Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy
Meet The Best New Artist GRAMMY Nominees At The 2023 GRAMMYs
The 2023 GRAMMY nominees for Best New Artist are as diverse as can be: Anitta, Omar Apollo, DOMi & JD Beck, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Muni Long, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg.
The GRAMMY for Best New Artist speaks to one of the most crucial aspects of the music community — without new artists, and great ones, the music industry would cease to exist.
Whether they've been humming beneath the surface for a minute or are truly new, talented artists at the beginning of their mainstream journeys are precious to the Recording Academy.
For the 2023 GRAMMYs, Recording Academy Membership has spoken: Anitta, Omar Apollo, DOMi & JD Beck, Samara Joy, Latto, Måneskin, Muni Long, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle, and Wet Leg are those emerging names — and one will win a golden gramophone for their debut on the global stage.
Here's a rundown of the nominees for Best New Artist at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.
A few months back, J Balvin interviewed his friend Anitta, calling the singer/songwriter "one of the greatest artists of history in Brazil." The data can back it up: she recently set a Guinness World Record as the first Latin solo artist to reach No. 1 on Spotify.
But rather than revel in her achievements — as virtually anyone in her position would do — the artist born Larissa de Macedo Machado struck a note of humility.
"Most times I'm very worried about everyone, caring about everyone, thinking about my family and making sure everyone is good," she told J Balvin, when asked about her personal life. "I'm actually very much the opposite of this powerful, invincible person that I sell as an artist."
This dichotomy of bravado and vulnerability is central to Anitta's artistry, and her boundary-busting appeal on the global stage.
Just watch her perform "Envolver" at the VMAs: visually, she's busting sultry moves, clad in scarlet. She can seem larger-than-life, and in some ways, she is. But that voice contains deeply human hues of sensitivity and resilience.
In April 2022, Anitta released her fifth album, Versions of Me — and it was a sensation, hitting 1 billion streams on Spotify. It's a starmaking turn, both due to the caliber of songs like "I'd Rather Have Sex," "Boys Don't Cry" and "Gimme Your Number" and startling messaging; just look at the album art, which features various plasticine permutations of Anitta's face.
"Even after millions of plastic surgeries, doctors and interventions... my inside just stays the same," Anitta stated. "I could see through all the pictures everyone is posting wishing me happy bday that my soul kept all the important things I had inside since I was a kid."
With her artistry in full flower on Versions of Me, those "important things" haven't been simply unleashed — they've fundamentally altered the music landscape both in Brazil and stateside. Talk about it paying off to open your heart.
Omar Apollo is a walking, breathing example of the iceberg theory — that the exposed tip belies a gargantuan foundation beneath the waters.
Born to Mexican parents and raised in Indiana, Omar Apollo began charting his course through highly variable sounds by working a day job and uploading music to SoundCloud.
All the while — true to his generation reared in the iPod era — he soaked up the wildly variable sounds of Prince, Rick James, Paul Simon, the Internet, and beyond. Back in 2019, while planting the seeds for his debut album, IVORY — which dropped last April — the bilingual singer/songwriter hinted that future music would be as multifarious as his influences.
"I love dancing, and I love funk. But I don't think it will ever be just one thing," he told the website Lyrical Lemonade, while also expressing a desire to incorporate rapping Spanish lyrics. "I think the album will have a lot of elements, and be really diverse."
He wasn't kidding: the labored-over IVORY was a swing for the fences, and Apollo connected.
Touching on styles as disparate as Latin trap, psychedelia, traditional Mexican music, funk, and electro-pop — while embracing his Latinx and LGBTQ+ identities — IVORY can go toe-to-toe with the classics that galvanized him, like Nirvana's Nevermind, Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Partly produced by the Neptunes and featuring Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis, IVORY is a sterling gateway into Apollo's creative vision; on highlights like "Invincible," "Evergreen" and "Bad Life," he breezes from mood to mood, and style to style.
All that woodshedding paid off: Apollo is an artist everyone should watch — no matter which genre sphere you might occupy, it's all in his universe.
DOMi & JD Beck
Despite the constant, hurtling innovations in jazz throughout the 20th century and young 21st, that world can often seem fenced off, relegated to the sidelines of the music industry.
While crossovers have always existed, DOMi & JD Beck are a brand-new kind — plugging jazz virtuosity into the zoomer sphere of memes, TikTok soundbites and all-caps song titles. "It's us growing up and being around all that stuff. We're just used to making memes and we like stupid videos," Dallas-reared drummer Beck told SPIN in 2022. But as the band told GRAMMY.com, "Most music isn't about music anymore. It's just used as a tool for money and selling bulls—. Hopefully we can help change that."
Indeed, Beck's partnership with French-born keyboardist DOMi is ultimately art-forward — despite the abundant silliness within their act. ("SNIFF," from their 2022 debut NOT TIGHT, was initially titled "u can sniff my butt," after all.)
Both youngsters are virtuosos in every sense — and even more profoundly than that, they're on a mission to make virtuosity cool again.
By Beck's admission, they've never recorded in a proper studio; NOT TIGHT was recorded in a small room with a 49-key MIDI keyboard, drum set and coffee table. Despite the freedom of recording separately and without the constraints of a live setup, this is ultimately the sound of two humans making music.
Despite the extreme technical facility, NOT TIGHT is eminently catchy and listenable — and as such, could get kids who don't know Herbie Hancock from Kurt Rosenwinkel into America's Music — at the very least, because both those luminaries appear on the album.
Purists and neophytes alike are advised to leave the "cool" factor at the door, and enter DOMi & JD Beck's colorful, goofy and creative world. Because if jazz lives or dies based on whether younger generations embrace it, then this is the future of the music. Now that's tight.
