Snap It, Work It: SXSW 2015 In Instax Portraits + Mini Interviews

Music, SXSW

SXSW is kind of like musical Tinder: everyone’s putting themselves out there, but it’s tough to get to know an artist when they’re playing abbreviated shows and audiences are spoiled for choice. In the middle of the whirlwind, we still found time to swipe right on some old and new faves. Check out our series of instant photos and mini interviews for a candid look at artists including Ryan Hemsworth, JEFF the Brotherhood, GRMLN, Girlpool, Happyness, Yumi Zouma, and more.

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From Stromae and Real Estate to Iceage and QT: A SXSW Set Photo Diary

SXSW, Music

The past week at SXSW has been a wild ride, packed with tacos, jean shorts, and fresh music from around the world. We searched Austin far and wide to find a little something for everyone. Polished pop came courtesy of Marina and the Diamonds, Christine and the Queens, and Stromae; a compellingly unhinged set from rapper Heems showed the spontaneous side of SXSW.

Sunny, crunchy vibes from acts like Cobalt Cranes, and Palma Violets, complimented the Texas weather, and the relentless energy of Kero Kero Bonito, Diarrhea Planet, Spring King, and Iceage erased any concerns about festival fatigue. Emotionally piercing artists Mitski and Years & Years were devastating standouts in the midst of the weeklong battle of the bands, and it would be amiss to not mention the party-starting talents of Skylar Spence and Shamir, whose forthcoming material is now even more anticipated. Below, check out a series of photos from the week and listen to an accompanying Spotify playlist.

1courtneybarnettCourtney Barnett, Red 7, March 16.

2cymbalseatCymbals Eat Guitars, Red 7, March 16

3eastindiaEast India Youth, Red 7, March 16.

4realestateReal Estate, Red 7, March 16.

5colbaltCobalt Cranes, Hotel Vegas, March 17.

6goochThe Gooch Palms, Hotel Vegas, March 17.

7eta et aliae, Parish Underground, March 18.

8ker Kero Kero Bonito, Parish Underground, March 18.

9stom  Stromae, The FADER Fort, March 18.

11yumi Yumi Zouma, Parish Underground, March 18.

12queens Jamaican Queens, Spider House Ballroom, March 19.

13qt QT, The FADER Fort, March 19.

14shamir Shamir, The FADER Fort, March 19.

 16mit Mitski, The Main, March 20.

17chris Christine and the Queens, Empire Garage, March 21.

18dm Diarrhea Planet, Empire Garage, March 21.

20iceage Iceage, Red 7, March 21.


22marina Marina and the Diamonds, Empire Garage, March 21.

23yearsYears & Years, Empire Control Room, March 21.



Marina and the Diamonds Finds Truth on ‘Froot’

Marina and the Diamonds, Music

Main image via Atlantic Records; photos in post by Katie Chow

Few people inspire as much devotion as Marina Diamand is, who makes heartfelt pop music under the name Marina and the Diamonds. As we meet at the headquarters of her label Atlantic Records, there are murmurs about fans camped outside, hoping to meet their queen. Over the past five years, the Welsh-born artist has become one of pop culture’s most charismatic critics and creators, and she’s not about to stop.

On her 2010 debut LP The Family Jewels, she established herself as an outsider’s icon, casting a sharp eye at modern life on early hits like “Oh No!” and “Hollywood.” With her 2012 follow-up
Electra Heart, Marina inhabited the titular character, a timeless bleached-blonde heroine making her way through life and love. While this album cemented her pop princess status around the world, the grueling touring schedule that followed led to her reinvention on Froot, out last week. Entirely self-written and co-produced with David Kosten, it’s Marina’s most personal album yet, a pared-down and organic tribute to love both ripe and rotten. Read on for Marina’s insights on the making of Froot, finding herself, and living an amazing life.

How did your songwriting style change with this record?

