Posts Tagged ‘sxsw’


I met up with HOLYCHILD, a Los Angeles-based duo comprised of Liz Nistico and Louie Diller, at the back of a sophisticated and crowded bar during their pretty energetic reign at SXSW this year. The two self-proclaimed “brat-poppers” just released their new MINDSPEAK EP and sat down with Indie Houston to talk  a little bit about their thought-provoking music video trilogy, SXSW, and their views on gender roles and power dynamics in relationships.

How has your SXSW experience been so far?

Liz: So far so good! This is my first time playing SouthBy, and it has been crazy, successful, but a whirlwind.

Louie: Ditto!

How have your shows been?

Louie: We played a show with an artist named MO – she’s from Denmark – and that was really fun. Our label showcase was really great, too. One artist that stuck out to us was this artist named Flo Morissey. She’s this really special voice and talent.

Liz: This other artist named Ceremonies was playing one of the shows we were playing yesterday, and they were amazing. It was such a nice surprise to load up my stuff and listen to them play. It was like southern rock meets Of Montreal.

How would you say the Austin crowd differs from any other crowd?

Liz: Well the SXSW crowd is just down to consume music. Like, New York and LA for instance are very used to consuming music, but they’re not necessarily excited to do so all the time whereas here people are excited to consume the music and listen and find new music. People are so open and cool.

Louie: It’s definitely just more eager ears. Maybe in other markets people might just be skeptical, or they might not know show protocol or how to respond, but here people just really want to get down. So it’s fun for us because we like to get down live, so there’s this nice synergy we’ve been having with the audience here, so it has been really fun.

How does the writing and producing process go for you guys?

Liz: That’s a great question. In general, it pretty much works like this. All songs are written half and half. In terms of chord progression and melody, that’s pretty much 50/50. For production, it’s about 80% Louie and 20% me. Lyrics are about 80% me and 20% Louie.

Could you talk more about the your new Mindspeak EP? Inspiration behind it? Overall themes?

Liz: Definitely. We just released it on March 4, and it’s essentially about the role of the female in our culture from different angles. So “Every Time I Fall” is about me being frustrated to be called “girlfriend” because it puts me in this gender stereotype that I am rebelling against. So, it’s essentially about the contradictions that I feel being female in our culture and being pressured to look or act a certain way and making decisions about acting and looking that way or not. I feel like it pretty much sums it up in the videos that accompany the EP. I wrote and directed three music videos to get with 3 of the songs to kind of show the evolution of objectification. So, that’s essentially what the message behind the EP is.

I was watching this video trilogy earlier, and it was really interesting. Could you talk more about these videos specifically?

Liz: So, I wanted to convey this feeling of objectification and the contradictions that exist around it. So, essentially what I feel is pissed off that people objectify women and that women are sold and used in advertising for other products. That’s something that bothers me. However, if I go out and don’t dress up or look cute, then I will feel self conscious about not fitting in that role. So, I was just thinking and thinking about that concept and about how that contradiction exists within me. So, the first video is about the power that one can feel from being objectified. In the first video, the girls have the power. They know they’re cute, they know the guys want them, and the guys at that point don’t have the power because they know the women are the objects that they want. The second video is the turning point where the women give the men the ability to judge them. The final video is where the men have the power to judge, now they have the power in this dynamic. And the women are upset for putting themselves in that situation but are still going through the motions because they put themselves there.

Louie: Yeah, so as much as it’s about the objectifications of women and the contradictions within that, it’s also about power dynamics in relationships.

Liz: Yeah, definitely. I thought about these videos so much. It was a very long process to write and direct them, and it was the first time I have ever done that. But that’s the overarching concept in them.

So, Louie, what would you say your role is in the videos? I noticed you kind of get pushed around by the girls.

Louie: Haha, yeah! Liz, what would you say my role is?

