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Meet The Incubator Programme Class of 2024

UD proudly presents the Incubator 2024 cohort. With over 100 applicants, it’s time to meet the 10 exceptional artists who will embark on this six-month talent and career development opportunity. Say hello to Allyson, Izzy Withers, J2, MARACHÉ, Olympia Vitalis, Skee, TayoLoxs, Skye, Zuko Rosemeid & Charlotte Dowsson… 

Back row: Allyson, Zuko Rosemeid, SKEE, MARACHÉ, Olympia Vitalis, J2, Izzy Withers, Charlotte Dowsson. Front row: Skye, TayoLoxs. Photography: Vincent Dolman for UD

Allyson 

Allyson has been gaining attention on the underground with her signature melismatic approach and sultry tone, incorporating elements of Neo-Soul, R&B and Soul. A member of Da Community, a London based creative collective who are hard to miss on the live circuit, they’ve already been tipped by GUAP and i-D Magazine, who noted their “expression of soul.” 

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? Before I wanted to do music, I wanted to do gymnastics. If you know me I’m doing cartwheels everywhere. Give me a little drink as well, rollie pollies everywhere! 

How and when did you discover UD? Through you (Nayana). I see UD everywhere but you introduced me to the Open Mic, you introduced the community to the Open Mic! We did a cool writing camp here last year with Orii and then I saw about the Incubator last year and I was like ‘damn, yeah this is juicy’ and now I am here.

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?Getting to know everyone, I know a lot of the people here but I don’t know a lot of them… It would be nice to see everyone in their creative space. Like Zuko, we have been trying to write a song together for time but now have the space and capacity. Everything is aligning.

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? Trust myself cause if I listen to what other people are saying I don’t think I would be as authentic as I am now. 

Tell me about your latest release or what you’re working on currently? Currently, it’s very different from my last release because ‘My Dear’ was very jazzy/ Neo-soul. I’d say this one is very R&B with hints of drill. But yeah it is very summery. 

Izzy Withers 

An 18 year old singer-songwriter from a tiny village in East Sussex, Izzy began her musical journey by recording covers, moving to London aged 16 to attend ELAM college. Izzy has been creating a buzz through showcases, busking, and recording original music – a unique blend of neo/ contemporary Soul and alternative R&B, with a pop influence. 

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? I moved out really young, I’m only 18 now but I moved out at 16 – a bit earlier than some – but it has inspired a lot of music.

How/ when did you discover UD? I first heard about UD about six months ago, maybe a bit before. I went to ELAM which is just down the road from the Talent House and I heard about Flames Collective and joined. I had a great time there and through Flames, the choir director Andy mentioned that I should get involved and now I’m here!

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months? I am really looking forward to meeting and working with other young creatives, having some more studio time and time to hone in on my craft, while making sure I have the space and outlet to be creative while learning about the industry so I can carry out my projects efficiently. 

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? I would say the biggest lesson I have learnt so far is to really trust your gut, especially as a young woman in the industry. People can promise you a lot of things and personally, when I first moved to London, I was so naive… I think now that I’m a bit older and I have learnt more about the industry, I can see through it a lot better. But I think trust your gut and really work out if things are for you, nothing that is meant for you will ever pass you. Everyone’s journey looks very different. Just because someone’s TikTok goes viral doesn’t mean they’ll have longevity in their career and it doest mean they are doing better than you, everyone is working at their own pace and you just have to trust the process. 

Tell me about your latest release or what you’re working on currently? I am working on my first project – I haven’t released anything yet. But I am really excited with how it is sounding, I have spent a year (or something) finding my sound and I’m just finishing that now. 

J2

Born and raised in east London and of Egyptian heritage, J2 provides conscious lyricism with influence from all over the globe. Growing up in the heart of the music scene has left J2 equipped and well on his way to a prosperous career, drawing on both grime and rap. J2’s ability to convey a story in his lyrics, as well as providing endless flows and undoubtable lyrical ability, has him on his way, connecting to audiences and breaking the fourth wall between the artist and listener. 

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? I was a competitive swimmer and cycler back in my day. I used to do charity sprint swimming. 

How and when did you discover UD? My good friend, Nayana, works for the company and seeing as we are part of a collective, she introduced Da Community to UD to partake in some of our events and some of the things we wanted to pursue. In building that connection, I fortified it and before you know it I’m here now. 