After Electra Heart, which was co-written with quite a lot of people, I completely changed the way that I wrote. I used to just write on keyboard and compose lyrics and melody the same time as the chords, but post-Electra, I just started to make instrumentals, so I would build a crude version of the tracks and then put melody and lyrics on top of it. So that really opened up a whole new way of writing for me.

How did working with just one producer change how you made this album?

I was about to say it’s more cohesive, but I don’t know if it is, because the sonics really jump around quite a lot. But I think that’s just how I write, so I feel like it was cohesive in that it was pretty much a live album, like 70% live and 30% electronic stuff, which was good. We used the same band for the whole thing, we had Jason Cooper, who’s the drummer in the Cure, and a guitarist from the British band Everything Everything.

So you had more time to create a little family around the album.

Kind of, yeah. It’s quite tough, recording, not one of my favorite things to do (laughs). The biggest difference was recording it in a three month period, whereas usually, I’d do a track a week as I was traveling. That’s how the other albums were created, so it was really nice.

Now that you’ve been making longer songs as well, do you think that was a result of being able to take your time with things?

Not really, the structure’s very loose, in that I want to have more of a narrative or storytelling-based objective. I think I just wasn’t concerned anymore about the radio, or being pop or being not. After Electra Heart, the second album, I got that out of my system and it was just really enjoyable to write again. For example, with “Froot,” it’s very long, but it was meant to be long.

Conventional radio matters much less now, anyhow.

I’m lucky enough to have a strong fan base, and I think that also made me worry less. I get the feeling that they’re with me for a journey, as opposed to buying singles. The way that I follow artists that I love, I’m with them for the long run because I’m interested in them as a person and what they have to say, as opposed to like, “This is a massive club smash.”


Would you say that the new album feels more spiritual?

Yeah, I think that’s a fair observation. I think I’m just at the point in my life where I was reassessing things and reassessing my priorities and even who I was friends with, who I socialized with, just every corner of my life was put under a magnifying glass after
Electra Heart. To put it truthfully, I was just really depressed, it was a depressing campaign for a few different reasons. You need those moments to reassess everything to get back on the right path. I feel different from how I used to feel.

Are you familiar with the concept of Saturn returns?

No. Is this a 27-year-old thing?

Yeah, it’s about the number of Earth years that Saturn takes to go around the sun causing a disruption in your life, and it kicks in around 27-29. Do you feel like that was true for you?

I mean, who knows, but 27 was the turning
point for me.

It sounds like that change has also allowed you to get more vulnerable as well.

Yeah, and also be truthful with yourself. Also, once you do that, you start to attract other things that weren’t coming to you before. How you feel about determines your whole life, and I never realized that before.

When you’re living in a way when you spend most of your time surrounded by others, it takes a while to start looking at yourself.

For sure. I think just having a break from touring probably helped a bit, I was on the road for like five years.


The last time I saw you was in the summer of 2012, and I loved the production value of the show and the retro theme. What’s the aesthetic going to be like for your upcoming shows?

I’m really excited, that’s when the vision comes to life for me. The theme is neon nature, so a very hyperreal stylized world that the fan walks into. I just want it to feel like another planet, basically, filled with tropical electric flowers, glowing grapevines, I can’t wait. I want it to be surreal, basically.

I liked how in the past you had the Americana theme, which is also hyperrealistic in its own way.

I think I touched on it with the first album, then with Electra Heart,
it really managed to encapsulate that and how that was being represented in our generation at the time. I was obsessed with zeitgeist, so I was always looking for what teenagers on Tumblr and photography sites [were featuring], I was really obsessed with what was coming up and why it was coming up. That very much inspired Electra Heart and then the live show, that kind of sassy, girly, sickly thing really worked. It was interesting to see that come up, then like, two years later…

Do you find that you’re still very concerned with what other people are doing right now?

No, not anymore. I don’t care, I just want to live an amazing life and experience being happy and looking after the people who are around me. That’s all there is to it, that’s the point.

What does living an amazing life mean to you?

