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(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #128: Morgxn

 
By on Thursday, 27th April 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Editor Mary and I started off the Friday morning of  SXSW 2017 on the expansive lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel for the wonderful and well-attended BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch. Mary had to leave early for some other Friday engagements, but I stayed on for the whole showcase of talented singer/songwriters, not the least of whom was the show’s final performer, Los Angeles pop songwriter Morgxn.

Earlier this month, Morgxn (who pronounces it as “Morgan”) dropped a brand new single called ‘xx’. Take a listen to it just below, then read on for Morgxn’s reflections on this year’s SXSW, his early music-related memories, and the one song that pushes all his emotional buttons.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/fOIIAE14hgg[/youtube]

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Soulful, tethered, big.

Was this your first time at SXSW? Were you nervous / excited / anxious about it? Did the festival live up to your expectations?
It was my first time, but I went into it ready to have fun and show up. It was like music summer camp and I miss it already.

Name something you had packed in your suitcase for the trip to Austin that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
I had my own travel incense case. My hotel was a sanctuary.

What were some of the fun tourist/sight-seeing things you did in Austin during SXSW?
Ate BBQ at Lambert’s and am still feeling it . . .

Did you get the chance to see any other bands or artists play during SXSW? Who were your favourites?
Charlotte Cardin was my take away moment.  [She was a favourite of mine too; check out our coverage right back here. – CC]

If we had run into you in a downtown Austin bar, we’d have offered to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
Mezcal neat.

What was your favourite album from the last year and why?
James Blake‘s ‘The Colour in Anything’. Tone/soul/rhythm/emotion/texture/cohesion.

What are your post-SXSW plans? Any touring, recording, other activities on the horizon?
I’ve released a remix of ‘Hard Pill to Swallow’ by GreatGoodFineOK. They flipped the song in such a cool way. I am releasing songs from my EP ‘Vital’ as singles, and I’m simultaneously in the studio working on my record because I don’t sit still well and all of it is a part of my process – recording/releasing/touring… they go together for me.

Now, onto our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘A House is Not a Home’. I think Luther [Vandross] was my first discovery of soul and heartache.

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Oh Susanna.’

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYiXyZwgPB8[/youtube]

What song makes you laugh?
‘MacArthur Park’ – Donna Summer.

What song makes you cry?
‘MacArthur Park’ – Donna Summer.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
‘MacArthur Park’ – Donna Summer.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
‘MacArthur Park’ – Donna Summer.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d
written yourself?
‘MacArthur Park’ – Donna Summer. [Morgxn helpfully provided me with a YouTube link for this song. I think maybe he wanted us to have a listen? Check it out just below. — CC]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF_o7aSjl_E[/youtube]

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Patti Smith.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Drinking coffee, going mad.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Stevie Wonder, ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ (disc 2) for ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ on repeat.

Special thanks, once again, to Jodie for arranging this e-mail q&a. You can read our past collection of Quickfire Questions (and their answers), including several from artists who showcased at SXSW 2017, right back here.

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #127: Brayton Bowman

 
By on Wednesday, 26th April 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Editor Mary and I spent Friday morning of SXSW 2017 at the lovely BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch on the lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin. Mary had to duck out early that day, but one of the outstanding artists I saw on the later part of that showcase was alt-pop singer Brayton Bowman, who recently dropped his autobiographical mixtape ’22 Minutes Later’.

Bowman was kind enough to answer our (SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions via e-mail after the festival ended, as a follow up to our Acoustic Brunch feature. I’ve done only very light editing on his responses, as I think Bowman’s writing style reflects some of the more distinctive aspects of his personality. Read on to find out what he had to say.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky . . .)
Stanky, soulful and sassy? [I’d agree with this assessment! — CC]

Was this your first time at SXSW? Were you nervous / excited / anxious about it? Did the festival live up to your expectations?
Yeah, it was my first time at South-by. I wasn’t so much nervous as I was anxious to get there and get started. Performing is without a doubt my favorite part of being a musician and I don’t get to do it often enough, and I was eager as fuck. lol x

Name something you had packed in your suitcase for the trip to Austin that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
A miniature sheepskin rug from IKEA.

