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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 at 11:00 am
There’s an embarrassment of riches in the form of the Scandinavian artists scheduled to descend on SXSW 2017 next month. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland collectively will be sending over 30 acts to Austin, an amazing critical mass of acts for a combined population on the same order of the number of people in the state of Texas. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised about the musicians from a region known for their long winters? You know what they say about Manchester and Seattle bands: when the weather outside is awful, more time indoors to perfect your art, am I right?
There are some established, or at least famous names that will be familiar to most readers. Prolific Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel, who now calls Berlin home, released her latest album ‘Citizen of Glass’ last autumn and will be making the trip to Austin. You can read my review of her latest single ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ here. No strangers to either controversy or media attention for their previous provocative moniker, Norwegian feminist-leaning pop punks Slotface are sure to be another hot ticket during the week, having already laid waste to the UK on their own short headline tour earlier this month. Jakob Bjørn-Hansen, better known as Norwegian electronic artist and producer Bearson, has been poking around for a few years now with his own brand of tropical house, as well as his remix talents.
Shows by Swedish alt-pop band Simian Ghost, who already have three albums to their name and are working on their fourth, are sure to attract plenty of punters. The EP-only synthpop band Kite have enjoyed enormous success in their home country of Sweden and graced industrial nights around the world. Satellite Stories are the true epitome of the Nordic success story, as in Europe, they’re the best known indie band from Finland.
In today’s installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017, I introduce you to the acts I think are the best representatives of their part of the world. 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. As of today’s writing, we know of Music Norway’s plans to put on a Sounds from Norway showcase on Thursday 16 March at Lucille on Rainey Street, if that floats your boat.
Anna von Hausswolf – goth pop / rock / Gothenburg, Sweden
Is the world ready for a Swedish Kate Bush? Too late, she’s already here. With her operatic, far-reaching vocals and the shadowy but pounding chords of her organ, the sound of Anna von Hausswolf and her band is arresting. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those looking for something a bit darker in a sunny clime like Austin’s, step into these shadows.
Ask Carol – punk / Oslo
With a name that sounds more like the title of an advice column than the hard rock act they are, Ask Carol make an emphatic case, urging listeners to be assertive. Influenced by acts as disparate as Wilco to Lauryn Hill, but bolstered by the hard edginess of The Clash and Led Zeppelin, they’ll be a fun, high octane proposition live.
Chain Wallet – pop / rock / Bergen, Norway
Stian Iversen, Christian Line and Frode Boris are the principal members of Chain Wallet (pictured at top), occupying that nebulous area between lo-fi psych, dream pop and dance. Already drawing comparisons to Twin Shadow and DIIV, the lightness of their sound is sure to go over well among the chill crowds at SXSW.
CHINAH – pop / r&b / electronic / Copenhagen
Fine Glindvad fronts CHINAH, a Copenhagen trio specialising in that now-popular smooth blend of minimalist beat, upbeat guitar-filled, soulful xx-type sound. Hard to believe that in their current incarnation where they sound reminiscent of London Grammar that they were previously a folk outfit.
Darling West – folk / Oslo
We’re not taking anything away from them, but it’s time to take those blinders off that the only folks from the Nordic countries who can do country well are First Aid Kit. Darling West, a tight-knit trio led by the dulcet tones of Mari Sandvær Kreken, are about to get the Soderburg sisters a run for their money. Simple, yet stunning harmonies and instrumentation.
One Week Wonder – electronic / dream pop / Reykjavik
One Week Wonder comprises keyboardists Árni Guðjónsson and Magnús Benedikt Sigurðsson and Helgi Kristjánsson on drums. Despite a clear leaning towards today’s technology in their choice of instruments, Guðjónsson says he favours what he considers the more natural way of recording on tape, which is unusual for electronic artists. The surprising result: a remarkably smoother, less cluttered recording and a gorgeous, unparalleled atmosphere.
Rainbrother – folk rock / Copenhagen
While we’re waiting on the supposed return of Fleet Foxes, we can occupy ourselves with Danes Rainbrother, who just released their debut album at the start of February. On ‘Tales from the Drought’, Bjarke Bendtsen’s latest rock group conjure up the folky, hazy side of Bon Iver with the lonesome mountain sound of Robin Pecknold’s hugely popular band. Why bother waiting on either of them to release new material if you can catch Rainbrother in the flesh in Austin?
Tuvaband – lo-fi / dream pop / singer/songwriter / Oslo, Norway
Can SXSW take another lo-fi band? Of course. Named for singer/songwriter Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser, the ethereal, dream pop quality of Tuvaband is sure to win you over. And forget about those unwashed lo-fi dudes with long hair…
As the dust settles on the 4th annual Output Music Conference and Showcase event, I’m taking a look back over my experiences at the event. This is to give you, the readers, insight into the important messages and valuable lessons I acquired throughout the day, as well as outstanding performances. This was the first covered by TGTF; in the past, TGTF’s words on Northern Irish acts was mostly restricted to showcases at other festivals, such as in Carrie’s coverage of the Output Belfast afternoon showcase at SXSW 2016. Like that event, this year’s Output Belfast was sponsored by Generator NI and Belfast City Council.