Liz: I like using Louie as a male who neither confirms nor denies the existence of these contradictions, which is kind of the role that I feel a lot of people in our culture take. Yeah, we all see that this is a problem and that it is detrimental to people. We all see that people are hurt or lessened in a certain way because of the way that capitalism has pushed this on us. But at the same time, how many people are really doing anything about it? So, that’s what I like to use Louie as. I don’t feel like that’s how he is in normal day-to-day, but in videos I like to use him in that way. He’s there, but he’s not there. He’s not doing anything to fix the problem, and he’s not doing anything to contribute either.

Louie: Yeah! You’ve never told me that, but that makes sense. Also, I’m not an actor. So it’s easy for me to kind of do the music things and be straight-faced.

Definitely! It’s also about that, but if you were to watch the videos without even thinking about that stuff, it’s all just really colorful and fun. So how important do you think the style is? And how important do you think a music video is to a song?

Louie: I think it’s pretty critical. Liz has a really strong sense of visuals. That’s sort of her department.

Liz: I want people to see it and be like, “Oh wow! This is really interesting to watch, and it’s really pretty. I like the colors, and I’m stimulated by what people are wearing” and have a very cursory experience, because I feel like that’s how we watch things. And I’m almost trying to get this subliminal message across. I’m really obsessed with composition and what people’s emotions are on film, what they are doing. But I wanted it to be deep-rooted. So, you watch it and then you’re like, “Wait a second. What did I just watch?” And that’s the approach we have with a lot of the messages in our songs. Yeah, this is poppy, this is nice to listen to, and you’re singing along to the lyrics but all of a sudden you’re like, “Wait, what is that saying?” I just like making everyone think, so if we can do it in this way, I feel like it could reach a much broader audience.

Louie: Yeah, and that is HOLYCHILD – drawing people in with familiar ideas and themes and visuals and catchy hooks but challenging them simultaneously in more subtle ways. That’s what HOLYCHILD is about.

In your songs, do you ever draw inspiration from other artists or genres? I noticed in “Happy With Me” that it’s kind of Jamaican and Reggae, which is interesting.

Louie: Yeah! We definitely do. “Happy With Me” is actually an Afro-Brazilian beat, and I understand how it could be taken as Reggaeton or Jamaican, but I’ve gotten pretty deep in studying and playing Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music. So, it’s an Afro-beat that inspired the rhythm, yeah.

Liz: But in general, yes. We are definitely influenced by other genres.

Who are some of your favorite artists that you’re listening to right now?

Liz: I’m really into Sam Smith right now. I think he’s really cool. “Money On My Mind” is tight. Chet Faker is killing it. The new St. Vincent is tight.

Louie: I know Phantogram is kind of mainstream and everyone knows about it, but I’m into it! It’s hard to deny. I also really wanna hear new Little Dragon, too.

Liz: We’ve been listening to a lot of Yacht. They’re great. We’re basically just really obsessed with music and are listening to all kinds of music all the time.

HOLYCHILD’s new MINDSPEAK EP is on iTunes now, and make sure to follow Liz and Louie on Twitter and Facebook.


SXSW Interviews: Kitten

I recently got to go to SXSW for a few days and interview a few people – like Kitten. A young, five piece 80’s electro-rock band led by polarizing Chloe Chaidez, who are more than capable and willing to take over the “hipster” scene with their smooth synths and youthful guitar backing. The youngest member in the band, Waylon, is 16. I got to talk to Zach (bass) and Chloe about their stage antics, how their new music has changed, and how they are planning to expand from their home within the LA music scene.

How is SXSW so far?

Z: Hectic, stressful, and amazing at the same time.

C: Yup, that’s the perfect way to describe it.

Is this your first time?

C: Third, actually! But this is probably the most hectic/fun so far.

 Who have you seen so far, and have you had any weird experiences? 

Z: We saw Japandroids and Wavves the other night. That was great. Last night we saw Hundred Waters, so good.

C: And we saw Poolside. Then we played with Tegan and Sara and Paramore at the Belmont, but we didn’t get to stay for that. Yesterday was weird because we were playing at 12 AM, and it was really routy and people were crazy. I love it when people get drunk and listen to you because they have more fun.

Chloe, you started the band when you were 15. What do you think you guys have learned most since then?

