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-M- (France)

Bercy Arena, Paris; 17,000 heavy breathing fans are spellbound by an artist without parallel in France and – dare we say – in places beyond. An artist with the voice of an angel and a way with a riff that might have had Hendrix double taking; an artist whose live shows are the stuff of legend and whose multi-talent has bagged him a remarkable eight – eight! – French Grammys.

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Afrikan Boy (UK)

It’s not often that you’d expect to find the bass-heavy sounds of urban London and the rhythmic beats of Nigeria sitting together on a track, but if there is one MC who’s not shyingaway from doing exactly that, then look no further than Afrikan Boy.

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Alo Wala (Denmark)

Alo Wala is the sound of a new Europe, a new world, and a new way of thinking about one another as belonging to an interconnected global society. Today in a time when dancehall and hip hop informed culture has taken hold worldwide, local club DJs, multi lingual rappers and bedroom producers are coming into their own and becoming leaders of a new generation. Alo Wala is poised to step out as one of the bright lights of this movement.

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Amadou & Mariam (Mali)

To expand your horizons while remaining true to your roots is a challenge that Amadou & Mariam have risen to – and consistently met – throughout their career.

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Angelique Kidjo (Benin)

Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest forces in African music, a creative energy with eleven international albums to her name. Time Magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva”. The BBC has included her in its list of the continent’s 50 most iconic figures and the Guardian has listed her as one of their Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. In 2007, her album Djin Djin received a GRAMMY award. In 2010 Kidjo shared the stage with Alicia Keys, John Legend and Shakira for the FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg South Africa. Kidjo’s most recent release, 2010’s Oyo featuring John Legend, Bono and Dianne Reeves, is a measure of her maturity. The album is deeply introspective, reflecting on the events that have brought Kidjo to this point. Born in the West African state of Benin, Kidjo is a tireless campaigner for women’s health and education in Africa, a UNICEF Peace Ambassador and a prolific songwriter. “When your history is not written, you count on storytellers and traditional singers in Africa to tell you who you are, what your family’s about and what is going on in your society. This is what I do with my music, because I am a witness of my time.” Between 1972 and 1989 Benin was run as a Marxist state under Mathieu Kérékou who took over in a military coup d’état. Kidjo was forced into exile in order to avoid imprisonment. Her friend and mentor Miriam Makeba was a constant source of guidance. “Miriam Makeba was the African role model that I needed. She left Africa and went to America, she was really the pan-African artist and I needed somebody like that. She’s really the person behind my choice of life of being a singer.” Makeba’s campaigning against apartheid, which cost her the right to South African citizenship and resulted in a 30-year exile, will be remembered as strongly as her music. Similarly, Kidjo’s campaigning for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, as well as her own organization, Batonga Foundation, which provides African girls with an education, will go down in the annals of history.

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Archipel (France)

In another life, the band was called Uncle Jelly Fish. But whatever the identity: the project is still led by Amaury Ranger, also known as the energetic percussionist of Francois & The Atlas Mountains. He’s accompanied by a group of friends from Saintes and Scotland. In Archipel, anything goes: folk frolics with electronic, synths mix with acoustic guitars, hypnotic loops support a unique voice. Light melodies and magical arrangements open the doors of a poetic universe in which artistic and musical freedom always has the final say.

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Asa (Nigeria)

The story of Asa (pronounced Asha) begins in Lagos, Nigeria, where she found a home in her father’s extensive and eclectic collection of records from soul classics to traditional Nigerian music. Starting to sing at a young age, Asa was inspired by the sounds and messages of artists such as Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey who served as touchstones when she later began crafting her own songs. It wasn’t until she was studying in Paris that she truly formed her musical style, immersing herself in the songs of her musical contemporaries — Erika Badu, D’Angelo, Rafel Saadiq, Lauryn Hill and Angelique Kidjo.

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Babe (UK)

Formed in the summer of 2010 by ex Findo Gask members Gerard Black (currently with Francois And The Atlas Mountains) and Michael Marshall along with Thomas Ogden and Amaury Ranger, Babe have been making music across the channel from their native homes in Glasgow and Bordeaux.

