasingly diffuse, as its definition expands to include a wide array of different instrumental and vocal sounds.

The singer/songwriter acts representing the UK at SXSW this year are broad in their stylistic scope, from unassuming acoustic balladeers to rising mainstream pop stars to eclectic avant garde musicians. Many of the acts on this year’s list are artists we at TGTF have covered extensively in the past, including Frank Turner (pictured at top) and Lucy Rose, but there are a number of new-to-us acts on the bill as well. We’ve covered a fair few of those in our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch features, including Jade Bird, ONR, Rhys Lewis, Chloe Foy, Allman Brown, C. Macleod, and Sam Fender. Read below for a brief rundown of the remaining UK singer/songwriters heading across the pond to SXSW 2018.

Christopher Rees – We featured Welsh singer Christopher Rees in the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013, but haven’t heard much from him since that time. He heads to Austin this year with a new Americana album called ‘The Nashville Songs’ in tow. Take a listen to the chilling single ‘I Shiver’, just below.

Dan Bettridge – As we previously mentioned, Bettridge missed out on SXSW 2017, due to visa issues which his management has discussed in detail here. Bettridge will release his debut solo LP ‘Asking for Trouble’ later this year. Along with Rees, Bettridge will be proudly waving the Welsh flag in Austin.

Dan Lyons – Margate alt-pop singer Dan Lyons has spent the past four years primarily as a drummer, but he’s now stepping into the spotlight as a solo songwriter. His single ‘Big Moon’ was released at the end of February on Shaker Records.

The Dunwells – While obviously not a solo act, Leeds rock duo The Dunwells have nevertheless been classified as singer/songwriters at this year’s SXSW. They released a new EP called ‘Colour My Mind’ back in December, which included the track ‘Diamonds’, playing just below.

Elle Exxe – This Scottish pop singer is no stranger to SXSW or to the pages of TGTF. She recently teamed with MAC Cosmetics to promote her latest single ‘Catapult’; watch her exotic visuals in the promo video just below.

Emme Woods – Another Scottish songwriter, Woods’ singing voice belies her youthful 22 years of age. The level of musical sophistication in her single ‘I’ve Been Running’ is also well-beyond what you might expect of a musician so young. Check out the PledgeMusic campaign for her debut EP just through here.

Frank Turner – We’ve covered the indefatigable Mr. Turner and his merry band of Sleeping Souls extensively here at TGTF, including a lovely interview at SXSW 2015. This year, Turner is showcasing his forthcoming seventh studio LP ‘Be More Kind’, due out on the 4th of May via Polydor/ Xtra Mile. We’ll be looking forward to hearing the new songs at SXSW; in the meantime, you can take a listen to the album’s title track just below.

Gaz Coombes – Another artist we’ve featured in live coverage on TGTF, alt-rock songwriter and former Supergrass member Gaz Coombes will travel to Austin with a set of new songs from his forthcoming LP ‘World’s Strongest Man’, due out on the 4th of May.

Harry Pane – This Northamptonshire indie folk singer broke onto the music scene in 2015 and released two EPs, ‘Changing’ and ‘The Wild Winds’, in the following 2 years. He comes to SXSW 2018 with a pair of new singles, ‘Here We Stay’ and ‘Beautiful Life’. Listen to the latter just below.

Hilang Child – Hilang Child is the stage name of half-Welsh, half-Indonesian dream pop songwriter Ed Riman. Currently based in London, Hilang Child has recently signed on with Bella Union for the release of his debut LP, which will include the calmly introspective new single ‘Growing Things’.

Jerry Williams –  This 22-year-old Portsmouth alt-pop songstress has already captured the attention of BBC Radio 1 in the UK and KCRW in America. She has recently collaborated with fashion brand Topshop to market her new single ‘Grab Life’, ahead of her scheduled appearance on the BBC Introducing showcase on the Tuesday night of SXSW.

Jonny 8 Track – Brighton’s Jonny Aitken, aka Jonny 8 Track, is the first UK signing to Austin record label Chicken Ranch Records. His back catalogue includes ‘All America Taught Me’ from back in 2013.

