Nestled amongst more than 280 bands and artists performing at SXSW 2021 was a contingent of 35 performances organised by the British Music Embassy. Amongst the most eye-catching was that by Glaswegian quintet Walt Disco, a heady mix of new wave and the new romantics, glam rock and synchronised jogging, which was selected by Joyzine’s Danny Gillies as a highlight of the festival – read his review here.
“To be chosen to represent the UK and Scotland on the global stage is an incredible feeling. SXSW is something we were all acutely aware of and understood how much of a milestone it is – we’d all watched Youtube videos of some of our favourite artists playing at SXSW early on in their careers, so it’s nice to feel like we’re now part of this history,” says keyboard player David Morgan.
They were offered the opportunity to play following a tip-off from DIY Magazine, one of the variety of music media and industry organisations involved in selecting and showcasing upcoming UK talent as part of the BME, and while this year’s event is a rather different affair from the usual Austin-based scramble, they were determined to make the most of the opportunity to play again, even if it was to an empty room.
“It was definitely nice to have a reason to get dressed up again!” says frontman James Potter, “To go from not rehearsing together for months to recording a live show in a huge arena, we’re not going to lie and say we didn’t have anxieties before and after the set, but that is definitely a product of spending so much time indoors and away from the stage this past year.”
“I suppose we just approach it by striving to give the same performance we would have done if the room was full!” adds bassist Finlay.
And beyond the chance to blow off the cobwebs and make some noise again, SXSW has often been a springboard for bands looking to reach a wider audience – could Walt Disco be the latest to benefit from the exposure it offers?
“We’ve had an extremely positive reception from industry figures, publications and fellow performing artists,” says James “Throughout the festival our team has received great feedback and we hope to develop and maintain the connections made from SXSW over the years to come.”
One advantage of the festival moving to pre-recorded online performances is that without the need to fight your way across town from one crowded bar to another to catch the bands you want to see, there’s plenty of time to make new discoveries too – what were the band’s highlights?
Finlay – “I really enjoyed A Place To Bury Strangers, it was nice and noisy. Such great energy.”
Lewis – “My highlight was Iceage’s set, it was great to hear their new tracks live.”
James – “We’re looking forward to catching up on some of the stuff we missed on demand, there’s so much to delve in to.”
And now with SXSW behind them, what’s next for Walt Disco?
“All will be revealed fairly soon,” teases James, “but we’re always working away in our home studio!”
Walt Disco’s Young, Hard and Handsome EP is available now on all of the usual streaming platforms. Visit their official website for more details., including UK tour dates in October.
SXSW 2022 has just been announced for 11th-20th March – get all the latest details at sxsw.com
Interview by Paul Maps
Photography by Thomas Jackson at Tyne Sight Photographic