As 2023 kicks off, we’ve highlighted the acts you should be keeping a key eye on this year. From stadium giants in the making to genre-blending musical polymaths, there’s something for everyone in the list of the artists we’re tipping for success over the next twelve months.
Here’s our ten artists you should watch out for in 2023.
When DYLAN was a child, her dad gave her an unlikely, yet formative lesson in the art of performing live.
“He’s a very straight-down-the-line man, but his outlet was being a wannabe rock god. He’d have us on the kitchen table at a very young age with plywood guitars, singing to the likes of AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses. I was on the table going ‘Hello, Wembley!’” she tells Rolling Stone UK.
It was a sign of things to come. DYLAN made her debut at that very same cavernous venue last summer, where she was tasked with the small matter of supporting Ed Sheeran. It’s testament to how she’s already proving to be one of pop’s most hotly tipped prospects, no doubt helped by her formidable live performances.
Her intimate shows for her burgeoning cult fandom are proving the stuff of legend, while tracks such as the electropop-tinged ‘No Romeo’ and ‘Someone Else’ offer a sage dissection of universal relationship troubles.
“My lyrics don’t hold back. I don’t tend to use metaphors; I don’t beat around the bush or use smoke and mirrors. They’re straight to the point, and it’s me just screaming about how I feel at that moment. Fans can latch onto that.”
In 2021, Toby Sebastian released ‘Midnight’, a mellow and contemplative acoustic number featuring the vocals of actress Florence Pugh. It proved a star-studded addition, although securing Pugh’s involvement is no tough task when she’s your actual sister.
“I hadn’t seen her for a while because of Covid, and I’d returned home to Oxford from a TV shoot in Dublin, and she was there. It was my mum’s idea to put her backing vocals on the track and I wasn’t sure at first because I’d already mixed it. Now, though, it was obviously such a great idea because her vocals are so different to mine, and I can’t imagine the track without it.”
A-lister involvement aside, Sebastian’s songs prove that talent runs through the veins of this family. Recent single ‘Rock Rolling’ is a stomping slice of Vampire Weekend-esque indie pop, while ‘Real Kicks’ shows off a laid-back and retro side to his sound. Crucially, though, they’re both earworms.
Scottish star Brooke Combe first caught our eye in the middle of lockdown in 2021 when her soulful, bedroom-recorded take on Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ became a viral hit.
The massive reaction was entirely deserved, but it’s what came next that underpins why we have selected Combe as one of 2023’s defining talents. On her recent track ‘Miss Me Now’, she delivered a powerful soul performance, complete with funkadelic bass lines and infectious choruses. Elsewhere, ‘A Game’, is a classic soul number full of torment and romantic toil that allows her vocals to truly shine.
“There’s a whole other side to me that I want to show through my music,” she tells Rolling Stone UK. “I’m mixed race but I grew up in what felt like a bit of a white world. As I was thinking about my Black roots, I wanted to discover what would connect me with them more. Obviously, my skin colour is a massive part of that, but my love of soul music is the route I want to delve into and discover more. It’s what I love and I want to create it. Marvin Gaye has always been a bit of a god for me.”
For Dolores Forever, it’s firmly a case of friends first, band second. The duo — Yorkshire’s Hannah Wilson and Copenhagen’s Julia Fabrin — bonded over common interests and a shared love of music before deciding to give it a proper go.
“We met on a rooftop at a party,” they tell Rolling Stone UK. “We seemed to be at a place in life where we had so much in common and it really seemed to be a friendship first, but we let our emotions flow naturally and eventually that turned into our band.”
That kinship finds itself at the heart of the duo’s music. Although ‘Rothko’ has been their breakout track, recent single ‘Funeral’ sees the heavy titular matter being paired with irresistible 80s-style hooks. “If I died would you be at my funeral/If I lied and said that everything was OK,” comes their central question.
If their early songs are anything to go by, they’ll be more alive than ever in 2023.
With two dates at London’s XOYO last year under her belt, Caity Baser is already winning a legion
of fans with her razor-sharp pop tunes. Tracks such as ‘Friendly Sex’ are an ode to the dangers of catching feelings, while ‘X&Y’ — a smart skewering of millennial habits — has clocked up millions of streams on TikTok. Aided by huge hooks and honest, funny songwriting, it feels like she could be a defining voice of 2023.
“The music I’m writing now is what I feel, how I feel and when I feel it. Before I was writing this music, I felt like it was a case of wanting to be like *that* girl in indie, but it was meaningless to me,” Connie Campsie tells Rolling Stone UK.
