Full disclosure: my daughter, Meredith, is the creator and Editor in Chief for ImperfectFifth. I have wanted to go to Austin to cover SXSW as a writer since she first went five years ago. I heard stories of all the people she had met, the music she had heard, and the movies she had seen. I was all set to go in 2020, but we all know how that ended. I ‘attended’ virtually last year, but as great as it was to see all the content, we all know it isn’t the same.
This year, though, I finally got to attend SXSW!
Once we found out that Meredith and Erin Zimmerman (also my daughter) got their press and photo badges to cover the festival, I got a link to the schedule and immediately froze. There is so much content to choose from! Even though I knew I would only be there for a short, two-day window, narrowing down the possibilities seemed daunting. Enter Google Docs. Meredith created a spreadsheet that had a tab for each day, a different color for each of us, and a column to indicate if the event was in person or VOD. She has done this each year to organize coverage. I also knew that there were two kinds of events – official and unofficial. Since I didn’t have a badge, I wasn’t eligible to attend a portion of the official events. However, I was able to attend most of the unofficial events. The upshot? During the time that I was there, we decided to attend anything that A) didn’t require a badge; and B) sounded interesting. Pressure off! Fortunately, both of them found some things that I didn’t even see in the schedule, and I love trying all the new things!
We arrived on Sunday, March 13th and got in line for the Create & Cultivate Pop Up. This was an unofficial event, so didn’t require a badge. However, we did have to pre-register, and spots filled up in the blink of an eye! There were speakers, sponsorship installations, refreshments, and an amazing swag bag! It was a ‘make a trip back to the car to drop things off before we could continue with our day’ sized bag. I subscribe to the Create & Cultivate newsletter and this event was the newsletter come to life.
In our walks to and from the car, I saw a proliferation of movie posters for Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off and the upcoming Nicholas Cage film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Each film had already had its premiere, but I made notes (in my newly acquired notebook from my gift bag) to see both of them once they got distribution.
After walking through the Convention Center to pick up badges, we took a stroll down Rainey Street, where we had the most amazing fresh mini donuts. There were also several houses that had exhibits (we saw you CNN and “Summer In Argyle”), most open to non-badge wearers as well. The one that caught our eyes was the Peacock Playground. They had taken some of their new shows and created playground games out of them. You could shoot hoops in the “Bel Air” booth or seasaw with a “Joe vs. Carole” backdrop, among other things. Our personal favorite? You could make a music video in the “Girls 5 Eva” booth. Yes, we did and here it is! We also had drinks and snacks and would have gotten a handmade t-shirt if the t-shirt people hadn’t gone on break. It was all outside and was a great way to spend some time while we learned more about Peacock and its new content.
By now, it was time for a late lunch which we ate at the Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill. I had my first ever chicken and waffles – did not disappoint! We also used this time to map out our route for the rest of the afternoon.
The first place we headed after lunch was to the WarnerMedia House. While a lot of the activity for SXSW takes place near the convention center, there are things spread throughout downtown. The several block walk to the WarnerMedia House took us past the Porsche Unseen building. As a major sponsor, Porsche had several presentations and displays scheduled for badge holders; however, they did have an amazing car parked outside that any of us could drool over!
The WarnerMedia House had THE exhibit we had come to see. TheBatman had been released on March 4, but we hadn’t gotten a chance to see it before going to Austin. This exhibit included costumes from all the main characters, as well as props from the movie. Other DC content, like Peacemaker helmets and other franchise NFTs, games, and artwork were represented as well. The highlight, though, was down the block and around the corner – the Bat Mobile from The Batman. Only a few people at a time were allowed in the garage, but we were able to walk around the car and look inside. I’m not a huge car fan, but it was a cool experience!
