This years initial line-up bursted out of its seems with more than seventy talented artists, some of which grew up on Dutch grounds. These bands and singers unfortunately couldn’t play live at Best Kept Secret 2021. However, that won’t stop us from wanting to introduce them to you. Check out their best live sessions below! These artists are part of the European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP) by Eurosonic Noorderslag.
It’s always a special occurrence whenever an artist arrives manages to sound both familiar and strange, intersecting many different sensibilities. The Amsterdam-based musician Ricky Cherim – aka the Meetsysteem – made an engrossing record (Geen Singaal) last year that ticks off all the boxes, instilling the belief that Dutch pop music has far more surfaces left to scratch. The 2020 album Cr:GO was just as wonderful, if not even more unique. In his music, Cherim melts elements of techno, Dutch hip-hop, and eighties synth pop together into an infectious vocabulary: one in which fans of Radiohead and Ronnie Flex can be seen shuffling together at the front row.
With The Road to Glastonbury in the rear-view mirror, the Pip Blom freight train rides on full-throttle. Best Kept Secret would have loved to welcome Pip back with a larger, more ambitious show. Who doesn’t fall head over heels for those whip-smart songs, kinetic shows, sheer joyousness and nonchalance? The group’s excellent first album Boat floats exuberantly between blistering indie rock and catchy alternative pop, as Pip expresses everyday observations with a sly disposition. The spry quartet has already shared stages with like-minded indie heavyweights The Breeders, Franz Ferdinand and Garbage. In the meantime, the band remain an essential cog within the flourishing Amsterdam indie rock scene and continues to impress on new single ‘Keep It Together’.
It didn’t seem that long ago that S10 was considered a promising young hip-hop talent who explicitly imparts her innermost psychological struggles. During Noorderslag we saw a Stien den Hollander who has reached her full maturity as an artist, an individual who transcends stylistics, concepts and conventions with the greatest of ease. Indeed: the most impressive, heart-rending show of Best Kept Secret 2021 might have been performed by a 20-year old woman from the small town of Hoorn.
Waltzburg’s sound is partly indebted to Real Estate’s languid guitar pop, Kevin Morby’s twangy folk and Vampire Weekend’s jittery indie rock. Above all, Waltzburg are a tight-knit band of longtime friends, so despite all the inherent contradictions in life, ultimately, they do not weigh the world all too heavily. Waltzburg’s music is a sweet and tuneful case of ‘glass half full’: warm, whimsical and always up for a cheer.
Whether they perform jangly indie rock or exult in spry pop melodicism, the song always reigns with Amsterdam trio WIES. Jeanne Rouwendaal’s wry Dutch-spoken lyrics are brimmed with truths that are both universal and banal. Single ‘Barman’ submerges you into the nostalgic train of thought of someone with a broken heart who is seeking refuge in a bar, while ‘Radiostilte’ meditates on how a lack of communication can often cause a lot of noise between the ears. That’s WIES in a nutshell: knotting together the biggest contradictions and dilemmas into sweeping tunes that never wear out their welcome.
This giddy bunch, comprised of members of Baby Galaxy and Bounty Island, started as a fun side project. The goal: just messing around with Thai funk, obscure soul and psychedelic rock as the main starting point. Suffice to say things got a bit out of hand: like a Freudian slip, influences from all over suddenly surged through, which made YĪN YĪN an even more kinetic, jam-packed live affair. From weirdo freakouts to the occasional familiar golden oldie, YĪN YĪN are always having a ball on stage and that frantic energy spreads far afield.
Curious to see the international selection of the European Talent Exchange Programme? Check it out here.