Living an amazing life is doing things that inspire you and stimulate you, not imposing any limits on yourself. I think to feel like that, you have to be around the right people. Again, it relates back to being truthful with yourself and asking yourself “Who am I?” or “What do I believe?” rather than “What am I feeling pressured to believe or feeling pressured to be?” That’s a happy life.

Would you say this is your most personal record?

That’s a good question. I definitely think it’s the most transparent, but Electra Heart was personal in its own ways.

In a way that creating a character becomes an outlet?

I think there were character moments on “Primadonna Girl,” “Bubblegum Bitch” that are very playful and they represent one part of your character or part of female identity. But then there were other ones like “Starring Role” and “Lies” that were personal songs about a relationship, but you’re right, actually, this record is definitely the most personal.

Since it’s the most personal, what do you hope other people get out of it?

I don’t know, maybe to feel some kind of relief or solace if there are things that they’re dealing with, things that we all deal with. Very human things. It’s up to them, really, whatever they feel.

I feel with this record, I didn’t write it to write a record or put an album out because I have a contract with a label, it was more that I have something that I want to say and whether anyone hears it or not isn’t of any concern to me. It’s like, I need to write this.

Can you go back to what you were saying about exploring female identity? Do you find yourself still doing that?

No, not really. I think it’s also part of just being a bit younger and you’re still trying to figure out who you are. Maybe that took me a bit longer than other people, or maybe everyone feels the same. I think I’ve found it very satisfying to represent those kinds of archetypes in Electra and the record, to kind of play with them. But that is no more.

With the rise of things like Tumblr, it’s easier for everyone to define themselves by these surface aesthetic things, but obviously that’s not everything a person is.

Sometimes you need to do that because you can’t express it in another way. Maybe that’s what I was doing. (laughs)

So you’ve found that with time, it’s easier to express other things about who you are?

Yeah, and once I’d done Electra Heart, there were many things that I was doing that didn’t feel right. Who wants to play a character? It’s really hard, it’s not like you’re in a play or in a theater and you get to go home at night. You have to look like something else all the time. Even though it was fun on one level, it was kind of a trap in another way. Once I’d done that, I knew what I didn’t want anymore in another sense. It kind of clarifies everything, in terms of how you feel.

A Photographic Journey through SXSW with Todd DiCiurcio

All photos by Megan DiCiurcio unless otherwise noted.

Todd DiCiurcio is a New York based artist whose work blurs the line between drawing/painting and performance; he creates the work as musicians perform in front of him, responding to the ambiance, the musician, and the performance itself. His work winds up almost as a vivid collaboration with the energy of the music present in his work. He’s documented performances from artists like Bon Jovi, New Order, and The Rolling Stones, and for SXSW, he captured performances from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to Zoe Kravitz. Here, his diary from the festival.

Day 1:  The rubber hit the road in Austin the moment we got off the plane.  Greeted by Austin’s treasures, designer Gail Chovan and neon sculptor Evan Voyles, we got the party started at Billy Reid/Third Man Records’ Austin Shindig.  (Above photo by Taylor Steele.)


Getting warmed up on a collab with Creed Voyles.  He & his twin sister Zelda were born with Toxoplasmosis…Creed, 77 surgeries later, & Zelda not far behind are ready to change the world with their gifts.


Megs stays cool in Tommy while walking around Austin. Photo by Todd DiCiurcio 


The morning of the big day.  Arriving at Spotify House to set up the Squarespace Artist Lounge for me to create from.


Loved having the Spotify VIP Artist Green House to chill & show the musicians my work in progress post-performance.


Sharpening my tools…


Laying the grounds for the coming sounds.


Wake Up Call:  Wyclef Jean kicks things off with in his own words,  a “Brooklyn Block Party”.


Megs staying dry after we moved the operation to another area due to rain. Photo by Todd DiCiurcio


Making marks with Prhyme during the finale performance.



Joey Bada$$ with a SZA shoulder mix….


