Tag Archives: Mura Masa

Pride of Guernsey awards – 07/10/17

Pride of Guernsey awardsLast night I attended my second Pride of Guernsey awards ceremony after being nominated, for the second year in a row, for the Moonpig Arts Contribution Of The Year Award.

For some context the awards are run by The Guernsey Press to celebrate people in the local community in a range of categories from Overcoming Adversity to Parish Champion to Young Achiever.

Following my nomination last year by Andy from Lifejacket and this year by Dan from Jawbone I was announced as a finalist, alongside Martin Cordall and Glenn Drake – longstanding musical director the Guernsey Youth Theatre (amongst other things) and charity choir leader respectively – following a public vote.

Pride of Guernsey medalThen, in a moment of complete surprise, I was announced as winner of the award for 2017 at the ceremony at the Guernsey Press offices.

Anyway, that’s the back story and it comes at the end of a pretty big week for what I do through BBC Introducing as it’s marked nine years of the BBC Introducing Guernsey radio show and ten years of BBC Introducing nationally.

I can’t remember exactly what I said by way of an acceptance speech but this is a rough summary of what I can (and what I wanted to say), and really I just want to thank anyone who voted for me and all the great bands and musicians working over here without whom I wouldn’t have anything to talk about, write about or otherwise promote.

“First of all thanks to Dan from Jawbone for nominating me this year and if you want to see some great punk rock go check them out, they’re the best doing it over here right now.

Thanks to everyone who voted for me but really what this is all about, and what what I do is all about, is promoting the unsigned, undiscovered, under the radar (that’s the slogan) music being made in the islands and obviously I couldn’t do that without the bands, musicians and artists making it.

Guernsey’s always had more than its share of great live music, since The Roberts Brothers back in the 60s through Ponders End, The Risk, The Pulse, Crunchy Frog, Hobo Sounds, Mechanical Lobster to Buffalo Huddleston, The Recks, Mura Masa and so many more, there’s so much great music being made that deserves to be heard, and there’s loads of gigs on tonight and every weekend so go out there and experience it – when we’re done here, go to a show!

Thanks!”

If you want to check out what BBC Introducing Guernsey is all about the best place to go is the Facebook page by clicking here

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BBC Introducing Day 2017

BBC Introducing 10 yearsFor the past ten years BBC Introducing has been championing new music around the UK, and at BBC Introducing Guernsey, I’ve been a part of that, officially for the last nine years.

While BBC Introducing Guernsey marked nine years last weekend (you can find out more about that here), we got involved with the 10th birthday celebrations by featuring a selection of tracks from bands and artists we’ve supported and championed, and those who’ve gone on to make their mark on a wider stage, across BBC Radio Guernsey‘s day time output.

You can listen back to all the tracks on the BBC iPlayer by visiting the BBC Radio Guernsey homepage and listening to all the shows, but here’s the list tracks featured and on which show:

Oscar Pearson
Buffalo Huddleston – Sunrise
Robyn Sherwell – Islander
The Recks – Low Life

Jenny Kendall-TobiasBBC Introducing Day artists 2017
Le Quesne – He’s An Idiot
James Dumbelton – College Boy
Buff Hudd & Flexagon – Drifting (Into The Light)
Of Empires – See You With The Angels Kid

John Randall (presented by Ollie Guillou)
Static Alice – SOS (live)
Robert J. Hunter – Bigger Things
Tantale – Wash Her In Wasps
Thee Jenerators – Guaranteed High

Islands at 5
The Space Pirates of Rocquaine – Edge of the World
mura masa – Lovesick

If you’re making music and want to upload it to BBC Introducing or just find out more and explore some of the great music being championed around the country than click here to visit the BBC Introducing main website

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: July 2017 – Chaos, Sark Folk Festival and more

Vice and Track Not Found at the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Vice and Track Not Found

Click here to listen to the show

On the July 2017 edition of BBC Introducing in Guernsey we had a festival special of a show with more besides.

For my look back at Chaos Voodoo 13 I spoke to the winners and runners-up of the Chaos/Sound Guernsey Battle of the Bands, VICE and track not found, while hearing music from some of the weekend’s highlight acts.

