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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Brighton artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Monday, 6th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

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.

Every autumn for the last 5 SXSWs, I draft a game plan on how TGTF is going to tackle coverage of the world’s biggest music festival. This year, with a bigger team more eager than ever to help me with our coverage, we were able to take on even more bands and across more countries. As most of you know, a big part of our preview focus is on UK bands and to help promote them ahead of what is for many of them their first big exposure to industry and fans in America. For SXSW 2017, we’re continuing that commitment. In this post, the emphasis will be on the acts from the seaside town of Brighton, which surprisingly have seven artists slated to appear at SXSW. The band summaries below were written by David Wriglesworth, except where noted.

Dream Wife – punk / pop
Edgy rock band Dream Wife (pictured at top) comprises Alice Go (guitar, vocals), Bella Podpadec (bass, vocals) and Icelandic singer Rakel Mjöll. The now London-based group’s success came as somewhat of an accident. The three girls met in 2015 while studying fine art and visual art at college in Brighton. For a school project, they had been tasked with forming a ‘fake girl band’ for a gallery exhibition.

After recording a few songs, creating a mockumentary inspired by the cult film classic Spinal Tap and performing live at the exhibition, Dream Wife gained a following and the formerly fake outfit became a reality. Named after the 1953 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant, Dream Wife cite Grimes, Spice Girls and Sleater-Kinney as their influences. This clearly shows within their music, made up of simple pop hooks and cutting riffs.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8t1xoSXVOiE[/youtube]

Fickle Friends – pop
Hailing from Brighton, Fickle Friends is made up of Natti Shiner (vocals, keyboard), Jack Wilson (keyboard, backing vocals), Harry Herrington (bass guitar, backing vocals, Sam Morris (drums, percussion) and Chris Hall (guitar). The indie pop group with ’80s-flavoured synths spent 2 years touring, including sets at major festivals such as Bestival, BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Secret Garden Party. This caught the attention of Polydor Records, to which the band signed to in January 2016.

The label signing proved to be the start of a fantastic year for Fickle Friends, with singles ‘Swim’, ‘Cry Baby’, ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Say No More’, amassing over 8 million plays on Spotify throughout 2016. The latter of those singles made it to the BBC Radio 1 Introducing Playlist. Fickle Friends rounded off their year with a sell-out crowd at Dingwalls in London. We’ve covered Fickle Friends on TGTF before, as they appeared last year at SXSW 2016.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwG7f_oTLJY[/youtube]

Gang – psych rock
Fun fact about Gang: Not only are two of the band, Eric (guitar) and Jimi (drums), brothers, but they are also the sons of the former Ozzy Osbourne and Gillian guitarist Bernite Torme. Since forming in 2014 with Joseph Hunt (bassist), the trio has relentlessly toured the UK and with the likes of Wand and So Pitted.

Gang’s music merges elements of ‘70s stoner/metal, ‘80s American underground and the psychedelic fancies of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, accompanied by lyrics that reflect the times we live in. Their recent single releases and reputation for energetic live shows has not gone unrecognised, as they have been heavily championed by BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley and Tom Ravenscroft, as well as BBC Introducing’s Phil Taggart and Abbie McCarthy. Gang are expected to release their debut LP later this year.

Holly Macve singer/songwriter / country/western
Despite only being 21 years of age, Holly Macve has already experienced enough strife to last a lifetime. Born in Galway in western Ireland, Macve and her sister were whisked away in the night by her mother from their errant father to live with their grandparents in Yorkshire. It was during this time that she discovered her love of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and Gillian Welch.

At the age of 18, Macve moved down south, where she worked in a café while appearing at open mic nights. Her spellbinding country and western ballads, accompanied by her heavenly voice, didn’t go unnoticed: Simon Raymonde caught wind of her talent and signed her to his Bella Union label.

