Green, yellow, and pink graphic including digital shapes and an image of an eye, reading “SXSW Online: March 16-20.”

South by Southwest 2021: Day 1 Review

By Ashley Farnie
Assistant Music Director

South by Southwest 2021 looks different from previous years, as does the music industry in its entirety. The lack of opportunity for musicians to play live shows and interact with fans leaves them at a disadvantage when marketing themselves, but SXSW has worked tirelessly to produce an environment beneficial to industries of all art forms.

Offering panels discussing the music industry and its future endeavors, film showings and comedy sets, SXSW caters to all interests from the comfort of your device.

Beginning my experience at SXSW, I attended an artist and label workshop hosted by Spotify. The panelists explained how to best market yourself as an artist on the Spotify application and shared exciting updates regarding the future of Spotify.

An early presentation by Sounds Swedish showcased bedroom pop artist Mimi Bay of Gothenburg, Sweden. A three-piece band using a keyboard track for substance, Mimi’s airy, jazzy vocals paired with an electric guitar and drums create a sound that makes you want to dance.

Unique to virtual concerts, backstage footage of the band displayed onscreen gave listeners an immersive experience along with the band. Visuals appeared across curtains lining the back of the stage, drawing viewers into the performance.

Performing from Liverpool, England, The Mysterines delivered a high-energy performance led by a female vocalist and guitarist. The lead singer’s strong vocals powered the performance and even featured hints of screamo.

The Mysterines featured an additional band member playing live on-screen to compensate for their inability to perform. I highly recommend The Mysterines if you enjoy grunge rock and strong female leads!

Presented by the new record label, Dedstrange, Paul Jacobs and the accompaniment of his keyboardist performed a primarily acoustic set exuding folk sounds. The recording of Jacobs’s performance incorporated three-dimensional visuals, mimicking the light arrangements of live concerts and making the performance feel like a music video.

The sound quality of the performance added to the folk genre and sounded similar to a vinyl record playing; you know, that distinct humming behind the track, giving it that old-timey feel.

The chemistry between Jacobs and the keyboardist made the performance enjoyable to watch, and their energy radiated through to the virtual crowds.

A new personal favorite duo of mine, Magdalena Bay, consists of frontwoman and vocalist, Mica Tenenbaum, and guitarist, producer, and vocalist, Matthew Lewin. Their set consisted of high-energy tracks, and the pairing with the greenscreen background made the performance feel as if it were a recording from a 1990’s music video.

Magdalena Bay resembles the sounds of The Marías. I recommend listening to “Story” and “Good Intentions” to familiarize yourself with Magdalena Bay’s music.

Black-and-white image of band members leaning against each other.
Couch Prints band member photo for SXSW 2021. Photo courtesy of SXSW Online.

Couch Prints made up of an electric guitarist, keyboardist, and lead singer makes music to dance alone to in your bedroom – perfect for a virtual performance. This three-piece exudes positive and chill vibes, bringing you comfort upon first listen.

Performing under a black-and-white filter, Couch Prints’ simplistic and peaceful sound ensures its listeners will turn into fans.

The first day of South by Southwest introduced me to so many new artists and I am looking forward to attending the remainder of the conference. I will continue to live tweet my experiences via the KTSW Twitter account, which I will link below, along with the handles of the featured bands.

Follow KTSW on Twitter: @ktsw_899

Mimi Bay: @hiimmimib

The Mysterines: @TheMysterines

Paul Jacobs: Paul Jacobs on Spotify

Magdalena Bay: @MagdalenaBay
Couch Prints: @CouchPrints

Featured image by KTSW Multimedia.

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