As March approaches, so too does the world’s largest music conference. Right about now 2000+ artists from around the world are fine tuning their performances, all in eager anticipation for Austin’s SXSW festival. The two-week extravaganza is a sprawling music, film and interactive experience that transforms the Texan city into a creative nirvana.
Those artists having proved their worth are out to impress the global gathering of industry big wigs converging on the city. Having launched the meteoric careers of the biz’s biggest names, SXSW is a vital step in cracking the tough nut that is the American market. From Brooklyn dance lords LCD Soundsystem to interstellar pop royalty in Katy Perry, SXSW is the nurturing spark needed for an aspiring career.
In celebration and utter excitement, here are six at SXSW worth keeping an eye on in 2019.
From the dimly lit haunts of London comes Puma Blue’s seductive swoon. His neo-jazz a woozy intoxication, delivered first class from the soul. It’s a soothing buzz, eerily reminiscent of a sedated Jeff Buckley. Puma Blue is the project of Jacob Allen. Alumni of the BRIT school, Allen has a technical ability that surpasses the average bedroom producer—actually, most bedroom producers for that matter. Upon listening, one can’t help but imagine a rainy day in with a loved one. His lofi, hip-hop infused beats are tailor made for RnB collaboration—it’s only a matter of time before superstars come rapping on his door.
Amyl & The Sniffers
Having just pocketed Levi’s $30 000 music grant, Amyl & The Sniffers are well on their way to musical prosperity. While touting the most hilarious name around, the Melbourne punk four piece have all the swagger of an early 70s sharpie—lead singer Amy Taylor enforces with a snarled pub rock feminism. The rambunctious lot have signed to King Gizzard’s Flightless Records and toured both America and Europe extensively. With their debut album set for release in early 2019, it seems all the wheels are in motion for Amyl and Sniffers. They’re hands down contenders for 2019’s biggest Australian breakthrough.
In continuation of humorous band names comes Stockholm’s Viagra Boys. Though where the name may jest, their music begs to differ. A post-punk deluge upturning the failed masculine patriarch, the very name Viagra Boys is “a comment on the failed male role in today’s society”. Externally hard with a soft core, Viagra Boys rain down in chaotic dissonance and thick grooves. Lead singer Sebastian Murphy is a primitive mix of Iggy Pop and demented Elvis. While definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, Viagra Boys are fastening their grasp on Europe’s best underground live experience. It won’t be too long until they surface and stake a claim on the world stage.
Nigerian born Funmi Ohiosumah, is the fiery embodiment of South London’s modern grime consciousness. Flohio’s is a fast-paced tongue lashing, ripe in socio-political awareness. Bolstered by metallic grime beats and off kilter production, the 25-year-old is tuned in—“Grenfell Tower couldn’t burn me out/ and I send mad love to who’s mourning now”. Hers is both important and powerful music, a feat rapidly catching fire throughout the creative and socio-political community. Naomi Campbell lauded her as one of “10 women changing our future” in Vogue Magazine. Rap in the United Kingdom is an eclectic force that refuses to be pigeon holed. It seems Flohio has become an intrinsic part of this vitality.
Somewhere between the slacker wit of Courtney Barnett and the guitar pop synonymous of their home country come The Beths. It’s no secret that New Zealand has a vital history of toe tapping, indie pop sing-alongs. With their invitation to SXSW, The Beths sit comfortably among the line-up’s best songwriters—a testament to the global appreciation for imaginative pop song-craft. The Beth’s walk a line between 90s nostalgia and modern vulnerability. Elizabeth Stokes leads with an infectious attitude.
Jitwam exists in a perpetual state of movement. Whether it’s sonics, genre or geographical location, his mystique is one unable to be pinned down. Indian born though raised in Australia, Jitwam spent the majority of his formative years traversing the world in exploration. From these experiences he took influence, an encyclopaedic skillset spawned and nurtured between London and New York. His is a kaleidoscopic concoction of house, hip-hop, soul, psychedelia and jazz. Having pricked the ears of legendary house producer Moodymann and UK based tastemaker Gilles Peterson, Jitwam’s soothing blend of warm textures need only be heard once before complete infatuation.
Let us know which artist you’ll be keeping an ear out for at this year’s SXSW.