Since then, Macve has supported the likes of John Grant, Villagers, Ryley Walker and Benjamin Clementine, as well as making festival appearances at Glastonbury and Latitude. Looking ahead, Holly Macve is putting the finishing touches to her debut album that will be released on the 3rd of March before SXSW, which will be followed by UK dates in April. Macve appeared last year at SXSW 2016, so you can read more on her through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esPPcVWnGcg[/youtube]

Marika Hackman – folk / singer/songwriter
It isn’t easy being a woman in this business, and I don’t need to list for you the many examples of popsters who have chosen the path of least resistance and towards maximum opportunity for commercialism. However, something darker than you would ever imagine lurks in the eyes of rocker Marika Hackman. She’s thrown aside any sense of convention for even the folky singer/songwriter genre, using “vague impressionistic images rather than concrete graphic shapes” to “leave a distinct and haunting emotional imprint” with her music. With the courage to do something very different, she’s an unlikely vanguard, yet amazing role model for young, aspiring female musicians. (Mary Chang)

To read TGTF’s past coverage on Marika Hackman, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8l8CZSByC4[/youtube]

Phoria – electronic
Phoria are a five-piece alt-electronic band headed up by Trewin Howard, a deeply sensitive yet mysterious character. He is joined by childhood friend Ed Sanderson (piano/synths), James Cheeseman (guitarist/synths), Seryn Burden (drummer) and Tim Douglas (guitar/bass/synths). Influenced by the likes of Radiohead and Elbow, Phoria produce sensually evocative soundscapes, which they have showcased on their ‘Bloodworks’ and ‘Display’ EPs, both having gained support from BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music.

Following several delays, Phoria released their debut album in June 2016, which was greeted to high praise from fans and critics alike. The album was supported by festival appearances that included Latitude and Dot to Dot, as well as a UK and European tour. Looking ahead to 2017, in addition to their appearance at SXSW, Phoria look set to crack America, having being granted BPI funding as part of the Music Export Growth Scheme.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtimyzJYUgc[/youtube]

Yonaka – punk
Within a year of forming, Brighton-based punk-rock group Yonaka (Japanese for “the dead of night”) signed to BBC Radio 1 Phil Taggart’s Hometown Records label (RHODES, Rat Boy). They got plenty of gig practise, having played over 30 shows up and down the country, including a number of dates as the support act for Killing Joke and Demob Happy.

The band comprises Theresa Jarvis (vocals), George Edwards (guitar), Alex Crosby (bass/keys) and Robert Mason (drums). The group quickly became renowned for their catchy riffs and captivating vocals, as evident on their early singles ‘Run’ and ‘Ignorance’.

2017 is already looking extremely positive for Yonaka, having signed a record deal with Asylum Records in January. The band are set to appear at SXSW, followed by this year’s Great Escape back home in Brighton in May.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjsMcJofsyk[/youtube]

 

Fickle Friends / November and December 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 6th September 2016 at 8:00 am
 

Brighton’s Fickle Friends have announced a November and December 2016 UK tour, culminating in a show at London Heaven on the 1st of December. Back in late July, the Southern group released their newest single ‘Cry Baby’. You can read Rebecca’s thoughts on the release through here; watch the accompanying part story / part performance promo video for ‘Cry Baby’ that dropped last week at the bottom of this post.

Last we heard, they were still working on the details to their debut album with producer and past Two Door Cinema Club and The 1975 collaborator Mike Crossey in Los Angeles. But we do wonder, given the timing of the live UK dates, if the LP is set for a release either before or after these shows in mid to late November. In any event, the tickets for this tour are on sale now, and they’re all listed in a handy graphic from the band below. To read more about Fickle Friends on TGTF, go here.

Fickle Friends November 2016 tour dates

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGi61ZxnJ4Q[/youtube]

 

Single Review: Fickle Friends – Cry Baby

 
By on Tuesday, 16th August 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

There’s been a parting in the road between mainstream Busted-style pop and more thoughtful, alternative pop-based music in recent years. There’s nothing wrong with the mainstream (I, for one, will never not be able to sing along to ‘What I Go to School For’), but it’s just great to see that there are those bands for whom pop means more than repeating the same three of four chords over and over. Pop always used to be about doing something different and exciting. I’ll always remember how I felt and where I was the first time I heard Michael Jackson, or how my world turned upside down (in a good way) when I first became aware of the two game-changing individuals that we said our goodbyes to earlier this year, Bowie and Prince. Whether I’m listening to Beyoncé, Christine and the Queens or, dare I say it, Justin Bieber, I can’t remember pop being better.

Today’s subject is Fickle Friends, the indie pop quartet that hail from Brighton who have recently shared their latest single ‘Cry Baby’. Although they are now signed to a major, Polydor Records, they haven’t had the easiest road to get here, including having a manager quit on them and dealing with financial struggles. But on ‘Cry Baby’, it looks like the band have finally found stable ground. They’ve teamed up with Mike Crossey (The 1975, Two Door Cinema Club), and will also be working with him to put together their debut album in Los Angeles.

