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What A Decade: Nusic on Why Nottingham Should Be Crowned the Music City of the Last 10 Years

19 January 20 words: Sam Nahirny
photos: Sam Lindley, Sam Scales, Tom Morley, Olivia Davy Hoffman, Kashkam

If you live in Nottingham and are passionate about that music thing, it’s fair to say this is the best decade we’ve ever had. And not just us: there’s a case that musically, Notts has had one of the best decades in the whole of the UK…

From sell-out shows all around the world, gold records, soundtracks to Ivor Novellos, it’s been a significant decade for Nottingham. Calling us the most prominent music city of the last ten years isn’t just hype, either. BBC One did a documentary asking the question: Could Notts be the music city of the decade? If that wasn’t enough, Radio X did a 90-minute showcase on Hoodtown’s vibrations. At Nusic, we’re passionate about helping Nottingham musicians as much as possible; it’s the only reason we exist. Over the next four pages of ‘Lion goodness, we’re going to do a speedy-boy explanation of why it’s been such a glorious decade for 0115, the acts that have helped make that happen as well as taking a look forward at who could be bossing those arena/Printworks shows in 2020.

Alexa, define seminal: “Relating to or denoting semen”. Wait, no. Alexa, are there other definitions of seminal? “Strongly influencing later developments.” Ok, we’re gonna turn that into music-lish. We define seminal as an artist that has had critical and commercial success. Someone who can sell out Rock City-sized venues in different countries and sell tons of records. And Nottingham has had three seminal artists this decade. If you take London out of the mix - which, let’s all be honest, is basically it’s own little sovereign nation, puts us ahead of any other city the country. Let’s take a look at who those three artists are...


Jake Bugg 
Four Top 10 albums, including a UK number one 
Six Top 40 singles
Plays 2000+ capacity venues all over the world 
Provided the soundtrack for Usain Bolt’s iconic 100m win at London 2012

London Grammar 
Two Top 5 albums, including one UK number one, which also went Double Platinum 
Won an Ivor Novello Award in 2014 for Best Song Musically and Lyrically 
Play 2000+ capacity venues all over the world

Sleaford Mods 
Arguably the most critically acclaimed artist this decade, based on respected media like 6Music and The Guardian 
Listed on several ‘Best of the Decade/End of Year’ lists  
Play 2000+ capacity venues all over the world 


We’ve defined this as artists that are likely to be selling out large venues or charting significantly in multiple countries.

Do Nothing
Sold out The Bodega
Loved by critically acclaimed and mainstream media from DIY and 6Music, to BBC Radio 1 and NME
As we go to print, they can be found on to plenty of Bands to Look For in 2020 lists 

Young T & Bugsey
Signed to Black Butter - a subsidiary of Sony 
Two Top 40 singles. Including one Top 10 BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra A-List, plus a lot of love from KISS, Capital and tons more respected radio stations

Signed to big-boy independent CruCast
Five million streams on his debut album 
Sold out shows all around the country, including a pseudo-headline with Skepsis at the 5000-capacity Printworks 


Sold-out shows across Europe 
Massive festival performances everywhere from London to Buenos Aries 
Worked with Hot Creations, Fabric, Rinse FM and more

Signed to major label Parlophone.
A string of huge support shows under his belt, including D Block Europe in 2019 
Writing with some big boys and girls in LA 

Loved by radio stations all over the world, from Gilles Peterson to John Kennedy 
Plays to big festival crowds all over the globe 
Critical press acclaim a-plenty 

Artists like Daudi Matsiko, Eyre Llew and Rob Green all deserve a shout, but we have the good blessing of having too many talented people in Nottingham. This is just the surface...


Obviously, this is a mad exciting time for NG, but it’s not just us that thinks so. We asked a few of Notts’ musical movers and shakers to let us know who they were excited about, but, you know, it’s Christmas and everyone was busy. So here’s some of the Notts artists that Rough Trade’s Sam Allison is feeling right now... 

Alice Robbins
Alice had a fantastic 2019, and we can only see that continuing into next year. Her debut EP Lavender Honey was released here at Rough Trade Nottingham to very positive reviews. A talented multi-instrumentalist in her own right, she’s gained a lot of love from BBC Introducing and 6Music over the past year for her distinctive fusion of indie and folk music. Alice could be compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Daughters Elena Tonra, and we can’t wait to see what she does in 2020. 

Camille Christel
The 19-year-old has an enchanting sound that captivates audiences all over the city. Her latest single Goldsmith Street was one of our favourite tracks of 2019. Full of heartfelt and honest lyricism, you really feel Camille’s emotions on this song, as the exquisite instrumentals and the sound of delicate rain playing gracefully alongside each other in perfect harmony. Camille is a unique talent, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for her forthcoming EP set to be released in 2020.

Do Nothing
Probably the best unsigned act in Nottingham, Do Nothing are turning heads up and down the country, as well as further afield. The post-punk quartet have already supported the likes of Interpol and performed on the same festival line-ups beside Kratwerk and Floating Points. Lead singer Chris Bailey’s songwriting is reminiscent of David Byrne’s with the stage presence to match. You can really see big things on the horizon for these boys, so make sure you give their music a listen.


We thought we’d talk about some of the artists we’re personally excited about. Obviously, there’s way too many to list them all, so here’s just a handful of artists that Nusic couldn’t stop playing in 2019...

If Dua Lipa was from Hucknall and had an excellent fringe, she’d be called Blle. Early into this new project, but already at an incredbly exciting point. Blending europhic pop melodies with some dirty basslines and mixing it all together with a sprinkling of funky instrumentation. Tasty.

Seeing Jerub for the first time earlier this year was one of those joyous moments you get in music that you know you’ll never forget. On the surface it’s soulful folk, but look deeper and you’ve got an avalanche of poetic lyricism, beautiful melodies and a syrupy vocal. 

VHS filter-funk is just one way to describe Tony Spark’s sound. Not just because it’s so unique, but because he’s part of about 74 different musical projects, ranging from the late night funk grooves, through to dirty, subby hip-hop. And the best part is that he’s from good old Notts. 


It’s pretty much impossible to fit every detail of the amazing decade Nottingham has had into four pages, let alone share with you all the amazing, exciting new artists that are bursting through the seams of this city. We’ve tried our best to share the headlines, and now it’s over to you.

Firstly, if you’re not a musician, but have a musician mate, sister, cousin, dog, or llama, tell them about Nottingham. Specifically, how supportive this scene is and the fact that people move across the country to be here. Point them toward the Nusic website, which shares all the ways people in the area can help a Notts musician. If you are a musician yourself, the website is even more helpful. Make sure you check out the FAQ page on our site. 

Finally, whilst we’ve still got those beautiful eyes of yours, here’s a few more things to think about:

Open Mics
Nottingham has a buzzing open mic scene. These are great for a bunch of different reasons, but specifically, they’re a great way to build your confidence in front of a live audience, and learn to control your nerves for three-and-a-half minutes. They’re also an awesome way to network and make like-minded musical friends to collaborate with, especially if you’re new to the city. Google will point you in the right direction for the list of open mics in the city, but there are a few established nights we’d recommend, including every Acoustic Rooms every Monday at Rescue Rooms and every Tuesday at Six Barrels. 

Student Radio
Notts has a very respected student radio setup in the form of URN350 and Fly FM. Every year, there’s a bunch of keen presenters that want to show the love to local artists, so make sure you’re reaching out to them. You get to experience the magic of hearing your music on the radio for the first time, plus you get interview practice for when you hit the big time and become bezzies with Annie Mac.

Check out the Nusic website for a bunch of advice videos which share more insight into the Nottingham music scene.

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