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On the St. Patrick’s Day Tuesday morning of SXSW 2015, editor Mary and I attended the Generator NI-hosted Brunch on a Boat, which featured smaller and more intimate performances from several of the artists featured on Monday night’s Creative Belfast showcase at Latitude 30. The first performer on the Brunch on a Boat bill was Hannah McPhillimy, a solo singer-songwriter who made the trip to Austin as part of indie pop quartet GO WOLF. As I hadn’t realized that she was also a solo artist, I was immediately intrigued, and her lovely singing voice served to pique my interest further during her short opening set.
After the idyllic boat ride down the Colorado River had come to an end, I had a few minutes to stop and chat with McPhillimy outside the Hyatt Regency Austin, where the trip had started and concluded. McPhillimy talked with me about her solo work, including her first EP ‘Seeing Lights’ and her upcoming recording plans, as well as how she came to be part of GO WOLF. My interview with McPhillimy is streaming below, and just under that, you can find a live performance video of her track ‘Homecoming’ from The Little Blue Room Sessions at the end of last year.
On the night before the official start of SXSW 2015, the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 played host to the Creative Belfast showcase, sponsored by Generator NI and featuring several of Northern Ireland and Ireland’s most promising musical acts. One of the bands appearing on the showcase was Belfast-based alt-pop quartet GO WOLF, who have just released a new EP titled ‘Running’ on Ooh La La Records here in the States. If you’re curious, you can listen to the tantalizingly synth-laced EP on GO WOLF’s Soundcloud.
Ahead of the evening’s festivities, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with GO WOLF’s frontman Scott Jamison, who during the interview below gave me a quick introduction to the band and the recent EP release. We also discussed the cooperative nature of the music community in Northern Ireland and how that atmosphere of collaboration and support brought GO WOLF to Austin this year. Go Wolf made several appearances on TGTF’s radar throughout the week; keep watching this space for more coverage of the band at SXSW 2015.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 25th March 2015 at 3:00 pm
While South by Southwest is mostly known to those who have never attended the big event in Austin, Texas, as the world’s stage for up and coming artists, the event also hosts plenty of festival veterans who keep the young’uns and SXSW virgins on their toes. Thanks to an array of song syncs that placed her music in prominent and popular film and tv shows (hello, Grey’s Anatomy!) and on the strength of her past releases that has seen her shoot to the top of the charts in many countries around the world, Australian singer/songwriter Lenka is now a global household name.
The prolific singer/songwriter is about to release her fourth album ‘The Bright Side’ this summer, and SXSW 2015 proved to be the perfect place to test drive some of her new material in front of long-time fans and punters curious – or shall I say entirely uneager to venture out of the Aussie BBQ tents Friday afternoon in Brush Square Park and into the pouring rain – to see what the spunky Lenka had to offer. You’ll read more about her performance and those of some of her countrymen in my upcoming review of several acts from Friday’s Aussie BBQ.
Prior to her set, we tried to find the quietest corner of the West Tent to have a chat. She was dressed appropriately for Austin with large cactus-shaped earrings and a flowery dress, both of which I commented were perfect for trying to bring the sun out on this grim day. She gives her tips to SXSW newbies on how to survive the week-long music marathon, and we talk about her upcoming album and how it differs from her past releases and specifically her newest single ‘Blue Skies’, which turnes out to have been written in a car on a rainy day.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 25th March 2015 at 1:00 pm
One of the biggest challenges for a music editor is fitting in every artist and band you want to see somewhere in your week in Austin during SXSW. Some misses are unavoidable and you can’t fret too much about it, and with other acts, sometimes it’s just not in the cards to catch others. Swedish supergroup Amason, who I had tipped at a SXSW 2015 Bands to Watch back in February, had a full week of gigs planned and yet the only way I found to squeeze them into my schedule was to depart Friday morning after eating at the full Irish breakfast early (Carrie’s review of that afternoon at B.D. Riley’s forthcoming) and running over to the Sweden showcase taking place early at FLOODfest, presented by Lyve at Cedar Street Courtyard, where Amason was one of three Swedish bands on the early bill.
I totally made the right decision. Despite storm clouds looming above us, Amason banged out an absolutely brilliant set practically right before the skies opened and poured heavy rain on and off on us all day and evening. ‘Duvan’, with Amanda Bergman’s smoky vocals that most everyone is comparing to the young Stevie Nicks of the pre-Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham/Nicks era, nearly brought tears to my eyes with its beauty. The driving rhythm of ‘Älgen’ proved irresistible to the FLOODfest goers who just happened to arrive early and got a special treat from a band they’d previously never heard of, and I was more than happy to put the new fans straight on the correct spelling of the band’s name.
