Birmingham and the West Midlands have exploded with new bands, artists and original sounds over the last decade. From established famous names such as Duran Duran and Wizzard, to new unsigned artists, such as local rap artist Claymore, whose tracks are being championed by BBC Introducing in the West Midlands, musicians and songwriters are being given a space to create and explore their music within a community of musicians.
As a city, Birmingham is famous for its nightlife and youth culture, and has made a name of being a city of new music. The West Midlands’ landscape has influenced the music created. From the 1980s and 90s grassroots rave scene influenced by Birmingham’s industrial heart, to the rock and metal scene, which produced bands such as Black Sabbath, local music cannot be pigeonholed. When I began to delve into local music, it was this multicultural variety of music, with tracks encompassing every genre from Desi music to Indie-Rock, that really represents the culture of Birmingham.
What seems to be particularly special about this fresh music is how genres are mixed and combined, creating new, original sounds which have not been heard before. In my BURN FM interview with Alex Noble from BBC West Midlands, he calls it a ‘thriving scene’ for so many different genres, citing its inter-genre collaboration as reflective of the ethnically diverse backdrop of the West Midlands. This originality seems to have bled into the live music scene, which brings new, energetic music to the forefront, whether you are watching in the intimate venues of The Sunflower Lounge and The Victoria or the O2 Institute and Academy. I find it so interesting that Birmingham was chosen to be the home of the Sonic Wave Festival, which, in 2021, showcased over 60 up-and-coming local artists and well-known bands across seven different venues. There is certainly a strand of this inventive nature and energy coming from the music being released, that can be seen clearly in performance.
During the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, BBC Introducing were off air and yet Alex Noble says they received around 2,000 track uploads. This showcases how the local music scene has continually developed, to the point where new bands are creating their own unique space. Birmingham is being recognised for its contributions to UK music, with the Birmingham Music Awards honouring and highlighting emerging bands and artists in the local area.
Certain artists to me seem to embody the strength of local music. From The Lathums, who recently released their debut album to rave reviews, who represent their local area of Wigan, to Vistas, an urgent electric band from Edinburgh. The Birmingham band, Overpass, who performed at Sonic Wave Festival and at the University of Birmingham’s own UoBe festival, is making waves in the local indie music scene, with support from tastemakers such as Tim Senna. Their debut single ‘One Night Lover’ was released recently, quickly made it to Brum Radio’s track of the week. Birmingham rock band Table Scraps, alongside indie band Overcliff and rap artist Lady Sanity are all creating equally interesting original sounds from the local area. Birmingham is one of the most exciting places to be for new music and the list of West Midlands artists who will make you want to dance and give you goosebumps goes on and on.
Here is a link to my playlist showcasing some brilliant artists emerging West Midlands music.
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