Two girls, one from Boston the other from Jakarta, Indonesia, sit down at a cafe in Austin with a Swedish synth-pop duo and their British PR agent, discussing a song remixed by a Spanish DJ in Syracuse. It’s safe to say that SXSW really crosses borders.
But before divulging any more details, let’s go back to the start. It’s 9 AM on a Wednesday morning, three hours of sleep and ten outfit changes into the day, when Meg and Laura head out to take on the first of four interviews they have scheduled for the day. They head downtown to the Hilton Garden Suites to interview Ioanna Gika of I O Echo. Once in the lobby, which is bustling with the voices and ringing phones of busy band managers and artists, they find Ioanna and bandmate Leopold Ross waiting in line for some coffee at the hotel Starbucks. Ioanna donning a comfy blue smiley faced crew-neck sweatshirt and silky pink kimono graces us with her presence. There is something about her warmth that permeates the morning, setting a bright tone for the day.
A surge of nostalgia fills the room as she takes the duo back to the bar where she first met Leo. “Neither of us knew that the other made music, but we bonded over the song “Venus in Furs” and clicked immediately”, spills Ionna. Over the course of an hour, Ioanna dished on the inspiration behind her edgy fashion choices, laser harps and growing up in South East Asia. The gracious singer songwriter talks about her upcoming projects and her collaboration with fashion designers on holographic I O Echo kimonos. After learning the intimate details behind the eccentric artists creativity the two packed up their mic and ventured across the street to hear about another’s.
Next on agenda: an interview with the Stockholm/London based co-ed duo K.I.D.S. As Meg and Laura set up their equipment on the porch of the Moonshine Grill and Patio, they are interrupted by paparazzis shouting from across the street: “K.I.D.S. are the next big thing! Keep an eye out for them!” The girls sit down with the band to listen to backyard tales from their childhood. They learn that despite the duo’s polarizing taste in music – as diverse as Kendrick Lamar and Yoko Ono – they bring a refreshing twist to the musical table and share one of their music making secrets which is, “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Just like a couple of kids, with hearts warmed by the bands take on music and life and with two interviews down, Meg and Laura move from the porch to a table on the Moonshine patio for a third interview.
You would think that any artist with a single sitting on top of the charts for as long as Icona Pop’s hit “I Love It” would have big egos. As Meg and Laura sit down to have lunch with the duo, they’re pleasantly surprised to find their feet on the ground and their hearts still very much into the music. There was a certain sincerity in the advice they had to offer which made Meg and Laura feel like they were listening to their own story. “We find ourselves constantly trying to create chaos in our lives so that we can rise up above it.”, claims Aino. The co-hosts exchange bewildered looks – an undeniable and almost tangible synergy is shared at this table for four along with the compulsive need to keep the adrenaline pumping.
Only hours later, the two put their life motto into practice as they marched purposefully to each and every +21 venue determined to get in. Five rejections and failed attempts at pulling the we-know-the-manager card later, the two did what any two girls would do to get in (and no, they didn’t pull up their shirts to get in if that’s what you’re thinking). They took the road less traveled, i.e. the dark alleyway that led to the back door. Let’s just say they pulled a G.I. Jane but got to keep their hair. As it turns out, La Zona Rosa is much more fun when you’re inside, falling victim to Rudimental’s jazzed out drum and bass Meg, being the heavy bass line fiend that she is, decides to stay backstage at the venue to watch 12th Planet, UZ, and Baauer do the real-live Harlem Shake while Laura gets religiously overpowered by her Faith…Paloma Faith, that is. She decides to head over to Eighth Street to the Central Presbyterian Church to catch the British songstress in person.
Though being chased down four blocks by a homeless man while navigating her GPS was a little more than Laura had bargained for, it was well worth seeing the performer take the altar in her all her glittering glory. The church resonated with hits like “Agony” and the singer got hearts racing as she raced down the pews in her Christian Louboutins with the grace of a goddess and a Chelsea Handler-esque sense of humor.
The best part about SXSW is never knowing whats in store! Stay tuned for tales from day 3 of #LostinAustin. For more details, follow @themegandlaura