Young jazz singer Samara Joy arrived on the map proudly wearing two primary influences on her sleeve: Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. But it only takes one gig to show that Joy's art is new — for the mere reason that it's her doing it.
Sure, Joy might take direct inspiration from the approaches of Vaughan, Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae and the rest — from phrasing to vocalese and beyond. But nobody on earth has possessed her charm, her flair, her communication style.
Joy's 2021 self-titled debut on Whirlwind Recordings was suffused with buoyant charm and technical facility; her 2022 follow-up for Verve, Linger Awhile, only ups the ante.
With TikTok sway, heavy touring and "The Today Show" under her belt, Joy only matured as an interpreter of standards — and on Linger Awhile, she tackles tunes like Nancy Wilson's "Guess Who I Saw Today," a reimagined version of Ronnell Bright's "Sweet Pumpkin" and the Frank Sinatra- and Nina Simone-popularized "Can't Get Out of This Mood."
"There's such an incredible and rich history of Black female singers. I see so much of myself in them and see the way they paved the way so I can do what I'm doing," Joy said in a recentinterview. "And then the way that they sing and the songs they sing, I can relate to and hopefully carry it and pass it down so that nobody forgets those Black female singers who have such an impact and influence on music as a whole."
Watch Joy lay waste to a club, and you'll know she's here to stay. And given the momentum of her incline over the past handful of years, who knows who she'll inspire in turn — to make a song their own with heart, flair and panache.
Can we all agree that it's been a tremendous few years for hip-hop? Not only has the work been widely excellent, but what was once a male-dominated genre is now making space for people of all gender expressions and walks of life.
Not that it's always been easy. Since young Atlanta rapper Latto broke out in 2020 with her maximum-blustery "Bitch from the Souf," she's been clear that navigating the music industry as a woman has been challenging — to say the least.
"Female rappers are being silenced in the industry and bullied behind closed doors," the MC born Alyssa Michelle Stephens told Complex in 2022, just before releasing her watershed album 777. "A lot of times we're bullied behind closed doors by these corporations or male artists or male producers or billion-dollar businesses and labels going against you."
No matter whoever's assailed Latto in her career, she'll inarguably have the last laugh: 777 is a beast of a hip-hop, pop and R&B album, augmented by high-profile guests from 21 Savage to Childish Gambino to Lil Wayne. From the ultra-catchy lead single "Big Energy" to the effervescent, Pharrell-produced "Real One," 777 is an extremely effective calling card for this emerging talent.
"I think I'm just on the cusp of my break, and it's just difficult to watch if you're not a fan," Latto said in the same interview. "If you're a hater and you're watching me win and getting more and more accomplishments under my belt, it's got to be frustrating to watch."
If you're a member of the online peanut gallery, perhaps that's the case. But for everyone else — including Recording Academy Membership — it's been thrilling.
Måneskin may have brought a 55-year-old song, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' "Beggin'," to the TikTok generation — but that's just one part of the story when it coems to this deeply, thrillingly weird glam-rock sensation.
In many ways, they represent the "return to rock" that so many have longed for after a long minute of trap hats and autotune. But they don't look or sound like the return of Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath; singer Damiano David's studded codpiece alone might disabuse you of that fantasy.
The Italian band with a Danish name meaning "moonlight" sounds more like 2000s indie bands like Franz Ferdinand or the Bravery than Soundgarden or Aerosmith — although Steven Tyler is a cardinal influence on David.
Read More: Here's The Rundown On Måneskin, The Italian Glam-Pop Heroes Who Just Brought The 54-Year-Old Song "Beggin'" Back Into Vogue
The ex-street-buskers hit the national stage in 2017 on the Italian "X Factor," where they performed a handful of covers that were awfully telling. Naturally, they did Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" and the Killers' "Somebody Told Me" — both right in their wheelhouse. But then they also performed something out of time: "Beggin'," which was released during the Summer of Love.
After winning second place on "The X Factor," "Beggin'" picked up steam on their debut 2017 EP, Chosen, Since then, it's become a TikTok sensation, sweeping the charts worldwide.
For more entryways into Måneskin's universe, check out the snotty "I Wanna Be Your Slave," redone with Iggy Pop in 2021. And they performed the outrageously horny "Mammamia" on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
Really, any direction you come at this flamboyant, gender-bending band is bound to be rewarding, as they play by nobody's rules but their own.
"We're just doing music. If it's considered rock or pop or whatever, it's entirely not important to us," bassist Victoria De Angelis told Loudwire in 2021. "The main thing is I think people should just listen to the music and judge the music without having preconceived notions."
With each passing year, the Recording Academy makes a more concerted effort to highlight music makers behind the scenes — as seen in their new Songwriters & Composers Wing and Behind The Record initiative.
So it's worth noting that Muni Long has a very special presence among the 2023 GRAMMYs nominees for Best New Artist — she was behind the curtain, and is now very much at the fore.
If you're a liner-notes sleuth, you might remember Muni Long (pronounced "money long") from her work on H.E.R.'s Back of My Mind — which was nominated for a golden gramophone for Album Of The Year at the 2022 GRAMMYs.
But that's just the beginning: Long has co-written with Rihanna, Fifth Harmony, Kelly Clarkson, and Ariana Grande, among many other leading lights.
Now, she's consolidated her decade-plus of stellar work on 2022's Public Displays of Affection, where old tunes from previous EPs — including her viral smash hit "Hrs and Hrs" — commingle with new tracks.
“I am learning to search myself for answers before I go outside and seek others. No additional approval or validation or help, because if you pay attention you will just make decisions based on the purest intention,” Long told GRAMMY.com in 2022. “Versus making a decision that's going to make things faster for you or bring you the most money… because you're blinded by your ambition.”
