North East artists you must see in 2023
Written by Lewis Bassindale on 30th March 2023
The North East music scene is at its biggest and best for quite a number of years. Here are some of the best acts you should be supporting and seeing in 2023
1. India Arkin
Newcastle-based artist India Arkin is the person who inspired this list after we met her busking in 2020 with her student band Strawberry Haze. Two years on she has ended the band and now produces anthem after anthem with her backing band.
From songs like is this Where You Call Home which is an emotional softer looker at the issues that surround young people today and her debut single Dashboard Dancing which is a head banging stress reliever that also makes you stop and think.
India has built a broad range of local and national fans; this has propelled her to being backed by Tom Robinson at BBC Radio 6 music and has allowed her to be signed to a one-off EP deal by HMV’s 1921 Records for an album day release last September.
This is monumental as she was the first to be signed since Morrissey in the late 80s/early 90s. The EP is titled home truths and garnered national attention.
Spark’s memories of India are watching her grow in popularity and as an artist from small warehouse gigs in Ouseburn to playing one of the best venues in Newcastle such as Jesmond pub performance venue Bobiks. Spark is proud to call India one of the North East’s best as well as a friend.
Her latest live acoustic EP is something special and could be one of the releases of 2023:
2. Frankie Jobling
There is something about Frankie that makes her one of the region’s best female voices around. It could be the northern warmth in her style and personality or whether you think she sounds like the legend that is Amy Winehouse during her live sets.
Her neo-soul sound is impossible to not tap and move to in a way you feel like there has been a mass release of energy and good vibes in whatever circumstance you hear her music in.
Her headline gig at Bobiks last year felt like everyone had been invited to Frankie’s flat. The set exuded warmth and what some would call “canny” vibes. The best songs of hers to stream are Grateful and Summer’s Come Early.
Her latest single titled Where Did You Go When You Go Quiet came out recently. Listen below:
Led by North East born but now Leeds-based singer Robyn McLeod. Indie jazz-soul band Rushbonds give a mature yet fresh and youthful sound.
While at the time of writing they are yet to commercially release a single they have still performed plenty of sets in small indie venues in both Newcastle and Leeds (Where the band all study).
We’ve seen the band live twice at Ouseburn’s house party-style venue little buildings and again Bobiks.
They are a band to watch in a genre that is emerging and thriving with young and eager acts delivering emotional and meaningful tunes that are also still worthy of dancing too.
Some of the band’s best tunes explore topics such as scrolling through the social network known as Reddit for example.
4. Sarah Johnsone
Sarah is much more of a traditional indie artist than our previous two. We first witnessed Sarah by chance last September supporting India Arkin at the HMV live and local in store gig in Newcastle.
Her style is percussion heavy with the occasional bluesy/jazzy undertones that reveal like the lowering of a silk gown by someone who knows how to reveal what they have with flawless timing.
A strong example of this is the song Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl which pushes and pulls the listener in a way that seriously keeps them engaged.
What makes Sarah one to watch in 2023 is that she has been named as one to watch by the music scouts at BBC introducing.
Check out do not wanna be your girl below:
A band that are hard to describe, Gingerella produces head banger after head banger. As a band they often remind listeners of the 70s punk era as most of their songs perfectly criticise the current state of society and many of its issues.
This act gets into our list as one of their guitarists named Noah hails from Newcastle, the band give cool outcasts vibes with the 70s punk outfits and vintage feel.
They typically perform in London in small to medium sized pub performance rooms. We managed to catch them at their headliner last April at one of the region’s best venues which is again little buildings.
They certainly back up their head banging tunes up with an engaging set that never fails to disappoint.
Gingerella are ones to watch if your alternative and vintage vibes inclined.
Their latest demo/single Knocking On The Doors Of Wandsworth was released recently and is much softer compared to their other material.
You could easily imagine this being played as the outro to a romantic teen movie such as Paper Towns by John Green.
