Europe At SXSW: Germany Sends Record Number Of Acts, Hungary Premieres

James Minor, SXSW’s head booker
– James Minor, SXSW’s head booker

Twenty-four solo artists and bands from Germany are performing at this year’s SXSW, more than ever before, while Hungary is celebrating its first showcase at the world’s largest festival for new talent.

“From the sci-fi techno of DFA’s Perel, to the 80s R&B of Ace Tee, the stark and dramatic Gemma Ray, to Morr Music electro-pop chanteuse Lali Puna, SXSW could not be more pleased to share the diverse sounds of Germany with the world,” said SXSW’s head booker James Minor.

The Initiative Musik, Germany’s federal funding agency supporting the country’s rock, pop and jazz genres, is funding 15 of the 24 acts from Germany, mainly through its so-called Short Tour Grant of €1,000 ($1,200) for each artists (plus a marketing grant if needed). Additional funding comes from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, bringing the total amount of funding for all German acts up to some €80,000 ($98,000).

One of this year’s beneficiaries is the band Lali Puna, led by keyboardist and singer Valerie Trebeljahr. She said: “I think one of the really good things about making music – aside from the large number of bad things – is that it takes you to places you have never been before. The great thing about festivals is that you can see tons of other bands for no money at all. That’s what I plan to do at SXSW when I’m not playing myself.”

Ace Tee
– Ace Tee
German lyrics mixed with US soul

Another artist who’s part of the German delegation of artists is Ace Tee. The soulful singer from Hamburg released a single called “Bist Du Down,” which got picked up by a couple of blogs and fashion sites in the States, and earned her the gig at SXSW. “It’s astonishing, because she sings in German,” her booking agent Michael Sand of Four Artists Booking told Pollstar, “but she uses the language very smoothly.” Her sound has been described as influenced by Aaliyah, TLC and the Fugees.

Prof. Dieter Gorny, chairman of the Initiative Musik’s advisory board, who’s on site in Texas, said, “The 24 bands represent a young German music scene that has a lot of international potential,” and considers an appearance at SXSW a potential “stepping-stone for entering the North American market.”

The German Haus, the country’s SXSW hub for the musical delegation, is located at the Barracuda on 7th street, which is also where a lot of the showcases are taking place over the coming days. Around 1,300 of SXSW’s 70,000-plus delegates in 2018 came from Germany, most of them from the interactive sector, making it one of the more strongly represented countries, alongside the UK and Canada.

The UK’s music delegation at SXSW is known as the British Music Embassy, a partnership between the Association of Independent Music (AIM), BBC Music, the Department for International Trade (DIT), PPL and PRS for Music. It is located at the Latitude on San Jacinto Blvd. The British lineup at SXSW 2018 includes Bugsy Malone,

P-C Rae, booker for Slottsfjell Festival in Norway, has been producing the UK’s events at SXSW since 2008. He highlighted the role production companies play in making a SXSW show happen: “with so many obstacles on the path to success for an artist, not least the brutal cost of trying to break America, it is so, so important that we are able to offer the acts that make this investment the best possible chance to shine at SXSW. With gold standard backline from Marshall, great crew from Cato, a mighty Tannoy PA and a beautiful desk from Allen & Heath, we feel that The British Music Embassy offers an unparalleled showcasing platform in Austin for new British acts often playing the US for the very first time.”

The UK has particularly high hopes for its jazz delegation, which includes Zara McFarlane, Ezra Collective,

Latitude 30 in Texas
– Latitude 30 in Texas
Home of the British SXSW delegation

The Dutch are back at SXSW, too. Unsurprisingly, given the excellent work of the country’s export program Dutch Impact, which is present at all major showcase festivals of this world, including The Great Escape, ILMC (both UK), Reeperbahn Festival (Germany), Midem (France), Eurosonic Noorderslag (Netherlands) and Recontres Trans Musicales (France).

This year, the Dutch Impact SXSW line-up includes Yori Swart, Rosemary & Garlic, Max Meser, Mozes & The Firstborn, The Homesick and

For Hungary, it’s the first official showcase at SXSW 2018, and the country’s music export office promises “the best of Hungary’s many worlds, from chic cosmopolitan singer-songwriter to upbeat club music to wild and crazy freak folk.”

On March 16 attendees will have the chance to see Belau, Bohemian Betyars, Boggie, The Qualitons and Rockajam live on stage at the Palm Door on Sabine. Aron Romhanyi, the artistic director of Music Export Budapest, said: “We would like to thank SXSW for hosting the Sounds from Hungary showcase, and Music Export Budapest, the Hungarian National Trading House, the National Cultural Fund (NKA), the Embassy of Hungary in Washington and the Hungarian Cultural Center in NY for their support.”

David Bodnar
– Belau
One of five bands from Hungary that are going to perform at SXSW 2018