Meet the finalists for Vans’ Musicians Wanted competition

Finalists from across the world are in with a chance of supporting Anderson .Paak at a 2021 gig

Next month, Vans are hosting their Vans Musicians Wanted Virtual Concert, bringing their renowned Musicians Wanted competition to the world for the first time. The winner of the competition – which launched in Asia five years ago – will win the chance to support Anderson .Paak at a 2021 gig. There is also the opportunity to secure Spotify and Apple Music playlisting, global music distribution and a wide selection of Fender equipment.

Announcing the competition, Vans wrote: “Let the World Hear Your Music. Vans Musicians Wanted is an introductory program for musicians from all genres and background to submit their demo for a chance to showcase their talent at a House Of Vans plus win some Vans product, Fender gear, and Vans playlisting along the way.”

With applications now closed for entries, a series of guest judges – including rappers J.I.D and Bohan Phoenix – will join highly-tipped London-based singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya in selecting three bands or artists, who will perform at the December concert.

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Ahead of the final, NME meets the five finalists all hoping to pick up the prize. Meet them below.

Duck Baleno (Italy)

Technicolour arrangements see modern pop flourishes meet an earthy, bluesy rock’n’roll base, all orchestrated by Duck Chagall.

Vans' Musicians Wanted
Credit: Vans.

What can you tell us about your music? Give us the elevator pitch

“Duck Baleno’s sound is fresh and colourful with diverse influences from each band member, all from different parts of the music world. The whole is orchestrated by Duck Chagall (singer/producer) that brings a modern, lively and eccentric feel with his trademark songwriting and production.

“We have been working on this project for a year melting together all our tastes from pop-rock choruses, electronic music vibes, psychedelic tones, super synth bass, children’s toys used as samples, with guitar pedals attached to keyboards and guitars sounding like horn sections.”

Is there one particular song everybody should check out?

“‘Right Way’, a dark sounding tune with a deep riff and a child’s toy as a sample.”

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Is there something particular you want people to take from your music?

“We would like people to get joy and serenity from our songs and fun and excitement from our live performances even when hearing our deeper and solemn tracks.”

What would it mean to win Vans’ Musicians Wanted?

“Winning VMW would bring us lots of happiness and would mean great recognition after a year of playing together with lots of hard work. That said we don’t really see this as a competition but as a great music sharing system and as a way to get our music heard in a time where performing live is so difficult.”

What’s your goal for 2021?

“Our goal in 2021 is to meet some professional figures to work with by organising European tours, work on new ideas and tracks, finalising and releasing our album and stepping up our live performances, the perfect place to create new bonds, meet other musicians and collaborators.”

YGGL (France)

Widescreen, transcendent alt-pop with a dark heart, perfect for long road trips.

Vans' Musicians Wanted
Credit: Vans.

What can you tell us about your music? Give us the elevator pitch 

“Raw and honest songs delivered with a mixed grungy/coldwave taste.”

Is there one particular song everybody should check out?

“This is difficult, I like them all… On Spotify, my most popular song is ‘Strange Life’, but ‘Classic Day’ is a cool one too, and the first one I recorded with a synth in addition to the guitar.”

Is there something particular you want people to take from your music?

“Finding the melodies behind the noise.”

What would it mean to win Vans’ Musicians Wanted?

“That would be sick!”

What’s your goal for 2021?

“Recording new songs and hopefully going back on stage!”

NTT (UK/Poland)

Elements of jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop and traditional guitar melt together in a genreless wonderland.

Vans' Musicians Wanted
Credit: Vans.

What can you tell us about your music? Give us the elevator pitch

“Music is an extension of oneself, my sound is very chilled out. Using jazzy chords and laid back vocals, I try to put a piece of myself in every track I make.”

Is there one particular song everybody should check out?

“‘Tik Tok’ and ‘All I Need’ are my two most popular tracks, however my favourite is a track called Gwiazdy (meaning ‘stars’ in polish), It’s a full guitar improvisation.”