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Baloji (Congo/Belgium)

"I'm Goin' Home... nakuenda". This is how Baloji ended his album 'Hotel Impala'. To this Congolese Belgian who was born in Lubumbashi in 1978 and grew up in Wallonia in crisis, though, these final words marked a new beginning.

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Batida (Portugal / Angola)

Lisbon based Batida (AKA Pedro Coquenão) is back with his Afro-house inspired single ‘Pobre e Rico’. Taken from his upcoming album ‘Dois’, the single features samples from a rare Afrobeat groove by Angolan legend Matadidi Mário and lines from the first Angolan movie made back in the 1970s.

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BC Camplight (UK/USA)

Lost treasure needn’t be found in the distant past; the 21st century hides many artists who disappeared into the great wide yonder. BC Camplight is one such example. The alter-ego of American songwriter Brian Christinzio released albums in 2005 and 2007, both gems of a certain psych-pop vintage, combining eloquent songwriting with a self-destructive bent. Christinzio certainly knew it – he’s described himself as, “the guy who blew it.”

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Benjamin Biolay (France)

Serge Gainsbourg, Michel Legrand, Jean Claude Vannier, Cerrone, Air, Jacques Dutronic, Johnny Hallyday, Francoise Hardy, Daft Punk, Piaf, Camille… the French have always had talent in abundance when it comes to creating and indeed reinventing popular music. Champions of melody, arrangement and Gallic flair, these great names stand tall in French music history. On their coat tails now sits one Benjamin Biolay, artist, producer, arranger, film star and sometime model. A hugely talented artist who releases an eclectic new album – his sixth solo recording and the second to be released in the UK – ‘Vengeance’ on May 6th.

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Benjamin Clementine (UK)

The softly spoken artist has packed a lot into his 24 years: heartbreak, homelessness and reinvention, before reaching cult status in Paris. Initially raised in Crystal Palace before settling in Edmonton, the real learning started aged 11, when one of his older brothers brought a keyboard home; within a year Benjamin was the more proficient. Later he found himself tuning into classical radio; the first piece he heard was a sparse, beautiful piano solo by Erik Satie, which transformed the way he played. He began imitating Satie and other solo pianists. At age 16, in a rare moment of permitted TV watching, he caught New York avant-gardists Anthony and the Johnsons performing the disarmingly naked ‘Hope There’s Someone’ on the BBC – and was duly blown away.

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Big Freedia (USA)

Big Freedia, known as the Queen of Bounce, is at the forefront of the Bounce rap movement.

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Bobby Womack (USA)

The Bravest Man In The Universe is Bobby Womack’s first album in twelve years. But he doesn’t see it that way. A man whose talent as a singer, guitarist and composer is matched only by his self-lacerating honesty, Womack dismisses three long-players he made at the turn of the millennium and sees his first album for XL Recordings as the first, real Bobby Womack album since 1994’s Resurrection. You see, for those three lost albums and his few live performances around that time, Bobby Womack wasn’t really there at all.

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Calypso Rose (Trinidad and Tobago)

Mc Cartha Lewis, sobriquet Calypso Rose, is the undisputed Calypso Queen of the World. Rose was born in Bethel, Tobago. She was the fifth of eleven children, her father being a spiritual Baptist leader. At age nine, she moved to Barataria, in Trinidad. In 1955, she composed her first Calypso after witnessing a man stealing the spectacles off of a lady’s face in the Croissée, San Juan. In the calypso she advised Tobagonians to stay at home, because Trinidad was no place for them.

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Chapelier Fou (France)

Chapelier Fou is a young man from Metz who knows his musical chops and applies his dutiful study of classical violin to a distinctive brand of sweet, quirky electronica.

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Clinton Fearon (Jamaica)

Clinton Fearon is counted among Jamaica's most talented musicians by peers and professionals in the Reggae music industry.

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Criolo (Brazil)

Criolo: the true voice of a new Brazil.

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Dayme Arocena (Cuba)

Singer, composer, arranger, choir director and band leader, Daymé Arocena at 22 years, is a skilful, charismatic presence in Cuban music. Her diverse musical talents will take her fast into broader territories. Dressed always in white she is visibly involved in induction into the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria and sings the chants and song repertoires, but at the same time, she absorbs music of any kind, particularly jazz and Cuban neo-soul.

