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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 24th February 2017 at 11:00 am
As I’m sure you imagined, London wins the prize among all British cities for sending the largest number of artists to SXSW 2017. Today, we introduce you to acts from London of the hip-hop, grime and r&b genres. To be perfectly honest, while we have covered r&b artists here on TGTF, we’ve never really given hip-hop a lot of space, because none of us writers were experts on the genre. With Ray BLK winning the BBC Sound of 2017 in January, we can’t ignore rappers any longer and will strive to do better, starting with this post. The below summaries are written by Rebecca Clayton, except where noted. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.
808INK are producer 808Charmer and rapper Mumblez Black Ink of South ‘LUNDUN’. Musically, they’re not easy to pigeonhole and don’t quite fit with their grime or hip-hop contemporaries, and instead describe themselves as an “alternative music duo” on their Facebook page. Drum-heavy and packed tight with creative beats and synth rhythms, their sound is certainly something that stands alone. Creating music together since 2013, 808INK are looking to step away from their day jobs and producing music in 808Charmer’s garage and step up to the main stage.
AJ Tracey (pictured at top) is the stage name of West London-born Che Wolton Grant, the up-and-coming grime MC. Grant studied criminology at London Metropolitan University before he dropped out to pursue music, first performing as “Looney” before adopting his current moniker.
He released his debut EP in mid-2015, ‘The Front’, then quickly followed this up with a second EP in December of the same year, titled ‘Alex Moran’. His latest EP, 2016’s ‘Lil Tracey’, features popular tracks ‘Buster Cannon’ and ‘Pasta’. AJ Tracey’s sound is tightly constructed lyrics over subtle, electronic beats. Tracey’s voice and message is front and centre, delivered with the young grime artist’s crisp, heavy-hitting tongue. Along with Dave directly below, he was longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2017, which ultimately went to Ray BLK (at the bottom of this list of hip-hop artists).
From the BBC Sound of 2017 longlist on the London hip-hop shout list is 18-year old South Londoner titling himself simply as Dave. Despite receiving a number of offers from record companies, classically trained Dave made the decision to stay independent, working on his music whilst studying at college. Last year, Dave released his debut EP ‘Six Paths’, made his festival debut at Bestival, and even drew the attention of Drake, who remixed a track from the EP, ‘Wanna Know’.
If you’re familiar with the UK grime scene, then you might already be aware of Frisco. He’s most known for being a part of the London-based collective and record label Boy Better Know, members who also include brothers JME and Skepta, who won the 2016 Mercury Prize. Frisco has been with BBK since 2005, pretty much since grime’s conception, and released his latest project last year, the LP ‘System Killer’. Known for his quick tongue and battle finesse, Frisco is one of the lesser known members of BBK, but with his latest release and appearance at SXSW, this might be about to change.
Ghetts, known to his mum as Justin Clarke, is a name that will no doubt ring a bell with those big on grime. The East London MC released his debut mixtape following his release from prison back in 2005. He then went on to carve out a name for himself as a passionate player in contemporary British hip-hop and grime. It wasn’t until 2014 that he released his debut album, ‘Rebel With a Cause’. Prior to that, he shared six projects that he released through the internet. His latest single ‘Know My Ting’ was released earlier this month, and features the MOBO-nominated Shakka whilst rhythmically drawing on Caribbean influences.
No, not a solo artist. Hugh are actually an electronic quartet and sound as smooth as silk. With some pop elements entwined with blissful r&b, it’s pleasing and seductive all in one. Still on the way up, Hugh are gaining attention from fellow artists such as Diplo and others of that ilk. Try not to fall in love with their sound. We dare you. (Steven Loftin)
Kano, or Kane Robinson, is considered to be one of the forefathers of grime and rose to prominence in the underground scene through his connection to the London grime crew N.A.S.T.Y., and following his debut single ‘Ps and Qs’. He’s released 5 studio albums, a bunch of mixtapes and is featured in a long list of singles.
Kano’s 5th studio album ‘Made in the Manor ‘was released early 2016. It featured on the Best of 2016 lists from The Guardian, NME and The Independent, ultimately winning Best Album at the 2016 MOBO awards. Single ‘3 Wheel-ups’, featuring Giggs, puts full focus on his smooth, rapid vocals and razor sharp lyrics.
Lady Leshurr, known to her friends as Melesha O’Garro and originally from Birmingham, is a British hip hop/grime rapper and singer. Despite a relatively humble start, Lady Leshurr has drawn the attention of star-maker Timbaland (he’s previously worked with one of O’Garro’s big influences, Missy Elliott) and has been spending time in the U.S. performing and working on her debut album.
Her freestyle series, ‘Queen’s Speech’ drew the MC a lot of attention, and she released her first official single, which will appear on her debut album last year. ‘Where Are You Now?’ features grime legend Wiley and sees Lady Leshurr showing off her talents against an upbeat and lively track.
