Richer Unsigned returned for its third gig at The Pheasantry on London’s King’s Road earlier this month (7 October). The initiative to discover the UK’s best unsigned talent launched in April and more four of the acts who uploaded their tracks to Richerunsigned.com stood out to the Q panel: Alex Gregory, Demons Of Ruby Mae, Joel Peter, David Laing and Kookaii Booth. Their reward was a slot at the second showcase gig. Matt Allen was there to find out more about the artists and their music. Pictures Oliver Halfin.
Who they are: Alex Gregory, 17 Where she's from: Exeter We say: Singer-songwriter Gregory's intimate pop vocals carry enough heft to have drawn comparisons to Adele's soulful tones. Certainly, a raft of folksy, percussive guitar riffs and lost-love tales suggest a songwriting potential way beyond her years. She says: "My last EP (One Of The Same Kind) was recorded when I was 15, but my writing is getting more meaningful now. I feel like there's some momentum building now." For fans of: Beth Orton, KT Tunstall, John Mayer
Demons Of Ruby Mae
Who they are: Jonny Gavin, 29 (guitars/ vocals); keys, Adam Rowley, 26 (keyboards) Where they’re from: Leicester We say: They currently operate in a stripped back setting - intense, vocals and macabre lyricism are aligned to housey piano curlicues primed for a clubby upgrade; strings and electronic beats deliver a bleak backdrop. They say: "We played a show in a theatre and we had a performance artist at the back of the stage in a big dress with Ruby Mae [on it] and she stayed still like a mannequin,“ says Gavin. “We like having something weird." For fans of: The xx, The National, Jeff Buckley
Who are they: Joel Peter, 26 (vocals/guitar); Jack Northeast, 20 (keyboards); John Mongan "late 20s" (drums); Molly Peel, 18 (backing vocals); Luke Knight "late 20s" (bass) Where they're from: Worthing We say: Taking cues from theindie pop of Bombay Bicycle Club and Everything Everything, infectious hooks are given extra push with layered vocals and harmonies of a summery hue. They say: "I was in a band called Retrofect with Ben [Thatcher, drummer] from Royal Blood," says Joel Peter, the man not the band. "He was the best man at my wedding and we've been friends from childhood." For fans of: Bombay Bicycle Club, Everything Everything
Who is he? David Laing, 22 Where he's from: Gourock, Scotland We say: When a broken relationship threw songwriter Laing into a slump, he poured his emotional stress into a batch of folk songs that brim with instantly-memorable riffs and an upbeat charm that belies the ache of a lost love. He says: "The lyrics are stuff that's happened in my life: a girl where things were going really well and then suddenly it's not. You think, 'Well I can get steaming in the pub for a couple of weeks, or I can get steaming in the pub and write a couple of songs.'" For fans of: Paolo Nutini, Frightened Rabbit, Del Amitri
Who are they: Carmelo Alfano, 45 (frontman); John Green "in his 40s" (multi-instrumentalist); Jim Green, "20s" (bass); Charlie Green, "20s" (drums). We say: Old school funkateers with a propulsive dance floor groove, Kookai Booth have supported James Blunt. Their track Never Go Back was considered as a demo for Kylie Minogue. They say: "The goalposts have changed now," says Alfano. "Fifteen years ago I was involved in the first ever streamed gig online with dial-up internet. Tony Moore [keyboardist] from Cutting Crew put this thing together and Sky TV came down to cover it. It was big news then. Now it's just what we do." For fans of: Squeeze, Prince
Read a full review of the gig in a future issue of Q. For more information on Richer Unsigned, in association with Q, visit Richerunsigned.com.