Wales Arts International supported four Welsh bands to attend South by South West 2016, all of which created an exciting hype about new music from Wales.
ESTRONS, Gwenno, Violet Skies and The People The Poet were all invited to play official showcases at this year’s festival, which took place 15-20 March 2016. Trough successful funding applications to Wales Arts International’s International Opportunities Fund, all four were able to attend. Wales’ presence at the festival was co-ordinated by Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales, with support from Welsh Government. There was a dedicated networking event for musicians and the industry to meet artists and delegates from Wales, and Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales also partnered a showcase at the British Music Embassy (BME) on Friday 18th March. All acts showcased during this event, as well as others from across the UK.
The People The Poet returned to SXSW 2016 after a very successful SXSW 2015. Once again, they worked extremely hard throughout their time in Austin to talk to as many people as possible, and promote their showcases and music far and wide. They felt omnipresent at the festival playing seven showcases including a return to a packed audience in the British Music Embassy and an all-important SESAC showcase.
Having learnt from last year, Tyla Campbell from the band shared more useful guidance for bands showcasing: "I would definitely recommend attending some of the talks and conferences when you have some spare time. We split the band in half as there were two talks at the same time so two of us went to one and two of us went to another. We went to talks on publishing, festivals and A & R which gave us a greater insight of what's involved in all these aspects."
ESTRONS were chosen to be part of the PRS for Music Foundation’s showcase with BBC Introducing. This is the result of a yearlong campaign of radio/online promotion and live performances in England and Wales. To date the band have release a debut EP and two singles, both with accompanying videos. They garnered some great press coverage for their performances at SXSW including The AV Club and Dennis the Menace.
Guitarist Rhodri Daniel says, "Talk to everyone, tell everyone where and when you're playing, make you sure you thank everyone for checking you out and tell them where to find you online; you never know who may be watching.
Go and listen to what other bands and artists are doing, it was a great experience to see that many bands playing that close together in a short amount of time. We saw what worked and what didn’t, we learnt lessons and worked on our live set to be a more exciting act to go and see.
Otherwise, drink plenty of water (and Margaritas obvs) and use plenty of sun screen!"
Gwenno had a lot of interest in her SXSW performances before the festival started, especially from the renowned blog NPR who highlighted Gwenno as one of the top 100 to watch at SXSW this year. Gwenno had a very successful SXSW, meeting with her label, U.S. booking agent and gaining management all while at SXSW.
We asked Gwenno about some advice she’d give to showcasing acts at SXSW, "If you have any special requirements for your gig (this is for electronic musicians/DJs mostly) and you need a table for all you stuff for example, then just get in touch with the stage manager of your venue and they will generally be more than happy to help you. I was quite nervous about this aspect before attending SXSW as it's such a busy festival with so many bands playing (and I'm normally self-contained tech spec-wise) but I only found everyone to be incredibly helpful as I'd gotten in touch with them about it plenty of time before the gig."
Violet Skies has some valuable advice for those showcasing at SXSW, "SXSW was an incredible experience, and making sure you do the work beforehand really pays off! Spending time triple checking your advances for shows, having all your VISA/Esta paper work totally sorted, getting your promo sorted, booking interviews and acoustic shows and planning for worst case scenarios (like gear breaking, ours did!) is worth it. We were there from quite early on so we had time to find our feet and see other bands. My one top tip is whilst sleep is important, and you'll feel tired and jet lagged, do go out, do party hard and do make the most of being invited places - don't plan too much because the best stuff happened without plans. I slept on the plane home."
Violet wowed audiences at SXSW this year, from showcasing at Eurosonic earlier this year and being a part of the BBC Horizons 12 in 2015, used these experiences to her prepare for SXSW, playing at the trade fair and the British Music Embassy.
We’d like to say huge congratulations to the bands who worked very hard to ensure they made the most out of the opportunity at SXSW – well done!
We will have more images from SXSW over the coming weeks, and will post them on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/WalesArtsInternational