SXSW Interview: AHI

The impending joy/doom of SXSW is right around the corner folks! As of today, we are only a month away from the music portion of the festival, and even closer to interactive and film. Not to worry, ATH once again has you covered as your guide to all the best musical acts you need to check out during the week. Today seems like a great day to begin our onslaught of coverage with an interview from Tornoto indie-soul artist AHI. Like we did last year, we will be asking multiple artists similar sets of questions so you can see a variety of perspectives on the festival. Hit the jump for full interview.

ATH: Every Year there is a lot of hubbub concerning corporate sponsors and pay to play and what not at SXSW. As a band, what’s your reason for coming to play at the festival? What do you hope to get out of it?

AHI: I’ve avoided SXSW for years because I felt like I wasn’t ready for it. Even when I was seeing other Canadian artists in my own peer group go down to and play official SXSW showcases, I still wanted to wait. This year felt right, though. I feel like I have something to bring to SXSW as opposed to hoping I get something out of it. There’s a lot of noise, but I feel I’m equipped to cut through it this year.

ATH: For most SXSW sets, you get 30 minutes to leave a lasting impression. What’s your plan of attack? You have a set list mapped out yet?

AHI:I have OCD when it comes to set lists. To me, my set list is as important as my songs are, and while I might have a general idea of what songs Ill be performing I’m definitely going to sit down and really map it out. Make sure it flows and feels impactful.

ATH: The festival caters to music fans, but food and booze are an important aspect of the fans and the bands. What’s your band’s food and beverage of choice?

AHI:If you’re talking about festival food, I’m not really a fan, but more often than not I can do a veggie burrito. I don’t drink either, but you can make me a fresh smoothie, no sugar, anytime of the day.

ATH: There are tons of bands coming into town. Who would you ideally like to play with of the 1000s of bands gracing our city? Make your own optimal line-up.

AHI:Dan Bettridge is a good friend of mine, so it’d be cool to have him in the line up. My 8-year-old daughter is a huge Tank and The Bangas fan, so I think being on a line-up with them would get me some cool points with her. Honestly, ever since Don Trip released Letter To My Son and Allen Iverson, I’ve had nothing but respect for him, so hes got to get a spot. Id also put Tyler Childers on the bill – his album Purgatory is outstanding and although it may not be for everyone, that’s some great songwriting right there. Kind of a motley crew, but there you have it.

ATH: We are partial to SXSW obviously, but what festival do you feel is the best around?

AHI:Man, that’s a hard one. I guess the best festival is the festival that gets the artists that you want to see. Its all relative to what you like that year.

ATH: Let’s say your band has been booked an official showcase at a pop up venue somewhere in the middle of 6th street. The lineup features thrash metal, hip-hop, spoken word, and you. The sound is horrible, the lineup is not your style, and the crowd seems angry at the world. How would your band deal with such a situation?

AHI:I’ve already been in situations like that and Id do exactly what I was already going to do. Pour my heart out and connect to the people. If the source material isn’t connecting, then you could be playing a private concert in Abbey Road Studios with Bruce Swedien behind the board and it wouldn’t make a difference. You’ve just got to pour out and hopefully you connect to someone in the audience – and who knows, that person could be the person who changes your life.

ATH: What’s your favorite album to come out in the last year? What’s playing in the tour bus?

AHI:It’ll most likely be in my headphones, but I’m really into The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell. ‘m a lyricist at heart, and outside of hip hop/rap, Jason Isbell is the best lyricist alive.

ATH: Who wins the World Cup this summer?

AHI:Brazil. And my wildcard pick is Nigeria.

Thanks again to AHI for making the time to speak with us.

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