Now in to its fourth year, the GIT Award is set to once again applaud the cream of Liverpool’s latest musical exports, while also shining a light on some of the city’s lesser-known gems. Ahead of the ceremony – set to be held at The Kazimier on 4th April – we catch up with a few of the accolade’s national judging panel, to find out how the city’s current musical crop are perceived outside Merseyside.
By way of celebrating what has been another fine year of musical creativity on Merseyside, the 2015 edition of the GIT AWARD has left no stone unturned in compiling its final shortlist. These twelve nominees represent a fine cross-section of where they city is at right now, and the list boasts some pretty major players. And it took a crack team of judges, with both local knowhow and national expertise, to finally decide on who would be in the GIT Award 2015’s dirty dozen. As a member of the sixteen-strong judging panel this year, let me assure you that it was far from an easy task.
When I joined the panel – as a local judge alongside head judge and Award chief Peter Guy, Mike Deane (Liverpool Music Week director), Victoria Smith (Arts Club manager), Yaw Owusu (LIMF creative director) and Steve Miller (EVOL and Sound City booker) – I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was going on and who I’d likely be voting for. But even I was surprised at the strength and breadth of the two hundred-plus long list that was circulated around the judging panel as a starting point for our deliberations. And I wasn’t the only one pleasantly surprised.
“The sheer diversity on display in Liverpool is incredible,” says Clash Magazine’s Deputy Online Editor Robin Murray, one of the Award’s national judges. “Truly, there’s little I can say to do it justice. The breadth and depth of talent is intimidating and I just hope that we – as the judging panel – can give the wider world a flavour of what’s going on in the city.” Award-winning music journalist Simon Price was also impressed by the variety of music presented to him on the long list this time round. “I didn’t realise there was such a strong scene [on Merseyside] for hip hop/R&B/grime until I got involved with this process. A lot of my favourite nominees came from that side of things.”
Having attended the GIT Award Final for the last couple of years and been “passionate about its ethos”, journalist, blogger and Amazing Radio show host Shell Zenner was delighted to be part of the judging process this year, and has been heartened not just by what she’s heard, but also by the platform the GIT Award has become. “The process to me has solidified the confidence that it’s not where you’re at, it’s the potential you have, too – whatever the genre, whatever the type of music or artist you are,” Shell tells me, evidently brimming with enthusiasm. “You will be heard and considered. This year we’ve pitched commercially viable artists against leftfield heroes, and even those taking their tentative first steps into the industry. It’s seriously heart-warming and exciting to see what will happen in the future.”
Music journalism has come a long way in the past decade, and regional stereotypes – in terms of sound at least – are gradually becoming a thing of the past. The erosion of the idea that certain regions only produce certain types of musicians is a welcome one, with Merseyside a prime example. “I don’t think there’s any one dominating flavour in Liverpool’s music scene, which is partly why it’s so creative,” agrees Robin Murray. “It feels like right now the city is a great place to make music, with musicians supporting one another in whatever bizarre concoctions they dream up. Sure, The La’s and The Coral were great bands, but there’s more to Liverpool than that.” Shell Zenner agrees, and is proud of the final shortlist that the judging panel have settled on. “To say all the artists from the area sound like [The La’s and The Coral] is completely incorrect: Circa Waves are a stadium indie band in the making; Låpsley is an electronic genius who’s carrying the electronic torch forward from last year’s winner Forest Swords; Esa Shields is completely far-out and it fills me with excitement to see his live show; and then you’ve got the stunning sound of the incredible Jane Weaver, whose latest album topped the Piccadilly Records album of the year list in 2014. Liverpool and its music are not to be pigeonholed!”
Dot Levine – Head of Campaigns and Communications at UK Music, which represents the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry – has got to know Liverpool pretty well over recent months, thanks to her dad (record producer Steve) setting up his new home in the city. Her experiences judging this year’s process have instilled in her a renewed vigour for a region that’s always been proud of its musical chops. “Liverpool is a city full of music lovers and music makers – people who are always trying to listen for something new and exciting, and music makers creating something new and exciting. Liverpool’s scene breathes life into the industry – it’s full of people who are the lifeblood of our vibrant and diverse UK music industry,” she reveals.
From my own point of view, selecting the final twelve artists to be shortlisted has been a satisfying experience. I’m as convinced as anyone else that this city is as good as any other at creating and nurturing musical talent; what the GIT Award nominees for 2015 show is that we have deep reserves of high-class skill in our midst, and we’re right to praise it. Now we’ve just got to pick a winner. Any ideas?
Behold the twelve nominees below who’ve been shortlisted for the 2015 Award.
ALL WE ARE
The lithe, rhythmic grooves on this trio’s debut, self-titled LP have not only won them a legion of fans, but also heaps of international praise.
Circa Waves have marked themselves as one of the UK’s biggest music sensations, with a nomination for Best New Band in the 2014 NME Awards.
D R O H N E
A subversive mystique adds a dissonant edge to the work of this electronic duo, who have signed with O Genesis Recordings and supported Factory Floor in the past twelve months.
An acid pop polymath who has long been a fixture of Liverpool’s underground music community, Esa Shields’ experimentalism is finally getting the praise it deserves.
A quintet with the music world at their feet, Gulf’s light-as-a-feather cosmic pop has had the music press and industry buzzing about where they’ll go next.
HOOTON TENNIS CLUB
Close friendships and swaggering, lo-fi warmth are part of the fabric of this quartet, who are signed up to the respected label Heavenly Recordings.
Widnes-born Jane Weaver has found her groove with sixth solo album The Silver Globe, which meshes celestial shoegaze with a touch of krautrock.
Holly Låpsley Fletcher’s sparse, dubby compositions have seen the Formby teenager sign with XL Recordings and win the inaugural Blog Sound award for 2015.
ROXANNE L JONES
A bold, sassy delivery typifies the approach of this Toxteth-born singer-songwriter, who fuses vintage soul sensibilities with contemporary pop.
These five Wirral musicians channel a vintage, summery vibe in their hip-shaking rock revivalism, which has seen them play Glastonbury’s Introducing Stage.
WE ARE CATCHERS
The Domino-released debut album of melancholic Scouse troubadour Peter Jackson is a wistful collection of Beach Boys-esque yearning pop.
Twenty-one-year-old Sam Folorunsho is a fast-rising star soul star whose self-produced EP Binary In Blue showed a flair for super-slick hip hop beats.
Words: Christopher Torpey / @CATorp