A peek at the artists of ACL

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A peek at the artists of ACL

R&B artist Alesia Lani grew up in Austin, Texas, and now has ‘Alesia Lani Day’ celebrated Nov. 19 by the city of Austin.

R&B artist Alesia Lani grew up in Austin, Texas, and now has ‘Alesia Lani Day’ celebrated Nov. 19 by the city of Austin.

Photo courtesy of Brandi McCarns

R&B artist Alesia Lani grew up in Austin, Texas, and now has ‘Alesia Lani Day’ celebrated Nov. 19 by the city of Austin.

Photo courtesy of Brandi McCarns

Photo courtesy of Brandi McCarns

R&B artist Alesia Lani grew up in Austin, Texas, and now has ‘Alesia Lani Day’ celebrated Nov. 19 by the city of Austin.

Kyle Chitwood, Life and Arts Reporter

Austin City Limits hosted more than 140 artists on nine stages over two weekends in its 17th annual music festival.

Artists from all over the globe came to the Live Music Capital of the world to showcase their talents. Performers showed as much diversity in their nationalities as they did genres of music.

Alesia Lani

Alesia Kay Buchanan, stage name Alesia Lani, moved to Austin from Springfield, Missouri, at four years old. The R&B artist attended McNeil High School, where she sang in the choir. Buchanan said the choir instructor was so impressed with some of the students’ talent they formed an R&B choir.

“I had a really dope music teacher,” Buchanan said. “I feel like I really grew into myself, even more, being in high school.”

Buchanan performed weekend one on the T-Mobile stage, as well as an ACL Late Night Show at Stubb’s BBQ. She debuted two new songs “IDFWU” and “Big Shot” during the festival.

“If (the band and I) feel like we are enjoying ourselves and having fun playing (music), I feel like the fans will always feed on that,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan has hit career milestones: The City of Austin declared Nov. 19 “Alesia Lani Day” and selected Buchanan for Project ATX 6, where six local artists are put on an international tour. The singer celebrated her birthday over ACL weekend and said she is appreciative of all the checkpoints in her career.

“(ACL) is my gift,” Buchanan said. “Being here is like a trophy.”

Savannah Conley

Savannah Conley sits on a white chair wearing a black tracksuit

Photo by Kyle Chitwood
Conley sits to discuss her career as a performing artist.

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, to two professional musicians, Savannah Conley said she was instantly expected to follow the footsteps of her parents. Like most kids, Conley was reluctant to follow her parents’ path because she saw firsthand the hard life of being a musician. Conley said she attended college for two years to become a teacher as a means of rebellion but eventually realized no other career was better suited for her.

“I couldn’t run from it for very long,” Conley said.

As a child, Conley was influenced by the abundance of country music in Nashville. As she got older, artists like Jack White and Kings of Leon moved to town and brought with them a new music scene. Conley said she credits her style of music to the variety of sounds she heard growing up.

“I got to experience all kinds of music, which influenced everything,” Conley said.

Conley has been playing music professionally for three years. She released her first EP, “Twenty-Twenty,” March 2018 and hopes to release more music early 2020. Conley has worked with producers like Dave Cobb and John Prine, and said she is grateful for the opportunities her team provides.

“They’ve fought for me,” Conley said. “They’ve done a really good job putting me where I need to be.”

Vanessa Zamora

Zamora stands dressed in mismatched print and red sunglasses

Photo by Kyle Chitwood
Zamora doesn’t skimp her funky fashion sense on stage.

Vanessa Zamora began her singing career by uploading videos of herself to YouTube. She received positive responses, which gave her the confidence to begin performing and eventually make the stage at ACL.

“It was the biggest fear I conquered,” Zamora said.

Zamora was born in Tijuana, Mexico, just south of the California border. She said the city has American and traditional Mexican influences, which greatly shaped her worldly perspective. Growing up in a city influenced by two major countries, she said she realized how the world is connected.

“The world is big,” Zamora said. “You just live on this planet at the end of the day.”

Playing ACL was the first time Zamora brought her psychedelic pop sound to a festival of that scale. She said her experience at ACL is only a slice of her life she gets to enjoy, but ultimately, she is grateful for the opportunity to perform.

