“but holy shit we had to wait 4 hours outside”| a post-sxsw chat with dvtr

“but holy shit we had to wait 4 hours outside”| a post-sxsw chat with dvtr

While SXSW 2024 was too fast and too wild for many of us, Montreal-based duo DVTR – expertly comprised of Demi Lume and Jean-Cimon Tellier – kept us guessing during their fun takeover. Always ones to engage an audience, we deeply enjoy their humor and urge you to go see them live. For now, do everything you can to learn everything you can about them. We were lucky enough to have Tellier answer a few post-fest questions for us, below.

You always have such fun takeover topics planned. What made you choose your approach this year, and ultimately sharing free things you acquired?

We love free stuff and there’s a lot of free stuff usually at SXSW so you know, we didn’t have to think a lot. At first, we wanted to film ourselves doing an escape room thing downtown but it was too expensive. Then we wanted to do like an alligator tour thing but it was too expensive. So we chose the free stuff.

What was the BEST free thing you got during your stay in Austin? 

All the free shows everywhere all the time, we mean, that’s better than free Coca Cola.

You encountered Nobro during your takeover. What was that experience like?

Meeting Nobro was not that big of a deal because we see them all the time in Montreal. An ok experience overall.

[laughing] Well, it was exciting for viewers! What a thrill, to be part of such a creative community! What was the best food you ate at SXSW?

So we tried to go to Franklin’s BBQ one morning but holy shit we had to wait 4 hours outside. So we went to Micklethwait BBQ, waited 0 minutes, and had the best meat ever. Much better plan. 

Any highlight moments from your showcases?

We don’t remember anything. It all went too fast, too late, too much booze and whatnot, so we were too fucked up most of time. So no highlights, no.

Well, our highlight was absolutely your takeover. (Sorry, it’s the truth!) What else is coming up for you? 

We’re going to the UK and France in a couple of weeks for a tour. Can’t wait to see if they’re more troublemaking people than peeps in Texas. We love troublemaking gents.


Keep up with charming duo DVTR here. (And check out their archived takeovers and reels on our Instagram!)

the miracle of finding parking | a post-sxsw chat with bad bad hats

the miracle of finding parking | a post-sxsw chat with bad bad hats

SXSW 2024 was one for the ages. Our good friends Bad Bad Hats had 5 showcases and didn’t find themselves with much downtime between everything else going on that week. We were lucky enough to adventure with them when they did a takeover on our Instagram account. So, we wanted to wind down from the week with a few quick questions and feelings of admiration and fulfillment for all of the fun.

You ate tacos. You pet dogs. You sampled new La Croix. What was your FAVORITE experience during your iF takeover?

The migas tacos from Veracruz are an all time fave, but my favorite part was definitely hanging with our friends (whose dogs we were petting!) at their lovely Austin home. We’re grateful that music lends us the opportunity to visit friends all around the country.

Was there another experience that exceeded expectations during your trip to SXSW 2024?

We found parking every day! A miracle!

I’ll say! Who was the best artist or act that you discovered this year at SXSW?

We loved checking out Snacktime, so fun. And we enjoyed hearing and meeting Airu from Spain. We gotta get over there to a play show sometime!

What was the best food you ate that week?  

Everything is so tasty at Loro. The brisket on the burger?? The salsa with the wonton chips?? Don’t get me started on the cocktails!!

YUM! You played at least 5 showcases during SXSW. Any highlight moments from your performances? 

We were so pleased with the turnout at all the shows. We know there are lots of bands to see so we’re honored when people come by to check out a set. I had to bust out the kazoo at a few shows and show off my skills. 

What else would you like to share that’s coming down the stretch for Bad Bad Hats?

Our new album is out April 12th! So excited for people to hear it. And we’ll be hitting the road in May to start the first leg of our album release tour. Come see us in a city near you!


See Bad Bad Hats ASAP at one of their tour dates.

carver commodore found free parking at sxsw 2023, and we demand to know how

carver commodore found free parking at sxsw 2023, and we demand to know how

The ever-charming and talented alt-rock outfit Carver Commodore – comprised of guitarist and vocalist Payton Pruitt, guitarist Phillip Blevins, drummer Noah Freeman, and multi-instrumentalist Clayton Christopher – took time out of their schedule to take over our Instagram account during SXSW 2023. We caught up with them post-takeover – and post-fest – to see how it all went down for them. Lead singer and guitarist Payton Pruitt’s words below.

an interview with Payton of carver commodore

iF: What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?

