The 2012 SXSW Music Festival is in the books, y’all. Your friendly neighborhood VH1 Tuner team was down in Austin for five days, but it felt more like a month (in a good way!). By that, we mean that Austin is a very inviting place, the kind of city that is big enough that you don’t get bored by it, but small enough that you get familiar with the layout quickly. In short, by the time we left the city on Sunday afternoon, it sort of felt like home.
If you’ve never been down to Austin —this was actually the first time down there for both myself and our ace photographer, Jen Marigliano— we wanted to give you a vibe of what the city is like during the festival. So, in this special SXSW edition of our long-running Music Seen feature, you’ll get a sense of what we experienced during our short trip to the Lone Star state. You’ll see some of the artists that we spent time with (like B.o.B, T.I., Neon Hitch, Train, Kimbra and more!), the crowds of people who fly in from all over the world to see live music at intimate venues, and how music truly takes over this awesome college town for six days each and every March. Enjoy!
We’re trying to write this through tears so we’re sorry if what we’re about to say comes off as overly emotional or melancholy, but we’re broken hearted. Frank Ocean has announced via his Tumblr that he won’t be turning his critically acclaimed mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, into the hotly anticipated Nostalgia, Lite, full album after all. He wrote, “‘Nostalgia, Lite.’ is never coming out… Hahaha. What I look like a year later re-releasing my last album? Not icey. B*tch I’m icey.” Ocean had previously promised the album for summer this year, but instead has left us shattered and hopeless. There will, however, be a Def Jam debut from Ocean this spring, of which Ocean said, “[It felt like Def Jam was] signing a kid with dreams and talent with no intention of following through… [But now] we’re cool. There is a new album coming. I’m super proud of it.” So we suppose all hope is not lost after all!
Esperanza Spalding played live on The Late Show With David Letterman last night, and blew us away with her amazing fusion sound. Somewhere between jazz and pop, Spalding’s track “Radio Song” is a contradiction, frenetic in it’s influences and unpredictability but somehow still completely soothing and soulful. We half expected to see Mark Ronson playing guitar behind her, and we can already see the success of a future collaboration (hint hint). “Radio Song” is from Spalding’s new album Radio Music Society, and it’s the kind of track that’s going to be perfect for sunset cocktails and driving with the top down when the sun is shining.
Nicki Minaj Is The New Face Of Pepsi
You got that super fizz? Or should we just stop with the bad puns? Nicki Minaj is the new face of Pepsi’s “pop” brand, so you can expect some seriously spectacular commercials to start popping up. [Prefix]
Beyonce Announces Her First Post-Baby Performances Beyonce is back on the horse and ready to perform after the birth of baby Blue Ivy. We reported earlier today that Jay-Z is allegedly trying to score Bey a lucrative world tour deal, but it has since been announced that the new mommy will play three shows from May 25th to the 27th at Atlantic City’s Revel entertainment centre. [Consequence Of Sounds]
VH1′s current You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6, is pretty new to American audiences. Their debut full length album, Colours, came out in January and the band has been touring the States with bands like Augustana in order to get the word out. “It’s been an experience, man, it’s been amazing,” Graffiti6 frontman Jamie Scott told us about the touring experience when we caught up with him at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas over the weekend. “I was never really ready for the reaction we’ve gotten in America with this record, purely because I’ve never [toured] here before. It’s a daunting place, when you think about it, but we’ve had the most amazing reaction. So far, man, it’s felt pretty incredible.”
Jamie and his bandmates in Graffiti6 played a grand total of 10 shows (!!!) during their trip to Austin this year, which marks their third trip down to Texas for the annual confab. With each passing year, their stature here in the US of A has grown, and based on the reaction they got from crowds this year, it sure seems as if they’ll continue on this upward trajectory over the course of this month and beyond.
The brand new album from The Shins, Port Of Morrow, is their first since 2006′s Wincing The Night Away. Frontman James Mercer kept busy in the interim, teaming up with super-producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse on the Broken Bells project. So, the first thing we asked James when we caught up with him over the weekend at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival was what made him feel that the time was right to revisit The Shins?
“During the Broken Bells project, everything that I did creatively, I did on the spot with Brian [Burton, aka Danger Mouse],” he explained. “Since I made that conscious decision that I wouldn’t be bringing ideas I made up at home into the studio, all of the stuff that I came up with on my own went to The Shins. I just had a build-up of ideas for songs, and parts, and choruses and verses.”