Like Fickle Friends’ previous singles ‘Swim’ and ‘Say No More’, ‘Cry Baby’ taps into the well of ‘80s influence, with synth bursts, funky bass hooks and an addictive chorus. It’s not however, simply a rip-off of ‘80s tropes. ‘Cry Baby’ takes all that is good about old-school electropop and blends it with contemporary sounds; at times you can hear The 1975-esque drum and guitar elements on the track.

‘Cry Baby’ positively pulsates with feel-good vibes about meeting someone for only a brief period of time and the overwhelming emotions that can accompany it, capturing the plot of every good ‘80s film ever. The track shimmers and dances, the opening hammer of synth bursts and the steady bass hook sets an addictive precedent that the rest of the track manages to uphold throughout. If this single is anything to go by, I’m expecting their debut album to be liberally packed with addictive synthpop and feel-good ‘80s grooves. It doesn’t yet have a release date, so keep your eyes peeled.

8/10

‘Cry Baby’ is out now. If you want to see the band live in action, the band will be at Reading and Leeds 2016 at the end of this month and Bestival 2016 next month. For more of TGTF’s coverage on Fickle Friends, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlNiXh2WCnI[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2016: Friday afternoon with strong women at the International Day Stage and with Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales – 18th March 2016

 
By on Thursday, 7th April 2016 at 5:00 pm
 

Another day dawned after the awful event of Thursday evening at SXSW 2016. Despite my still shaken nerves, I was determined to make the most of my remaining time in Austin and my Friday afternooon would include the Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales showcase at Latitude 30. First up though was a lovely breakfast and quick catch-up with our friends from Music from Ireland / First Music Contact’s Angela Dorgan and Brendan Millar at B.D. Riley’s ahead of the full Irish breakfast lineup (Carrie’s review of their act are forthcoming). Then I was off to the Austin Convention Centre for a visit to the panel entitled TV Promos: Sync’s New Best Friend, which was a follow-up of sorts to another sync-orientated panel I sat in on at Norwich Sound and Vision 2016 in October. (For a review of my time at convention panels during SXSW, read my roundup post here.)

TV Promos - Sync’s New Best Friend panel Friday at SXSW 2016 Music Conference

After being sufficiently buoyed by the hope that song syncing for tv, film and adverts continue to be a good way for artists to make much needed income to support the music-making side of their craft, it was off to start seeing band trying to make a go of it. Staying in the Austin Convention Center, I went up to the 4th floor to the International Day Stage to catch London-based electropop duo Avec Sans. They clearly had made a good impression prior this appearance, as several megafans of theirs appeared to see them again at this afternoon appearance.

Avec Sans at the International Day Stage at Austin Convention Center, Friday at SXSW 2016

Avec Sans are platinum blonde Alice Fox (originally from Manchester) on vocal duties and Jack St. James on electronics. As TGTF’s resident electro fan, I’ve seen my fair share of duos with a similar setup, and I can say without a doubt that this pair are in the top tier of acts I’ve had the pleasure to witness live. Like Claire L. Evans of YACHT at Easy Tiger the previous night, Fox is a charismatic presence live, providing the human side of Avec Sans with beautously yearning vocals and the perfect foil to the deliciously mechanical machinations of St. James. Watch and listen to the duo’s latest single ‘Heartbreak Hi’ below; their debut album will be out on the 3rd of June; you can donate to their recording effort on PledgeMusic. A headline UK tour will be accompanying its release (all the details here on their Facebook).

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k993pVu1TY4[/youtube]

It was a nice coincidence, according to Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales manager Fionna Allan that their line-up scheduled for Friday afternoon at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 was entirely made up of acts with strong female or female-fronted acts. Allan was all the more prouder about her showcase when I explained to her that there was an important feminist element to this year’s SXSW, as Carrie previewed in this feature prior to our week in Austin. Three of the five acts performing on this bill were Welsh, including first two acts Rozi Plain (a favourite of BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley who I unfortunately missed) and Violet Skies, who I covered as part of the Trackd showcase and chatted with Monday night. True to her word and despite her relative newness to America, Violet was the consummate professional, garnering a massive audience hanging on to every soulful word she sung. As she sung her debut single ‘How the Mighty’, I became even more convinced in her chance at worldwide success. Good luck to her!