It’s a statement reflective of her rise so far. London singer Connie Campsie has caught our attention over the past year with songs that wear genuine empathy and world-worn relationship troubles on their sleeve. Take recent track ‘Sucker’, by her own admission an ode to the perils of “unrequited love”. “It’s a love song about music as a creative practice. I think of music as the apathetic love of my life: it turns up whenever it pleases, leaves for as long as it wants, and knows I’ll do anything for it. I suppose ‘Sucker’ is then in essence actually a simp song. I’m the Sucker because I’m saying: ‘I’m always going to want you if you’ll please, please have me.’”
Deyaz cut his teeth in east London’s underground scene as a teenager, playing drums in punk bands and producing rap tracks along the way. This lived experience has allowed him to become a true musical polymath, developing a subtle genre-blending sound through which he can tell stories of his own emotional struggles with homelessness, mental health and addiction.
“Clinging to a mountain top, praying you won’t let me drop, ‘cos I don’t know if I can swim/ When you’re holding me limb by limb,” comes his frank address on the stunning ‘Don’t Leave, Don’t Go’. 2023 feels like his for the taking.
He might be primed for a big breakthrough this year, but Dylan Fraser is already looking past next year. On recent EP ‘2030 Revolution’, the alt-pop artist proves a deft hand at contrasting glitchy Thom Yorke instrumentation with lyrics that look at a not- so-certain tomorrow. The title track is a bold look at how long the world can continue without radical change, while ‘Apartment Complex on the Eastside’ contemplates the joy that might be found in sacking it all off and moving to New York.
“It’s that, but also the idea that we’re all together in this shithole, so we might as well just enjoy the things we can enjoy in life. It sounds cliched, but it’s important to find fun among the chaos.”
It’s a bold vision from an artist who tells Rolling Stone UK he always knew music was his calling. Fraser dropped out of school at 15, before retreating to his bedroom to hone his craft. The result is a sound that feels real, modern and authentically his.
On debut single ‘Graduating’, upcoming indie folk star Nell Mescal proves she’s a voice to be reckoned with.
Nell, the 19-year-old sister of Normal People star Paul, told Rolling Stone UK earlier this year how she mined personal depths to deliver the stunning track, which recounts how her personal struggles with school led her to leave entirely.
“I left school early due to some struggles and that song is about thinking you’re completely alone in a situation but realising that if you keep your head down you can miss other people who are going through the same things.”
The track’s universal themes of isolation and heartbreak, combined with Mescal’s powerful vocals, mean that she’s set to become one of 2023’s most relevant and relatable voices.
Liverpool rockers STONE have been highlighted by Rolling Stone UK previously, but their upcoming debut EP ‘Punkadonk’ is a rip-roaring ride through their furious sound, delivered at breakneck speed. With a string of sold-out shows under their belt, we’re expecting them to become one of 2023’s most buzzy bands.
“Our music is just a conduit to all the emotion that we feel. We’re living in this scary sensational world of social media, where everything is overexposed and overwhelming. But we’re all in it as a generation,” says guitarist Elliot Gill. “Me and Fin [Power, vocals/guitar] have our own struggles with mental health, and I think that’s why we do what we do with such an intensity; we put up that part of ourselves onstage just to give kids an opportunity to connect with something.”
The name Hannah Grae will already be well known to TikTok users, after the singer set the platform alight last year with a contemporary spin on Aqua’s pop classic ‘Barbie Girl’ that offered a razor-sharp skewering of gender inequality.
Now, her debut single ‘Propaganda’ proves that Hannah’s clever lyricism is no one-off. The track leans heavily into Olivia Rodrigo-esque pop punk to take
aim at unrealistic beauty standards presented by social media. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time, either — pop punk is going through the strongest of revivals and Hannah could well be the UK’s next great flagbearer for that scene.
“Watching TikTok, there’s a sense of teen angst after being locked up for two years,” she explains. “I’ve personally experienced it and op punk seems like a good outlet for that.”
Musically, Grae was raised on a diet of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus, before a producer introduced her to the music that has, so far, shaped her material. “He showed me bands like Green Day and My Chemical Romance and I’d show him Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. We’ve managed to gel those worlds together and that’s what my next project sounds like.”
So, are there any ambitions to collaborate with any pop punk icons? “I’d love to do a song with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. I love ‘Basket Case’, so I’d love to do a more theatrical version of that.”