Joshua Burnside – We covered this Northern Irish avant/experimental songwriter last year around the release of his debut album ‘Ephrata’, which won the 2017 Northern Irish Music Prize. Just below, check out the Ryan Vail remix of album track ‘Blood Drive’.

Lion – London alt-rock singer/songwriter Beth Lowen became known as Lion due to the rough and raspy tone of her singing voice. She’s so fresh on the scene that she has yet to officially release any music, and her SXSW 2018 bio links to an amateur video of a live performance at Shepherd’s Bush Empire from back in 2016.

Lucy Rose – We recently featured Rose’s new single ‘All That Fear’ as our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2801. Rose will be showcasing that single along with her recent album ‘Something’s Changing’ at SXSW. She is also scheduled to speak in a panel session titled ‘It’s a Fan’s World: The Life of Superfans’ on Friday the 16th of March.

Lucy Spraggan – You might remember Manchester songwriter Lucy Spraggan as a former X Factor contestant from back in 2012. Just last year, she released her fourth studio album ‘I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing’, on her own label CTRL Records. The LP features the track ‘Fight For It’, streaming just below.

Nilüfer Yanya – This youthful West London songwriter brings a unique sense of irony and bemused detachment to what might otherwise be dismissed as standard indie pop. Her breakthrough single ‘Baby Luv’ is out now on Blue Flowers/ATO Records.

Nina Nesbitt – It’s been a day or two since we heard from Scottish pop songstress Nina Nesbitt, but she is heading to Austin with a potential new album in the works. No details have been shared as of yet, but Nesbitt did recently release a new single written in Nashville, ‘Somebody Special’.

Non Canon – Bristol alt-folk songwriter Non Canon takes his stage name from the idea that “anything described as ‘Non Canon’ exists apart from the story we know and love. A concurrent storyline, a different perspective, the world we experience through someone else’s eyes; familiar but insightful for its new dimension.” He comes to Austin as part of the Xtra Mile Recordings troupe; the label released his debut LP back in 2016.

Only Girl – South East London pop-soul artist Ellen Murphy, known on stage as Only Girl, has recently released a personally poignant new single titled ‘Mountain’, which deals with her husband Jamie McKechnie’s assault and traumatic brain injury, suffered back in 2011. Murphy says of the track, “I wanted the video for ‘Mountain’ to really convey Jamie’s journey through recovery since he suffered the brain injury. I think his story is so inspiring and shows how he really fought for his life against all the odds.” She speaks of her husband as the inspiration for the song: “If I could focus myself on climbing this mountain alongside Jamie, I could force myself to stay strong for him.”

Pete Molinari – Veteran folk and blues songwriter Pete Molinari is one of the few artists appearing at SXSW with nothing new on offer in terms of recorded music. He is set to play the We Are Hear Records showcase on the Tuesday night, alongside the aforementioned Lion.

Will Varley – This Kent singer/songwriter and Xtra Mile Recordings artist will bring his brilliant new album ‘Spirit of Minnie’ to Austin this year, on the heels of an American tour with label mates and fellow SXSW 2018 artists Skinny Lister. We featured the video for album track ‘Seven Days’ back in January; you can listen below to the gentle but poignant ‘Let it Slide’.

Please note that all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW 2018 schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.


TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Scottish artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

By on Thursday, 9th March 2017 at 11:00 am

In past years, we have gone through peaks and troughs with respect to the number of Scottish acts who come out to showcase at SXSW. I’m pleased to announce that as of the time of this posting, 13 acts are scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017, the largest number in recent memory. The summaries of acts below were written by Steven Loftin, except where noted. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Be Charlotte – pop / Dundee
What pop music sounds like when it comes from Dundee: that’s Be Charlotte. You find yourself drawn in by the obviously melodic, yet also cacophonous music, and you stay for the vocals that cut through and have an incredibly strong Scottish accent that for reason enthralls you. Or maybe that’s just me.