It seems rather appropriate that we end our week of coverage on London SXSW 2017 acts with the reigning queen of the BBC Sound of 2017. Ray BLK, from the South East London district of Catford, has already been dubbed the Lauryn Hill of the UK. The Nigerian-born Rita Ekwere began sharpening her music-making chops at the tender age of 13 when first given a chance as part of a group under the tutelage of MNEK. Although the group never went anywhere, it laid the groundwork in Ekwere’s mind that success was possible. While she only has a mini-album ‘Durt’ under her belt at the moment, we imagine a debut album is not far in the horizon. (Mary Chang)
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 23rd February 2017 at 11:00 am
As you might have guessed, London wins the prize for sending to SXSW 2017 the largest number of artists of all cities in the UK. In this post, we introduce you to acts from London that don’t exactly fit in the ‘usual’ genres SXSW is famous for. Today, we’ve got for you artists who are experts in the field of jazz (yes, really), world music, plus singer/songwriters, because we couldn’t fit them into the London portion of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 anywhere else. Except where noted, the summaries below were written by Steven Loftin. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.
Flamingods – psychedelic world music
When Flamingods describe themselves as “exotic psychedelia”, they are definitely not wrong. Founded in 2009 by frontman Kamal Rasool in Bahrain, the band now reside in the UK, but have brought all that exotic Middle Eastern goodness with them. A unique take on western pop mixed with their grand and explosive live performances has gained them a reputation noticed by the likes of Dazed, i-D magazine and The Guardian and secured them slots at Glastonbury, Latitude, Fusion Festival in Germany and Milhoes de Festa in Portugal. With a total of six albums under their belt including their most recent in 2016 ‘Majesty’, they’ll have plenty of material to draw from when they appear in Austin. (Adam McCourt)
GoGo Penguin – jazz
Having signed to the legendary jazz label Blue Note records this year, GoGo Penguin are well on their way to success already. On their third album, the Mancunians’ mixture of jazz, acoustic and electronica is a fresh sound that ensures they don’t get lost within the indie mire. Their 2014 album ‘V2.0’ was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize, just in case you needed more of a nudge (and a reminder). (Steven Loftin)
Jacob Collier – world (? he defies description)
We can guarantee you’ve heard nothing quite like Jacob Collier, pictured at top. The youngster fuses more genres than the iTunes drop-down selector and is only 22. After gaining his momentum the way most new artists do, via YouTube, his ascension has been one for the ages. You should definitely check him out if only to see what composition he’s bringing to Texas. (Steven Loftin)
Jade Bird – folk / singer/songwriter
You can’t swing a cat around London without hitting a young, aspiring female singer/songwriter. Jade Bird, however, has already gotten plenty of attention, so you should take the time to get to know this new talent. She accompanied Tom Odell on his European tour this month, and she’s following this up in London with a BBC Introducing show at the Lexington on the 6th of April and already announced appearances at Live at Leeds and Bushstock. Of course, those of us who are lucky enough to get out to Austin get a first crack on this side of the Atlantic. Yes, be jealous. (Mary Chang)
Johnny Flynn – folk / singer/songwriter
Johnny Flynn (usually with his band The Sussex Wit in tow) is no stranger to America, having already come over a few times for tours including one with friend and sometimes collaborator Laura Marling back in 2015. He’ll be releasing his newest album ‘Sillion’ on Transgressive Records in late March after SXSW 2017, so this visit is really the perfect opportunity for Flynn to give his newest tunes a live airing. (Mary Chang)
For past coverage of Johnny Flynn on TGTF, go here.
