Best of SXSW 2016: Electronica Acts

By Janelle Abad
SXSW Press Team

Made of Oak

Made of Oak is made of one half of Sylvan Esso. In the latter half of 2015 Nick Sanborn focused his production towards releasing his debut EP, Penumbra. The project is comprised of five tracks with the sonically stimulating single, “Pinebender.” All tracks, however, showcase the same dynamicism that Sanborn brings to Sylvan Esso, each shedding a different light in the melodies. I caught his performance at The House of Vans’ 50th anniversary showcase before him performing as Sylvan Esso. He ended his set with “Pinebender” but weaved in a sample Kendrick Lamar’s vocals in Swimming Pools to give the crowd something to sing to against his visceral bass line.

Avec Sans

Alice Fox of Avec Sans at the International Day Stage at SXSW 2016. Photo by Janelle Abad.
Alice Fox of Avec Sans at the International Day Stage at SXSW 2016. Photo by Janelle Abad.

Hailing from Manchester, UK, Avec Sans is an electro-pop duo comprised of Alice Fox and Jack St. James. Avec Sans was the first act that I came across at the CMJ Music Marathon last fall in the disappointingly nearly empty Highline Ballroom in New York City. St. James nails the synth-pop name on the head with his choice of shimmering synths and Fox completes the idea with her pristine vocals layered a top. I was very pleased to walk into a SXSW International Day Stage room full of eager listeners and spirited dancers. Their singles have received impressive press, being featured in American TV series, retail outlets, and prestigious magazines in the UK, so it was heart-warming to be able to witness the success in publications being translated to the crowd in the Austin Convention Center.

Charli XCX + SOPHIE

SOPHIE and Charli XCX joining forces at SXSW 2016. Photo by Janelle Abad.
SOPHIE and Charli XCX joining forces at SXSW 2016. Photo by Janelle Abad.

Bubblegum-pop isn’t normally my cup of tea, but when you combine Charli XCX’s star power and Sophie’s hard-hitting, off-kilter production, it makes perfect sense. I accidentally caught the power-duo’s set after Crystal Castles walked off stage and completely canceled their set seconds after walking on. When looking at the set list, I envisioned Sophie to open for Charli, but alas, out came the pop star in all her glory complete with her edgy leather ensemble. According to MTV, the two collaborated on Vroom Vroom, a SOPHIE produced EP that was released by Charli’s new label (appropriately dubbed Vroom Vroom Recordings) in late February of this year. Despite this being the first official co-headlining performance ever, word of touring together have yet to be announced.

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