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.


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


Tortuga Shades Migration Release Party at Dozen Street Bar Recap

Perched atop a barstool at the front end of the dimly-lit Dozen Street Bar, Tortuga Shades drummer Wylie Sanchez was preparing for a special celebration in what has become somewhat of a Tortuga ritual. With a little help from the band’s leading lady, Nadia Lopez, the animated drummer was applying his tribal paint for the evening’s festivities. A party that had been over a year in the making had finally arrived Friday night as the indie-rock band celebrated the release of their debut EP, Migrations.

The release party began with a solo performance from Anna Roenigk of Born Again Virgins that led into a smooth Americana-Jazz session from The Honey Trap. DIY, do-it-all singer-songwriter, Samantha Lee & The Family Tree delivered the soulful, funk warm up for the Tortuga main event.

The environment inside Dozen Street began to swelter as the crowd of mostly college-aged patrons, decorated in Tortuga Tribe face paint, bright phosphorescent jewelry and colorful hockey masks migrated throughout the bar…an ecosystem fitting for a Tortuga.

Shortly after 11:00pm, smooth electric chords from Gian Diliberto rang out across the venue as the band led-off with the EP’s instrumental closer, ‘Tiny Constellations‘. On this night, Lopez had swapped her customary acoustic for an electric guitar to help carry the rhythm section with Sanchez’s precise percussion. The two minute intro gave way to EP favorite, ‘Shadows in the Sea‘, a lush, jungle-esque pop track with powerful vocals layered over intricate guitar work from Diliberto that showcases the band’s breezy, indie-rock nature.

Throughout the evening, Tortuga Shades interspersed several colorful covers such as ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ between EP tracks to spice up the set without giving away the entire EP at once. It was nearly halfway through their spectacular set before the nostalgic ‘Sycamore Tree‘ hit the amplifiers and in a complete 180 the band chose to blow out the candles on the evening with EP lead single, ‘Wild Mind‘.

Seeing Tortuga Shades live was well-worth the migration to east Austin and the humidor heat inside the eclectic hot-spot of Dozen Street. In its entirety, Migrations is a rich, 5-track mélange of soothing indie-rock, jazzy jungle pop and bluesy singer-songwriter diversity. Tortuga Shades has delivered a strong debut project and a sturdy jumping-off point for a band primed for a big 2018 in the Live Music Capital.

Tortuga Shades


Samantha Lee & The Family Tree


The Honey Trap


Born Again Virgins


Photos by: Valerie Riels @photo.atx

Tortuga Shades Video Premier for ‘Sycamore Tree’

What began in late 2015 as a simple, acoustic blues project has blossomed into a genuine indie-rock contender in the Live Music Capital. Local three-piece, Tortuga Shades is a relative newcomer in the Austin music scene. However, with their latest single, ‘Sycamore Tree’, the eclectic trio proves to be a promising addition to the city’s thriving indie culture.

Shot by Coyote Beard Productions at The Homestead at Potato Road, ‘Sycamore Tree’ comes to us from Tortuga Shades’ forthcoming debut EP, Migrations, out Nov 3rd. Lead Tortuga and rhythm guitarist, Nadia Lopez, anchors the video with a steady acoustic heartbeat, transfixing vocals, and a happy-go-lucky charm.

The dreamy intro delicately tip-toes through the chirping wilderness with gentle acoustic strokes from Lopez and auspicious plucks of electricity from lead guitarist Gian Diliberto. The warmth of a distant, translucent memory resurfaces through the conscious as everything comes into focus at the ‘Sycamore Tree’. Simmering emotions begin to boil and goosebumps instantly spike at the 30 second mark where each instrument falls into place around Lopez’ blissful vocals. The track instantly opens up and the hazy morning dew of the intro evaporates into a radiant, energy-bearing sunshine.

“Sycamore Tree” is a song about the transition from childhood to adulthood and how we feel that shift of life within us” states Lopez. “In my mind, the tree represents my first home and all the morals and values I learned there. No matter where I end up in life, I’ll stand by the positive morals and values I gained as a child.”

‘Sycamore Tree’ spans an array of genres fusing organic, singer-songwriter acoustic with sharp electric riffs and a barrage of jazzy rock percussion from drummer Wylie Sanchez all bursting in harmony at the crescendo. This sunny alt-rock video is a perfect fit for any Summer playlist.


“Sycamore Tree” is available now on Spotify and Apple Music.

Tortuga Shades Official EP Release Party will be Nov. 3 at Dozen Street Bar located at 1808 E. 12th St. Austin, TX 78702.