Just like in high school and college sports, the music industry has become enamored and obsessed with discovering the next profound promise of potential. Originally started in 1987, SXSW has matured and blossomed into the premier talent showcase for musicians around the world. As we journey towards this incredible opportunity, we decided to take an in depth look at some of the thousands of up and coming artists who will be performing.
Anyone that has ever been or considered going to experience a massive event like this knows what it feels like when looking over the line up. It can almost feel like reading a foreign language, seeing bands listed that you have never heard of. That’s where we come in to help. This can be used as a planning guide for deciding who to catch for those of you lucky enough to be able to attend. For everyone else, this is intended to be used as a primer for armchair quarterback music aficionados.
This will all be towards us journeying together towards March, as we prepare to pick our Top 50 Indie Picks of SXSW 2012..
Soft Metals is a multi-disciplinary electronic duo from Portland, Oregon now residing in Los Angeles, California. Its members Ian Hicks and Patricia Hall were brought together through a common love of 1970s and 80s synthesizer music and began writing and recording songs together in the spring of 2009. Inspiration came to them by way of experimental electronic sounds, film soundtracks, early industrial music, minimal synth, house, techno, synth pop, krautrock, psychedelic rock, and shoegaze. Ian and Patricia share songwriting duties and compose the music together before writing lyrics and adding vocals. Their songs are built from moody, improvised sessions together using exclusively electronic instruments. The meaning of the raw music they make is explored and interpreted afterwards with lyrical themes ranging from life experience, films, literature, history, science, love, conflict, and death. Soft Metals prefer to express themselves freely rather than adhere to a particular genre. This freedom gives them a diverse sound somewhere between dance music, austere synthetic pop, and experimental electronic composition. Their two best known songs, “The Cold World Melts” and “Psychic Driving” are demonstrations of this varied sound. “The Cold World Melts” is driving, assertive, and passionate. “Psychic Driving” is delicate, introverted, and vulnerable. Some of their songs remain in their unpolished improvised form to pay homage to authenticity, spontaneity, the joy of sound, and experimentation while others are studio based exercises, fusing new and old production technologies.
Soft Metals is signed to Captured Tracks and released their first record, an 5 song EP titled “The Cold World Melts” in July 2010. Their debut self-titled album came out in July of 2011. FACT magazine called Soft Metals “one of the most accomplished and ambitious of the myriad new synth-pop acts coming out of the States.” The duo have played shows on both coasts of the US and in Mexico City. They have shared the stage with bands ranging from HEALTH and Nitzer Ebb to Glass Candy and Chromatics.
For fans of: Pictureplane, Grimes, Peaking Lights
Anthony Obi (born March 24, 1988) is a Nigerian-American rapper from, and based in Houston, Texas known as Fat Tony. He is affiliated with Greedhead and Home Skool Rekordz, but previously released the Love Life EP on Same Struggle Ent. and self-released the remainder of his discography.
Fat Tony’s debut album RABDARGAB was released October 19, 2010 and features production entirely from Tom Cruz (Shaka Girvan) of Atlanta based rap group Supreeme. The album features appearances by Murs, Negashi Armada aka Blunt Fang from Supreeme, Charly East, Bo. P, Kam Franklin, and Tom Cruz (Shaka Girvan). RABDARGAB is a reference to a late 1990s Houston Independent School District campaign aimed at elementary school students to promote literacy by offering $1 to students in exchange for book reports. The acronym stands for “Read a Book – Do A Report – Get a Buck.”With the release of this album Fat Tony ran a promotion entitled LISDARGAB (Listen, Do a Review, Get a Buck) where Fat Tony would send anyone who emailed him a review for RABDARGAB a dollar bill in the mail.
On his birthday March 24, 2011 he released a remix album entitled SCREWDARGAB. It was a “chopped-up, not slopped up” version of his debut album RABDARGAB remixed by legendary Houston based DJ OG RON C.
The album RABDARGAB was preceded by a mixtape release entitled RABDARGAB: The EPreview mixed by Fat Tony’s DJ (iPod Ammo). The mix tape featured collaborations with Das Racist, Juiceboxxx, HOSPITAL, Jade ♥, Tecla, Smash Bro, and more.
Fat Tony is currently preparing his as of yet untitled second album and a mixtape, both produced by Tom Cruz (Shaka Girvan). The mixtape will feature two upcoming singles “Good While It Lasted” and “Bad Habits” featuring Bun B and Nicholas Thorburn of Islands / Mister Heavenly / The Unicorns.
Fat Tony won the 2010, 2009 and 2008 Houston Press Music Awards’ Best Underground Hip Hop award, and has been recognized in URB’s Next 1000, a list of emerging new artists anticipated to breakthrough. He performed at Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2011. Fat Tony, whom lives in the Third Ward area of Houston, attended Carnegie Vanguard High School (Class of 2006) and the University of St. Thomas. He also studied as a communications major at the University of Houston. Fat Tony first gained prominence in Texas’ underground Hip Hop scene as a founding member of Houston based Hip Hop group The Low Ends. As a teenager he was known for organizing music events in Houston inviting regional and national bands such as The Ergs!, Joe Jitsu, The Rushmores, The Cocker Spaniels and other underground acts. He intentionally organized events featuring artists of various genres to bring forth an avenue for developing diverse tastes. For the often young audiences, they were getting their first sighting of underground and independent music.
Fat Tony’s debut solo EP release entitled the Love Life EP (released by Same Struggle Ent. on March 4, 2008) was spread to thousands due to its initial online release as a free download with a limited run pressing of 300 CDs. Reviews for the EP have been generally positive.
Fat Tony also works as a music journalist, currently writing for his blog. He has written for Hater magazine, Free Press Houston, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press and other publications as well.
For fans of: Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Devin The Dude
I still can’t believe that more people don’t know about this band yet. Hailing from the greater Athens-Atlanta-Asheville area, Reptar has been playing music ever since recorded history, but playing shows as Reptar since December 2008. Since then, the fast rising fabulous four has created quite a sensation around the Southeast. It all started with their debut 7″ recorded with producer Ben Allen (Sean P. Diddy Combs, Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective, and Matt & Kim). In 2011 they toured with Foster The People, Phantogram, Grouplove, and played at both Lollapollza and ACL. They put on an EP called Oblangle Fizz, Y’all.
Reptar likes to first and foremost make people dance, and have been likened to The Talking Heads, Animal Collective, Prince, Marky Mark, Lake, Air, and the Jackson 5. The band is made up of Andrew McFarland, a Brazilian native, classically trained snare drummer, and sophmore at UGA, Ryan Engleberger, who currently attends Dartmouth College in the Artic Circle majoring in Jaco Pastorius’ fretless bass, Graham Ulicny, a hernianted African Soukous guitarist and AstroBioElectroPhysics student at the University of North Carolina in Asheville, and William Kennedy, greatgodson to Herbie Hancock’s ARP 2600 and connosiour of fine chocolate (85% cocao or above) and sophmore at UGA. With Reptar’s powers combined, they can topple small buildings, smaltzy restaurants, and shmuppy next-door-neighbors with their devastating wall of synthesizers and samples. Their new record Body Faucet will be out May 1st.
Ryan Engelberger (bass)
William Kennedy (keys)
Andrew McFarland (drums)
Graham Ulicny (guitar, singing)
Poof Daunghty (percussion, keys)
For fans of: Chain Gang Of 1974, Dom, Miniature Tigers