C: I think just that you can’t really plan out the way you want your “career” to go. It’s not in your hands. You just have to focus on your vision, as cliched as that sounds. But [if you focus on] what you wanna get out there through the years, and if [the music] is great, then the rest will work out.

Every interview I’ve read of you, the person talks about how calm you are in casual conversation but on stage, you’re really wild. Where does that stage presence come from? Do you just get an adrenaline rush in front of the crowd? 

C: Yeah, it’s kind of like a very spiritual, euphoric for me when I get on stage and start playing music. I’m in complete bliss in that moment, for whatever reason.

Z: For me personally, it’s because I’m such a quiet person on stage that I’m able to channel something else on stage. It feels like two different people.

C: Aspects of what I am definitely come out in what I’m doing. For example, if there’s a festival and there’s a gate with a line across the block, I’ll be like, “Hey, guys, let’s hop the fence.” But that spontaneity is totally inside of me, and it always has been, but it is pushed to an extreme on stage.

How does it feel to be touring with Paramore, and how did that gig come about?

C: It’s gonna be amazing just to know that there’s gonna be more than 20 people in the audience every night. We’re gonna get catering, we’re gonna get a sound check every night!

Z: And Paramore fans are awesome. We did a SXSW event last night, but there were people in Paramore shirts lining up since 2 in the afternoon.

C: We even played one show with them in Comona, and after that one show, we gained so many fans because they’re just so passionate about the music.

Z: They’re attentive, too! I joined the band after that show, and every time we play in LA, I have people coming up to me being like, “I didn’t see you when you guys played with Paramore!” That’s all anyone talks about, that Paramore show.

C: Yeah, after we played with them in Comona, I found out that Hayley really liked our music. We just kind of hit it off. We kept in contact, and they asked us to go on tour!

So at first listen, you can tell that in your new single, ‘Yesterday,’ the sound has changed a bit. You guys even changed the genre on your Soundcloud from “alternative” to “80’s pop.” How would you compare your old music to the new single? 

C: I do think that a lot of the elements we had in our previous EP’s are going to be on the album, so as “80’s” as people think the last two EP’s were, it’s even more 80’s – more Tears for Fears-inspired, all that.

Z: There’s a lot of different stuff going on in it as well, though. Since it’s now a new incarnation of the band, we’ve got a lot of different 80’s, 90’s influenced sounds – from wew wave, to garage rock, to shoe gaze.

C: We’ve put in a lot of post-rock, My Bloody Valentine, shoe gazey influences. It’s going to be a cool mix of those things.

Do you think 80’s rock will come back in full force? There are tinges of it here and there.

Z: There are a lot of cool bands doing stuff like that right now –  Merchandise, Trust, to name a few.

C: I think the great thing about where music is at right now is that you can do anything you want. You could be a white rapper, anything. There’s a niche and an audience for anything. In the 70’s, it was more like, “Oh, everyone’s in a rock band!” But now, it’s different.

Z: Also, trends in music to tend to cycle around every 20 or so years.

I was talking about that the other day – if you think about the most popular radio songs last year, you think Gotye, Fun., Ellie Goulding, but there was also Call Me Maybe and Gangnam style, which are complete opposites. 

C: Yeah, there’s not one genre that can be successful.

Z: 2013 has been interesting so far. There’s a lot of cool music coming out – a lot of 80’s revival stuff, yet a a lot of very, very modern stuff, too. It’s gonna be interesting to see what this year and next year has to offer.

C: I hate when people say, “NO, THIS GENERATION, BLAH BLAH..” I think some of the best music has come about from this generation.

Z: Fuck living in the past! It’s about what’s going on now.

Where do you draw your inspiration from, both musically and visually, too? You have some pretty cool artwork as well.

Z: It’s funny. Whenever we talk about the “new record cover,” we always go back to Loveless be My Bloody Valentine, because there’s just something so powerful about that album cover – the hand and the guitar. But it’s more the way that it is put in.

