SXSW

From left, Andrew Penmer, Jack Thorton, William Glosup and Marcus Haden make up local surf pop band Shivery Shakes. The band will headline at Riot Act Media’s Tuesday showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: Some answers were edited for length and clarity.

Austin-based band Shivery Shakes’ infectious, glitzy, surf pop entertains Austinites throughout the year. During South By Southwest, Shivery Shakes will headline Riot Act Media’s Tuesday showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Their latest album, Three Waves and a Shake, sets a beachy, chill backdrop to this year’s festival. 

Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell named June 27 “Shivery Shakes Day” after the band gained serious acclaim in the community. The Daily Texan spoke with the band about their SXSW showcases. 

The Daily Texan: Is this your first year performing at SXSW as “official” performers? 

Shivery Shakes: This is our first year performing at SXSW officially as this band. A couple of us have done South By officially in the past in other bands or as “hired guns,” but it will be a different experience with this project.

We’ve been working really hard on this band for the past couple of years, and, while it might not be the ultimate measure of success, it’s cool that we were accepted. 

DT: Are you guys working on a new album? If so, when would it come out?

SS: We put our last record pretty recently, and we are still doing the best we can to get it out there. We have a few new songs in the works and preliminary recording on our next record is on the horizon, but we’d like to do our best to get our debut album out there before we put it behind us.

DT: Do you think Austin shows local bands enough love during SXSW? 

SS: Honestly, I think SXSW is a little harder on local acts. However, Austin is generally hard for local acts. It has become a hub for international talent year-round, so local bands are measured against national talent way more thoroughly than anywhere else. 

That being said, I think it pushes local bands to be very hard-working and well practiced. We are stoked to be a part of SXSW and other festivals around here, but we also have our own scene and friends to enjoy.

DT: What is the best/worst part about SXSW? 

SS: The best part is all of our friends from out of town come here; the worst part is all of the people we aren’t friends with come, too.

DT: Can you describe your sound/your goals and aspirations as a band? 

SS: Our debut record sounds pretty surfy and poppy. We enjoy that musical genre, but, for whatever we do next, I think we’d like to evolve and transcend genre. We like pop music and also music that we naturally gravitate toward. I think any aspirations we have musically will occur without effort. Other than that, our main aspiration is to get a van, stay on the road and keep making music that we like to listen to.

DT: Do you guys like touring or sticking around and playing shows in Austin more?

SS:  They both have their pros and cons. Touring is a total blast because you get to show different people your music for the first time, which usually gets a very honest reaction. That’s something you never get at home, and it’s usually very exciting. 

Playing at home is just as sweet though because it’s very relaxed, and you get to play with all of your friends’ bands. We have so many great bands in Austin right now, too. It almost feels like we’re on tour when we play on different bills because everyone here has a very unique voice.

Photo Credit: Victoria Smith | Daily Texan Staff

South By Southwest is unlike any other festival. It requires a different mindset and level of physical stamina than is necessary for quaint three-day, noon-to-midnight festivals.

It is a grueling week of chaos that runs nonstop, from 5 a.m. live radio shows to 2 a.m. sets on Sixth Street. It is simultaneously sprawling, crowded and intensely personal. 

Feeling intimidated? Don’t be. Below, we’ve provided some tips for SXSW rookies  so you can learn to cope with the chaos, get the most out of your week and generally have the SXSW experience of a lifetime.

1. Make a plan, but don’t get too attached to it.

 Being flexible is by far the most important tip for SXSW rookies. Nothing is ever set in stone at SXSW. Just because a band is on the official roster, it does not mean their shows will be open for you to attend. Many shows are badge-holders only, 21+ or scheduled at ridiculous times. Bands cancel, venues reach capacity and shows often run behind schedule. Therefore, the right attitude is critical. The easiest way to avoid schedule-change heartbreak is to approach SXSW with a flexible mindset and a plan you are ready to adapt.

2. Skip big-name bands. 

Those down-several-blocks lines are rarely worth it — especially when the concert venues don’t even guarantee entry. Don’t waste your time waiting in line for three hours for a band you’ll have the chance to see again. Your time will be much better spent discovering new music, elsewhere.

3. Double check to find out if events are 21+. 

If you are underage, SXSW can be a tricky maneuver to pull off. A lot of events won’t explicitly state 21+ on the online invitation and still enforce age restrictions at the door. A good rule of thumb is that any show inside an actual bar — regardless of the time of day — will likely be age-restricted. Sorry, younger friends.

