Eurosonic Noorderslag 2018: Preview

From much-hyped acts like Sigrid and Pale Waves to German techno marching bands and Icelandic hip-hop, we preview Eurosonic 2018 and take a closer look at the Danish acts at this year's festival in Groningen

Preview by Tallah Brash | 12 Jan 2018

Since its inception in 1986, Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) has evolved, morphed and grown – starting initially as a battle of the bands event between Dutch and Belgian acts, it is now a vital date in the annual festival calendar, providing an opportunity for the next batch of exciting European artists to be discovered by fans, agents and promoters alike.

During the four day festival in Groningen, The Netherlands, ESNS also host a specialist music industry conference featuring around 150 panels covering everything from how to fix the gender gap in music and the future of festivals, to tech and the impacts of streaming on developing artists.

Alongside the music programme – which is set to feature more than 350 showcases this year – and conference, there are also a number of awards ceremonies taking place including the European Festival Awards, as well as the 15th edition of the European Border Breakers Awards (EBBA) which is set to be broadcast live, hosted by everyone's favourite honky-tonk pianist Jools Holland. This year’s EBBA winners include BBC Sound of 2018 winner, Norwegian pop star Sigrid, and Sound of... longlister, Finnish singer-songwriter Alma. Other longlisters set to appear at ESNS are Manchester R'nB queen IAMDDB, London singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya, Newcastle's Sam Fender and eight-piece London-based indie-pop behemoth Superorganism, as well as Tom Walker, Jade Bird, Pales Waves and Yxng Bane.

Other artists worth checking out this year are French pop act Agar Agar, Icelandic hip-hop duo Úlfur Úlfur, German techno marching band Meute and hazy, psychedelic four-piece The Zephyr Bones from Spain. Overall, 32 different European countries will be present at this year's ESNS. Each year, the festival has a focus country – 2017's focus was on Portugal, who are involved again this year and presenting six artists including infectious rhythmic dance from Diron Animal, ambient electronica from Surma, and electronic house from producer Xinobi among others. 

2018’s focus country is Denmark, with conference topics geared towards its music scene and industry, as well as several artists from Denmark performing at the festival. Here are five of our top picks from the Danish contingent at Eurosonic:

DJs and producers ELOQ, DJ E.D.D.E.H and Unkwon collectively make up the trio AV AV AV who together make their own brand of warm and uplifting techno and electronica. They’ve already made waves at the likes of Roskilde, Club NME and Sonar and have recently signed to Warner with plans to release their debut album this year. Definitely ones to catch if you fancy a dance on Friday night! Fri 19 Jan @ Grand Theatre, Main, 00.30 - 01.15

On Lydmor’s website she describes herself as an electronic producer, composer, singer, writer and general troublemaker. She’s been releasing music for a few years now, and with two albums released in Denmark already she’s currently working on her first international release. Her electronic pop is wrought with emotion and studded with 80s beats and synths – she’s an absolute must for ESNS. Fri 19 Jan @ Praedinius Gymnasium, 23.35 - 00.15

Ellis May
Ellis May – the alias of Copenhagen musician, composer, producer and sound designer Sophia Maj – is set to play her first Eurosonic this January. Her voice at its lowest sounds like a cross between Beth Gibbons and PJ Harvey, while her high register is reminiscent of Austra; that layered over her sparse instrumentation and dark techno beats is sure to make for a pretty magical, goosebump-inducing 40 minutes. Fri 19 Jan @ The Grand Theatre, UP, 22.15 - 22.55

August Rosenbaum
August Rosenbaum is a busy bee. As a pianist and composer, as well as releasing several jazz/modern classical solo albums, he’s also collaborated with the likes of Rhye on their debut album, Woman; he performed with MØ at Glastonbury and Roskilde 2016; he also performed with Nils Frahm for the 2014 production of Laughter in the Dark, as well as recently collaborating with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon on the Royal Danish Ballet production Interpassivities. His 2017 album, Vistas, is a blissed-out mix of dreamy strings, jazzy keys, synths and laid-back beats. We approve. Wed 17 Jan @ Der Aa-Kerk, 20.00 - 20.45 

Sarah Mariegaard, aka Soleima, is bringing her woozy, off-kilter electro-pop to Eurosonic this year for her first appearance at the Dutch festival. Having first come to prominence in 2015 with her single My Boi, she went on to release a limited run record – No. 14 – for Record Store Day in 2017 via Parlophone and just a few days into 2018 has already released a new single. Low Life is full of Soleima's trademark trippy beats and delicate vocal; one to watch for sure. Thu 18 Jan @ Vrijdag, Main, 00.15 - 01.00

Eurosonic Noorderslag 2018 takes place in Groningen, The Netherlands, 17-20 Jan