Advertorial feature From Franz Ferdinand to Calvin Harris: Looking back at ESNS Exchange over the past twenty years

As ESNS’s talent exchange programme celebrates its twentieth anniversary, our first feature runs through some of the success stories from 2003 to 2009.

Since its introduction in 2003, the ESNS Exchange - formerly known as the European Talent Exchange Programme, or ETEP - has provided a springboard to artists that have played Dutch tastemaker festival ESNS, with the aim of helping them break through into the European festival circuit.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the ESNS Exchange has brought together all manner of artists, festivals and fans along the way: in fact, they’ve supported a staggering 2146 artists - from 26 different countries - in taking to stages across Europe for 5294 live shows at partner festivals such as Sziget, Exit, Open’er and many, many more.

So, to mark the special occasion, we’ve decided to take a look back through the ESNS Exchange results table, and highlight a few of the incredible artists who’ve been involved along the way (with a few of the more eyebrow-raising curveballs, for good measure)! Without further ado, cast your minds back to 2003…

2003: Junior Senior

Okay, yes, Junior Senior aren’t exactly a band you’d expect to see on the pages of DIY in 2023, but their influence - or, specifically, the influence of their humongous hit ‘Move Your Feet’ - can still be felt today, having become the joyous soundtrack to many an advert over the past 20 years. What’s more, in 2003, the Danish pop duo secured five festival bookings (including a spot at Glastonbury, can you believe it!) after playing at Eurosonic Nooderslag that year. And if that’s not enough to get you moving…

Honourable mention: Back in 2003, a little-known band called The Libertines also featured on the ESNS Exchange list, following the release of their 2002 debut ‘Up The Bracket’.

2004: Franz Ferdinand

Rewind time back to the first few weeks of 2004, and there’s only one sound that would be circling your mind: the searing razor-sharp guitars of ‘Take Me Out”s opening gambit. It’s little wonder, then, that Franz Ferdinand would go on to top the ESNS Exchange Bookings Chart that same year: with an album like their self-titled debut in their arsenal, their rise to music’s top was swift and justified, and everyone - European festival included - wanted a piece of their dance-rock pie.

Honourable mention: Nowadays they tend to play arenas over in the UK, but Dutch goth-rockers Within Temptation were also a big name for ESNS back in 2004.

2005: The Go! Team

Despite The Go! Team’s rather humble beginnings - having originally come to life when the band’s Ian Parton recorded debut album ‘Thunder, Lightning, Strike’ in his parents’ house while they were on their holibobs - their eclectic, magpie-like approach to music soon gained traction, and the outfit found themselves shortlisted for the 2005 Mercury Prize, and playing a slew of live shows and festivals, thanks - in part, at least - to their set at 2005’s edition of ESNS.

2006: Editors

Now a mainstay on festival bills across the globe, it wasn’t all too long ago that Editors were just another young band from Birmingham. With their debut ‘The Back Room’, the quintet managed to distil their grandiose, dark take on guitar music and saw caught the attention of listeners and critics alike; it’s little wonder that the following year they scored thirteen festival bookings after being involved in the ESNS Exchange.

Honourable mention: That same year, Swedish songwriter José González also bagged a handful of festival slots thanks to the programme (just three years after he ended his PhD in biochemistry, no biggie).

2007: Enter Shikari

After developing a fierce reputation early doors, thanks to their kinetic hybrid of electronic rock and post-hardcore and a set of chaotic live shows, by the time that Enter Shikari released their debut album ‘Take to the Skies’, the quartet were already shaking things up in the rock world. Pair that with a memorable slot at ESNS 2007, and the band soon found themselves playing a slew of European festivals that summer, bringing their scorched, chaotic take on the genre to crowds across the continent.

Honourable mention: Fresh from inking a deal with Sub Pop for the reissue of his self-titled album, Loney, Dear secured ten festival bookings via the ESNS Exchange.

2008: Robyn

Despite having broken out over a decade earlier with her 1995 debut ‘Robyn Is Here’, things were only set to get bigger for Swedish electropop icon Robyn; her appearance on the ESNS Exchange booking list occurred between the release of her seminal albums ‘Robyn’ and ‘Body Talk’, just ahead of the release of her bittersweet mega-hit ‘Dancing On My Own’. 2008 was clearly a big year for Swedish pop in general, too: the list also included the dark pop prowess of Lykke Li.

Honourable mention: Remember when Calvin Harris wasn’t quite the GRAMMY-winning, mega-producer that he is today, and instead, was mostly known for his love of being born in the 80s? That year he scored six festivals via ESNS Exchange…

2009: White Lies

Breaking the seal of 2009, White Lies’ debut ‘To Lose My Life…’ landed barely a fortnight into the new year and swiftly saw off its competitors to reach the UK Number One spot - and the top of the ESNS Exchange Bookings Chart shortly after, too. Still in the peak of the ‘00s indie boom, the west London trio’s brand of stadium-sized brooding guitar bangers placed them as successors to the Interpol/ Editors lineage, the likes of ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ echoing around skinny jean-clad mosh pits from Benicassim to Coachella.

Honourable mention: They might have only booked a still-impressive five festivals that year in comparison to White Lies’ whopping 14, but Sweden’s First Aid Kit are still working their way around the main stages of the world to this day.

Check back next week to read more about the 20th anniversary of the ESNS Exchange, and for more info on the programme itself, head to their website.

This advertorial feature is brought to you in partnership with the ESNS Exchange.

Tags: ESNS, Festivals, Features

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