On Friday, March 18th, we had the honor of meeting up with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based genre-defying outfit Cliffdiver before their official SXSW showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s. The band was stoked to meet us, and had a less conventional – but no less interesting and fun – idea for portraits. As you will witness, we had them pose by the porta-potties on the patio at Cheer Up Charlie’s before heading down the street to take a variety of other fun and meaningful portraits.
Get to know the lively personalities of bandmembers Joey Duffy and Briana Wright (lead vocalists), Matt Ehler and Gilbert Erickson (guitarists/vocalists), Tyler Rogers (bassist), Dony Nickles (saxophonist), and Eliot Cooper (drummer) through photos, below!
“Just because a lot of art comes from pain does not mean the artist has to suffer.” – Naithan Jones
During the 2021 SXSW Conference, I watched a virtual panel and the topic addressed how touring would change for artists once the world opened up. It was a fascinating discussion about how art was made during the lockdown and how artists were creating more balance in their life with their work. This year, I was able to attend a panel that is taking the concept one step further – “How Do Artists Make Money Now?”.
Moderated by Tiffany Gaines, Found and CEO of SS Global Entertainment, the discussion focused on mindset; mental and physical health and perspective; the power in community; and the advancement of technology. Panelists Naithan Jones (Founder of web3 platform Royal), Andra Liemandt (Founder and CEO of The Kindness Campaign), and Matt Ott (Vice Chairman and Co-Founder/Executive Director of Black Fret) came together to address some different forms of creating income that may not have existed, even a couple of years ago.
All of the panelists emphasized the importance of community. When asked about an artist just starting out without a lot of resources, Jones pointed out that, although “streaming is like a map of the industry and specifically to artists….it doesn’t give you the topography, which is who are those 200-300 fans who are willing to support your bills for a year?” The industry doesn’t have a good way to track this. “If I have a super fan in Des Moines, IA and I’m not touring for the next two to three years, I can’t activate that intent.” Jones shared that if these fans are token holders, you can do all kinds of things with them now from music releases just for them, to free merch, to arranging a FaceTime together because you have a token, etc. These are things that enhance relationship management as well as generate an income that allows the artist to live a life, rest, work, and create in cycles outside of the normal 9-5 most people work in. “Creatives don’t really work that way. Where they can express their gift in a healthy way, where they have the economic base to do that, that’s a critical goal.”
Liemandt expanded on that thought: “Nate, I love what you were sharing about giving rest to musicians, to be who they are and work in their passion and their purpose. What we want to be able to do is put musicians to work right now, pick up gigs when they’re in the mood, not have to do something, but when the mood strikes, pick up a gig that is in line with their craft.” The Kind Music platform supports independent artists with songwriting workshops and recordings – all created through community.
“Community is more important than ever to help ourselves and help each other.” – Matt Ott
Black Fret operates in various cities using the patronage model that symphonies have used – people pay for subscriptions to hear local music. Ott said, “When we started Black Fret, we wanted to get some members, throw some parties, and give money away.” But he discovered in the process that people are always looking for ways to help and give back. As an artist, he suggested hanging out after shows, playing early gigs (“old people like to go to early gigs”), networking, playing corporate gigs. Ott thinks that Kind Music is “an incredible opportunity for musicians to lay down a track on a song written by people in a collaborative effort that gets that musician paid”. In the same vein, he loves the Royal business model “to find a revenue stream that helps them find the 1000 true fans”.
Each of the panelists emphasized the mental health and mindset aspect of creating art and being paid for it. Leimandt summed it up best when she said, “When I started seeing dollars roll in, it related to my self-worth. Purpose, value and what you’re doing daily to support them equals joy.”
As a publication that focuses on mental health issues and the arts, we found this panel to be comforting. More people are seeing the value in a holistic approach to wellness, and artists are slowly (but surely) being praised for the wellness opportunities their art provides to the masses as well.
St. Patrick’s Day was honestly one of the most enjoyable during SXSW 2022. In years past, it has been overwhelming, detracting from the fun of the holiday and the festival all at once. This year, we got to experience a host of amazing international acts that made the day a multi-cultural celebration for us.
The 2pm performance at the International Day Stage started with a DJ set by Bad Gyal Marie. Her set included a lot of incredible tracks from the early 2000s. (Who doesn’t love a good Tweet track, honestly?) We enjoyed this so much that, at one point, she looked up and said “I love the girls dancing in the back” after laughing with us a bit. She made a point to introduce the tracks and give some history on many of them, which was the cherry on top of the set.
After a few minutes, Yayoi Daimon took the stage. Her energy was an uplifting start to the afternoon, and her outfit was the best we saw in celebration of the green holiday. (I mean… LOOK AT THE CHAPS SITUATION!) Check out photos of both artists below!
