Welcome to the third installation of our South by Southwest 2013 recaps! The Wake Radio team went off to Austin, Texas over spring break to the nation’s largest music, film, and interactive conference / festival. We’re back and well-rested in Winston, but the spirit of SXSW hasn’t left us yet. Read on and find out what we were up to during our five-day stay in the great city of Austin!
Day 3: Thursday, March 14th
SXSW Keynote: Dave Grohl
Laura: How do you follow-up to a man and an act like Bruce Springsteen [SXSW 2012]? This was the question ringing through my mind when Dave Grohl was announced as the 2013 keynote. But as children of the ‘90s, let’s not forget that Grohl is much more than his just work in the Foo Fighters. Nirvana, guys! Them Crooked Vultures! This man has decades of punk under his fingernails. Grohl credited Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” as the record that changed his life, shared stories of his first attempts at multi-tracking, and discussed just how he’s made it through the music world up to today. I share with you this:
“There is no right or wrong. There is only, YOUR VOICE. Your voice screaming through an old Neve 8028 recording console, your voice singing from a laptop, your voice echoing from a street corner, a cello, a turntable, a guitar, serrato, a studer, It doesn’t matter. What matters most is that it’s YOUR VOICE. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s f*cking gone. Because every human being is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last . . .It’s there, if you want it. Now, more than ever, independence as a musician has been blessed by the advance of technology, making it easier for any inspired young musician to start their own band, write their own song, record their own record, book their own shows, write and publish their own fanzine (although now I believe you call it a “blog”?) . . . now more than ever, YOU can do this, it can be all yours. And left to your own devices, you can find YOUR VOICE.”
Musical Identity: What Music Taste Says About You
Crystal: Originally I thought this panel was going to be about some man telling me what kind of personality I have depending on my favorite music genres. Two minutes into the panel I realized that I was completely off-base as I learned this panel was about computer programs and algorithms and technology on the inter-webs. But it was so cool! We heard from Jim Lucchese of the Echo Nest, a music data-collecting company which powers some of the most well-known music applications such as Spotify and 8-Tracks. Echo Nest analyzes music data by tracking the listening habits of individual users of music applications. Their data can predict genre affinity, loyalty to specific bands, tendency to discover new music, and other important data points for generating the best results on music apps. Lucchese introduced us to two new websites that I have gotten hooked on since SXSW: TastemakerX and ThisIsMyJam. TastemakerX is often referred to as the fantasy football of music. It allows users to buy “stock” in specific artists, make a profit when the artists get big, and sell stock to improve net worth. The best part: bragging rights for discovering new artists. ThisIsMyJam is a music website that allows users to post a song or music video for up to a week that is their “jam.” It’s a great website to connect with users with similar music preferences and discover new bands.
Pam: Jim Lucchese, CEO of The Echo Nest made this panel extremely entertaining as well as fascinating by interacting the audience through quiz-like questions about the habits of music audiences based on data collected from his company. I was amazed that music listening habits could be used as data to predict character traits, political preferences, which can be used for marketing and advertising.
Laura: co-sign, one of our radio promoters, hooked me up with the opportunity to interview Disclosure. I cannot even describe the excitement I felt as I waited downstairs for their management to buzz Dale and me inside. Disclosure came under my radar in 2011 with the release of “Tenderly”. This is one of the major moments I treasure in my college radio experience. You can read the full interview here.
SXSW Interview: Clive Davis
Crystal: To be in the same room as such a music legend was unreal. Clive Davis has been one of the greatest influencers of American pop music for over 40 years. Davis spoke about his recent autobiography, The Soundtrack to My Life. He commanded the attention of everyone in the room and told story after story about the stars he has worked with over the course of his career. I found it most interesting to learn about production process for large record labels which operate differently from independent labels. In his experience in producing, Davis often had writers compose songs for artists who would then audition for individual songs, rather than each artist writing his or her own music. The greatest part of the interview, however, was when Davis played demo tracks of some of his greatest hits and made the audience guess which artist was singing.