After the WarnerMedia House, we poked our heads into the Virtual Equality Lounge before we headed back up toward the convention center. We had RSVP’d to the Future Today Institute (FTI) 2040 House which was an installation that reflected 2040, based on future trends. When we entered, we walked through a facial reading station that texted a report to us that captured our heart rate, body temperature, mood, and social score. My heart rate and temperature were right on what was listed on my FitBit. My mood was ‘sleepy’ – not surprised! It also gave me the recommendation to eat some protein to uplift my mood. From there, we had some snacks and drinks, served the 2022 way. We did take away some 3D-printed drink mixes to use at home. I also discovered that chocolate is considered contraband in the year 2040! Even with all of the fun, we received an FTI 2022 Tech and Science Trends Report via email that covered key trends impacting 15+ topics. A very educational, informative, and fun space.
After a good night’s sleep, we started the day getting our hair styled at the Jonathan Van Ness salon. The JVN Come As You Are Tour had taken over a current salon in downtown Austin and was the site of the product launch of his haircare products, JVN Hair. We knew he was speaking later, but the event was sold out. Erin gave us a heads up about the pop-up and we got ourselves scheduled. Very relaxing and such a fun way to spend a half-hour.
One of the host hotels for SXSW is the JW Marriott. We had parked our car there, so explored the different panels and lounges that were available. We were able to sit in on a panel entitled “What the ‘She-cession’ Will Teach Us About Hiring”, which was a fascinating look at what hiring might look like as we head out of the pandemic. I know that it clarified some ideas I have for my own career going forward.
The second place that we discovered was the Future of Work Summit Lounge Presented by Indeed. It was located in a space close to the panel, so we stepped in to check it out and I am so glad we did! Indeed had career coaches on hand to chat with, they had a coffee/cocoa bar for a much-needed caffeine boost, and space to sit and charge your devices. They also had photographers taking headshots and tarot card readers. I thought that was an especially intuitive touch because the job search combines all the facets of your personality and life. Indeed also had a salary board where people could write where they lived, what their job is, and what they get paid, then post it. Salary transparency is vital to help people, especially women, get paid their worth.
Our next stop was closer to the convention center, but our first music stop – the SoundCloud Next Wav showcase. Although we were fifth in line when we got there, the line soon stretched around the block, and for good reason – the musical showcase presented by SoundCloud was great and the 30-minute presentation Vocals on the Go by Dub Academy was amazing. Dub Academy is a program based in Austin that helps musicians fine-tune their craft. It was super interesting to watch them create in real-time. It is clear that Soundcloud hosts showcases that people look forward to each year.
After leaving the showcase — and even though I had some amazing Mexican food and a couple of drinks there — I was in the mood for food from a food truck. Austin did not disappoint! We ate the most amazing corndogs but also had our choice of a myriad of other offerings. Our goal was to walk and eat so we could check out more things and that is exactly what we did.
After a break to grab some dinner, change clothes, and unload the car, we came back downtown, parked and walked 6th Street and some of the same areas we had walked during the day. There is a completely different vibe at night – everyone is ready to relax and really listen to some music. Walking in any direction, you could hear different genres of music emanating from venues in every direction. I was completely content to stand outside listening and people watching. We had a reservation to attend a showcase at Elysium later, so we relaxed with a few drinks at Iron Cactus before.
The showcase ran from 10:00 pm – 2:00 am at the Elysium. We found a place to sit and got to see Body Meat perform. The artist we came to see was Haru Nemuri. She is a singer/songwriter from Yokohama, Japan who has quite a fan base in the United States. The club quickly filled up when her set started at midnight. Nemuri’s fans knew all the songs, even though most were sung in Japanese. She never stopped dancing and the audience matched her energy. Such a great way to end the evening!
I went home on Tuesday morning, so didn’t get to see anything else live. I will say, though, that I have now seen Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off, since it is on streaming platforms, and thought it was a very complete documentary. The camera work was breathtaking and well worth your time to watch. Now to catch The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent!
