So there’s this little film/media/technology/music festival in Austin, Texas every spring called South by Southwest, or SXSW, or just “South by.” You’ve probably heard of it. I generally hate things that cause a lot of media hype and draw a lot of crowds, but I decided that for once in my life I’d like to join half of Brooklyn in heading down to Austin for South by and it looks like this is the year!
I’m really excited because I’m speaking on a panel about crowdfunding for musicians on the morning of Wednesday the 14th with awesome folks from RocketHub, CD Baby, Zero Management and Ariel Publicity. I hope you can join me if you’ll be doing the conference thing! I’d also like to invite you to very casual, “unofficial” artists networking breakfast I’m organizing at Cherrywood Coffeehouse on Thursday the 15th from 10 to 12 noon. Let me know if you want to drop by and have a breakfast taco with me!
My band Corita will also be joining the fray and will play an unofficial showcase at Waterloo Cycles on Saturday the 17th. We’ll be playing around 2pm, the show is free and there will be free beer too! Playing SXSW will be our first time playing outside of New York City! As we thought about how we would present ourselves to our audience in Austin we quickly realized we had nothing to represent us as a band: no press photos, no physical copies of our EP Memento Mori, no badges, no flyers, no business cards, not even a bio describing the band that we had all agreed on!
About a month ago we got down to work. We took press photos as a secret location with Stefano Giovannini (I can’t wait to post them when he’s done working on them), and scheduled two Sunday afternoon “Merch Atelier” sessions. We enlisted the help of our very supportive friends and spent two Sunday afternoons drinking mimosas, eating Peter Pan doughnuts, and cranking out badges, CDs, writing our bio, and getting ourselves set up on all the social networking sites we could handle.
Thanks to our efforts we not only have beautiful CDs and badges to give away, but you can hear Corita on Soundcloud, Reverbnation, and follow us on Twitter! You can also “like” us on Facebook, but we already had that, in addition to our bandcamp, myspace and last.fm pages, at least.
What was so fantastic about the merch atelier sessions, besides the camaraderie and the awesome Corita swag they produced, is that it really helped us think differently about ourselves as a band. We all have “day jobs,” and that fact isn’t going to change. We are in the band because we love playing music and being creative as a group. However, previously, we were really blasé about it. We didn’t make an effort for people to remember our names or build a fan base beyond our friends. However, in talking together and getting excited about sharing our music with new friends in Austin we realized we have collective goals for our band and we can work towards them and have the ability to make them happen.
This year Corita will stop playing schlocky New York clubs and focus on playing more art spaces and DIY venues that attract more of the type of people we connect with and feel at home with; we will play out-of-town shows in Philadelphia, Boston and Portland, ME and other northeastern cities where we have like-minded friends in bands; and we will put more of an effort into representing ourselves as a band and taking pride in who we are and what we make. I also decided that I need to stop treating the band as something that will inevitably loose money and ask that we get paid for shows. It doesn’t have to be much, enough to cover the car service to get our equipment there, but if bands don’t start standing up for themselves no one else will.
So, will we see you in Austin? If you’ve been to SXSW before, any tips you want to share with a first timer? And if you come to our show (or my panel discussion) I’d love to give you a Corita badge and CD! Also, if you have a band and want to play a show with us – let me know. We’d love to do a “show swap” between our two cities!
And for good measure, here is Corita’s official bio:
Brooklyn-based Corita delivers the shimmery guitars of UK shoegaze, the jangly melodies of C86, creeping angular post-punk rhythms, and overdriven choruses that hark back to 1990s indie rock overlaid with three-girl vocal harmonies. On the 2011 EP Memento Mori, Corita explores the hazards of late capitalism, cinematic European daydreams, animal friends, and human enemies. Named for the visual artist, and former nun, Sister Corita Kent, the band has been an active participant in Brooklyn’s vibrant independent rock scene for the past three years. The songs are a vision shared by four experienced musicians. Guitarist and vocalist Marisha Chinsky found her sound as the leader of the cult-favorite indie-pop group The Consultants, while drummer Nick Cearlock honed his skills in the Pacific Northwest punk scene of the 1990s. Bassist and vocalist Aileen Brophy delivers an encyclopedic knowledge of post-punk sounds, and guitarist and vocalist Eleanor Whitney brings a love of angular melodies and syncopated rhythms from her training as a jazz musician. As a band Corita is the shared vision of four close friends who imagine music as a conduit to a more fulfilling everyday reality.