22 Apr 2016

How unsigned artist Violet Skies got funding to perform at SXSW


Held annually in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest (SXSW) is undoubtedly one of the USA’s most important media and music events. 2016’s illustrious keynote speaker was none other than Barack Obama, while elsewhere at the festival hundred’s of emerging artists had the chance to perform and showcase their talent in front of music industry leaders.

Among the up and coming bands and singer/songwriters performing at SXSW was emerging Ditto Music artist Violet Skies. As she is based in the UK, Violet managed to secure funding to play SXSW. This offered her the perfect opportunity to reach a whole new audience in the USA, but how did she make it happen and how can other artists apply for funding?


Violet Skies performing her latest single Jealousy 


We chatted with Violet Skies to learn more about her and her music, and to discover how independent artists can get funding to play massive events like SXSW.


Introducing Violet Skies


How would you describe your music?

It's pop, but it's not straightforward and it's a bit dark.


Who are your biggest inspirations?

Joni Mitchell, Sting, Paul Simon, Spice Girls, and of course the people closest too me. Unfortunately for them they're in all my songs but they inspire me.


How can fans enjoy your music?

Through their ears I guess! But also everything is online at /iamvioletskies. So Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud, YouTube etc – it’s all there!


Experience working with Ditto Music


How long have you been distributing with Ditto Music? And how did you find out about and start working with us?

My first EP was through Ditto, and since I've released 3 singles and I expect forthcoming music too.

I chose Ditto because I'd heard about them from other musicians and also when I looked around you guys seemed to cover all the things I was worried about when releasing music alone


What’s been your biggest achievement since you’ve been distributing through Ditto Music?

To be honest getting music out into the world finished and released with everything all done is such a great feeling and a big deal for an independent artist like me.

I've also been lucky enough to tour abroad and play Glastonbury. I’ve had some lush BBC Radio1 support and other stuff too. It's been a fun ride so far!


Getting funding and performing at SXSW


You recently played live at SXSW. Can you tell us a bit more about SXSW and how it helps independent artists?

SXSW is a crazy week of thousands of bands, artists, creatives and more showcasing in Austin, Texas. There's a lot of food and alcohol and good parties, and it's a great place to meet new people and see new bands.

It massively helped me road test new songs, see if US audiences liked my music and reach out to people who might not otherwise see my shows.


How did you get the chance to perform at SXSW?

The Welsh BBC Introducing team told me to apply and they supported my application. So I applied – quite close to the deadline I think – and was pretty shocked when they replied and said I'd been accepted.  


Can you tell us how you managed to get your trip funded, and how other unsigned artists could get involved?

The Welsh Arts Council paid for my travel and expenses for me and my band, and everything else I self-funded.

Arts Councils run similar schemes all over the UK, and PRS also do something for English artists. Just drop someone at your Arts Council a call and ask about their showcase funding for musicians. 


You played the Ditto Music showcase how was it?

We played a pop up acoustic set at the Ditto stall and it was super chilled, but a lot of the people who came and stopped ended up coming to our full shows later that week.


What’s next for Violet Skies?


What’s on the horizon for Violet Skies? Do you have any big shows lined up? And how can people get in contact with you?

I'm off to do Canada for Canadian Music Week, and then a few dates in Germany, and then Liverpool Sound City. It's going to be a good few weeks. My latest single Jealousy is online to purchase now - and also Spotify etc - and there’ll be more mew music also coming soon I'm sure. Tweet me – I’m pretty good with replying!


Violet Skies’ latest single Jealousy is available to purchase online now. You can hear more of Violet’s mesmerising music at her SoundCloud and YouTube pages, as well as on iTunes and Spotify.