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Debademba (Mali)

Were an African music aficionado to blindly walk into a room where the Debademba track Souleymane was playing, they would instantly get very excited, believing it to be a lost track by one of the great West African bands of the 1970s – perhaps the Rail Band or Les Ambassadeurs. Not only are the guitar lines so effortlessly fluid, but those honeyed vocals were surely produced by a young Salif Keita, frontman of both rival outfits back in the day. But Debademba – the baby of well-travelled guitarist Abdoulaye Traore and young-buck singer Mohamed Diaby – are no mere revivalists. While adept at reprising that classic Malian sound, they’re also relentless in forging a new blueprint for the region’s music. Indeed, more modern-sounding tracks like the urgent Agnakamina are easy confirmation of the brightness of Debademba’s immediate future.

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Deolinda (Portugal)

Superstars in their native Portugal, Deolinda breathe new life into the country’s signature fado style. Performing songs from their latest release Dois Selos e um Carimbo (World Connection), the tight-knit quartet is led by dreamy storytelling singer Ana Bacalhau and boasts a flamboyant stage show featuring ukelelem cavaquinho, braguesa, classical guitar and double bass.

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Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

A genre-busting collision of gypsy, punk and rock from the rambunctious Balkan ten-piece, led by acclaimed film-maker and musician Emir Kusturica.

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Fantasma (South Africa)

South African quartet Fantasma are to release Eye of the Sun EP through Soundway Records on 20th October. Made up of a diverse set of musicians the band bring together a wide range of elements from hip-hop to shangaan electro and South African house, psych-rock and punk to township-tech, creating a sound entirely original, fresh, and unique and far greater than the sum of its diverse parts.

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Fatoumata Diawara (Mali)

Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara (aka Fatou) was born of Malian parents in the Ivory Coast in 1982. As a child she became a member of her father’s dance troupe and was a popular performer of the wildly flailing didadi dance from Wassoulou, her ancestral home in western Mali. She was an energetic and headstrong girl and at the age of twelve her refusal to go to school finally prompted her parents to send her to live and be disciplined by an aunt in Bamako. Her aunt was an actress, and a few years after arriving, Fatou found herself on a film set looking after her aunt’s infant child. The film’s director was captivated by Fatou’s adolescent beauty and she was given a one line part in the final scene of the film ‘Taafe Fangan’ (‘The Power of Women’).

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Francois & The Atlas Mountains (France/UK)

Meet François Marry – a multi-talented songwriter, musician, animator and artist, hailing from Saintes, a small town on the west coast of France who goes under the name of Fránçois and The Atlas Mountains. Frànçois moved to Bristol from France in September 2003. Over the past few years, François has recorded a couple of albums and EPs, released through Too Pure and Fence Records and has performed around the globe with Camera Obscura, Electrelane, Anna Calvi and King Creosote & Jon Hopkins. Originally an open collective, Fránçois and The Atlas Mountains has become over the years, a four-piece band and have recently signed to Domino Records. Matching French lyrics to African rhythms, the band’s distinctive songwriting is whimsically surreal with a real joyous side, sheer, un-repressed fun. ‘E Volo Love’ (released on Jan 23rd on Domino) is a beautiful collection of Gallic chamber-pop and chanson with rich piano chords, shimmering electric guitars and an all-female polyphonic vocal group creating a colorful sound.

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Heyrocco (USA)

Nathan Jake Merli (Guitar and Vocals), Chris Cool (Bass, and yes, that’s his real name) and Tanner “Taco” Cooper first plugged-in in their parents garage five years ago and were soon touring across the United States in their shitty van. They are now gearing up for the release of their debut album “Teenage Movie Soundtrack” through Vital Music Group and a return across the pond for a summer of touring the UK and Europe.

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Ibibio Sound Machine (UK / Nigeria)

Ibibio Sound Machine released their debut LP through Soundway Records released on 17th March. Fronted by British / Nigerian vocalist Eno Williams, they combine elements of West African highlife, disco, post-punk & psychedelic electro soul. Their pulsating first single ‘Let’s Dance’ was added to the BBC 6 Music playlist.

