I love seeing Seattle bands make the trek down to Austin for SXSW. Here are a handful of my local favorites that you should check out!
While checking out almost all of the showcasing artists, sometimes you stumble on a great 80’s glam-metal band from South Korea that you put on your SXSW list purely just to see to believe… Victim Mentality.
It’s that time of year! We have been listening and enjoying fresh new bands since the first lineup announcements last Fall. This is only a handful of the bands in our ‘yes’ column. If you enjoy the artists, be sure to check em out at SXSW or touring in your town soon. Adding more artists daily, or when I remember!
Another year, another reflection on the past year of exploring new bands and artists.
2014 Breakdown :: at least 232 live bands :: est annual cost of $936 :: March was the loudest month (48) :: December was the most quiet month (3)
Jungle @ Spotify House (Austin – SXSW) 3/11/14
Mutual Benefit @ Spotify House (Austin – SXSW) 3/12/14
Team Me @ Cheers Shot Bar Rooftop (Austin – SXSW) 3/12/14
Public Service Broadcasting @ Latitude 30 (Austin – SXSW) 3/13/14
Coldair @ Sunset Tavern – Seattle 4/1/14
The Melodic @ Sunset Tavern – Seattle 4/14/14
Washed Out @ Sasquatch – Quincy WA 5/24/14
The Notwist @ Neumos – Seattle 7/5/14
Brothertiger @ Sunset Tavern – Seattle 7/17/14
Manatee Commune @ Neumos (Seattle – CHBP) 7/27/14
Valley Maker @ Neumos (Seattle – CHBP) 7/27/14
Jacco Gardner @ Bumbershoot – Seattle 9/1/14
Tomo Nakayama @ Hairstream – Seattle 11/4/14
Nils Frahm @ Mississippi Studios – Portland 11/9/14
Air Traffic Controller, American Football, Bad Things, BADBADNOTSOGOOD, Barcelona, Bearcubbin’ (x2), Bellamaine, Beverly, Big Phony, Black Violin, Boyfrndz (x2), Brothertiger, Cabana, Capital Cities, Cataldo (x2), Chance the Rapper, Chet Faker, Chris Brokaw, Chris Staples, Christopher Paul Stelling, Chromeo, City and Colour, Classixx, Cleanup, Cloud Control, COHO, Cold Specks, Coldair, Craft Spells, Crystal Fighters, Cumulus, Cymbals, Dads, Damien Jurado, Dana Buoy, Dark Rooms, DEMS, Douglas Dare, Dresses, The Drums, Dub FX, Dude York, Each & All, Edmund Wayne, Emery, Emma Ruth Rundle, Falls, Fenster, First Aid Kit, Fly Moon Royalty (x2), Foster the People, Foy Vance, Gentlemen Hall, Gold & Youth, Golden Gardens, Goodbye Heart, Great Good Fine Ok, Haim, Hand of the Hills, Hermigervill, Hey Marseilles, Highdrops, Hip Hatchet, Holychild, How Sad, Hozier (x2), Hundred Waters, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Iska Dhaaf, Jacco Gardner, Jel, Jesse Morrow, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, Julianna Barwick, Julie Byrne, Jungle, Junius Meyvant, Kins, Kishi Bashi (x2), La Luz, Lemolo, Liiight, Lonesome Shack, M.I.A., Manatee Commune (x2), Marmalakes, Matt & Kim, mewithoutYou (x2), Mission of Burma, MØ, Mogwai, Mr Little Jeans, Mutual Benefit (x2), Mylets, Nada Surf (x2), Neon Trees, Neutral Milk Hotel, Night Beats, Nils Frahm (x2), Oberhofer, Odesza, Of the City, Owl Eyes, Panda Bear, Papa, Parquet Courts, Phosphorescent, Plume Giant, Polka, Poolside, Portugal. The Man, Public Service Broadcasting, Pure Bathing Culture, Queens of the Stone Age, RA Scion, RAC, Rainbow Wolves, Ravenna Woods, Real Estate, Rhett Miller, Robert DeLong, Rodriguez, Rose Windows, Rufus Du Sol, San Fermin (x2), Sandrider, Say Hi, Scarves, Seattle Rock Orchestra (String Quintet), Seekae, Shakey Graves (x2), Shannon Stephens, Sin Fang, Sir Sly, Sisters, Slow Bird, Slow Magic, Small Black (x2), Smokey Brights, SOHN (x2), SOL, Soley, Son Lux, Sondre Lerche, Sour Notes, Spoon, Spring Standards, St Paul De Vence, Star Slinger, Streets of Laredo, Sun Club, Syd Arthur, Sylvan Esso (x2), Tangerine, Tanlines, Team Me, Tei Shi, Telekinesis, The Both, The Cave Singers, The Chain Gang of 1974, The Classic Crime, The Colourist, The Comettes, The Dismemberment Plan, The Domestics, The Flavr Blue, The Griswolds, The Hoot Hoots, The Lonely Forest (x2), The Melodic, The Notwist, The Replacements, The Waylayers, The World is a Dark Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, The Wytches, Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra, Tiny Moving Parts, Tokimonsta, Tomo Nakayama (x3), Tomten, Torres, Touche Amore, Tourist, Tove Lo, TTNG, TV Girl, Twin Shadow, Tyler the Creator, USF, Valerie June, Valley Maker (x3), Violent Femmes, Walk The Moon, Washed Out, Watsky, Waxahatchee, We Are Scientists, Western Haunts, Wet (x2), White Lightning, Wild Ones (x2), Wrinkles, X Suns, xxyyxx, Yellow Ostrich, Zachary Meyers