What were some of the fun tourist/sight-seeing things you did in Austin during SXSW?
People watching will always be my favorite “tourist” activity.

Did you get the chance to see any other bands or artists play during SXSW? Who were your favourites?
Honestly, there were so many dope artists I lost count. Michael Blume was a stand out for me, tho. You can’t wear all white and SING DOWN at the same time and expect me not to notice. x

If we had run into you in a downtown Austin bar, we’d have offered to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
Pre show: WATER. water? H2O /// Post? a vodka soda with a lime plz.

What was your favourite album from the last year and why?
JoJo‘s ‘Mad Love’, sure I’m biased because I love her, but I haven’t had an album reach out and smack me in my face like that in a while. I’m so proud of her it’s sickening. x

What are your post-SXSW plans? Any touring, recording, other activities on the horizon?
Finishing an album, playing shows here & there. Stay tuned. x

Now, onto our usual list of Quickfire Questions . . .

What song is your earliest musical memory?
Playing the piano in my living room with my mom.

What was your favourite song as a child?
Anything Britney Spears . . .

What song makes you laugh?
Wow, this is a great question. I can’t think of any off the top of my head but I need to find one ’cause who doesn’t love to giggle?

What song makes you cry?
‘Love Me, Love Me Not’. It’s this beautiful contemporary musical theatre song by Joey Contreras. Natalie Weiss sings it and it’s always made me weep, idk why. x

[youtube]https://youtu.be/GfjB0y2J5ss[/youtube]

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love?
This is so cliché, but I have to be real and say it’s a song of mine called ‘Kustom Made.’ Pretty sure it was the first time I’ve ever written an actual love song.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/he1mQfboozo[/youtube]

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Wow, I sound like such a narcissist. I do most of my writing when I’m frustrated or upset, & listening back to my tunes almost helps me look objectively at my anger and be at peace with my feelings. I try not to listen to other people’s music when I’m pissed cause I feel like it would tape the experience of their art. I keep my feelings in the journal until they turn into a song. x

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Honestly, everything my friend April Bender has ever written.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
David Foster Wallace & Alan Ginsberg. x

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
The thought scares me so much I can’t even consider the possibility… but my husky would
probably find a way to work in the kitchen so I could grub 24/7. x

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
‘Frank’, Amy Winehouse.

Special thanks to Jodie for arranging this e-mail q&a. You can read our archive of Quickfire Questions and their answers, including loads from artists who showcased at SXSW 2017, back through here.

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #126: Michael Blume

 
By on Tuesday, 25th April 2017 at 11:00 am
 

On the Friday morning of SXSW 2017, Mary and I were invited to attend the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch on the lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin. “Progressive r&b” singer Michael Blume was the change-up pitch in the middle of the Acoustic Brunch lineup, shaking things up after a pair of performances by country artists Devin Dawson and Caitlyn Smith, and setting the stage for pop-centric acts Brayton Bowman and Morgxn.

Following Blume’s intense, riveting set on the otherwise mellow Acoustic Brunch, we asked him to answer a post-festival version of our (SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions via e-mail. Read his replies below to find out about his SXSW experience, his plans for the immediate future, and the academic background that makes Michael Blume unique among his fellow SXSW 2017 showcasing acts.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Progressive, soulful, honest.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/UCr6TYuFI8k[/youtube]

Was this your first time at SXSW? Were you nervous / excited / anxious about it? Did the festival live up to your expectations?
This was my first time!  I was excited to check it out after hearing so much – it was cool and definitely was something I could not understand until I experienced it firsthand!

Name something you had packed in your suitcase for the trip to Austin that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Two steamers – one for my voice and one for my clothing.

What were some of the fun tourist/sight-seeing things you did in Austin during SXSW?
After we finished all the gigs, I stayed to hang for a day with a friend of mine who lives in Austin. He took me to this beautiful creek, and we swam and laid out in the sun. It was a very Mark Twain moment, and I lived.