4. Use Twitter. Use Twitter. Use Twitter.

If you don’t have a Twitter, get one for the week — we promise not to make fun of your egg profile picture. Follow venue accounts, friends at the festival, official SXSW profiles and all of the various Twitter profiles that aggregate events and tweet info throughout the week, including rumors about secret shows. Follow your favorite bands and speakers to stay informed about last-minute schedule changes, or, again, potential secret shows. Did we mention the secret shows?

5. Bring a phone charger.

If you are following the previous tip, expect your phone to die before the night ends — all that tweeting will drain a battery mercilessly. Pack a charger in your bag, and plug it in any time you’re waiting at a venue or
a restaurant.

6. Arrive to everything earlier than you think you should.

There is always a bigger fan than you — and usually, there are several. Lines are inevitable, so arrive early to ensure entry. Being fashionably late is neither fashionable nor possible if you plan on actually listening to music at SXSW.

7. Put comfort before style when choosing your outfit.

SXSW isn’t Coachella. Dressing fashionably is difficult in a city where the weather fluctuates from hour to hour so come armed with a jacket for cold venues and shoes that can deal with the miles you’ll walk scouring the city and standing in lines. There’s no sitting at SXSW.

8. Know that Uber and Lyft prices will be high.

Even including the inflated rates you’ll see as a result of an increase in demand, you can expect traffic to further prolong any ride you take, further driving up costs. The same supply-demand equation applies for taxis and pedicabs. Stick to walking or biking rather than relying on expensive ride-hailing companies or inconsistent public transportation. 

9. Resist all urges to accept free stuff.

Unless you are going to eat it, free stuff is not worth carrying around all day as you traverse the city. The lighter your backpack, the better. You really don’t need six different promotional koozies. You just don’t.

10. If all else fails, end the night at Auditorium Shores with a huge free show.

 The music at Auditorium Shores is guaranteed to be good, and everyone is guaranteed entry. Shows run Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Shows typically start in the early evening and end at 10 p.m. Attendees can opt to stand in front of the stage with the eager, youthful crowd, or relax on a towel in the back. In a festival where schedules can change at a minute’s notice, it’s nice to know there’s always at least one place you can end up.

Local rapper Eric Mikulak, better known as Click-Clack, recently performed during this year's SXSW, including an official showcase hosted by The City of Austin. (Photo courtesy of Hayden Zezula)

Eric Mikulak, better known as rapper Click-Clack, could very well be the face of Austin's ever-growing hip hop scene. The local artist finds inspiration from an assortment of groups, his do-it-yourself ethic bringing to mind alternative hip hop groups such as Death Grips and Odd Future, to name a few. Along with being a talented rapper, Mikulak is a great producer; he splices together ideas and sounds with the utmost precision and detail, his production moody and atmospheric.

Having released his debut full-length album, Housework, Mikulak is ready to take Austin by storm. The artist spoke with The Daily Texan about recording Housework, influences and performing at SXSW.

The Daily Texan: When you were 17, you attended Mediatech Institute of Recording Arts. What would you say, besides the technical aspect of things, was the most important lesson you took out of attending Mediatech?
Eric Mikulak:
Your contacts are your everything. I entered the school thinking I would leave a pro-audio engineer, and left a networking musician. I still call Mediatech with all of my audio questions, and am currently dating and collaborating with a student from my class.

DT: Housework is basically your first record, but you've been releasing mixtapes for awhile. Do you feel that as a rapper and producer you needed to refine your sound first before putting out something that reflects you a lot more than your mixtapes, or was it more so finally having the time to focus on a full-length release?
Mikulak:
It has been quite a while since I released a mixtape. I think this project was so important to me because it began when I finally felt confident producing myself. I have been recording vocals on my beats for a long time, but it wasn't until recently that I felt my beats were pro quality. Many of the songs on the album went start to finish in one night. It allows me to fall deeper into the vocal pocket when I know all of the details of the beat, and can manipulate them after the fact. This album is me, in its entirety.

DT: There's an eeriness to your music that brings to mind Odd Future and Death Grips, who we've talked about before briefly. Would you say these artists have had an influence on your sound, and how do you go about your production? I've noticed that it isn't like most hip-hop; there's moments of minimalism, and dynamic contrast between transitions.
Mikulak:
They influenced my sound merely in the fact that they don't give a fuck what anyone thinks. I love that about both groups. My production process is a little impractical; I just add instruments piece by piece until I have something that resembles a beat. Once I have the individual samples picked for each instrument, I basically wipe the slate and play each part again. Usually I do this a few times, changing the melody and structure, until I feel I have something to write vocals to. Occasionally I even rework the beat after I have already recorded the vocals. I don't really aim to make any style of music in particular; hip-hop is just the most direct form of lyricism to get my ideas across. The beats never really have an idea to start, so they usual turn out pretty abstract.

