Best of What's Next (SXSW 2013 Edition): Night Beds

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In celebration of the start of this week’s music portion of South By Southwest, we’re taking a deeper look at some of our favorite artists appearing in Austin. Below, you can check out a preview for a talented new songwriter Winston Yellen, who makes music under the name Night Beds.

For Fans of: Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes
He may not like it, but Winston Yellen’s haunting debut album, Country Sleep, was born from the romantic (and cliched) ideal of the musical nomad: In 2011, the 23-year-old Colorado Springs native dropped out of college and trekked to the isolated country outskirts of Nashville, where he rented a house formerly owned by the late Johnny and June Carter Cash. There, he spent 10 months fumbling with an acoustic guitar, channeling classic country, folk and blues into the 10 minimal, heartbreaking songs that ultimately became Country Sleep.

Latley, Yellen’s been speaking to rounds of journalists, some jaw-dropped by the raw power of his music. That, of course, cracks him up, since the recording process was a total mess.

“It’s funny that people feel it was orchestrated,” he laughs. “We had no idea what we were doing. It really was just kind of like, ‘That sounds good. Let’s go with that.’ I think ‘haphazard’ is a real way of saying it without trying to make ourselves sound cool. It was kind of clanking around in the dark and not having a clue.”

Now, on the verge of a co-headlining tour with Indians and massive amounts of critical praise, Yellen can’t even listen to his own music. It’s a fittingly uneasy outlook from one of the year’s most astonishing new songwriting talents.

“The strings are one of the only parts that I can listen to without cringing,” Yellen laughs. “I’m sorry to be a downer! I don’t jones on my own stuff. I don’t listen to it—never! That’s not gonna happen. That’s the beauty of it, though—you hand it off. Some people love it, and some people shit all over it. But it’s not mine anymore.”

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