The finale work from Squarespace Artist Lounge at Spotify House. From left to right:  DJ Maseo, Prhyme, Wale, Wyclef, Pell, Joey Bada$$ & SZA.


The good vibes at SXSW brought me to New Community’s private NoName House next.  Here I was able to draw Summer Moon, The Letts,  & The Mystery Lights

Finished piece of Summer Moon performing, made up of the Like’s Tennessee Thomas on drums, Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes on vocals and bass, Au Revoir Simone’s Erika Spring on keyboards & Lewis Lazar on guitar.


The Letts artwork.


The Mystery Lights piece.


Finished drawing The Mystery Lights.  Photo by Taylor Steele 


Next up,  a visit to church where Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros performed their new album in its entirety for the first time. For all of us sinners…hallelujah!


Drawing of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.


In the stained glass light, confessions with Brooklyn’s own, Alberta Cross.


Drawing of Alberta Cross.


Earlier this night I caught up with Lolawolf, featuring Zoe Kravitz on vocals.


Austin dawns & we walk on:  Recharging in Gail & Evan’s Austin studio for the day & into the night where some brilliant secret performances happened by Dan Dyer,  Shelley Colvin, Darden Smith, David Garza, Kirby Brown, Wesley Geiger, Evan Voyles & others.


Shelley Colvin,  Dan Dyer & Evan Voyles.


Shelley Colvin & Dan Dyer artwork


David Garza, Darden Smith & Dan Dyer piece.


Evan Voyles


Evan Voyles


Taking it all in with Jez Donohoe, The Bearded Bastard,  Taylor Steele & Megs. Photo by Todd DiCiurcio 


New Daze….Amped to catch a show by legend Steve Smyth!


Drawing Steve Smyth.


Finished drawing of Steve Smyth.


And on the last day,  Thee Oh Sees were created in The Spider House Ballroom,  Austin.  Michelle at Panache Booking (@panachebooking) throws the coolest underground parties EVER.


Finished Thee Oh Sees drawing outside the venue.



Some bathroom reading.

What To Wear At SXSW This Week

Photo Credit: David X Prutting/

Austin is as cool a city as they come. The city is generally populated by a very hip crowd, but come SXSW (SXMusic kicks off today) it fills up with culture-makers from around the country. It’s around 70 degrees (ah!) in the city that prides itself on  the mission to “KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD.” The only people dressed up are celebrities–the general population is keeping it casual. At a festival that mixes film, music, technology, and is just adding fashion to the mix, it’s a perfect occasion to get experimental. If ever there were a time to let your fashion freak flag fly, SXSW is that time.


L to R Clockwise: Chloe Elsie crossbody bag, Frame Denim Button-Down, Cutler and Gross Aviators, Current/Elliott Striped Tee-Shirt, Frye Boots, Etro Printed Trousers, Saint Laurent Platforms, Soludos Leather Espadrilles, Adidas Superstar Sneakers, MiH Denim Shorts, Isabel Marant Wrap NecklaceFINDS+ Koza Elyse Fringed Herringbone Cotton Kaftan


Star DJ/Yogi Gina Turner’s Guide to SXSW

House music and yoga may seem an unlikely combination but in the hands of Gina Turner, the two couldn’t be a more natural fit.

This SXSW, she’s bringing all her talents to the table. Check out her music this weekend at the Healthgoth popup or take a break from the crowds for some Turner-taught yoga this Thursday.


Check out Turner’s eight Austin/SXSW faves below.

“The fader fort to me is a staple of SXSW, it’s always very very worth the wait!”


2. Dr. Martens @ Bar 96
“I live for Doc Martens and this is always a fun event to go to at SXSW!”

bar 96

3. Mad Decent Showcase
“The mad decent parties are the best ever, and I will definitely be at the one in Austin, it’s a no brainer.”