“This pays it all off,” Zamora said. “It’s something that really motivates me to keep going.”

Ley Line

Ley Line performs in printed outfits on stage at ACL

Photo by Kyle Chitwood
Ley Line performs its set to an afternoon Sunday crowd.

Based out of Austin, Texas, the folk-inspired band consists of four women bringing unique harmonious vocals to support the spiritual messages in their music.

Emilie Basez and Kate Robberson met sisters Madeleine and Lydia Froncek at a music festival in Colorado during 2013. The band recorded its first album in 2016 and has been touring ever since. Madeleine said each member brings a taste of their own music and spirituality to the band’s sound.

“The root of the band is the desire to sing in harmony and to express your story and vulnerability,” Madeleine said.

The group has traveled to different parts of the world and collectively speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese and English, which are all incorporated into their music. Robberson said their experiences discovering new people and cultures has inspired the band’s music. However, the band finds inspiration in the music community of Austin as well.

“We’re really lucky to be in a town that’s so saturated with music so that we can go out and see people really making and living their art,” Robberson said.

Ley Line is releasing a new album 2020, which will be its first vinyl release. Additionally, the group is releasing a visual album in which some songs will accompany the women’s experiences performing in and exploring Brazil during their three-month tour. The album will feature new single, “Oxum,” which is an homage to fresh water. Basez said bringing the awareness to the issue in the song is something with which she feels deeply connected.

“The first place I feel empowered is my own voice and my own actions and my own prayers,” Basez said. “If that can become more collective, it takes me to trusting the work we’re doing is worth it.”

Hippie Sabotage

Saurer walking in a sea of outstretched hands among the crowd during their set

Photo by Kyle Chitwood
Kevin Saurer seen walking among the crowd during Hippie Sabotage’s weekend two performance.

Brothers Kevin and Jeff Saurer began making beats as background music to skateboard videos they created as teenagers. The two later began producing beats for rap artists but people enjoyed them so much they began releasing and performing their different sounds.

Jeff said mixing beats as a music performance was uncommon when they first started but helped bring the scene to the mainstream.

“We created that sh*t,” Jeff said.

Despite being brothers, the two have always worked cohesively. Kevin said the brotherly band allows them to be more honest creatively. They said they are grateful for the opportunities they have had as artists.

“We started this art project a long time ago and we’re just happy we get the opportunity to continue to do it year after year,” Kevin said.

The duo has played in North and South America and said they feel love from audiences in each country. The two said playing at ACL has been a big steppingstone for developing their Texas fan base. Their favorite moment from the festival was having their parents feed Chipotle burritos to the crowd weekend one.

“Coming from California, the love Texas has shown us just blows our minds,” Kevin said.

Rebelution

Eric Rachmany shown on a big screen near the stage they performed on

Photo by Kyle Chitwood
Lead singer Eric Rachmany shown on the large TV panels of the American Express stage during Rebelution’s performance.

The Grammy-nominated California reggae-rock band formed while taking classes at Santa Barbara City College in 2004. What originally began as a cover band now has six full-length albums with the latest, “Free Rein,” released June 2018. Lead singer Eric Rachmany said Rebelution aims to make positive music that is relatable to people.

“Our music is there to inspire and motivate people,” Rachmany said. “I want to encourage them to feel good about themselves.”

Rachmany is beginning an acoustic tour featuring Rebelution guitarist Kyle Ahearn where 100% of the proceeds will be dedicated to the Last Prisoner Project. The nonprofit organization is committed to the expungement of prisoners convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses. Rebelution has its own line of cannabis products, so Rachmany said it is odd they profit off something another is still imprisoned for.

“We don’t think anyone should be in jail or prison for any sort of possession or anything related to cannabis,” Rachmany said.

Rebelution performed on the American Express stage both weekends of ACL 2019, which was the band’s third time playing the festival. Rachmany said he appreciates the organization of the festival and how ACL crowds are like those at Rebelution concerts: a diverse mix of young and old.

“(ACL) is one of my favorite festivals,” Rachmany said. “Austin has always been really good.”

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