L.A. Salami – blues / singer/songwriter
Since 2014, Lookman Adekunle Salami, aka L.A. Salami, has been garnering a fair amount of interest, and for good reason. Perfectly succinct acoustic and ethereal songs that feature nothing but his bare soul, Salami even has a savage side as shown in ‘I Wear This Because Life is War’. Deserving of much more attention, let’s hope SXSW brings Salami more spotlight action. (Steven Loftin)
Laucan – folk / singer/songwriter
Twenty-seven old Laurence Galpin used to be in a band. But by taking a chance in singing alone with his falsetto in his bedroom, he’s going by the name Laucan now. Rob da Bank must have approved of this move: Galpin is signed to his Sunday Best label, who have just released his single ‘Up Tomorrow’, the title track of an EP that will be unveiled in March. Atmospheric music with Galpin’s falsetto flitting across it is clealy no longer of the “folk music of increasing obscurity” he himself had feared: it’s ready for the masses next month in Austin. (Mary Chang)
Maleek Berry – Afropop and r&b
Maleek Berry (born Maleek Shoyebi) grew up in South London, listening to the biggest names in r&b and pop music. At the age of 14, Berry was introduced to music, mainly through his church, but it was only after gaining his degree in Computer Science, whilst learning piano by ear that he realised his calling was in music. Since then, he has contributed hugely to the Nigerian music scene, working with artists such as Wizkid, Naeto C and Wande Coal, with whom he established with a connection with whilst on a family holiday. (Adam McCourt)
Manu Delago Handmade – experimental / electronic
With pleasing and melodic experimentation, Manu Delago entrances with instrumentation that is far from your run of the mill guitar / bass / drums setup. Having discovered the ‘Hang’, an instrument that looks like two beat-up woks attached to each other, Delago formed one of his numerous projects, Manu Delago Handmade with the help of Isa Kurz and Chris Norz. Prolific and enlightening, Delago (with his crew) is a beauty amongst the beast. (Steven Loftin)
Martin Creed – folk / singer/songwriter
One not to miss, Martin Creed has been creating and experimenting almost his whole life. Not content with being a prominent figure in the art world, he’s also a dab hand at music, even finding massive fans in Franz Ferdinand. You never know what he could bring to the table. (Steven Loftin)
Moelogo – Afropop and r&b
Since his debut single ‘Pangolo’ and his 2013 debut EP ‘Moe is My Name, Music is My Logo’, Moelogo has been making strides within the r&b and Afrobeat scene. Whilst collaborating with artists such as DRB LasGidi and Fuse ODG, Moelogo has gathered lots of interest from BBC 1xtra, Beat FM and Capital Xtra for his latest single ‘Do You Love Me?’ Coming off the back of his 2015 NEA award for Diaspora Artist of the Year, Moelogo was nominated for the 2016 MOBO Award for Best African Act, up against the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Yemi Alade, Patoranking. Not a bad track record at all. (Adam McCourt)
Moses Boyd Exodus – jazz
As smooth as silk, Moses Boyd creates dark atmospheric tracks that are lined with a plethora of inspirations from jazz, blues, funk and soul. The drummer is a force not to be reckoned with, carving his way through jam after jam, only taking centre stage when he needs to. Boyd perfectly encapsulates what it means to be a musician. (Steven Loftin)
Native Dancer – jazz / electronic
Jazz is making waves in a big way once again with Native Dancer. Not quite your atypical jazz band that you’d find in a smoky club. Instead, they’re covered in soul and experimentation, with modern flourishes that are interesting and fresh. They released ‘EP Vol. II’, which in case you hadn’t of guessed was the second installment after ‘EP Vol. I’. (Steven Loftin)
Robyn Hitchcock – folk / singer/songwriter
Managing to be described as the closest thing the UK has to Bob Dylan, Robin Hitchcock is one of the country’s most beloved singer/songwriters, as well as being a poet and author. Self-describing his songs as “paintings you can listen too”: no-one can sum it up better than that. You’d be silly to miss out on his blending of psychedelic sounds with folk. He’s even got a new album coming out in April, how handy is that? (Steven Loftin)
Sarathy Korwar – Indian jazz
Jazz with an Indian twist, something that you never knew you needed until now. Sarathy Korwar is not only good at what he does, but he’s been honoured by numerous Indian and Western bodies of music for his work. Truly genre-breaking stuff, Korwar is a unique mind and to see what he does next will be something special. (Steven Loftin)
Silvastone – Afropop
Originally starting out as a producer and songwriter, Silvastone has gone out as his own force, releasing his debut EP ‘Transitions’ in late 2014. With the follow up due in early 2017, the African-drenched dance music that 2014 brought us will in no doubt come back with a stronger and even more beat-filled songs. (Steven Loftin)
United Vibrations – jazz
More modern jazz comes in the form of United Vibrations, with a name as smooth as their sound. It’s jazz that remains intact, no falling apart at the seams as jazz is want to do, instead they’re fully constructed and fleshed out tracks that wouldn’t be out of place on the deeper side of a Foals album, just less math rock. (Steven Loftin)
Yussef Kamaal – jazz
London-based jazz fusion duo Yussef Kamaal – Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams – is essentially the brainchild of Kamaal Williams’ solo material that Yussef Dayes contributed to for a live set at Boiler Room. The duo bring the idea of jazz to a whole new means of consumption by taking the idea of jazz standards and improvisation to extremes. From their first set on at Boiler Room, the duo began performing live, where little more than a chord progression would be planned before taking the stage. The duo released their debut LP ‘Black Focus’ last November. (Adam McCourt)
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 22nd February 2017 at 12:00 pm
As you might imagine, London leads the charge with the largest number of artists one city in the UK is sending to SXSW 2017. In this post, we introduce you to the acts from London Town in the genre of pop who received a shout for SXSW this year. The summaries of acts below were written by Rebecca Clayton, Steven Loftin and David Wriglesworth; where noted, some acts have dropped out. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.
Zimbabwean-born ESKA is best described as an amalgamation of the psyche soul of Minnie Riperton, with the whimsical melodic twists of Kate Bush, arranged into an intoxicating meld for the post-digital age.
