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SXSW PREVIEW: THE CONSTELLATIONS

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Southern Gothic (EMI/Virgin), the debut album by the style-blending Atlanta-based collective The Constellations, won’t be released until June 22. But curious music listeners can get a taste of the album by visiting the Constellations site or, better yet, by checking out the band (which tours as a five-piece unit) at one of its many scheduled shows during South by Southwest.

Leader Elijah Jones took a few minutes to discuss the making Southern Gothic, the music scene in Atlanta and what’s on his shortlist of things to do while in Austin, Texas.

Medleyville.us: There are a lot of sounds going on throughout Southern Gothic. If you were to assign the following titles to your bandmates based on the strongest influence they brought to this album, who would be The Rocker, The Hip-Hop Head, The Experimentalist and The Psychedelic Wonder?
Elijah Jones: “We all have a wide range of musical tastes, but I would say I’m the biggest hip-hop head in the crew, but all of us wear a number of different musical hats.”

What was the most challenging aspect of making an album that involved so many musicians?
Jones: “It wasn’t a challenge at all — more of a blessing. Everyone always had a fresh idea and brought life to the studio.”

Were there any mysterious sounds, feedback or minor mistakes during the recording of Southern Gothic that sounded so cool they stayed in the final mix?
Jones: “While recording ‘What I See,’ we used a drumstick banging on a windowsill and a toy piano to get the constant beat that goes through the whole song. On ‘Step Right Up,’ we used an African talking box.”

What’s the Atlanta music scene like these days?
Jones: “It’s a great place to be if you want to make music — everyone is super-supportive. Bands like Gringo Star, Blair Crimmins and the Hookers, Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics and The Black Lips are putting a new spin on a throwback sound.Hollyweerd, Grip Plyaz and Future Shock are pushing hip-hop in a new direction. We take from both worlds.”

Finish this sentence: When I’m in Austin for this year’s SXSW, I will …
Jones: “When I’m in Austin for this year’s SXSW, I will drink Lone Star [beer] and pass out in the street with a smile on my face.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

The Constellations at SXSW (schedule subject to change):

* March 18:
6:50 p.m. – Malaia Lounge (Entertainment Weekly Lounge)
Midnight – Dirty Dog Bar (official SXSW showcase)
* March 19:
2 p.m. – Phoenix (DMX/Express showcase)
5 p.m. – The Ranch (Digiwaxx showcase)
2 a.m. – PureVolume House (The Syn/Taco Bell/Feed the Beat showcase)
* March 20:
3:30 p.m. – Cedar Street Courtyard (Filter magazine party)
8:15 p.m. – La Zona Rosa (WMEE showcase)

The Constellations on tour (schedule subject to change):

* March 22: Local 506 – Chapel Hill, N.C.
* March 23: Mercy Lounge – Nashville, Tenn.
* March 24: Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta
* March 25: Café 11 – St. Augustine, Fla.
* March 26: Club Downunder – Tallahassee, Fla.
* March 29: Thirsty Hippo – Hattiesburg, Miss.
* March 30: Spanish Moon – Baton Rouge, La.

Photo by Jennifer Tzar