C: One thing I do prefer about the past is how there was this separation between the band and their imagery. I don’t wanna see my favorite band eating potato chips in the back of their tour bus. I want them to be other worldly – like David Bowie. I want them to be viewed kind of like aliens or superheroes. I think we try to make our imagery iconic.

Z: Music wise, we both grew up listening to a lot of different stuff. I grew up on more kind of Metal and punk-rock. So on stage, whenever I’m throwing my bass around, I’m just thinking about Metallica and the bands I grew up listening to.

My friend listens to you, and she said that she feels like she would play your music really loudly while shopping at Forever 21. 

C: Oh, okay! That’s cool!

Z: We’re glamorous! We made it.

So when can we expect the full length LP, and what can we expect from it?

C: Well, we’re looking at a July release. We’re in the process of finishing up the mixes. I think it’s a lot more rhythmic, sexy, and it’s also incorporating a lot more elements from our live shows – that energy and grandness.

Z: There’s a lot of different stuff coming to the plate right now, instead of it being more singular. It’s gonna be an interesting mix of styles.

C: I’ve also just been really into R&B a lot lately, too – that production level.

So, since we are Indie Houston, who are some of your favorite indie artists that we can check out?

C: I really like Rhye. I’m not sure how underground they are, but I really love them. Churches is really good. I also really like Foxygen.

Z: There’s a big electronic scene in Chicago going around. There are people like Supreme Cuts and Mr. Lies who are great right now. I love it.

Check out Kitten’s video for ‘Japanese Eyes’ below and download their latest EP, Cut It Out, here.


Indiehouston at SXSW 2009

sxsw ih day party1 590x385 Houston Music Travels to Austin SXSW 2009

by Charlie Brite

It hurt my soul to go back to a 9 to 5 today after spending a week at Austin’s SXSW festival. For five days, I did nothing but dash from one end of the city to the other, listening to some of the best, most innovative musicians in the country. There were even moments around 3:30 AM when, for the first time in my life, I felt like I’d had my fill of rock; but then some band like The Wavves or Soft Pack would start to play, and I’d feel like a teenager at her first punk show all over again. This was Indiehouston’s first time showcasing atSXSW, and we rolled back into town Sunday night a little wiser, a lot deafer, and pumped to ensure that next year, Houston bands will make an even bigger impression at SXSW.

The Showcase:

Eighteen bands played on two stages at the SXSW showcase. B L A C K I E kicked off the show with a characteristically ear-splitting, gut-wrenching set, followed by Muhammad Ali on the Sugar Hill stage. After telling Joe Mathlete that he had, “the friendliest face. That I’ve ever seen . . . Maybe,” Jana Hunter serenaded us with some new hits-in-the-making, like “A Dog’s Dick,” ” Two Cocks” and “Batman,” which, in the words of Jana, “is about that  time, from the official franchise, when Batman gives up and his friends have to convince him to come back.” Her band operates like a jazz trio, watching each other intently, changing tempo and time signatures without a hiccup.


dsc 0105 590x392 Houston Music Travels to Austin SXSW 2009

Muhammad Ali Indiehouston SXSW Day Party 09

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The Wild Mocassins Indiehouston SXSW Day Party 2009

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The TonTons Indiehouston SXSW Day Party

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News on The March Indiehouston SXSW Day Party 2009

News on the March was up next and had us dancing to those feel-good, upbeat, folksy tunes, “Clapping Good Time” (which is about wife-beating) and “The Whole Universe is Gonna Die.” The Riff Tiffs mellowed things out again with their mesmerizing, psychedelic rock. Halfway through the four-song set, Chris Rehm drew a laugh from the audience when he announced, “We’re gonna play two more songs-it might sound like one. We just played two-they might’ve sounded like twenty.” Indeed, each of their slowly swelling, cavernous songs bleed seamlessly into the next. As always, Buxton, The Young Mammals, The Wild Moccasins, and The Ton Tons played tight sets which had the crowd dancing and singing along. After it got dark, DD/MM/YYYY bounced on our brand-new stage like it was a trampoline, threatening to cause an avalanche of sound equipment with their high-energy rock. The lead singer doubles on drums for a massive sound, and I was especially impressed with their keyboard player who plays two synths at once, back to back, meaning one of his hands is playing upside-down and backwards. Tambersauro closed out the night, despite the vulture-like cops slowly circling our tents. They asked us to “turn it down,” but in the words of Rob (director of Indiehouston), “How do you turn down that insane drummer?” All day long, the free Tito’s vodka and sweet tea was pouring, thanks to our sponsors and all the other bands who played: Sings, Paris Falls, Watermarks, Kristine Mills, Gormeh Sabzi, Fat Tony, and Giant Princess.