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John Smith (UK)

Dazzling and inventive guitarist with a jaw-dropping, unconventional percussive guitar style.

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Karol Conka (Brazil)

Brazil’s hip hop revelation Karol Conka has bounced bang into the spotlight thanks to neon energy, hard graft and a sound all her own.

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Lou Doillon (France)

Lou Doillon may not carry her mother Jane Birkin’s surname yet she’s clearly inherited her family’s musical sensibility.

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Louis Baker (New Zealand)

Renowned for equal parts uplifting / tear inducing live shows, Bakers achingly raw lyrics intertwined with mesmerizing melodies and an emotive vocal tone that produces shades of Motown-era soul, it leaves no question as to why international media have touted this native New Zealand singer / songwriter as one to watch.

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Lucas Santtana (Brazil)

One of Brazil's most interesting, dynamic and experimental singer-songwriter-producers

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Luisa Sobral (Portugal)

Luisa’s empathy with musical instruments started with the guitar. It was with the guitar that she realized where the chords of her parent’s music come from. From The Beatles and from many others. And it was on an early age that she gave herself to the unique melodies that the jazz immortalized. She embraced such artists as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzerald, Chet Baker, and many others and with them in her heart she set off to the Berklee College of Music, in Boston, USA, to study music. In her 4 year stay in Boston she was nominated for the «Best Jazz Song» at the Malibu Music Awards (2008); «Best Jazz Artist» at the Hollywood Music Awards ; «International Songwriting Competition» (2007) and «The John Lennon Songwriting Competition» (2008).

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Mbongwana Star (Congo)

Mbongwana Star, a newly formed 7-piece band from the Democratic Republic of Congo, are preparing for the May release their debut album, ‘From Kinshasa’ on May 18th on World Circuit Records.

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Melissa Laveaux (Canada)

Born to Haitian parents in Montreal, Mélissa Laveaux moved to France six years ago when she signed to No Format (also home to Chilly Gonzales and Julia Saar) and in 2008 released her debut album ‘Camphor and Copper’.

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Mina Tindle (France)

Mina Tindle is a Parisian-born folk and new-wave singer, song-writer and multi-instrumentalist.  She appeared as guest vocalist on The National’s acclaimed album Boxer (2007). This was followed by the release of Tindle’s debut solo album Taranta (2012, Believe Recordings) on which she collaborated with JP Nataf, frontman of French pop and new-wave icons The Innocents.  The debut garnered her international praise from tastemakers such as Pitchfork and The Line of Best Fit who respectively hailed her sound as “breezily cool” and  “combining  delicate, heart wrenching vocals with gentle, touching melodies”. While Uncut wrote of her debut: “anthemic, featuring strange, buried electronics which showcase her charming, clever pop” and The Independent compared her “artful leftfield pop” with contemporaries such as Feist.  Collectively the singles Bells and Lovely Day , taken from the debut album, received radio play from BBC 6 Music (Tom Robinson), BBC 2 (Chris Hawkins) and BBC Radio London as well as Amazing Radio who invited Tindle in to record a session, while making Lovely Day their ‘Record of the Week’

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MULATU ASTATKE (Ethiopia)

The father of Ethio-jazz, known for his unique blend of pop, modern jazz, traditional Ethiopian music.

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Orchestra Baobab (Senegal)

Orchestra Baobab are one of Africa’s great iconic bands, creators of one of the world’s most sublime and truly distinctive pop sounds. Founded in 1970, Orchestra Baobab fused Afro-Cuban rhythm and Portuguese Creole melody with Congolese rumba, high life and a whole gamut of local styles – kickstarting a musical renaissance in their native Senegal, which turned the capital Dakar into one of the world’s most vibrant musical cities. They produced more hits in less than a decade than other bands in a lifetime. While Baobab found themselves sidelined by the revolution they helped create and disbanded in 1985, a huge groundswell of international interest led to their triumphant reformation in 2001. Orchestra Baobab are still very much in business today.

