A Georgian building containing the flat where Eric Clapton used to invite George Harrison in the late 60s to drop acid and write songs, The Pheasantry on London’s King’s Road eventually became a nightclub and venue that hosted gigs by Lou Reed and Queen. This month it gave its stage to the inaugural Richer Unsigned gig. The initiative to discover the UK’s best unsigned talent launched in April and four of the acts who uploaded their tracks to Richerunsigned.com stood out to the Q panel: Firewoodisland, Gareth Esson, Ms Hart and Emma Jane. Their reward was a slot at the showcase and – if they could turn in a performance that matched their promise – a chance to earn themselves a place in the venue’s stellar musical heritage. Amy Gravelle was there to find out more about the artists and their music. Pictures James Emmett.
From: Isle of Wight We say: Merging a pop sense with accomplished piano playing and a melancholy vocal, the 22-year-old employs a classic song-writing aesthetic that draws upon intimacies beyond her years. They say: “I’ve always been encouraged to create my own music, especially as we used to live above a recording studio, which The Bees actually now own. Plus, playing the Isle Of Wight Festival [in 2010] was an incredible moment for me, but eventually I’d like to make music for a living. That’s my dream.” For fans of: Alanis Morisette, Tom Odell, James Blake. Listen at Richerunsigned.com
From: Leicester We say: Influenced by American soul divas, Ms Hart (real name Viveen Wray) has a voice that’s a powerhouse of deep-rooted emotion. The vivacious singer delivers tales of love, heartache and “getting your arse kicked.” They say: “When my mother died 11 ago it set off deep sentiments, which has undoubtedly had an effect on my songwriting and sound. But even though my music has deeper connotations, I always believe you should smile, have fun with it and send off good vibes. The stage for me doesn’t hold any fear.” For fans of: Aretha Franklin, Mary J Blige, Gladys Knight. Listen at Richerunsigned.com
From: Wolverhampton We say: It’s hard not to instantly warm to the 28-year-old’s honesty, sincerity and soul. His acoustic guitar melodies build to pin-sharp choruses, making for an enchanting live performance. They say: “I was four years old when I wrote my first song, running around in a nappy and causing havoc for my parents no doubt. Someday I’d love to make playing music my fulltime career, but for now, I pay the bills by teaching sex education in schools.” For fans of: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Michael Kiwanuka, Jack Johnson. Listen at Richerunsigned.com
Who they are: Stian Vedoy – Lead vocals/guitar (24), Steve Allen – Drums/ percussion (31), Abi Eleri Newbould – Vocals/percussion, Aveen Cooley – Vocals/Irish whistle/flute (23). From: Cardiff We say: Travelling from Norway to Cardiff in 2010, lead singer Stian Vedoy carried with him mesmerising stories from the Viking hills. The band have taken Vedoy’s vision and created enchanting indie-folk anthems, filled with texture, adventure and a light-hearted sentiment. They say: “Our first ever gig was at a national competition called Bandwagon Noge, which is kind of like Britain’s Got Talent for Norway. In the end we actually managed to win the regional finals, which was pretty crazy.” For fans of: Of Monsters And Men, Mumford And Sons. Listen at Richerunsigned.com
Read a full review of the gig in the August issue of Q, on sale June 24. For more information on Richer Unsigned, in association with Q, visit Richerunsigned.com.