Downtime is a luxury, especially as a touring artist. South By Southwest (SXSW) proves to be the source of fatigue for many an artist, as they hop from dive bars to concert halls to makeshift stages alike in the heavy Austin, Texas heat. For Ro James, the buzzing R&B loverboy with distinct sartorial flair, this SXSW was his second go-around.
His last South-By fest was three years ago, following the release of his EPs Coke, Jack and Cadillacs. Now that his debut album El Dorado is on the horizon and he’s on a full fledged promo tour, James geared up for dose number two of the music fest. Here, during a rare break in his schedule, we caught up with the crooner in between Bud Lights at VIBE‘s Artist Lounge at the Bud Light Factory.
VIBE: Tell me about your schedule here at South-By, your whole experience. How many South-Bys have you been before?
Ro James: This is my second one. The first one I did was like three yeas ago, when I released that Coke, Jack, and Cadillacs project. Now I’m releasing El Dorado, so it’s like, three years later, here we are, and I’m doing it again. This time I have three shows: Playstation, ICM and another show…I can’t remember what it is…I think Converse. But, I mean, it’s great. I get to get the opportunity to share. I’m excited!
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Because I feel a lot of South-By artists are popping from show to show to show and never get a break. What’s been your experience?
You know what? I’m on this promo run right now, so I haven’t been home in about a month. I’m living out this one suitcase, and I’ve been in a different city every day, every night. Sometimes two, and I flew from work last night. I got out of the studio at 2 a.m. and flew on a 6 a.m. flight here. So, I haven’t really rested. [laughs]
You haven’t had a break!
I haven’t had a break. No break. And I’ve been singin’ every night, so I’m like, “…breh.”
Is it taking a toll on your body or are you…
I lost about six pounds!
Yeah! Because you know, you’re moving and you don’t eat on your regular schedule, you’re just focused. But, still…
It could be worse, you could be idle.
You could be idle! You could be at home, wondering, “hmmm…what’s it like?” Lookin’ at pictures on Instagram and sh*t. [laughs]
How many other shows have you gone to, or do you want to go to, just to watch?
Oh, man. I wanna check out Fader Fort. I wanna check out all the shows. I mean, the first time I came, it was my first time, so I didn’t get to catch or where to move around to. This time, it’s like I know where I wanna hit. Most of my friends are performing this year, so, I’m gonna check out BJ [the Chicago Kid] and Anderson .Paak. You know, a whole bunch of my homies. Yo Gotti’s performing, I wanna check that out. I’m excited to go check these acts out. People I probably wouldn’t get to see, so it’s cool.
In the rare downtime that you have, how do you spend it?
Aw, man. I try to exercise. I try to relax, read. I try to do something to get my mind off of what I’m doing every day, 24/7.
And, last question, most important question: what is the best food you’ve had while down here?
Out here in Austin?
Okay, I just landed, so I haven’t even eaten yet!
So what are you looking forward to?
I don’t know! I wanna ask people from Austin, “What is the food that I need to get? Where do I need to go?” What do you suggest?
I asked Saba, and he said something like Gus’ Chicken or something. He said it’s very lit, and people always say, “You have to come to get some good barbecue.” Sucks if you’re vegan or something.
Oh, I ain’t vegan, I’m good. I eat. I eat everything. Except pork, you know, I try to stay away. I like me some bacon though!
That’s pork, though…
But I love the smell!