SXSW Music Gear Expo
Laura: After my interview with Disclosure, I skipped over to the Music Gear Expo to play around with some new toys. Although I’ve demo-ed Propellerhead’s Figure many times, I found myself still drawn this app – it’s brilliantly sleek in functionality and design. Other favorites included testing out Ableton’s new Push and Eventide’s Space, which I have been in love with for years.
SXSW Interview: Kendrick Lamar
Dale: Fandom aside, hearing Kendrick Lamar’s views on success, his legacy, and the songwriting process was illuminating. Laura and I got to sit front row center!
Laura: This interview was fantastic in so many ways: Kendrick Lamar put serious thought into his career and how he envisioned good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Lunch at the Boiling Pot
Pam: The pictures say it all. Spicy. Delicious. All over my dress.
Crystal: Not gonna lie, the crawfish really creeped me out.
Laura: This was my first, and messy, experience with crawfish. I expected these babies to be more lobster- than shrimp-tasting but they were unique nonetheless! It was a great moment to sit back and enjoy some libations and Cajun-style goods in the midst of an astounding day. Note: Pam had to ask for a bib!
Flashbulb Fires & Fierce Bad Rabbit, Shangri-La
Pam: After loads of sausage, corn, and crawfish, I cleaned up and walked with Crystal and Laura to meet up with Jesse from Vitriol Promotions. After having so many great phone conversations about music and more, it was great to meet him and his fellow band member at Shangri-La. We ended up chatting while watching Flashbulb Fires and Fierce Bad Rabbit perform.
Ghostly International / Flowerbooking Co-Showcase, Holy Mountain.
Laura: Ghostly International is my favorite record label, hands down. Based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, this label has got a roster of stellar artists: Tycho, School of Seven Bells, Lusine, Com Truise, Beacon, Shigeto, and Gold Panda to name a few. Their company also showcases some fine works of art and design like those of Andy Gilmore, Michael Cina, Matthew Shlian, Charles Bergquist, and Sougwen Chung. Heathered Pearls, known to many as Jakub a contributor of Tycho’s blog, retweeted me and I felt nothing shy of a giddy little child on Christmas day.
Check out Matthew Shlian on having some fun with paper folding on Sesame Street:
TOKiMONSTA, Republic Live
Dale: I went to the north side of the city to see TOKiMONSTA perform again, and to see if I could listen to her mind-blowing set from Tuesday. Unfortunately, she didn’t perform the same set, but she did get a chance to really show off her mixing skills and she did not disappoint.
Said The Whale, Brass House
Pam: One of the promoters I talk to every week is Oscar, who works for Planetary. I had met up with him briefly on Tuesday night at Hype Hotel, but the long-anticipated meetup hilariously occurred in bathroom line. Then, we got free drinks, ate the free tacos, and then Oscar took advantage of the free massages. Since I saw Oscar for maybe a total of 10 minutes the night before, I was looking forward to seeing Oscar again at Said the Whale! The Planetary Group promotes Said the Whale, so Oscar was able to introduce Crystal and me to representatives of Hidden Pony, Said the Whale’s record label. Some of the highlights of that show included hanging out with Oscar, enjoying free drinks, marveling at the good looks of Tyler Bancroft, one of the guitarists and vocalists, and meeting the lovely Jaycelyn, Said the Whale’s keyboardist.
Crystal: Pam and I loved hanging out with the folks from Hidden Pony and Planetary at Said the Whale! I spoke with a guy from Planetary who used to work with college radio and heard his story from his first internship at the promotion group to his current position. The more I hung around the guys from Planetary, the more I became excited at the prospect of working in the music industry! Their passion for music is infectious and I hope to be just as excited about my career in the future.