DT: I noticed that your cadence cannot be simply described with one word. You can go from a relaxed flow to rapid-fire seamlessly. Do you feel that having different cadences betters you as a writer or helps for certain parts of a song to maybe emphasize the production that accompanies it?
Mikulak:
Yes. Often I find it hard to maintain the subject matter when I "rapid fire," so I have trained myself to go back and forth. Too many rappers pride themselves on one or the other. I strive for balance in almost every aspect of my life.

DT: Let's talk about your past projects, SiP-SiP and Karmatron. Did you take anything out of being in those groups, maybe for like your onstage persona, or musical ideas?
Mikulak:
Karmatron opened my eyes to writing more melodic vocals. It's hard to not sing a little when you have a powerhouse funk/R&B band backing you. As for SiP-SiP, they helped me realize that we all make music because we enjoy it. It was/is a party playing shows with them.

DT: Going back to Housework, where did the name come from? How did the guest contributions from Berkowitz, Brown and Wilkins come about, and was the recording process smooth for the most part?
Mikulak:
I have a home studio that I do almost all of my work in. When my friends call or text trying to hang out, there is a 50/50 chance that I will be at my day job or in the studio. Hence the title Housework. Most of my close friends know I might as well be on another planet when I'm recording. As for Daniel, Yadira and Nathan, they are some of my closest friends. [Daniel] Berkowitz recorded his vocals on his own accord, and sent them to me so I just added them in the mix. His verse is awesome. And with Nathan's [Wilkins], I recorded his vocals and ended up making an entirely new track based around them.

DT: You're a part of this year's SXSW, having played two official showcases. Obviously you're excited, but how does it feel to be showcasing a genre that often times isn't associated with Austin?
Mikulak:
It feels awesome. I have been attending this festival for as long as I can remember. Genre-wise, the hip-hop scene in Austin is growing at an exponential rate. I feel blessed to be maturing along with it.

DT: What also contributes to your appeal is that you perform with groups from different genres. Do you feel that you're reaching an even wider audience by going this route, and do you also see it as a challenge considering you're taking that route?
Mikulak:
I love converting unconventional listeners. I've spent my whole life dealing with racial issues, so in many lights I am used to being judged. Regardless of if they like my style, I make music to verbalize my opinions; the more strangers the better.

DT: You're 21 and taking big steps to get what you want. Was there a certain performance or moment when you realized that your dream was attainable? Just one of those moments where you were like, "Wow, people like this and I'm going to give them more."
Mikulak:
I don't really have a dream. I make music because it calms me when I feel like my life has no purpose. It's awesome that people can relate, and I hope that listening can help them with their issues as well. I am terrified by the responsibilities of fame.

DT: What's next for you?
Mikulak
: Tomorrow is next, and then the next day.

Hip hop duo G-Side will make their return to Austin during SXSW. The group was well-received when they performed at last year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest. (Photo courtesy of G-Side)

Following their 2007 debut, Sumthin 2 Hate, G-Side, a duo consisting of members Stephen “ST 2 Lettaz” Harris and Yung “David Williams” Clova, are hoping to bring something new and refreshing to hip-hop. Their production is eclectic: Some songs are filled with laid-back, spellbinding chord progressions, while others ooze with Dirty South energy and abrasiveness. Harris and Clova compliment each other well with their contrasting delivery. Harris is more lyrical, while Clova maintains a more mainstream, relaxed flow, resulting in a near-flawless union between the two.

The two rappers spoke with The Daily Texan about how they originally met, their latest release, iSLAND, and performing at festivals such as Fun Fun Fun Fest and the Pitchfork Music Festival.

The Daily Texan: You guys are originally from Hunstville, Ala., and you often touch upon your experiences in your songs. Was hip-hop at first an escape from those bad experiences, or was it always a goal to become a group?

Stephen Harris: It definitely started as just a thing, and then when I saw Master P and what he did with it, I felt I could [do] that or something similar. I wanted to make something for my people.

Yung Clova: I was pretty much the same way, man. At first, I wasn’t really focused on the music until I graduated, and that’s when I really got focused on music. I’m trying to do something positive: I’ve got little brothers and sisters, so I’m just trying to lead by example.

DT: How did you two meet each other at the Boys and Girls Club of Athens?