I also heard from some of the artists who played the Sark Folk Festival including Burg & The Back Porch BandJoe Corbin and Ukuladeez.

On top of that mura masa told us about releasing his self-titled debut album with a special signing at Guernsey’s HMV store and I had a brief look ahead to next month’s Vale Earth Fair.

You can listen to the show by clicking here.

Tracklist

And here’s a new video from The Recks that also came out this month, as a little bonus bit:

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Mura Masa – Self-titled

Mura Masa album coverWhen I first encountered the person that has become Mura Masa (aka Alex Crossan) he was the shy and retiring lead guitarist for deathcore band So Cold The River at one of the Rock of Ages events at Guernsey’s Carlton Hotel.

Since then things have changed slightly from a few demos made in his bedroom which first came to my attention in early 2013 to a Soundcloud mixtape that gained international indie distribution on vinyl under the name Soundtrack To A Death to signing to Polydor Records, setting up his own imprint (Anchor Point Records), selling out tours of the US, Europe and Japan and now the release of his self-titled debut album.

The album opens with a funky scene setter, Messy Love that throws together many of the aspects to be developed as the record goes on.

Along with rhythmically satisfying dance beats that combine classic funk and disco with more current electronic sounds, Mura Masa’s lyrics provide an interesting take on fairly well trodden formula for young musicians dealing with angsty, post-teen life in a refreshingly direct way.

Mura Masa

Mura Masa

From there the first half of the album heads into more hip hop inflected territory and the first batch of collaborators make their appearance. Regular performance partner and label mate Bonzai is first of these on the rantingly intense Nuggets followed by A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX and Desiigner.

While all their tracks have their own spin on the style Mura Masa’s writing and production style threads them all together. While Love$ick (a reworking of earlier track Lovesick Fuck) and 1 Night are both single style numbers, All Around The World provides the album’s most intense moments before another track, almost an interlude, without collaborators, provides something of a transitionary moment that feels very much like an intentional ‘end of side one’.

The second half of the album then heads into more ambient territory with the alt.pop feel coming further to the fore (though 1 Night lands in that area too) and once again gets going with a track featuring Bonzai that is one of the record’s highlights.

With Nao, Christine & The Queens, Jamie Lidell and more it’s fair to say the record is an impressive who’s who of current alt.pop but it is Mura Masa’s music and production that makes the album a whole. At first I thought it might sound a bit like another mixtape but it does coalesce into a collection of complete songs with an obvious through line to become a full product in itself.

Mura Masa and Bonzai - David Cabrera - 305.772.7543

Mura Masa and Bonzai (David Cabrera)

Nothing Else, featuring the aforementioned Lidell, brings an extra bit of soul to the record before it all comes to a conclusion on the magnificently genre defying Blu.

This has an extra surreal quality given the presence of Damon Albarn (frontman of Blur and founder of Gorillaz) who, for music fans of my vintage, has been one of the top names in pop for the best part of three decades.

All of this comes together to make for a very impressive debut that sets out Mura Masa’s place as a defier of convention and creator of a vein of alt.pop that borrows from many places to create something his own that can connect on several levels to wider audience than one might at first think (it even got me moving as I listened).

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: May 2017 – Static Alice, Mura Masa and The Recks

Static Alice - BBC Introducing Guernsey

Static Alice

Click here to listen to the show

The May 2017 edition of BBC Introducing Guernsey was a little different to usual with no live session but interviews with a range of artists and a look at the upcoming BBC Introducing Guernsey live stage on Arts Sunday.

Static Alice were my main guests as they release their new EP Warrior and told me about making the new record and their plans for the band.

Following his nomination for an Ivor Novello award and ahead of the release of his debut album we heard from mura masa (aka Guernsey-born producer Alex Crossan).

And as part of a look at the Arts Sunday event we heard from The Recks as well as featuring tracks from Thee JeneratorsTANTALEBuff Hudd and Blue Mountains

You can listen to the show for 30 on the BBC iPlayer Radio App or by clicking here.