Catholic Action – pop / Glasgow
Catchy indie pop that has an alluring rawness, as if you’re listening to a band in a bedroom rather than a reasonably established DIY band. Their track ‘Rita Ora’ – yep, an ode to Rita Ora – is catchy, swift and poppy. What more could you want?

C. Macleod – singer/songwriter / Stornoway
If I had to fathom a guess, someone with name C. Macleod isn’t looking to make a big splash. Instead, this Stornoway native is all about careful, thoughtful songcraft. A driving, Springsteen-esque feel pervades his debut single ‘Dream’, feeling less loner and more expansive than you’d expect from a native of the Isle of Lewis. FFO: Bruce Springsteen, The National, The War on Drugs (Mary Chang)

Elle Exxe – pop / London via Edinburgh
Listed as ‘dirty pop’, that’s definitely the best way to describe Elle Exxe (pictured at top). There’s a distinct edge to her music that doesn’t fall in line with your ‘paint-by-numbers’ pop formula. An attitude that is where Charli XCX should’ve been heading toward, she’ll be a household name by 2018. We called it first. Check out Rebecca’s review of Elle’s debut album ‘Love Fuelled Hate’ from last autumn through here.

Happy Meals – synthpop / Glasgow
Lewis Cook and Suzanne Rodden comprise Happy Meals, a disco-leaning synthpop band based in Glasgow. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t disco in the style of Donna Summer or other tunes spun at Studio 54. Their minimalist yet space age-y style of dance, accompanied by Rodden’s vocals sometimes in English, sometimes French, adds to the eclectism. I will bet you that you will hear no-one else like Happy Meals in Austin in March. (Mary Chang)

PAWS – punk / Glasgow
Some more of that home bred punk rock. PAWS are another band who are going from strength to strength with a raw, melodic sound. SXSW should see them take Texas by storm, especially after the release of their third full length last year.

Pinact – punk / Glasgow
Back with even more punk for SXSW, Pinact are on the louder and harsher side of the spectrum. Pleasing but still with an edge that means your parents won’t like it, they’re another Scottish band who take the angst that is apparently rife there and execute it like all your favourites do.

The Pooches – pop / Glasgow
Glasgow’s Pooches create some beautiful guitar pop that never fails to leave you satisfied. Releasing their self-titled debut late last year, the band aren’t afraid of sticking out of the crowd with their wry yet upbeat pop sound.

Sam Gellaitry – electronic / Stirling
Already signed to XL Records, a powerhouse of a label in the indie world, Sam Gellaitry knows his way around a beat or two. He takes that urban London feeling, which you may or may not be familiar with, and crafts it into easy listening electronic tracks.

Spinning Coin – psych rock / Glasgow
You guessed it, another Glaswegian band. They do it well up in Scotland, birthing bands that craft sounds that somehow give none of the fucks while simultaneously giving them all. Keeping it DIY, they released their debut 7″ last year and have no intentions of stopping there. Not to mention their apparently visceral live show, what’s not to love?

The Spook School – pop / Edinburgh
The kind of band to not take themselves too seriously while ensuring they keep a solid message in their tunes (see: ‘Burn Masculinity’). With a sound that’s a mixture between indie and DIY punk, there’s no bells and whistles, which completely suits their styling down to the ground. [Having appeared at SXSW last year, we sincerely hope this time they bring suncream. -Ed.]

The Van T’s – surf rock / Glasgow
Cleverly made up of two twins, Charlotte and Hannah Van Thompson, along with Joanne Forbes and Shaun Hood, The Van T’s are a part of Glasgow’s burgeoning and bustling rock scene. Surf pop/rock ‘n’ roll might not be game changing but it sure is fun. [Sadly, we’ve received word that The Van T’s will not be showcasing in Austin this year. – Ed.]


Album Review: Elle Exxe – Love Fuelled Hate

By on Wednesday, 9th November 2016 at 12:00 pm

I’d not heard of Elle Exxe before taking up the assignment for this review, and chances are you might not have either. However, this is about to change. She’s just won the award for Best Female Solo Act at the Unsigned Music Awards and is steadily building a name for herself in the underground world of pop, if there’s such a thing as not-yet-popular pop.

