By: Katie Christoff – A&E Editor
Each year, MTV’s 24-hour college network mtvU honors up-and-coming artists at the Woodie Awards, allowing fans to choose their favorite new artists in categories like “Artist to Watch” and “Next Level Performance.”
For the first time ever, the Woodie Awards will air live on mtvU during SXSW, the week-long music festival in Austin, Texas. It will be hosted by Jack Antonoff of the bands fun. and Bleachers.
“The Woodies is where you’ll discover the artists you’ll love forever,” Executive Producer Ryan Kroft said of the show, which airs Friday at 9 p.m.
The Woodies has propelled huge acts like Iggy Azalea, Zedd, Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa to the next level of their careers since its conception in 2004, according to Kroft. The concept of a Woodie is based on an old tradition of the indie label Sub Pop – since its artists wouldn’t win gold or platinum, the label gave them a wooden plaque to denote success within the indie music community.
This year, nominees include Hoodie Allen, Raury, Rae Sremmurd and MisterWives. Flyer News spoke with these four nominees on a conference call, in which they discussed their childhoods, music and rising fame.
The witty 26-year-old rapper from Long Island, New York is nominated for “Best Co-Sign Woodie” for his song “All About It” featuring friend and artist Ed Sheeran.
“Collaborating with Ed was a dream collaboration,” he said. “We’ve always been friends and hang out when he’s in New York, so we decided instead of going to the bar, let’s go to the studio.”
Allen has been a hit on the underground hip-hop scene for close to four years now, but he has found more mainstream success with his latest album, “People Keep Talking.”
“Don’t rush something you don’t believe in 100 percent,” Allen said. “It’s very easy to make and share music, but you only get so many first impressions. Our responsibility as artists is to feel passionate about something and communicate that to people so they can be their best as well.”
At 18-years-old, Raury is the youngest Woodie nominee this year, nominated for “Artist to Watch Woodie.” His musical project “Indigo Child” not only found success with college students, but it also caught the attention of some influential musicians like, Kanye West.
“This is a very unique situation and I’m lucky to be here and have accomplished this,” Raury said. “The fact that I’d be able to make a living off music was just wishful thinking. I’m just extremely grateful to be here and be nominated for awards like this.”
The recent high school graduate realizes he still has a long way to go. When asked about the first moment he realized he’d ‘made it,’ Raury responded: “I haven’t yet.”
“When I was on tour for the first time, I went vegan, stopped smoking and drinking and got a lot more serious and professional about it,” he said, realizing how strenuous touring can take on one’s health.
“I still see a lot more work to be done,” he said. “My goals and my perception of having made it is being in a situation where I don’t have to work, and I can go out in my backyard farm and pick my food,” the self-proclaimed nature lover said.
The duo behind “No Type” and “No Flex Zone,” comprised of brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy, is also nominated for “Artist to Watch Woodie.” The name Rae Sremmurd is their label, EarDrummers, spelled backwards.
“Confidence comes from within,” the duo said of dealing with the rise to fame. “They’re going to throw you in the jungle with all those other animals, so you’ve gotta know you’re an elephant.”
Having been signed with their label for just over a year, the brothers behind Rae Sremmurd are excited to have been recognized by mtvU.
“I felt like I had just won the lottery,” Lee said. “I jumped up and down and spilled my Starbucks and everything.”
Also nominated for “Artist to Watch Woodie,” indie pop band MisterWives released its first full-length album, “Our Own House,” in February and is currently in the process of its first national tour.
“We’re all kind of pinching ourselves every night,” bassist Will Hehir said. “We feel like we’re the luckiest people in the world.”
So far, he said they’ve enjoyed headlining their own tour and all love having the opportunity to thank the fans who’ve been so supportive of the new album.
“It’s happy music, it comes from the soul and we’re just trying to get people to get up and dance,” Hehir said. Despite the upbeat vibes, he said touring and achieving recognition is still too surreal for him to believe.
“The hardest part is not crying every night, because it’s incredible,” Hehir said. “I’m always choking back tears.”
The mtvU Woodie Awards will air live from SXSW Friday at 9 p.m. EST. For more information about the awards or performing and nominated artists, visit mtv.com/ontv/woodieawards.