Tracklist

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BBC Introducing Guernsey on BBC Radio 1 – February 2016

Of Empires, Last of the Light Brigade, Honest Crooks, Robyn Sherwell, Buffalo Huddleston and Mura MasaHaving spent the best part of the last two decades in some way featuring on BBC Radio Guernsey (as well as brief forays into hospital, student and Welsh commercial community radio) the idea of hearing not only my own voice, but also songs from bands and musicians I have been championing for the last ten years, on BBC Radio 1 remains somehow astonishing.

Following on from last year’s spots on the national network, BBC Introducing Guernsey was once again given the opportunity to select six tracks from island artists to feature as part of Huw Stephens’ show in the week of 15th February 2016.

Choosing only six artists was hugely challenging, but, with Guernsey born performers named in the BBC Sound of 2016 list and playing the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury Festival last year that was two down, Mura Masa and Robyn Sherwell.

From there I picked a band who have moved off island and begun to make ripples they hope to turn into waves, in Of Empires, and the band who over last couple of years have drawn some of the biggest live audiences to their gigs on the island, Buffalo Huddleston.

They then chose a few bands each with two making it onto Huw’s show, so from Of Empires list of choices, Last of the Light Brigade made an appearance and Buffalo Huddleston’s pick was Honest Crooks (the bands’ other choices being Thee Jenerators, Joe Corbin, Tantale and Wondergeist).

The shows are available for the next few weeks from the publication of this blog on the BBC iPlayer (links below) and all appear around two hours and 15 minutes into the show.

Monday 15th February

Click here to listen

Tuesday 16th February

Click here to listen

Wednesday 17th February

Click here to listen

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: January 2016 – Robert J Hunter and Flexagon

Robert J. Hunter on BBC Introducing Guernsey

Robert J. Hunter

Click here to listen to the show

A new year on BBC Introducing Guernsey started with a lot of new music spanning everything from folky jangliness to raw hip hop to dirty blues to psytrance.

The dirty blues came from Robert J. Hunter who came into the studio to record a four track acoustic session and tell me about his second album, Before The Dawn, and the release of a pair of new EPs coming up in the very near future.

Flexagon provided the psytrance and Goa style sounds as he told us about his debut album Helios and we premiered a new track of his remixing BLAKALASKA‘s Machine.

As well as that there was new music from Atari, Ukuladeez, Citizen-X and Ramblin’ Nick Mann and we took at listen to the three artists nominated for the Guernsey Ambassador of the Year Award; mura masa, Of Empires and Robyn Sherwell.

Click here to listen to the show or download it on the BBC iPlayer Radio App

Tracklist

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Music in Guernsey – Review of the Year 2015

2015 has felt like something of a divided year in music coming from the Bailiwick of Guernsey with a lot happening on the island while a few musicians and bands starting to make their mark and get some recognition in the wider world.

Two names that immediately spring to mind in that regard are Mura Masa and Robyn Sherwell.

Mura Masa

Mura Masa

Mura Masa, aka Alex Crossan, rounded off 2014 with the release of vinyl ‘mixtape’ project Soundtrack To A Death through Jakarta Records but has since gone on to receive airplay and support from Huw Stephens and Mary Anne Hobbs on BBC National Radio as well as starting his own label with distribution through Polydor.

The ‘on air’ features included a live session on Huw’s prime time new music show on BBC Radio 1, as well as being heard around the world on Apple’s new Beats Music platform with tracks from his debut EP proper Someday Somewhere.

This all culminated with being selected by Beats Music as one of their artists to watch in the new year and being named on the BBC Music Sound of 2016 long list (at time of writing the short list has yet to be announced).

You can read my interview with Mura Masa from last January here

Robyn Sherwell also saw a big expansion in recognition over the course of 2015. Early in the year her EP, Islander, surfaced with its title track dedicated to her home island.

Robyn Sherwell at Glastonbury

Robyn Sherwell at Glastonbury

This soon saw her featured by Jo Wiley on BBC Radio 2 (who would follow her closely throughout the year) and helped lead to her securing a spot on the BBC Introducing Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, becoming the first BBC Introducing Guernsey artist to earn that accolade.

With more recordings appearing, the second half of 2015 saw Robyn’s music featured on the trailer to the movie Suffragette starring Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan.

You can read my feature on Robyn’s appearance at Glastonbury here

A few other Guernsey artists also began to make their own strides into the wider world this year.