After their set, I was whisked upstairs to the VIP bar where I awaited to meet up with Nils Törnqvist (drums and percussion) and Petter Winnberg (bass) to chat about their time in Austin and their debut album ‘Sky City’, which has already received kudos stateside from NPR. Listen to my interview with the pair below.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 25th March 2015 at 11:00 am
I think it’s safe to say that East India Youth, better known to his mum as London-based electronic musician and bassist Will Doyle, is well-known among music fans in Britain: his debut album under the moniker released on Stolen Recordings released at the start of last year, ‘Total Strife Forever’, earned him a coveted 2014 Mercury Prize nomination, which even without winning the gong he says gave the LP a second life after its initial release. Here in America though, he’s just beginning (hence the Bands to Watch I wrote on him in January to talk him up before he arrived in Texas) a major push in our country this spring with his upcoming album ‘Culture of Volume’, which will be released on Beggars Group’s XL Recordings the first full week of April in both the UK and U.S. and will be accompanied stateside by a reasonably long North American tour kicking off at the end of April.
Will’s first visit to Austin, Texas, for SXSW 2015 last week included a plethora of gigs at venues of varying size, playing to audiences of varying numbers and claustrophobia: Saturday saw him play the Indian Roller bar south of the city owned by a friend, while Thursday afternoon saw him playing a mental set for Under the Radar magazine just prior to the elusive Mew and Of Montreal at the 299-capacity Flamingo Lounge (we looked this number up during our interview). Tuesday night is traditionally always a packed house at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, as Tuesday night has the least number of showcases on offer and it is the obvious place for both industry and fans to congregate on the first night. Will was second up on the bill for the Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales curated by Radio 1’s Huw Stephens though confusingly, neither he nor Kate Tempest or Shura are Welsh (they are all English). It did however start to make more sense when I got to chat with him Wednesday afternoon and he explained that it was Huw who sponsored his Mercury Prize nomination, bringing things round full circle rather nicely.
During this interview, I asked Will about the new album, how it was approached differently than the award-nominated debut and the pains that went into making it, and he told me about how he’d been pleasantly surprised by SXSW so far and of his love for his recent tourmates Factory Floor, who gave him a new appreciation for dance music in the live setting. This was far and away one of my most pleasant interviews in recent memory – thoughtful interviewees are always the best! – and many thanks to Will for answering my many questions.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 5:00 pm
This year at SXSW 2015 I decided to spread TGTF’s figurative wings beyond the countries of bands we usually cover (the UK, America, Ireland and Australia), having made the decision to cover the Sounds from Spain afternoon showcase at Brush Square Park’s West Tent. This turned out to be a wise decision, as I met some really lovely people there. I felt like I was part of their extended musical family and never once was shoved around or made to feel small, which seemed to sum up a lot of my experiences at my first SXSW. So thanks very much to Sounds from Spain, especially Rocio Gutierrez and the bands themselves, for making me feel so welcome!
Another conscious decision I made was to expand our coverage on a genre I love very much but yet always feel alone in my appreciation of: electronica. Barcelona’s beGun, who I profiled in this Bands to Watch in early February, makes what I consider an especially fabulous kind of electronica in that there is a lot of thought that goes into what he does and he clearly has an established method to the madness, if you will, to making his art that you can see in the finished product that is beautiful and evocative. In my interview with him that you can stream below, he tells me that the Spanish ambassador to Ireland visited the city of Dublin and was amazed how well beGun’s own song ‘Dublin’ fit the place perfectly. No higher praise than that, eh? beGun also remains staunchly optimistic in the music he makes, and we all need more positivity in this world, don’t we? He also mentions that he would love to tour as support for current Radio 1 beat resident Jon Hopkins one day, which I hope will actually happen.
I find it extremely frustrating when I encounter closed-minded music fans who automatically chalk up any sort of electronic music that isn’t immediately poppy or has been made by a globally known household name to something that is cold, unfeeling and uninspiring. In my eyes, if it’s done right and in the right person’s hands, electronica, even when entirely instrumental, can be extremely powerful. The constant striving towards electronic music with feeling is a theme that will be explored in my interviews with East India Youth and Rival Consoles that will post in the coming days.
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