SXSW interview: TROPICS

Chris Ward, aka TROPICS, has the right idea jetting off to Texas just as the last of the winter bites hard in the UK. The one man outfit will play a clutch of shows at South by South West (SXSW) over the next few days, introducing US audiences to his lush tropical music for the first time.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 12 Mar 2013
  • min read
His sound incorporates vintage synths, Rhodes keyboards, guitars, real drums – whatever the 25-year-old multi-instrumentalist can lay his hands on. Elements of disco and seventies jazz funk creep onto tracks like Invitation, while Popup Cinema and Home & Consonance meld old school house with Latin flavours.

TROPICS has already caught the attention of Pitchfork and XLR8R, as well as a number of bands including Bear in Heaven, Poliça and Little Dragon, who he has remixed. Here he tells us what’s in store at SXSW this week…

What are you looking forward to most about SXSW?
I’ve never been so I’m just totally excited about the whole prospect. I guess I’m looking forward to playing to an American crowd, which is a new one. Oh and the food of course!

Do you approach showcase gigs like SXSW differently to regular live sets?
This is the first 'showcase' type gig we've done. I sort of suss out whatever venues we play when we arrive, get a feel of it you know and approach the show from there but I doubt it'll be that different from our regular live shows. We have a couple of optional covers to play toward the end of our set, with great vibes which we get lost in.

What do you hope to get out of going this year?
I'm mainly interested in seeing the response from our American fanbase, networking and leaving a good impression so we can return to the States more this year!

How important was the British Music Abroad funding to your trip?
Very important, it has given us such a great opportunity business-wise. I think this trip could be quite pivotal in my career. A lot of things to test and a lot to be learnt!

If you could perform with anyone onstage at SXSW, who would it be?
Prince! I don't think he's there but I’ve listened to him since I was a kid and something like that would just blow my mind!

What gigs are you looking forward to catching at SXSW this year?
There's a whole number of artists who I just don't get to catch in the UK, not that often anyway so it’s really great to get the opportunity. Such as Rhye, Toro Y Moi, Death Grips, SOHN, Mount Kimbie.

Where can we see you performing back in the UK?
We will be playing a show for Black Cab Session at the Notting Hill Arts Club on 28 March and have some more London shows in May.

SXSW live dates:
14 March, 9pm: Lamberts, 401 West Second Street, Austin
15 March, 8pm: Old School, 401 East Sixth Street, Austin