PLAYING COLUMBUS: Three Ohio Acts That Slayed SXSW

COLUMNS|Playing Columbus

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Remember Sports photo by Jess Flynn

While Columbus geared up for yet another snowstorm last week, Austin was getting ready for South by Southwest (SXSW), a yearly conference and festival highlighting music, film, and art. SXSW is notorious for its sprawl – the festival spills over the city limits for several weeks – its off-site events, and the breadth of artists in attendance; showcases put on by labels, outlets, venues, and even countries highlight the vastness of the music industry.

Like SXSW, music in Central Ohio crosses boundaries of genre, geography, and generation. Artists spring from larger cities, like Columbus, but also form in pockets of community found in smaller cities. Colleges, collectives, and a strong sense of locality generate musical projects which are diverse in their approach, instrumental treatment, and subject. This year at SXSW, Ohio was represented by a plethora of creators, managers, creatives, and more. This week, Playing Columbus highlights three musical artists who planted their Ohio roots at SXSW 2018.


Hometown: Columbus, OH
First formed in 2013 out of the Columbus DIY scene, didi has impressed both within Columbus and beyond; after the release of their debut album in 2015, the group toured with Speedy Ortiz, Sad13, and Diet Cig, among others. didi was named as a band to watch by Columbus Alive in 2017, and they’ve been featured by Remezcla and PBS. They’re an strikingly talented, tight-knit group: made up of Meg Zakany, Sheena McGrath, Kevin Bilapka-Arbelaez, and Leslie Shimizu, the group splits signing and song-writing responsibilities. They’re also an important figure in the Columbus music canon because of their advocacy for QTIPOC and women within the overwhelmingly white, inaccessible DIY community. Fans of didi can expect more work from the group soon – their second album is expected to be released sometime this summer.


Hometown: Akron, OH
Ohio has a rich history of hip-hop and rap, a legacy which has crystalized in the work of Swoope. Though he’s now based in Atlanta, the rapper was born and raised in Akron Ohio, where he grew up playing music with his family and within his church. Swoope’s been an iconic rapper within the Christian community since his earliest releases, but it was with his second full-length album, Sinema, that allowed Swoope to cross into the mainstream. Last month, Swoope released his latest project, Sonshine, on a new label, Native No./EMPIRE.


Hometown: Gambier, OH
Remember Sports, who are now based in Philadelphia, PA, formed in Ohio while the band members were attending Kenyon College. After self-releasing their first album under the moniker Sports, they signed to Father/Daughter records in 2015 and followed up with their second full-length project, All of Something. Since then, the group has graduated from college, added “Remember” to their name to avoid any confusion with other bands, and released a split EP with label-mates Plush. Like didi, Remember Sports includes three vocalists – Carmen Perry, Catherine Dwyer, Jack Washburn – who split duties. Their fourth member, Conner Perry, plays percussion for the band. But Remember Sports goes far beyond the expected instrumental components of a quartet, incorporating a remarkable number of instruments, including slide guitar, melodica, drum machine, and field recordings. They’re prolific, too; though it’s only been months since the EP release, Remember Sports already has new material on the way. Slow Buzz, their third full-length, is set to drop on May 18th. The first single from the album, “Up From Below,” has already been released – a pop-punk influenced song with syncopated rhythm and irreverent, gut-punching lyrics.


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