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UD Low Down: UD x PPL Showcase @ DUST, Brighton

The UD stage at The Great Escape 2024 was a well attended and highly praised event, taking the voices of six emerging artists to new stages and fresh opportunities in London, Brighton, and beyond.

From R&B and jazz-rap to Afro-fusion, six of the 2024 cohort of the UD Incubator Programme showcased their artistry at DUST on the sunny southern coast this May, crossing musical diasporas, experimenting with genres, and bringing to light the power of collaborative music development. Supported by a live 5-piece band, fluent in the art of uplifting the voices they accompany, the UD cohort demonstrated their unique ability to engage an audience both as individual artists, and as a coherent group, delivering an impressive vocal journey through rap, singing, and hosting by Nayana.AB, a UD Incubator alumni and seasoned artist herself.

Host, Nayana.AB

I joined the crowd at DUST, Brighton to hear first-hand the sound of the next generation of emerging artists, and best believe I was not disappointed.

Skye

Skye opened the UD stage, a 21 year old singer-songwriter hailing from East London with a sweet, soulful vocal that leant itself beautifully to the gentle instrumentation and soft lyricism that they crafted. With a summery bass followed closely by keys, guitar, and drums, Skye’s voice fell seamlessly into the band’s rhythm rather than simply laying the melody on top as many artists default to, with their grasp of sound and delivery translating into an enchanting three song set. From their debut 2021 release ‘Interpretation’, to their single ‘Inside’, we were blessed with tracks that felt authentically “Skye” – no mean feat in a saturated industry. 

Skye
Skye

Charlotte Dowsson followed Skye’s performance, a singer-songwriter with a remarkable talent for harnessing the meeting of genres and articulating her sound through a wholly new type of contemporary R&B. Bringing multiple influences into one track isn’t easy, but Charlotte incorporates jazz, neo-soul and R&B into her song ‘Sense’ in a uniquely expressive and persuasive manner. “This song has about three million names,” she laughs as she introduces the next track, “but for now, I’ll call it ‘Infinite’”. This notion of infinity can be felt throughout Charlotte’s artistry, with a free-flowing sense of “what’s coming next” going hand in hand with ambitions beyond the bounds and sounds of existing genres.

Skee

Nineteen year old rapper Skee opened his set with the lyrics “the future’s looking bright,” a phrase that feels relevant to this stage of upcoming artists well-equipped with skill and ambition to really “make it” in this industry. It takes a different kind of talent altogether to rap with a live band instead of a backing track with a supporting vocal, something that Skee is well-versed in, having performed his debut sold out headline show with his band Wavey Collective at Notting Hill Arts Club earlier this year. Skee’s performance was at once laid back and tightly performed, with an effortless approach to spitting bars with depth and meaning, to an audience ready and waiting for greatness.

Skee
Skee
Olympia Vitalis

Olympia Vitalis stripped back the instrumentation to simply voice and guitar for her performance, placing her soulful vocals and political lyrics centre stage without the potential distraction of a full band. Known for her resistance to writing about love, Olympia spoke to her heritage and history, and how her upbringing influenced her sound. “My parents are very political,” she shares, bringing to life the story behind Windrush-inspired song ‘Rush’, and Notting Hill Carnival influenced track ‘Mardy’. If her voice wasn’t enough, there’s an integrity to Olympia’s sound and vision that’s hard to match, a voice that remains heard long after the song ends.

Olympia Vitalis
Allyson

It can go one of two ways when phones start popping up from the crowd, but the sea of screens with cameras pointing at Allyson was a clear indication of the need to document something pretty special. From the very first note, Allyson brought a new type of energy to the stage, with her release ‘My Dear’ demonstrating her exceptional vocal control and capability from the off, as well as gaining highly esteemed play on BBC Introducing. Alyson has a hard-to-forget voice and a recognisable sound, a quality that Allyson has, in my opinion, completely mastered. 

Allyson
Maraché

Introducing herself as an Afro-fusion artist blending R&B, soul, and alté, MARACHÉ took the Brighton crowd on a journey through international genres, performing her track ‘Stay’ to a truly spellbound audience. To me, MARACHÉ’s artistry is reminiscent of Tems – her vocal reach and enviable grasp of diasporic beats demonstrates MARACHÉ’s unique ability to capture a crowd with a future blend of genres and sounds. With an exclusive performance of her unreleased track ‘Give Me Love’ playing out to applause and calls for a reprise, MARACHÉ left the crowd wanting more. 

Maraché
Maraché
Band
DJ 2Atefour
Band

It goes without saying, but the UD Incubator Programme has clearly found some of the best musical talent in London and beyond. By supporting ten young artists with the resources, support, and guidance on how to accelerate their musical development to the next phase, the future truly is bright – gleaming, in fact. The UD stage at The Great Escape brought the sound of the Incubator to life, connecting the crowd with emerging artists soon to be stars. 

Host, Nayana.AB

Words: Elsa Monteith. A Brighton based writer and broadcaster working in and around the arts and on the radio waves. Subscribe to Elsa’s Discontented newsletter here.

Photography: MJB Myles J Burrell

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