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Agnes Obel, Kakkmaddafakka, and Jain will all perform at SXSW © Filip Van Lerberge/Xfigpower/Wikimedia

12 International Acts You Can't Miss at SXSW 2017

Picture of Ryan Kristobak
Ryan Kristobak
Music Editor
Updated: 10 March 2017

Solange, Ryan Adams, Wu-Tang Clan, Weezer, and Future Islands are just some of the acts who will be descending on Austin, Texas next week for this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW).

While the film, interactive media and music festival draws a lot of bands from the U.S. and U.K., there’s also a huge array of talent from elsewhere around the world. Culture Trip music editors Ann Lee and Ryan Kristobak round up the best international acts that will be performing at this year’s celebration.

Agnes Obel (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel has played the piano since she was a child. Her stunning voice sounds as delicate as glass as she creates sparse, haunting melodies that feel brittle with emotion. —Ann Lee (AL)

 

XXX (Seoul, South Korea)

All hip-hop heads should be shifting their gaze towards South Korea, and few artists support this claim better than XXX, the duo comprised of Kim Ximya and FRNK. On their 2016 release, KYOMI, each of the seven tracks bears a distinct flavor—FRNK’s beats often making radical shifts, like experimental bass slapper to house-styled party starter—within each song. Top that off with Kim Ximya’s slick tapestry of Korean and English wordplay, and it’s only a matter of time before XXX becomes a crossover success. —Ryan Kristobak (RK)

 

Mint Field (Tijuana, Mexico)

Mexican duo Amor Amezcua and Estrella Sánchez, who became friends in high school, hail from Tijuana. They combine the dreamy vocals of Cocteau Twins with the expansive, post-rock harmonies of Explosions in the Sky and a dash of Warpaint for a sound that feels breathlessly intimate. —AL

 

Noga Erez (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Trying to define Noga Erez’s music is no simple task, but the best estimate of her sound is something like electronic experimental pop. Uncompromising and unpredictable, Erez’s set will take you through the Matrix, and it’s guaranteed you will come out a different person than before, with a greater appreciation for the beautifully odd things in this world. —RK

 

Hello Nico (Taipei, Taiwan)

Hello Nico are a big deal in Asia. Their first album, Familiar Desolation, was a huge hit, featuring epic rock songs crafted with synths, electronica and pop. Their songs get to the heart of big city life with tales of loneliness and heartache. —AL

 

Satellite Stories (Oulu, Finland)

In a week when you are exposed to all sorts of disparate and bizarre moments, the joyous, clean-cut indie of Satellite Stories will serve as a much needed cleansing of the palate. Now signed to Universal Music and with their fourth studio album set to drop in 2017, this Finnish quartet will have you jumping up and down, and their new track “Confetti” will probably soundtrack the recap video you make from your time partying in Austin. —RK

 

Jain (Paris, France)

Born in France and raised in the United Arab Emirates and the Congo, Jain’s multiculturalism shines through in her music. It’s quirky and effortlessly appealing pop flavoured with funk, reggae, rock and trip-hop. Her videos are wonderfully imaginative. AL

 

Tribu Baharú (Bogotá, Colombia)

It may not technically be summer in Austin come mid-March, but the irresistible afro-champeta of Colombian music crew Tribu Baharú will have you peacocking about the Texas streets in your cleanest Tommy Bahama get-up and sipping aguardiente out of a large fruit. In the words of Jackie Moon, “Let’s get tropical!” —RK

 

Kakkmaddafakka (Bergen, Norway)

Bringing a burst of sunshine to the Scandinavian indie scene, the nearly unpronounceable Kakkmaddafakka are some of Norway’s finest rockers. They have the same effervescent indie-pop tunes that will appeal to fans of Peter Bjorn And John. —AL

 

Sven Helbig (Dresden, Germany)

It’s easy to get caught up in the mayhem of SXSW, but it’s important to take some moments to relax and recharge. German composer Sven Helbig will be performing his most recent work I Eat The Sun And Drink The Rain with University of Texas’ Chamber Singers—paired with some delicate synths and mesmerizing visuals courtesy of Islandic artist Máni M. Sigfusson—in Austin, and you really don’t want to miss it. You what’s cooler than doing a backflip? Doing a backflip in slow motion to the tune of Sven Helbig. —RK

 

Charly Black (Trelawny, Jamaica)

Jamaican reggae and dancehall singer Charly Black’s breakthrough hit was “Gyal You a Party Animal”, which made him a huge name in Mexico, South America, and Spain. Now, he’s coming for the rest of the world with his catchy rhythms and his infinitely danceable tunes. AL

Zoe Viccaji (Karachi, Pakistan)

Pakistani Zoe Viccaji began her career as an English jazz singer. Having now amassed a dedicated following, Viccaji’s unique brand of pop is what critics are talking about when they label an artist as “world”, blending influences from every corner of Eastern and Western music. In collaboration with some local Austin talent, Viccaji’s showcase will touch on the different languages and styles that exist in Pakistan. —RK

 

SXSW runs from March 13–19 at various locations in Austin. Check out more fantastic international acts visiting Austin during this year’s festival in the playlist below.