Hits and highlights on the Norfolk music scene in 2016

Norwich duo Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, aka Let’s Eat Grandma, have had quite a 12 months. P

Norwich duo Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, aka Let’s Eat Grandma, have had quite a 12 months. Picture: Transgressive - Credit: Transgressive

Surprise, surprise it has been another busy year on the local music scene. Ears still ringing, here are just some highlights of what made a big noise in 2016.

Franko Fraize released his second single, Only, and enjoyed a Radio 1 session at the BBC’s iconic Ma

Franko Fraize released his second single, Only, and enjoyed a Radio 1 session at the BBC’s iconic Maida Vale studio. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016


At just 17-years-old, Norwich duo Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, who perform as Let's Eat Grandma, have had quite a 12 months, releasing their debut album to critical acclaim, prestigious slots at various festivals and to top it all performing on Later...With Jools Holland. Amazingly they became the first Norwich act ever to do so. Rosa and Jenny became friends way back in reception class at Recreation Road Infant School and have been inseparable ever since. They attend Access to Music and in 2014 were among the nascent acts given a slot on the Access To Music Stage at Latitude. A few months later, they opened the Norwich Sound & Vision Festival and blew away many of those there. They subsequently signed to independent label, Transgressive. Their debut album, I Gemini, a peculiar mix of wonky pop, backwoods folk and electronica, was unleashed on inspecting ears in June and a fanfare of approval followed, with The Guardian and the NME among the cheerleaders. They ended the year with a sold-out UK tour. Expect much more in 2017.


One of the main joys of Latitude is that it brings talent from all over the world to the region. However, an added bonus of the event is that it also gives local acts the chance to strut their stuff. Across the many stages again this year, talent from Norfolk and Suffolk showcased their work to a new audience. Opening the Lake Stage on Friday was Butney sisters Bess and Jayna Cavendish, collectively known as Aya, who were making their Latitude debut. On the same day, hotly-tipped Norwich bands Flamingods and Let's Eat Grandma performed to jam-packed crowds in the Sunrise Arena. All weekend, the Inbetweeners Arena saw a plethora of youthful musicians from the region show off their talents. There were performances from Norfolk bands such as Peach Club, Luke Peter Foster, Midnight Zoo and Montagues and Capulets, among others.

Mammal Hands released Floa to rave reviews. Picture: Gondwana Records

Mammal Hands released Floa to rave reviews. Picture: Gondwana Records - Credit: Gondwana Records

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After winning influential friends with the likes of Mike Skinner and support slots for Professor Green and The Libertines at their reunion show in Hyde Park, Thetford rapper Franko Fraize had a big 2015 performing on the Introducing Stage at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Norwich and inking a record deal with Polydor Records. And its been another year of success in 2016. He released his second single, Only, and enjoyed a Radio 1 session at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale studio, accompanied by an interview with presenter Clara Amfo. After a busy summer – performing at Thetford Forest with Rudimental and at the Reading and Leeds Festival – Franko now is knuckling down in the recording studio again. He did find time to help turn on the Thetford Christmas lights though! His witty tales of life make his debut album one to watch for.


Anna Mudeka one of the unsung heroes of the local music scene. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Anna Mudeka one of the unsung heroes of the local music scene. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Who'd have thought that busking in Norwich could have spawned one of the most interesting bands of 2016. Mammal Hands, who met on the city's streets in 2012, impressed with their debut album Animalia in 2014 which marked them out as ones to watch. Drawing on influences from Steve Reich to Bonobo and Pharoah Sanders to Cinematic Orchestra, alongside elements of North Indian and African music, they produce their own beautiful, inimitable music – at times wistful and melancholic and others raucous and catchy. This year the trio were back with a fantastic follow-up in Floa. From minimal, cyclical patterns which move effortlessly between ambient breakdowns and the explosive choruses, to hypnotic, trance related music and South African spiritual jazz, via experimental electronics it has established them as one of the most exciting new bands in Europe.


After its scaling back in size in 2014, Norwich Sound and Vision continued to be a more bijou affair for its seventh edition, but it was a more focussed triumph. Fans of live music, film and arts got a multi-sensory treat over three days with a series of live performances, exhibitions, talks and film screenings spread across five of the city's venues, including many free events. More than 50 up and coming performers and well-established artists shared the stage in Norwich. It came to a close on Saturday night with a performance from headliners Let's Eat Grandma. Festival organiser Adrian Cooke said it had been the event's best year to date. 'It's been brilliant,' he said. 'Probably the best ever. The feedback has been amazing.'


What do you get when you combine powerful soul vocals, catchy synth pop, and a dash of Norfolk spirit? Something that sounds an awful lot like breakthrough neo-soul artist Mullally. A Norfolk boy and graduate of Norwich's Access to Music College, Connor Mullally, 19, explained: 'My style is basically a big mash up. I love soul, I can't get enough Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke, but my music is a bit more modern. I sing old school but the music is quite edgy and new.' Whatever you call it he caused quite a stir in 2016 with his powerful pipes and feel-good tunes. If you heard his sensational summer hit, Troubled Love, which built on the buzz around his first single, Overdose, you'll know why. Norwich's rising star.


The number of music festivals that have gone to the wall over the last few years is testament to the fact its not easy to carve out a niche on the calendar. It is huge credit then that Sundown at Norfolk Showground continues to be such a success. This was its sixth year and organisers again assembled a genuinely impressive line-up of talent that reads like a who's who of recent chart toppers, including headline sets from the returning duo Chase & Status, dreamboat US R&B-pop sensation Jason Derulo, Grammy Award winner Jess Glynne, 'Bonkers' hitmaker Dizzee Rascal, Kano and Years & Years. Norwich's own Sigala were also on the main stage line-up. See you next year…


Anna Mudeka is one of the unsung heroes of the local music. She moved to Norwich from Zimbabwe over a decade ago but is now very much part of the Norfolk scene.Her songs range from the traditional sounds of the Mbira music of Zimbabwe fused with jazzy beats guitar and pop melodies. This year has been particularly successful with her six-piece band playing at Latitude and given air time on Radio 1. In addition the seventh edition of her Southburgh Festival was another triumph, bringing global grooves in a good cause. She said: '2016 has been amazing, I have enjoyed so many doors opening for my music. Having been based in Norfolk since 1994 this county has embraced my music and culture to its heart and I am grateful. There's so much more to come for the rest of the year and I'm pleased to be part of the music scene!'


Proving that Norwich's Access To Music really is proving a hotbed of talent at the moment, this young four-piece (the oldest member is just 20) released their first single Aileen to critical acclaim, followed by their debut album, Landscapes of Youth. Upbeat and melodic with lyrics that were created from social commentary they take in influences from Jamie T and The Strokes to the Beautiful South. They bagged a slot on the bill at Latitude too. They said: '2016 has thrown up some amazing opportunities with our sold out show at The Garage and being asked to perform at the UEA and Waterfront main stage. We have been humbled by the support that's been shown - it's amazing when people start to notice you that aren't just your family members!'


Norwich band The Neutrinos have always been done thing differently and they ended 2016 by teaming up with Great Yarmouth-born artist Sal Pittman to stage a unique show in London. They performed KlangHaus: On Air as part of the Southbank Centre's Festival of Love. The show is part gig, part live art installation and has been enjoying sell-out performances and great reviews in the national press. The Neutrinos' Karen Reilly said: 'It's really thrilling that the show has taken off so well in London.'

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