Scouting for talent isn’t a simple one-stop shop for us. Our ears can be pricked, our sixth sense stimulated, or our team tipped off in a variety of different ways, but undoubtedly you have to get out there. Follow your passion and trust your instinct, whether that be doing some digital digging, in conversation with enthusiasts, or maybe most importantly at a live show.

One such place where all of the above are mashed together in the hope of accelerating the process is at music expos. Industry places that often feel like a badly mixed cocktail of festival and conference. Hype factories for the next big thing, where many are more interested in talking about who is excited about who, rather than actually pounding the streets and really listening to bands.

This weekend we visited The Great Escape (TGE) in Brighton, one of the hybrids periodically on our calendar. Three days and nights by the sea, soaking up sounds, chatting to agents, artists, organisers and publicists a like. A dream life right? Well yes, we can’t deny we enjoy it, but it’s neither easy on the body, nor to find the nuggets of talent in amongst a mountain of mediocrity, image projection and future potential.

Forty-two hours of hit and miss gigs in three days is enough for anyone, with the weather on the trip quickly becoming a metaphor for the experience. Mostly inclement, with occasional rays of sunshine making the miles and miles trudged in the rain worth it.

So who made it worth it?

Westerman was one firm favourite for sure! Unusually he is an act we have booked for Shambala 2017 before seeing him live. When getting the chance to catch him live at TGE we were not disappointed. A humble singer songwriter with a spine tingling voice that’s something very special.

Another one that shows the benefits of stepping outside of your own echo chamber were the US black metal outfit Zeal and Ardor. Certainly a leftfield one for us, but there’s a mosh pit or two in our history. Metal combined with Delta blues harmonies and glitchy field recording interludes, made it one of the most innovative and individual things we’ve seen and heard recently.

The Turbans! A turbo charged international collective drawing on various aspects of musical heritage to deliver an immense stage show. Maybe you will get to catch them at Shambala this year…

You’ll have to check our various event line-ups for other discoveries, but further props to all the acts on TGE 2017 line up that have already played with us: Ibibio Sound Machine, Lakuta, Flamingods, Afriquoi and of course that dude headlining TGE 2017 in the Brighton Dome, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man (Shambala 2013)… 

Jon Walsh