This year, SXSW Conference and Festivals is taking the live music experience online from March 16-19, 2021. While we still can’t meet in person, SXSW Music Festival is aiming to bring attendees the same kind of immersive experience they have come to expect with a new online platform that will come to life through virtual reality. Viewers at home will be able to visit these virtual "rooms" of iconic Austin music venues and experience concerts, live panels, virtual cinema and meet-ups as if they were there in person. Almost.
Among the 33 countries represented at this year's online music festival, here are 10 of the artists who call the Live Music Capital of the World home. Be sure to buy your online pass for the festival and explore the full schedule.
Returning to the SXSW virtual stage this year is Austin native, singer-songwriter Carson McHone. Her latest album, "Carousel," mixes her own blend of traditional country sounds with the new age of Americana. Filled with deeply heartfelt lyrics and tongue-in-cheek observations, her smoky vocals have the ability to connect universal audiences.
Soul-rock artist and songwriter Chief Cleopatra was set to take the stage at the 2020 SXSW Festival and we're pleased to see her name on the roster once again. With her sultry vocals and hard hitting lyrics, Cleo is a force to be reckoned with. Her latest EP, "Luna," dives even deeper into her psychedelic soul roots, allowing the listener to get lost in the melody while also leaning in to the authenticity of her songwriting at the same time.
3. The Deer
The Deer perfectly encompass the eclectic music scene here in Austin. Rooted in their own breed of indie-folk, The Deer stand out with their versatile sound. Their new album, "Do No Harm," moves fluidly between genres, transcending the two worlds of Texas folk and tranquil dream-pop. Their dynamic collection of songs range from joyful and euphoric to dark and dangerous, provoking a wide array of emotions from audiences.
Fusing together the spirit of psychedelic soul with the driving beat of southern rock-n-roll, the musical duo Greyhounds has a timeless sound that is all their own. Their new album, "Primates" marks their 20th year of brotherhood. With lush vocals and socially-conscious songwriting their new single “Tune In” addresses the issues of modern living and the effects of social media.
5. J Soulja
J Soulja is no stranger to the South-By stage. Returning for his fourth performance, J Soulja has quickly become a favorite among the local rap and hip hop community. Besides his raw lyrical talent, J Soulja has also become an advocate for the underground hip hop scene, partnering with local music venues to give artists a space to perform their music in front of sold out crowds.
Musician/producer/songwriter JaRon Marshall describes his music as, “the marriage between funk, jazz, R&B, neo-soul, and hip-hop.” In 2020 Marshall put out two projects - first, a mixtape collection, "The Gold Tapes, Vol 1-3," and the latter, an EP, "The Black Power Tape," which explores the vulnerable emotions of being Black in America. Aside from his work as a producer, Marshall serves as the keyboardist for the highly acclaimed, Grammy-nominated Austin group, Black Pumas.
Longtime front-man and co-founder of Uncle Lucius, Kevin Galloway released his first solo album, "The Change," back in 2018. Galloway calls this album a "sincere reflection of my mindset while reorganizing priorities," made after touring for over a decade away from his family. With deeply heartfelt lyrics and an undeniable country soul, it's no wonder he’s regarded as one of Texas’ purest and most soulful voices.
8. Mama Duke
New to the scene and already making a huge splash, Mama Duke is paving the way for Queer rap in Austin. Within the first two years of moving to the Live Music Capital of the World®, Mama Duke won two Austin Hip-Hop awards for Female Artist of the Year and Artist of the Year, both on the same night. Her debut album, "Ballsy," continues to break barriers with her unapologetic lyrics and strikingly personal music—she bares it all on every track.
The Austin based quintet, Sasha and the Valentines met in college and have been perfecting their craft ever since. Effortlessly transitioning between music genres, Sasha has no problem cradling the lines between surfer rock and dreamy synth pop. Their debut album, "So You Think You Found Love?" draws on real life experiences about love and relationships allowing them to connect with their audience.
10. Van Mary
Frontwoman Emily Whetstone, of the band Van Mary, finds strength in her struggles. With swaying vocals and candid songwriting, Whetstone bares it all on each track and brings a vulnerability to the stage that makes her widely relatable. Their newest single, “Hug,” beautifully captures the essence of living in isolation in 2020 and gives listeners hope that, one day, we will all be together again.
To hear more from these artists, listen to the Spotify playlist below. To discover even more local Austin musicians at SXSW 2021, check out our Music Austin Spotify channel and keep up with the latest happenings @MusicAustin!
Contributed by Jenny Anthony, Austin Music Office Music Marketing Intern.