Alas, my week at the musical playground better known as SXSW 2016 has come to an end. From March 11th-20th, Austin drew in over 80,000 people to its city center for a smorgasbord of nonstop visual and aural stimulation. I'd only ever been to Austin once before, for the infamous Austin City Limits Festival, which was a much more controlled event, to say the least.

For those who have never been to SXSW, it is literally what I'd envision a musical apocalypse to look like. Picture thousands of musicians from all over the world, lugging their gear in a zombie-like fashion, throughout the already busy streets of Austin. Chances are they're on their way to their 5th set of the day, and will probably have another 10 more sets to play that week throughout the dozens of venues the city has to offer. There were performances in parking lots, random peoples' houses, street corners, hotel lobbies, back alleyways and patio seating areas of restaurants. Anywhere there was an electrical outlet, whether it was out of the back of someone's van or at Stubb's, there was an opportunity to encounter your new favorite artist.

Already hailing from a city that doesn't sleep, a 1:30 a.m. set time at the Hype Hotel wasn't anything I couldn't handle. However, the lines to get into some of the shows that the larger venues had to offer, had people waiting for at least 3 hours - longer if you didn't have a music badge. I overheard one poor couple giving up after waiting for two and a half hours to see BØRNS.

My journey to Texas was not only to discover and photograph some of the best new names in music but also to sit down with some SXSW newcomers and learn about them and their experience in ATX.


SXSW 2016: Need To Know Artists

ME-9

Methyl Ethel
For fans of: Tame Impala, Wild Honey, Polish Club
Favorite set of SXSW: Harriet Brown

On my first morning in Austin, I met up with Thom, Jake and Chris of Methyl Ethel, who recently caught my attention with their cover of Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me A River'. The three-piece indie-pop group hailing from Perth, Australia were a notable act at 2015's CMJ festival, despite having literally no U.S. label backing, and are just coming off a tour with Courtney Barnett. I asked founding member and front man, Jake Webb, the origin of the band's name and how they came to be.

"If you misspell the band's name in Google, you'll actually come up with a bunch of links to chemistry websites," Webb laughs, "but I used to work with my dad doing fiberglass installations, and it's actually one of the chemicals we used. I just liked the name, but wanted to put a different kinda twist on it, so I changed up the spelling, giving it a bit of character."

When speaking about their influences, Thom recounts that they've been listening to a lot of Franz Ferdinand lately, but are truly influenced by pop music, and 'anything that makes ya move!'. Jake quickly noted that they're also heavily influenced by music that's also 'completely out there'.

The band had already played 3 sets at the festival by the time I got to sit down with them, and they had only been in town for just over a day. "It's only our second time to the U.S. but our first time playing SXSW, and it's kind of a rat race - in a good way. I feel like it's great preparation for when we come back to play more shows," Chris explained.


Lissie

Lissie
For fans of: Regina Spektor, Brandi Carlisle, Lenka
Favorite set of SXSW: Penny & Sparrow

Later on in the day, I got to meet up at the Frye Days showcase at Swan Dive, with folk-rock songstress Lissie, known to some as 'The Great Lississippi'. This nickname, she told me, was bestowed to her while playing at her second SXSW festival. 2016 marks her fourth SXSW, and she says, "every year gets better and better."

Reminiscing about her first time playing SXSW, she explained how nerve-wracking it was, especially with how many people the festival draws each year. "But when I played my second year here, there was a bit more buzz around me, and I knew the ropes a bit better, so yeah, I'd say now playing my 4th year it's super familiar for me. Still such a blast."

Lissie is embarking on a small tour around the US in late March and playing a few festivals this summer as well, before possibly taking a little hiatus. "We'll see if I'll actually want to take a break by then," she laughs.


Fickle Friends

Fickle Friends
For fans of: Holychild, Grace Mitchell
Favorite set of SXSW: Honne

Day two of my SXSW brought me to a different part of downtown Austin, and introduced me to one of my favorite new acts, Fickle Friends, a five-piece band, hailing from Brighton. Lead singer Nati Shiner met her bandmates at Bimm University in Brighton, where they all eventually began cutting class to tour.

Guitarist Chris Hall remembers, "Professors couldn't stand us when we were there, because we were never there. But now that we're kind of getting on the radar, and our music is getting recognized, they're missin' us in their classrooms." Fickle Friends are frequently heard on BBC Radio 1, especially with their popularity on Hype Machine and SoundCloud.