Violet Skies at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016

As I had been with Jane Weaver on Wednesday, I was more than a little excited to finally see Gwenno perform live as part of the Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales showcase. After making the difficult decision to give her appearance Wednesday night at the Heavenly Recordings showcase at Barracuda a pass, I was grateful to have another chance, and to be honest, it was probably best to see her here, as part of and also swaddled by her fellow strong female artists’ presence. Further, Gwenno’s ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ – originally released in Wales on Peski Records, then given another life by Heavenly with its re-release in 2015, as well as winning Best Welsh Album at the 2015 National Eisteddfod and the 2014-2015 Welsh Music Prize – is completely fitting for such an afternoon.

Gwenno at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016 1

The LP’s key themes include fighting against Big Brother and the constraints of a patriarchal society, which Gwenno helpfully and eloquently pointed out in between songs is sadly a reflection of today’s times, stressing the importance of individualism, strength and feminism. This banter between this strong, female and Welsh artist and the audience created an indelible connection between artist and fan, and that’s even before we even consider the music. As an electro head, watching her simultaneously sing like an angel and manage an impressive set of synths and sequencers and effortlessly was a real treat. Adding more fuel to Ms. Saunders’ argument of the Man holding women down, stage management warned her she had to cut her set. Instead of stopping when she was supposed to, in true revolutionary fashion, she kept going. Way to stick it to them, Gwenno! To hear my interview with her that we posted on TGTF last week, go here.

Gwenno at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy on Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016 2

Fickle Friends were up next. If you’ve been keeping tabs on indie British music in the last few years (and America’s similar scene, for that matter), you know that synthpop bands are a dime a dozen. If you have been keeping up with our SXSW 2016 preview coverage, you would have read Rebecca’s great Bands to Watch on both this Brighton band and their seemingly similar Liverpudlian counterparts Clean Cut Kid, who I saw on Wednesday night at the Paradigm Agency showcase at Maggie Mae’s. Due to Rebecca’s piece featuring both bands, I could not help but compare their performances in Austin.

Fickle Friends at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016

Fickle Friends put on an admirable performance that received a great response with loads of cheering from the audience, especially when they swapped out the words to their song ‘Brooklyn’, changing them to ‘Austin’. However, I didn’t find anything about their music that distinguished them particularly from all the other synthpop bands Britain has been churning out over the last few years. Will there be a North vs. South divide over these two bands’ corresponding success? We’ll have to wait and see how things go this year.

Concluding the female-strong afternoon of Cerdd Cymru / Music Wales at the British Music Embassy were Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep, who I had the great pleasure of seeing play in their hometown, at the cavernous Red Bull Studios at the Garage stage at my first Liverpool Sound City in 2012. Since releasing ‘Not Real’ in April 2015, they’ve adopted a much more colourful stage presence, which in Austin meant neon bright leotards and tights and mirrored sunglasses. Without a doubt, it’s an attention-grabbing look within a dark club; some may call it a gimmick, but it works for them and will keep them firmly in festival-goers’ minds. (In comparison, Fickle Friends looked like they could have been any American band in t-shirts, baseball caps and jeans.)

Stealing Sheep at Cerdd Cymru Music Wales at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, Friday at SXSW 2016

The talent and fun with Stealing Sheep is multifold. Each of the three band members have a strong enough voice to take the lead, yet their harmonies together on album title track ‘Not Real’ are fantastic enough to make you think they’re all sisters (they’re not). The handclap-happy ‘Apparition’ (watch the video below) demanded audience participation, and you can’t help but get drawn into the percussive nature of their music. Despite stage management calling them to stop, they kept on going, to the delight of the punters. Of all the British acts I saw in Austin, I’d rank these Liverpudlian ladies in the top 5 of having made a lasting impression on American audiences that should serve them well in their continuing career.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-HmtWyAH0Y[/youtube]

 

(SXSW 2016!) Video of the Moment #2055: Fickle Friends

 
By on Tuesday, 5th April 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Thanks to monies from the International Showcase Fund of PRS for Music Foundation, Brighton band Fickle Friends were one of many UK bands to showcase at SXSW 2016 last month, which was plenty reason enough to cheer. Now, after returning from Austin, it’s been announced the group have signed to Polydor Records.