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?
I am looking forward to learning, I am excited to gain knowledge about the sides of the industry I might not have known and didn’t know how to tackle. Looking at things with a different light, such as marketing, the way I’ve been going about things and re-learning. 

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? Perfection doesn’t exist. So being a perfectionist!

Tell me about your latest release or what you’re working on currently? I released a track in Feb called ‘Lucid’. It embodies the idea of everything that we’re chasing and just trying to turn my dreams into reality. Underlying all of the things that I got through and delivering it in such a way that the listener can enjoy it. Basically the song is about me living my best life, turning my dreams into reality and embodying everything that man is doing right now in words. 

MARACHÉ

MARACHÉ (Mara-Ché) is a multi genre artist from London. Known for her versatility, her music is a fusion of R&B, Soul, Alté, AfroRnb and Afro-soul. With heartfelt tunes and sincere lyrics that courageously delve into real-life experiences, MARACHÉ’s soulful voice, catchy melodies and candid songwriting evoke a sense of familiarity and connection among listeners. With music that transcends boundaries, as both a songwriter and storyteller, MARACHÉ crafts melodies that inspire both dancing and moments of raw emotion. 

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? I listen to more rap than R&B or Afro as an Afro/R&B artist. I be rapping. 

How and when did you discover UD? Not long ago I was on another programme with the Grounded Sounds and we have a group chat where we send in anything music related, really trying to immerse ourselves in the industry. So yeah, I applied… 

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?
I’m excited for everything, bring it on!

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? Some people think you need confidence but I think it is courage over confidence. You might be confident but you don’t have the courage and I also think discipline over self motivation. I always tell myself I need to be motivated to do something but now I just need to have self discipline. 

Tell me about your latest release/ what you’re working on currently? I released two songs in the last few months ‘Still Young’ is a real diss track to the world. I don’t know what the vibe is. I am genre-less sometimes, it’s definitely Afro inspired, it’s a bit lofi, it’s a bit alternative. The hook is literally, “When did it get so hard” and I’m just talking about some real sh*it. It’s a vibe! My latest release, that’s ‘Stay’, It’s a bit more Afro. The song is to myself, but also a significant other, saying I need to do what I need to do to get to where I need to be, in terms of music and my life. If this is not for you then you gotta go, don’t stay if you don’t want to. 

Olympia Vitalis

Olympia Vitalis stands out boldly in the soul scene, unapologetically claiming her space. With seven years of experience singing in a gospel choir, Olympia has honed her unique improvisational style. Writing on socio-political issues, seamlessly blending her reflections on both significant and everyday matters, Olympia has received backing from BBC Introducing and was selected as a recipient of the Women in Jazz fund, Olympia showcasing her talent at the London Jazz Festival in late 2023. Having started off 2024 strong, Olympia supported LA-based musician Kiefer on his UK tour.

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? My mum is Italian which is cool and I am trying to learn the language to speak to my family. I was in a gospel choir for seven years which was fun but I think people can hear that in my voice so I don’t think it’s that surprising. I’m kinda boring!

How/ when did you discover UD? I think last year. UD were putting on an event and the music ecosystem is so small – it’s big but it’s soo small – so I knew of people who were doing it.

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?
I think getting close with this cohort will be quite cool, there are few mutuals which is nice. Looking forward to the events as well. 

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? Be patient. Being patient is a virtue and it is not something that comes naturally to me. That is definitely the most challenging but biggest lesson so far.  

Tell me about your latest release or what you’re working on currently? My latest track is called ‘Mardy’. It was about unwanted male physical attention that I and other women experience quite a lot. I am working on a lot of new music, I’m in a lot of sessions right now with a lot of different producers that work in different genres. Soul lends itself so much to garage and drums, so I’m just in loads of different sessions. My next release, ‘Fool’s Paradise’, is about hating your job.

Skee

Skee, 19,  resides in West Norwood, London. Striving to be one of the top MC’s in the country, Skee takes pride in his style of performance, writing and creative process, as he proceeds to evolve with his sound. Recent single, ‘Hyundai’,  produced by his musical partner and close friend That Producer Ryan has gained strong traction in his local community, as seen at his first sold out show, headlining alongside his band Wavey Collective, at Notting Hill Arts Club. 