Bonobo at Ninja Tune Showcase, Elysium
Dale: We didn’t get to stay for the entirety of the Bonobo show, but we did catch his opening acts Jesse Boykins III and Evy Jane. Evy Jane’s music had a great “wavy” element to it, with neo-soul flavor to it. Jesse Boykins III had a similar sound, but his performance was by far one of the most bohemian and energy filled spectacles that I experienced at SXSW! His set was not pristine in delivery, but it was mesmerizing to see an artist fully commit to his sound and connect with his songs with such a desperate intensity.
Laura: I awkwardly loitered in a corner during the Jesse Boykins III set, pleading to my phone in hopes that it would charge faster. But even from the far side of the room, I dug the set and I wish I had been in the crowd. Bonobo is wonderful in more ways than I can count. I’m assuming he had CDJs on deck but I also noticed he was using a few Novation Dicers to trigger different tracks. Sidenote: Shigeto, who is signed onto Ghostly, is touring with Bonobo this spring.
Express Rocks! showcase, Austin City Music Hall
Fitz and the Tantrums
Pam: I had never listened to Fitz and the Tantrums, but was so happy that Crystal encouraged me to come along and discover the greatness of this powerful indie soul band. I was enraptured with everything Noelle Scaggs’ did on stage. Her impassioned dancing and singing, Michael Fitzpatrick’s style and vocals, and James King’s bold brass made me fall in love with Fitz and the Tantrums.
Crystal: Fitz and the Tantrums was the band I was most looking forward to seeing at SXSW and they did not let me down. As a self-proclaimed lover of soul music, I was ready to dance all night with Fitz. The band has a unique setup featuring a baritone saxaphone that carries the groovy funk of each track. The group played the classics such as “MoneyGrabber” and new tracks from their upcoming album, More Than Just a Dream. Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelee Scagg’s command the stage with their performance that includes everything from funky dance moves to unbelievably powerful vocals. Also the venue, Austin Music Hall, encouraged everyone to draw on the walls, so naturally, Pam and I doodled kittens and fish.
City and Colour
Pam: I loved seeing Dallas Green perform with a full band. Many of Green’s popular recordings are beautifully soft solo acoustics, but City and Colour was rocking. It was so neat to see this variation in style!
Dale: This was my first time seeing the band live and they were PHENOMENAL. I haven’t been that impressed with a vocalist in very long time. His voice cut through the venue like a knife. #DallasGreen
Laura: An absolute yes to Dallas Green. This brought back a lot of feelings and memories, but mostly just feelings.
Crystal: I liked his Canadian Tuxedo.But in all seriousness, it was awesome to see Dallas Green perform live. His music was much more upbeat, but just as hauntingly beautiful.
Tegan & Sara
Laura: Speaking of all things Canadian, duo Tegan & Sara performed a great set, showcasing their new album Heartthrob. They also tossed in a few throwback tracks from older albums. Back last summer I was running some errands around NYC when I ran into Tegan & Sara, and I asked them what to expect for Heartthrob. Sara told me it was pop-heavy, so I’d like to say she got it pretty right. Anyhow, it was great to finally see them on the stage!
Telekinesis, Avenue on Congress Rooftop
Pam: Telekinesis, headed by lead singer and drummer Michael Benjamin Lerner, is an indie pop rock band currently signed to Merge Records. I only caught part of their show, but enjoyed all that I heard! While their recorded sound is fairly clean, their live performance was a fair bit grittier and lo-fi, which produced kilowatts of power and energy, which electrified the crowd.
Generationals, Red Eyed Fly
Pam: While Crystal headed for round two of Local Natives, I was set on seeing Generationals perform. This indie rock duo from New Orleans pulled of a great show and I was psyched to hear my three favorite songs.
Local Natives, Mohawk Outdoor
Crystal: So after the previous night of seeing Local Natives, I decided to go back for seconds. The venue was packed and I barely made it in, but thankfully I did! Once again, Local Natives did not let me down. This night, however, they played more of their old songs and I was elated. It was a dynamite choice to see them a second time.