Julia Cummings is Director of Music Services at PlayNetwork. She oversees the team of Music Supervisors who design in-store playlists (as well as on-line, video syncs, and beyond). With a background in radio production (KEXP) and Music Supervision herself, Julia has created the soundtracks for iconic fashion brands from Anthropologie to MAC Cosmetics.
SXSW is a sensory assault. A mad maze of music, music, people, music, lines, late-night food truck visits, sketchy bathrooms, drunk meanderers, and spontaneous jams in the middle of 6th street. Surprises. Navigating blocks and kids banging on buckets and the strangest strangers to catch as many shows as possible or just sitting on a dirty curb because your feet are so sore you JUST NEED TO SIT. Then there is the dancing, the swaying, and the all-out full body listening to live performances- one after the next.
Check-in. Meet Susie Brown, from Lively formerly of PlayNetwork, for dinner. Then journey off Rainey St. near the food cart court. Kind of a cool night. Cool enough to wish I brought a jacket, but not too cold for a Northwesterner. Very glad I catch moody set of Icelandic electronic (?) singer-songwriter Ásgeir at Blackheart, the understated one-man band, Chet Faker, and the ever, forever suave Aloe Blacc at Clive Bar. Really felt like all Soul. All night.
I hit Mellow Johnny’s in the afternoon and see the beautiful KEXP people and stunning Dum Dum Girls set that started off sleepy and ended expectedly rollicking.
Panel: “You Got Music, You Got Tech, Now Build Me Products”
Hit the Hype Hotel party and to catch an amazing set by Painted Palms. If you like their record you must see this band live! Then headed down to the FedEx showcase with the amazing creative team of Angelica and Tamara managing the event with Filter.
Damon Albarn rooftop magic. Indescribably perfect really. Enough said.
In the deepening hours of the morning Kelis shuts it down, literally, at Clive Bar. Back-up singers and horns in full effect. Party. “Milkshake” mid-set was also a surprise. The sound guy pulls the plug amid a song called “A Capella,” which seemed staged at first as the singers took out their monitors and just kept singing, the horns quieting down… But they really had shut it down because it was getting so late!
Day 3: Lady Gaga keynote. This is when things get weird. Waiting in the cavernous auditorium. Lady Gaga was ethereal, all flour-dreadlocked with garbage bags so sheer she didn’t come out in any of my pictures. I think she is genuine even all wrapped-up in cellophane. At least she is trying to do something: inspiring young people to be inspired. It’s not about selfies, but self-love. After hearing her speak, I think that is a genuine aspiration.
Then it was show time for a panel I was asked to participate in! In-Store Retail Radio: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_MP20506
The discussion centered around the impact of in-store radio on customer’s shopping experiences and how this exposure can lead to fans for emerging artists. Key point: we may be in the B2B world, but artists and labels are our clients as well.
Lucius transformed the sterile convention center into a blissful uprising. Caught the end of Jungle’s set. This song basically stuck in my head for the rest of the week, if not month…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JkDzNOgO3U. Saw MØ and although her voice was waning, she was still a firecracker steaming up the stage at Clive Bar. British singer Sam Smith (who had a shot to fame as the guest vocalist on Disclosure’s 2012 UK hit “Latch”- noting he was bartending 2 years ago…) sang a heartfelt, short set at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary- always a lovely venue for a final transcendental moment and another opportunity to rest one’s feet and rehydrate after trekking the blocks. Ended the night with a perfectly raucous and insanely fun show by my friends on Bar/None Records The Front Bottoms. Fun to end up in a pit of kids bouncing around, sweating, and singing along.
I catch Belle & Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch talking about his new film, “God Help The Girl”, a musical he wrote and directed http://www.godhelpthegirl.com/about/
Catch ANTI- band Saintseneca’s lovely Flatstock set. Stopped by the British Embassy Showcase and caught The Crookes then headed back to our FedEx showcase to see the end of Gardens & Villa and check in on the ass-kicking Creative Strategy team of Angelica & Tamara again. After dinner (ahem, one of the best lobster rolls ever!) at Garbo’s food truck and a sunset bat siting, I go back to the British Embassy to catch San Fermin, Temples, and stick around for the surprise that is Fat White Family. All great performances, all around. Closed out the night catching our Director of Music Strategy Sean Horton spin records at the Lively closing night event.
See you next year, you wily town you.