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? I can paint. I paint scenery, mountains, hills, skylines. My nan used to paint so she taught me. 

How/ when did you discover UD? The Incubator Programme last year, AE were on it. I was at the studio with them after they came back and they were talking about it. 

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?Collabs. I just want to see what is the most different sound I can create compared to what I usually create. 

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? Be nice to people. I’ve seen a lot of people that I used to be around in music not be nice to everyone and it kinda stopped excelling in different areas in the future. So be friendly be nice. 

What’s next for you? I’m working on two EPs and trying to make my music more focused and conceptual so I’m looking forward to dropping them both this year. I also got booked for We Out Here Festival and The Great Escape which is sick.

TayoLoxs

From studying film and television post-production to becoming a trailblazing musical producer, Temitayo aka TayoLoxs, a 21-year-old with Nigerian and Jamaican roots, thrives in the diverse landscape of south London. Having established a thriving online platform for his creations, beyond music, Tayo’s passion for visual storytelling extends to video editing, allowing him to explore new artistic avenues. In collaboration with his business partner, Abbiogenesis, Tayo has ventured into fashion, releasing a line of merchandise reflecting his unique style and innovation. Despite battling sickle cell anaemia, Tayo refuses to let his health define him, embracing life with resilience and determination, inspiring others to pursue their dreams despite obstacles.

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? I didn’t really do well in secondary school because I was out a lot because of my health, so I didn’t get a lot of GCSE’s (I think I got 3 or 4). It wasn’t because I’m not smart, it’s more because I had to switch schools and my attendance was low. But I got into college and got a distinction in music which allowed me to get a scholarship into Uni, doing film and television (which I am not doing now cause the teachers were not showing up). I dropped out of uni and my track blew up!  

How/ when did you discover UD? My older brother, Floetic, told me that other people like Saiming have been on the Incubator Programme and that I should do it because I am just at home making beats. I wasn’t going to any music events, I was a bit shy because I just came out of Uni. I had no friends so I was just focusing on myself. It was kind of narcissistic but yeah my older brother was a big inspiration for applying to the Incubator. 

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?Collaborating with different people, I feel like it’s been a 360 in my personality. 

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? Anything can blow whether you put little effort into it or a lot. To be honest, it depends on your niche and who you’re marketing your music to, the relatability of the song… I feel like if you have connections to other people as well, it’s easier. I did it with less connections but you can just blow up because you know someone. You don’t necessarily have to be good.

Tell me about your latest release or what you’re working on currently? As a producer I’m always working on something, I make at least a beat a day, I used to make five beats a day but I have bought it down to one beat because I want to get quality over quantity. I am trying to get a collaboration EP out with featured artists. Every day I’m learning a new genre, I am always trying to expand my sound. 

Skye

Skye is a 21 year old singer-songwriter of Caribbean descent hailing from east London. Although not tied to any specific genre, thanks to their diverse background, those who listen experience a world of introspection and emotional resonance. Their music is written with essence and an aim to create music for people to escape to. Stay tuned to witness more themes of love, mellow melodies and poetic lyricism.

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? I can snowboard. 

How/ when did you discover UD? An organiser was friends with someone who ran a project at Spotlight when I was younger and they told me about UD and shared the link for the Open Mic. I keep up to date with Instagram and saw the previous year and also the performance opportunities I got through UD like performing at the V&A. I just really thought to myself being an artist is what I want to be so how can I get there and I really just wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone so I applied for the Incubator Programme. 

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?Growing as a whole, I am quite introverted. I don’t get my photo taken or really do interviews. I kinda keep pushing myself to become the best that I can be, collaborate with other people and to learn from other people as well. Even though we are all a similar age there is stuff that you can still learn from the industry as well. 

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? That it takes time. I think I always get caught up comparing myself to others, people of a similar age or similar style or genre. I found myself comparing a lot and I am quite a perfectionist so I don’t usually put something out until I am totally happy with it. But then that has led me to only releasing two songs in the past two to three years. Also, just letting go of that expectation because you can fall down the rabbit hole and downward spiral into overthinking and thinking you’re not good enough. And then you end up not releasing and time goes by and you get demotivated. So I really want to get rid of that and really work on it and motivate myself and keep pushing. 

