SCOTTISH_BANDS_SXSW copy (2)HAVING morphed from a small arts festival in 1987 to a fully fledged phenomenon with a great deal of cultural significance, SXSW has became an all encompassing taste maker for the latest and greatest musicians within every contemporary genre.

Delving into the realms of film and interactive media also, it is undoubtedly its influence upon the music industry that has helped to mould its reputation into that of a hub for new talent.

Taking place over the course of five days in March, the festival will play host to over 2,000 acts of all sizes and levels of recognition at over 100 venues. Solo artists and bands are either paid a direct sum for their performances or can receive a wristband that enables them to attend every gig throughout it’s programme.

The festival’s positive impact upon a young and ambitious band’s career is incontestable, having assisted many acts in finding distribution deals and critical acclaim in the event of an impressive showing. It’s ability to catapult acts into the consciousness of the masses and inaugurate them as the darlings of the industry is unrivalled, plucking many bands from obscurity and placing them in a favourable light in the eyes of the music media.

Scottish roots

This phenomenon is demonstrated by a number of Scottish acts who have prospered following stellar outings at the industry showcase. Scotland’s premier electro three piece CHVRCHES gained notoriety among the world’s musos and music press after being awarded the inaugural Grulke Prize at the 2013 event, scooping the prize for best non-US act upon their first visit to the country. Since then, the Lauren Mayberry fronted group have ascended to the status of a very well established band throughout the world, topping the US independent charts with their debut LP The Bones Of What You Believe and cracking the UK’s.

Another example of an act who have found themselves flourishing after a trip to Austin is Edinburgh based hip-hop trio Young Fathers. After embarking on the journey last year, the group found themselves with an American record label in the form of California based Anticon Records, before being awarded the Mercury Prize later in the year for the awe inspiring Dead.

Alt-rock stalwarts Frightened Rabbit undertook a number of US tours and released three well received albeit underexposed albums prior to embracing the SXSW platform in 2010. Shortly after returning home, they reaped the rewards of their labour with an Atlantic Records deal.

Meanwhile, Hudson Mohawke’s incendiary performances aided the producer in exposing his unique brand of crunk inspired electronica to the US market, which has led to production credits on tracks by Kanye West and Danny Brown among many others.

Other notable acts who have carved out an excellent career thus far who’ve graced the stages of the renowned event in recent years include Honeyblood, Casual Sex, Prides and repeat visitors Holy Esque.

Whilst it cannot be declared that the success of these wide ranging and diverse act’s can be attributed solely to their performances at the festival, it’s name carries a certain gravitas that has been known to assist those who impress in its multitude of venues.


Looking at the home grown acts that are set to adjourn Stateside in the hopes of advancing their respective careers, they are an eclectic mix with the tools at their disposal to garner recognition within a setting of this magnitude.

One of Glasgow’s most revered acts to embed themselves in the consciousness of music lovers throughout the nation and beyond, two piece alt rock outfit Honeyblood are likely to be well received amid the enlightened music lovers that shall undertake the pilgrimage to Austin. Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Stina Tweeddale and with Cat Myers replacing founding member Shona Mcvicar behind the drum kit; the band’s beautiful slacker pop stylings and tales of tumultuous love affairs possess the ability to enrapture those who witness their live sets.

Another act that are riding high following an enormous amount of acclaim in 2014 is post punk group The Twilight Sad. After the unprecedented response that last year’s Nobody Want’s To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave garnered, the band will be going into the event with a level of confidence that could translate into a landmark performance of this year’s event.

Originating from Kilmarnock and hot on the heels of releasing their debut album, alt rockers Fatherson could be primed for a breakout moment in 2015. After support sets with a slew of established acts ranging from countrymen such as Idlewild and Twin Atlantic to international fare such as Panic At The Disco and Feeder, they have begun to come into their own throughout the course of last year. Playing to a packed King Tuts Tent at this year’s T In The Park and receiving radio 1 airplay from Zane Lowe, it appears that the time may be right for the four piece to ascend up the ladder.

The aforementioned Holy Esque have also found themselves with another trip to Texas lined up, the East Kilbride based group are embarking after receiving plaudits from two well received singles in 2014. Having recently completed a run of dates supporting Augustines and rounding off the year with a show at The CCA, the band will bring their inventive sound to SXSW looking to impress the enthusiastic audiences and industry figures in equal measure.

United Fruit are no newcomers to the music scene; having formed in 2009 and released an EP and an album, they have since  toured the UK and Europe relentlessly. 2015 will see the release of their follow-up album, and coupled with an appearance at SXSW could just well be the catalyst the band need to break into the music limelight. Support slots with notable acts such as Twin Atlantic and The Twilight Sad, as well as festival appearances at the likes of T in the Park and Wickerman will no doubt have prepared the band for what is sure to be a huge year for them.

Just last week, innovative rap duo and Tenement TV Alumni Hector Bizerk also confirmed they are preparing to undertake the trek across the Atlantic for their maiden voyage to SXSW. With the emergence of Scottish hip-hop within the mainstream consciousness following Young Fathers’ meteoric rise; HB have found themselves profiled in many ‘ones to watch’ lists.

In light of this recent development regarding their trip to the renowned event, HB drummer and founding member Audrey Tait has stated: “Naturally, we are very excited to say the least. I think showcasing at SXSW is massive for any band but particularly, for us, as we don’t have a label or agent it makes it an even bigger achievement and that’s before we’ve even played! There are some great acts heading over so it’ll be good to show that there’s some really innovative music coming from our wee country.”

An outfit that are no strangers to the American public or press, Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire had a huge year in 2014 when they snagged a week long residency on American TV show The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. The residency came about after their first appearance on the show went down so well with the host  that he asked the band back for the week. In addition, their self-titled album then made the longlist for the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) awards. SXSW will be another opportunity for the band to present their sound on an international stage, to thousands of music fanatics and industry professionals alike.

The tour de force that is Dave Arcari will be returning state-side for the third year on the trot when he makes his debut appearance at SXSW. His constant gigging has seen him travel far from his native Scotland, to the likes of Finland, Estonia, Poland and Canada. It has also taken him to prestigious festivals like Glastonbury, Peer Festival (Belgium) and the Canada based North by North East. Combining blues, country, rockabilly and more he will fit right in down in the heart of Texas.

With so much talent from Scotland making the trip over the Atlantic Ocean, 2015 could well be the year of the Scottish Showcase.