Throughout the 2000s, ESKA gained vocal credits on many independent releases, before releasing the ‘Gatekeeper’ EP on her own Earthling Recordings label in 2013. The EP attracted worldwide critical acclaim, with BBC Radio 6’s Giles Peterson describing ESKA as “one of the most important singers in the UK”. ESKA released her self-titled debut album in 2015, which received a nomination for the 2015 Mercury Music Prize. Fast forward 2 years, and ESKA is set to unveil new music from her hugely anticipated follow-up album. (David Wriglesworth) [As of 21/2, ESKA is no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]
Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville are better known as IDER. Since moving in together, the duo worked tirelessly on their project and emerged in April 2016 with their debut track, ‘Sorry’. Within minutes of the track going live on Soundcloud, Sorry received huge support from BBC Radio 1’s Phil Taggart, who labeled IDER as one of his “Future Firsts” on his weekly show. Two months later, IDER released their follow-up track, the vulnerable, yet beautifully balanced ‘Pulse’, which has since received over 1,000,000 streams on Spotify. This was followed by the release of ‘King Ruby’ and ‘Million’.
With only a few live shows under their belt, supporting Conner Youngblood, Tegan and Sara and Samaris in London, IDER have laid low, writing and recording their debut album, which is expected to be released later this year. (David Wriglesworth) [As of 21/2, IDER are no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]
The Japanese House
Do you need some melancholic synth pop in your life? Of course you do, it gives life that edge. The Japanese House manages to own this as well as have you begging for me. The fact it’s produced by The 1975‘s Matt Healy should give you a hint as to exactly how good we’re talking here. You can check out the ‘Swim Against The Tide’ EP available now. (Steven Loftin)
Joel Sarakula is an Australian-born, UK-based soulful pop producer and singer-songwriter, who has travelled the world in search of his muse, gazing through his vintage glasses at his ‘70s tinged world.
In 2013, Joel Sarakula released his debut album ‘The Golden Age’. Singles ‘Bohemian’ and ‘I Will Deliver’ received numerous plays across BBC 6 Music, BBC London, XFM, Q Radio and Absolute Radio. Fans didn’t have to wait long for his follow-up, ‘The Imposter’, which hit store shelves in November 2015. This latest album took him to London, Berlin and Sydney, with a host of his musical comrades appearing on the record.
Joel Sarakula is a regular fixture on the festival and club circuit in the UK, Europe and Australia, having made appearances at Latitude, Glastonbury, The Great Escape, V-ROX Vladivostok and Reeperbahn Festival Hamburg, among others. (David Wriglesworth)
Kate Nash is the Harrow-born indie pop singer/songwriter who rocketed to fame in 2007 with her punchy hit ‘Foundations’. Nash went on to release a bunch of other singles from the album ‘Made of Bricks’, including ‘Pumpkin Soup’ and ‘Mouthwash’, that cemented her as a cornerstone of quirky, bright indie pop. In 2013, she shared her third studio album ‘Girl Talk’, which she released independently, saw her head for a punkier direction. Always being outspoken about politics and women’s rights and issues, Nash also worked to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline last year. She’ll be appearing at SXSW this March, with the follow-up intention of releasing a new album this summer, which she is recording in Los Angeles. Stay tuned… (Rebecca Clayton)
In 2011, an inexperienced Kate Sproule turned down her first-post college job to pursue a music career to form Mt. Wolf (pictured at top), alongside her childhood friend Stevie McMinn and his college mates. The risk paid off as, after only two EPs into their career, Mt. Wolf became established as a signature sound. However, the band announced their decision to split 2 years later, due to creative differences in the band.
After a year’s hiatus, Mt. Wolf reunited with a new line-up as pictured at top, consisting of Sebastian Fox (vocals/guitar), Stevie McMinn (guitar) and Alex Mitchell (drums). The band’s electronic and acoustic elements have earned them comparisons to the likes of London Grammar, Mogwai and Sigur Ros.
The future is looking promising for the band, having received funding from the BPI’s Music Exports Growth Scheme (MEGS), as well as a separate grant from the PRS Foundation. (David Wriglesworth)
Hannah Rodgers, better known as Pixx, is a young singer/songwriter from Chipstead on the outskirts of London. Born to a music-loving family, Pixx’s creative side was nurtured and encouraged from a young age, with her talent earning her a place at The BRIT School, which also counts Adele, Ella Eyre and the late Amy Winehouse among its alumni.
Inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Aphex Twin, Pixx – whose name is adopted from her grandmother’s nickname – released her recording debut ‘Fall In’ in August 2015. This was quickly followed by dreamy, synth-pop tracks ‘Baboo’ and ‘Grip’.