Did you get the chance to see any other bands or artists play during SXSW? Who were your favourites?
I actually didn’t get to see as much music as I would have liked – I was pretty wiped by the end of the day.  But I did catch a part of the Chloe x Halle set at The Fader Fort and those girls can singggggg.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/0jX83VZshws[/youtube]

If we had run into you in a downtown Austin bar, we’d have offered to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
I’m not a big drinker!  Maybe a little champagne, but I’m tipsy after 1 or 2 sips.

What was your favourite album from the last year and why?
Definitely have more than one – one that comes to mind right now is James Blake ‘The Colour in Anything’.  I love his use of minimal lyric with complex textures.

What are your post-SXSW plans? Any touring, recording, other activities on the horizon?
I am working on my debut full length album!!! I am in the studio all day, everyday these days and I am running there right now actually.  Album comes out this summer and I am playing Governor’s Ball, Firefly, and Lollapalooza festivals! [You can find a list of Blume’s upcoming live dates on his official Web site. – CC]

Now, onto our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
1st grade choir!!

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘As’ by Stevie Wonder.

What song makes you laugh?
‘Work it’ by Missy Elliot.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/cjIvu7e6Wq8[/youtube]

What song makes you cry?
‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ by Harry Chapin.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)

I’ve never fallen in love.  Check my upcoming album for more details on that one. [If that doesn’t pique your curiosity, nothing will! – CC]

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Aretha Franklin ‘Amazing Grace’. The whole album is my go-to find myself, calm down, have a moment with the universe album.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
HA!  This is a funny question.  I mean . . . probably Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You.’

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXQViqx6GMY[/youtube]

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Definitely can’t narrow this to one . . . James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Cultural Studies professor. [This is no joke; I’ve read that Blume studied at Yale. – CC]

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Aretha Franklin, ‘Amazing Grace Live’.

Special thanks to Jodie for arranging this e-mail q&a. You can read our archive of Quickfire Questions and their answers, including a load of them with artists who showcased at SXSW 2017, through this link.

 

SXSW 2017: Saturday night’s fond farewell to SXSW at the British Music Embassy – 18th March 2017

 
By on Monday, 24th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

In contrast to the rest of the hectic week, the Saturday night of SXSW 2017 was a fairly relaxed one, at least for my weary feet. According to my smartwatch, I had logged over 87,000 steps and almost 45 miles of walking distance over the course of the week, and I was happy to be staying in one place for the evening. Even happier because that place happened to be the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, which hosted the BBC Music / UK Department of International Trade showcase. Mary’s additional thoughts on this showcase are back here.

Anna Meredith internal

The first performer of Saturday night was Scottish art-pop composer Anna Meredith. She and her rather unusual band (comprising cello, electric guitar, tuba and drums along with Meredith herself on synthesiser, clarinet, xylophone and vocals) made a truly joyful noise on stage, starting the showcase on an incredible high. Meredith has carved herself a unique niche on the classicial-popular music continuum in Britain, and the presence of NPR’s Bob Boilen at Latitude 30 on the night may well indicate that Meredith’s star is on the rise here in America as well. NPR recently featured ‘Dowager’, from Meredith’s 2016 debut LP ‘Varmints’, on All Songs TV.

Alice Jemima internal

Singer/songwriter Alice Jemima created a very different mood in her set, one with significantly fewer bells and whistles. Jemima’s stage presence was reserved, but in a flirty kind of way, and the same could be said of her songs. They catch your attention in a subtle way, with clever lyrics, trippy electro-dance rhythms and Jemima’s softly soothing voice. ‘Cocoa Liquor’, from her recent self-titled debut album, was one of the standout tracks on her set; you can find out more about the song in my post-performance interview with Jemima.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Xp0Dnsgocf0[/youtube]