Atlanta-based honky tonk duo The Waymores hit the ground running at SXSW 2022. They hit Broken Spoke at 6pm on March 15th, the Chicken Ranch Records Day Party at 2pm on the 16th, Velveeta Room at 8:30pm, and then Valhalla for an 8pm performance on St. Patrick’s Day. Their live set – by the way – was packed with an edge that you don’t normally find in traditional honky tonk music. The lyrics almost danced above the crowd as we enjoyed a special kind of chemistry between the two of them, accompanied by robust vocals and a feeling of freedom. If you didn’t get a chance to check them out during one of their (insanely amazing) sets, they’ve already added more dates into next month and will be spending more time touring throughout the year.
We got a few quick moments before their performance at Valhalla to snap some portraits on the storied Red River St. in Austin. Check out these beautiful photos – note the fun water bottle placement, Oh SXSW – and then make sure you head out to one of their energetic performances in the near future!
We hate to admit that Enjoyable Listens led in the ranks of the most “enjoyable” set at SXSW 2022, but they – ahem, HE – totally did. While the Oxford-based act normally performs as a duo, brainchild Luke Duffett appeared solo this time around, as his bass guitarist partner-in-crime was stuck overseas for WORK. (Something he mentioned multiple times during his set.)
In all honesty, we almost didn’t stay for the set. We had the privilege of covering an array of international artists over the course of the week, and when a slightly sunburnt man in a suit with a bolo tie and slicked-back hair was sound-checking, I prematurely judged him and suggested we leave the Registrant’s Lounge. Luckily, our dear friend Whiteclaw (sorry – they sponsored the fest and I was already a few deep) kept us glued to the spot when Duffett took the stage.
While their Facebook page boasts that they are “a bloodstained fur coat floating on the undulating beat of street talk,” we were absolutely delighted by the theatrics employed by Duffett on that fated Saturday afternoon. He introduced the act, pushed a button on the soundboard, and walked off the stage to make a grand entrance. And this was only after he verbally commanded the attention of everyone in the area three separate times.
A type of Baroque-pop, the music took on an experimental vibe at times. This man was absolutely the manifestation of if one of our best friends from high school had a child with Rick Astley. In all honesty, the vocals and blazer were the only traces of Astley. (After sending a video to Erin’s husband, we received word that we weren’t the only two who had this exact thought.) His vocal range was unexpected and alluring, while the lyrics were poignant, funny, and utilized an expanse of vocabulary. (One of the best ways to pinpoint a favorable lyricist, if we do say so ourselves.) At times, he would do more of a spoken word situation over the music, which we found later to be a common thread in the recorded versions of the tracks. He would also interrupt his own songs to talk to the audience. He even warned us about “spontaneous clapping” and “crowd surfing” he predicted for later in the show — all of this to a still rather small crowd.
But as his set went on, the crowd grew. And the smiles multiplied. And his dance moves got even more outlandish. He jumped off the stage, lunged at attendees, and performed for the (non-operating) camera, all the while maintaining this artistic persona that we all grew to love over the course of his set.
If you get the chance to see this act live, run… do not walk. I promise it will change your life.
Korean electronic artist CIFIKA surprised and delighted between panels on the last day at SXSW. In fact, her short set served as the opening for the last official panel of 2022, a discussion with Michelle Zauner (Japanese Breakfast). Her graceful demeanor and poetic vocals made for a pretty astonishing performance. Photos below!
During our last full day at SXSW 2022, we wandered into Flatstock. For those of you who aren’t familiar, this is an installation that takes over one of the bigger halls in the convention center toward the end of the festivities every year. Print and poster vendors line the aisles, promoting their art. Many designers bring posters they completed on spec and for specific tours and stops for a variety of musicians. Some vendors brought along pins and other fun accessories, and Erin even ended up with a really cool poster created by the 12-year-old son of one of the vendors. (It was beautiful, and all proceeds went to feed a “very healthy LEGO habit.”)
The beauty in it all is that there was a stage setup, so there was live music providing a soundtrack to the experience. We wandered in for Manchester group Heavy Salad‘s performance, and don’t regret a moment of it. Here are a few photos from that set.
We were pleasantly surprised by the energetic set by Norwegian experimental group Fieh. Not only was their style eclectic and inspiring – I mean, look at those shades alone – but their music was absolutely phenomenal, and they brought a special presence to the International Day Stage on an otherwise exhausting and hot St. Patrick’s Day.
We saw some incredible acts on St. Patrick’s Day at SXSW, as we do every year we get to participate in this expansive convention/festival hybrid. The International Day Stage at Brush Square Park was one of our favorite stages to hit up during the day, to experience a host of international acts and really get to know some new sounds. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard – Cardiff-based 4-piece rock band – shredded on stage, and captivated us with their rich sound while we were passing through at 5pm. Take a listen here.