Tiny Desk meets SXSW: Yard Act: NPR


Each year, NPR Music participates in the SXSW Music Festival, whether it’s hosting a stage or simply attending the hundreds of shows at the annual event in Austin, TX. In 2020, the festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but returned last March as an online festival. We have scheduled a virtual “stage” of Tiny Desk (home) concerts in 2021 in a series called Tiny Desk Meets SXSW. This year we return again, virtually, with another Tiny Desk Meets SXSW tour: four videos shot in various locations, all full of surprises.

Before UK band Yard Act took the stage at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, England, the band set up their instruments in the Green Room and performed this Tiny Desk (home) gig. It’s a great location for the Leeds band, who have around 70 shows lined up to celebrate their debut album Overload including the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. Yard Act’s music is filled with brash sounds aimed at capitalism, equality or the lack thereof, and all with venom and humor.

Jay Russell’s drum machine sits on a small table and launches the song, with Ryan Needham’s simple bass line and Sam Shjipstone’s guitar sounds serving as the backdrop for James Smith’s narrations. “Rich” is our opener, a song James Smith wrote envisioning a world where you could actually make music for a living. James Smith told me it was kind of “a hypothetical exercise in what I would do if all of a sudden I had a lot of money, like someone who never had any money and didn’t expect to have one”. The lyrics humorously imagine the song used in Hollywood movies where the protagonist gets rich and in turn makes James rich. It’s a searing, tongue-in-cheek look at capitalism and our money-obsessed culture, a theme that takes different forms through different characters in this tongue-in-cheek and compelling set of five songs.


  • “Rich”
  • “Payday”
  • “Land of the Blind”
  • “Upper Fixator”
  • “100% Endurance”


  • James Smith: vocals
  • Samuel Shjipstone: guitar
  • Ryan Needham: bass
  • Jay Russell: drum machine


  • Video: Jonny Ridout
  • Audio: Pete Flinton, Jay Russel
  • Recorded at the Trades Club Green Room, Hebden Bridge


  • Producer: Bob Boilen
  • Video Producer: Joshua Bryant
  • Audio mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Small production team: Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior Vice President, Programming: Anya Grundmann

About Author

Comments are closed.