Aquilo internal

While I was outside chatting with Ms. Jemima, Lancashire pop duo Aquilo were taking the stage inside Latitude 30. By the time our short interview was complete, the venue had filled to capacity, and we had some difficulty getting back inside. We arrived back to find that Aquilo’s soulful pop sound, defined by Tom Higham’s falsetto vocals and Ben Fletcher’s deft keyboard playing, had quickly set the entire room swooning and swaying.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Rh__vTd7CoY[/youtube]

SuperGlu

I’m not a big fan of so-called slacker rock, but Manningtree four-piece SuperGlu brought an unexpected and infectious energy to the genre in their live set Saturday evening at the British Music Embassy. Bold, colorful, and never too serious, this band is just flat out fun to watch. Take a listen to their anything-but-sleepy latest track ‘Dreams’ just below.

Sundara Karma Oscar internal

The midnight slot on the Saturday night showcase was occupied by Reading alt-rockers Sundara Karma. Frontman Oscar “Lulu” Pollock gave us a bit more banter between songs on this night than he had at Stubb’s the night before, and the injection of character was quite welcome. He’s a curious persona, is Lulu, elusive in some ways but nevertheless engaging. His three bandmates didn’t do much speaking, but it quickly became clear that they didn’t need to. Their slick, seemingly effortless playing style is almost unintentionally flashy, yet visually and sonically mesmerizing. [Check out Carrie’s interview with Pollock and drummer Haydn Evans in Austin through here. – Ed.]

[youtube]https://youtu.be/zaevPi1nEFA[/youtube]

LIFE internal

BBC 6 Music presenter Steve Lamacq did his final duty for the evening, introducing the last band on the bill, Hull punk rockers LIFE. He was clearly excited to see them play, even rubbing his hands together in delight at one point after he stepped offstage and before he joined in the moshing. Once the band started, it was easy to understand Lamacq’s eagerness. This band is unapologetic, unalloyed punk, with none of the qualifiers (folk punk, post-punk) we so often see in this genre-bending era. Lead vocalist Mez Green really played up that rebel quality for the gathering of cameras at the front of the stage, but it felt authentic to their in-your-face, devil-may-care sound. The photo above was taken just before Green descended from the stage and mounted the bar, prowling its length like a predatory cat and sending his audience into a fit of wild, ecstatic dancing to close out the final night at the British Music Embassy.

Though Mary and I left Latitude 30 on a euphoric high, chatting and laughing about the great bands we’d heard, I couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of sadness at leaving it all behind for another year. The British Music Embassy has played host to some of the best up-and-coming artists and certainly some the most exciting showcases in my SXSW experience; this year was no exception. So, rather than goodbye, I said a silent “au revoir” to the venue, to the people inside, to the artists who graced the stage, and to SXSW for another year.

 

(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2345: Sylvan Esso

 
By on Thursday, 20th April 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

While their appearance last year was a surprise, Sylvan Esso‘s return to Austin for SXSW 2017 was, this time anyway, anticipated. The American electropop duo will be releasing their sophomore effort ‘What Now’ next Friday on Loma Vista Recordings. To celebrate the new record, they’ve unveiled a promo video for LP track ‘Radio’, which itself was made public as a single late last year. In the promo, the high speed world seen on the motorways of America at night are contrasted against the high intensity world of models. There’s probably some philosophical message behind this video. I hope, anyway. Watch the music video for Sylvan Esso’s single ‘Radio’ below. To read more on the duo on TGTF, use this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=effZUjig794[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2017: A relaxing Saturday afternoon at El Sapo with Music for Listeners – 18th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

The Saturday afternoon of SXSW 2017 was brimming with sunshine and cool breeze, a perfect cocktail for outdoor activity. I took the opportunity to break away from the buzz of downtown Austin and head to local favourite burger joint El Sapo for the final day of the Music for Listeners showcases, hosted by our friends Michael Thomas and Orlando Torres. As usual, they had a great list of artists scheduled to play, including bands from the UK and around the world.

