The rise and rise of HAAi
In October, women’s fashion brand I Saw It First launched a competition with Capital XTRA to uncover the finest new female musical talent the UK has to offer.
Hundreds of artists applied via Instagram, submitting videos of themselves performing. Now, a shortlist of 21 acts has been handpicked by a panel of experts including production powerhouse Steel Banglez, UKG/funky OG Zed Bias, plus Capital XTRA’s Yinka Bokinni and Shayna Marie.
The winning artist – following a public vote – will receive a £25,000 prize and the opportunity to work with a top music producer to create an official I Saw it First track.
We’ve gone through the contestants’ videos with a fine toothcomb and selected some of our favourites below, and you can watch all of the submissions here.
Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, Teri is now based in the less sunnier climes of Southampton. Thematically, her songs are aimed at empowering and lifting up women in a male-dominated world, and her trap-inflected ‘Toxicity’ revolves around the concept of erasing toxic people from your life.
Having spent a few years in Barcelona singing in jazz bars, Olivia Brown takes elements of those northeastern Iberian sounds and filters them through a pop prism. Now based in her native Manchester, the singer-songwriter is keen to develop and polish her sound beyond its current scope.
Picking up a guitar at the early age of 11, V Love channelled her experiences of bullying at school and feeling like an outsider into music: her first love. Ever since, she’s developed something of an addiction to songwriting and performing. ‘Instagram Babe’, her track, tackles a timely topic – albeit in a lighthearted way: the influence of the social platform on women’s mental health.
It was at university that London-based singer-songwriter Koko Clay really found her artistic style, developing her music as well as her performance persona. A self-proclaimed eccentric personality, her stage style reflects her unique outlook, taking influence from R&B luminaries like Destiny’s Child and Solange.
Initially training as a dancer at performing arts college, Lexie had her sights set on becoming a double threat and side-stepped into music. Ever since, Lexie has channelled her energy into developing herself as an artist and is looking forward to the next steps.