Cure For Paranoia Found at SXSW

In late 2015, four friends from Dallas embarked on a Doomsday road trip to Colorado that would change their lives forever. Obviously, the apocalypse never came. However, somewhere in between Amarillo and Colorado Springs, inspiration took the place of paranoia and Dallas’ ‘Best Group Act’ of 2017 was born.

Cure For Paranoia have become the new face of Deep Ellum and are taking the storied Dallas neighborhood worldwide with their ‘psychedelic, soul-saturated hip-hop.’ The Doomsday prepping quartet consists of lyricists and frontman Cameron McCloud, with Stanley Francisko providing vocals and Tomahawk Jonez and JayAnalog building the production. The band dropped Side A, the first half of their two-part, self-titled album the exact moment they stepped on stage last Thursday at The Parish during the Traffic Music SXSW Showcase. Side B will be released during the band’s performance at the Bomb Factory on May 12th.

For McCloud, who was recently diagnosed with bipolar paranoid schizophrenia, Cure For Paranoia is more than a name. Creating music with Francisko, Jonez and JayAnalog provides him clarity and he lays it all out on Side A as he boldly details his personal struggles and self-acceptance. “In the end, it only took me 100 attempts of being somebody else for me to realize I am the person that I’ve been so desperately trying to be this whole time,” he declares during ‘Just Like You’. “And that’s the Cure For Paranoia.” But when it all boils down, “they’re just four friends making music together on the eve of the apocalypse.”

We got our prescription filled with Cure For Paranoia after their SXSW showcase at The Parish. Read the doctor’s notes below and pick up Side A at your nearest digital pharmacy.

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How has Cure For Paranoia’s SXSW 2018 been so far?
CM: Man, it’s been awesome, bro. Honestly, yesterday, low-key felt like the best show I’ve played personally. The energy out here is crazy. It could be because I knew we were about to catch some other shows too and also because our album released with us being out here.

TJ: Honestly, it’s been a real good reset. Luckily, we’re not playing as much. So, we’re not just constantly in the cycle of things…the whole mundane shit doing the same thing over and over again. We’re used to playing five shows a week and we took a break these last couple of months to finish up this album. So, we’ve gotten some time to build up all of that energy and then put it into a single show instead of week after week. Having that gap between shows allowed us to bring a totally different energy to the table.

What has been the best part of SXSW for Cure For Paranoia?
TJ: My favorite thing about SX is all the contacts and everybody you meet throughout the year from all over the world…they all meet up right fucking here. This is the time that you get that face-to-face interaction with them.

How are you feeling about the new EP and why did you choose to release it during your SXSW set time last night?
CM: We’re feeling like it’s been about time! We didn’t have any projects release for two years. So, there hasn’t really been anything for people to go back to after we do a show. We’d always have to tell them something like, “Hey, hit us up on email,” or “Go get a pill with the album on it.” But, other than that, there’s nothing they can go back to after they leave a show and attach to. People had to follow us from word of mouth and believe in our story. I’m just glad to finally have that now. It’s been a long time coming. This is the shit we’ve been waiting to take for two years.

TJ: It was time for the album to come out too….at least the first half of it. The whole thing has been done since last year and we’ve been kind of sitting on it. We wanted to take a couple of opportunities to help propel it. But, at this point, we’re almost done with the second album and we knew we had to do this shit now. We were just like, “Fuck strategy!” We’ll let it work itself out.

CM: And saying “fuck strategy” has turned out to be the best fucking strategy. It’s literally on some chess shit. Now, we’re three steps ahead. All we’re doing now is waiting on some horns for the second album and we’ll be done with that. We’ve had the first album done for a while and now we’re damn near halfway into the third album.

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Side A covers some very personal issues. Was it difficult detailing those issues in your music or did you find it cathartic?
CM: I’m paranoid that everybody can tell anyways. You know what I’m saying? I thought I might as well beat em’ to the punch. That’s why in ‘Just Like You‘ I say, “I’m paranoid that you niggas could tell / That’s why I decided to tell you myself.” It’s definitely a huge release…especially when you go back to the last question about how it feels to have the album out. It’s like the same kind of release you get from performing. I mention in our sets all the time, ‘This is why it’s called Cure For Paranoia.” That release is now cemented in something that’s online for everybody to go back and listen to whenever the fuck they want. So, now my truth is constantly out there.

