Due to the coronavirus pandemic, SXSW (South by Southwest) 2020 was unfortunately cancelled. However, the British Music Embassy, BBC Music Introducing and music industry partners collaborated to ensure that the talented UK music creators set to perform at the festival did not miss out, as performing at SXSW can be a career-changing opportunity.
The organisations put on a 2-day live session on March 16-17 aptly titled British Music Embassy Sessions, which were hosted behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, but still creating a new alternative platform and reaching a wider and captive audience, through broadcasting on radio and social media, for all the artists involved.
Dubbed ‘The BME Sessions’, live performances were filmed at London’s Production Park Studios, featuring artists and bands such as Arlo Parks, Bess Atwell, Jordan Mackampa, Knucks, KOKOROKO, Liz Lawrence, Marsicans, Porridge Radio and Steam Down.
These sessions were organised and supported by British Music Embassy partners including the Association of Independent Music (AIM), BBC Music Introducing, BPI, Department for International Trade, PPL, PRS for Music and PRS Foundation.
Singer-songwriter, Jordan Mackampa, shared his thoughts regarding the change of events and the live sessions, “it really sucked not getting to play SXSW this year, but I’m so grateful to the British Music Embassy partners for allowing me to record a session with them. It was awesome to bring six days’ worth of energy into one performance”.
The British Music Embassy is the official annual UK residency at SXSW, hosting a number of events and showcases throughout the conference. Previous performers include BRITS 2020 Rising Star Award winner Celeste, Hyundai Mercury Prize nominees Black Midi and BBC Sound of 2020 runners-up, Easy Life.
All British Music Embassy partners are demonstrating their commitment to support those who have been affected by the current climate, hence deciding to host these studio sessions. These were the last BBC Music Introducing sessions that took place before the UK went into lockdown.
The knock on effect that this is having on the industry is unfortunate, however it is encouraging to see music creators embrace the situation by utilising social media and planning ahead.
Musician and poet Arlo Parks announces online that she has rescheduled her USA tour dates to August; rapper/producer Knucks is set to release something new, titled “Jubilee” on April 1; and Marsicans host lockdown live sessions on Instagram with light hearted chat, music and guest appearances.
Despite everything happening in the world, our UK talent continue to make the most out of the situation. If you are feeling down during quarantine, listen to the likes of KOKOROKO, an afrobeat/highlife band who will bring you sunshine performing “Carry Me Home”.
All performances from the British Music Embassy sessions are now available to watch online on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Music YouTube Channel, check them out below.