Top 5 Moments of SXSW (OTHER than our showcase):

-The Dirty Projectors final show at French Legation: In an idyllic park, Dave Longstreth and his beautiful, insanely talented sidewomen blew our minds with a long set of almost entirely new music. Half the band was sick, but it was their best show of SXSW.

-The Wavves at the Peacock Room: Inside a shoebox of a venue that would make a sauna feel like a fridge and your Zangief’s armpits smell zestfully clean, The Wavves played a raucous set despite the overwhelming heat and humidity.

-The Indiehouston staff eavesdropped on Daniel Johnston at East Side Pizza an hour before his show. He was intently pressing a marijuana leaf to his nose while discussing album artwork with his posse.

-The Wild Moccasins’s showcase was on the news!

-Devo: I wasn’t there (no wristband, sniff), but apparently it was totally amazing and rocked everybody’s socks off, blah, blah, etc. Yea, I’m jealous.

Most Heartbreaking Moment of SXSW

B L A C K I E, one of the most original and hard-working artists I’ve heard anywhere, ALMOST played a guerilla show on Austin’s Lamar bridge at 3 AM Saturday night, almost played the last great show of SXSW. Members of Buxton, The Young Mammals, and Giant Princess helped him haul his giant speakers onto the middle of the bridge-they were set up in ten minutes. A number of other bands were taking turns playing, and despite our urging him to blast them the fuck into the Colorado River, B L A C K I E decided to be a gentleman and wait until they were finished. So there he sat, on a chilly, windy night, on top of his truck-sized sound setup, the river reflecting Austin’s skyline behind him. It was an impressive image, and many Austinites stopped and asked me who he was and what was going to go down. A crowd gathered around and started chanting “B L A C K I E, B L A C K I E.” As the last band finished, the five-hundred or so people on the bridge started to conglomerate around the setup. My heart wanted so badly for him to play, just because he deserves the exposure, just because anyone who sees Mike LaCour perform can never forget it and can only crave to hear him again. But right as my ears were itching for that painfully loud, “Oooooohhh FUCK! A KID JUST GOT SHOT, ” I saw one of the most heartbreaking images of my life–ten cops, strutting up the bridge, waggling their flashlights in people’s faces. We were told to disperse or be arrested. But it WILL happen next year, and you need to be there.


Photos by Richard Ramirez II


Question: Houston Bands, do you want to play SXSW this year?

sxsw2010_logo1Answer: Yes. Nominate yourself here and attend Bandcampus this Sunday in Houston :

Click here to nominate your band to play a show during SXSW2010

This month’s Bandcampus is focused on preparing bands for SXSW, regardless whether they have an official showcase. Including building/checking their existing online presence and making sure they have physical press materials available. Industry professionals in the fields of PR, marketing, web design and copywriting will be on hand to work one-on-one with bands to get this done.

We will do the following on Sunday:
1. Prepare band’s online presence, physical press kits
2. Announce who will be playing the Houston@SXSW party this year (check the link for full information)
3. Provide ideas designed to cut through the noise of SXSW and get bands the visibility they deserve.

In lieu of a long email, please visit the whole post to nominate yourself or a band to play at SXSW and then attend Bandcampus: SXSW PREP to prepare yourself to make an impact:

WHEN: February 28th, 2-4pm
WHERE: Caroline Collective, 4820 Caroline Houston, TX
WHY: Prepare for SXSW, find out who’s playing Houston@SXSW; a free showcase of Houston creative professionals



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