After her impassioned work in a less visible space, everyone deserves to know Long's name. With her nomination for a GRAMMY for Best New Artiat, the world just might.
Arguably one of the most positive developments in the last decade of music has been the even further elevation of Nigeria on the world stage — in all its facets and permutations.
And that's come by way not only by heralded Afrobeats artists like Wizkid and Burna Boy, but by straight-up hip-hop — like that from the Houston MC Tobe Nwigwe.
A college football player with NFL aspirations, Nwigwe's life path was diverted by a foot injury in 2009. After pivoting to starting a nonprofit for Houston youth, Nwigwe got attention by way of videos of himself rapping with his kids and wife, Ivory "Fat" Rogers, on social media.
One thing led to another, and Nwigwe hit the ground running as a recording artist, releasing a whopping nine EPs between 2017 and 2021.
During the summer of 2020, Nwigwe got the spotlight by way of "I Need You To (Breonna Taylor)," a song of resistance against racist police violence.
His latest project, 2022's moMINTS, exudes love for Houston through tunes that stick in the brain, like "DESTRUCTION," "LORD FORGIVE ME" and "CATFISH BLACKENED." Beyond love for his hometown alone, Nwigwe's work has a feeling of earthiness, of family bonds, and fidelity of vision.
"I think I've gotten a lot of clarity on just how I want to do things, how I want to present myself, not necessarily who I am," he told XXL in 2022. "[B]y the grace of God, I was able to know what my purpose was before I started doing all this, but just how to present what I'm doing and in a way that is uniquely me."
Representing the Newport Folk-adjacent pantheon — the world that includes strummers and pickers from the indie-folk, bluegrass and Americana communities — is Molly Tuttle.
The banjoist, guitarist and songwriter hails from a musical lineage via her musician father and grandfather.Her latest album, 2022's Crooked Tree, takes a heartfelt inventory of her earliest experiences — she even revisited her family farm while conceptualizing the album.
"My family doesn't own the farm that my father grew up on anymore, but my grandma and I drove out there last spring and walked around and reminisced about the old times," she said in a statement.
"As a kid growing up in the suburbs of San Francisco, I loved being in this completely different landscape and spending so much time out on the porch," she continued. "Just talking and playing music and watching the lightning bugs at night."
During her childhood , Tuttle initially played violin, but swiftly fell in love with the guitar, soaking up the bluegrass records that filled the air at home. Her tutelage at Berklee College of Music led her to Nashville — ground zero for roots music that practically grows from the ground.
After two studio albums on Compass — 2019's When You're Ready and 2020's But I'd Rather Be With You — Tuttle has become a Nonesuch signee, and a GRAMMY nominee for Best New Artist, before her 30th birthday.
In a way, as a bearer of the bluegrass flame, the whole tradition has led to her. Whatever she sings or strums next, it's the Recording Academy Membership's pleasure to bear witness.
The witty, lusty, needle-sharp duo of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers was impossible to ignore in 2022; their self-titled debut landed in the industry like a water balloon.
"I went to school and I got the Big D!" the post-punkers announced in their breakout single "Chaise Longue," a song everybody had some extreme reaction to — chief among them, jaw-dropping relief that wackadoo fun was back in indie rock.
DOMi and JD Beck, their fellow GRAMMY nominees for Best New Artist, once described themselves as "anti-everything," which aptly describes Wet Leg as well — something must be in the water as 2023 approaches.
The pair formed Wet Leg on a lark while riding a Ferris wheel; their songs take aim at pretentious rock-arteest attitudes of all stripes — and what a relief it is to hear songs that are, by design, about nothing.
It's anyone's guess where Wet Leg's irreverence and cheek will lead them — they could take the template of Wet Leg and go full pop, or even more deconstructionist and dadaist.
But whatever happens, you can't say it won't be interesting — as it doesn't get much more interesting than this deeply satirical, always catchy, very welcome anomaly of a rock band.
The 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The eligibility period for the 65th GRAMMY Awards is Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 – Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. All eligible awards entries must be released within this timeframe.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.
Photos (L-R, clockwise): Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images, Mauricio Santana/Getty Images, Buda Mendes/Getty Images, Wagner Meier/Getty Images, Shy McGrath/WireImage, Wagner Meier/Getty Images
Love Anitta? Check Out These 6 Brazilian Female Artists Rising To Global Stardom
As Brazilian music is on the rise, a new wave of fierce female singers are making an impact, from history-making trans artist Liniker to Brazil's own R&B diva IZA.
With a 2023 GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist, Anitta marked a special moment for Brazil. Not only was it the first time a Brazilian artist was nominated in the category in nearly 50 years, it was an indication that the world is ready for more.
While Latin music's prominence today is undeniable, most of its stars — from Puerto Rico's Bad Bunny to Spain's Rosalía — are Spanish-speaking. As Anitta and rising Brazilian acts begin to infiltrate mainstream music, so does their native language, Portuguese, and rhythms like baile funk, brega, and samba.
According to IFPI's 2023 Global Music Report, it may not be long before Brazilian artists see the commercial success their Spanish-speaking peers have: Brazil reentered the Top 10 Music Markets in 2022 — the only Latin American country to do so. And as Anitta's GRAMMY nomination hinted, Brazil's female artists are helping to lead the charge, from viral TikTok star Marina Sena to Latin GRAMMY winners Liniker and Ludmilla.
As Women's History Month nears a close, let the Brazilian celebration continue. GRAMMY.com spotlights six other rising Brazilian female soloists who are eager to break barriers and introduce the world to their artistry.