A staple in the Seattle music scene, multi-instrumentalist Tomo Nakayama, emerges with a solo album after several successful years leading chamber pop band, Grand Hallway. I interviewed Tomo for a music writing class and decided to share it with the release of his first solo album, Fog On The Lens, out today! Buy it here or see him live at one (or more) of his 14 shows in one day.
How did your approach to the upcoming album, Fog On The Lens, differ from previous Grand Hallway recordings?
I played all the instruments myself and my friend, Yuuki Matthews of the Shins, added some keyboards and synthesizers and the mixing process so it’s mostly just me working by myself and engineering everything. I recorded it during my residency at Town Hall this Spring. I used the building as a recording studio and a lot of ways it’s like approaching it like a bedroom record.
Like a really big bedroom?
[Laughs] Yeah, like a really big bedroom. So it’s got that kind of intimacy and immediacy that I think you can get from a home demo with a bigger sound. It’s cool. I got to work a lot faster than collaborating with six other people, which is really fun but wanted to try something a little more raw and not as thought-out, I guess.
Is that why you went from releasing it under Grand Hallway and under your own name?
I already made the decision at that point that I wanted to do things on my own. We’ve been doing Grand Hallway for six years and I loved everybody. I’m still friends with everyone in the band. A couple of us had kids and I got married and we all just started living separate lives outside of the band. Also being in a band is fun but is like a small business. You have to operate like a business and it’s like being in a marriage with a lot of personal work and a lot of energy that isn’t necessarily spent on creative pursuits but more on maintaining your place in the scene and getting your name out there, marketing your work. That part wasn’t as fun to me.
Did you work with Yuuki Matthews prior to this new solo album?
No, I’ve always been a huge fan of his music. We actually went to the same middle school and high school but he was always a year ahead of me so we weren’t really friends. I kinda followed his career around and went to his shows and always thought he was like the cool kid. We talked for a long time about doing something together. Recently he thought about going into producing and mixing other people’s music so he reached out to me when he found out that I was doing this album on my own and offered help mixing the tracks. It was perfect timing and happened really organically and I think b/c we grew up listening to so much of the same music and had a lot of similar experiences, we’re both half Japanese and have the cultural reference points. It was like the easiest mixing process I’ve ever gone through.
What made you decide to do 14 shows in one day?
It’s 8am to 11pm. The first show is an in-studio at KEXP. It just started b/c I was really tired of the marketing and logistical aspects of being in a band and how to sell yourself, you know? The thought of putting on a show and worrying about selling tickets and putting a band together didn’t really appeal to me. I was thinking about the best musical experiences I’ve had the last couple years and they were all really small at places like cafes and house shows where either I knew everybody or I did a small show on the East Coast last fall and I was just playing these tiny shows in spaces like this and didn’t know the people in the audience but I could see their faces and them listening. There was back and forth between songs and people felt free to talk and want to create that intimacy at my shows so instead of putting on big show, maybe I’ll do a couple small ones.