There’s nothing shy or quiet about the Scottish-born singer. On her Facebook page, Elle’s music is described as “dirty pop”, and that’s a pretty good summary. At times, I can hear Katy Perry in Elle’s voice, and the pair also share a love for bright colours and quirky outfits. But there’s something much brasher and more experimental about Elle Exxe: there’s grit and toughness to her. For a debut album, ‘Love Fuelled Hate’ explores a range of musical styles, throwing electropop and indie rock sounds together along with spoken-word verses and vocals that verge on screaming.

Elle Exxe put the album together with the help of Joe Kearns (Ellie Goulding, Little Mix) who mixed the album, and mastered by John Davis (Lana Del Rey, Bat For Lashes). It was released last month, following the release of a bunch of singles since 2015. ‘Love Fuelled Hate’ is split into two halves: ‘Your Love…’ and ‘…My Hate’, with 7 tracks for each. Each half begins with a short track featuring a deep-voiced man mumbling in what sounds like Spanish, before Elle’s voice bursts onto the scene.

There’s also a bit of a musical difference in the two halves. The former is confident and loud at times, with gritty, soaring choruses, exemplified on ‘Lately’. This feel is subtler on other tracks with guitar and bass-led, mellower moments, like on ‘Sick’ and ‘White Lies’. The second half becomes futuristic and more eclectic in its droning synth and glitzy electro sounds. The lyrics also become darker, reflecting the hate aspect of the album. There’s lots of emotion packed into the tracks, From “Hate on my girl / and I’ll be hating on you”, on ‘Hating on You’, to Elle crying out “Jealousy won’t bring me down” on ‘Shoot’.

Some tracks stand out much more than others. ‘Home With You’ is one of those songs that feel like a pop hit the first time you hear it. It’s a glitzy, electropop track with the murmur of a guitar and drums, and puts Elle’s strong vocals on display. Then there’s ‘Lost in L.A.’, which is evocative of Charlie XCX, particularly in the chorus, with modified grinding guitar sounds whirring on the track, and the play-it-loud catchy chorus contrasted to the monotone drawl of the verses. Lyrics like “Ripped tights / shut up / I’m off my face” sum up the party-esque vibe of the track.

The album rounds up with ‘I Understand’, perhaps the softest song on the album, despite the grinding beat that starts up about 40 seconds in. The track and the album ends with Elle’s voice fading out as the melody quietens, and is a peaceful end to an artfully unpolished cacophony of a debut album. It’s a great way to end the album that feels like a story of falling out of love, falling apart and feeling hurt and angry, then coming to peace with what has happened.

You might think that you wouldn’t like Elle Exxe. But the more you listen, the more you will find yourself enjoying the tracks and appreciating Elle’s confident and explosive debut.


‘Love Fuelled Hate’, the debut album from Scottish-born singer/songwriter Elle Exxe, is out now on LX Records. For more on the artist on TGTF, go here.


Video of the Moment #2186: Elle Exxe

By on Friday, 16th September 2016 at 6:00 pm

Edinburgh-born, London-based artist Elle Exxe is previewing her upcoming debut album with a new single. ‘Sick’ shows a side of the singer that will remind you of Florence and the Machine, but with a soulful swagger that’s all her own. The single’s accompanying music video is an animated neon tour de force, chronicling the strong emotions that come forth from love and heartbreak. Watch the video for ‘Sick’ below. ‘Love Fuelled Hate’, Elle Exxe’s debut album that’s being supported by PledgeMusic UK, will be out on the 7th of October.


Video of the Moment #2096: Elle Exxe

By on Sunday, 22nd May 2016 at 6:00 pm

Following her appearance earlier this month at Canadian Music Week 2016 and a gig at The Great Escape 2016 this past Friday at Concorde 2, it’s nice to show you Elle Exxe‘s new video for ‘Lately’. In this funny promo, a beardy imposter tries to upstage Elle. Smartly, she decides to embody the old adage, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Watch the very pink promo video for ‘Lately’ below. Ahead of CMW 2016, Elle answered our special Quickfire Questions for the event, and you can read her responses through here.