You know that commonly used phrase “Never meet your idols?” Well, it’s controversial. It always has been. While your idol’s personality may be very different in real life than their perceived persona or stage presence, they will most likely still have inspiration oozing from them. In the way they carry themselves, the people they surround themselves with, and the projects they work on.
Singer-songwriter/producer Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes) has been navigating the music industry landscape for decades now. She has founded two record labels, composed and produced hit songs for a myriad of artists (Pink, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Adele, Alicia Keys, Courtney Love, James Blunt), and continues to innovate in the field. And while she probably never would have described what she did as paving the way for women, her work has absolutely been doing that since the day she started in music.
So it was only natural that she sat on a panel of four incredible women to discuss gender gaps in entertainment, and how we can all work to close those gaps and give women more opportunities in music. She was joined on stage by four other indelible women in the industry, Carrie Colliton (Record Store Day), Ericka J Coulter (Warner Records), Tierney Stout (Vans), and moderator Lori Majewski (Sirius XM). All five have an inspiring body of work behind them, and legacies that will stand the test of time. To be in their presence alone? Absolutely intoxicating.
Then the stats rolled in on gender gaps and representation. Only 21% of musicians are women, only 12.6% of songwriters are women and only 2.6% of producers are women. Seeing that women are so poorly represented in the industry isn’t a shock, but those numbers are insanely low. Especially for the number of women who begin their careers in supporting roles throughout the industry, and are then pigeonholed into more administrative or side careers.
One of the biggest issues facing women’s approach to the industry? “You have to see it to be it,” explained Lori Majewski. You can always have ideas about what a career in your field could look like, but unless you can see other people like you taking the reigns and paving the way for others, it can be a difficult thing to grasp. Women in the industry provide beacons of light for others and are also incredibly well-formed mentors in some cases.
“I showed up big,” admits Perry, who has always held a makeshift torch in every space she has occupied. “I’m not the kind of girl the guys go after, so I’ve never had that problem. But I remember a couple of very big producers who would undermine my skills because of how I showed up. I was considered difficult through the whole process of the [4 Non Blondes] record. I read a similar story about Axl Rose. He was considered a leader.”
And she’s not wrong. Often, women who take a strong stance in their career are considered difficult to deal with and widely vilified, while men are considered strong and capable with the same attitudes and dispositions. This is across all fields, with biases affecting multiple aspects of the career climb.
Carrie Colliton co-founded Record Store Day – a vinyl renaissance that gets all generations involved with their local record shops on a yearly basis – which is celebrating its 15th year. She also runs all of the social media year-round, which increases leading up to the event. She admitted she has to restrict comments on posts with female artists, black artists, and children. This is because of the subject matters that often come about in the comments section. People on the internet are very likely to say sexually harassing things about photos of women, be racist in comments, and even say some pretty messed up things about children. Unfortunately, she found it to be a pattern so she had to take restrictive measures to keep the offensive comments low.
Besides protecting marginalized groups in the feed, Carrie has helped to spearhead initiatives that create a safer space for those communities. To increase visibility for underrepresented groups in the industry, this year, Record Store Day chose to implement a list of female-run record stores, and give each participating shop the autonomy to choose how they identify themselves to the public.
Record Store Day and Vans have partnered numerous times on collaborative efforts like special vinyl releases. This year, they released an album featuring groundbreaking female artists that benefits women-owned and operated independent record stores. They also hosted a list of black-owned record stores to ponder when choosing where to make those special yearly purchases.
The key to closing the gender gaps that currently exist? Collaboration over competition. “[Often there are] so few women in the room [that] they’re competing with each other,” admits Tierney, a fact everyone nodded in agreement with.
“Women are always going to work harder,” explained Perry. “It’s not a surprise it’s not a shock. It’s not even a complaint. We on this stage are always going to work harder for those who can’t right now so we can provide a safer space for all women in all creative and entertainment.”