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Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin)

Some best-kept secrets are worth revealing, and the eternal youth of the legendary Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou is a particularly valuable hidden treasure. The West African band have now been playing their exquisite groove for over 40 years, a home-made voodoo funk, “Made in Bénin”, that conquered Nigeria, Togo, Niger, Angola and much of West Africa during their golden years. Back then, they were the famed residents of the Zenith club in Cotonou, they backed luminaries like Manu Dibango, Miriam Makeba and Gnonnas Pedro and they even opened for Fela and Africa 70. And they scored a pan-African hit with the breakneck funk anthem, ‘Gbeti Madjro’, which has now entered Benin folklore and remains the band’s essential calling card.

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Robyn Hitchcock (UK)

Robyn Hitchcock was born in London in 1953. He has written and recorded over 500 songs, solo and with The Soft Boys, The Egyptians, and more recently The Venus 3.

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Rozi Plain (UK)

Lost Map Records are proud to announce Rozi Plain’s exquisite third album Friend, which will be released on May 4, 2015. A spellbinding reaffirmation of the London-based, Winchester-born singer-songwriter as one of the most unique and original voices in UK alt-folk, Friend features contributions from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and members of François & The Atlas Mountains among many others. It’s preceded by the single ‘Actually’, which has been described by DIY Mag as “about the most gorgeous, all-encompassing introduction imaginable for this London-based songwriter.”

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Sexy Sushi (France)

On stage, she drinks, screams, takes her top off and he dances like a lunatic. Sexy Sushi is probably the craziest duo around but definitely one of the best live performance you’ll ever see, somewhere between RATM and Laurent Garnier. Brainchild of Mitch Silver (also known for his solo project College) and Rebeka Warior, Sexy Sushi have played to thousands of people in France headlining massive stages. After playing at Koko and Glastonbury in 2011, they will be back in 2013 for a lot of fun and sweat!

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Shake Shake Go (UK/France)

Introducing Shake Shake Go – the London based five-piece, whose folk-influenced pop saw them handpicked by James Blunt to support him on his UK tour last year. Now, their stunning debut EP ‘England Skies’ will be released on March 9th via Beaucoup Music and marks the arrival of an impressive new band.

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Skip&Die (South Africa/The Netherlands)

SKIP&DIE, the sensational new genre-blending band formed by South African vocalist & visual artist Catarina Aimée Dahms (aka Cata.Pirata) and Dutch musician & producer Jori Collignon, released their debut album on Crammed Discs, in October 2012.

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Songhoy Blues (Mali)

Garba Touré and his guitar were a familiar sight on the banks on the Niger, upstream from Timbuktu in Mali, West Africa. But when armed Islamist jihadists too control of Northern Mali in the spring of 2012, he knew it was time to leave. «They ordered people to stop smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and playing music and although I don’t smoke or drink, I love the guitar, so I thought: ‘This isn’t the moment to hang around. I have to go south…now.’»

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Stranded Horse (France)

Never before has anyone taken the kora and done such stylish and effortlessly cool things with it.

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Stromae (Belgium)

Paul Van Haver, better known as Stromae is a Belgian singer-songwriter. He has distinguished himself in both hip-hop and electronic music. He first became famous with the song ‘Alors on danse’, which remained at number one for several weeks in numerous countries throughout Europe.

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The Pictish Trail (UK)

Johnny Lynch, aka The Pictish Trail, is something of a conundrum. On first impressions, he’s a self-deprecating hairy hobo whose on-stage banter could give many comedians a run for their money. But once he begins to sing, Lynch’s extraordinary vocals reveal hidden depths that can subdue the most rowdy of audiences into a blissfully hypnotised silence.

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Tiken Jah Fakoly (Ivory Coast)

Tiken Jah Fakoly has always taken risks. Since “Mangercratie,” in 1996, he integrated the tongue of the Abidjan pavements, the root-est in all his merry arrogance that has ever caressed our eardrums. The most political as well: saying it as it is, the four truths to the face of the despots, destabilizing the official history, Tiken challenged the disinformation standing out as the spokesman for millions of young African people. Without doubt, he joined the lineage of the Peter Tosh and the Bob Marley, the noblest branch in reggae: like them, he has become “the voice for those without voices.”