2016 was a busy year for Pixx, as she joined Daughter and Glass Animals on tour as a support act, played at a host of festivals including Latitude and performed at a 4AD showcase in the UK and the U.S. Pixx is currently in the process of finishing her debut album, which is due for release in early 2017. (David Wriglesworth) [As of 21/2, Pixx is no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]
Once upon a time, Roses Gabor was working at a bank while working on her music career on evenings and weekends. In 2005 she sang on the Gorillaz track ‘Dare’, and since then she has appeared at a number of the band’s shows and tours to provide vocals, and featured on a number of other artists’ tracks, including SBTRKT’s ‘Pharoahs’ released back in 2011. More recently she’s featured on Basstrack’s funk-inspired ‘Get Your Way’.
In 2012, she released the single ‘Stars’, before releasing a follow-up single ‘Rush’ 2 years later. Gabor’s music is tranquil electro-dance, and features shimmering synth rhythms that show off her svelte vocals. (Rebecca Clayton) [As of 21/2, Roses Gabor is no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]
Sykes are a sparkly, electro alt-pop outfit from London, made up of lead singer Julia Sykes, lead guitar/ bass player Kristian Taylor and Will Grid Brown on drums. Unsigned, the band is yet to release an album but they have shared a bunch of singles/EPs since they started writing together. The band has been featured on Radio 1, and they have supported the likes of Bleachers and Charli XCX live, as well as appearing at a number of festivals including Glastonbury.
The band released the popular ‘Gold Dust’ in 2014, garnering attention for the trio. Title track ‘Gold Dust’ is joyful, with a glittering childhood sentimentality to it, and echoes the dreamy alt-pop quality of the band’s music. They also released an EP in 2016, ‘Younger Mind’. (Rebecca Clayton)
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 21st February 2017 at 11:00 am
As you might imagine, London leads the charge with the largest number of artists one city in the UK is sending to SXSW 2017. In this post, we introduce you to 11 acts from London Town specialising in electronic music and DJaying. The summaries of acts below were written by Mary Chang, Rebecca Clayton, Steven Loftin and David Wriglesworth. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.
Composing isn’t usually the most orthodox starting point for someone wanting to venture into a career in pop, but that’s exactly where Anna Meredith started her foray into music, and to great success. Before releasing her debut album, Meredith spent time as composer in residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, composed for the Proms, and gained a Masters at the Royal College of Music, amongst many other accolades.
In 2016, Meredith released her debut album ‘Varmints’. Her music draws on her classical history, combing grand electronic sounds with synth strings. Meredith’s LP is as unusual as it is impressive, and creates an immersive musical experience for the listener. ‘Nautilus’ is a must listen. (Rebecca Clayton)
Deeply emotional and airy synthpop, fit for a darkened, heartbroken night: that’s Aquilo (pictured at top). They don’t just have their heart on their sleeve, they’re grabbing it and shoving it in your face. Starting off with a couple of Soundcloud singles in 2013 that were picked up by various outlets, they then went on to play only their fourth show ever at Glastonbury 2014. Not a bad start for the duo, not bad at all. 2017 sees them finally releasing their debut album ‘Silhouettes’ and an opportunity to make waves at SXSW. (Steven Loftin)
Duncan Beiny, better known as DJ Yoda, is a multi-award-winning hip-hop DJ and producer, who has worked with pretty much everyone, from classical composers to neuroscientists. In recent years, DJ Yoda was asked by Dr Dre to record a guest mix on his inaugural Beats 1 show for Apple Music, and he was one of the artists to perform at Banksy’s pop-up bemusement park Dismaland.
DJ Yoda pioneers new forms of audiovisual entertainment, chopping and splicing classic movies with the hands-in-the-air clubbing vibe. In 2014, DJ Yoda was commissioned to rescore classic films as part of BFI’s sonic cinema event, and he produced a mash-up of BBC Radio 4’s entire station, remixing The Archers, the shipping forecast, John Humphries and more.
In 2017, DJ Yoda is taking his ever-evolving DJ sets, which take in a diverse array of styles, genres, decades and continents, all over the world, with shows at SXSW, Snowbombing (Austria) and Hideout Festival (Croatia). (David Wriglesworth)
Producer James Draper has been around a while: he’s already released a whole host of EPs, including his eighth, ‘Luminous’ (out now on M:UK), which Steven reviewed for us on TGTF last month. Lest you think Draper is a one-trick pony, think again. Not only is the Kent professional highly sought out producer, he has collaborated with and written pop bangers for big names like Ellie Goulding, Twin Atlantic and Rita Ora. It won’t be his first rodeo – Draper has been to SXSW before – so perhaps past experience will make his performances stand out from all the newbies? (Mary Chang)
Fifi Rong is London-based, but lived in China until she was 16 when she was enrolled in a boarding school in Bristol. She self-released her debut album ‘Wrong’ in 2013, and since then has worked with the likes of Skepta, featuring on his 2016 album ‘Konnichiwa’. In 2016, she released an EP, ‘Forbidden Desire’, which she funded through Pledgemusic.
