Advertorial feature From The xx to Dua Lipa: Looking back at ESNS Exchange over the past twenty years

As ESNS’s talent exchange programme celebrates its twentieth anniversary, our second feature runs through some of the success stories from 2010 to 2016.

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)! We’ve already rewound the clocks to the years 2003 to 2009, and now we’re taking a glance at 2010 onwards…

2010: The xx

Ever since The xx first emerged with their darkly intimate offerings, the world has been hooked, with their 2009 self-titled debut arguably becoming one of the most lauded records of not just that year, but that decade. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, to learn that the trio’s live show was equally as captivating, with the London three-piece going on to become one of the most booked acts across 2010’s festival season.

Honourable mention: With a hefty vocal range and a penchant for insatiably catchy synth-pop, Welsh-Greek singer Marina and the Diamonds struck out from the crowd back in 2010; now she’s got five albums under her belt.

2011: Anna Calvi

Since the release of her eponymous debut in January 2011, Anna Calvi has built a formidable reputation as a fierce musician; just look at the fact she’s been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize three times, has bagged a BRIT Award nomination, and has even scooped a European Border Breakers Award. It’s little wonder, then, that her performance at ESNS around its release saw her top the ESNS Exchange booking chart, with twelve festivals snapping her up that year.

Honourable mention: Spanish group Crystal Fighters have always been pros at getting the party started, so it’s little wonder that they also found themselves close to the top of ESNS Exchange’s chart a little over a decade ago.

2012: Spector

2012’s ESNS Exchange chart includes some real big-hitters (with Daughter, Lianne La Havas, Jessie Ware, and Baxter Dury among them) but it was the invigorating indie anthems of Spector that really caught the collective attention that year. The London band, who were still months away from releasing their debut ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’, managed to bag ten festival bookings that summer, including a spot at Coachella.

Honourable mention: Danish outfit Iceage also garnered plenty of attention courtesy of their dark brand of punk and enigmatic stage presence.

2013: Palma Violets

The ultimate rabble-rousers, Lambeth quartet Palma Violets shot to the heights of indie-rock notoriety thanks to their raucous live shows and debut ‘180’ a decade ago, making them the perfect prospect for festivals across the world. Even though they’re sadly no more, their chaotic gigs will live on in memory, while both Sam Fryer and Chilli Jesson have new projects to tempt listeners with.

2014: Royal Blood

From The White Stripes through to Death From Above 1979, there have been many brilliant rock duos throughout the decades, and 2014 marked the arrival of Worthing duo Royal Blood. Offering up towering sonics and hefty bass riffs, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher have had a metoric rise since their first spot at ESNS; rewind to the present day and they’re still topping festival bills the world over.

Honourable mention: It’s a little hard to fathom that just a year before the release of world-beating giganta-anthem ‘Lean On’, Danish pop royalty was playing at ESNS, but there you go.

2015: Aurora

2015 was undoubtedly a big year for Norwegian singer AURORA. Not only did she release her debut EP, the haunting ‘Running With the Wolves’, and get enlisted to soundtrack the infamous John Lewis Christmas advert, but she also topped that same year’s ESNS Exchange artist chart, and was invited to play 13 festivals off the back of her performance at that year’s Eurosonic Noorderslag.

Honourable mention: Signed to XL and produced by Richard Russell, the mesmerising offerings of French-Cuban duo Ibeyi really saw them stand out of the crowd.

2016: Dua Lipa

Take a look at 2024’s festival bills so far and you’ll see one artist in particular dominating announcements: Dua Lipa. Now a firm headliner across the world, what’s remarkable, though, is that it wasn’t all too long along that she was playing at ESNS, like loads of other brilliant acts who were just starting out. Arguably ESNS Exchange’s biggest success story, she’s proof that investing in artists at the grassroots level will reap rewards in years to come.

Honourable mention: 2016 was clearly a special year for festival stars of the future: UK rap legend Stormzy was also booked for a series of festivals via the ESNS Exchange programme.

Revisit our feature on the ESNS Exchange from the years 2003 to 2009 here, and check back next week to read more about its 20th anniversary. 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: Dua Lipa, Stormzy, ESNS, Festivals, Features

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