Following the release of their debut EP, Stranger Sensations, late last year, Of Empires signed a publishing deal with Metropolis Music and spent much of the first half of 2015 working on new material.

Of Empires

Of Empires

This saw them score a support slot on tour with Adam Ant as well as various other shows around London and Brighton and very well received Guernsey shows at the Vale Earth Fair in August and the festival’s Christmas event at The Fermain Tavern.

Robert J. Hunter and his band also made great in roads into the UK releasing two albums over the course of the year, Songs For The Weary in February followed by Before The Dawn in November, as well as completing their first tour of the UK and gigging relentlessly both as a band and solo around London and a few shows in Berlin.

Buffalo Huddleston also received the accolade of being voted Best of British’s Unsigned Band of the Year following a Facebook poll, but more about them later, while The Recks, Static Alice and Flexagon also made appearances off island.

The John Wesley Stone

The John Wesley Stone

Back on home turf most of January was a bit on the quiet side but the Vale Earth Fair’s annual unplugged night started to ramp things up featuring a show stealing, truly unplugged, set from The John Wesley Stone who took their instruments off stage and played up close and personal with the audience.

This was followed by The Get Down doing what they do best and putting on one of the highlight nights of the year in February as they welcomed hip hop legends Blackalicious to The Fermain Tavern and proceeded to not only sell the place out but slay the crowd with beats and rhymes like you couldn’t believe.

February also saw one of Guernsey’s musical prodigal sons, former Jenerator Steven Lynch, return with his new band The Electric Shakes to get The Fermain Tavern rocking and rolling alongside Lifejacket and To The Woods. February at The Fermain Tavern was rounded off by the return to our shores of Rumpus who more than surpassed the nostalgic memories of their Vale Earth Fair appearances.

The Doomsday Project

The Doomsday Project

Having been playing around the island for a few years February marked the launch of the debut album from young pop-punks The Doomsday Project with a special show at The Vault that showed how the four teens had gone from shy youngsters playing their favourite covers at the Rock of Ages nights to a fully fledged band in their own right.

If things weren’t already varied enough only two months in, March was highlighted by a pair of very different shows. First was a visit from Jersey duo Semu Ca, with support from Tantale and Citizen-X, who played excerpts from their new soundtrack for Swedish silent film Haxan at The Fermain Tavern.

Meanwhile live music returned to The Bowl as pop-rockers Static Alice along with Last of the Light Brigade and Chloe Le Page organised the first gig there in many years in hopes of resurrecting it as a venue for all ages.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

Live music in the month then rounded off with the debut of Honest Crooks opening a show at The Fermain Tavern and instantly making a mark that would see them go on to garner quite a following as the year went on.

Guernsey music also took a step into the national limelight in March as BBC Introducing Guernsey took up residency on BBC Radio 1 for a week giving a selection of musicians the chance of getting heard by a much wider audience and letting the outside world have a view into our unique scene.

April got going with an Easter Sunday special at The Fermain Tavern with Last of the Light Brigade, Lifejacket, To The Woods and Isabelle Sheil. The following weekend saw legendary, genre-defying, band The Blockheads follow in their comrade Wilko Johnson’s footsteps by playing a storming set at a packed Tav to help Space Pirate Chris Denton celebrate his birthday – that’s quite a way to have a birthday party!

Lord Vapour at The Vault

Lord Vapour

Having released an EP at the very end of 2014, stoner hard rock band Lord Vapour made their live debut with a mid-week ‘showcase’ show at The Vault and proceeded to not only start off a series of gigs that spanned venues and islands across the rest of the year, but also show how surprisingly good the small St. Peter Port venue can be for seriously heavy music.

Liberation Day in May has become renowned for its live music events and 2015 was no different with it all being highlighted by the JT Rocks stage in St Peter Port.

As well as featuring great sets from Static Alice, Asylum Seekas, Fade2Grey and King Rat & The Soul Cats it marked the return to the stage of Sark based outfit The Recks (with new drummer Mox) and the beginning of what was to be something of a special run for Buffalo Huddleston.

