Not So Little White Lies

With Eurosonic-Noorderslag only a month away, festival bookers may start looking at what the European Talent Exchange Programme has to offer the summer of 2009.

The list of nearly 200 acts appearing in Groningen, The Netherlands, Jan. 15-17 was published two weeks ago, and London-based White Lies is expected to uphold Britain’s impressive ETEP record.

The act may have something of a head start in the sense that – just like previous U.K. winners Franz Ferdinand and Blood Red Shoes – it’s already developed something of a reputation at home.

“We wanted to prevent too much premature buzz and keep it all secretive,” the band told the Guardian.

White Lies also has something of an advantage as it’s already attracted the attention of major festival bookers. Ron Euser of Mojo Concerts put them on this year’s Lowlands Festival in Holland and Herman Schueremans gave them a slot on Belgium’s Pukkelpop.

The band also made the bill for the U.K.’s Reading and Leeds festivals, Scotland’s T In The Park, Ireland’s Oxegen Festival, Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival and Lollapalooza and the CMJ Music Festival in the U.S., all on the back of one single released on their own label.

The band’s album, To Lose My Life, is due for release in mid-January. The band is playing 14 sold-out shows in the U.K. supporting Glasvegas and sold 1,300 tickets for a Nov. 26 headlining show at London’s Koko.

Paul Bolton from Helter Skelter, the band’s agent, has placed them on the NME Awards Tour – alongside Glasvegas, Friendly Fires, and Florence & Machine. That tour starts at Liverpool University Jan. 29 and ends at London’s Brixton Academy Feb. 21.

White Lies played its first show at Hoxton Square’s Bar & Kitchen in London Feb. 27, and made its first TV appearance on “Later… With Jools Holland” May 30.

The act has been compared to Arcade Fire, Joy Division, Interpol, The Killers, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, and Editors – another ETEP success for the U.K. The band members cite Talking Heads as a major influence.

Bolton said he’s targeting the major outdoors throughout Europe and is aiming to play at least 20 of them.

The competition appears as strong as ever and another act with the right credentials is Polarkreis 18, which played an impressive set at this year’s Musexpo Europe in London. It also played a packed Metro Club in London Dec. 8.

The Dresden-based five-piece, which is represented by Marcus Grosse of Berlin-based Four Artists, already had a No. 1 single in Germany, which Universal will be releasing throughout Europe.

There will be at least two dozen acts from Belgium, which is the subject of Eurosonic’s country focus, and ETEP booker Robert Meijerink is expecting a bold show from The Black Box Revelation.

Although the deepening economic gloom is impacting most sectors of the music industry, tickets for January’s Eurosonic-Noorderslag are reportedly selling faster than ever. It’s also been extended by half a day and will start at Thursday lunchtime rather than Friday morning.

That Belgium is the country in focus was announced at this year’s Pukkelpop Festival (Aug. 14-16). Event producer Chokri Mahassine will appear on at least one of the conference panels focusing on the Belgian market.

Other Belgian music business luminaries appearing on panels include Sophie Chevalier (Pure FM), Kurt Overbergh (Ancienne Belgique), Paul Henri Wauters (Botanique), Marc Steens (Clubcircuit), David Dehard (Club Plasma), Stijn Roggeman (De Kreun) and Herman Schueremans, who will be lifting the lid on how his Rock Werchter Festival has become widely recognised as the world’s best-run outdoor. Rock Werchter has won the ILMC’s Arthur Award for best festival on four occasions and Schueremans won ILMC’s top promoter prize in 2007.

The Belgian focus ends with a party, which is likely to be well attended, as the country is widely credited with brewing the most diverse national collection of quality beer in the world.

It also has a wealth of emerging talent. A Brand, Aeroplane, Amenra, Barbie Bangkok, Malibu Stacy, Novastar, Shameboy, The Experimental Tropic Blues Band and The Subs will be among those hoping for some ETEP glory.

The keynote speeches by Moses Avalon and Simon Firth may give the conference a literary tone, as both can justifiably claim to be chroniclers of our rock ’n’ roll times.

Firth will talk about the changes in the live music business and how it’s fared compared with the recorded music business.

Avalon, who has published several books and a monthly newsletter called “Moses Supposes,” will give his own take on the subject.