Tell me about your latest release/ what you’re working on currently? I am currently working on a track I wrote when I was going through a rough patch. I think I was caught up because it’s only two minutes long, roughly, but then I got the idea recently that it can be an intro to an EP, it feels like an interlude or something like that, so I am working towards having enough content for an EP or having enough tracks so I can regularly release.

Zuko Rosemeid

South Londoner Zuko Rosemeid uses his ability to craft cinematic songs, expressing himself not only through the lyrics he is rapping, but by utilising everything in the song, from the beat selection to the ad-libs, giving the listener a chance to escape their own reality, if only for a moment. Known for his raw and punchy delivery, Zuko adds a cinematic flair to his style, as heard on cuts like ‘Night Tube’ feat Saiming,, ‘Off The Map’ and ‘Who Knew’. Zuko has performed at Wireless Festival 2023, Project 6 Festival, The Great Escape Festival, toured in Bristol, boasts multiple Balamii and NTS appearances, as well as being mentioned by Lyrical Lemonade and Complex UK. 

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? I don’t like cheese, I like Parmesan but I don’t like cheese. I dunno it’s the consistency of it, I know it’s random but yeah. I take the cheese from the Pizza. 

How/ when did you discover UD? It has probably been two or three years since I heard about UD through Saiming and yourself, Nayana. 

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?Bro, we got a beautiful group of people here, just working together and seeing what’s possible. Obviously I have my plans but I have no idea, I love the unexpected especially when I have stuff planned. 

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? This is a recurring theme in my life, this lesson, but it is patience. I am a very very impatient person. Even this whole active-never-lazy thing, it is because I am very impatient. I wake everyday and think ‘right, what do I need to do today’ init. So I think definitely to be more meditative, be more calm and enjoy the journey more. 

Tell me about your latest release or what you’re working on currently? My latest release ‘Imposter Syndrome’, I am very happy with. I just got put on the Spotify playlist ‘Fresh Finds’ and I’m happy about that. That was a song I had been teasing for a while so I’m happy with the reception and I am working on a surprise tape with someone very special in April and then a mixtape in the summer. 

Charlotte Dowsson

Charlotte Dowsson is a singer-songwriter hailing from North-West London, blending influences from her love of Jazz, Neo-Soul and contemporary R&B to create her sound. Beginning her journey into music as a songwriter, with a passion for articulating the complexities of the human experience, Charlotte’s music guarantees to take you on a journey of introspection, navigating a variety of feelings through her smooth and intimate tone. A semi-finalist in the Isle of White New Blood competition, and performing in a variety of venues across London, such as O2 Academy Islington, Soho House White City and Notting Hill Arts Club to name a few, Charlotte’s love of live instrumentation is a key and present element to her sound.

Firstly, tell me something about you that might be surprising? I have two small feet. They’re 2 ½. The shoes I’m wearing are a 3 and they are too big! In  secondary school, in year 9, I was a baby’s 13 and that’s when Superstars were the big and bad thing. So I saved up my money and I went to Adidas and they said, “we only have your size in velcro” and so I left. 

How/ when did you discover UD? I discovered UD through Allyson because I know she did the Open Mics and she hosted once. Also just seeing all of the different things on social media, the Flame Collective and RAYE… I went to see RAYE last year which was so amazing! I think UD is just one of those institutions that if you’re in the industry you just kind of see it or hear about it.

What are you looking fwd to over the next 6 months?
To release new music! I’ve been at music Uni, figuring out my sound and feeling a lot of pressure to be one particular thing… I think now I’ve got music and I make music that is a love poem to all of those things that I love. I am really proud of it. 

Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your music career thus far? That it’s not linear. If you have a plan the universe might say, “not just yet” and just keep going throughout. You’re gonna have moments where you want to give up and you feel like it’s overwhelming but you’re also gonna have moments you were so glad you didn’t give up because there is so much happening and I allow myself to enjoy all of those ups and downs. Even if I achieve those goals I’ll always have those moments.

Tell me about your latest release or what you’re working on currently? I have currently been in the studio with Sam at Dean Street Studios, recording three singles; the first one is set to be out late April, which I am really excited about. I have been getting live instrumentalists in and writing and recording and everything. I’m really excited to start releasing! 

Words: Nayana.AB
Photography: Vincent Dolman 

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