After two years away from the dusty roads of Austin, Texas, we’re raising a frozen margarita to the return of SXSW this month. And not only will we be there on the ground, scouting out the hottest tips from the world’s most celebrated new music festival, we’ll be hosting two nights packed full of our favourites while we’re out there too.
On Monday 14th, DIY will be taking over the British Music Embassy at Cedar Street Courtyard with a line up featuring CMAT, Nuha Ruby Ra, Moonchild Sanelly, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Strawberry Guy and Gallus. Then, on Wednesday 16th at Augustine on Rainey Street, we’ve got a heavy-hitting line-up that boasts Self Esteem, Yard Act, Surfbort, Baby Queen, Priya Ragu and Gustaf.
Hi CMAT! This is your first SXSW rodeo and, of everyone on the line up, we’re guessing the pilgrimage means quite a lot to you…
I am SO EXCITED. I’ve never been to Texas or to the South or anywhere near there, and it’s the main feature and setting for all of my favourite songs and films. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’m worried about doing one gig and then the rest of my band members not being able to find me for the rest of the time because I’ve gone off to find a cowboy.
Have you got a mental picture of how you expect Austin to be?
It sounds like it’s going to be very chaotic and I thrive in chaos, so I’m excited for that. And as always, whenever an event like this comes up and there’s going to be loads of people, what I say to all my friends is that I’m gonna meet the love of my life there so I’m excited for that. I’m looking for someone who is not in any way, shape or form involved in the music industry: a rancher, maybe someone who owns a dive bar, maybe an art dealer. Fifty-plus preferably, someone who’s done the starter marriage and the main meal marriage so I can be the dessert marriage. I want all of the money and land when they die.
Sounds like a plan! How many cowboy boots do you think you can fit in an EasyJet small luggage vessel?
My plan is: no luggage on the way over, and just two empty suitcases to come back. I like to say I’m a clothes collector because it sounds nicer than a hoarder, and I’ve been ordering clothes from vintage shops in Austin since I was a teenager. It’s really expensive to ship over but it’s literally the only place in the world where you can get the kind of clothes I wear, so it’s actually a good business investment for me to fill up two suitcases and bring them back.
“I’m gonna meet the love of my life at SXSW, so I’m excited about that.”
You’re playing DIY’s Monday night showcase! Why should people come and watch you?
‘Cause I’m class and I have a band now, so there’ll be five people on stage being a) amazing and b) just some of the best-looking people you’ve ever seen in your life and I do not say that lightly. Every single one of us is a 10/10. And we’ve coordinated outfits so there’s a whole styling thing going on. It’s worth coming to see us physically, but we’re also some of the best musicians in the UK and Ireland. And all my songs are bangers. Why would you see anything else?
Your debut LP ‘If My Wife New I’d Be Dead’ will be out by then. It’s an album full of flights of fancy, would you say you’re a big daydreamer?
The number one mental health issue I’ve had in my life has been actual breaks from reality and I really struggle with reality versus what’s in my head. There was a period in my life where I’d love going home from work and sitting on my couch and just thinking for hours, just sitting and staring into space and creating a whole alternate reality. I’d go so deep into it that I’d almost live in it, and I had a bit of a ‘menty b’ in 2017 because I did not recognise myself when I looked in the mirror or in pictures. I think the way I’ve been able to deal with that and come back into the real world has been by putting it into music and compartmentalising it, because then it’s a real world but it only exists for three minutes and then I can move away from it again.
What do you think is the biggest curveball on the album?
I think what will catch people the most off guard is the guitar music songs, the ones that are super influenced by alternative indie music. I think also maybe people will be shocked that all of the best songs that they’ve ever heard in their life are on this record? It’s a bargain, because you’re buying a record that’s the same price as all the other records in the world, but it’s actually better than all of them. It’s so good that I did that.
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The one-day festival takes place in Margate this June.
It amps up the winking, cheeky side of country while also showing CMAT to be an artist not beholden to it.
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Strawberry Guy, Nuha Ruby Ra & Gallus will also be joining us in Austin, TX.