We talk to Jessica Davies, one half of Smoke Fairies, who went to SXSW in 2010.
Did you have any idea what SXSW was like before you went out there?
I had no idea – I had wanted to go for about five years, but I didn’t know what it was going to be like – I just knew it was a good thing to do. It was far crazier than I imagined! There was music coming out of every single window and bar and street corner, huge crowds, parties everywhere – the whole city gets taken over. It seemed like every one I knew from the London music industry had been somehow transported to Texas.
What was the highlight of your trip?
Our showcase gig. So much was building up to that show. It was just half an hour – pretty short really – but it was really memorable. We achieved our goal to get to SXSW and perform there, and it felt great.
What did you get out of going to SXSW?
After the showcase gig some people from Co-op, who are our record label, approached us. So I would like to think that we got signed because of it. It also provided us with the opportunity to meet people from the English music industry and network with them in a way that you sometimes can’t in London as everyone’s so spread out. When you’re there you’re highlighted as somebody to watch out for, so that’s a benefit of going.
What difference did it make to your profile at home and overseas?
It’s just gives you a higher status if you’ve been there, as so few bands get to go out there, so the ones who do go are tagged as ‘ones to watch’. A lot of the British press look at SXSW as a sign to show who is popular and what music is good.
What support did you receive to get to SXSW?
We got a grant from the British Arts Council and PRS [Foundation]. If we hadn’t got that we wouldn’t have been able to go. Once you add up the cost of taking a band over there and the accommodation etc it can be really expensive. That was the best support we could have had. We applied for it and felt really lucky to get in – the competition must have been really high.
How does SXSW differ from other industry showcases?
It seems to be the biggest one… the other are more spread out whereas SXSW is right in downtown Austin and has a real party atmosphere. I’m sad I’m not going back this year; you only really know what you’re missing out on once you’ve been there!
Smoke Fairies are Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire.
Check out Smoke Fairies music, described by Jessica as “a wintry sound, dark and cold, with some lighter tones” and find out where you can hear them at www.myspace.com/smokefairies