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Scotland x SXSW: The bands that brought Scottish sounds to Texas

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual conglomerate of cutting-edge culture, combining film, interactive media and, of course, music. The event has taken place annually since 1987 in Austin, Texas, and is known as an international beacon for emerging and established talent.

This year, we supported five Scottish artists on their journey to SXSW through the PRS Foundation International Showcase Fund. Here, we take a closer look at the artists and their career journeys so far, as SXSW comes to a close for another year.

Catholic Action

Catholic Action

Who are they? This four piece from Glasgow was founded in 2014, and is made up of Chris McCrory, Ryan Clark, Jamie Dubber and Andrew Macpherson.

What's their style? Their first long-player, In Memory Of, is a vibrant collection of guitar-pop anthems with an art-rock edge. Their string-driven tracks made a big splash on the Glasgow DIY scene on their inception, and in 2017, they released their debut on Luv Luv Luv Records. There's a snifter of noughties indie about their sound, but it's also known for being fabulously upbeat. In fact, NME referred to their record as 'one of 2017's funnest albums'.

What did they bring to SXSW? The band played two shows at the festival. On March 12, they performed at the British Music Embassy @ Latitude 30, and on March 14, they had a gig at Hotel Vegas Annex. Speaking about the International Showcase Fund, they told PRS Foundation: "It’s the stepping stone for us. It’s the thing that can take us from touring up and down the UK in a van that gets snowed in all the time to reaching an international audience."

Watch a short clip of Catholic Action's experience at SXSW.

C. MacLeod

C Macleod

Who are they? C Macleod (Colin Macleod) hails from Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.

What's their style? Officially, he writes and performs in the genre of FM Rock, but his steady-rhythmed melodies have a happy, jangling dream-like quality to them. Think Springsteen with a folk-rock Scottish twist. His next full-length album, Bloodlines, is produced by Ethan Jones, and is coming very soon on BMG/The End Records.

What did they bring to SXSW? Macleod played several gigs at SXSW. On March 13, he performed at the Victorian Room at The Driskill, and on March 17 he played at CU29. His vibrant live show featured brother Callum on bass, fellow islanders Scott MacLeod and Murdo Mackenzie on guitar/drums and Glaswegian Gordon Skene on piano. Colin vlogged about his experience at SXSW, in which there's a car-aoke singalong to Queen, a pledge to swap water for milkshakes, and plenty of insights into what it's like to perform at such a big festival. 

LAPS

LAPS

Who are they? A musical project from Golden Teacher's Cassie Ojay (AKA Lady Two Collars) and Organs Of Love's Alicia Matthews (AKA Sue Zuki).

What's their style? Think analogue electronics with an emphasis on sound and rhythm. They cite Ru Paul as their main influence, but they’ve also been compared to Lizzy Mercier Descloux. They are the musical sweethearts of Glasgow’s Green Door Studio, and their first EP Ladies As Pimps was self-released in 2014. It quickly became an underground cult favourite, and the duo are big hitters on the Glasgow live scene.

What did they bring to SXSW? LAPS played at the Hotel Vegas Annex on March 14. Speaking about the importance of playing at the festival, they said: “We’ve been doing this for quite a wee while now and this feels like our first big gig because it is in America. We’ve got an American release coming out with DFA, and it feels important to introduce ourselves over here.” PRS Foundation chatted to the duo in Texas, and you can watch the full extract of LAPS at SXSW on Vimeo.

Lylo

Lylo

Who are they? Lylo is made up of Glasgow boys Mitch, Justin, Jack, McCall and Niall.

What's their style? Line of Best Fit described them as a ‘melting pot of sound’, which feels about right. This band incorporates everything from pop and rock to R&B, jazz and punk. Phew. Their latest album, Post Era, is a mish-mash of sounds and influences which showcases their diversity as musicians.

What did they bring to SXSW? They played at the Hotel Vegas Annex on March 14, and The Velveeta Room on March 17.

Breakfast Muff

Breakfast Muff

Who are they? A DIY pop trio from Glasgow, consisting of Eilidh McMillan (Rapid Tan, Jealous Girlfriend), Simone Wilson (Hairband, Mary Column) and Cal Donnelly (Kaputt, Rapid Tan). They were established in their current guise in 2014.

What's their style? Fun, high-energy pop, in short. Their music tackles serious subjects, such as feminism and bullying, but there's bags of fun and personality there, too. In fact, they've described themselves in the past as "like HOLE, but funnier".

What did they bring to SXSW? The trio played at British Music Embassy @ Latitude 30 on March 12, and at the Hotel Vegas Annex on March 14. In an interview with poppedmusic.co.uk, they said they went to SXSW thanks to the funding from PRS Foundation, adding that “it’s nice to meet people and stuff, but also we just like playing shows. So we’re just playing shows and going to see loads of other shows and that’s amazing.”

About the International Showcase Fund

The International Showcase Fund offers vital support for artists, bands, songwriters and producers based in England, Scotland and Wales* who have been invited to play an international showcasing festival or conference. Creative Scotland is a partner in this fund.

The investment by Creative Scotland in the fund will give talented Scottish artists the opportunity to apply for support to travel to and perform at industry showcases and benefit from the schemes' networking, mentoring and preparation workshops. You can read more about the fund, with details on how to apply, at prsfoundation.com/funding-support/funding-music-creators/international/international-showcase-fund/.

Photo credits: Catholic Action - Gemma Dagger; LAPS - Matthew Arthur Wiliams; C Macleod - C Macleod; Breakfast Muff - Paul Burt; Lylo - Neelam Khan Veela.

This article was published on 29 Mar 2018