Carver Commodore (CC): One of the first songs I remember hearing is “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I have a core memory of slamming my finger in the door of my dad’s El Camino and rushing to the doctor as my finger gushed blood and “That Smell” played over the speakers. I was probably 4 years old. I still love that song, and I’m 100% sure it has crept into my songwriting at some point. The Lynyrd Skynyrd “triple guitar assault” is definitely something we draw from as a band!

iF: Tell us a little bit about what got you started in music, and how this project came to be.

CC: I started playing music around 11 or 12 years old because a friend of mine played guitar and we both got into AC/DC at the same time, so I wanted to play those songs with him. I started singing and writing songs around 15 years old, and a few bands later, Phil (our guitarist) and I started Carver Commodore together after being in a folk rock band together.

iF: What did the road to SXSW look like for you, literally or figuratively?

CC: We’ve been trying to make it out to SXSW for years. We were booked for a few unofficial shows in 2020, but we all know what happened there. Couldn’t get on in ’21 or ’22, and finally made it in ’23. Played a few great shows with our boys in a band called Brother Moses on our way out this year and loved it.

iF: What has the experience been like? I’d love to see it through your eyes, as first-timers!

CC: Honestly, super chaotic when it comes time to play shows! Parking & Load-in kinda sucks, but that’s just part of it I guess. We had a few great shows and a few not-so-great, but I’m glad we finally got to experience it. It was a learning experience if nothing else! Would also be nice if SXSW would give artists water!

iF: Best showcase, besides your own?

CC: Hermanos Guiterrez at Stubb’s.

iF: What was the most magical thing you found in Austin?

CC: Free parking

iF: What’s your absolute favorite word right now, and why?

CC: “Mode.” No idea why – everything is just on “__ mode” (ex: “SXSW is on $30 parking mode”)

iF: If you had the ability to tell the future, would you like it?

CC: Probably not. Would just give us more to worry about or anticipate!

iF: What’s coming up for you next?

CC: We’re releasing a new EP called “If Nothing Happens” on August 15th! The first single is out April 11th and it’s called “Drown Me in Emotions”. Very excited for people to hear these songs.

iF: That’s amazing! We can’t wait.

CC: CAR-VER COM-MO-DORE! Thanks for letting us be a part of this!


Keep up with Carver Commodore here.

we don’t ride llamas find magic in austin at sxsw 2023

we don’t ride llamas find magic in austin at sxsw 2023

Indie band We Don’t Ride Llamas made their second appearance at SXSW this year at the 2023 conference and music festival. They joined us on Instagram for a takeover that week, and sent our fans some incredible content! We caught up with them briefly post-SXSW to see how the experience was, and to explore their next chapter a bit.

an interview with we don’t ride llamas

imperfect Fifth (iF): What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?

We Don’t Ride Llamas (WDRLL): We’ve had a lot of different musical influences that started out since infancy. Some of our favorites include: Robert Johnson, Esperanza Spaulding, Brandy, Aaliyah, Dilla, Missy Elliot, Nirvana, Deftones, Solange, Death, RHCP, Pharsyde, Billy Joel, George Benson, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Coldplay, Earth,Wind,& Fire, Carlos Santana, Marvin Gaye and Musiq Soulchild. 

iF: Tell us a little bit about what got you started in music, and how this project came to be.

WDRLL: We all started out by playing a video game called Rock Band and eventually got bored so we decided to move on to the real thing! Since then we’ve been working hard everyday on our craft and our EP, The Oracle, is a project we’re super proud of! That being said, we have new music on the way so stay tuned. 

iF: What did the road to SXSW look like for you, literally or figuratively? 

WDRLL: We’re local so the hardest thing this year was finding parking for everyone! 

iF: Good call, that’s amazing! (And convenient.) Was this your first time at SXSW, or have you been to good ol’ ATX for the madness before?

WDRLL: This was our second time at SXSW and like always the buzz is so delightful. The audiences are always ready to get pumped and rock out. The venues are super friendly and accommodating. It’s such a nice feeling to be able to show out for our city. 

iF: Best showcase, besides your own? 

WDRLL: BÖNDBREAKR WAS SO AMAZING LIKE?? The power and the prestige they brought to the stage was intoxicating! Pussy Gillette was also incredibly fun and massively entertaining. 

iF: What was the most magical thing you found in Austin?