Marina Sena first went viral on TikTok with "Por Supuesto," the third single off her debut album, 2021's De Primeira. The album helped Sena earn her first Latin GRAMMY nominations for Best Portuguese Language Song and Best Portuguese Language Contemporary Pop Album in 2022.
Weaving influences that go from pop and axé to reggae and samba, De Primeira (a name that means both "top notch" and "doing something right on the first try") reveals a born-ready pop star. Sena's languid, impish voice gives shape to irreverent lyrics about love and lust, and the result is permeated in an omnipresent nostalgia. One of Brazil's biggest revelations, Sena freshens the quintessential elements of her country's music — diversity, passion, poetry — and shows she's more than ready to take over the globe.
Born in the sunny Recife, northeast of Brazil, Duda first became known as the queen of "sofrência" — a neologism for suffering from love and being needy at the same time. Motivated by years of heartbreak, she purged all those stories into her debut album, 2018's Sinto Muito (a double-entendre between "I'm sorry" and "I feel a lot"), and found an audience who resonated with her musical catharsis.
Mixing Brazilian genres such as brega and pagode with a dream pop varnish, she released her sophomore album Te Amo Lá Fora in 2021. Though she has yet to announce a third LP, Duda Beat has been teasing a new side of herself in recent interviews — one that she hopes will turn her into "queen of happiness" as well.
Fans may know Liniker from the band Liniker e os Caramelows, which she founded in 2015. But since she left the group in 2020, fans got to know Liniker as a dazzling solo star.
With a deep, resounding voice, she crafts exuberant pieces that explore soul, jazz, samba, bossa nova, and more — all underlined by a celebration of Black music as a whole. And even just one album in, Liniker has already made history: Her debut effort, Índigo Borboleta Anil (Indigo Butterfly Indigo), won Best MPB Album at the 2022 Latin GRAMMY Awards, making her the first openly trans artist to ever win a Latin GRAMMY.
If there's one thing Ludmilla strives to present, it's female empowerment. This Rio de Janeiro native — also known as a carioca — has a honeyed, cheeky timbre that she uses in self-confident anthems like "Cheguei" and "Só Hoje." Her lyrics place women as agents instead of objects, subverting a genre that is so often dominated by men; as an openly bisexual woman, Ludmilla also plays an important role in representing queer Brazilians through her songs and music videos.
After first rising to fame through Brazilian funk renditions, her global pop appeal led her to become a Latin GRAMMY winner. In 2022, her latest album, Numanice 2 (a neologism loosely meaning "feeling nice"), won the Latin GRAMMY for Best Samba/Pagode Album.
Brazil's own R&B diva, IZA went from recording YouTube covers in 2014 to topping the country's charts three years later. Her debut album Dona de Mim (Owner of Myself) was nominated for Best Portuguese Language Contemporary Pop Album at the 2018 Latin GRAMMY Awards, hinting her potential as a future icon of a generation.
IZA's first major hit, 2017's reggae fusion single "Pesadão," overviews many of the themes and experiences that permeate her Black empowerment ethos. As "Pesadão" showed, IZA's music is made out of sheer resilience — a characteristic as unfaltering as her towering vocals.
Another stirring voice singing about Afro-Brazilian representation is Luedji Luna. Born in Salvador, Bahia to politically active parents, this globally acclaimed singer knows that love is a primal force for change.
With two studio albums so far, 2017's Um Corpo no Mundo (A Body In the World) and 2020's Bom Mesmo É Estar Debaixo D'Água (It's Really Good to be Underwater, which was nominated for Best MPB Album at the 2021 Latin GRAMMY Awards), her discography dives into MPB, jazz, and blues to form a stunning depiction of the joys and struggles of life as a Black woman. Through her elegance and depth, she turns the wheels of the world, quietly, from the inside.
With their different backgrounds, life experiences, and musical gifts, these six women reflect an exciting moment for Brazilian music. But this list is simply an introduction to the talent of this vast country — which may just be the next to take over the world.
New Shakira Exhibit At GRAMMY Museum Visualizes The Colombian Superstar's Voracious Creative Appetite & Global Influence
Photo: Lorne Thomson/Redferns
9 Must-See Acts At SXSW 2023: Wet Leg, Balming Tiger, Armani White, The Lemon Twigs & More
As the music showcases kick off at South by Southwest 2023, get a preview of some of the most-anticipated acts who will hit the stage in Austin.
When South by Southwest takes over Austin, Texas every spring, the city explodes with culture, new ideas and fresh sounds. Hundreds of artists descend to perform a variety of engaging showcases, intimate sets and show-stopping performances hoping to make their mark.
Since the festival's inception in 1987, the SXSW music showcase has become one of the largest music festivals in the world; everyone from Patti Smith to Childish Gambino to Garth Brooks has been on the bill. But one of the biggest draws of SXSW is the chance for music discovery, as bands from all over the world travel to Austin each year — and this year alone, 1,400 bands will perform throughout the week.
As the 2023 iteration gets into full swing, check out nine buzzing artists appearing at SXSW, including a recent GRAMMY-winning duo, a viral rapper on a victory lap, and popular English music collective rock outfit who is starting to turn heads stateside.
Performing as part of the British Music Embassy showcase, the curiously named Wet Leg is composed of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, who spin bright, buoyant pop that reflects an innocence. As a result, their knack for songwriting and performance garnered them two GRAMMYs in February for Best Alternative Music Performance for single "Chaise Longue" and Best Alternative Album for their eponymous debut (they were also nominated for Best New Artist). As if that weren't enough, their charming hilarity has helped them they've also become TikTok darlings, collecting over 13 million likes on the platform.