SXSW 2016 brought Fickle Friends to America for the first time as a band, and they couldn't be more thrilled with the cultural differences they observed over the course of their week in Texas. "My phone doesn't actually work here!" Nati laughs, "So, I really get to detach from social media a bit, which is nice. I get to really absorb Austin. Everyone is so lovely here! You get people saying hello to you on the street, and genuinely asking you how are you. It's nice."

After their week in Austin, the band will head to California to begin production on their debut album, and hope to tour the U.S. at some point relatively soon.


Oscar

Oscar
For fans of: Morrissey, The Magnetic Fields
Favorite set of SXSW: Hinds

Later that day, I found myself in a pedi-cab en route to Urban Outfitter's back lot, which served as a super hip venue showcasing bands like Hinds, Sunflower Bean, and British pop singer, OSCAR.

I was introduced to Oscar Scheller inside of a beautifully decorated tipi, where we sat and spoke about his whirlwind of a year. "I was studying art at St. Martin's college, and just found myself coping with life a lot better with music as my form of expression. I was writing and recording songs, instead of doing any of my coursework - I was just having a bit of a funny time at school, and just felt really frustrated. But I didn't have any of that frustration with music." While living in London, he recorded his first EP (which features his hit 'Daffodil Days') on his MacBook, and the rest is history. Within no time, he was signed to record label Witchita Recordings.

Oscar went on to tell me about how he was playing music since age six, and that his parents made sure that music was a big part of his life.

This was also Oscar's first time at SXSW, and his past week in Austin was quite reminiscent to the past year he's had. "It's been really crazy, actually. The first night we got here, there was this super buzzy show we played for PRS and BBC Radio 1, and that was really great. The second show was a little bit more chilled out, but had such a lovely vibe. We played at some day parties... we played at a frat house, which was insane!"

Oscar's next move is to promote his album on a tour throughout the UK festival circuit, as well as a triumphant return to the U.S. supporting The Vaccines and Bloc Party on their tour in May.


Billie Marten

Billie Marten
For fans of: Lapsley, Rae Morris
Favorite set of SXSW: Joseph, Muna

My last interview of SXSW was with 16-year-old Billie Marten, hailing from Ripon in North Yorkshire. I first heard Billie's music while stuck for 3 hours on the Dartford Crossing, and instantly fell in love. Playing guitar and singing since she was 6-years-old, Marten's first single 'Ribbon' was released by Burberry's curation program, just prior to her fifteenth birthday.

I met with Billie at her hotel, for a nice afternoon by the pool.

"SXSW can only be described as 'overwhelming'. It's hit all of my senses, all at once. It's very different to England, so it's the complete opposite of where I'm from. I absolutely loved it," she explained of her first SXSW experience.

"It's magical just walking around the city, and coming across incredible music. It's an amazing experience. There's nothing like SXSW."

After Austin, Billie will be working on new music, and playing throughout the UK festival circuit this summer.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SXSW is an experience that is catered to lovers of art, but especially, lovers of life. There is an air about Austin that screams 'wild' and 'carefree', and in a sense, leaves you with a feeling of invincibility. Overwhelming? Absolutely. But between the incredible people I've met over the past week, the conversations I've had with them, and of course, the consumption of tacos, I can't see another year of my life passing without me attending SXSW.


SB-13

Sunflower Bean

SERATONES-4

Seratones

RS-97

Rae Sremmurd

SB-6

Sunflower Bean

RS-79

Rae Sremmurd

RS-90

Rae Sremmurd

RS-95

Rae Sremmurd

PATV-4

Public Access T.V.

PROTAGONIST-4

Protagonist

ME-7

Methyl Ethel

KG-5

Kevin Garrett

HINDS-6

Hinds

JG-7

Jack Garratt

FF-6

Fickle Friends

HINDS-4

Hinds

DNCE-5

DNCE

DROWNERS-3

Drowners

DAYWAVE-6

Daywave

DAYWAVE

Daywave

BC-11

Barns Courtney

BC-21

Barns Courtney

BC-3

Barns Courtney

BC-3

Barns Courtney


Barns Courtney

Barns Courtney


Billie Marten

Billie Marten


Lee of Rae Sremmurd

Lee of Rae Sremmurd


Methyl Ethel

Methyl Ethel


Protagonist

Protagonist


Seratones

Seratones


Sunflower Bean

Sunflower Bean


SXSW
SXSW-39
SXSW-50
SXSW-38