The British Music Embassy is celebrating its 12th year at SXSW, taking place once again at Latitude 30 (512 San Jacinto Blvd), which is transformed from the outside in to be thee meeting spot for all things UK music and industry networking.
An array of underground and indie acts that reflect the many genres performing around the UK make up this year’s SXSW BME night program going on March 11 – 16, with the day programming still in TBD mode.
Here’s our picks for the acts on our must-see list:
Punk rock outfit, Big Joanie‘s members Steph Phillips (singer/guitarist), Estella Adeyeri (bass) and Chardine Taylor-Stone (drums) are carrying the UK’s DIY puck rock ethos from a unique and welcomed perspective. Their feminist activist roots also play a role in their persona, having performed at the inaugural UK Afropunk Festival, the Decolonise Fest for punks of colour, supporting Girls Rock Camp and participating in the Stop Rainbow Racism campaign to stop racist performances at LGBT venues.
This position of power in the music community was solidified not only by their representation during this year’s British Music Embassy, but by their debut album ‘Sistahs’ released last November on Daydream Library Series; an album that jumps from the pointed toe-twisting “Down Down” to the slithering “Fall Asleep”, flowing with a monochrome tone and scattershot penal effect on “Token,” and then channels a shade of Chrissie Hynde on “Way Out.”
Steph also had enough with punk rock’s lack of representation and intersectionality for the last 40+ years, leading her to launch the band. “We have an equal part in this history as anyone else,” Phillips told Fader. “There are so many different people of color that started rock and roll and punk. Now, you can hear the Decolonize Fest name, or our band name — it’s a central point to say that this exists, this is normal, and this is how you can keep going.”
Haunting. Ethereal. Out-of-this-world yet grounded in the periodic heartbreaking aspects of life. That is but a few facets of the sounds and spritual essence of musical songstress, Celeste, whose most recent single, “Father’s Son”, is about one of society’s historical plights: the absent father. 2018’s “Lately” shares the pain of love while choosing self over a lover, “Lately, I’m pushing through I’ll hold my hand tonight, if I have to.” In the same year “Both Sides of the Moon” reflects today’s soul and contemplative R&B, tied closely to shadows of Billie Holiday, acting as a musical conduit in time between 21st Century Brighton and the ghosts of Harlem’s underground clubs.
While Celeste’s thematic tones lean heavily in melancholy, she’s positively pleased with where she is now, “The thing that I’m really happy about is that so far, I’ve gotten to write the music that I wanted to write,” she told Beats 1 host, Julie Adenuga in January of this year.
“For a while I was working out how I wanted things to sound for myself.” This sonnet she heard in her head, one inspired by soul, jazz, and funk – music she grew up with – was cultivated over time as lyrics revealed themselves, as her voice personified her intended sound, and as collaborators like Gotts Street Park came into her circle. “It’s starting to get more support and more people are getting into it. And that feels GOOD.”
The Comet Is Coming
Tapping influences of Sun Ra, Hendrix, and Can, to Los Angeles’ beat scene, London’s jazz trio, The Comet Is Coming, is carving their own unique space-age, funkified form of the genre. Kicking off in LA at the Moroccon Lounge on March 12, Comet… kicks off their very first U.S. tour on their way to SXSW. After signing with Impulse! Records in 2018, Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery is set to release March 15.
The first single, “Summon The Fire,” the synths travel the dank, dirgy beat trail of Young Fathers and Nine Inch Nails, spearing the air with trumpet and percussion rallying cry. It’s no wonder they were on the nomination shortlist for the Mercury Prize in 2016.
The Comet Is Coming may also be the only band playing SXSW with their own manifesto:
Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery. The Comet is Coming to destroy illusions. It will manifest new realities, perceptions, levels of awareness and abilities to coexist. It is a musical expression forged in the deep mystery. It is the overcoming of fear, the embracing of chaos, the peripheral sight that we might summon the fire.
March 12 – Moroccan Lounge – Los Angeles, CA
March 13 – SXSW – Check their Artist Page for gig dates and locations
March 18 – Mercury Lounge – NYC
March 20 – The Foundry – Philadelphia, PA
March 21 – U Street Music Hall – Washington, DC
March 22 – Big Ears Festival – Knoxville, TN
April 1-12 European Tour
June 13 – Bonnaroo – Manchester, TN
June 14 – Sleeping Village – Chicago. IL
June 15 – Turf Club – Minneapolis, MN
June 17 – Masonic Lodge – Los Angeles, CA
June 18 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA
June 19 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
June 20 – Barboza – Seattle, WA
In 2017, it was IDLES. In 2018 it was Shame. And in 2019 Fontaines DC is set to take the SXSW punks by storm. After the release of “Is It Too Real” Fontaines cemented their place in people’s psyche. Can’t wait to hear that beauty of a tune in person.
