SXSW Preview: Nassir’s Picks

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SXSW, the massive multimedia festival turns the big three-oh this year, and whether you’re planning on going out to Austin to partake in the festivities or just monitoring from afar like me, it’s worth keeping tabs on talent as they are very likely to be making their first North American impressions at a venue near you in the next several weeks.

Here are the 5W’s (who/what/where/when/why) for five acts I’m excited about in Austin:

1) Mt. Wolf
WHO? Trio – Sebastian Fox Bassi, Steve Red McMinn, Al Mitchell
WHAT? Ethereal acoustic guitar with atmospheric electronics; Justin Vernon of Bon Iver meetsM83, resulting in Explosions in the Sky.
WHERE? London
WHEN? They made their US debut at the Hotel Café in LA on March 10th before SXSW.
WHY? Because listening to their music will likely provide more hope to whatever you’re doing at this moment, even if you’re just eating a Big Mac.

2) Coast Modern
WHO? Duo – Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp
WHAT? Sun-soaked beachy synth pop. For fans of Lewis Del Mar, Bear Hands and fellow LA locals The Palms, BØRNS
WHERE? LA baby. Represent!!
WHEN? Performing debut shows at SXSW. US tour with The Wombats and BØRNS on tap for this summer, as well as festival dates.
WHY? Already a massive response online from their only two singles, “Hollow Life” shot to #2 on Hype Machine charts. Follow up single, “Animals” is expected to do the same.

3) Stormzy
WHO? Rapper/Emcee Michael Omari
WHAT? Known as “Child of Grime.” Reminds me of same charisma as Kate Tempest and this year’s fellow UK talent Lady Leshur.
WHERE? South London
WHEN? Making North American Debut around SXSW; Headlining Red Bull Sound Select on 3/23 at the Echo
WHY? Nominated as one to watch on the influential BBC Sound of 2015 award. Single “Shut Up” has over 25 million views on YouTube; became first unsigned rapper to appear on Later with Jools Holland

4) Lucy Dacus
WHO? Indie-folk singer/songwriter
WHAT? Same spirit as Courtney Barnett, Laura Marling and other bands to watch at SXSW, like Mothers, Julien Baker, and Miya Folick
WHERE? Richmond, Virgina
WHEN? Headlining run at SXSW; also going to be touring with Houndmouth this spring
WHY? Accessible and relatable, supremely self-aware and mature for her young age. Case in point is “I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore.”

5) A-WA (pronounced Ay-wa)
WHO? Another Haim sister trio – Tair, Liron and Tagel
WHAT? A Yemeni Israeli group, blending their magical and mystic voices in Arabic with Yemenite folk singing and electronic dance music. For fans of Ibeyi and Sofi Tukker.
WHERE? Small desert village of Shaharut in Southern Israel
WHEN? LA debut at the Echo 3/16, then playing SXSW after
WHY? Although the music speaks for itself, it pushes boundaries and builds bridges in the Middle East. Produced by Tomer Yosef of Balkan Beat Box