For a band that is barely a year old, Brooklyn-based San Fermin had quite a busy SXSW schedule, playing multiple shows per day throughout the week in the Live Music Capital. Hot off their September-released debut album San Fermin, which includes the lead-single and nostalgic American-anthem "Sonsick," San Fermin has completed two full tours and is showing no signs of slowing down.
The Downtown Records-signed "baroque pop" group consists of eight members, with 24-year-old and Ivy League grad Ellis Ludwig-Leone at the helm. Ellis took time to sit down with EARMILK at Austin's Wright Bros Brew & Brew on Thursday afternoon, where we talked SXSW, their tour with Son Lux, and what their group has in store for us next. You can check out the interview in its entirety below.
EARMILK: So, what've you been up to today?
Ellis: Well, our sprinter van is broken so we had to bring it to the shop, which means it’s really hard for us to to get back to our house that we rented - we spent two hours on the bus trying to figure out. But we got in and just did something with SiriusXM U and now I’m here, so not much today really.
EM: Is this your first time in Austin?
E: Yeah, well the band, we started about a year ago, so this is our first time at South By.
EM: Awesome, well, welcome to Austin. Do you have a favorite thing about the city yet?
E: I would say that I think it’s just cool how much energy there is, there’s so many people. It seems like there are people who are at every show, big and small. It’s kinda nice. We stopped in West Texas on our way here from San Diego. There’s this tiny town and it seemed like there was no one there that was interested in anything like this, so it’s like a cultural oasis here.
EM: How's your SXSW experience so far?
E: We got here on Monday. We played an interactive show on Monday, we had a day off on Tuesday, and then we’ve been playing shows ever since. We did two shows yesterday, one today, and one tomorrow that I’m worried might be canceled now because it was at Mohawk, which is where the accident happened last night. And then two on Friday and two on Saturday.
EM: For those that don’t know too much about you, how did you end up with the name San Fermin?
E: When I wrote the record, it wasn’t a band, it was just my own project at that time. I drew some inspiration from that festival [San Fermin] because it was so over the top and so intense. In some ways, making music feels like that. It's sort of this artificially and blown out of proportion intense thing that gets your heartbeat racing.
EM: Is that where the recurring bull symbol in your work comes from? Like your album artwork and music video for "Sonsick?"
E: Yeah, it's a good jumping off point. On the inside of the album, there’s this little girl dressed up in these pageant clothes, and once we created those two characters it helped sort of create our whole world.
EM: You mentioned it was your project at first, and now you’re a huge bunch. Is there ever a struggle with the creative process?
E: Yeah, it’s pretty good actually. It’s pretty clean cut. It’s been an interesting process to go from a solo project to hired musicians, which is what the record was, to the full on band we are now. It’s cool because you get to know the musicians you’re working with and you start to trust them. Our live show sounds pretty different than our record, and that mostly has to do with our band members and what they do with their parts. As the band leader you’re starting to think about the vision you have with the song, but also not being too close-minded about letting the creative energy in the band shape that process. So our live show is a lot about finding that process.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/137948489" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]