In our new series, The Sound of: Europe, we explore the continent’s best and most underrated music scenes by interviewing local experts and featuring playlists sure to tickle the wanderlust of anyone with two ears and a passion for travelling. 

Listen to the best tracks to come out of South East England in recent times, kicking off with Gennaro Castaldo’s six personal favourites.

For most, South East England might be synonymous with the universities of Oxford, the Windsor Castle or perhaps the green, rolling hills of South Downs National Park. However, there’s much more to discover in these idyllic, almost regal landscapes, than meets the eye. Take Fat Boy Slim for instance. Or Depeche Mode. Or Radiohead. In fact, this British region boasts an impressive roster of world-renowned artists covering a multitude of genres and decades of music history.

Speaking to Gennaro Castaldo, director of communications for the British Recorded Music Industry, it is indeed difficult to pin down the acts from region: I wouldn’t say there’s one thing that characterizes the South East. Really, the region’s home to a very diverse group of artists, spanning legendary rock acts and today’s pop and dance artists.”

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Fatboy Slim playing at Glastonbury in 2013. Photo by Flickr user neal whitehouse piper

All in all, the South East might best be described as region with quite a broad appeal musically speaking. On one hand, you have bands like Keane who are very pleasant and perhaps viewed by some as coming from a more suburban, home counties background, and as such sum up the area,” as Castaldo puts it. But then again, the region’s also spawned acts like Rag’n’Bone Man, whose urban tunes have earned him two BRIT Awards and the distinction of having the biggest selling male debut of the decade,” Castaldo says.

Punk as a movement and musical style arguably came out of the South East

As such, South East England is in general best known for its many, vastly successful acts more than any one unifying factor. Think Genesis, The Kooks or Supergrass. However, one exception might be a genre that’s in stark contrast to the region’s idyllic countryside: Punk. It’s fair to say, that punk as a movement and musical style arguably came out of the South East,” says Castaldo. Some of those acts actually tended to be middle class kids who were rebelling against the establishment, as that was the fashionable thing to do. One could even argue, that perhaps their music was a reaction to the more sedate, prosperous and affluent South East.”

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Tom Chaplin of Keane, 2007. Photo by Macsurak.

However, these regional music traits might soon be a thing of the past, due to the way social media and streaming make artists less anchored in any one location. These days, I think people feel more like they’re part of a global community to the extent that it might actually be undermining this whole sense of identity on a localised basis,” Castaldo says.

But fear not, there are still plenty of great, distinctly British tracks to indulge in. Be sure to give them a listen, while you still have the chance.

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Cover photo: Luke Pritchard, The Kooks’ lead singer, playing at Deichbrand festival in Germany. Photo by Bildermacheri.

Choice Hotels in South East England