WDRLL: There are a lot of magical things in Austin but we love the club Empire! The vibe there is always so set and comfortable. Additionally, we love Mayfield Park and all the pretty animals they have over there. I think seeing a bunch of peacocks walk up to you is pretty magical. 

What’s your absolute favorite word right now, and why?

WDRLL: The word “Incandescence” is very pretty. Just saying it out loud feels like a shimmery fabric. It’s also one of those words that sounds like what it actually means which is a plus! 

iF: If you had the ability to tell the future, would you like it?

WDRLL: When we think about the future, we see our personal community flourishing and being nurtured by love despite the current state of the world. And we do like that vision. 

iF: What’s coming up for you that you’d like us to tell everyone about?

WDRLL: We are going to a festival in Boise, Idaho for the Treefort Festival! We’re super excited because this is our first time being invited to play there. It’s definitely a new experience but we’re so ready. Additionally, we will be dropping a new single soon so keep a look out! 

iF: Anything you’d like to add?

WDRLL: Thanks to everyone who turned out to our shows and blessed us with your presence. Thanks to our city and our friends, family, and friends. Without your support, this wouldn’t be as meaningful. 


Keep up with We Don’t Ride Llamas here.

kenzo cregan talks good bbq and thrifting at sxsw 2023

kenzo cregan talks good bbq and thrifting at sxsw 2023

Kenzo Cregan trekked into the depths of SXSW 2023 this year, performing his signature indie rock for audiences from around the world. Though it wasn’t his first experience in ATX, he still seemed to allow the magic of the event – and the excitement around performing it – seep into his bones. If you’re looking for a quick, optimistic interview and an amazing artist to follow, this is it.

an interview with kenzo cregan

imperfect Fifth (iF): What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?

Kenzo Cregan (KC): The first album I remember listening to was The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I believe it is the pinnacle of great songwriting and production. It absolutely influences my songwriting. However, I only hope to touch the surface of that level of artistry.

iF: Tell us a little bit about what got you started in music, and how this project came to be.

KC: My musical journey began very early. My father was and still is a professional musician. He taught me how to play guitar, and the origins of rock n’ roll. My mother used to also be a singer back in the 80s, and both of them encouraged me to go after my dream. This current project was the result of a lot of trial and error. I finally realized what kind of project I want to have, and how I want to express myself musically.

iF: What did the road to SXSW look like for you, literally or figuratively?

KC: Well, this time around, there wasn’t a tour leading up to it. The bass player in my band joined me to form an acoustic duo for this run. We played 5 shows throughout the week, saw some other great bands, and made some great connections. We also got to explore the city quite a bit. We ate some good BBQ and went thrifting!

iF: Was this your first time at SXSW, or have you been to good ol’ ATX for the madness before?

KC: I had been before with a different project, and have been to Austin on tour.

iF: If you have been, do you have a favorite go-to spot for food, bevs, or people-watching?

KC: There’s this cool boot shop called Allen’s Boots that I went to before. So I had to stop by there for a quick look around.

iF: Best showcase, besides your own?

KC: The Dr. Martens Showcase was awesome! We saw this really cool punk band called “Dream Wife”. Definitely one of the best live performances I’d seen in a while!

iF: What was the most magical thing you found in Austin?

KC: Honestly, there was this Moroccan food truck we ate at on our last night. It was on Congress. Some of the best I’ve had in a while. Highly recommend!

iF: What’s your absolute favorite word right now, and why?

KC: “Love” will always be my favorite word!

iF: If you had the ability to tell the future, would you like it?

KC: Probably not. Feel like we’re heading towards some dark times, unfortunately. That’s why we need love now more than ever.

iF: What’s coming up for you that you’d like us to tell everyone about?

KC: I’m currently in the process of repackaging my music on all streaming platforms. As well as some new music in the works! Can’t wait for everyone to hear!

iF: Anything you’d like to add?

KC: Just want to say it’s always an honor and a privilege to be recognized for my music. Thank you for sending over these questions!


Keep up with Kenzo Cregan here.

ron gallo talks lead-up to a busy 2023 and exhausting trek to sxsw

ron gallo talks lead-up to a busy 2023 and exhausting trek to sxsw

For those who have never been, SXSW is no walk in the park. While the conference has done its due diligence over the years making the process more easily navigable, the week still feels like sheer chaos no matter how many maps, apps, and information you have in advance. New experiences and shows crop up on random corners at all times of the day, and there are so many things to do and see and share that you truly can’t go wrong.