Clova: It was probably basketball. [Lettaz’s] team would always kick my team’s ass.

DT: You both provide a little friendly competition for each other although you both have different styles of rhyming. Do you feel that contributes a lot to your growth as rappers?

Harris: There would be times when [Clova] would kill me, and I would have to go back and write a new verse. There’s definitely competition, but it helps in making the music better.

DT: How was working with producer Block Beattaz on your latest release, iSLAND?

Harris: We’ve basically been working with Block Beattaz exclusively. I think on this one we had a little bit more fun. Sometimes the albums come across as being too serious, or us being bitter at the industry. This time I think we just tried to have fun with it. We know our fans are going to stick with us, and we’re just trying to give them a high quality product.

DT: How do you feel you guys have improved since your earlier releases?

Clova: I’ve really been trying to just step it up. I’m trying to get more lyrical. You don’t just want to say anything on the mic you know?

Harris: I’ve been trying to step my hook game up, just doing them myself instead of always depending on other people.

DT: You all performed at Fun Fun Fun Fest and the Pitchfork Music Festival this past year, and now you’re performing at South By Southwest. Do you see these festivals as a challenge, considering the diverse selection of artists they offer?

Harris: That’s kind of our lane; we’re not so urban. We get love from Pitchfork and stuff like that. So it’s not that we choose the festivals, but that these festivals chose us.

Clova: I think it has a lot to do with the beats too. We might take a Madonna sample, put some 808s in there and slow it down a little bit, and it’ll be the same song that everybody listens to, but we do it in our own way.

Adam Levy and the Honeydogs, who will be performing at SXSW, have put together another album of lyrical puzzles, which promises to reward careful listeners (Photo courtesy of The Honeydogs).

Editor’s Note: The Daily Texan talked with Adam Levy, singer-songwriter and bandleader for The Honeydogs, to discuss the band’s latest album, What Comes After, released today. Levy will be performing during SXSW at Lamberts with fellow Honeydog Brian Halverson on Thursday, March 15 at 9 p.m., as well as part of a free show at The Liberty on Saturday, March 17 at noon.

Daily Texan: How did this album compare with the album that you envisioned when you went into the studio?
Adam Levy:
I think we had decided that we were going to do a quick record and that we weren’t going to labor over a lot of overdubbing details. We used to make records very quickly without any heavy intensive lifting, so we just thought, because of people’s schedules, it might be fun to throw the record down as quickly as we could. The songs and arrangements that we’d been working on lent themselves to that.

DT: Could you have recorded this album 10 years ago?
Levy:
No. I think the band’s much better now. In fact, with a lot of the songs, I came in the studio and showed them and we did them in one or two takes. The band is just infinitely better than we were. I certainly don’t miss the nervousness that you have when you first go into the studio when you’re younger: It’s nice to feel really comfortable as a player, performer, songwriter, singer and musician. There are things that I labor over and that have taken more time — other projects — but with The Honeydogs, I enjoy the level of comfort, familiarity and trust that everybody has. We tend to work better, more quickly.

DT: You make many obscure references in your songs. Do you expect your listeners, for example, to know what the amygdala is?
Levy:
I like making records that are sort of puzzles for listeners that require repeated listening and that may require them to go back in their memory bank or go look up a word that they might not be familiar with, but I don’t expect everybody to do that. The music can operate on multiple levels, but my favorite songwriting has a puzzle quality to it so that the listener can take away multiple meanings. There can be things hidden within that the real curious can figure out, but it’s not like you miss the point of the song if you don’t know some reference in it.

DT: What’s exciting about SXSW for you?
Levy:
It’s a great way to drop in on music that you had no idea existed. I feel like the serendipity of accidentally stumbling on cool stuff is exciting. There’s also this large Minnesota contingent that goes down — usually somewhere between 50 and 70 bands — and it’s a nice way to support your comrades on the road. Also, the food, obviously, in Austin is fantastic, the folks are really nice there and the weather is beautiful. It feels like a little vacation at the end of our miserable, grey, sloppy winter here [in Minnesota].

DT: How do you feel about the new album?
Levy:
I’m really excited. The record’s coming out on vinyl and it should available be in stores around the country. It just feels good to be doing this after 18 years. I think, as a songwriter, you’re always hoping that the next song you write is your masterpiece and I still feel like I haven’t written my best work yet. It just feels like this is a really great batch of songs and the band played exceptionally well. I’m just happy that I get to keep on doing this.

Printed on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 as: Band readies for multiple shows, quickly completes new recording