“It seems very grown-up to be speaking at a conference,” remarks CHVRCHES singer Lauren Mayberry about her scheduled SXSW Music Keynote session. “Normally we’d just be schlepping around in the back of a van.”
That Mayberry says this while backstage preparing for a prime, mainstage performance at the Austin City Limits Music Festival betrays her modesty about her band’s stature and success. In the six years since CHVRCHES arrived at SXSW early in its first U.S. tour and walked off with the inaugural Grulke Prize for Developing Non-U.S. Act, the Scottish trio’s rise to major headliner status has been steady, yet quietly relentless.
At the same time, through her insightful and forthright statements about the issues facing women in the music industry, Mayberry has become a central figure in discussions about gender inequality. It is in this dual role as entertainer and social activist that she will speak at the SXSW Music Conference alongside Garbage frontwoman (and fellow Scot), Shirley Manson.
Interview excerpt: Mayberry talks about the time she met Shirley Manson
The roots of CHVRCHES extend back to Iain Cook and Martin Doherty meeting while both were students at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Cook was a founding member of the local alt-rock band Aereogramme, which was signed to Chemikal Underground and released four albums prior to splitting up in 2007. Doherty was a latter period member of Aereogramme, and future CHVRCHES manager, Campbell McNeil, was the band’s bass player.
Mayberry had been a fan of Aereogramme, and in 2011, Cook produced an EP for her unsigned band, Blue Sky Archives. As she remembers, Cook mentioned a new collaboration he had with Doherty, who was playing with The Twilight Sad at the time, but downplayed his expectations of it. “They were maybe going to try to sell it to publishing company or just put them online,” she recalls. “It was never like it was going to be a real band necessarily.”