"We're just trying to enjoy where we are and where we're going and see what happens," Chambers told GRAMMY.com last year. "I really can't think too far ahead right now — it's a bit scary."
Recently singled out by The Hollywood Reporter as a highlight of this year's festival, Italo-Congolese artist Sans Soucis' sound is branded as a "soul-invigorating" artist. They blend a variety of disparate styles — such as Congolese Rumba, R&B and alt-pop — into a tidy and refreshing sonic package, landing somewhere in between Solange and PinkPantheress. Just listen to the effervescent melodies of the standout track "All Over this Party" for evidence of a sharp talent.
"Sometimes I do solo improvisation sessions," they recently said of their songwriting technique. "I just connect pedals to my synth and record random stuff. On another day, I'll start sampling sounds from them."
Hot off his viral track "Billie Eilish," rapper Armani White rolls into Texas as one of the festival's more well-known featured performers. It's a victory lap that also marks a new chapter for the 26 year-old Philadelphia native who recently released the follow-up single "GOATED," an extension of what he refers to as "happy hood music."
"You see the smile on my face, you see all my jagged teeth and you have no idea what the hell I've been through," he told Notion earlier this year. "That's really what I want to portray – no matter what you go through, you still find a way to stand up and smile."
Influenced by '60s-era bands including the Beach Boys and the Lovin' Spoonful, Chicago natives Divino Nino trace their roots back to Bogota, Colombia. As a result, the mix of the music of their heritage along with their various influences from the '60s manifest itself in spirited and catchy songs like "XO" and "Drive" which boast both Spanish and English lyrics.
"When I listen to a good song, my body inherits the feelings of that track," said vocalist Javier Forero to the website 15 Questions. "I just become intoxicated and get inspired to dance or make a track that reminds me of those feelings."
Considered a household name in the busy London music scene, the collective Steam Down makes their American debut at SXSW to demonstrate why their star is rising back home. A music collective founded by the producer Ahanse, their debut single, "Free My Skin," promptly set the internet on fire upon its release. Along with now infiltrating the American market, they're currently prepping a highly anticipated debut album.
"How can we live in a more harmonious way?" says Ahnase of his overarching goal to Sussex Jazz Magazine. "How can we create the feeling of what that can be? That inspired what Steam Down is now, which is: how do we start thinking about how music can be the tool for creating harmony between people?"
From a London music collective to a South Korean one, Balming Tiger is made up of a ragtag group of creatives (including rapper Omega Sapien and the singer/songwriter Sogumm). Their esoteric production and melodically adventurous songs may make you think of BROCKHAMPTON, but with a K-pop twist. The group heads to SXSW riding high on their biggest success to date, the popular "섹시느낌 SEXY NUKIM" which features BTS member RM and has collected 52 million streams on Spotify alone.
"We are pushing our agenda to broaden the genre of K-Pop," frontman Omega Sapien told High Snobiety last year. "The world is not ready for this part of K-Pop yet. Welcome to the dark side."
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
With a name like that, you could have perhaps guessed that the group is a stoner-rock band. Hailing from Newcastle, England, the eccentric group — also known as Pigs x7 — has been steadily rising since the release of their quirky 2017 debut Feed the Rats, which began a fearless hard-rock reputation. The group rolls into Austin weeks after the release of their fourth album, Land of Sleeper.
"As a band we're constantly playing on the edge of absurdity and absolute commitment to seriousness," guitarist/producer Sam Grant recently told The Line Of Best Fit. "Somehow we're constantly trying to sit in the middle of it..."
The Lemon Twigs
Hailing from Long Island, New York, this duo made up of brothers Brian and Michael D'Addario was born out of a childhood as Broadway performers. Now in their late 20s, the pair later zeroed an artist project of their own and set to release their fourth studio album, Everything Harmony, in May.
As a result of their indie-slash-glam rock sound, the group has won praise from everyone including Iggy Pop and Elton John, the latter of whom raved of the group: "They're so out of left field in their songs. They don't have any rules and that's sometimes the way it should be."
After California native Samuel Regan met Bologna, Italy-born Luca Lovisetto while studying abroad in Italy, the two became musical partners — and now, they're eight years and four studio albums in. The shimmering sounds of Baseball Gregg will be on display all over Austin, including a showcase presented by the Italian Trade Agency. Their music, meanwhile, has inflections of sunny California pop; take for instance "Sad Sandra" which opens with a glistening synth and is complimented by falsetto vocals that joyfully shine like the sun.
Get Hyped For Ultra Music Festival 2023 With Sounds From Carl Cox, Kx5, Nicky Romero, Claude VonStroke & More
Photo: Rebecca Sapp
6 Things To Know About Bonnie Raitt: Her Famous Fans, Legendary Friends & Lack Of Retirement Plan
During "A Conversation With Bonnie Raitt" at the GRAMMY Museum, 13-time GRAMMY winner detailed her career trajectory, history of big-name collaborations, and how her win for Song Of The Year at this year’s GRAMMY Awards was "a total surprise."
For the uninitiated, Bonnie Raitt is just an "unknown blues singer" — albeit one who managed to nab the Song Of The Year award at the 2023 GRAMMYs, plus two other trophies. But to the millions in the know, and the choice few in attendance for a chat with Raitt at the Grammy Museum on March 5, she is a living legend.
Over the course of her decades-long career, Raitt has earned 30 GRAMMY nominations, taking home 13 golden gramophones for tracks like "Nick Of Time," "Something To Talk About," and “SRV Shuffle,” as well as albums such as Luck Of The Draw and Longing In The Hearts. Last year, Raitt was awarded the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, and at this year’s ceremony, she snagged GRAMMYs for Best American Roots Song, Best Americana Performance and the coveted Song Of The Year.
