Kate Tempest: one month on from SXSW

We learn Kate Tempest's secrets to success at South by South West...

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 27 Apr 2015
  • min read
South London street poet Kate Tempest enjoyed a phenomenal welcome at South by South West (SXSW) in Austin this year, racking up seven packed-out shows and acres of column inches.

The experience helped break Kate to a new US audience, who were able to see up close what she’s all about for the first time.

Helped by PRS for Music Foundation’s International Showcase Fund, she was able to take her full band and manager Toby Donnelly (ATC Management) out there.

Here, Toby explains the challenges of standing out at SXSW and how to make a splash across the pond. Then in the video below, we hear from Kate about the experience…

Kate garnered some rave reviews when she was at SXSW. Why do you think she went down so well over there?
Kate and her band deliver such inspiring shows-both technically and on an emotional level. I knew that once American audiences had seen her work, it would heavily resonate with them.

What did you get out of the trip?
A great introduction to US gig-goers, media and industry figures and an opportunity to showcase Kate's talents as a musician and poet.

How did you manage to build a buzz?
Kate went to America on the back of a great year in the UK and Europe and the timing worked perfectly, going over on the back of an organic buzz that had been building back home.

Did you plan many meetings or promo before you went or did this fall into place once you were there?
Some meetings were planned but to be honest we had done a lot of the key promo in advance of the trip. We then spent a week in New York after SXSW which was really useful for following up on the buzz from the festival.

Did you do any deals out there?
Not whilst we were there but it definitely started a number of important conversations that we're having now, and moved along a few others!

What worked particularly well?
I think not over-playing worked well for us. There was plenty of opportunity to see Kate perform without exhausting gig-goers.

What would you have done differently?
To be honest, very little! Every gig went really smoothly and Kate's agent had planned our run of shows especially well so the band really enjoyed playing, and we got to perform in front of all of the key people that we needed to.

How are you keeping the momentum going?
Kate has continued to tour since March, and we're gearing up to a US tour and a summer of European festivals that'll expose her to bigger audiences. Kate has also just released a play and volume of poetry in book form in America, and that's helping to cement her new reputation in America.

What are the main challenges of cracking America?
Aside from the cost of touring such a big country, the main challenge is the perception of UK artists over there, and not falling into the pigeonholes that British artists often fall into.

How important was it to receive funding to go?
It was vital to this trip. It allowed us to take our whole band out and get in front of American audiences for the first time without significant financial drain or support from elsewhere.

Here’s what Kate had to say: