With SXSW gearing up in Austin, Texas this weekend, we couldn’t resist creating a list of artists those of you lucky enough to attend should have on your schedule. Sure, you could unearth talent via Soundcloud, but trust us – it’s so much better to discover your next favorite act through the week-long festival. This round-up consists of creatives distinct and akin to no one in their respective scenes. We did the pre-planning for you. You’re welcome.
Below you'll find ten artists from all corners of the globe that we've highlighted from the festival's enormous lineup. From the rapidly rising Bad Gyal to German rap-sensation Ace Tee, these are the music acts you don't want to miss.
Representing: Hamburg, Germany
Even though the Ghanaian artist released “Bist Du Down” over a year ago, wir sind still down with the music maverick that is Ace Tee. Hailing from Hamburg, Germany, Ace Tee is bringing a fresh style of R&B-meets-hip hop grooves to Deutschland that channels that of the ‘90s (we’re completely here for it). In addition to dropping bops such as the aforementioned “Bist Du Down”, last year the burgeoning R&B queen found time to release a fashion capsule through H&M. Her debut album is slated to be released later this year, but in the meantime, bang the SWV-“Anything”-sampled tune “Bounce auf dem Beat” through your speakers for a touch of nostalgia and plenty of bass.
Representing: Barcelona, Spain
Before even turning the age of 20, Bad Gyal released her Slow Wine mixtape that placed her at the top tier of artists rising out of Spain. Slow Wine brings the heat with bilingual lyrics, dancehall vibes and Reggaeton fixings – the recipe for a solid mixtape. In addition to that project, Bad Gyal’s cover of Rihanna’s “Work” – named “Pai” – has us breaking out our best dance moves and wishing we knew more Spanish. Nos encanta mucho.
Representing: Highland Park, California USA
It’s hard to believe that Billie is merely 16 years-old, because her power-packed voice sounds well beyond her years. Last year saw the release of dont smile at me, Billie’s debut EP. Between Billie’s poignant lyrics (dare you to listen to “watch” without a smirk and a tear) coupled with the EP’s boisterous beats, it’s obvious she’s set on a trajectory heading to longevity as a successful artist.
Representing: Seoul, South Korea
No one can deny the pervasive nature of the K-pop craze that’s taken place as of late. However, Seoul-based CIFIKA is a triple threat – singer/songwriter/producer – that’s game-changing the way you look at Korea’s musical landscape. She combines English and Korean lyrics with hypnotic beats; multi-textured rhythms along with seraphic vocals. Her music defies the boundaries between electronic and pop. Her brand new PRISM EP grabs the rapt attention of the listener and draws them into the colorful, futuristic world that CIFIKA has distinctly created on her own.
Representing: London, UK
Hip-hop heads and house music lovers alike will appreciate the Donea’O creative touch. As a producer, songwriter, vocalist and rapper, Donae’O has set himself apart from his peers as a rare, multi-faceted diamond in the now thriving UK scene. Though not new to the game – he has more than 16 years of music experience – Donae’O has a fresh approach to everything from production to songwriting in R&B, grime, garage and house amid the other genres we love.
Representing: Austin, Texas USA
This Austinite is serving up rhythmic harmonies amongst raw and relatable lyrics about all things love. Her most recent album, Move Me II: The Present, is as real as it gets. Think heart-capturing lines coupled with Mélat’s wide range in vocals fluctuating between deeply soulful to a delicate whisper. You’ll be wrapped up in your feelings in no time - guaranteed.
Representing: Newark, New Jersey USA
Where do we begin? R3LL is one of Jersey club’s pioneers and innovators. His third EP, A Jerz Love Story, was released in January 2018, and features vocals from fellow New Jersey natives UNIIQU3 (who is the inimitable reigning queen of Jersey club), TT The Artist and Bleszt. Though R3LL is no newbie to the music world, he still brings the initial thrill that’s usually associated with budding producers along with a renewed creative approach to the tracks he either creates or remixes. He has taken his matchless production style live across the globe, further spreading seeds of awareness as to what Jersey club is all about.
Representing: Taipei, Taiwan
Remember the days when you would listen to your own music while you played on your muted volume Sega game? Well, Sonia Calico’s assortment of tracks, particularly “Sawa Dee Ka”, would be just the soundtrack for such occasion. She plays with an array of audible confections ranging from a dose of breakbeat to a dash of trap to a hint of Mandopop and all the in-betweens. Based off of her amazing 2016 Boiler Room set, you can expect a highly energetic performance consisting all the sounds that inspire her eclectic palate.
Representing: Sydney, Australia
Indulge in the soul-stirring storytelling atop a bed of electro-pop of one of our favorite Aussie artists. With nods from internationally renowned artists of the likes of Jhené Aiko, Tinashe, Rudimental and Tinie Tempah, Thandi is a surefire talent we look forward to following in the years to come. We love her implementation of UK garage and house on “Standing Too Close”; the combo isn’t groundbreaking, but Thandi turns those classic sounds into something completely unique via swirling, emotive vocals.
Still got SXSW on the brain? Take a look at our list of the 12 wildest moments in the festival's history right here.