Brighton’s new music showcase and industry bash, The Great Escape may not be taking place for several months yet, but preparations are already kicking off with the annual First Fifty showcase, which will see a number of the buzziest up-and-comers on the line-up playing shows in London this week.
And one such gig is hosted by us, your pals at Dork. We’ve got singer-songwriter Delilah Montagu, Ivor Novello winner Mysie, Danish popster Jada and London newcomer Kwaku Asante all performing at Oslo on Wednesday, 17th November.
In preparation for the, er, preparation, we caught up with three of the four to find out how they’re feeling about getting back on stage and what else they’re up to at the moment.
Hello you lot! How are you doing, and what are you up to today?
Delilah: Hello! I’m very well thank you, today I wrote a song with my friend Jasper, and now I’m watching Stranger Things and ordering a pizza.
Mysie: I’m doing very well, thanks. Coming back from a fire few days with Fraser in the studio. Just putting the finishing touches on the upcoming EP for ya ears and pleasure.
Kwaku: Hello! I’m doing well, thank you. Today I am rehearsing for my headline show at the Jazz Cafe, and maybe I’ll go to the cinema to watch Dune, James Bond or Venom. I haven’t decided yet!
You’re playing First Fifty for The Great Escape, does it feel weird to be prepping for next year’s festivals already? How have the past couple of years been for you on the live front?
Delilah: Well, non-existent, sadly. I really miss playing live, and I can’t wait to play again! Especially with The Great Escape.
Mysie: Not really tbh, I’m so honestly so excited to perform First Fifty for The Great Escape. Last year was such a vibe before Covid; I was so looking forward to doing the actual festival!! However, focusing on now, things are starting to pick up for the end of the year, and I’m super excited for what’s in store next year now things are starting to feel slightly normal again.
Kwaku: It doesn’t feel weird at all because I feel like in the industry, you plan so far ahead into the future that preparing for TGE 2022 seems about the right time to be preparing. The live front for me has been good. In the past couple of years, I have been on a few EU tours (one which was cut short because of Covid), had a headline show at Omeara, residency at Servant Jazz Quarters and support slots for artists I revere, and festivals!
Have you been to many gigs now that lockdown’s finished?
Delilah: I went to see Patti Smith at the Albert Hall last week, and I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t been to a gig in so long or if she’s just amazing, but I cried all the way through it was like a religious experience. The atmosphere of everyone singing along was magical.
Mysie: I can’t lie. I actually haven’t been to any gigs now lockdown’s finished; I’ve been to my own? Does that count? I think during these times, I’ve really been focused on my project and super focused on myself.
Kwaku: I’ve been to more festivals like the Cloud X festival, which was probably my favourite. Along with Strawberries & Creem and Yam Carnival, which I performed at. But I saw Blxst last week, and I am looking forward to watching Wizkid too!
What have you most enjoyed being able to do now all the restrictions have eased up a bit?
Delilah: Making music with people I love and jamming out with my band!
Mysie: Now everything’s eased up a bit, tbh I’ve enjoyed spending time with friends and family. For the first time in forever went to dogstarr in Brixton, and it was like I never left hahahaha! A vibe. Had such a good time; it felt like things were returning to normal again.
Kwaku: Just being able to experience society and do things with people, see my friends, play live, have sessions. Enjoying slowly going back to the normality of life!
What are you working on at the moment, is there new music coming?
Delilah: Yes!!! There is a LOT of new music coming. I’m working on another solo project and also a project with Ric Wilson, who’s my friend from LA. Can’t wait to get some new stuff out.
Mysie: Been working and wrapping up my next EP, of course! Super excited for you huns to listen to it. Been writing loads and breaking my own heart loads, so there’s a lot to share.
Kwaku: Just finishing up a ten-track EP, which I’m really excited about. It comes out at the start of 2022, as well as a lot of other new music!
Has the pandemic and recent turmoil impacted what you want to write about, or the kind of music you’re drawn to, at all?
Delilah: It has to an extent. I think that because of lockdown, everyone was listening to a lot more music. I definitely got back into my old favourites like Carole King and The Beatles.
Mysie: I think the pandemic has impacted the way I write but not so much the kind of music I’m drawn to. I’ve always listened to a range of different music for as long as I can remember; I feel the pandemic just made the listening go deeper tbh. New music discovery is my favourite thing! In terms of writing, yeah I’m definitely in my feels. The pandemic has impacted me and relationships around me in positive and in negative ways too… but you’ll hear more about this in my next EP.
Kwaku: I actually haven’t written about lockdown at all in my new music; there may be one or two lines, but entire songs I haven’t. More so, all of the scenarios in my EP are all fictional, however, some of the songs have turned into self-fulfilling prophecies, which is very ironic!
What else have you got planned for over the next few months?
Delilah: I’m going to go to LA to do some writing, and other than that, I’m just going to finish off my next solo project and get it ready to release. Can’t wait to make the videos for it and get it out in the world.
Mysie: Wrapping up my ep for the new year, so loads of new music to come. Of course, more gigs, vibes, more writing.
Kwaku: My headline show, finishing up new music, starting my album and other projects and TGE FIRST 50!
If you were booking your own new music festival, who would you want on the line-up?
Delilah: The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Earth Wind and Fire, Joni Mitchell and Lizzo. Haha.
Mysie: Rosalia, Doja cat, SG Lewis, Aluna, Kaytranada, Bakar, Sampha, badbadnotgood, Rema, Steve Lacy, Thundercat. I could go on and on and on.
Kwaku: Hmm, okay, I would choose: Frank Ocean, D’angelo, Little Simz, Wizkid, Nao, Anderson Paak, Drake, Adele, Kaytranada, Sza, James Blake, Travis Scott, Sampha, Rihanna, Tyler the Creator and Kwaku Asante (headlining). And I would like to add that none of the acts would clash!