SXSW Preview: Wild Cub

Wild Cub plays the Billy Reid Shindig on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, at Swan Dive. Click here to RSVP. Read reviews and get a free download of tracks from each of our Shindig artists, including Wild Cub’s “Colour,” by downloading our Sampler.

We spoke with the Keegan DeWitt, who played the Shindig last year, about his new project.

Tell us about the song “Colour,” which kicks off our sampler. When did you write it, and what inspired it?

“Colour” was a track we recorded in between one of our five tours last year. We rented Big Light Studios here in Nashville, which is run by the amazing band Roman Candle, and “Colour” was the first song to organically fall together during that time. We were right about to set out on our first Daytrotter Barnstormer tour and “Colour” became the center piece of our set. It was, much like Thunder Clatter, a song based around the idea of a loop, and moving within that loop. For me, it is such a great example of each member of the band: Matt’s bass playing, Dylon’s drumming and so on.

What makes up the group Wild Cub, and how did the band come together? Is this a “side project” for you, or is it something more than that?

From the moment I moved to Nashville from Brooklyn, my goal was to find a group of musicians that I could thrive off of. The band that fell into place over the last year (a very busy one on the road for us) started to really show itself as that band. Whether it was playing at midnight at the Barnstormer finale to an amazing crowd, or laughing our way through some wilder shows on our track out West … we all got super close and really start to thrive around a couple new songs we had been writing and recording over that time. I think you can hear, in both “Thunder Clatter” and “Colour,” that shift into a full band …  a bunch of vibrant personalities … versus the songwriter material on my EP “Nothing Shows.”

Starting to create music under “Wild Cub” also allows me to eliminate any sort of questions as to whether I’m a Nashville singer-songwriter. That is never something I had aimed to be, no slight to all the amazing ones who live in Nashville right now. I had always wanted to deliver music separate from my face, as stylized or interesting as it needed to be, with zero association to what I look like, what my press pictures look like, etc. A great example of this is the artwork for limited edition vinyl we’ll be releasing this summer … sky’s the limit. The days of having my face or my name anywhere in association to the music are gone now with Wild Cub, and that’s amazing because it allows the music to truly have an unlimited life of its own.

Goes without saying that people’s own associations and emotions to the music are always worlds more interesting that my own, and by eliminating my name and face … we’re making that even more possible. That’s exciting to me.

What can we expect from the album, and when will it be released?

This year summer and fall we will be releasing not only a full length LP, but a limited edition 7″. Both will be pressed on vinyl printed here in Nashville at United Record Pressing and in limited amounts. They will also all be available digitally alongside the vinyl. We’re excited because, as I said earlier, we finally get to curate a full “experience” for this stuff … so there will be a full website, videos for all the songs and artwork that all coincide and tell a really unique story. We are dealing with some talented filmmakers and photographers to make that happen right now.

As for what to expect, I think that if you take some of the new releases (“Thunder Clatter,” “Colour”) and mix them with some of the mix tapes that you can find free for download on and then maybe sprinkle in a little bit of the “Nothing Shows” EP… you might get an idea. Maybe that’s stating the obvious. Either way, I think it’ll be different and interesting, without tipping the entire thing on its head.

You performed at last year’s Billy Reid Shindig under your own name. Do you have a favorite SXSW memory from last year?

Billy Reid has been amazingly supportive of us. We most recently helped them celebrate fashion week up in New York at their exclusive party, and also played at the fashion show itself. Last year at SXSW was really magical with American Songwriter and Billy … they proved something pretty amazing… people trust them. For a first-year party … the place was packed from the minute the doors opened and as you can see from the line-up this year … it’s gonna be the same.

For me, SXSW is a crazy string of days. I spend a whole ten days each year, going for the film week because of my film scoring, and staying for music to do Wild Cub stuff. This year is nice because I’ll be getting to mentor on the film side and having a chance to meet some great young talent. As for the music side, it’s especially exciting since we’ll be premiering this new Wild Cub stuff for the first time.

In your opinion, what is the value of having one’s band play SXSW these days?

There are always differing opinions on this. Are the days of bands getting signed at SXSW over? Probably. That being said, Austin is a beautiful place, an incredible city and it’s always amazing to simply get a chance to experience all that. I also think it’s super important just to do research. As an artist, I think you should know and seek out other artists that you admire and who excite you. SXSW gives you the opportunity to see all ten bands you’ve loved each year in a super unique way, all in one week. Same for film week, I get to catch films a year before they hit theaters … if they ever do.

As for it’s worth to a band … you have to consider how these things come to be. The whole thing is so big and commercial now that, in order to get parties, you’re gonna need a big publicist, a booking agent, a manager and most likely a label. If you have all those things, you’re not so much the “breaking” artist that SXSW is made for. That’s your paradox. Now-a-days, bands come in with 13 shows and all those powerful people … so it’s sort of a toss-up. If you can get 13 shows, you’re not really looking for your “big break” at SXSW. If you can get any shows, I think that’s still really positive, because SXSW is like anything else for aspiring musicians … one more thing on your one sheet that looks way more substantial than it probably was, and just one more thing to start a conversation with. That’s all positive.

Any acts you look forward to seeing?

I’m especially looking forward to catching Chairlift, caught them at CMJ and it was fantastic. They’re new record is one of the best this year in my opinion.