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Spotlight Feature: AMF’s Artist Development Program Alumni Taking SXSW by Storm

Written by Alex Perez, AMF Intern

We’re welcoming back SXSW this year after a two year absence of the event in person and we are excited to see the international festival that embodies the spirited and energetic environment of the Live Music Capital of the World®, make its way back into the live events line up not only for the city of Austin, but for the people, the community and the artistry. 

SXSW’s conference and festival event is an instrumental phenomenon to the city of Austin. The event is known for bringing local and global communities together, fueling the convergence of music, media, and film, and boosting the local economy with over 356 million in revenue reported in 2019. (Austin360)  The absence of the event in previous years left a void in many aspects of the city. 

In 2020, SXSW was canceled at the wake of the pandemic breakout just days before the event was set to take place in March. The event had run strong for 34 years in a row before being compromised the past couple of years.

In 2021, SXSW engineered a solution to event mandates by delivering the festival digitally. Music performances, film screenings and other media were all transferred over to the digital world. It even provided a virtual reality version of the event by recreating a portion of Austin, like Congress Avenue and some venues in the popular game VRChat. 

With 2022 being an anticipated return to the peak energy of live events, Austin Music Foundation is proud to see their current and past artists being greatly represented as official SXSW artists this year. Gracing the line up are Quentin and The Past Lives and Pleasure Venom, currently members of Austin Music Foundation’s ADP 5 Class, they have used their time at AMF to construct a model that has elevated their music and will now get the chance to highlight the importance of SX’s return. 

We caught up with Quentin for a short interview on being an official artist, welcoming back this year’s SXSW, the festival’s meaning to the community, their time with AMF’s Artist Development Program and what has helped them excel in their career over the past year. 

What is the anticipation like of being an official act in this year’s SXSW festival

Not only have I never performed at SX, but I’ve also never really been to SX. I’m super excited just to get to experience it in general but also as an artist it’s very exciting to me and it’s just going to be a new experience all around. 

I think people are really ready for this to happen, ready to experience it especially because i’m doing the show on 6th street and I think there’s going to be a pretty good turnout and I think everyone’s just going to be…..I guess the word is really appreciative of the fact that we have the opportunity to do this. We really didn’t know if we were going to be able to do this again and I’m really excited to be in this year’s version of it. I think they’re going to be really above and beyond for the artists in terms of the audience and we’re working extra hard to give them a really good show.”

What are the emotions like as an artist playing an event like SXSW after having the pandemic compromise live sets for you over the past couple of years?

I think it’s really cool that we’re still able to elevate after the pandemic, because we just didn’t really know what we were going to do as we were getting through the quarantine phase of it. We kind of had to start back from the ground up and so getting to do something live for the first time ever and it be after a global pandemic, that’s really cool to us and to me because it means that even though there were these issues, Austin is still holding a place for artists and still helping them elevate and continue whatever trajectory it was that they had before the pandemic. I think SXSW is doing really well at  ensuring that people are able to continue their trajectory as artists so I’m excited.”

As an Austin based musician, what does it mean to the city of Austin to have this event back?

“I feel if there’s anything that this helps with, in terms of the city, it’s artist awareness. It’s been a while since people have been able to really go and see all the different artists that are available to the city right now. Usually it’s online or it’s in other ways, but this is a physical way and I feel like that’s going to give all the artists opportunities to get more shows,  get more things, and all of that funnels back into the city economically. Austin’s always been pretty aware that music is the thing that makes the city go round and so, you know, SXSW, ACL, those are really the two big moments in Austin where they can get people out to listen to artists, pay the artists and then hopefully get them more jobs and more shows so that they can continue to pay themselves while financially giving back to the city. It’s really just a cycle that Austin’s always been aware of and now that we’re kind of in the space where people feel more comfortable with going out and going to see shows, this is a great way for Austin to build that economic structure back and be like ‘okay, live music is back we can move forward’. I think if we have a successful SX, that’s going to mean a lot for the city.”

How was your time in AMF’s ADP Program and what did you learn that you can apply to your career?

“The Artist Development Program completely changed the trajectory of me and my band as an artist. When we got into that we were not called Quentin and The Past Lives, there was no music really yet, there was no wig or character or really anything yet or shows for Quentin and The Past Lives. I felt like everything we’ve been rolling with now is a product of them helping us learn about the business aspect. That was definitely a part of it, but also about how to be a band, how to make good songs and how to ask for what you want. If there’s a venue that you want to perform at, how do you do that? How do you call them? Who do you call? I feel like a lot of those kinds of questions that not a lot of people know how to answer, AMF helped us answer. Because of them, this whole band thing now is just kind of like a machine and especially myself. I didn’t always know how people got to even the small level that we’re at now. I didn’t know how to elevate, I didn’t know how to get to any different space then where I was, and you know, when I got into the Artist Development Program, it kind of changed everything. They definitely helped us in terms of business but also they just really helped us in, you know, ‘let’s figure out what this band is and once we figure out what the band is the business will come, but you need to know who you are, what you want and then once you have that set, then you can get what you want’. They changed everything. Pretty much every piece of what we are is a product of them”

Quentin and PV aren’t the only AMF program participants in this year’s line up. Kydd Jones, Deezie Brown, Jackie Venson, Calliope Musicals, William Harries Graham, Gina Chavez, Magna Carda, Jane Leo (Jane Ellen Bryant) and Western Youth are all ADP alumni who will also be performing. 

For details on all SXSW Showcasing Artists and schedule go to: https://www.sxsw.com/festivals/music/

We’re very excited to introduce SXSW back into our lives and the community at large. Have a blast, stay safe and enjoy the shows! 

AMF is also partnering with Tunecore for an AMA, unofficial networking mixer and panel on March 15th at Native Hostel, 807 E. 4th St, 2-5pm CST. With a special acoustic performance from Quentin Arispe of Quentin and the Past Lives. Open to the public and FREE to attend RSVP to join us and connect with experts and artist support groups and catch the panel on networking and the state of the music industry in 2022.

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