Fifi Rong’s voice is husky and distinctive, and her tracks involve beautiful and unearthly electronic sounds, which focus on love and relationships. (Rebecca Clayton)
Croydon-born and bred, Jamie Isaac released his debut album ‘Couch Baby’ last year, a following two EPs released back in 2013 and 2014. Isaac attended BRIT School along with contemporary and sometime collaborator King Krule, but rather than following in the footsteps of the likes of Adele and Jessie J, Isaac is carving out a much different path.
Isaac focuses on pared-back, dreamy electronic rhythms and a gentle tempo that is both captivating and seriously chilled. ‘Couch Baby’ is an album that can only be described as easy listening, the type of album that you can put on in the background and relax to. (Rebecca Clayton)
Of the many young artists coming out to SXSW 2017, few can say they’ve already been nominated for an award, let alone won one. Harry Yeff, better known under his stage name Reeps One, is thus special because he’s a prize-winning beatboxer.
Even though the only instrument he uses is his own voice box, I’ve put him under the electronic category because SXSW has and I would venture to say they consider his voice as peerless an instrument like a synthesiser. Lest you think that his musical style is reminiscent of those spitting dudes in the ‘hood back in the ‘80s, I’ve included a more melodic example of his beatboxing below. (Mary Chang)
London-based producer and DJ Rude Kid is heavily entrenched in the grime scene, being able to cite the likes of Skepta, Wiley and Shy FX amongst his collaborators. Passionate about music, Rude Kid, who at one time was signed to Sony Music, released and experimental EP ‘One Week’ in 2012 which he created in just a week, before sharing as a free download.
He’s released a fair bit of music in his career so far, and spent much of 2016 showing his prowess as a DJ, and even started hosting his own grime radio show on Kiss FM. Rude Kid’s music features darker elements of grime, when compared to AJ Tracey mentioned in our review of the pop acts from London headed to SXSW. His 2015 EP ‘653’ in collaboration with Ghetts features the popular ‘One Take’, which has racked up millions of listens on Spotify. (Rebecca Clayton)
Christopher Taylor is the enigmatic producer and electronic singer/songwriter, who I suspected could be a hooded, yet groovy polar bear live in concert 3 years ago in DC. A lot had changed for Taylor following his well-received debut album ‘Tremors’ in 2014, and the extensive touring to promote the LP took its toll on him as well. Decamping temporarily to a house in sleepy Northern California to write and record follow-up ‘Rennen’ did him good: read my album review from last month for more details. How will a producer who favours dark clubs fare in sunny Austin? We’ll have to wait to find out. (Mary Chang)
Electronic in all the right places and all the right ways, SWEAT are one of the brightest stars in the upcoming UK music scene right now. Filled with crisp beats and youthful romantic tales, they’re onto a real winner. ‘Stay’, for example, features a beautiful composition that trundles along, disappears and then returns with even more grace and melody. (Steven Loftin)
Life-long friends Dan Cobb and James Cullen comprise electronic duo Tender. From the basement of their North London home, they’ve produced three EPs, ‘Armour’, ‘Tender EP II’ and ‘Tender EP III’. To coincide with the duo signing with Brooklyn-based label Partisan Records in July 2016, Tender released ‘Outside’, the first single to be taken from their third EP. Since its release, the single has been streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify.
For the year ahead, Tender look set to embark on a number of live dates, including shows at SXSW and a headline show at Oslo Hackney in London, before finishing off and releasing their debut album. (David Wriglesworth) [As of 21/2, Tender are no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]
Dario Darnell is no stranger to the electronic scene, having previously been in Picture Book with his brother Lorne Ashley. While Picture Book appears to be on hiatus at the moment, Darnell has struck out on his own as a one man multi-instrumentalist under the moniker Youngr. You could say that his career in music was pretty much assured: his father is none other than August Darnell, aka Kid Creole of Kid Creole and the Coconuts’ fame.
Darnell has taken a page from his father in writing and performing catchy pop tunes with a soulful r&b vocal, though in his case, he also takes advantage of a full synth setup and plenty of electronics in the absence of a backing band. He’s in the middle of a European tour at the moment and will be touring North America around his week in Austin. (Mary Chang)
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 20th February 2017 at 11:00 am
As you might imagine, London leads the charge with the largest number of artists one city in the UK is sending to SXSW 2017. In this post, we introduce you to 17 acts from the capital who are experts in bashing it out on the guitar and drums and hitting you with a powerful voice. Yes, that’s right. Today’s edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 is all about the rock bands of London. The summaries below were written by Steven Loftin except where noted. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.
If the current The 1975 movement is your thing, then you’re welcome: Artificial Pleasure are sure to be a hit for you with their funkadelic, modern and sleazy in all the right ways sound, if you don’t want to dance during recent single ‘I’ll Make It Worth Your While’, then I’m sorry, there’s no hope for you. Although they only formed last year, it’s clear the future is certainly going to be bright for this band and their shows, filled with dancing feet.
