It’s easy to assume that Alex O’Connor had a pretty laid back 2017. The Surrey teenager, known as Rex Orange County, received mass praise and radio plays for his track ‘Loving Is Easy’ at the back end of last year, but it seemed to have come out of nowhere. That was unless you’d been paying attention.

The joyous ‘Loving Is Easy’ felt like the debut single from a virtually unheard of musician, but that came after appearing on two tracks with Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator, playing guitar at the Mercury Music Prize awards for Skepta and featuring on global video game FIFA 18. Not bad for just 19 years old.

In fact Rex Orange County’s back catalogue stretches back to 2016. Since then he’s released an EP and surprisingly an album,  Apricot Princess. It’s a blossoming record that celebrates his relationship with his girlfriend while fully showing off his repertoire; from twangy indie pop track ‘Never Enough’ to full on unfurling jazz piano in ‘Television / so Far so Good’. It’s the cacophony of sounds which no doubt caught Tyler, The Creator’s attention when he flew him over to LA to work on his latest album ‘Flower Boy’.

So far Rex Orange County has done things his way, keeping laid back and letting his music do the talking, but now the music industry is sitting up and taking notice. He’s recently finished second in the BBC Sound Of 2018 and his humble five date UK and Ireland tour is in demand. 2018 is the year we should see Rex Orange County turn from a promising spotty teen at BRIT school to a multi-instrumental musician in his own right – the type that’ll have Jack Steadman (Mr Jukes, Bombay Bicycle Club) looking over his shoulder.

For fans of: Declan McKenna, Mr Jukes, Darwin Deez

Get ahead of everyone else and listen to the rest of our Eyes On 2018 long list playlist here.

Picture by Ror Brown