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Tuff Love (UK)

One of Scotland’s most exciting new bands return with the Dross EP on Feb 9, the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Junk EP, which upon release in May saw Tuff Love variously hailed as “the makings of a very special band” (Fake DIY), writers of “perfect pop music” (Vic Galloway, BBC Radio Scotland) and “your new favourite band” (The Daily Record). They’ve have been championed by DJs including Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Rob Da Bank, Huw Stephens, Gideon Coe, Bethan Elfyn and Shell Zenner. Across a packed 2014, Tuff Love played festivals including Glastonbury, T in the Park, Wickerman, Howlin’ Fling and Long Division, toured the UK and Europe, and opened for artists including PAWS, Real Estate, Joanna Gruesome, Perfect Pussy and Honeyblood. The video for their single ‘Flamingo’ was directed by and starred comedian Josie Long. Dross will be released by Lost Map Records on 10” coloured vinyl (w/ download code) and as an iTunes download. It’s preceded by the track ‘Slammer’ on Nov 24, plus UK tour dates (see overleaf).

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Ute Lemper (Germany)

Ute Lemper’s career is vast and varied. She has made her mark on the stage, in films, in concert and as a unique recording artist. She has been universally praised for her interpretations of Berlin Cabaret Songs, the works of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht and the French Chanson Book. As well as her own compositions and the more Jazz influenced collaborations and works. In the world of theater Ute made her mark with her portrayals on Broadway, in Paris and in London’s West End.

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Vanessa Paradis (France)

There has never been anything halfhearted about Vanessa Paradis’s art. Not once has she faked commitment or dragged her feet when taking on a joint venture. So when she decided to work with Benjamin Biolay on Love Songs, she pulled out all the stops. The result is a lavish but intimate double album featuring twenty songs in various styles and languages, and dealing with deliberately serious subjects. It shows us yet another side of Vanessa Paradis.

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Verity Susman (UK)

After a decade as lead singer of experimental rock band Electrelane, Verity Susman’s solo project probes new territory. Using music, visuals and text, her live shows create a world of psychedelic alienation, embracing the subversive possibilities of awkwardness. Often appearing in drag, her saxophone becomes an organ of musical and gender performance, confronting audiences with a queer female masculinity that is at once serious, humorous, angry and uncomfortable. At times ironic, often passionate and full of joyous heartbreak, Verity takes the audience into a collage of exploratory sounds, woven through surreal reconstructions of pulp romance novels and sci-fi slash fiction tales.

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Yelle (France)

Since 2007 French electro-popper Yelle has risen to be a leading lady in the world of European pop music.

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Zun Zun Egui (UK)

Zun Zun Egui formed in Bristol in late 2008 – Mauritian guitarist and singer Kushal Gaya met and started making music with Japanese keyboard player Yoshino Shigihara after they had both moved to the UK. Initially they started playing with a large number of musicians but a core ZZE group formed round the pair along with bassist Luke Mosse and drummer Matt Jones. Yoshino came up with their name after seeing the term Zun Zun Egui on a trip to the Basque Country and realising that it sounded exactly like the Japanese words for “Fast Fast Weird”. (They would later find out it was Basque for a group of trees.) A love for experimentation, free jazz, fusion, DIY culture, throwing parties and playing wild shows was the glue that bonded the outfit together. After an early clutch of raw and experimental EPs, they focussed their song-writing gift and mastery of many styles to create a recognisable Zun Zun Egui sound which included (amongst many other things) tropicalia, punk funk, Afrobeat, Ethio jazz and no wave. All of these varied disciplines were marshalled to produce their debut //Katang// on Bella Union – an album that by rights should have been comparable to a madman’s breakfast but was in fact one of the most exciting debut LPs of 2011. Following the release they took on a new bass player Adam Newton and then about a year and a half ago they recruited a second guitarist Stephen Kerrison and started working on new material. Even for a band as exploratory and talented as ZZE though, the step up in terms of songwriting and inspiration since //Katang// is astounding and it is already clear that new LP //Shackles’ Gift// is one of the most unique and thrilling that will be released in 2015.