Before she heads out on a tour of the western United States and Australia, Raitt sat down to chat with moderator David Wild for about two hours, musing not only about her "total surprise" about snagging the Song trophy, but also about her experience at the ceremony. It was an illuminating and downright charming experience — as well as an educational one. Here are six things we learned at "A Conversation With Bonnie Raitt."
Taylor Swift Is A Fan — And A Humble One At That
Raitt recounted being chatted up by Taylor Swift during the GRAMMYs, with Swift telling Raitt backstage that she felt okay losing Song Of The Year to her. Swift's "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" was in competition, alongside works by Lizzo, Adele and Harry Styles.
Swift also introduced herself to Raitt, whom she’d never met, saying,"Hi, I’m Taylor." Raitt said she responded, "Ya think?" — which made the audience in the Clive Davis Theater crack up.
She’s A Master Collaborator, With More On The Way
"No one commands more respect" amongst their musical peers than Bonnie Raitt, said Wild, who's worked on the GRAMMY Awards as a writer since 2001. Whenever the show’s team has struggled to think of who could best pay tribute to someone like John Prine, Ray Charles, or Christine McVie, "the answer is always Bonnie Raitt."
That’s probably why, as Raitt noted, she’s recorded duets with more than 100 different musical acts — from Bryan Adams to B.B. King. Raitt added that she’d still love to work with Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, and H.E.R., and that fans can anticipate new collaborative work coming from work she’s done with Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow.
Raitt added that she’s gotten really into Unknown Mortal Orchestra lately, who she heard about through Bruce Hornsby.
She’s Learned From And Befriended Musical Masters
Raitt was effusive about her love for King, among others, saying that one of the great joys of her career has been sitting at the feet of blues greats like Sippie Wallace and Son House. The singer/songwriter expressed her gratitude for being able to help get so many of these once-forgotten masters both the attention and the pay they deserved. She cited her work with the Rhythm And Blues Foundation as being of great importance to her personally, saying that it’s vital that the roots of blues and jazz are taught in schools today.
Wild also got Raitt to open up about her friendship with legendary gospel-soul singer Mavis Staples, who toured with Raitt just last year. Calling Staples, "all the preacher I’ll ever need," Raitt said she thinks she and Staples bonded over being the daughters of famous fathers. "It’s a great honor of my life being friends with her," Raitt said of her "mutual sister."
Later, Raitt also waxed rhapsodic about another famous daughter, Natalie Cole, who she said she’d been thinking about all day.
Raitt’s Got An Independent Spirit And An Independent Label
A good portion of Wild and Raitt’s chat was devoted to the star’s career trajectory. The two detailed how, as a 21-year-old college student, Raitt signed to Warner Bros. only after they promised her complete creative control of her own indie label, Redwing.
Raitt said it was only with the help of a"team of mighty women" that she was able to go independent. She cited lessons from friends like Prine, Staples, and Jackson Browne, from whom she learned going it alone could be done successfully.
Bonnie Raitt Almost Missed Out On "I Can’t Make You Love Me"
Raitt also talked a bit about her previous GRAMMY triumphs, including her run of nominations and wins around 1989’s Nick Of Time. Her popular single, "I Can’t Make You Love Me," was originally written for Ricky Skaggs, who intended to make it a lively bluegrass record.
Raitt added that she thinks the song "Nick Of Time" struck a chord because she opened up about what it means to be getting older.
She’s Not Planning On Retiring (Or Dying) Any Time Soon
After joking that COVID lockdown felt like "house arrest" and "hibernation," Raitt said that her recent tours have been a blessing. "It feels like I was under the earth without any sunshine," Raitt says, reassuring attendees that she’s "never retiring." She said that while she’s lost eight friends in the past three or four weeks, including the great David Lindley, the 73-year-old is optimistic that she can "be here and celebrate for another couple of decades."
Raitt capped off the event doing what she loves best, teaming with long-time bassist Hutch Hutchinson for an intimate four-song set that included "Angel From Montgomery," "Shadow Of Doubt," "Nick Of Time," and the GRAMMY-winning "Just Like That." Raitt ended the evening by thanking the Recording Academy for inviting her out, joking, "I can’t believe I get to do this for a living."
Bonnie Raitt Essentials: 11 Songs That Showcase The Breadth And Depth Of The 2023 GRAMMYs Song Of The Year Winner
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Meet Tobias Jesso Jr., The First-Ever GRAMMY Winner For Songwriter Of The Year
"I felt the weight of what it meant," the man behind the curtain of massive songs by Adele, Harry Styles, Marcus Mumford and more says about his win in the brand-new GRAMMY category.
Tobias Jesso Jr. wanted to know how to write a hit song, so he read How to Write a Hit Song. Not that he needed to figure out how to break into the mainstream: he had already written a tune with Sia and Adele that cracked the Billboard Hot 100. But in an effort to take his young career seriously — that of writing behind the curtain for the stars — he cracked open the book at a café.
Just then, a voice: "What the hell are you doing?" He glanced up. It was Sia.
"She was like, 'Why are you reading that?' and I was like, 'I honestly don't know,'" Jesso remembers with a laugh. "I think I just put the book away from that point on and was like, OK, I don't need the books. And I just felt like there's been a different one of those lessons at every step of the way where I'm just like, Man, I think this is what I got to do, and then I just figure it out."
Since that exchange, Jesso has written with a litany of contemporary stars: John Legend, Shawn Mendes, Pink, Haim, Harry Styles — the list goes on. (As per the latter, he co-wrote "Boyfriends" on Harry's House, which was crowned Album Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs.)