The Big Moon
At the forefront of the UK’s new indie wave, The Big Moon have heads rockin’ and rollin’ with a beautiful blending of retro sounds with a modern edge. Their debut album ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ scheduled for release in April is up for pre-order now, and this is definitely a band you will not want to miss out on, especially at SXSW. You can read Rebecca’s review of their single ‘Formidable’ back here.
A wonderful ‘60s vibe emanates from South London trio Blueprint Blue. With a hesitating innocence in their sound, all the way down to the wandering notes that fall out of place, it’s fun and light-hearted with no real offence.
With a bluesy acoustic sound that builds itself around the use of atmospheric electronica, Chelou has a fresh noise that is filled with mood and melody. Think Chet Faker, with a bit more reserve and accompanied by some pretty sweet animation style videos. To also help you gauge him, consider the word ‘chelou’ is actually a French term for shady or suspicious. Talk about being on brand.
Desert Mountain Tribe
London by way of Cologne, Desert Mountain Tribe are bringing that classic ‘60s garage, psychedelic sound to the modern age. Not messing with the formula too much, they’re raucous and do what they do well. Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the swinging throwback garage sound.
London trio Doe’s ‘wonky alt-pop’ seems to draw directly from ‘90s Britpop, characterised by forceful, yet melodic guitars and a certain level of whimsy. Four years old (pretty long for an indie band these days) and having a whole load of releases under their belt already, their wry humour should set them apart from the rest of the pack in Austin. (Mary Chang)
A band who really need no introduction, Feeder have been around for decades. If you’ve somehow managed to miss out on their mammoth single ‘Buck Rogers’, then you have our pity and should check it out right now before you do anything else. Roaring back into life this year with new album ‘All Bright Electric’, Feeder are proving there’s life in the old dog yet.
The oddly named Jennings Couch comprises three graduates of BIMM from Bristol, Brighton and London. There’s not a whole lot for us to go on about this new band; we can’t even share a full song with you, because their Soundcloud are private. What’s not up for disagreement is frontman Lei Jennings’s strong look, somewhere in between Meat Loaf, Fabio and Captain Jack Sparrow. We doubt they’ll be bringing a sofa with them, but we’ll report in from Austin about their live show if we can. (Mary Chang)
Joey Prendergast used to be part of Tubelord, but since 2012 he’s been associated with London trio Joey Fourr. Lo-fi seems to be the word in rock these days, especially in America, so it’s not hard to imagine their tunes going over well in Austin, even if the group insist that their style of music is “WONK-POP 4 QUEER KIDS”. (Mary Chang)
Pretty furious in sound and attitude, Mantra (pictured at top) are another one of those upcoming bands with a chip on their shoulder and representing their generation. Songs about being outcasts in the world at large, they match this with good, old-fashioned solid rock ‘n’ roll with a bit of spit.
Formed in the late Seventies, Modern English are perhaps best known for their 1982 single ‘I Melt With You’, a song that soundtracked countless romantic moments as well as a Burger King commercial in the States. Releasing their eighth studio album ‘Take Me To The Trees’ in 2016, that was crowdfunded via PledgeMusic, they’ve proven that even with their 30+ years they still have that indie darling pull.
Saint Leonard’s Horses
Reimagining himself and taking a band with him under the guise of Saint Leonard’s Horses, London songwriter Kieran Leonard has all the tales and all the talent. Having supported everyone from Ryan Adams to The Libertines, Leonard and his Horses know how to take you on a journey and give one hell of a ride.
Shame, five teenage friends from Brixton, relish taking their shirts off onstage in the moment (hmm, Red Hot Chili Peppers much?). There isn’t much online on the band, but that’s because they’re just getting started. There’s another reason behind this: they’re being very careful about their image and making sure their sound is exactly what they want to unveil to the world. Their approach has paid off: they’ve already caught the eyes and ears of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, playing live for him in January as part of 6 Music Live. And they won’t be lying down after their close-up at SXSW 2017: they will be returning triumphantly to the UK for their support slot for California rockers Warpaint’s live dates in late March. No shame here. (Mary Chang)
Skinny Girl Diet
It feels like 2017 could be the year Skinny Girl Diet thrive. Part of the Riot Grrrl movement, Skinny Girl Diet are as DIY and hardcore you can get and won’t take any of your crap. Young and riotous with an actual message, they sure haven’t forgotten the important platform provides for social protest. [The Fader in America have already picked up wind of these gals, so don’t drag your feet. –Ed.]
Gearing up to release their second album ‘Waiting A Lifetime’ in April, Londoner’s Splashh are heading to Texas to make a…well…a splash. Indie rock at its finest, none too offensive and easily listened to.
This Be the Verse
Time for something a little bit heavier and constructed. This Be the Verse is a new project fronted by one man that somehow has unrestrained power, yet twists it into cleverly constructed and sinister tracks. His self-titled debut album is an industrial horrorscape of brilliance and savagery.
