Ahead Of SXSW, NPR Music Releases Austin 100 List

Mar 5, 2019
Originally published on March 5, 2019 9:17 am
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So next week, thousands of musicians and bands are going to be converging on Austin, Texas, for one of the world's great music showcases. It's the South by Southwest Music Festival. And as always, NPR Music will be there to highlight some of the best, like this band from Brazil.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIXIGA 70 SONG, "QUEBRA CABECA")

GREENE: That's the sound of Bixiga 70. They are part of NPR Music's Austin 100. This is a handpicked playlist of a hundred acts that NPR Music thinks you should discover at South by Southwest. And it really gives us a glimpse into the world of music in the coming year. You can find the Austin 100 on our website beginning today. And the man behind the Austin 100, who does all the work to put it together, is NPR Music's Stephen Thompson, who is here with me this morning.

Hi, Stephen.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Hello, David.

GREENE: So how much work is this?

THOMPSON: It is weeks and weeks of work. I listen to about 1,400 songs, which span between 85 and 90 hours.

GREENE: Some people out there being like - gosh, I wish I had a job where I just had to listen to endless hours of music. But it is actually work. So what are you excited about on the list?

THOMPSON: Well, I'm going to start with a singer, producer and composer from Freiburg, Germany, named Josin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE BLANK SPACE")

JOSIN: (Singing) All your light, you turn me into one and raze the weapon (ph)...

GREENE: I like it - kind of dreamy.

THOMPSON: Yeah, it's beautiful. Josin is Arabella Rauch. She is the daughter of a Korean opera singer and a German opera singer.

GREENE: Nice.

THOMPSON: She is classically trained. She mixes kind of dreamy neoclassical music with a lot of that haunting side of bands like Sigur Ros or Radiohead. And it's this mix of that kind of soft synthesizers with strings and effects. But above it all is that beautiful, radiant voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE BLANK SPACE")

JOSIN: (Singing) Completion...

GREENE: All right. What else have you brought us?

THOMPSON: Something very different some - all caps - ROCK 'N' ROLL...

GREENE: Awesome.

THOMPSON: ...From an LA band called Spanish Love Songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SEQUELS, REMAKES AND ADAPTATIONS")

SPANISH LOVE SONGS: (Singing) Well, these are dark days when I'm staring at a mirror in the corner and I see both sides of who I should be.

GREENE: Nice - different.

THOMPSON: Different. This is a song called "Sequels, Remakes & Adaptations." And my saying that title is almost as long as the song itself.

GREENE: Oh.

THOMPSON: It is two minutes of kind of stormy, white-knuckle desperation (laughter). You hear the strain in that voice. You just picture, like, a sweaty dude with his foot kicked up on a monitor just, like, roaring his head off with just, like, more words than he can spit out. But the song, at the same time, is just like - whew.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SEQUELS, REMAKES AND ADAPTATIONS")

SPANISH LOVE SONGS: (Singing) Am I the one? Hate more than love? Imploding, killing my brothers.

GREENE: Yeah, totally. All right. We probably time for one more. Right?

THOMPSON: All right. I've got a Nigerian-born south London rapper named Funmi Ohiosumah who records under the name Flohio.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATCHOUT")

FLOHIO: (Rapping) I don't fear no man. I walk right through the valley of hell and go ham. I've been putting mad work on the line, that. Mum, don't send me on dates. That's relevant. Your flows - can't compare it to mine. My show comes to the way, we're wrecking it. Don't play no games, magic (ph)...

GREENE: I like that. You're really giving us a world tour here.

THOMPSON: (Laughter) Well, that's South by Southwest. I mean...

GREENE: Yeah.

THOMPSON: ...There's music from all over the place. With Flohio, you get this kind of frenzied mashup of hip-hop but also techno and the genre of electronic dance music called grime. But through the chaos of all these strange beats, you get this very intense and authoritative, rapid-fire delivery from a rapper who is in complete control even as the arrangements around her almost seem to just implode.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLOHIO SONG, "WATCHOUT")

GREENE: All right. So we just gave you a taste. You can find Stephen Thompson's list, Austin 100 - these are the acts he thinks should be discovered at South by Southwest this year - by going to our website, nprmusic.org.

Stephen Thompson, have a great trip. Thanks so much.

THOMPSON: Thank you, David.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATCHOUT")

FLOHIO: (Rapping) Watch out. Watch out - keep telling them all to watch out. Show up. Walk out Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.