Is there something particular you want people to take from your music?

“I’d like for people to find something to relate to in my music.”

What would it mean to win Vans’ Musicians Wanted?

“It would be insane to win, however I feel very blessed to have gotten as far as I have and in a way feel like I’ve won already through the experience I’ve gained.”

What’s your goal for 2021?

“I’m still continuing to be a Sound Engineer as that’s what I love doing. In 2021, I’m gonna keep pushing forward, keep learning and enjoying my craft.”

Nikaa (UK/Italy)

Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse provide influence for this soulful, upbeat, party starting R&B.

Vans Musicians Wanted
Credit: Vans.

What can you tell us about your music? Give us the elevator pitch

“I try and make my music as relatable as possible for my listeners. It’s a way for me to express my emotions and feelings in a particular song. In my music I try and replicate my reality into a creative format so my audience can engage with me on a deeper level.”

Is there one particular song everybody should check out?

“‘Homegrown’ a collaborative piece written with SANTANA G, a rapper from North London is definitely a song that people should check out if they haven’t heard it yet. It’s a song about growing up in the heart of London, my experiences and the general completion of the city. Even though London has a lot of negative sides I try and turn the negatives into positives as it is my hometown and where I grew up.”

Is there something particular you want people to take from your music?

“In terms of emotion and feeling, I would like my listeners to feel upbeat and ready to take on anything when they listen to my music as everybody deserves to start the day in a good and uplifting mood and mindset.”

What would it mean to win Vans’ Musicians Wanted?

“If I won Vans’ Musicians Wanted I would be overwhelmed with excitement and so proud of myself as it’s such a worldwide competition with so many applicants that even to be in the top 5 in Europe is an achievement in itself.”

What’s your goal for 2021?

“Bring on 2021! I have so much content that I have been working on this year and can’t wait to release early next year. I’m excited to share with my listeners what I have been working on in 2020 as it has been a tough year for all of us and I had taken the decision to create more content this year ready for release in 2021.

“I will definitely continue gigging in London and hopefully around the UK and networking where I can and meeting upcoming artists for potential collaborations in the future. I can’t wait to be on stage again!”

JoeJas (UK/US)

This transatlantic rapper writes smooth, flexible verses and also produces under the HairyMuffinMan moniker.

Vans' Musicians Wanted
Credit: Vans.

What can you tell us about your music? Give us the elevator pitch

“My music is just a mix of what I love: hip-hop, jazz, punk, R&B and the feeling after a good breakfast. I don’t really stick to a genre cause I think it’s boring and it limits your potential of making a song that can just be really fire.”

Is there one particular song everybody should check out?

“My favourite song I’ve made right now is ‘Venture?’ on my project ‘Four Wing Island’. It just describes doing your own thing no matter what, and that’s kind of what I live by. Also it has one of my best bridges I’ve ever produced.”

Is there something particular you want people to take from your music?

“That I’m more than one thing. I think it’s really easy to look at the surface of what I make and go, ‘Everything is just a happy cartoon life, which it is, but there’s also so many different sounds and topics I cover which are more than that. Because humans are really complex like a rubik’s cube, but the cheap ones with the stickers that peel off.”

What would it mean to win Vans’ Musicians Wanted?

“Winning Vans’ Musicians Wanted would be really cool, because I don’t really win things with music because I don’t think people get it sometimes. I also think it shows people who make things that might not be in the norm of whatever they do, that If you just keep doing you things can still work out.”

What’s your goal for 2021?

“My goal for 2021 is to be able to put on shows again and perform all the songs on my album ‘Four Wing Island’ that I haven’t yet, do another pop up shop, start a band, buy a Switch to play Pokémon and be able to play my keyboard with my toes.”

Vans’ Musicians Wanted 2020’s global concert stream takes place across the world online on December 9. Watch and find out global start times here.

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