On their path from Doncaster to Manchester, The Blinders have promised to be in your face at all times, “smelting loud and visceral political punk rock with enigmatic poetry and tones.” So we’ve got another contender for leaving the crowd exasperated with glee after their set and heading to the bar post haste for a whiskey shot to calm the nerves.
When Georgia hits the stage at Latitude 30, get ready for the culmination of dance music through the decades smacking our booties into the present, pulsating and gyrating to her feminine vocal power.
After blowing minds at 2018’s Great Escape, the fierce British-Nigerian rapper and songerwriter, Flohio, is set to let the American audience know what’s up. “Last night Mom told me I got shine / Shit you say couldn’t bring me down / No my main thing is to maintain my grind / When this high no turning round / Who looks back when you’re this far / I don’t get money just to brag / I get more P’s to uplift my gang.” Fire! Snap. Snap. Snap!
There’s certain songs and bands who emote the freeing, escaping-from-it-all feeling, inspiring images of running along the beach here in LA or driving down PCH in a convertible as the sun is setting with all your best mates in tow. London’s Another Sky personifies these emotions and more, especially on their track “Apple Tree”, which, IMHO, could stay on repeat for miles.
The Ninth Wave
The Ninth Wave may pluck some notes and tones from the UK’s history of darkwave, alternative, and goth protagonists from the past, but their monitor is also representative of their sound and persona of the sailing term of the same name, “a wave of incredible size that comes after a succession of incrementally larger waves” depicting “a sea after a night storm and people attempting to save themselves by clinging to debris from a wrecked ship.” Who knew a crash could be so wonderful and inviting.
Bouncing, quirky, and addictive, Dylan Cartlidge is a musical party in full tilt. Hailing from the North East, he’s a crafty mixer of Chk Chk Chk frivolity and Outcast “Hey Ya!” Cartlidge reminds us that whilst we’re living in whacky, surreal times these days, we always have our music, dancing, and each other to get us through anything.
Who needs a nagging mum or a protein shake infomercial to tell how good it is for you to “Eat Greens” if there’s punk rock priestess like Annabel Allum delivering the message with guitar-strung finesse?
It’s interesting and exciting to see and hear “modern” jazz going through a transformation, from the more mainstream New Jazz crap heard on U.S. radio to a form that’s connecting strongly to jazz’s past while delivering sounds and styles that weave in our present-day genres like hip-hop and afrobeat. In the states we’ve got Kamasi Washington as the figurehead of the jazz revival, and in the UK, it’s London’s Ezra Collective leading the way.
They’re also playing The Roxy here in LA on Monday, March 18.
Kojo Kankam, aka Novelist, is an old soul in the Grime world, having made is mark at the early age of 17. With a Mercury Prize nomination and collaboration with Skepta’s “Lyrics” under this belt, today Novelist is taking on society’s issues while empowering himself and the world around him.
Additional Daytime British Music Embassy Meetups and Events:
FUTURE ART AND CULTURE AND IMMERSIVE MISSION LAUNCH PARTY
Mar 9, 2019 | 8:00pm – 12:00am
FUTURE ART AND CULTURE ART INNOVATION LAB
Mar 10, 2019 | 10:00am – 4:00pm
MUSIC MEETS TECH NETWORKING BREAKFAST WITH DIGITAL CATAPULT & AIM
MARCH 12 – 9:30AM – 11AM
BRITISH MUSIC EMBASSY NIGHT SCHEDULE
(DAYTIME SCHEDULE COMING SOON)
DIY OFFICIAL SXSW SHOWCASE
IN ASSOCIATION WITH DIT
SPORTS TEAM 1AM
KING NUN 12AM
THE NINTH WAVE 9PM
WILLIE J HEALEY 8PM
ATC LIVE OFFICIAL SXSW SHOWCASE
IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE BPI
BLACK MIDI 12AM
FONTAINES DC 11PM
EZRA COLLECTIVE 10PM
BBC MUSIC INTRODUCING OFFICIAL SXSW SHOWCASE
IN ASSOCIATION WITH PRS FOUNDATION
ANOTHER SKY 1AM
BIG JOANIE 12AM
SAM FENDER 11PM
GRACE CARTER 10PM
THE HOWL & THE HUM 8PM
BBC RADIO 6 MUSIC OFFICIAL SXSW SHOWCASE
IN ASSOCIATION WITH AIM
THE BLINDERS 1AM
THE PEARL HARTS 9PM
PENELOPE ISLES 8PM
BBC MUSIC OFFICIAL SXSW SHOWCASE
IN ASSOCIATION WITH PPL & PRS FOR MUSIC
THE COMET IS COMING 12AM
BAD SOUNDS 11PM
DYLAN CARTLIDGE 10PM
ANNABEL ALLUM 9PM
FERRIS & SYLVESTER 8PM
BBC RADIO 1 OFFICIAL SXSW SHOWCASE
IN ASSOCIATION WITH PPL & PRS FOR MUSIC
SPECIAL GUESTS 1AM
EASY LIFE 12AM
SPECIAL GUESTS 10PM
BOY AZOOGA 9PM