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10 Artists Making a Splash at SXSW 2017

From Brooklyn MCs to powerpop, Austin festival is sure to have plenty of unforgettable performances

10 Artists Making a Splash at SXSW 2017

Let's Eat Grandma (left) and Tkay Maidza will both be musicians to catch at 2017 SXSW.

Andrew O'Toole, Francesca Allen

South by Southwest’s maze of official showcases, day parties and breakfast tacos can get a little overwhelming for even the most seasoned festival-goer. Here, 10 acts primed to break out of the queso-covered haze. 

Tkay Maidza

Andrew O'Toole

Tkay Maidza

This fleet-tongued Australian MC-slash-singer has garnered fans from all around the world since her 2013 breakthrough, including Charli XCX and Killer Mike, who matched mic skills with Maidza on the punchy track “Carry On.” Her 2016 debut album, Tkay showcases her keen ear for hip-hop that displays a fluorescent-bright pop sensibility, with tracks like the fizzy “Simulation” and the pumping “Monochrome” standing out. After SXSW, she’ll hit festivals Hangout and Boston Calling. 

OSHUN

Bettsy Sevilla

OSHUN

Washington, D.C.-born,
New York-based vocalists Niambi Sala and Thandiwe record future-forward R&B
that foregrounds their African heritage (they’re named after the Yoruba deity)
and incorporates influences that include J Dilla, reggae and gospel. (On their
Facebook page, they call their genre of music “Floetry meets Lauryn Hill
meets Chief Keef.”) Their forthcoming single “Not My
President,”
 which they previewed at a February Brooklyn Museum
performance, blends White House-aimed barbs with the pair’s sinewy harmonies. 

Pwr Bttm

Ebru Yildiz

PWR BTTM

The eye-popping performances by this post-emo duo will undoubtedly attract attention from passerby, but PWR BTTM’s real appeal comes from how they pair their massive hooks and even more massive stage appeal with heart-on-sleeve lyrics. The brash “Answer My Text,” from their forthcoming album Pageant, pairs its chorus’s angsty lashing-out (“Answer my text, you dick!”) with a gooey melody and crystalline lyrics that feel like a live-tweeting of the moment-by-moment thought process that ensues in a relationship’s earliest moments. 

Let's Eat Grandma

Francesca Allen

Let’s Eat Grandma

Teen duo Let’s Eat Grandma take the creepiness inherent in fairy tales, nursery rhymes and misplaced commas and ratchet it way up. The twisty songs on their 2016 debut I, Gemini foreground their witchy vocals while incorporating bedroom-pop beats, sing-song choruses, and droning saxophones. The British pair’s SXSW performance precedes a pair of U.S. dates in Los Angeles and New York, as well as appearances at European festivals like Primavera and Bestival. 

Kweku Collins

Bryan Allen Lamb

Kweku Collins

Hailing from just north of Chicago, this MC/producer established himself as a major player in the Windy City’s hip-hop scene as a teen, signing to the tastemaking label Closed Sessions and releasing his debut EP just after graduating high school. His latest single “International Business Trip” pairs his fast-talking flow with spaced-out beats, while his dreamy cover of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ longing “Maps” (a song that he’s “been in love” with since his middle-school days) shows off his stylistic breadth. 

Charly Bliss

Shervin Lainez

Charly Bliss

These New York powerpoppers have been wowing audiences for a few years now, with zippy, brutally honest tracks like the gimlet-eyed “Love Me” and the street-harasser rebuke “Turd” bringing to mind glitter-grunge rockers like that dog. and Veruca Salt. They’ll be playing SXSW in advance of their debut full-length, Guppy, which comes out in April.  

Big Thief

Shervin Lainez

Big Thief

On Masterpiece, their 2016 debut, this Brooklyn-based dream-folk album combined shoegaze’s reverbed-out guitars with the plaintive vocals and detailed lyrics of lead singer and songwriter Adrianne Lenker – a heady mix of easygoing riffs and gently wrenching singing. This summer they’ll be performing a few shows with Conor Oberst and appearing at a number of festivals, including the Portland-adjacent festival Pickathon and Rhode Island’s Newport Folk Festival. 

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