Echoed Erica J Coulter: “When I stuck to my plan I took every step to get there. It’s not going to be easy but you can get there, you can get into this door.”
Moderator Shilla Kim-Parker (CEO and Co-Founder of Thrilling – a marketplace for independent mom n’ pop secondhand and vintage shops across the country) led three panelists through a discussion of what makes fashion’s impact on the environment so dire and what can be done going forward.
Rachel Kibbe, founder of the advisory firm Circular Services Group, addressed the question of why we should care about fashion’s impact on the environment and why it is so problematic? “Apparel/textiles is the fastest growing waste stream in the United States. They are about 7% of our landfills now. In the last 25 years, textile waste has grown 80%, meanwhile, every other waste stream (electronics, food, organics, paper) has only grown about 25%.” In addition to these alarming statistics, she reminded us, “With globalization, it’s kind of been a race to the bottom and a huge supply chain issue – you may be growing cotton in one place, spinning and weaving it in another, dying it in another and cutting and sewing it in another. Just the shipping alone to chase cheaper and cheaper cost of production has become really problematic from an environmental and labor standpoint.”
“We’re also creating garments that aren’t re-sellable, they are disposable. How do we produce for durability, for resale, for repair?” – Rachel Kibbe
Plastics also exacerbate the problem, according to Alexis Jackson of The Nature Conservancy. She serves as the Ocean Policy and Plastics Lead for TNC’s California Oceans Program and is working on how plastics enter the environment from all sources – including the fashion industry where plastic looks like nylon, polyester, and acrylics. “Throughout the lifecycle of all these materials, when they’re being woven, designed into clothes and we’re washing and wearing them, they’re letting off these small fragments which are known as microfibers. That water that we are dying and washing these clothes with, that water can carry these microfibers into the environment”, Jackson pointed out. The microfibers then “end up in our oceans, in our food, and in our bodies”. She stated, “… just from clothes washing. And that’s not even the upstream side of what’s happening in textile mills. It’s opened our eyes that plastic comes in many shapes and forms and what can we do.” Furthermore, “we know that fibers are one of the most prolific shapes of plastic found in the environment that kind of work their way up the food chain – they’ve been found in carrots and apples. We know their impact on smaller wildlife – can impact their reproduction and their feeding behavior.”
Panelist Devin Gilmartin has created a platform for small emerging brands from around the world called The Canvas. Most clothing brands don’t have access to the vast physical spaces that an H&M, for example, might have. In addition, most malls or shopping areas have empty retail spaces and this is where The Canvas comes in – they reach out to landlords and ask them to revenue share with the emerging brands. Each small brand also comes in on the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals. In this way, Gilmartin “believes that small brands can help break through the fast fashion barrier.”
The question then becomes, what kind of policy responses have been made to the fashion industry? Although this is a global issue, there is not one global answer. According to Kibbe, “I’ll focus mainly on waste policy because that’s my area of focus and I think I can speak to it best. In France, they have banned the destruction of unsold goods. In Holland, the policy on deck for I believe 2023, where brands would be responsible for paying for the collection of used clothing which is really interesting to me because that’s been a focus in my career – trying to get brands to support the waste management of our used clothing. I know in Scotland, I think they have a similar bill on deck to France that would ban the destruction of unsold clothing. You’re seeing different policies globally mainly coming out of Europe focusing on waste. In Boston, in Massachusetts, they are outlawing textiles to landfills.” In New York, she referred to a bill that is going through the process of public response now that would require any company doing business in New York with revenues over $100 million to disclose their environmental impact maps, about 40-50% of their supply chains, make science based target commitments and track those commitments. When asked, she also said that her dream bill would include a production cap on fashion companies.
