If you don’t know what SXSW aka South By Southwest is by now, you’re either a) living under a rock or b) living under a rock. Anyways, to sum it up shortly, it’s essentially a 3 weeks long music, film & digital technology conference that happens in March in Austin, Texas every single year and is the cradle for every trend that leads the way in these aforementioned mediums every year. Pretty much every artist is down there showcasing what exciting new things they’re working on (all at the same time we should add), and with 2200+ artists confirmed at 100+ venues over the span of 6 days to make the rounds at, we’re talking about some serious controlled chaos going on here. This year, as we have for the past couple years, Blueprint is sending a squad down to check things out during music week & these are some of the things we’re excited to check out (in no particular order):
A couple years ago Skrillex was king of the castle at SXSW and this year it looks like he’s back to reclaim his throne. With a brand new album “RECESS” just unveiled and a huge Mothership tour announced, it looks as though SXSW will be the jump off point for Skrilly’s massive 2014 resurgence. He’ll be playing quite a few parties, namely 2 OWSLA showcases along with some of his label mates like Kill the Noise, Alvin Risk, Hundred Waters and will likely be involved in some more surprise appearances that the Skrillinator has come to known and loved for.
2. THE ILLMORE
SXSW veterans know this as the super secret after party mansion where all the people in the know end up every night. The secret’s certainly out now with guests over the past 2 years including Diplo, A$AP Rocky, Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa, Chance the Rapper, Steve Aoki, Zedd, Kendrick Lamar, A-Trak, Just Blaze, Baauer, Travis Scott, Big Sean, RL Grime, Waka Flocka, Vic Mensa, and more all performing in the comfort of the Illmore’s living room! This one’s “super exclusive invite only” and also really far away from where all the typical SXSW action happens, but it’s responsible for some truly memorable SXSW moments that just don’t happen elsewhere.
3. BOILER ROOM:
Ah the infamous Boiler Room. Red Bull’s signature global phenomenon that showcases some of the world’s most prolific electronic music producers & DJs with a bunch of lifeless people dancing behind them, of course, has to have its own take on the SXSW experience. Starting off quite humbly with a small house a few years ago, Boiler Room upped the ante last year by upgrading their digs to a massive warehouse. This year they continue the warehouse party vibes with a stellar line-up headlined by Four Tet and one of a kind back-to-back sets from Julio Bashmore & Omar S and more + a special appearance by the rapper Future. Look out for us on the livestream!
With “alt RnB” having gained such a strong foothold in the past couple years with male acts like the Weeknd, Frank Ocean & others leading the charge, there’s really yet to be a leading female voice since the 90’s renaissance with Lauryn Hill & Erykah Badu. Stepping up to the plate this year is Kelela. Bringing forward-thinking and experimental songwriting into a prismatic context that fuses popular and club music, Kelela’s ability to bridge the gap between RnB and underground club culture brought her to the top of numerous year-end lists (with her debut Cut 4 Me) and established her as one to watch for 2014. Collaborating with dance music’s avant garde/art kid crews Fade2Mind & Night Slugs for her backing tracks has really set her apart from the pack, and we are definitely expecting big things from her this year!
5. ISAIAH RASHAD
What Kendrick Lamar was at SXSW a few years ago is who Isaiah Rashad is at SXSW this year: the voice in Rap music everyone will be paying attention to. Marrying “Tennessee bounce with Death Row haze (plus a dash of ‘Ye-circa-College Dropout flow)”, this Los Angeles by-way-of Chattanooga emcee has had everyone’s attention as of late, and its safe to say SXSW will be his proverbial coming out party in the rap game. Jason Moore of Complex discussed him saying, “Rashad spits thoughtfully, intelligently, and with precision, morphing his delivery to fit different production styles and making each line count.”
Another rapper sitting solidly on our radar is Bay Area, G-Funk revivalist 100s. Known just as much for his unique look as he is his voice, this emcee is currently riding a crest wave of hype from the release of “Ice Cold Perm” mixtape. Since then he’s linked up with A-Trak’s Fool’s Gold Records camp to release his own EP & is currently being touted as one of the next big things in the rap game. With most of us having grown up on the sounds of West Coast G-Funk, we’re pretty excited that its coming back in a big way.
7. THE FADER FORT:
Simultaneously one of the best things & worst things about SXSW, the Fader Fort is ground zero for what we know as “hype”. The magazine’s annual taste making showcase is thoughtfully curated and touches upon all facets of music represented heavily at SXSW: indie, hip hop & electronic, and done so in a very meticulous way. Basically if you’re an artist and you get to play Fader fort, expect to have a big year ahead of you. This one starts up the day we arrive and runs through Saturday featuring Sage the Gemini, Isaiah Rashad, Kaytranada, Cyril Hahn, Connan Mockasin, Jeremih w/ Shlohmo, Chromeo, Young Thug, Migos, Travi$ Scott, Daman Albarn, Julian Casablancas, Rick Ross & of course a ton of secret/surprise guests. If you’re not going (which you probably aren’t) make sure to LIVESTREAM it!
8. WARP RECORDS x LUCKY ME:
These two powerhouse labels in electronic music, UK based Warp & Scotland based Lucky Me, team up to bring an absolutely stacked line-up to Austin this year. Headlined by #CONTACT2013 artist Cashmere Cat and featuring Canadian House music talent, Jacques Greene, RnB songstress Kelela, Canadian beatsmith & TNGHT member Lunice, + a supporting case of electronic music’s most trailblazing acts, you can always rely on this showcase to fill you in on the sounds of the future.
Entering SXSW on another crest wave of hype are UK based duo Jungle. Being touted as next in line after the explosion of British groups like Disclosure & Rudimental, not much is known about these guys yet, but we are fairly certain many of these questions will be answered in Austin this week. Having just released their single “Busy Earnin’” which has sent seismic waves of hype through the blogosphere, a lot of people will have their eyes on these guys, including us!
10. THE SUN & TEXAS BBQ
It’s sunny pretty much everyday in Texas and hot as hell! Even though we’ll miss you guys, it’s gonna be a nice little getaway from the rain and cold. Also they just don’t do a rack of ribs here like they do in Austin, Texas 😉
& STAY TUNED FOR OUR TIB x SXSW TRAVEL DIARY THIS WEEK!
– Matthew Owchar