"SWIM

The first act on Saturday’s lineup was also the first ever Greek band to play on the Music for Listeners showcase, electronic trio Someone Who Isn’t Me. This all-female trio caught my attention instantly with their sleek combination of vocals, synths, and guitar sounds, melded into a fascinating art-pop aesthetic. I caught the three band members, Marilena Orfanou, Maria Hatzakou and Gina Dimakopoulou, after their set for a quick interview, where I learned more about the band’s unique origins and their post-SXSW plans. Take a listen to their dramatic instrumental track ‘Never Find It’ just below.

"JOB

Northern Irish alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds played a spirited full band set at El Sapo on the Saturday, including popular songs from her debut album ‘Palma Violets’ as well as a nifty cover of Foster the People’s 2011 megahit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’. TGTF covered Jealous of the Birds briefly at SXSW 2016 and more extensively at SXSW 2017; you can read all our past writing on her right back here.

"Be

I didn’t know what to expect from Scottish alt-pop trio Be Charlotte, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard on Saturday afternoon. Their teenaged frontwoman Charlotte Brimner might look cutesy on first glance, but her soft vocals are cut with hard-edged synth arrangements and precise dance rhythms. Amazingly, despite her relative youth, this wasn’t Brimner’s first time at SXSW; she took part in an Interactive panel session called ‘Making Music Physical Again’ back in 2015. Be Charlotte’s intensely groovy human analogy ’Machines that Breathe’ was a highlight of the afternoon.

"COF

Welsh band Chain of Flowers took a bit of a moody turn as we moved into late afternoon, but perhaps that’s to be expected from a band who shares its name with a song by The Cure. The similarity doesn’t end with the moniker, though Chain of Flowers have a murkier, thicker-textured darkness to their sonic quality, and frontman Josh Smith’s vocals convey more raw torture than sullen detachment. The band played a mix of new songs and tracks from their 2015 self-titled debut album, and it seems apropros, given their massive and heavy sound, that one of their newer tracks is titled ‘The Wall’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/SJL4sORTW9E[/youtube]

Mary had seen Chain of Flowers Thursday afternoon at the British Music Embassy as part of a rock showcase there, but they were new to me, so I stopped their guitarist, Ross Jones, for a quick chat after the set. He told me that the band are currently promoting the re-pressed version of their debut album, after a less-than-satisfactory record label experience with its original release. However, he emphasised that they do have new material ready and waiting, with a potential single release this spring and a full LP to follow. In the meantime, Chain of Flowers are scheduled to play a run of live dates in England starting next week. (You can find the details here.)

"Catholic

While I was talking with Jones, the growing crowd at El Sapo congregated in front of the stage area for Scottish rock band Catholic Action. Formed as a spin-off of sorts from SXSW 2014 showcasing band Casual Sex, Catholic Action have quickly come into their own with singles ‘L.U.V.’ and ‘Rita Ora’. Their pop-tinged brand of rock was much more immediately accessible than Chain of Flowers’ wall of sound, and they quickly had punters’ feet tapping and heads bopping along to songs like their latest single ‘Doing Well’. Mary caught the group twice Friday night, first at the Glasgow Buckaroo at the Mohawk, then at the British Music Embassy at the BBC Introducing showcase.

 

"Juanita

The afternoon was slowly fading into evening by this point, and I decided to stay at El Sapo to see one final artist, Australian singer/songwriter Juanita Stein. Stein is already well known as the lead singer for London-based indie rock band Howling Bells, and she did play one song from that part of her repertoire, along with covers from Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison that give some indication of her solo style. Indeed, her recent single ‘Shimmering’ has more than a hint of Orbison’s dark bluesy-rock vibe, though she didn’t play enough of her solo tracks for me to get a good idea. Stein’s solo album ‘America’ is due out later this year, so if you’re curious, be on the lookout. Juanita Stein also performed as part of Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery I Tuesday afternoon at B.D. Riley’s; read Mary’s review of her performance through here.

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

The stellar lineup of acts at the Music for Listeners day parties are always a treat, especially for those of us who love UK artists, and this year was no exception. Special thanks to Michael, Orlando and everyone at El Sapo. We hope to see you again next year!

 
 
 

About Us

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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