So I booked an in-store at Sonic Boom and then Zach at Porchlight mentioned a party at Hilliard’s and they were really into it so that sounds fun. And b/c Porchlight is also a coffeehouse maybe we should do one in the morning. We had all these hours in between so then it became, what if we play four shows? Everyone I kept telling would have another place to suggest and then the more I started thinking about it, it made sense. I want to celebrate local businesses and people that are actually going to stores interacting with people who run the businesses. Human connections get lost when you’re just posting a link to bandcamp. I started thinking about music and the value and the role that it plays in people’s lives.
Are you playing the same set at each location?
No. It’s gonna be mixed up. The way I usually approach shows is that I never write a set list down. I play whatever comes to mind. If I see someone in the audience that reminds me of a song or if I hear a conversation that’s related to something I’m about to play, I’ll just switch it around.
Yuuki is cool with that too?
Yeah, that’s what’s cool about him. He’s just really go with the flow and into it and that’s hard to find. Some people like to be really structured and work really hard on their craft, which is a total valid way of doing things too but I’m just kinda manic [Laughs]. I think it will be fun. I’m trying to re-learn some older songs and covers and maybe throw that in there just to amuse ourselves.
When you were at the artist residency, you were there for 3 months. How was that experience?
Yes, but I wasn’t living there. They gave me the keys to the building and had events there almost every night but during the day and after the events I could use it. Often times, I treated it like a 9-to-5 job. I’d wake up in the morning and go there, hang out. I didn’t do too much writing during that time. I played a little piano, read some books, walked around the neighborhood a bunch, went to the library a lot, museums too. At night I would show up. I’m kind of a night owl. I was struggling with that. When I got married a couple years ago. My wife has two kids so there’s other people in the house so I can’t always wake up at 2 in the morning so it was kinda like relearning the creative process and this was a nice way to get back into it. If I felt creative in the middle of the night, I had a place to go.
How do you feel Seattle has influenced your music?
I was born in Japan and moved here when I was 8. I grew up in Bellevue. For a while there wasn’t any all ages music in Seattle. So a lot of the really cool all ages stuff was happening on the east side, the Redmond Firehouse and Ground Zero, late 90’s early 2000s. There was a lot of really creative outside the box musicians coming out where I grew up so that was really influential. The geography of the place, just being surrounded by water and trees. Everytime I go on tour, I come back and appreciate the Northwest a little bit more. It really is a beautiful place. I like the bay area but it’s different. We have seasons here and it comes out in the lyrics. I’ve heard people say that my music reminds them of Seattle. I talked to someone at a show in New York who had never heard my music before and she said she just moved there from Everett and my songs made her homesick for Everett. I don’t sing specifically about Seattle but something about it is interesting. I can sorta see that. It’s like a mellowness or just an openness to Seattle. The pace of life is a little different. But it’s also peaceful. And people are a lot more willing to collaborate on stuff. There’s a really nice community of musicians here that play on each other’s records. It’s the same that I’ve found with the film world. Even photography is like that too. It feels that way because everyone knows everyone’s work.
You have a new album coming out November 4th, but do you have plans for after that? Any more acting?
That was like a really weird. That was fun. Lynn basically wrote that part for me so I can’t see that particular set of circumstances happening again any time soon. But I’m working on scoring a film for a director out in Georgia and that’s supposed to shoot this Fall so I’ll be writing music for it next year. I’d like to do acting, I enjoyed it but I didn’t enjoy the other stuff that comes with it. I went to Sundance and got to do the whole press junket business with the rest of the cast [for Touchy Feely] which I wasn’t prepared for because I just went down there to watch the movie. They said “well you’re here, let’s go talk to Entertainment Weekly.” [Laughs] That’s a whole different world.
Local artist to: Elverum Norway
RIYL: Freelance Whales, Grouplove, Highasakite, Indie Pop
Another score for the SXSW scouting as this show was on a cheerful rooftop on 6th Street and was one of my favorite performances of the week. Team Me is a pop band from Norway. Their 2011 debut album To the Treetops! won the Norwegian Grammy Awards in 2011 for “Best Pop Group of the Year.” They have performed at music festivals from Iceland Airwaves to the Great Escape Fest and more in between. The group is currently recording their second album, which hopefully will be released in 2014. With a new album, I hope another US tour is included! -Annie
Local artist to: United Kingdom
RIYL: Tunng, Simon & Garfunkel, Indie-pop, Folk
This quietly refreshing group from across the pond got my attention before SXSW but time was not on our side during the crazy-packed festival. However they played a sweet little set at The Sunset Tavern in Seattle a month later and on my birthday! Months later, I still haven’t put this lovely album to bed yet. Nor do I plan to anytime soon!