The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


South by Southwest showcases new music

MtvU’s annual video shoot “Ahead of the Curve,” showcases a handpicked selection of upcoming talent from Austin’s South by Southwest music festival.

Artists from previous years have included  B.o.B., Passion Pit, Fleet Foxes, MSTRKRFT, Santogold, Cold War Kids and other familiar names.

This year, The Daily Campus was invited to watch the shoot and meet a few bands that are on their way to the top.

An abandoned power plant on the edge of downtown Austin set the stage for videos which were shot one after the other over three days to keep up with the fast pace of SXSW.

The constant stream of artists walking in and out of the warehouse could not have been more different from one another and covered the entire spectrum from rappers to country-soul crooners.

The first artist of the day was 22-year-old Mike Posner, who already has a large following on college campuses, performed his dance inducing song “Cooler Than Me.”

Posner’s tracks combine his Timberlake-esque vocals and sick beats and are just the thing to get a party started.

Besides his musical talent, the recent Duke graduate is a master of juggling a million things at once. He is a self-declared “sociology major with a minor in rockstardom.”

Posner recorded his music, posted it online and started a fan base all from his dorm room. After he signed with RCA over the summer, Posner chose to continue with his education while pursuing his career in music.

He had 30 shows last semester, did most of his studying on planes and still managed to graduate early.

“My parents sacrificed alot for me to go to a school like Duke and I wanted to finish what I started. People come up to me and tell me that I inspired them to stay in school and pursue their dreams at the same time,” Posner said.

Another band that came in to shoot was the young group of five, Surfer Blood.

Experiencing the whirlwind that comes along with success in the music industry, Surfer Blood played 10 shows at SXSW and had been interviewed for the New York Times earlier in the week.

Their sound is alternative pop and they performed their catchy song “Swim.”

Even though they’re getting used to selling out shows and people recognizing their name, the experience is still new to them.

Their faces lit up when they saw themselves played back on the monitor. “Wow. We’re used to watching ourselves on other people’s camera phones,” one said.

The next artist, Audra Mae, has a long history in the industry, but is just beginning to explore the possibilities with her new album “The Happiest Lamb.”

Mae, whose great aunt is Judy Garland, has been exposed to music her whole life. Her mother directed children’s theater and Mae was involved in musical theater from a young age.

“I’ve never thought about doing anything else. I would take career tests and think maybe I should be a doctor or a lawyer, but it’s always art. I thought, ‘Oh, why fight it’,” Mae said.

Mae had success writing the song “Who I Was Born to Be” for Susan Boyle, but has always wanted to perform her own songs in addition to writing them. 

“Last year at this time I was at my day job listening to SXSW and crying because I wanted to be there so badly,” she said.

Mae’s self-described “cowgirl gypsy soul” music is a refreshing flashback to the days of old country singers and storytellers…

English-born Dan Black’s performance was a favorite on the set.

Although reluctant to categorize his unique style of music, he described it as “a hybrid of the stranger end of hip hop and the more ethereal end of alternative.”

Black performed his catchy and beautiful song “Symphonies,” to which that description fits perfectly. His album contains a version of the song featuring Kid Cudi.

Black, who had no formal music training and taught himself on a 2-stringed broken guitar someone left at his house, grew up obsessed with music.

His advice for others hoping to make music their job – “Don’t try and rush it. Everyone wants to go on a TV show and be discovered in 10 seconds. Explore yourself and music. Give yourself time to find your own voice.”

Although extremely different as artists, rapper Curren$y gave similar advice.

“Listen to what other people are saying but don’t let that shape your mind. Make music to fill the void you see in music. Step into the game to improve it,” he said.

New Orleans native Curren$y grew up surrounded by wannabe rappers and musicians.

He saw friends get breaks in the industry and thought, “That’s just because you can make words rhyme?”

Rapping has always come easily for him and he considers it more fun than a job.

Although this was his second time at SXSW, he says he saw a huge growth in the amount of fans. “It feels like I’m watching somebody else,” he said.

The last band of the day, Neon Trees, had similar experiences with the success of their shows at South by Southwest.

“It’s inspiring to have clubs we’ve never played fill to capacity,” Tyler Glenn, lead singer, said. 
Their chemistry is undeniable and they come off as a happy little family. Being so in sync comes through in their music.

They like to have fun performing, and are influenced by classic ensemble bands like Fleetwood Mac and Queen. Neon Trees describes themselves as a “band of aesthetics” and their music as “post punk soul pop live glam.”

However, the band is more than aesthetics and gave a great live performance. Their backbone is drummer, Elaine Doty, who has a spunky, intelligent personality and an asymmetrical haircut.

Like a lot of up and coming artists on set, their advice to young musicians was to commit to the music and not expect to become a celebrity overnight.

Watch the Ahead of the Curve videos from these artists and more at

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