There’s so much new music to discover, if you know where to look. UPBEAT’s Best New Talent Award directs the limelight to Europe’s upcoming artists, the hidden pockets where heritage and new talent ferments, the uncharted musical landscapes off the mainstream path.
A jury of experts chose 10 emerging artists from 8 European countries, all of whom add a unique flavour, inhabiting the borderlands between niche and popularity. It is a motley crew of musical originality; Catalan jazz and Macedonian folk songs, spanning vocal to electronic fringes of folk.
Rooted in local heritage and filtered through our present reality, these bands are ready to reach broader audiences, and join Europe’s festival circuit. By voting, you support the future of music. Voters can win tickets to one of UPBEAT’s buzziest members: Tallinn Music Week in 2024.
UPBEAT’s Best New Talent Award
The first European platform of showcase festivals, UPBEAT directs the limelight on emerging artists; musical treasures otherwise quelled by generic pop. 10 handpicked acts feature in a public vote running from July to September, with original music waiting to be discovered. The vote, just like the whole of UPBEAT, serves a diverse, future-proof music industry and artists performing in their original language, representing their unique heritage.
Catalan Jazz To Estonian Folk Pop
A varied selection hand-picked by a jury of experts, the 10 Best New Talent nominees cover a wide range of styles. They all sing in their own language, their music can both surprise and connect audiences. This year’s selection spans the continent from North Macedonia, Estonia, Italy, Poland, Spain (Catalonia), Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia, highlighting artists who reinterpret their heritage.
And The Winner Is…
All nominees receive mentoring and take part in UPBEAT’s extensive campaign. The winner, to be announced in September, gets a shot at Blogothèque’s Take Away Show format and a stint at PIN Music Conference in Skopje.
As one of our jury members Chris Eckman, musician, record producer, and co-founder of Glitterbeat Records, said: “In the past few years there has been an explosion of global artists deftly navigating the conversation between localised traditional musics and contemporary sonics. Within the European context, the multiple initiatives of the UPBEAT platform are well-positioned to help this exciting conversation remain vital and sustainable.”
The jury – Araceli Tzigane, Mapamundi Música; Balázs Weyer, Hangvető and Chris Eckman, Glitterbeat Records – have selected 10 out of nearly hundred artists who have featured at any of UPBEAT’s member festivals – like Budapest Ritmo, Waves Vienna or WOMEX – throughout the year.
Niches Of World Music Unite:
UPBEAT is a quickly growing initiative currently counting 14 prestigious members from A to JazZ festival, Tallinn Music Week or Budapest Ritmo. The platform acts as a quality label and professional network, supporting emerging artists via its members. UPBEAT members receive support for hosting upcoming acts, making way for heritage inspired, diverse and original language music sidelined by the mainstream.
Coordinated by Budapest-based Hangvető, UPBEAT – The European Showcase Platform for World Music is a European Platform project, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Commission.
Click below on each artist to cast your vote…
Дeva is a fully DIY solo project by the 22-year-old Budapest based musician, Dorina Takács. She writes and produces her own tracks, and also sings and designs her artworks. Дeva’s music features are atmospheric smooth sounds, pulsating bass and polyphonic mantras inspired by magical Hungarian folk songs. She performed at Eurosonic Festival – her live show was broadcasted by ARTE channel as well. She received the prize of Music Moves Europe Awards 2022 and the best female singer prize by Radio Petőfi. Her highly anticipated debut album ‘Csillag’ has been released in 2022 on Move Gently Records. She is currently working on new material and explores collaborations with other young artists.
Duo Ruut ties together a single Estonian zither and two distinct voices, inspired by the beliefs of different cultures and their own creativity. Based on the zither, Duo Ruut’s music is minimalist at its core but packed with new ideas and imagination. In a short period of time, they have already toured in Europe, Uzbekistan and Japan, and won acclaim. In 2022 they toured in 12 countries around the world. In December 2019 Duo Ruut released their debut album “Tuule sõnad” (Words of the Wind) which was awarded as the Debut Album of the Year by Estonian Ethno Music Awards. In summer 2021 Duo Ruut released an EP called “Kulla kerguseks” (“Golden Light”) which has received strong organic support internationally. The EP was nominated for the “Ethno/Folk Album of the Year” by Estonian Music Awards 2022.
Erdőfű is a melting pot of musicians and bands from the forefront of Hungary’s folk and world music scene. Their name comes from the archetypal folk music tale about a shepherd who lost his sheep and searches for them in the forest’s grasses and clearings (erdőfű = forest grass, forest clearing). The band presents string music traditions of Hungarians and other ethnic groups of the villages in the Carpathian Basin. As the original agricultural-farming social structures of the villages disintegrate, the group chooses the task of transferring this rich and colorful music culture into the modern urban environment.