More English indie rock, as only we can do it. Heartbreaking, yearning and like a rainy night in Manchester, Ultimate Painting also use influences such as Velvet Underground to attack with a more reserved chagrin. Being tipped by many UK outlets, they’re one band that 2017 is looking to be a real good time for.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 30th September 2016 at 11:00 am
Please note: as we recommend with all of our festival previews, the information we post here on TGTF on Hard Working Class Heroes 2016, including my past preview of the event, is current at the time of posting. But we encourage you to check in at the event’s official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Weekend tickets are still on sale for €45, with nightly and individual venue tickets priced at €20 and €10, respectively. Weekend student tickets will be available for purchase for €25 upon proof of photo ID on Thursday 6th October from the box office at Film Base, Curved Street. To purchase your tickets, visit this page on the official HWCH Web site.
2016 North American emerging music festival alums: We’d be missing a trick not to give a shoutout to the artists we’ve already covered and enjoyed at this year’s SXSW 2016 in Austin (March) and CMW 2016 in Toronto (May):
Comrade Hat (Derry; 10:10 PM Thursday, Tengu Upstairs)
Elm (Dublin; 9:40 PM Saturday, Workman’s Club)
Fangclub (Dublin; 9:30 PM Thursday, Hub)
Jealous of the Birds (Portadown; 9:00 PM Friday, Tengu Downstairs)
Rosie Carney (Downings via Portsmouth; 10:00 PM Saturday, City Hall)
Rusangano Family (Limerick; 9:30 PM Saturday, Chocolate Factory Stage 2)
Search Party Animal (Dublin; 8:30 PM Thursday, Workman’s Club)
Let me introduce you to a lucky seven acts that caught my eyes and ears upon my research of the 100+ strong bill for Hard Working Class Heroes this year:
Orchid Collective (folk / Dublin; 1:30 PM Thursday, Accents Café Lounge [free show]; 10:30 PM Thursday, Wigwam)
The incredible success of Fleet Foxes in the late Noughties opened the door for the march of the alt-folk genre, paving the way for artists like Bon Iver, Family of the Year and Of Monsters and Men to garner global popularity. From one of the traditional bosoms of folk music of the world, Ireland, and with new EP ‘Courage’ out in late October, Orchid Collective look to be the next stars of indie folk.
New Pope (folk / Galway; 3:30 PM Thursday, Gutter Bookshop [free show]; 9:40 PM Thursday, Tengu Downstairs)
It’s easy to suffer from electronic overload and overproduction. So let’s take a step back and strip back to the basics of folk. New Pope is West Country singer/songwriter David Boland, proving that as long as you keep things simple during a thoughtful writing process, it’s possible to write a compelling song. Close your eyes for a fuller sense of the power of ‘Love’ below.
Exiles (electronic / Carlow/Kilkenny; 10:50 PM Thursday, Tengu Upstairs)
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for synthpop, so Exiles are a no-brainer on my Hard Working Class Heroes schedule. This month, they released a new EP ‘Red Lights’, already receiving loads of attention from domestic radio. Given the current music climate for everything synthy, I can see this band going far beyond the ‘80s influences that have been so important to them.
Slow Riot (post-punk / Limerick; 8:10 PM Friday, Hub)
Naming themselves after a Godspeed You! Black Emperor EP, Slow Riot takes the best of those who have come before and puts a unique Irish stamp on it. Having already played a sold-out show in the Capital, they will return to gig in London on the 10th of November at the Sebright Arms after this appearance at Hard Working Class Heroes.
Callum Stewart (pop / Belfast; 12:30 PM Friday, Nine Crows [free show]; 8:40 PM Friday, City Hall)
You know that feeling you get when you listen to a new artist and the chills run down your spine? Like I felt with Liverpool’s BANNERS in my SXSW 2016 research, I got that same kind of moment upon hearing Callum Stewart’s pop single ‘Parachute’. Despite being only 19, Stewart has already managed to achieve a poignancy in his songs that much older songwriters have difficulty with. Expect a major label snap-up in the coming months.
Hiva Oa (electronic/rock / Belfast; 8:20 PM Saturday, Tengu Downstairs)
Stephen Houlihan and Christine Tubridy have returned to Ireland after a spell in Edinburgh, and they’ve just released a new EP. ‘mk2 (part 1)’ illustrates well their sound described on a press release as “marrying primal, dizzying electronica and a swelling bass hum, with minimal guitar patterns to create a tightly wound, suffocating and intense atmosphere”. Intrigued? Check them out on Saturday night.
Kid Karate (punk / Dublin; 8:30 PM Saturday, Chocolate Factory Stage 2; our past coverage on them on TGTF here)
Kid Karate are veterans of past SXSW events and this year, the noiseniks really have something to shout about. Their newest and also self-titled album was released in April. Single ‘Louder’, with its unrelenting, thudding backbeat and punky swagger, should give you a good clue what you’re in for if you pop into the Chocolate Factory’s Stage 2 Saturday night.
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