Do you have plans to tour in support of the EP?
TJ: Honestly, we’re just focused on the second album right now and when that’s wrapped-up we’ll make some plans. We recorded the entire album for vinyl. So, as far as digitally goes, we wanted to release one half now and the other half at a show we’re playing in May with Nas and the string section from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and then we’ll have a vinyl release. After the vinyl release we’ll start making plans. The EP almost seems like promotion for the full album.

Is there a certain message you hope fans will find in this album?
It’s okay to be you. But, it’s also okay to not be okay with who you are. You can do whatever you want to do. When you stop looking and just feel for it, it eventually shows up. So just be kind to yourself.

 

Cure For Paranoia can been seen next at Fortress Fest on April 28th and at the Bomb Factory on May 12th when Side B will also be made available.

 

Photos by: Demetrius Judkins @wolfspiritofthesun

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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

SXSW Austin Locals: Tortuga Shades

We last spoke with Austin’s reptilian rockers, Tortuga Shades, in November during their ‘Migrations‘ album release. Since the EP release, the band has been busy diversifying their sound and putting in work on some fresh new tunes. Last week, Tortuga’s leading lady, Nadia Lopez, collaborated with Royal Knaves lead singer Nate Gelabert to create a sweet video cover of BORNS’ “Electric Love”. The video, produced by Coyote Beard Productions, was part of IndiMusic TV’s March rotation and was a perfect lead-in to Tortuga Shade’s SXSW ‘Rock Revival’ Showcase at Come And Take It Live on Thursday night. We had an opportunity to sit down with the band before their showcase to find out more about what they’ve been up to. Read what they had to say below and check out the highlights from their show.

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How has SXSW been for Tortuga Shades this year?

Pretty good so far. We haven’t done a whole lot. Nadia played an acoustic Tortuga set at Cherrywood Coffee House. That was poppin.’ This is our big show tonight at Come and Take It Live. We’ve been prepping for this one and that’s taken up a lot of our week. So, we haven’t gotten out to see too much this week. Ironically, we’re playing in San Antonio on Saturday. But, I think we actually booked that show before it was even SX. It’s going to be a cool St. Patrick’s Day show.

So, when SXSW comes into town, how does it affect Tortuga Shades as a local band?
What do you think (with a sly, ‘you already know’ smile)? But, overall, we think it’s really good. It opens up a lot of venues that you may not typically get a chance to play. We’ve also gotten to hear a lot of artist that I think we will try to reach out to and play with in the future.
Have you been able to meet a lot of other bands this week? 
Yeah! But, during the week it’s harder to meet people. Hopefully this weekend will be real good to us. I hope tonight at this set we’ll be able to get out there and move forward with SXSW. The best part of SXSW so far was the ‘All The Friends Ball’ at Spider House. We were able to meet a lot of local acts there. Unfortunately, we were just a little too late to get on that bill when we reached out about it. But, it was a great event to just attend.
You released Migrations in November. Are you currently working on anything new right now?
Oh, we’re always working. We always have the gears turning. It’s been so much madness this week preparing for these shows. But, we have a couple of projects we are preparing to start up next and hopefully get some new music out soon. We really want to drop a new single and possibly some live recordings. We will have some new stuff coming out on Spotify soon.
Will your new music resemble Migrations? Or are you starting to see Tortuga Shades really beginning to evolve? 
I think our new music is going to be a lot stronger. We’ve had a lot more time to get creative and add more dynamics to our music. It’s not as rushed as trying to just get something out in the world. We’ve been playing together for a long enough time now that I think we can really play off of each other very well now and figure each other out a lot easier. We’re more aware of each other’s styles. We’re very excited because it’s gotten easier to build songs. Plus, we’ve also gotten a lot of feedback from people too and that’s really helped. We’ve added new sounds and instruments. Some of our songs sound really cool with an acoustic vibe and other songs sound better with a heavier rock vibe. I think we’ve managed to make all of our new stuff different and we’re really excited about that.
Tortuga Shades at The Rock Revival SXSW Showcase at Come and Take It Live. 

