Two music groups from Latvia—one famous, the other not quite yet—have been invited to participate in this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas.
Both BrainStorm (Prāta Vētra) and the little-known Rīga-based duo Instrumenti are expected at the festival, which runs from March 12-21, according to the festival’s Web site.
BrainStorm, of course, is well known in Latvia and has made inroads into the wider European market, as well as into Russia. Formed in 1989 by a group of high school friends from Jelgava, the band has become one of Latvia’s best-known musical symbols. Its most recent album in Latvian is 2008’s Tur kaut kam ir jābūt, while last year the band released the record’s English- and Russian-language version, ШАГ.
Instrumenti, meanwhile, is less known and a bit mysterious. While it claims to be a duo, the act apparently is several people affiliated with the six-member a capella ensemble Cosmos. One report places Cosmos members Reinis Sējāns and Jānis Šipkēvics under the panda masks Instrumenti wears in publicity photos. Listening to some of Instrumenti’s songs, such as “Apēst Tevi,” the vocals sound very familiar.
As some reports have noted, an interesting link exists between BrainStorm and Instrumenti. BrainStorm’s members once upon a time made a splash hidden behind Ronald Reagan masks and performing as the alter-ego band Reigani, even releasing an album (Nospied sarkano podziņu in 2000). Instrumenti, meanwhile, appears to be the hidden-behind-masks alter-ego of some members of Cosmos.
This would be the third time Latvian artists have appeared in SXSW. Singer Goran Gora (Jānis Holšteins) did it in 2006, while Jauns Mēness (New Moon) took the stage in 1992. For a look at Goran Gora’s bittersweet experiences in Austin, see the Baltic Times.
The South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, highlights up-and-coming artists in music, film and interactive media.
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