In honour of this momentous occasion in their career, they will be releasing their inaugural single with Polydor, ‘Swim’. While the actual physical action on actors besides the band in the video for the song are ‘dragging’, the song is anything but, sparkling with upbeat, New Wave-y synth and guitar backing and Natassja Shiner’s energetic vocals. Watch the promo for ‘Swim’ below, and stay tuned for its release on the 20th of May on Polydor. Later this month, they’ll be headlining a show at the 100 Club in London on the 27th of April. For more on Fickle Friends on TGTF, try this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQjbNrUCYA0[/youtube]

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Clash in association with PPL, and NME in association with UK Trade and Investment at the British Music Embassy – 18th-19th March 2016

 
By on Friday, 4th March 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

The British Music Embassy will return to Latitude 30 at 512 San Jacinto Boulevard, right by the heart of the action off 6th Street during SXSW 2016. On Monday and Wednesday, our editor Mary previewed the talent on show on Tuesday night (Huw Stephens with PRS for Music showcase) and Wednesday, then Thursday (Output Belfast and PIAS in association with AIM), respectively. This year’s showcases on Friday the 18th of March are set to include a host of artists from around the UK, including hotly-tipped acts from Wales and Scotland. The Welsh artists will be highlighted during the daytime show, presented by British Music @ SXSW in association with Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales. A pair of Scottish acts will feature on the evening showcase, presented by UK pop culture magazine Clash in association with music rights and licensing agency PPL.

The Friday afternoon show will feature a delightfully rich lineup of female artists, beginning with alt-folk singer/songwriter Rozi Plain and continuing with two Welsh acts, pop singer/songwriter Violet Skies and electronic musician Gwenno. Both Welsh women will be introduced in more detail in editor Mary’s upcoming preview of Welsh artists at SXSW 2016 later today.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/H4S0ME8Xyc0[/youtube]

Closing out the afternoon are two alliterative acts, our recent Band to Watch #372 Fickle Friends, followed by fellow TGTF alumnae Stealing Sheep. Fickle Friends vaulted to popularity in the UK with their debut single ‘Swim’ back in 2014 and have been on an upward trajectory ever since. Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep are sailing strong on their April 2015 release ‘Not Real’, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a hint of something new from them in Austin as well.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqVYDRM842s[/youtube]

The Friday evening Clash showcase is set to begin with DJ/producer/all-around-Renaissance-woman Throwing Shade, whose soon-to-be released EP ‘House of Silk’ features the above reflection on pop culture and social media called ‘hashtag IRL’. Scottish pop songstress KLOE and avant/experimental trio Hælos will fill in the middle part of the evening lineup, ahead of a rather intriguing To Be Confirmed notation at 11 PM; bets are open as to who might fill that coveted slot.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/vKakNhz2ToA[/youtube]

Playing at midnight will be Glasgow electro musician The Revenge, followed by London-based soul pop duo Honne (read more of our coverage on Honne here). The Revenge will feature in our upcoming preview of Scottish artists at SXSW 2016, along with the aforementioned KLOE.

On Saturday, the 19th of March, the afternoon show at Latitude 30 will start with Sheffield slacker punk pair Nai Harvest (read more about them on TGTF here) and Leeds goth-punk band Autobahn. Falling square in the middle of the docket, Liverpool indie rockers Sugarmen are sure to win fans with their psychedelic recent single ‘Plastic Ocean’, while grunge rockers Fizzy Blood and Demob Happy finish off the daytime slate.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/qVkdCG_tfvk[/youtube]

Latitude 30 will be taken over by recently retooled and relaunched pop culture magazine NME in association with UK Trade and Investment on Saturday night, the final event at the British Music Embassy for SXSW 2016. Leicester brothers Andy and James Stone, known onstage as synth-rock duo Lusts will open the show (Rebecca’s introduction to them is here), to be followed by rap collective Section Boyz. London five-piece Pumarosa have already announced an autumn 2016 support slot for SXSW 2015 hit act Gengahr and will feature in the middle of this final night lineup.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/XA97m6L2-Dc[/youtube]

Deep-voiced Americana singer/songwriter Barns Courtney could easily follow in the successful SXSW footsteps of Hozier and James Bay before him. He’ll round out his trip to Austin with an appearance at the British Music Embassy, ahead of dance duo Formation (Rebecca’s introduction to them is here) and another tantalising to-be-announced special guest for the evening’s final set.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/ckNWtmkA2_g[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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