Gifted singer of Slovakian and Central European heritage, Júlia Kozáková is best known for her solo work and her previous album Manuša, released in 2022. She interprets the repertoire with charisma and skill, supported by a band of exceptional Roma musicians from her hometown of Bratislava. Juliá’s mesmeric voice is encased with a classic coffee-house sound created by the cimbalom, violin, viola, double bass and guitar, and a lot of heart. Since she was 13, Julia has worked closely with Roma artists and has collaborated with Czech singer Ida Kelarova and toured Europe with her Romany children’s choir Čhavorenge. Her breakout came with internationally released debut album Manuša, which brought Julia to new audiences and gigs in UK, Czech Republic and Slovakia. It was the best performing world music album from Slovakia according to the World Music Charts Europe (WMCE) and has been nominated for Radio Head Award as the ‘best Slovak world music album’ of 2022
Lenhart Tapes is a one-man-cassette-tape-manipulator mostly known for his unforgettable live performances. Yes, walkmans are his musical instruments, and he does a live mix of selected material from his cassette collection on top of the rhythmic loops.
“I have been a passionate collector of audio cassettes for a very long time. Field recordings, rare folk music, spoken word and sound propaganda material, various musical genre albums – you name it, I probably have it.” Lenhart Tapes started with incorporating live female folkie vocals into a bunch of cassette-sampled noise.
Two prodigies of Catalan jazz, the sprightly voice of Magalí Sare and Manel Fortià’s multilingual double bass takes the listener on unexpected voyages across continents. Their second album, reTORNAR departs from the duo’s expressive twosome now enriched with percussion, the sine qua non of Ibero-American heritage they so eloquently capture. Flutes, background vocals and bass ukulele add to the sound spectrum of the band, making Magalí Sare’s voice shine with even greater intensity, giving character to this 21st century Ibero-American folklore. Rewriting the sea voyages of slaves, explorers and merchants, Sare and Fortià offer pure music of ingenious composition and refreshing concurrence.
A dark folk band from North Macedonia that plays with many music influences, from Macedonian roots Middle-Eastern maqam music and some north-African styles, to blues, post-punk, atonal and jazz. Their songs are in different languages of the Balkans, in the spirit of equality between nations and ethnicities. Previously the themes of their songs were old, often morbid village songs (some of them collected by friends who travel to villages and record them, some of them found in very old recordings). Their new material covers what they believe to be important social issues of the present, the lyrics are usually poems or cut-up technique pieces from acknowledged authors and sometimes even newspaper clippings. Perija is a Turkish root word denoting fairy, but also some etymology sources trace it back to a Proto-Iranian word ‘parika’ – a woman of low status, concubine. Both of these aspects are intertwined into the sound and idea of their music, an inspiration flowing from nature, contrasting a society built upon prejudices.
United by their love for Neapolitan vocal tradition, the trio making up Suonno D’Ajere come from musical backgrounds spanning jazz, classical and pop. Together they create and recreate the Neapolitan song, a heritage spanning centuries and never losing its expressive power. Irene Scapato releases a vocal range as bewitching as fundamental, accompanied by guitar and mandolin skillfully played by Gian Marco Libeccio and Marcello Smigliante Gentile: “A trio that breathes together from the slightest to the fullest whisper.” Each sound, pluck and resonance is meaningful, encapsulating a vastly rich heritage in songs that are splendidly simple: voice, mandolin and guitar.
Wernyhora is inspired by the heritage of Polish-Ukrainian borderlands. Their harmonious fusion of traditional melodies, historic and folk instruments and current interpretation make for spellbinding music. Their unique trio consists of charismatic vocalist Daria Kosiek, string maestro Anna Oklejewicz and prodigious arranger Maciej Harna on the lirnyk (hurdy-gurdy). The group has been lauded with some of the most prestigious awards in the Polish folk scene: at Festiwal Nowa Tradycja (New Tradition Festival) in 2021 and the Mikołajki Folkowe in 2020. Their acclaim was further cemented by the release of two CDs in quick succession, each honoured with second place in the Folk Phonogram of the Year by Polish Radio in 2022 and 2023 respectively. The band’s repertoire extends to over 60 performances domestically and internationally, with live celebrations of Carpathian tradition at the Rudolstadt Festival in Germany, World Music Festival Bratislava in Slovakia, Ethno Port Festival in Poznań and Etno Rozstaje in Kraków, Poland.
Balancing her rich heritage with authentic self-expression, Macedonian artist Zarina Prvasevda found her own voice on her long-awaited debut album, Eho. Her vocal technique is rooted in Eastern-European and oriental traditions, which she combines with instrumental and rhythmic diversity. The surprisingly mature debut album takes inspiration from nature, collaborations with like-minded artists and Macedonian grandmothers she collects stories and songs from. A heartfelt and fresh take on Macedonian heritage, Eho features 11 traditional songs in 4 different languages. As an artist not limiting her engagement to music, Zarina is known for joining the effort to declare Shar Mountain to become a National Park, besides genre-crossing artistic collaborations and bringing the Macedonian heritage to an ever-wider audience.