Bearded Interrogates Huw Stephens For His Tips on 2011’s Next Big Things

Always keeping us informed of the new bright hopes, our man Huw Stephens tells us who we should be looking out for in the coming year....

Posted on Dec 31st, 2010 in Features and Interviews, Huw Stephens / By Suzi Ireland
Huw Stephens Who have been your favourite new independent acts of 2010?

Y Niwl were the most exciting live band I saw. Their album is great, and they make me smile. I saw Frankie and the Heartstrings a lot, and loved them. They're a great band with sweet songs and do it so well. I had so many good new bands in session; Spectrals, Race Horses, producers Becoming Real and Seams, Calories, Fair Ohs. Islet continue to amaze.

The XX getting massive is a cause for celebration.

Were there any bands you expected to do well, but didn't? Why do you think this was?

Guitar music on a more mainstream level had a rough time. Maybe it was because pop was so good this year, and hip hop and dubstep became poppier and easier to digest than previously. The mainstream sort of ignored a lot of bands, but there were plenty out there on the underground doing perfectly brilliantly of course.

What genres do you expect to be dominating the airwaves next year? Any specific bands/artists Bearded readers should be looking out for?

I'm excited about Chicago's Footwerk and Juke scene. It's a harder, more technical kind of dance music with a tough, jagged edge that is fascinating and exciting. I reckon expect a few more poppy guitar bands to break through. Listen out for Chad Valley and Fixers from Oxford. I hope Dutch Uncles do well. Listen out for H Hawkline, Eagulls and the Yuck album.

What with today's technology, brand new bands are all on a level playing in terms of how they can promote themselves. How would you advise a band on how to stand out from the crowd?

Be really good and true to yourselves first up. Do the stuff that comes natural to you, don't force it.

You host Swn festival, which helps to showcases new and up-and-coming welsh bands. Which Swn bands have been your favourite and why? Any stand out sets over the years?

There's been so many. Truckers of Husk this year. Race Horses last year. Euros Childs, Future of the Left, Sweet Baboo. I end up running round like a madman during Swn catching snippets of sets here and there, and it's the fifth year of Swn Festival this year.

And most importantly: which artist, in your opinion, has the best winter beard at the moment?

I'd say it's between Stairs to Korea, Howlin Rain and John Grant.

Huw Stephens is part of a daytime takeover by Radio 1’s specialist shows, 3rd – 7th January. Throughout the week you can hear Huw 1pm-4pm.