Ron Gallo was in Austin for their FIFTH SXSW experience this year, and we had the unique pleasure of having them take over our Instagram account for a short time that week. We also got to circle back with some questions about the 2023 SXSW experience, answered below.

an interview with ron gallo

imperfect Fifth (iF): What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?

Ron Gallo (RG): The first CD I remember having in my possession as a kid was Coolio’s “Gangsters Paradise.” I’m not sure how it influences me directly now but I do gravitate towards listening to a lot of hip-hop from the era. Very nostalgic.

iF: Tell us a little bit about what got you started in music, and how this project came to be.

RG: I asked for a guitar when I was maybe 12, for no real reason. Took a few lessons, zero natural talent as a guitarist or singer. Then immediately started using it to write songs in high school when I started my first bands.

We were terrible. But I stuck with it. Then in my college years, I started my former band, which I think was when I started to figure out my voice and how to play half-decently. My “solo project” began in 2014 when I felt like my previous band was no longer in tune with where I wanted to go so I wanted to do my own thing that could perpetually evolve and grow and die with me.

Then came the first album in 2017, “HEAVY META” and that’s what started my actual touring professional music career which is still crazy to think about. Now, here I am still doing it. Not sure how.

iF: What a journey! Speaking of journeys, what did the road to SXSW look like for you, literally or figuratively?

RG: Woke up at 3:30 AM in Philadelphia on Wednesday 3/15, drove to the airport parking, took a shuttle to the terminal, went thru security, got on the plane, landed in Dallas at 9:30 AM, took another shuttle to the rental car, drove 3 hours to Austin, checked into the Airbnb, dropped off stuff, went to Waterloo Records and played our first show at 5 PM. Slept. Woke up at 5:30 AM the following morning to make pancakes for Chiara’s birthday then had to be out the door at 6:30 AM to go play live on air at KUTX at 8 AM. From there it was a relentless chain of play, pack up, go, rest, play, eat, pack up, go go go go go go go.

iF: Was this your first time at SXSW, or have you been to good ol’ ATX for the madness before?

RG: This was my 5th time!

iF: Not sure how you do it! Do you have a favorite go-to spot for food, bevs, or people-watching?

RG: Arlo’s Curbside! Amazing vegan burger. Also, love Jo’s Coffee/Tacos as well as Joann’s Fine Foods.

iF: Best showcase, besides your own?

RG: We didn’t see a single other show besides the ones we played because there was no time but I think my favorite show might have been a tie between Dr. Martens and Brooklyn Bowl/Consequence Party.

iF: So much to do, SO little time down there! What was the most magical thing you found in Austin?

RG: We found this taco truck oasis in some part of town that was off the beaten path where we had amazing food a bit of sun and warmth and a quiet moment.

iF: That sounds dope! What’s your absolute favorite word right now, and why?

RG: I like to call everyone BOSS, as a joke or by a random name that is not theirs.

iF: If you had the ability to tell the future, would you like it?

RG: I think the beauty of life is the not knowing.

iF: Insightful. And damn true! What’s coming up for you that you’d like us to tell everyone about?

RG: Just had a new album called “FOREGROUND MUSIC” come out a couple weeks ago and we are going to begin US and European touring in a couple weeks from now. Also going to be releasing our first book and a concert film we made very soon.

iF: Sounds like you’ve been busy! We absolutely can’t wait. Thank you so much for hanging out.

RG: Thanks for having us!!


Keep up with Ron Gallo here.

a day (or two) in the life of a first-time sxsw attendee | sxsw 2022

a day (or two) in the life of a first-time sxsw attendee | sxsw 2022

I finally got to attend my first SXSW!

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. The Batman 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!

the most riveting conversation of sxsw 2022 | moving the needle: closing music industry gender gaps

the most riveting conversation of sxsw 2022 | moving the needle: closing music industry gender gaps

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.”

Find out how to get involved and continue to push the envelope for women the world around at wearemovingtheneedle.org.

**Also, we met Linda Perry. Case in point: Meet your idols.

cleaning up fashion through policy | a conversation at sxsw 2022

cleaning up fashion through policy | a conversation at sxsw 2022

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