Sunday October 30th 2016
Musique Showcase event featuring Waltzz @ Boxpark Shoreditch, London
Intimate acoustic showcase event brings together unsigned talent and looks to bridge the gap between the artist and industry.
Let’s face it, there’s never really much to do on a Sunday is there – aside from sitting in your pyjamas and watching TV all day, right? Wrong! On this chilly October morning we venture up to London’s Shoreditch (aka the trendy part of the capital) which is playing host to a, relatively new, music event solely for unsigned and emerging talent.
Held in Box Park; the world’s first pop-up mall fashioned out of a shipping container no less, Musique is an acoustic showcase that seeks to “bridge the gap between the artist and the industry.” Hosted by dynamic duo Shanika Ocean and Silver Kid – aptly named after his metallic shade of hair – the event is on track to having a permanent home in this quirky venue.
A number of acts from today’s line-up are no stranger to the showcase, having played on the Musique stage before – including rapper Waltzz, after he landed a guest appearance with friend and fellow artist, Mister Lees. With close to ten acts on the bill the event kicks off pretty quickly, with the majority performing between two and three songs each, including cover versions of popular hits as well as original tracks.
First up is singer-songwriter Harley Nixon, who takes to the stage – despite a pretty moderate foot injury, bandage and all – to perform original track ‘The Fall.’ His soulful vocals drenching the song in smooth R’n’B vibes, and easing the audience into proceedings.
Aspiring rapper Liam ‘Waltzz’ Stewart soon follows suit, accompanied by singer-songwriter Luca Martellotti on guitar and vocals. Both solo artists in their own right, the duo met six months ago and began performing together recently, fusing their respective styles of ‘hip-hop/rap’ and ‘guitar-led pop’ – and it definitely works. The pair open with a re-worked version of Luka’s original song ‘For the rest of my life’; a slower track with a chilled out vibe – Waltzz injecting some hip-hop flair and adding his own twist to it. Next, they pick up the pace with ‘For The Night’ – a track they wrote together – which would make the most discerning listener want to have a little groove in their seat. The pair then finish off with a goosebumps-inducing version of Waltzz’s emotional track ‘Whatever it takes.’ Overall, the two seem to complement each other brilliantly and balance the set really well.
Twenty-year old singer-songwriter Talia Mar graces the stage next. Accompanied by a guitarist, known only as Joe, the pint-sized powerhouse treats the audience to some pitch-perfect originals including ‘Circles’ and ‘Stolen’ – the latter of which was originally released back in June as an Electro track, and also has a music video in the pipeline. (Check out the teaser trailer here.)
Big hair and an even bigger personality then fill the room as its Leah McKenzie’s time to shine. The X Factor 2016 contestant won all four judges over with her cover of Birdie’s ‘Wings’, which she demos for today’s audience. She follows this with an original song called ‘Change’. McKenzie strives to project an inspirational, motivational vibe through her music, urging everyone to pay close attention to the lyrics as “there’s a lot of music about sex and drugs, we don’t need to hear that anymore…it’s time to get a bit deeper [with the lyrics.]” Adding later “all of us are going through stuff and when you’re in that moment you just feel like giving up but actually you’re going to get through it…it’s about appreciating the life you’ve got.”
Next up its Dee Ajayi – who is the one of the few acts on today’s bill to play a set entirely made up of originals –opening with ‘She Loves Me Not’, a smooth and sultry song born out of a time when the singer felt quite “self-
destructive.” After a slight memory block on the following song she quickly picks things back up, demonstrating the beauty – and reality – of live music in the process. Closing number ‘Your Idea of Perfect’, is sassy and soulful. This, coupled with the solo bass accompaniment, gives the whole set a funky and fresh feel.
Now, if you happened to tune into this year’s season of The Voice UK, then you may recognise this next performer. With his distinctive mop of hair, Harry Fisher participated in the TV talent show as a member of team Boy George – who he is also currently writing with. Opening his set with a cover of Beyoncé’s ‘Sorry’, it is undeniable that Fisher is a powerhouse in every sense of the word. This carries through into his original song ‘Crazy’, and his closing cover of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’, with host Silver saying that “people like Harry” are why he loves being a part of this platform. After putting out an album recently, the young talent is now performing anywhere that will have him, adding “[he’s] trying to do things like this all the time.”
Penultimate act Kestra is then called up to the stage to perform her short set of covers from the likes of Beyoncé and Rhianna. She is joined by Harry Fisher for two out of three songs, which starts as a duet but then almost seems to turn into a battle of the big voices. A songwriter since the age of 17, Kestra has written for a host of established artists including The Prodigy – which is no mean feat. However, the young mum – whose daughter is in the audience – has remained humble, stating “there are so many talented people in the world, so it’s a bit like lucky dip.” Well we don’t think her luck’s run out just yet, and with an album due for release next year who knows what’s in store.
Bringing the show to a close is Emily Mutaako. Previously known as Emily Grace, Mutaako recently changed her stage name as, as she says, it’s more reflective of her artistry now in terms of her influences and culture. She treats the audience to covers of Amy Winehouse and Lianne La Havas, ending on an original song called ‘You Gotta Learn’, a track which she says is about “overcoming fear.” With an upbeat, and overall great vibe, it’s a brilliant note to end the day on.
So, if music is your thing and you want to uncover some hidden gems in the industry, Musique is the sort of thing you should check out. Equally, if you’re a performer and you want to get your music out to more people, something like this isn’t a bad place to start.
If I had one criticism of the event, it would be that I think it could benefit from half the amount of acts, slightly longer sets and less cover versions. This would then enable audiences to get a better feel for the artist and what they’re about, rather than hearing karaoke versions of popular hits. Nevertheless, it was really inspiring to see some great emerging talent in such an intimate setting. One thing’s for sure, I will definitely be going again – see you there? 😉
If you fancy going along to a Musique event, or if you’re interested in performing, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter, and if you want to check out any of the acts mentioned in this blog all their names are hyperlinked within the review :).
All photography (aside from the top photo) is by ©Skins Elliott Photography. For more photos from the day head on over to Facebook, or to check out his work in general go to: http://www.skinselliottphotography.com/
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