Written by Nathaniel Torres
Photo by Sarah Vasquez
I spoke with Sara Houser (vocals) of Löwin, an Austin band that debuted SXSW in 2014. The band regularly plays at establishments such as ABGB, Hotel Vegas and Barracuda. They feature a female vocalist who’s soothing croons accompany a unique blend of guitar melodies and hooks over a solid low end. Löwin played seven shows this year and their members have been performing unofficial shows for the festival every year since they started calling Austin their home.
Was it difficult getting an official showcase?
Sara: I’ve played SXSW [unofficially] pretty much every year that I’ve lived in Austin, but this is the first year that any of the bands I was in actually made it as an official artist. I think [unofficial shows] are the case for a lot of Austin-based bands. From what I understand Austin-based bands are kind of last to be considered. We were lucky that we fell into a booking agency that helped usher us into SXSW as an official artist.
What are your feelings on the atmosphere? Were you well received?
Sara: All the shows we played were amazing. The crowds at SXSW are always refreshing because people are engaged and they’re moving around and dancing – not like your typical Austin crowd who have seen and done everything. People are generally out to enjoy themselves. It’s not their run-of-the-mill show.
Badges are quite expensive and the word is that artists do not really make a profit. What are your feelings on this?
Sara: I think a lot of show-goers maybe don’t take into consideration that most of the shows that we’re playing that week are free; meaning we don’t get paid to play. We had a couple of shows that did pay us…not a lot. But all four of us had to ask off work, which for Chris and I…SXSW is a huge money-making week. We didn’t go into it hoping to make a lot of money. We were just hoping to reach a fan base that, otherwise, wouldn’t have seen us…and that’s what’s cool about it.
Does the festival open doors? What are the benefits of getting out here?
Sara: Exposure for sure. We used it as kind of a testing ground for all of our new material that we’re going to be releasing, shortly now that SXSW is over. We connected with lots of great photographers and lots of new fans – but as far as did we have anybody walking up to us after a set waving contracts at us, no. Being an official SXSW artist is a great thing on a resume for any band. There is a level of legitimacy it brings to the table.
Even for the local veterans of SXSW there was more to learn about the festival stating that reaching out to the industry side of the festival could unlock further potential for the band. You can catch Löwin at Barracuda March 30 and keep a lookout for that new material to be released. Until then, they have a few singles available on Spotify. Just hold down the “o” on your phone keyboard to get “ö”.