This year, Output was held within the oldest part of Belfast city centre, the Cathedral Quarter. It’s a small area in the southeast section of the city packed with fantastic architecture, cosy pubs and underground music venues that lace the narrow cobbled streets and alleys. Named after St. Anne’s Cathedral that still stands here, the Cathedral Quarter was once home to trade and warehousing particularly within the linen and shipbuilding industries. Now it is the cultural hub of Belfast, with a rich music and arts scene that attracts so many people that the bars, venues and even streets are always thriving. No better place to hold Ireland’s leading music industry networking and showcase event, if you ask me.
Throughout the day, seminars and master classes were held in The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) and the Oh Yeah Centre. If you’re an attendee, the daytime programming offered a chance to soak up any and all information, advice and personal points of view from the abundance of industry professionals assembled. Before 1 PM it was possible to catch Crispin Hunt (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and cowriter with Florence and the Machine and Jake Bugg), Lee Denny (founder of Kent music event Leefest) and Amy Lamé (London’s first ‘Night Czar’) during the opening address. Moving to another floor of The MAC, you had the option sitting in on either a pitch and sync talk with Simon Pursehouse of Sentric Music; a production seminar with Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey), Liam Howe (Ellie Goulding) and Rocky O’Reilly (Start Together Studios); or a meeting with the performance rights organizations PRS, PPL, IMRO, MCPS and BASCA.
I opted for the Metal Machine Music talk on artist and business development in rock and metal hosted by Daniel P. Carter, host of BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show, promoter of famed Belfast venue The Limelight Joe Dougan, Head of Marketing at Red Essential Ali Tant and artist managers Ian Rendall (Making Monsters) and Ally McCrae of Two Up Management. The speakers discussed matters relating to the development of the rock and metal scene, what it takes to break into the scene and maintain your success, the importance of hard work, supporting one another and being in control of your work and career. The speakers painted a picture of a tight-knit community within the rock and metal scene by sharing the understanding that being supportive, genuine and respectful of the people in the industry, as well as applying honest hard work with belief in your art, will do more favours than anything else.
These became overarching themes throughout the day. In other sessions and even in the lobby of the MAC where people gathered between talks, a sense of community and support was evident and hugely encouraged. For example, during the Country 2.0 seminar Milly Olykan (Festival and Events Director at The O2) Stuart Banford (Downtown Country, Northern Ireland’s only 24/7 digital country music station), Lynne McDowell (Country Music Association) and Iain Snodgrass (Universal Music Group) discussed similar topics but instead in relation to country music. It seemed no matter what genre of music you listen to, or what area of the industry you work in, the key messages about the pathway to success are the same.
This year’s keynote was an hour-long discussion with esteemed music commentator and analyst, Bob Lefsetz, presented by Mark Gordon of Generator NI. Lefsetz has been an active member of the music industry for over 30 years. Though he began as an entertainment business attorney, Lefsetz slowly moved into the field of analysing and commentating on the music industry. He created and published his own magazine called the Lefsetz Letter, which he eventually put out online for free. He is renowned for his forward-thinking ideas and rational statements towards music, the industry and those within it, and at this year’s Output all those present witnessed this firsthand.
Listening to Lefsetz speak on the music industry sounded as if he was expressing his hatred towards it. He delivered a passionate and intriguing discussion about his beliefs in regards to the music industry: his comments could have been mistaken as negative, but in fact he was purely being realistic. In his own words, “don’t sugarcoat it”. Through his work as an attorney and the Creative Consigliere for heavy metal band W.A.S.P, Lefsetz knows the music industry is a cutthroat business where artists often get taken advantage of. He was able to give advice by relating to his own experience by pointing out the errors a lot of people make and even provided solutions to difficult situations. Throughout his discussion, he covered a wide spectrum of important topics including the use of social media and its algorithms to assist in driving PR and advertising campaigns, the importance of and differences between Spotify playlists vs. top chart playlists, niche marketing, targeting specific audiences and energising those who can spread the word. He said he accepts and confirms sexism and racism exist but that neither should matter, and that hard work and hustle is more important and that bringing up a person’s gender or race is an excuse for “not being great”, clearly something that can be a bone of contention. Similar to the guiding principles presented in the Metal Machine Music session, Lefsetz expressed the importance of relationships in the business and how he believes they are more powerful than money. With a lot to say and a very charismatic and expressive personality, Bob Lefsetz was an intriguing, engaging speaker. He was an excellent conclusion to the daytime schedule, and next up was the evening events.
Editor Mary Chang contributed to this report.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 27th February 2017 at 11:00 am
Australia and her neighbour New Zealand will be sending over 30 acts to SXSW 2017. The list includes artists we covered at previous SXSWs, including Demi Louise, Hamish Anderson and Mansionair. In this post, I introduce you to the Australian acts I think are the cream of the crop from down under, representing the various genres of pop, rock, electronic and folk. 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.
