Kickstart is always a wonderful period for us as we delve into a heap of new music and discover some gems. Following the announcement of the initial longlist of twenty artists, we passed the baton onto an external panel to confirm which artists would make the final shortlist for Kickstart 2022.
Our industry panel of Nikki MacRae (Help Musicians), Saul Duffin (YEO Magazine), Chris Barber (Blast 106), Edwin McFee (Sunday Life/Hot Press), Hebe Lawson (Queens Radio) and Stevie Lennox (The Thin Air) had the tough task of compiling the final shortlist of artists. After two weeks of deliberations, we are pleased to unveil the five shortlisted artists for Kickstart 2022.
The next two weeks will see our final deliberations before we announce the winner of Kickstart 2022. Delve in and discover more about the shortlisted artists below.
Winnie Ama is part of a new breed of electronic artists blending conscious lyrics, soulful alternative RnB vocals with dance, house and pop rhythms. The Belfast born and raised Northern-Irish-Ghanaian artist has had success with multiple MusicWeek UK Club Chart top 10’s and support from BBC Introducing and BBC Radio Ulster referencing her fresh writing style and distinctive voice.
Big Daisy are a 4-piece Shoegaze, Indie-Fuzz band from Belfast, Northern Ireland. The band formed in Autumn 2019 through their love of sad, melancholic lyrics, heavy rhythm sections and catchy guitar hooks. However, Aidan, James, Ciara & Dan met as kids and are lifelong friends. The street they all grew up on is to blame for their meeting. Recording their debut single ‘Go Outside’ in November with Niall Doran in Start Together studios, Big Daisy was born.
Wearing influences on her sleeve from Big Star to Cocteau Twins, Heart Shaped is the dreamy pop project of Belfast-based songwriter Kendall Bousquet. Following on from the 2020 EP Second Hand, which gained critical praise with international radio play from KEXP to the BBC and a feature on the front page of Bandcamp, new single No Contact finds the Texas native meditating on ambivalent love over a fuzzed-out soundscape of shimmering melodies. Together with surf inflected B-Side Version of You, the two tracks form a snapshot of a maturing songwriter hitting her stride, unafraid to mix a catchy pop sensibility with introspection and catharsis.
Since she previewed her music on social media in 2017, Susi Pagel has created an online fanbase and has been championed by BBC’s Gemma Bradley plus other media platforms. She’s been likened to the sounds of Melanie Martinez and early Britney Spears. Her productivity and verve are unstoppable, just as the music gets more assured and ambitious. Susi imagines a great future. “What I would love to be doing is touring and having a solid group of people that are fans. Just being a pop star.”
Happy Pop’ artist Riley Holland is a songwriter and performer from Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Her music relates to pop and urban, acoustic and electronic. Songs like ‘Say It First’ – her first release in 2021 – deal with issues of the heart and the fragile aspects of human affairs. Riley has achieved much in her early career. In 2019 she was a semi-finalist in the Belfast-Nashville Young Songwriter Of The Year, making her live debut during this festival. She was also a finalist in the All-Ireland Star Nation competition. This earned her recording time in Ireland’s famous Windmill Lane studio. Riley studies Music Production in London, amassing the skills to take her music from basic bedroom recordings to a more ambitious reach.
Timeline For The Competition ►
– Monday 7th February 2022 – Competition announced and entry opens
– Saturday 5th March 2022 – Entries Close at 8PM
– Monday 21st March 2022 – Initial Longlist Announced
– Monday 4th April 2022 – Final Shortlist Announced
– Monday 18th April 2022 – Chordblossom’s Kickstart 2022 Winner Announced
Prizes For Winner ►
► Professional Career Advice – Courtesy of Third Bar Artist Development
Third Bar Artist Development is run by Davy Matchett and Gary Lightbody with the objective of supporting artists from Northern Ireland and helping them achieve their ambitions. They have helped shaped the careers of many local artists including A Plastic Rose, Sister Ghost, Strange New Places, Brand New Friend and The Florentinas. You will get an opportunity to sit down with Davy and discuss how best to utilise your prizes and take the next steps in your career.
► Single Recording – Courtesy of Big Space Studios
Big Space Studios is the brain child of Declan Legge and his recording studio has been the birthplace of tracks from a long list of our favourite artists. With the likes of Owen Denvir, Silences, SOAK, Ciaran Lavery and Jealous of the Birds all spending time there, you know your single recording is in good hands.
► Video for your Single – Courtesy of Broken Film
Broken Film is the latest endeavour of Jamie Neish. After years spent drumming for the legendary More Than Conquerors, Jamie has turned his hand to video work in recent years. His portfolio is stunning and his client list reads as a who’s who of the NI music scene.
► Festival Slot – Courtesy of Stendhal Festival of Art
The sun always seems to shine when we visit Limavady for Stendhal (mostly…) and you can take your place among Sister Sledge, The Wood Burning Savages, Hayseed Dixie & Sasha Samara as you join the impressive line-up for Stendhal 2022.
► Festival Slot – Courtesy of Sunflowerfest
We await the first line up announcements for this year’s Sunflowerfest but if you’re successful in Kickstart then your place on the stages of Tubby’s Farm this July will be assured.
► One Month PR Campaign – Courtesy of Thrill Merchants
There is no point putting all the work into creating an incredible single and breath-taking video if no-one sees or hears it. Thrill Merchants will do their utmost to ensure you secure both written coverage and radio airplay of your new release.
► Professional Photoshoot – Courtesy of Avcunningham Photography
Aside from doing a sterling job as deputy editor at Chordblossom, Aaron Cunningham is an excellent photographer. His work with Joel Harkin, Big Daisy & the mighty New Pagans has seen his shots featured on album covers, gig posters and music publications here and beyond.
► Single Launch Gig in Belfast – Courtesy of Chordblossom
We know our way round a launch gig at Chordblossom and we’ll work with you to create an event to remember as you launch your new music out into the world.
Prizes For Runner Up ►
► Professional Career Advice – Courtesy of New Champion Management
From established artists like Ryan Vail & Joshua Burnside to future prospects CHERYM, Laytha and Lemonade Shoelace, NCM hold arguably the finest roster of artists from these shores. You’ll have the opportunity to sit down with head honcho Ben Magee to flesh out a plan to develop your career.
► Single Recording – Courtesy of Half Bap Studios
Tucked away in the Cathedral Quarter, Half Bap Studios celebrated their tenth anniversary last year and are firmly planted as one of our prolific studios. Recent highlights include their work on the NI nominated album for Dani Larkin and recording Lemonade Shoelace’s winning entry for the Vans music competition.