The song’s lyrics and instrumental construction reflect again the 70s punk vibe the rest of their music gives.
6. Ruby Aeron
This brilliant act was a recommendation from a drummer whose band also features on this list. University student Ruby Aeron has a slightly more mainstream sound compared to others so far on this list.
Her sound may sound familiar to the softer songs that have come from artists such as Ariana Grande and Olivia Rodrigo.
Her music gives rainy day walk vibes and Jesmond coffee shop feels. The North East is full of great female voices and Ruby is one on the up in my opinion.
Her first single Overdue is something special in that while it feels familiar it feels fresh enough to wow you, it is something you certainly want to listen to on a cold rainy day while cooped up with a large hot latte.
KITES are a Newcastle-based Alt/indie rock band that formed when frontman Kane Teal and lead guitarist Harry Wade met as students at Newcastle University.
Bassist Lewis McDonald joined shortly after, with drummer Bailey Rudd finalising the line-up in early 2022.
They have been featured as part of many radio programmes and stations line-ups such as BBC Introducing, BBC Newcastle, Hive Radio, and Amazing Radio UK/USA.
The band have worked tirelessly to cement themselves in their local scene and are now one of the most anticipated indie bands in the North East. For example, with them playing sold out shows across Newcastle and Durham, as well as being championed by HMV as part of their live and local series.
Their tenacity has attracted the attention of gig promoters such as Shingigs and This Feeling. This has opened doors for the band’s continued growth, all before the release of their debut EP.
With a nostalgic mix of early 90s grunge and 00s rock that creates a fresh take on Britpop, KITES have stumbled upon something special and are ones to watch in the alt/indie rock space.
8. Labyrinthine Oceans
Northern grungy-funky dream rockers Labyrinthine Oceans remind us of The Cranberries in the above performance.
Spark first saw the band supporting India Arkin last year at Little Buildings and were taken aback by their ability to take such as well-known sound such as dream pop and add a northern feel to it.
Songs such as Glory and The Gap take you into a chilled-out zone but their other material such as sinking sands can ignite a crowd in a way few bands can.
Fronted by female lead Julia, the band represent a young wave of music that is not trying to be something brand new. Instead, they take old sounds such as 90s alternative and give it a new take with their thoughts and outlooks on what life is like in 2023.
Citrus are a band who are recently on the scene in the North East. The band all come from various parts of the UK, but they met at Newcastle University.
They provide a traditional indie sound that is supplemented by the female lead Eleanor who adds an angelic softer like quality.
This compares the band to other female-fronted indie acts such as Abbie Ozard and BBC Radio 1-backed rising star Ellie Dixon.
Citrus may not zing like other indie acts, but they are easy to fall in love with and are highly likely to rise up to being members of the cream of the crop in the local and alternative national music scene.
Their debut release, titled Something True, is something that is very traditional female-fronted indie. The track gives British indie teen film vibes or maybe something that would be seen in the Heartstopper soundtrack.
It is very bright and feel good in that it feels like something that would work live at a local village festival:
10: Sam Shields
Sam is another artist we saw back in 2022 supporting India Arkin at again Little Buildings.
His modern blend of Americana & Folk has produced songs such as Flint which is a thought-provoking song in which Sam talks about the Flint water crisis in the US state of Michigan.
He told the audience at the gig spark attended that he was inspired after watching the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 in which the crisis is covered in large detail.
Another favourite is the song Penny’s Daughter, which is based off stories he gained from family conversations. Therefore, this shows that there is a huge theme with Sam and his music in that his music is aimed at the thinker rather than the dancer or the instrumental lover.
While it feels and sounds like traditional Folk. His music has a northern rawness and heart which stands him out as being a North East legend producing music in a genre you would not normally expect to be engaged with.
Therefore, Sam has a skill which is makes him special as an artist, He just does not sing, instead Sam is a storyteller. In that he takes the listener on a journey through the worlds and life’s events.