The Recks on Liberation Day 2015

The Recks

And of course it really marked the beginning of the Bailiwick’s big outdoor, summer music events.

Back indoors and a personal highlight was the visit to the island of Eureka Machines, a band I’ve been following for a number of years, who played a great set to a disappointingly small audience but seemed to have a great time doing so regardless.

May came to a close with a double-header of Fermain Tavern gigs spanning everything from folky murder ballads to rock ‘n’ roll to doom metal as Brunt, Tantale, Lord Vapour and Gregory Harrison kicked off the weekend while The Recks, Ray & The Guns, Blue Mountains and Citizen-X closed it.

The outdoor shows continued in June with the first BBC Introducing Guernsey live stage at Arts Sunday featuring Rentoclean, Blue Mountains, Buffalo Huddleston and Chloe Le Page while the month was rounded off by the annual Chaos Festival.

Robert J Hunter

Robert J. Hunter

Now into its second decade this year’s event had many stand out moments from the return of a much more confident and assured Robert J. Hunter headlining the first night to Buffalo Huddleston stealing the show in The Peace Tent in a way that became their calling card wherever they went for the rest of the year.

Other highlights of the festival were To The Woods and The Electric Shakes on the Friday night, Lord Vapour on Saturday afternoon and The Recks and Jersey’s Flashmob closing the weekend out in fine style on the Sunday.

The following weekend many of Guernsey’s musicians and fans decamped to Sark, along with many visitors, for the Sark Folk Festival which, once again, was a special event in the way only it can be.

For me this was the year the locals really stole the show from the bigger visiting names with Robert J. Hunter again putting in a special performance, The Recks mixing things up with a host of new songs (and an epic Led Zeppelin cover) and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine closing the show with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from them.

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

Jull-Z and Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

The weekend though belonged (once again) to Buffalo Huddleston who packed the Vermerette Stage tent and had seemingly everyone singing (and dancing) along, so much so the side of the tent had to be opened to allow more people to get in on the show.

Away from the festivals July continued with the release of the debut EP from Blakalaska, Machine, accompanied by a launch gig at The Fermain Tavern with support from Jersey’s Falenizza Horsepower who put in a genuinely unique performance. This was followed by a disappointing visit to the island by a version of 60s band The Animals (though missing pretty much every crucial member of the band).

With the festivals being an opportune time for it a few more bands put out albums and EPs in July with Ukuladeez releasing their Cosmic Tea Party EP and Blue Mountains’ debut LP dropping around the time of the folk festival as the month was rounded off by the Vale Earth Fair’s annual jaunt to the Rocquaine Regatta.

The Recks

The Recks

Over the first weekend of August The Recks undertook a tour of the Channel Islands taking in Sark, Guernsey and Jersey with visiting support act Markuz. While slated as an album release tour the record failed to materialise but that didn’t stop the band and their various support acts putting on some great shows.

This came alongside performances at The Isle of Wight Festival, Boomtown, Jersey’s Folklore Festival, Guernsey’s North Show and even a set in Herm across the summer before, somewhat surprisingly, the Sark based quintet announced their split in December.

While a smaller event on paper, the return of Gay Army to the stage always had the potential to be something special and, along with Ray & The Guns at The Vault it was just that with many hailing it as one of the gigs of the year and I’d be hard pressed to argue that it wasn’t up there with them.

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnson

Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons

A very busy August continued with the release of Stone Em All’s Villains EP with probably their best live outing to date at The Vault while the month culminated with the island’s longest running festival the Vale Earth Fair on the bank holiday weekend.

With the main stage highlights for me coming from Thee Jenerators and Of Empires it was The Stage Against The Machine’s line up that stole the show this year, particularly closing triumvirate of Lifejacket, visitors Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons and To The Woods, but many others as well.

Lifejacket continued their run of great shows supporting the release of physical editions of their debut album at a special charity show at The Vault in September alongside Paper Saints, To The Woods and Ollie Goddard. The Guernsey Literary Festival once again presented a night mixing spoken word and music as they welcomed Neil Innes to The Fermain Tavern with Ushti Baba and Buffalo Huddleston while my September was rounded off with a visit to London to see The Wildhearts (not a Guernsey gig but a highlight for me).

