Herding Tomkats with Katrina Cain at SXSW

Tomkat is a band we’ve been dying to see more of in Austin. The jazzy, electro-pop outfit from Denton dropped their sensational debut full-length, Icarus, back in October and has remained a bright, flashing star on our radar ever since. With just one previous stop in Austin following their album release, we were pretty excited to see they were returning as official SXSW showcase artists.

Led by petite powerhouse, Katrina Cain, Tomkat made the most of their time in Austin with four separate SXSW performances. They started off by playing their first official showcase to a jam-packed Sidewinder as part of the Discover Denton SXSW Showcase and then followed that up with their first ever stripped-down, acoustic performance at the SFA InterContinental. Tomkat wrapped-up their 2018 SXSW visit with one more acoustic set at Austin Taco Project before joining a massive local lineup for the Future of Music Showcase at the Shiner Saloon. All-in-all, I’d say Austin received a healthy, much-needed dose of Tomkat during SXSW. But, I’ll be damned if it didn’t leave us counting down the days until their next visit.

We were fortunate enough to catch Tomkat’s leading lady, Katrina Cain, prior to the band’s SFA InterContinental performance. Read what she had to say and check out the show highlights below.

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Is this Tomkat’s first SXSW?
We’ve played some unofficial SX shows in the past. But, this is the first year we’ve been accepted ‘officially.’ This is our first big SX experience.

How has your first ‘official’ SXSW experience been so far?
It’s been very good and very crazy. It’s definitely been hectic down here. But, we’ve had a blast and have seen a ton of new music and gotten to meet people from all over the world.

What’s been the best part of SXSW for you?
Playing our official showcase at Sidewinder. Definitely! It hit capacity very quickly and was a completely packed house. I wasn’t expecting that kind of turn out. It was definitely exciting to see people waiting in line for us. That was a very special feeling.

Were you familiar with the other bands on the showcase bill?
It was a Denton-based showcase and we’ve played with a lot of those bands before. It was great getting to see them and all of us being here at SXSW. I hoped to see and play with more bands from Austin and other areas while here in town. But, we’ve been checking out a lot of other music so we’ll see what’s in store for the future.

Tomkat last visited Austin in December. Outside of SXSW, how does playing in Austin compare to playing in Denton?
To be honest, we actually draw more in Austin which is weird. Last time we were in Austin we played at Swan Dive and we drew more there than at our previous Dallas show. I thought that was kind of interesting. But, Denton is home.

So, with that being said, why doesn’t Tomkat visit Austin more often?
Actually, I don’t know. I suppose just getting the shows together can be difficult. It’s difficult to get on bills and difficult to get people to play with sometime. However, people are generally very supportive here. We love playing Austin. But, it’s denfinitely a goal to play once a month here instead of once every three to six months.

I imagine you will come back for SXSW in 2019, is there anything you would like to do differently next year?
We are most definitely going to try to come back for SXSW in 2019. However, next year, I would like to be a little more organized. I’d like to reach out to people prior to our sets and be able to network better. It was pretty hard to do that this year and was so overwhelming trying to figure out who would be here and the people we wanted to reach out to and connect with.

What’s next for Tomkat after SXSW? Can we expect any new music in the near future?
We don’t necessarily have an answer yet. We’ve been writing a lot and have a lot of new music written…it’s just not recorded yet. So, we’re aiming to record a couple things at the end of the year. But, the release date is still to be determined.

Do you see Tomkat’s sound evolving with your new music?
I feel like we have two really distinctive sounds. We have this sort of groovy underlying R&B aspect to some of our songs while others sound more like straight-up electro, robotic-pop. I think with the next project, those two characteristics will come together a little more and hopefully we’ll have a more cohesive sound. Sometimes, people can pick out which songs I’ve written based on how they sound and I’m hoping that won’t happen anymore.

Tomkat at SFA InterContinental

Portrait photos by: Demetrius Judkins @wolfspiritofthesun

Performance photos by: Mark Bowers @markbowersphoto

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