Camiele’s SXSW Experience—Day 1: Spotify House

Energy pervaded every millisecond of that twenty minutes he spent on stage. From the high octane of track I’m Not Sorry [LV] to the very last song, the man was possessed. And he possessed his audience, in fact taking a liking to a girl in the very front, focusing on her as he delivered his lines. Even if you may be in a rare breed of listener who can’t appreciate what he does musically, you can’t deny the man knows how to perform. He revealed his then latest single, Bonnie & Clyde, for his fans, proclaiming, “This song’s going to be released in two days, but I’m going to perform it here for you first.” And by the end of that song I went from being a bit wary to completely giving my heart and soul to his cause.

Dean is really a young prodigy. It’s more than what R&B has been sort of relegated to as of late. Yes, there was still the typical “turn up” repertoire, love in the club jams that are all pretty much one in the same. However, there’s an undeniable soul in this kid’s music, something that reaches deeper into one’s body and warms you from inside. Though not exactly reminiscent of old(er) R&B, he definitely has done a brilliant job of injecting a new school of genuine soul in his “baby-making” fare.

I’m reminded of artists like Miguel, or even early Bruno Mars: there’s a lot of overt sensuality in the music, a sort of club drip indicative of bodies in close-drawn, skin-deep motion. But underneath the more feral push of bodies, there’s a deep-seated emotion and a desire to squeeze tight and be held by someone. He pushes further than artists like Miguel with his attention to detail in his music, the ability to wrap his voice around any type of music, or even more than that, create music that just… fits, nestles in each crack and cavity of his voice and becomes a perfect blend of soul and magic. In that way, he’s more akin to a Frank Ocean: all creative angles and tempered chaos. There’s nothing wasted in his sound, every part acting as a necessary piece to his creativity.

If there’s one thing I took away from SXSW it was there’s always, always more to an artist than what meets the eye. I’ll never again commit the sin of judging an artist before I genuinely get a chance to get my hands on their music. It helps that my first legitimate experience with Dean was from the two performances I saw, but more specifically the intimacy of the Spotify House patio stage. I was close enough to just drown in his love of music, an ardor that absolutely permeated every single inch of that stage and made its way into the very soul of every person swaying and singing along with him in that audience.

Thus began the mysterious case of all my disappearing panties, a problem I’d have from the moment I saw Dean to the moment I left Austin, TX for the second time in my life.

(Photos via my phone’s camera; graphic thanks to Amy!)


As unexpected as my path was to loving all things weird, more unexpected is my ability to get attention for writing about the stuff.

4 Responses

  1. May 12, 2016

    […] see a live performance from a Korean act (my first being Dean—you can read about that experience here), but to actually witness many acts do what they do […]

  2. May 24, 2016

    […] first (and only) fangirl-y squeal of the entire festival. It didn’t happen the first time I saw Dean, not when I first heard Zion. T, not even when Victim Mentality, with all their sex and fire, hit […]

  3. August 7, 2016

    […] who wore the genre as a shabbily crafted costume to show how “down” he was. Then I saw the kid up close and personal at this year’s SXSW, and my preconceived notions of his musical abilities were ground to dust. A […]

  4. January 6, 2017

    […] her second (kinda longish) mini titled Why, which she started promoting with this duet with DEAN [1] titled […]

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