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SXSW 2019: 1,400 musicians to 50

All of the best musicians to see at SXSW 2019

There are at least 1,466 musicians performing at SXSW for 2019. I went through every one of them and narrowed it down to 58 (just under 4%). I tried to get a wide range of styles but couldn’t seem to find anything trap, even though there was a lot of it.

Out of the 58, there were three performers I’ve already seen that are top of the list to see at SX: Durand Jones & The Indications, DRAMA, and JID, but none are #1. That goes to Dos Santos. I just heard about them, I don’t know their music that well, but based on what I’ve heard, it’s the one performer I want to see. I had a feeling about Tommy Guerrero for Noise Pop fest and that turned out well.

Going through the thousand songs for SX, a few thousand for Majestic Casual, and many more thousands trying to organize Silence Nogood’s back catalog, I think I have an ear for finding musicians, but I still struggle to convince others. It’s hard to convey the context on why you should listen to these artists, but seeing them live is the ultimate goal to understand who a musician is. My job is to nurture that path. Something I’ll work particularly hard on this year and SX is my first big step forward.

See you there!

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Noise Pop 2019: Did it right for the first time

And found a great guitar player in the meantime

I’ve done Noise Pop Festival all wrong for the past four years. Usually, I go through the lineup when it’s announced, find the acts I know, and go see them. For the fifth year, I did it different.

I went through all of the 150 or so musicians playing this year and got it down to a handful or so to see. Noise Pop made it easier to get through all of the artists. It still took waayy too long, but I love to take on massive amounts of music.

I made a playlist of 14 musicians (9% of the lineup) for “Where I’ll be at Noise Pop Festival 2019,” but I only got to go to see five. It was all over The Bay Area, raining half the time, but I found at least one musician I’ll be following (for real) to every gig I see. Guess which musician it was.

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Tommy Guerrero and his guitar

This is gonna take me a long time to digest

I don’t listen to enough good albums. It’s hard making a great song, let alone more than a few in a row.

I found Tommy Guerrero out of the 150+ musicians performing at Noise Pop Festival this year. He reminded me of the psychedelic surf rock reminiscent of Khruangbin and a bit like Toro y Moi too, but after going through his ten albums, he’s incomparable. His rifts are the catchiest thing I’ve heard all year.

I chose a little over 30 tracks to feature here, but I have a feeling all his music will set in with time. Full albums and all. There’s just too much to love here and I don’t say that enough.

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A COLORS festival in Berlin needs to happen

The simplest backdrop brings out the best in a musician's performance

COLORS out of Berlin produces some of the cleanest music performances on YouTube with some of the biggest prospects in music right now. Going through the 271 videos they’ve uploaded so far, and picking 36 (13%), two themes in my selection process stuck out.

The videos didn’t help every performer sound better. In the end, it was about their vocal chops. It did, however, bring out the best in the voices that stood out. Imagine a COLORS festival in Berlin. Live is the ultimate goal for any content company and most others.

I also realized, or more so confirmed, my dislike for listening to rap from outside of the US. It’s not about what they say, it’s about how they say it. Not being exposed enough to the phonetics in other languages when it comes to music has trained my brain to prefer the American accent. Even Canadian rappers I can’t take seriously sometimes. “Aboot” makes me chuckle, let alone when it’s in a rap song.

That’s why I appreciate COLORS. I trust their selection and they expose me to rap from around the world. I know if I listen long enough, they’ll find something I love. And if not COLORS, there are plenty of other international curation houses that’ll turn something up. Although not with a simple, vibrant, one-color backdrop that COLORS displays so beautifully behind each upload.

Would love to see Durand Jones & The Indications in front of COLORS someday.

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Motez with the GoldLink Remix

Unpacking a song takes more than a few listens

The best way to figure out if someone’s gonna like your track is to expose it to them in a few different ways. Not by flooding their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with impersonal self-promotion, but going to where they listen.

I first heard about Motez’s remix of “Palm Trees” by GoldLink when I dug into GoldLink’s catalog two years ago. It was just a good remix at the time but set the seed for something bigger.

Six months ago, I saw the GoldLink remix pop up in my Discovery Weekly playlist on Spotify. After that I started placing it everywhere I listen: resharing it on SoundCloud, playlisting it on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music.

What makes it so special is its longevity – when novelty doesn’t fade fast and nuance unfolds slowly with every listen. When a track you’ve heard at different times in your life becomes a part of your story. I’m still unpacking this one two years later.

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DRAMA, a duo

Sad stories & house music

I first heard about DRAMA through their Fuck Dave track, featured on our with Soul playlist from 2017, but I didn’t realize what the duo had to offer up otherwise until now. It’s gonna help define the beginning of my 2019.

Via Rosa, the singing half of DRAMA, sings with ease in sound and heartbreak in story. She reminds me of Madelyn Grant. The inflection in her voice. A raspy whisper you hear even when she’s just talking.

Na’el Shehade, the producing half of DRAMA, gives Via some sexy four on the floor tracks and at times brightens up her sad songs.

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JID

Slick talker

JID’s hit, Never, reminded me of Anderson .Paak, but the Atlanta-based rapper gets compared to Kendrick more often. His rap style may not be as pioneering as the two yet, but he has a finesse with words just as good.

With rap and other forms of rhetoric, I’ve always been less about what you say and more about how you say it. I have to know a rapper’s style intimately before I try to understand what they’re saying. I still may not be getting the knowledge in rap that I do in longer forms of written word – mostly audiobooks & podcasts – but wordplay like JID’s is just as inspiring.

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Dream of Falling

It's like tropical house, but not terrible

In the wake of the tropical house bubble, back in the time of Kygo, came something much better. This ethereal style of house, popularized by ODESZA, will be appreciated far longer than its tropical house counterpart. Although the depths of it, beyond ODESZA, isn’t appreciated enough. That’s what this playlist is for.

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Famous Hips

Pop music remixed with groove

Remixes get a bad rap. They’ve got a famous song to compete with and the production value probably isn’t as good. That said, you gotta appreciate what they give us.

Remixes are meant to take the songs we love and make them something for the club. Give it groove. The production might not be 100% on all these, but for some they’re better than their original.

Sadly, this is the first playlist out of our latest that won’t be available on Spotify or Apple Music. Usually, the two music services have at least 50% of what YouTube Music and SoundCloud have, but this time it’s close to zero. I don’t know if one of these remixes are on Spotify or Apple. Thankfully, Dubset is changing that.

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o f f b e a t

Strange is something, especially with sound

This style all started for me with the quirky, anime & classic video-game sampling kawaii music. It’s grown into all sorts of future bass and trap offshoots. And I love it so much for its experimentation.

I first wanna here melodies and rhythms I’ve never heard before. It resonating is second, albeit more important.

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