portland

SXSW Presents: Kyle Craft

 In his own ways, Kyle Craft is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. The Louisiana-born, Portland based singer/songwriter has a defined understanding of how to mix the two, along with folk and blues elements to produce songs that are rich with the journey through emotions and life. 

And all of this from a kid that wasn't even sure he wanted a career in music.

“The whole music thing has been a really strange cinematic sort of journey for me,” Craft says. “None of it really makes sense on paper.” It may not make sense to him on paper, but it makes sense to every last one of his fans. It made sense to Sub Pop Records, too, as they signed Craft without any question or hesitation. Not too shabby for a Southern boy with bluegrass roots. Whether he's playing his solo acoustic sets or backed by his talented band of friends, Craft older sounding tunes for a younger generation of kids. We couldn't be more pleased with that.

   

SXSW Presents: Johanna Warren

*photo by Allyce Andrew

Most people think of music as a means of release or expression, and both of those are very much so true. But for songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Johanna Warren, music is something even more - it's like a natural energy. “Music is vibration; it's a direct way to affect matter," says Warren. "A song is a way to journey into places of discord and then resolve back into harmony.” Warren's articulation of this is crystal clear through her delicate folk compositions, each taking some sort of dark and haunting turn in a way that plays off her understanding of mysticism, occultism and human existence.

These themes run deep in her songs, but also in how she visually represents them. Her music videos often carry the same motifs, often showcased through physical movement. Warren has even translated this into the basis of a label, founding Spirit House Records in 2016. The label is home to many radical and fluid minds who find themselves identifying in some way or another as witches, healers and free spirits. One of the first Spirit House releases happened to be the first of her Gemini albums with the second, Gemini II, coming out just a couple days ago. Both find themselves rooted in personal mythology and occult symbolism, pushed through moody melodies and tones. 

Johanna Warren's songs are introspective and compound, making for an entrancing live production.

   

SXSW Presents: Candace

Dreamy in every sense, the shoegazey-psych trio Candace (formerly Is/Is) haven't missed a beat since 2010. Made of Sarah Rose and Sarah Nienaber sharing guitar, bass and vocal roles and Mara Appel DesLauriers supplying drums and vocals as well, they've never ceased to have the utmost understanding of each other, the music they make and the world around them. This understanding aids them in bringing that whirring static sound from inside our brains in a way we actually want to absorb over and over again.

While always remaining pleasantly noisy, some Candace songs teeter closer to reverberated pop while others remain close to the washed out, droney atmospheric haze they've perfected throughout the years. On top of the mysteriously brooding feel their original tracks have to them, for the last couple of years they've released little collections of cover tracks in celebration of Valentine's Day, putting their own little spin on some deep cuts and leaving listeners with no shortage of work to dive into.

No matter when you choose to dive into Candace's discography, its reliable yet sundry songs will pull you in as a fan. Expect the next full length from Candace, titled New Ruins, to be out just in time for SXSW in early March. 

   

SXSW Presents: Gold Casio

There's always been a certain undeniably cosmic quality about Gold Casio. Delightfully catchy and infectiously addicting, the psychedelic disco dance four-piece know just what it takes to get you to move, no matter how hard you may want to resist. In almost every case, resistance is futile, seeing as their trippy synthesized beats overwhelm the body with the sensation of movement.

And that's barely speaking of the reaction from their recorded material. Seeing them live, the incredible energy exuded from each of Gold Casio's is becoming. It's a charm not typical of many acts, but one they've managed to uphold since they popped up onto the scene. Though the music is always at the forefront their performances are so much more than that, incorporating lively costumes, set pieces and props, and even their bodies as creative devices for enlivening each production. 

There's never a dull set or sound with Gold Casio, and you can expect the most from their SXSW performances, as well as their new EP titled Sinners due out in April.

   

SXSW Presents: Cool Nutz

 Cool Nutz is like a living Portland legend in quite a few different ways. Having been in the hip hop game since the early 90s is one thing, but having started in it and stayed it in a place like the Pacific Northwest is a whole other feat not many can say they've really accomplished. Aside from its hipster kitschiness and bountiful nature, Portland is also known for it's lack of demographic diversity, in race and in its predominant music offerings. That's been steadily changing throughout the years, and Cool Nutz is definitely one to be credited in making Portland hip hop a blip on the international map.

From his first release in 1993 up until now, Cool Nutz (born Terrance Scott) knew exactly what was required to keep his head above water in the game. Not only did seek and succeed at doing his best in the rap game but he's also established himself as an accomplished businessman as well. On top of sharing the stage with other influential rappers like Mac Dre, Wu-Tang Clan, Ice Cube, Bone Thugs N Harmony and more, Cool Nutz directed arising lulls or lows into other profitable endeavors. Having a steady gig hosting The Breakout Radio Show on iHeart Radio, doing "Playlist" with Portland Trailblazers shooting guard CJ McCollum and establishing the Oregon Hip-Hop Festival, Cool Nutz never let's anything stop him or bring him down.

Seeing Cool Nutz's success along with his energy and perseverance is inspiring to Portland's hip-hop and black community. During his live performances, he exudes a pride and confidence that makes him all the more enjoyable to see. Catch his one SXSW on 3.16 at Buffalo Billiards.