While most of us were stressing about calculus and prom dates, these young musicians were making indelible art. Here are 8 acts that broke out (zing!) in their teens.
1. Bright Eyes – It’s hard to believe Conor Oberst is only 34. With 9 LPs and a long list of high-profile side projects to his name, this folk rock experimentalist has proven a remarkably consistent creator over his almost 20 year career.
2. Tokyo Police Club – Born and bred in Newmarket, Ontario, the lads of Tokyo Police recorded their debut EP A Lesson in Crime, when they were still in their late teens. Thanks to its broad success—youngsters worldwide connected with their two-minute tales of Robot Enslavement and hazy rebellion—the would-be university freshmen, were able to drop everything and tour the world. TPC release their much-anticipated third LP Forcefield today.
3. Lorde – There aren’t many 17 year olds who can say they’ve won a Grammy. Thanks to the stratospheric success of “Royals” however, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor (that’s one name!) made off with a couple at this past year’s event. With its insanely catchy chorus and complex lyrical stance (an irreverent takedown of the hip hop high life that simultaneously revels in the genre’s excesses) the song deserved every bit of praise.
4. King Krule – Since bursting onto the scene at age 16 with the single “Out Getting Ribs”, Archy Marshall aka King Krule (née Zoo Kid) has gone from curiosity—that gloomy ginger kid with the super deep voice—to rising star in London’s alt music scene. Blending jazzy chords, trip hop percussion, and elements of newwave and punk, Krule is Morissey mixed with The Clash for a new generation of chavs. Get excited, Marshall was recently photographed in the studio with our next entry: Earl Sweatshirt.
5. Earl Sweatshirt – As the youngest member of L.A. rap anarchists Odd Future, Earl has been on the radar for a hot minute. With his penchant for doomy unorthodox beats and impossibly dense flows, his 2013 LP Doris made many a year-end best album lists.
6. Bombay Bicycle Club – Founding members Jack Steadman, Jamie MacColl and Suren de Saram were just 15 when they started gigging around North London as The Canals. By their late teens, they had renamed themselves after a now defunct local restaurant chain, won a prestigious spot in V Fest, and built up a considerable following across the pond with their urgent brand of shuffling, sensitive indie pop.
7. Jake Bugg – Jake was 18 when he broke through with the stomping folk anthem “Lightening Bolt”. In the years since, the English singer-songwriter has only further cemented his place with countless performances on late night TV and a handful of top shelf singles.
8. Yung Lean – He might not be the most popular artist on this list (and is certainly not the most coherent), but nobody can doubt his charisma. Born Jonatan Leandoer Håstad, Lean is an Arizona Iced Tea-loving 16 year old Rapper from Stockholm, Sweden, with all the weirdness of Lil B but only a fraction of the ‘fucks given’.