“What does that look like to build an innovation contest that allows us to think more creatively about getting the technology on the market or thinking about redesigning clothing the things that we need to get the markets there, and the end goal is that capture component.” – Alexis Jackson
Jackson also believes policy is essential, but it might not be applicable because of the global nature of fashion and how each local and regional area is so different. Her suggestion was a more streamlined approach, like “let’s get policies in place to put filter in washing machines. The policy doesn’t have to be perfect.” Jackson is an advocate of setting goals and letting innovation get there since some of the technology is already on the market, including in the manufacturing space.
When asked what we can do as individuals, Gilmartin had one very concrete suggestion, “From a shopping perspective, I think we need to move away from shopping with the fast fashion giants, I think there are more and more alternatives, yours (Thrilling) being one of them, I think the resale platforms for the issues they’re still figuring out are amazing and growing very quickly and will probably start taking a market share from the bigger companies.” Jackson had a couple of ideas about care of garments: “The first is wash your clothes less often which is not always the most popular solution. Colder loads, shorter loads. If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, buying a front loading washing machine. And then you can think about buying a filter to include on your hose capturing some of these microfibers.”
When asked which companies are close to getting it right, Kibbe responded, “Everybody wants to know where to shop and who to shop from. The thing is, I don’t have a great answer because it’s always buy used.” Gilmartin did have a couple of suggestions:
“On the production side, footwear is a huge contributor to these issues and there’s a company based in Germany called Zellerfeld. They are building 3D printing boxes basically where you can scan your foot with an app and in ten minutes, have a perfectly printed pair of shoes custom to your foot. They’re building these amazing printing farms, they’re going to be in the US soon, but when you’re done with that footwear, you’ll be able to send it back to them. They’ll shred it up and create an entirely brand new piece of shoe from your previous shoes. You basically subscribe to their service one time and you’re wearing that same shoe for the rest of your life. I think this is an amazing physical material fashion innovation.
On the media side, there’s a New York-based editorial agency called Monad Agency. I think a lot of the issues when it comes to sustainable fashion is it needs to be aesthetically appealing, it needs to be desirable and Monad is creating great content around sustainable fashion. They’re working with small brands and giving them Vogue-level content production and I think that’s kind of what we need on the media side. More focus and larger reach for the small brands.”
“It will really take all of us working together to solve the problem.” – Alexis Jackson
Of the multitudes of sessions we could have attended at 2:30 on a Thursday during SXSW, we chose this one. Why? Well, with a description asking questions like: But what about our personal identity and our own long-term goals? Aren’t we more than just the companies we tag in our Instagram bios and the artists we work for? Is it even possible to separate our panelists from their music business identities?
We knew this was the session for us.
And so did, apparently, everyone else. This was a PACKED room of folks in the industry, industry-adjacent, and even students who are considering “what’s next?” The panel was made up of 4 folks who have worked in multiple roles throughout the music industry. Maria Gironias (Reddit), Sydney Lopes (Spotify), Brandon Holman (UnitedMasters), and Nick Maiale (jump.global). All of the panelists have had realizations (whether forced through layoffs, or on their own through self-reflection) that their personhood does not = their job. This goes hand-in-hand, however, with the realization that many times it’s the job title that gets you the calls, the invitations, and the clout within the industry.
If you choose this industry, then it is yours – Maria
A couple of the panelists recalled being removed from their position, and hearing crickets instead of responses/outreach from people they thought were their friends in the industry.
FOMO became a large part of the conversation at this point, because – with the detachment of a job title from your name – people stop calling, inviting you to industry events and collaborative projects. This is because there is a perceived notion that you can no longer do things for them because you are no longer [insert position here] at [insert company here].
It’s the type of “contacts-solely-for-personal-gain” nonsense that has kept me out of traditional networking spaces for the majority of my adult life. I don’t have time for that nonsense – and no one else should be making time for it either.
But, with a creative industry that has been built upon/with titles and clout, it was very refreshing to listen to these folks talk about their experiences, lessons learned, and even air their grievances. As Maria indicated, you need to allow yourself joy and reprieve from your work as well. “Eating three meals a day,” she listed as one of her big MUSTS. “Making sure I call my parents more. Not skipping out on that meal with a friend.” It was a very down-to-earth conversation, and by the end – even in a crowded room – I felt like it was a chat between friends. Myself included.