4. CitySurf Austin
Address: 1500 S Lamar Blvd St. 130
“I love going to CitySurf to work out and I’m holding my Yoga Pop-up at this studio with proceeds going to SIDS.ORG. They are also hosting a Health Goth Pop-up on March 20th-21st which I’ll also be Djing!”

city surf

5.  Doorly & Friends – March 20 at Summit
“I’ve played for Doorly a bunch of times in Ibiza and its always a fun time!”


6. Blo Blow Dry Bar
Address: 1611 W 5h St Unit 145 Austin, TX
“I’m ADDICTED to getting a good blow out. Pro tip, my hair looks best when I only shampoo it once every 5 days.”


7. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
Address: 600 W 6th St Austin, TX
“The name says it all :)”


8. Daily Juice Cafe
Address: 205 W 3rd St Austin, TX
“I love juicing. It gives me so much energy!”


Shake It: SXSW 2014 In Instax Portraits

Traveling to Austin, TX for SXSW gave me the opportunity to see and meet many of my favorite musicians new and old in the space of a week. I took along an Instax camera–think Polaroid’s little sister–to document my time at the festival. Almost two dozen artists took a moment to pose for an instant portrait. Enjoy an offstage glance at London Grammar, the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Yellow Ostrich, Chet Faker, and more, along with a playlist of the featured acts.

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CULTURE BLAST: Gauguin, Art Basel Hong Kong, and SXSW Sells Out

South By South Sellout?

The popular Austin music festival usually reserved for up and comers seemed somewhat diluted with main stream entertainment this year…

Calendar Changes For Art Basel

Art work horses and show ponies alike, make a change in your social calendars! Theories on why 2015’s Art Basel in Hong Kong is pushing to March.

Gaugin At The MoMA

MoMA nearly dismisses paintings as a medium in groundbreaking new Gauguin exhibit.

What’s In A Name?

I make art, but I’m certainly no artist. Why the label “artist” is a lost cause.

Spandau Ballet Return To US for SXSW Premier Of New Film

It was an odd decision for the uber-European Spandau Ballet to pick Austin, Texas, a town in which they had previously never even performed, to launch a bid for a stateside comeback. But at SXSW on Wednesday, the new career-spanning documentary, “Soul Boys of the Western World” premiered before an enthusiastic crowd at the downtown Paramount Theatre, the film features footage of all the major players on the British pop scene of the time, including the three acts that Spandau songwriter/guitarist Gary Kemp viewed as their top competitors: Culture Club, Wham! and Duran Duran.

“Soul Boys” follows the fledgling five piece from their humble punk-era origins in London through several name changes before finally settling on “Spandau Ballet,” two words of graffiti scrawled in a Berlin toilet which referred to the death throes of prisoners hung at the nearby Spandau Prison. Once the band had a record deal in place, a Top 5 UK hit came immediately with “To Cut a Long Story Short,” a short, punchy number which captured the flash of the then-burgeoning and actually quite avant-garde New Romantic movement (which had a significant influence on the fashion world, and still does to this day). Numerous singles followed, with varying degrees of chart success, until massive international stardom arrived, as we now know, in 1983 in the form of “True”.

Film director George Hencken does a deft job of bringing Spandau’s heyday to life, paring down over 250 hours of material to only the choicest concert footage, Top of the Pops and MTV appearances, and ’80s-specific newsreels of Margaret Thatcher’s time in Parliament for context. The band were too busy living the high life to be overly concerned with politics, at one point in the film even admitting their concern over how the Falklands War would impact a single’s chart position.

After “True” where could it go but down? The scenes of the early days of the “True” world tour is pure youthful frivolity, with the lads parading their tanned chests and blond highlights poolside. But the pop treadmill has a way of wearing a young dandy down and soon members are being a bit too candid in front of the camera and the inevitable grievances about band royalties begin to cut away at Spandau’s solid gold armor. By the close of the 1980s, the band had split, and in 1999 various factions of the group were appearing in court, battling over royalties.

Following the premiere, the reformed band played a SXSW showcase at Vulcan Gas Company, trotting out classics like “Chant No. 1”, “Lifeline” and “Gold.” A full Stateside assault is also in the works.