MTVu Woodie Awards descend on Austin for SXSW

Categories: SXSW
Photo by Andrea Swensson
There's nary a music-related (or even tangentially music industry-related) corporation who hasn't jumped on board this week's SXSW festival, so it's no surprise that MTV lept at the opportunity to smash their MTVu Woodie Awards in between all the other myriad events happening in Austin this week.

The event itself was over in a flash. There were only a total of four awards doled out, plus performances by five artists: The Foo Fighters, who performed their new single, "Rope"; Wiz Khalifa, who commanded both levels of the club with his earworm single "Black and Yellow"; Two Door Cinema Club, who were about as bland as a manila envelope; Sleigh Bells, who blazed through "Riot Rhythm"; and Odd Future, who rather expectedly blew everyone's mindgrapes.

Prior to the live broadcast of the show, MTVu hosted a red carpet reception and press interview opp for some of the presenters, performers, and nominees in the awards show, and it gave us a chance to grill a handful of the participating musicians about their thoughts on SXSW and upcoming plans.

Here's a rundown of the highlights from our time on the red carpet:

Sleigh Bells: When we asked the duo whether they have new material in the works, Derek Miller chimed in: "Yeah, we do. But I don't really want to perform them until they are ready, because right now they are just demos. We're going to be in the studio in August, though, for a couple of months... We'll put it out probably in the first quarter of 2012. Definitely by March or April for sure. That's all I want to do right now is make a record." 

Meanwhile, singer Alexis Krauss reflected on the crap shoot that is SXSW. "There's so much luck involved," she said. "If the right person is there and happens to write about it and happens to like it -- it's like, you never know. It's a gamble."

Photo by Andrea Swensson
Matt and Kim
Matt and Kim: Though Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino's latest album, Sidewalks, has been out since last fall, the pair have yet to perform many of their new songs live. That's all set to change in the near future, however. "We're playing a little more than half of the album now, and then we have a tour called Sidewalks tour that comes up in the spring, so we figure we probably should learn Sidewalks the album," Johnson said, laughing. "But it's weird, when we wrote that album, the same way we wrote our last album, Grand, we just wanted to make the best recorded album we could, and then we were going to worry about how to do it live. With only two of us, that sometimes gets a little hard."

We also couldn't resisting asking Matt and Kim -- easily two of the most infectiously joyful live performers playing out today -- if they really are having as much fun as it looks like they're having when they play. "Oh, hell yeah!" Schifino said. "We love to play. And if we are lucky enough where we can even do this for two more years, then we're psyched. Even if we're having a shitty day -- when you get out there, it feels good."

Johnson adds that they have always relied on a lot of interaction with the crowd to feed their energy on stage, something that they have incorporated into their shows from the very beginning. "It comes from the whole way we came up, which was playing parties that we played on the floor in the midst of a circle of people," he says. "It wasn't like here's the band, here's the audience. It was all together." 

"I like to look at people in the eyes until they get so uncomfortable they look away," Schifino adds, laughing.

Theophilus London: The rising MC recently partnered up with Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara for a duet, and he revealed that snagging free tickets to a Tegan & Sara concert was an added perk that helped seal the deal when he was getting ready to sign with Warner Bros. "I went to see a show she played and I thought she was really amazing," London said. "I was begging my label guys, can you please introduce us? We met in the studio, and she loved my record and wanted to jump on it, and it instantly worked."

Cateracs: The skyrocketing hip hop duo behind "Like a G6" told us all about the origins of their hit single. Click here for a separate post about our interview with Cateracs.

Oh-Land: This buzzy Danish electro-pop artist is playing a whopping 11 shows at this week's festival, so we asked her what she's doing to stay sane amidst the chaos. "Being in the moment, I think," she replied. "Not thinking about other stuff, because I would just be floating away. in 2009 I was actually signed at SXSW, that was where I got my record deal, so it's fun to be back and release my record. I released it yesterday."

Photo by Andrea Swensson
Yelawolf with Skylar Grey
Yelawolf: On why he is sick of people asking him about smoking weed, despite songs dedicated to the topic: "I don't smoke weed, god dammit," he says, pulling his Ray Bans down from his eyes and smirking as he takes on a mock-serious tone. "I grew up smoking herb, but I had to stop. Ask my why I had to stop." (We ask why he stopped.) "LSD. Bad drug. So there, that's why I don't smoke weed. I did enough drugs. I was Jim Morrison by the time I was 18."

Lil B: Speaking about his experience at SXSW so far, the young rapper (who pretended to steal Kanye West's Left Field Woodie Award after West didn't show to claim his award at the ceremony) says the key to a good music festival is to stay positive. "It's going really nice, very relaxed, and just keeping that love in my heart, spreading that positive energy, you know what I mean? Not doing too much. Showing love, spreading Lil B, Lil B, Lil B."

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