Waking up and remembering through a jet lagged haze that you’re in Austin, Texas for SXSW is the best feeling. Early start, I meet for breakfast tacos with the hard-working Maxie Gedge from PRS Foundation – the UK’s leading independent charitable funder of new music and talent development.
Not only do PRS Foundation help fund SXSW for UK artists including Shame, Nilufer Yanya, Jade Bird and Jerry Williams – they recently launched Keychange initiative, bringing together 45 international festivals and conferences to make the pledge for a 50/50 gender balance across their line-ups, conferences and commissions by 2022.
With temperatures high and a gap in my schedule, I decide to hit South Congress and become a tourist for the afternoon. Everything about Austin is colourful, the music, the people, the venues and the parks. I grab an ice cold latte from Jo’s before heading back downtown for the evening showcases.
Over to Native Hostel where SoundCloud x Zelle Presents Room 512 kick off their first SXSW 2018 showcase highlighting what’s new, now and next in music.
Celebrating the power of “First on SoundCloud,” the platform welcomes some of 2018’s most exciting acts who got their start and are making their mark on the world using the SoundCloud platform. Tonight’s showcase featured emerging artists Party Pupils, Nilüfer Yanya, Yung Pinch, Elohim and Whethan.
SoundCloud’s standout performance came from London’s Nilüfer Yanya. Effortlessly cool, Yanya breezes through her set exuding the confidence of someone who has been in the game forever. Highlights include “Thanks 4 Nothing” and “Baby Luv” taken from her latest EP “Do You Like Pain?”
Next it was back to Vevo House for highly anticipated performances from two emerging female artists at the top of their game. First up is the name on everybody’s lips, Jade Bird.
Stepping out from Miley’s shadow, Noah Cyrus performed her own new singles “My Way” and “Almost Famous” in addition to an emotional cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking of You”, and a raw rendition of The Weeknd’s “I Feel It Coming”.
Without making any conscious effort to only see female artists, my second day at SXSW was dominated by incredible female talent. Reflecting on my morning meeting with PRS Foundation, I walk away from today feeling more positive than ever about the pledge for 50/50 gender balance across their line-ups, conferences and commissions by 2022. Change is coming.
Words by Hayley Thompson @hayleyyt_