Some lessons straight from the panelists’ mouths:
“Your network is your net worth” is garbage. – Nick
Just because you have a lot of [followers, likes, etc], doesn’t mean you can get people in the room – Sydney
I AM meditation you stop identifying with your name and gender and all the things around you. I AM. you are relinquishing stories and programming. You are something so much more powerful than any of these boxes. (Deepak Chopra) – Brandon
You are not a shitty artist if you don’t have a billboard in Times Square. – Brandon
Your career is nonlinear and just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t great – Maria
On March 18th at 1 pm, Isla De Caras took the International Day Stage by storm. In celebration of SXSW 2022, the Argentinian-based outfit brought their special blend of psych-rock to America, and we absolutely reveled in it. (If you need a track to set a particularly blissful mood, look into their music catalog. You will not regret it.)
TEKE::TEKE is absolutely phenomenal live. Hands down, their performance on the International Day Stage at SXSW 2022 was one of our absolute favorites. Their unique genre-bending sound, vibrant style, and enticing energy brought dozens of new listeners into the tent, dancing from the beginning of the first song. We definitely had perma grins on our faces, and were thrilled when they did a takeover on our Instagram during their stint in Austin.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to experience them yet, check them out on our official soundtrack. And peep the photos below for a hint of their vibrance.
…And you all thought we were going to get out of our SXSW 2022 coverage without a playlist featuring all of the artists we were excited to discover at the festival this year. Nope! We hit the pavement listening for incredible acts, and got a lot of international artists on our list for up-and-coming greatness. Check out our playlist below, and let us know what SXSW artists you’d like us to add in for some more listening pleasure!
It was between panels on Friday, March 18th, that we had the unique pleasure of meeting self-proclaimed “indie americana disco mama” Van Plating. She had taken over our Instagram account earlier in the week, and had done a phenomenal job connecting with our community. An incredible songstress and performer, she showed up outside of the convention center with a brand new hat that she acquired in Austin, and a gorgeous skirt that coincidentally coordinated with the mural we had planned to photograph her in front of.
And I’m glad I didn’t. While I do not suggest going in blind to every movie or television series, this one is one to make an exception for. So, if you’d prefer to be surprised and haven’t yet seen I Love My Dad, stop reading and twiddle your thumbs until there is a wider release.
First of all, this film got rave reviews and awards from SXSW. It brought home the Narrative Feature Competition jury prize AND audience choice award, so the crowds went wild for it. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be a wide release in the coming months. If you’ve seen it – or like some spoilers like my mom does – come sit a moment!
I Love My Dad is based on a true story about a dad who catfishes his son in order to have a closer relationship with him. Yes, it’s as oddball/creepy/sweet as it sounds. And it feels just as oddball/creepy/sweet throughout the entirety of the movie, because the actors bring a really nuanced and realistic script and story to life.
But, of course they do! With the writer-director, James Morosini, also starring in the film (alongside Patton Oswalt, who plays his father), the “based on a true story” hits extremely close to home — as it is based on HIS true story! While this fact does make the viewer empathic toward Morosini – especially during a handful of crucial points in the movie – you can’t help but be grateful for what transpired in his life, because it makes for incredible material for his art.
Don’t worry. It’s not sexual or scary, this picture they paint of an estranged-ish father rekindling his father-son relationship with the son he fathered. You will laugh. You might cry. You can watch it, comfortably, with your parents OR your kids. And Oswalt’s performance? *chef’s kiss*
But, as relatable and quick as it is, it’s also cringey pretty consistently throughout. Just like real life. Only, you’ll be glad it’s based on James Morosini’s true story instead of your own.
We’ll report back on updated release information when it becomes available!