(CMW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #108: Elle Exxe

By on Tuesday, 26th April 2016 at 1:00 pm

Canadian Music Week (CMW) 2016 takes place next week. So this week, in the lead-up to the event, we’ll be previewing some of the acts I’m keen on seeing while I’m in Toronto. We’ll be asking some of these artists to answer a special list of Quickfire Questions tailored specifically to CMW 2016. Fans of Edinburgh singer/songwriter Elle Exxe (pronounced as the letters L X) are called ‘EXXTERMINATORS’ (sure beats ‘Nesbians’, eh?), so that should indicate to you the level of devotion that already exists for the young ‘dirty pop’ artist.

Hey Beyonce, you better watch your back! She’s got wayyy better hair than you and you know, in case the day gig doesn’t work out, she can start her own salon in London on the back of her mastery of all things that make a woman’s hair did. What do *you* have going for you, eh? If you’re heading out to CMW 2016 next week you have four chances to catch her live: Wednesday the 4th of May at the Cave (upstairs from Lee’s Palace) at 11 PM; Thursday the 5th at the Nest at midnight; Friday the 6th at the 300 Club at 2 AM; and finally Saturday the 7th at Drake Underground at 11 PM. For now, Elle has kindly answered our questions and you can read her answers below.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Loud. Feisty. Hormonal.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Canada’?
Can I? Duh..

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Toronto? Have you been before?
I’ve never been before. Honestly I’m mostly looking forward to seeing and hearing loads of amazing bands and artists with my friends and eating good food! We’re playing every single night so I’m not sure if we’ll have much time for exploring. I’d love to take the day trip to Niagara Falls though, that’s on my bucket list. I’d also love to do the Edge Walk on CN Tower.

Of the bands who have already been announced (, do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Yes – NAO is a must see!!! I’m looking forward to seeing Willa on Saturday night at Drake (Underground) before our set. I’d love to see Tegan and Sara too.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase for your time at CMW that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Probably wig glue..there’s not gonna be time for my usual glamour routine and I gotta keep my hair on while I’m moshing, hahaha.

You are receiving funding from PRS for Music Foundation to make the trip over to the pond to showcase at CMW. Tell us about how you got involved with PRS Foundation and what their funding means to your trip / your career.
My manager told me about it. The funding means I can take my band with me and showcase my music in the best possible way. I think the trip would have been almost impossible without the PRS Foundation giving their financial support. It means a lot to me as an artist as well because it shows that they believe in me and my music. It gives me faith and hope and strengthens my belief that this is what I’m meant to be doing. I’m so grateful for it!

After CMW, what’s up next for you? Writing and recording? TGE / summer festivals / etc.? Do tell!
Yes I’ll be playing TGE, Liverpool Sound City and Xpo North amongst others. I’ll be writing and recording at the same time and working on some visual creative projects too. It’s going to be a mad few months; my album ‘Love Fuelled Hate’ is out in September.

We now go back to our regularly scheduled programming of our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘We Will Rock You’ – Queen.

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’– The Offspring.

What song makes you laugh?
‘Business Time’ – Flight Of The Conchords.

What song makes you cry?
‘Good Goodbye’ – Lianne La Havas.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
‘Safe Home’ – Anthrax.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
‘Caught Out There’ – Kelis.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Aaah, there are too many to choose from! The most recent song I wish I’d written is ‘7 Years’ – Lukas Graham.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Screenwriter John Waters.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’d be running a unique hair salon specialising in creative-do’s and synthetic hair.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Cartel – ‘Chroma’. It’s an album I loved when I was a teenager and although it’s not my favourite album now, it’s always something I can listen to without getting irritated at or bored of. If you only have one album to listen to you wanna make sure it’s something you never get sick of. But…it wouldn’t be heaven if I could only bring one album!

Thanks, Elle, for answering our questions! And many thanks, too, to Umong for his kind assistance.


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