 

Catch Tortuga Shades Saturday March 17th at South By St. Mary’s at Jandros in San Antonio.
Photos by: Mark Bowers @markbowersphoto

 

Lola Tried – A Look Into The Energetic ‘Popsicle Queen’s’ World

Lola Tried’s leading lady Lauren Burton is one sassy badass you can’t help but respect. When she speaks her mind, people tend to listen…and she damned sure ain’t afraid to call it how she sees it. I think that’s what I admire most about the indie-pop-rock ‘Popsicle Queen.’ Aside from being a freakishly talented and intensely entertaining rocker, Burton’s take-no-shit attitude combined with Lola Tried’s leave it all on the stage approach to music has her band primed to dominate 2018.

Lola Tried was born in 2015, after lead guitarist Ray Garza approached then solo artist Burton about forming a band. They added bassist Greg Spencer and drummer Ray Flynt shortly thereafter, and they’ve taken off at high speed since.

The pop-rock ensemble released their very well received debut EP Popsicle Queen last February and have gained major notoriety for their intense, jaw-dropping live performances.

“I grew up going to really energetic shows,” says Burton. “I was always drawn to the folks that threw themselves into their performance, and folks that saw playing a show as just that–a show, a stage performance.

“Ray Flynt is a powerhouse drummer, and he hits harder than anyone I’ve played with–when he joined the band, we just decided to get really, really loud and make an actual entertaining sweat-till-you-fall-over show.”

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Since their debut in 2017, Lola Tried has continued to evolve as a band, fully embracing being louder and more energetic. Popsicle Queen showcases Burton as an acoustic songwriter, written by her and for her but that’s no longer the case with Lola Tried. Burton now prefers to create music with the full band in mind.

“My bandmates allow me to lean on them for more complicated parts,” she admits.

“When I bring an idea to the table, we all collaborate on it to make it something we are proud of. I think our next single is going to surprise a lot of folks who know us just from listening to the EP.”

With a new single right around the corner, 2018 is stacking up nicely for Lola Tried. Just announced as an official SXSW 2018 showcasing artist, the band are looking to release a new record in late April with a tour to follow at the end of May.

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Before Lola Tried’s diaries get too busy though, folks are in for a real treat Feb. 8th. The foursome are set to hook up with raucous Austin legends A Giant Dog and punk trio Flesh Lights at Beerland for a night of sweat-dripping, blood-pumping, endorphin-boosting entertainment that will be extra special for Burton.

She grew up watching A Giant Dog perform and attributes Sabrina Ellis as her biggest influence in how she conducts herself on stage…extremely raw, chaotic and wild – something not to miss out on.

“I’ve been obsessed with A Giant Dog since 2010,” admits Burton.

“So this show at Beerland on Feb 8th is a big deal for us. I was 18 when I first saw them and they blew my mind, and sharing the stage with them is something I’m so, so grateful for.”

Humility, persistence and perseverance are paying off for Burton and Lola Tried…a band we’re expecting huge things from this year. But, it’s all in a day’s work for the Popsicle Queen.

“The most important thing I’ve learned since we dropped PQ was this: If you want something to happen, you have to do it yourself,” says the straightforward frontwoman.

“You can’t wait in the wings expecting things to work out without putting in some kind of work yourself. You have to do it if you want to make stuff happen for you.”

For Burton, this proactive approach is all worth it because in her words, “playing to a crowd of folks who want to hear you trumps a lot of the shitty stuff you have to deal with along the way.”

So, here’s to hoping 2018 brings less shitty stuff towards Burton and even more cranked-to-the-core pop-rock from Lola Tried.

For more information visit https://www.lolatried.com/.

Be sure to catch Lola Tried with A Giant Dog and Flesh Lights Feb. 8th at Beerland. More event details here.

Words: Douglas Leach
Photography: Matthew Carlin @yo_mtv_matt.