Future Islands, The Strypes, and Damon Albarn have been named as winners of the second annual Grulke Prize at SXSW 2014.
The Prize, awarded in three categories, was developed in honor of our friend and colleague Creative Director Brent Grulke, who passed away on August 13, 2012.
Brent had a lengthy career in many aspects of the music industry before he became the longtime Creative Director of the SXSW Music Festival.
Brent's love of music and the spirit of the festival is reflected in the three Prize categories: Developing US Act, Developing Non-US Act and Career Act.
The Developing Act Prize is for artists who are breaking new ground with their creativity and show the most promise in achieving their career goals. The Career Act Prize is for an established artist who appeared at SXSW 2014 to reinvent themselves or launch an important new project. Last year's winners were Haim, CHVRCHES and The Flaming Lips.
The 2014 Grulke Prize winner for Developing US Act is Future Islands, a trio that relocated to Baltimore from Greenville, NC. The band released a few well-received albums and EPs before signing to 4AD. Their debut on the label, Singles, will be released next Tuesday, March 25. Future Islands' turned David Letterman into a huge fan when they made their network television debut earlier this month.
The Grulke Prize winner for Developing Non-US Act is The Strypes. This four-piece from Cavan, Ireland possess a bluesy rock vibe that harkens back to the 60s. The lads, who are still in their teens, have garnered recognition from Elton John, whose management company Rocket Music signed the band after he saw one of their videos. Said Sir Elton, "They have a knowledge of R&B and blues at 16 years of age that I have only amassed in my 65 years. They're just like a breath of fresh air."
The Grulke Prize winner for Career Act is Damon Albarn. Damon Albarn, best known as the lead singer for Blur and the visionary behind the multi-platinum Grammy Award winning virtual band Gorillaz, has had a storied career including collaborations with African musicians in Mali and the release of an Alan Moore inspired production, Dr Dee: An English Opera. Albarn was here at SXSW previewing his upcoming release, Everyday Robots, set to be released on April 29th.
Jurors for the Grulke Prize included music critics, industry professionals and SXSW staff who knew and worked with Brent over the years.
As part of the prize, the legendary NightBird Recording Studios at the Sunset Marquis will award the winners a two-day recording package that includes a session with engineer and music producer Jim Kaufman. This package also includes a two-night villa stay at the legendary Sunset Marquis Hotel located in West Hollywood, CA.
Songwriter/producer and NightBird CEO Jed Leiber explains, “SXSW is singular in providing a forum where new artists are given the opportunity to perform and present their music to fans and industry professionals from all over the world. NightBird is proud to join SXSW's effort to encourage and support new talent as part of the 2014 Grulke Prize.”
Future Islands and The Strypes photos courtesy of the artists. Damon Albarn photo by Linda Brownlee