This year I followed Brooklyn band, The Skins, to SXSW. It was the best way to experience the weeklong Austin music festival, mixed with the perfect blend of behind the scenes, meeting and discovering new artists, and being immersed in local culture.

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The Skins x Phony PPL x Mighty Jones x Adrien Grenier x Moi

This February, record producer Rick Rubin told The Fader that The Skins are one of six young artists he likes right now. Coincidentally, I felt the same way after seeing them at Miami Art Basel 2014, and arranged to interview them for Beautiful Savage magazine. The band is a couple years off their self-released EP, and poised to release another. The Skins are signed to Rubin’s label, American Recordings, and managed by Adrian Grenier’s Wreckroom Records, include siblings Bayli (lead vocals/guitar), Kaya Nico (bass/vocals), and Reef (drums) along with good friends Daisy (guitar/vocals) and Russell (guitar/keyboard). Together since 2012, the band ranges between the ages of 16-22 and are each considered prodigies in their own respect. They captivate audiences by visually and audibly defying stereotypes that musical genres have a specific look—what I define as the ‘Michael Jackson anomaly.’

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photo by Caitlin McCann

Making a late decision to return to SXSW, The Skins played the 6pm-2am Wreckroom/StadiumRed/SONOS showcase along with The Mighty Jones, Zoe Kravitz’s LolaWolf, KANEHOLLER, and more.

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The Skins took Main II’s stage at 11:30pm. The rock-fusion band debuted new songs such as classic rock jams “Upper Handle” and “More Money.” At one point Kaya Nico put her bass down and took the mic to rap on their new joint, “Basic Bitch”, a fun, witty rock-rap dismissing basic bitches, and similar in style to “Rude Girl.” The Skins displayed that guidance from Rubin and working with producers such as Chad Hugo has led to experimenting with new and diverse sounds, adapting them into an awesome live experience.

Around the corner from Wreckroom, prolific rapper/singer/songwriter, Vic Mensa, headlined “Chicago Made” featuring Leather Corduroys, Gemini Club, Twin Peaks, and others. The Skins’ set ended, giving enough time to run across Main I and Main II’s shared courtyard  to see Mensa prove why Kanye has kept him by his side lately and that Chicago rappers such as the SAVEMONEY crew and Tink have a unique style that the East or West coast can’t touch.

Vic-Mensa

via inflexwetrust.com

 Mensa used SXSW as an opportunity to debut new songs, while using the “live” factor to enhance and get the crowd jumping to “I Ain’t Trippin,” “Wimmie Nah,” “Feel That,” and “U Mad,” which he just released featuring Kanye, among other singles of his INNANETAPE. He ended the show with his verse on Kanye’s “Wolves,” which also features Sia.

Early Wednesday evening, The Skins went to support Phony PPL at the Samsung x 300 Records showcase. Phony PPL, the six-man “Brooklyn soul & R n’ B” band includes Elbee Thrie and Sheriff PJ (Vocals), Aja Grant (Keyboards), Eiljah Rawk (guitar), Matt “MaffYuu” Byas (Drums), and Bari Bass (Bass).

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It makes sense that The Skins and Phony PPL are close considering the group is also full of young talent that master an old school, jazzy R&B hip-hop vibe. Apparently at this particular showcase the band only played a 15-minute set in order to accommodate other 300 Ent. performers such as Shy Glizzy. I unfortunately could not attend with no wristband or badge, but with all the hype surrounding Phony PPL I made sure to check out their LP, Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Tracks from YT such as “Why iii Love the Moon,” “Baby Meet My Lover,” and “Take A Chance” can be found and previewed on SoundCloud. But buy the album— seriously. Phony PPL would wrap their SXSW Friday night on Wiz Khalifa and Taylor Gang’s Takeover lineup.

On Thursday afternoon, I borrowed an artist wristband and met up with The Skins at the Youtube house to catch one of their idolized influences, Hiatus Kaiyote. The soulful, R&B band from Melbourne, AUS is fronted by Earth’s special gem, Nai Palm, and signed to Sony Music Entertainment.

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Photo by Willow-Darling

HK performed “By Fire” from their upcoming album, Choose Your Weapon, “The World It Softly Lulls,” and a couple others before running out of time. While the audience yearned for more, Nai Palm reassured us that they had many more appearances throughout the festival. Nobody “won” SXSW 2015, but Hiatus Kiatoye definitely had the best. They’re currently on tour and Choose Your Weapon is expected to drop May 4th.

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A few hours later, a friend and I went to the Do512 x Rhapsody showcase at the historic Scoot Inn where Ghostface Killah and Raekwon headlined the outdoor stage lineup.

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They got the crowd wild with a juicy set full of 36 Chambers classics, a very Wu-esque rendition of Jackson 5’s “Want You Back,” an ODB tribute, and ended by bringing out young, cutie, Toronto jazz band/hip-hop producers, BADBADNOTGOOD with whom Ghostface released an LP titled Sour Soul in February.

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via wegetpress.com

 

BBNG is Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums). They have already collaborated with Tyler, The Creator (who pushed their exposure) and Frank Ocean.

Raekwon also performed some new stuff from his upcoming album Fly International Luxurious Art.

Conveniently, what would be my last SXSW show and The Skins second and final booking was only a few blocks away from Scoot Inn at the Sonos House Party. San Francisco’s, Panic is Perfect, played at 9pm followed by Brooklyn solo-artist, Idgy Dean. The Mighty Jones followed in which Bayli from The Skins also sings vocals along with Joanna Erdos.

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By 10:30pm the Austin fire marshal tried to shut down the party because there was a line around the block to get it in . . . which resulted in Phony PPL’s set being nixed and The Skins’ cut down to two songs -__-. It was a big shame, but my spirits were lifted when The Skins began and played unreleased “Miss Candy” and “Summertime” off their 2011 debut self-titled EP.

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While all five of them were crammed onto that tiny stage, they empowered the entire street the house was on with their dynamic energy, soul, and flawless sound; Bayli’s voice and dancing exciting us all, backed by the thrilling mesh of strings and percussion provided by her zesty band mates.

The Skins’ two-song set finished, and thus their SXSW 2015 and my first-time teaser. I felt wholly fulfilled, high, and ecstatic from my three days spent at SXSW. I got better acquainted with each member of The Skins, watched them perform brand new songs for the first time, met their friends, and had the opportunity to see other talented artists live. Nothing in any aspect felt forced, but spontaneous and natural. I attribute this to the strong, positive energy and spirit, which emanates from The Skins as 5-in-1. Good vibes and opportunities follow them everywhere. Be sure to check them out live and keep their progress and releases on your radar by following them on Twitter, IG, and Facebook!

Stay tuned for a full story on The Skins in Beautiful Savage’s next issue.

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