The Electric Shakes

The Electric Shakes

October started out with the third visit of the year from The Electric Shakes, this time playing alongside Gay Army and Ray & The Guns at The Fermain Tavern and it continued with To The Wood unleashing not only their debut album, but its follow-up EP as well and what was, by all accounts, a standout night of live music on Halloween, though I missed this through attending gigs from Ghost and Tiger Army somewhat further afield.

Following hot on the heels of To The Woods, November saw more records being released with Static Alice launching their new EP with a show at The Vault, while Thee Jenerators dropped their latest, The Devil’s Chords, in a special vinyl edition and Tantale’s second album, Just Add Vice, emerged alongside a series of showcase gigs, including supporting Grant Sharkey.

The Graveltones

The Graveltones

London hard-blues duo The Graveltones also hit the island with support from SugarSlam, Chloe Le Page and Jersey’s Tadhg Daly, while a new series of gigs specifically for under-18s launched under the name Sound Guernsey at The Venue with Honest Crooks and Buffalo Huddleston.

December was all about Christmas party shows with the Vale Earth Fair staging a double-header at The Fermain Tavern featuring Rentoclean, Tantale and To The Woods on the first night and Honest Crooks, Of Empires and The Space Pirates of Rocquaine on the second with Of Empires stealing the show to cap off an excellent year for them.

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

Meanwhile Sound Guernsey’s second event was their Christmas special introducing youngsters to Toby Falla, Rentoclean and Asylum Seekas. A couple of albums also surfaced as the year came to a close with the debut from Flexagon gaining quite a following online and newcomers Wondergeist releasing their first record, somewhat out of the blue, too.

Undeniably 2015 has been a packed one for music from the islands but, as it draws to a close, it would hard not to admit that there is a feeling that what gets refered to as Guernsey’s music ‘scene’ is in something of a state of flux. Where it all goes from here is anyone’s guess but with the quality of music being produced I hope more can connect with the wider audience it deserves. Buffalo Huddleston have proved they can connect with a crossover audience and it will just take a few of that crowd to explore a little deeper and things could really take off…

I don’t normally do these but thought I would this year, based on what I’ve seen and experienced, here are a few highlights by category…

Band of the YearBuffalo Huddleston
Festival Stage/Event of the YearThe Peace Tent/Stage Against The Machine
Newcomers of the YearHonest Crooks
Set of the YearBuffalo Huddleston at Sark Folk Festival
Record of the YearLifejacket – Let’s Get This Out Of Our System And Move On
Visiting Band of the YearPussycat & The Dirty Johnsons

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BBC Introducing Guernsey: December 2015 – Buff Hudd and Thee Jenerators

Buff Hudd in the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Buff Hudd in the BBC Introducing Guernsey studio

Click here to listen to the show

For the final BBC Introducing Guernsey radio show of 2015 I took a look back at the last 12 months of music around the islands including tracks from Of Empires, The Recks, mura masa, Robyn Sherwell, Robert J. Hunter and more.

As well as that I was joined in the studio by Buff Hudd (aka Buffalo Huddleston frontman Mike Meinke) for a live session and an interview about what has been a huge year for the band.

I also spoke to Thee Jenerators about the release of their new ablum, The Devil’s Chords, which is out now on both digital and vinyl.

You can listen to show on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here or download it using the BBC iPlayer Radio App on smartphones.

Tracklist

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BBC Introducing Guernsey Summer Special – 23/08/15

The Recks at BBC Guernsey 2

The Recks in session

Click here to listen to the show

For a special edition of BBC Introducing Guernsey in August 2015 I took a look back at some highlights of the live sessions featured on the show so far this year.

Every month on the show I feature a Guernsey artist live in session, usually playing stripped back acoustic versions of their songs. So far this year BBC Introducing Guernsey has featured everything from pop-punk to electronic soundscapes alongside sessions originally broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and recorded on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury Festival.

To be featured on BBC Introducing, in Guernsey or anywhere else around the UK, upload your music through the Introducing ‘Uploader’ tool.

Gregory Harrison

Gregory Harrison

The show is available to listen to online for a month by clicking here or you can download it on the BBC iPlayer Radio App.

Tracklist

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