Well, judging by the reaction to the new material —the band just graced the stage of Saturday Night Live a few Saturdays ago—he picked a perfect time to rededicate himself to this particular creative outlet of his. Port Of Morrow, which comes out tomorrow, is not only the name of the album and a song on the record, but also a real-life industrial port in Oregon. “[Port Of Morrow] is so poetic sounding, it sounds like something out of Shakespeare to me,” Mercer revealed. “I thought about it like this departure point that you would leave, but I also thought about the river Styx. So, it came to symbolize death, I guess? [Laughs] Maybe I shouldn’t have called the record ‘Death.’”
It looks like it’s Deadmau5 vs. Everyone after the DJ went on a vitriolic rant on his Tumblr today. The helmeted electronic producer wrote, “[sic] All to often, there’s an influx of “big names” that would get thrown around the label from time to time and of course, they fly off the table and out the f**kin door faster than they hit my desk. eg. do you want to do a track with big name X, remix huge pop act y, etc etc. no. i f**king don’t. i really REALLY don’t.” The daggers really start flying the more worked up Deadmau5 seems to get with his written rant, going so far as to say, “The last thing i want to do… is take the meanings and feelings of a piece of music and have some f**king dipsh*t blab about lookin sexy, poppin bottles, “droppin bass”, or ANYTHING club related. which fortunately for the world *rolls eyes* makes up for 99% of the “electronic music” fad that’s apparently considered mainstream now.”
Yikes. We can’t help but feel like there’s some sort of direct stab at David Guetta here, given his propensity for high profile collaborations. But then there also seems to be a dig at LMFAO, Taio Cruz and Nicki Minaj as he ends the rant by stating, “The moral of the story is here, is that this is what songwritting should be about. Music is meant to provoke feeling and thought. So if we were to go by popular music, we should all be thinking how sexy we are and we know it, or how our hands should be contstantly up in the air… or maybe we should drop that bass because its too f**king heavy to lift or whatever the f**king problem with bass is these days.” It’s quite an impassioned rant — and a little bit rich coming from someone who was part of that very confusing Foo Fighters, Guetta, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown Grammys mash up.
Fun.‘s sophomore LP, Some Nights, just came out to strong reviews and even stronger sales, buoyed by the phenomenal success of the album’s first single, “We Are Young” (which recently hit #1 on the Billboard charts). The song’s subject matter is a bit mysterious in nature, so when we caught up with the three gents who make up the band in Austin during the 2012 South By Southwest Music Festival, the very first thing we asked them was to clear up the debate surrounding the meaning of the song’s line, “I know I gave it to you months ago.”
“[It's about] The Clap,” Fun. lead singer Nate Ruess deadpanned when we asked him. Admittedly, our jaws instantly hit the floor, but then the guys started laughing. “It’s not literal, having written it,” Nate confessed. “The whole song, also isn’t necessarily about something specific. I think it’s taking insecurities and nights out and combining them into one night. It’s not literal.” PHEW.
In an interview with BBC’s Radio 1, Katy Perry threw us a giant bone (it might be a different kind of bone depending on your gender) by talking candidly about a possible collaboration with Rihanna. Katy said of good friend RiRi, “We’ve collaborated on a lot of things, but just not songs yet. It’s one of those things that’s got so much build up that we have to deliver. I want it to be like that Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin song “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”, not like [Shakira and Beyonce Knowles'] “Beautiful Liar””. Oof, sorry Bey and Shakira, looks like Katy doesn’t like your collaborative effort so much!
Insults aside, Katy continued, “I definitely want to do something that is so iconic. [Rihanna's] kind of busy too. We’re both busy but we planted the seed two years ago. How disappointed would you be if that song came out and it’s no good? Sometimes you have to wait for greatness”. It’s somewhat of a relief to hear the girls want to produce something of good quality, not just something for the sake of sensationalism, especially given the impending Teenage Dream re-release and Rihanna’s never ending succession of albums. But still — on ya bikes ladies, we can’t wait for this promised awesomeness forever!
Rumors are circulating that Jay-Z is looking for big bucks — $150 million to be exact — to send wifey and baby momma Beyoncé on tour. Apparently, a source told the New York Post, “Just weeks after the birth of Blue Ivy, Jay met with Live Nation to discuss a tour for Beyoncé… He wanted a deal worth about $150 million, but they countered with a lower offer.” While representatives from the Bey-Z camp have not commented on the matter, we can’t help but feel a little bit giddy, and are crossing our fingers that there’s some truth in the report. We were expecting an extended hiatus from Bey after the birth of Blue Ivy, and would obviously love to see her back on the road and performing for us. That does beg the question however — what of the baby? Would Blue Ivy embark on her first ever tour, not even a year old? Could momma Bey possibly leave her behind so soon after she came into the world?