And at said ceremony, he received a historic honor — the first-ever golden gramophone for Songwriter Of The Year. As Evan Bogart, Chair of the Songwriters & Composers Wing, recently toldput it to GRAMMY.com: "We're looking for which songwriters have demonstrated, first and foremost, that they're considered a songwriter first by the music community. We want to recognize the professional, hardworking songwriters who do this for a living."
Read More: Why The New Songwriter Of The Year GRAMMY Category Matters For The Music Industry And Creator Community
Clearly, Jesso fits the mold, and possesses technical chops worthy of How to Write a Hit Song. But his realization — that he can literally throw out the rulebook — speaks volumes as to his flexible, collaborator-first and fun-first process.
"I get into a room and I really want to enjoy the people, and the songs will come if we're all just being honest," he tells GRAMMY.com. "If you take a few days or weeks to get to know somebody, all of a sudden, your songs are deeper."
And while working his interpersonal and collaborative magic, he keeps his ears and imagination open — a momentary trifle can become the heart of a song. It happened with Cautious Clay's "Whoa," which came from messing with some, well, whoas.
"It was a little silly at first," says Jesso,the songwriter whose first output was "inappropriate" high-school joke songs. "But now it wasn't silly anymore."
GRAMMY.com sat down with Jesso about his creative beginnings, the experience of working alongside pop titans, and how his inaugural GRAMMY win for Songwriter Of The Year happened during the happiest, most creatively fruitful period of his burgeoning career.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
How did it feel to take home the golden gramophone — the first ever in this category?
It felt tremendous. It felt amazing. It's such an honor to have received it, and I felt the weight of what it meant. I get really stage frightened, and so I kept telling myself there's no way I was going to win, just so I wouldn't be nervous or anything like that.
But weirdly, when I did win, I was very not nervous. I don't know how to put it, but it was the opposite of what I thought I would feel. I don't know if I've never been awarded something so prestigious. My elementary school did a piece on me after I won the GRAMMY, and it was sort of largely a "We didn't see any talent at all" kind of thing.
So, I'd say "tremendous" would be probably the one word I would feel most aptly describes it. I'm just really, really proud of the category and its creation, and super lucky to have been a part of it at all. Especially in the year that it comes out. I was baffled that I was nominated.
I had already felt like that rush of whoa, this amazing thing happened when I was nominated. And then winning was the next level of completely beyond what I could have ever expected.
How does the win help chart the next stage of your career?
As a songwriter, your job is to serve the artist. Your job is to serve the artist — the person who the song's for. And I think because of that, most songwriters have a very serve mentality, which generally doesn't work out well on the business side of things for you.
I think if you took all the producers in the world and took all the songwriters in the world and tried to look at which ones are more business savvy, I'd say nine times out of 10, it's probably the producers.
I think a lot of people — artists or songwriters among them — have imposter syndrome, feeling like they don't really know whether they belong there or they're just lucky or they have what it takes for the next one, even. If they know they had a good run or whatever, they're always going back to the well and praying that there's something in there.
And I think this GRAMMY is almost like having a symbol of a really good run — a really good, fertile time of creativity or something. TI think the way I see it is sort of a symbol of this period of time where I had a lot of ideas, and worked really hard, and managed to somehow win this thing, which is, for me, is huge. It means a lot.
For the songwriting community to have the award to look forward to, to have this symbol of Hey, you can be creative as a songwriter and just be a songwriter who doesn't sing and doesn't produce, and [the fact] you can get this prestigious symbol of your gifts that the world will now recognize — I think that's a wonderful thing for songwriters to have.
Take me back to the beginning of your career writing songs, either for yourself or others. The first time you really embraced this magical act of creation.
I was such a lazy songwriter for so many years because I always loved writing songs, writing songs with my friends in high school and stuff like that. But I never really wanted to play an instrument, and I never really wanted to sing them myself.
I think probably back in high school, in 1998 or '99, it was because they were joke songs. So I probably didn't want to sing them because they were inappropriate or something. I always wanted to. The beginning for me was definitely a sort of moment of hearing Tracy Chapman when I was like, Oh, this is what I'm going to do. Not be Tracy Chapman, but write songs.
From there I was really lazy and I just tried to do as little as possible, but I had this sort of confidence that I was somehow good at it. So, I would sometimes have my friends who played guitar or my friends who played piano, or whoever was around, do the music part for me, and I could just kind of pipe in and direct where I felt like my skillset was.
I started writing on piano for the first time when I was 27. That was a big moment for me where I was. I feel like I finally figured it out. It took me a long time: I still don't know how to play the piano, but I know I'm going to figure this out now.
I made a lot of mistakes along the way with bands and with albums or whatever. Things that just didn't exactly go the way [I planned them]; my gut was eventually telling me it just wasn't right. And then, when I started playing piano, it just finally all felt right, and I didn't think too much about it. I just sort of started doing it.
During that time, I unfortunately had to sing to get my album out, which was sort of a means to an end. But as soon as I was able to, I ducked away from that and started writing. Then I just had a new job. I was like I got promoted or something.
As you honed your ability and developed your craft, how did you follow that chain of connections to be able to write for who you've written for?
It's funny because Adele was the first person I worked with — [but] not in a professional way where managers and stuff like that are involved, and it's not just a friend of mine from high school or something. She was sort of my blueprint for how those things went.
I couldn't have gotten any luckier than with Adele, because her blueprint for how to do a writing session is the most pure in the game. There's nothing to hide behind. There's no producer in the room. She came to my friend's grandparents' where there are no mics; there's no studio equipment at all. There's a piano. And she just goes, "Great, let's write a song."