Alex Lahey – pop / rock / Melbourne
Alex Lahey would be my pick for the next big Australian global superstar. The world is ready for another strong young woman to follow in the footsteps of Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson and Gaga, and with this kick in the arse, upbeat pop/rock sound, Lahey owns it. On this side of the Pacific with her own American tour to follow SXSW, plus even earlier this month, when Lahey supported Tegan and Sara on their UK winter tour, the interest in this young Aussie singer/songwriter is clear. There’s nowhere to go but up, up, up for her.
All Our Exes Live in Texas – Sydney / folk
The band with the name most appropriate for coming to Austin to perform, All Our Exes Live in Texas (pictured at top) take their cues from the greats of country and folk. The incredible melding of the talents of four individually brilliant musicians is the true success of this folk group, who take full advantage of the beautiful four-part harmonies they can achieve and their charismatic live shows, which have already left Sydneysiders breathless. They might still be some ways off from the Grand Ole Opry when they showcase at SXSW 2017, but something tells me they’ll get an invite soon.
Cameron Avery – rock / Perth
Are we allowed to call a 28-year old a Renaissance man? Sod it, we are when it comes to Cameron “Cam” Avery. From the capital of Western Australia, Perth, the singer/songwriter is probably best known outside of Oz for being a member of indie favourites Pond and Tame Impala, the latter of which he plays bass for. But this time in Austin, Avery will be playing for and promoting himself and his debut album ‘Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams’, which will be out on the 10th of March on Anti- Records and Spinning Top. As a solo artist, Cameron Avery’s music is as far as you can get from the psychedelia of Tame Impala: his is straightforward songwriting with a rich voice evocative of his Anti- labelmate Cass McCombs.
Castlecomer – pop/rock / Sydney
Remember when Two Door Cinema Club’s music felt like a guilty pleasure, in the ‘Tourist History’ era well before their meltdowns? That’s what Castlecomer’s new single ‘If I Could Be Like You’: high energy, infectious guitar pop with a driving rhythm that can get tail feathers shaking at a music festival. While it’s a formula overused in the last few years because of the success of bands just like Two Door, Castlecomer’s success in the form of 2 million streams on Spotify for their 2016 EP ‘All of the Noise’ bodes well for their future. Hey Glassnote Records, are you looking for an Australian Two Door?
Food Court – garage punk / Sydney
I’ll never understand why bands choose a name that will always produce unhelpful Google results. But it hasn’t prevented Food Court, from the neighbourhood of Glebe in Sydney, from already becoming a bit of an internet sensation. It’s kind a no-brainer: their scuzzy, fuzzy, garage punk style follows in the style of the Ramones and the Clash and has plenty of admirers. We hear their debut album will be out in March, which seems more than simply fortuitous serendipity, given their SXSW 2017 shout.
The Heart Collectors – folk / Murwillumbah
The kind of band the Cambridge Folk Festival would give their right arm to book? The Heart Collectors, originally from the rural village of Tyalgum in New South Wales. I’m going to venture that this is like bluegrass country in America or the remote regions of Western Ireland, where a healthy reliance on harmonies conveying emotional themes, guitars and simple percussion is de rigueur. And sometimes simple is best.
Middle Kids – alt-rock / Sydney
Fronted by Hannah Joy, alt-rock group Middle Kids fill the place that was never really adequately filled after Melissa Etheridge: guitar pop with a slight country twang still palatable to the masses, yet able to show female vulnerability through the lyrics. Already introduced 2 weeks ago to the American public by getting the chance to perform on Conan O’Brien’s late night show – on Valentine’s Day no less – and with a brand new, eponymous EP to show off, Austin is for Middle Kids’ taking.
Oscar Key Sung – r&b / electronic / Melbourne
Some people are surprised to see the marriage of r&b and electronic music, but ultimately both are rooted in the beat being the driving force of a song. Oscar Key Sung embraces both r&b and hip-hop in the electronic music he creates, intended for clubs and with a focus on fluidity and movement. The Australian’s approach is likely more brainier than the average dance producer (there’s a longer exposition here on his methodology and what makes him tick) but one does wonder if Oscar Key Sung could get SOHN out of his hoodie and on the dance floor. I’d say yes.
Throttle – DJ / Melbourne
Already a big deal in the dance world, Australian DJ Throttle is a self-described ‘dirty disco music’ maker. He’s remixed AlunaGeorge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LvWzwxMpuw and taken on Michael Buble’s vocals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQDVj3o_dnQ (I’m assuming without his permission). He’s a badass. Don’t fight it.
Woodes – pop / electronic / Melbourne
Elle Graham aka Woodes is a triple threat: she’s a young singer, songwriter and producer. The young Australian talent previously collaborated with fellow Aussies Atticus Beats, Golden Vessel and Ellkle. from her early solo singles ‘The Thaw’ and ‘Knives and Daggers’, she’s ready for her close-up. With an expansive vocal laying on top of a dancey, yet minimalist electronic beat reminiscent of the xx, her sound is reminiscent of a more pop Lykke Li. She wowed me at CMW 2016 last May in Toronto, and I’m sure she’ll slay in Austin.
To read more of our coverage on Woodes here on TGTF, go here.
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)
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