I don't know that that even exists much anymore. There's not even a microphone to capture what's going on, let alone one of the biggest players in the entire world doing it — just showing up, being like, "Let's write a song." And there's nothing to record her. I thought that was really cool. I'm like, "That's how I write songs. I just sit in front of a piano and just do what I think I like." And she was like, "And me too."
So, that's how we got along real great off the bat. And then from there, I would say it was just the most epic amount of failures and trial and error to figure out what the hell I was doing in every different session. I mean, I was treading water at times, and I felt like I was smoking crack sometimes, because I was so creative in a certain scenario I didn't expect to be creative in or something like that.
I think it's just this kind of learning process. There are a lot of people who are typically geared towards one style of writing. You're the country guy or you're the pop guy, or you're the ballad guy. And I could see that I was getting typecast. I was starting to get typecast, especially early on in my career because ballads, that's just the tempo that's naturally within me. It's sort of my soul tempo to just slow things down. I can write much easier in that tempo. I'll always sort of naturally progress there.
But I wanted to push the limits of that, and I wanted to figure out a way to get out of that typecast. And so I tried as quickly as I could to pick people who would be like, "Please don't play a ballad."
And when I started doing that, it was, again, trial and error. I think Niall [Horan of One Direction] was the first person I worked with who was in the pop world, and he was very much an acoustic singer. So I think that I was going into that session thinking I wanted to do upbeat pop. So I don't know — you get in the door and then you just try to acclimate yourself to the environment and help out as much as you can.
I think that's the best way to put it, because you never know what you're going to be doing. You never know what the artist is going to want from you or not want from you. A lot of the job is just figuring all that stuff out and then trying to just have fun while you're doing it. I think it's just that good energy, good attitude, and good people tend to sort of gravitate together.
How would you characterize the state of your artistic journey at this point?
I would say it feels the richest, in the sense that I'm the happiest I've been working.
I've found my rhythm — my perfect work-life balance kind of thing — so I can spend time with my son. And I think because of all of the time I've spent writing songs and how many songs come out, which is not a lot compared to how much you spend writing, you kind of learn that the relationships you make in the room are really the things that you really take out of it. It can be a lot more than, "I'm just a songwriter here to serve this artist" or whatever.
Lately, probably because of all the time I've spent doing it, I get into a room and I really want to enjoy the people. And the songs will come if we're all just being honest. We all know why we're here. We don't need that pressure in the room, and we don't need the A&R sitting in the room. We can get a song, but let's just be honest and really enjoy each other's company for a while.
And I think once that starts happening, it's way, way more fruitful in the long run. Because if you take a few days or weeks to get to know somebody, all of a sudden, your songs are deeper.
As a songwriter, your job is to point out metaphors or parallels — and things that could spark some interest in an artist's mind. And the better you get to know somebody, the more amazing the writing process can be.
That's been happening a lot in my recent sessions with Dua [Lipa] and Harry, another just amazing person. He is a great guy, but we haven't done that much writing together, but we know each other mostly through Kid Harpoon — Tom [Hull], who's the best.
I'm getting to know the people, and that's the most important part for me — I'm working with the people I want to work with. That's my journey now. I'll always work with new people, but I don't need to work with people I don't really vibe with or listen to. That's not really my interest anymore, especially if I'm in it for the right reasons. I'd say it's just more intentional, and I'm being more honest.
When you walk into a room to write with somebody, what are the first steps, or operating principles?
My operating principle is: Do I want to get to know this person, and do they want to get to know me at all, or do they just want to write a song and not want to open up?
If it's somebody who seems very open to talk, that's usually a good sign. And if not, then you just do what they want. You start writing a song and that's fine too. Sometimes there's great, catchy stuff. It's not always the deepest stuff.
Maybe they're the ones writing the lyrics, so maybe it is. But my operating principle is kind of, if I'm having a good time and everyone's having a good time, we're doing something good. We're not writing a bad song. We're just not. If we were writing a bad song in this room of professionals, we wouldn't be having a good time.
And when you're having a good time, good ideas do come. Even if they are silly at first and they're more openly accepted, and everything in the room is flowing better when those channels of enjoyment are sort of open, and everyone's laughing and having fun and dancing and being silly, that's how you get creative.
I don't know of many songwriters who are just dead serious. I've maybe met a couple. So I think my operating principle is to have a good time. That's going to be the funnest day, no matter what. It's probably going to be a better song for it if you're having fun and you like the people and they like you, and everything's going well.
Why is it crucial that the Recording Academy honor not only public-facing creators, but those behind the curtain?
I won't speak for myself as much as just the amazing people who I've worked with. You can't understand what kind of work has to go into a song. It's so funny, because it's a three-minute thing that sounds like most people can do it in an hour or something, but some of these things take months of work to get right.
I think it's really important to acknowledge everyone involved in each of the processes, because to give credit to just producers and artists, and then it's like, "Yeah, but the storytellers aren't even in the room," is like the congratulating a director and an actor, and then being like, the writer is s—. It's like, what? The movie wouldn't exist without them!
That just wouldn't happen. So, it feels like the right thing. I'm a bit overwhelmed and still a bit in disbelief, but it's snowing in LA, so miracles do happen.
What would you tell a young songwriter who wants to roll up their sleeves and do this?
I would say just be a good person and keep learning. Everyone's not perfect at the start. But if I had to give one piece of advice that was super, super important to me, is the good guys are winning in the end sometimes.
Like I said, the friendships and the artists, you don't want to come in being a d—. And I don't mean that strictly for men. I just mean whoever's coming in, you want to be a nice person. I think there's a lot of good people, and there's a lot of bad people too. You find your crew — energy finds energy.
Meet Stephanie Economou, The First-Ever GRAMMY Winner For Best Score Soundtrack For Video Games And Other Interactive Media