South By South Wonderful
In anticipation of our 2018 South By South West recap we are sharing last years exploits!. Enjoy.
For thirty years and counting, thousands head to Austin, TX each March for the annual SXSW Festival. Once again, Fine Living Lancaster joined this pilgrimage to act as your eyes and ears at the SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive festivals. What a wonderful, educational, entertaining, and, well, super fun trip it was. Check out our roundup of our best discoveries here.
A Longtime FLL Fave
We have been keeping up with Austin-based lifestyle brand Daisy Natives for a few years now, and TBH, their offerings just keep getting cooler. Owner Sarah Eckett’s designs are expanding with every season. Her “Girls Support Girls” tees are now seemingly ubiquitous, popping up all over our Instagram feeds, in tons of photos from the January Women’s Marches around the country, and barely staying in stock. FLL had the chance to meet Eckett in person at her SXSW pop-up shop and, let us tell you: she completely embodies her brand’s identity as being, “for champagne clinkers, confetti throwers, and the ones who have too many revolutionary ideas keeping them at night.” Check out Daisy Natives’ totally rad tees, hats, mugs, and more at daisynatives.com.
We are still coming down off the high of listening to and learning from so many brilliant people in our week at SXSW. The Interactive portion of the festival provides the opportunity to attend lectures, network with others interested in similar topics, and learn about the newest products, innovations, and ideas emerging in nearly any field. One of our favorite #OnlyAtSXSW moments actually happen four—count it, four—times during the Interactive Festival. Walking around the Austin Convention Center, we stumbled upon brilliant authors—many of whom we had heard speak formally during their scheduled lectures—signing copies of their books. We were able to have some of the most fascinating one-on-one conversations with innovators like Peggy Orenstein (author of Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter), Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (founder of MuslimGirl.com), Heather Cabot and Samantha Parent Walravens (authors of Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech), and Kate Parker (the photographer behind Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves). We are still feeling inspired.
Does your visit to Austin even count if you don’t eat your weight in Voodoo Doughnuts? We definitely don’t think so. This Portland, Oregon-classic now has a location in Austin, for those donut aficionados who can’t quite make it that far west. The decor is quirky and bright; the doughnuts are unique and delicious. We highly recommend the Buttermilk bar doughnut, though you really can’t go wrong with any sweet treat on their menu.
10 Minutes with Wyland
Band members: Ryan Sloan (vocals/guitar/piano), Mauricio Salazar (guitar), Zach Calidonna (bass), and Chris Luna (drums)
Genre: Alternative Indie Rock
Home state: New Jersey
On their music: “Each song is like its own adventure,” Ryan explains. “The first 30 seconds can be vastly different than the last. We like to take people on an adventure with each song.”
Trips to SXSW so far: Three
Favorite cereal for a late night snack: “Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” Zach says. “The trick is to add a scoop of peanut butter to it. Do you think we could get a sponsorship from Peter Pan or Skippy? That would be great. You can put that in the article.”
On their New Jersey roots: “A lot of what has been coming out of Jersey in the past few years has been pop-punk, and that’s just not exactly us,” Ryan says. “If anything, I think our music sounds like it belongs in Europe. We normally get a super interesting reception, with people asking like, ‘You’re from New Jersey?’”
One Question with Mick Fleetwood
It really pays to keep up with your email. During breakfast on our first full day at SXSW, an email popped up: “Mick Fleetwood, today at Great Britain House.” Certainly no shock that the legendary Fleetwood Mac drummer would be in town for the festival, and also no surprise that he would be speaking. What did turn out to be a massive surprise was what happened when we arrived...
Major speakers at SXSW are typically met with throngs of people arriving early to ensure their place in the room. The accommodations for the crowds are always excellent, as SXSW has, in their thirty years of existence, really perfected crowd management. So, imagine our surprise when we arrived at Great Britain House, which had encamped at Speakeasy Austin, to find… no line at all.
At the door we were met with a friendly hello and “How may I help you?” A simple “Mick Fleetwood?” in reply, before we were directed to the roof. Once there, we found an intimate setup for only 30 or so invited guests to enjoy a Q&A with Fleetwood, focusing on his band and his new limited edition book, Love That Burns, chronicling the early career of the band from 1967-1974.
Fleetwood was lively, engaging, and very effusive in his remarks regarding the band that has been a part of his life, in various iterations, over five decades. Towards the end of the event, the moderator opened up to questions from attendees, but, as it turned out, there was only time for three questions. The last of the three? Well, it came from Fine Living Lancaster. If you had the chance to ask a music legend just one question… what would you ask?
Here is what we asked:
FLL: Drummers and bass players, when they “click,” can have an amazing musical relationship. As you obviously have that relationship with (Fleetwood Mac bassist and co-name founder) John “Mac” McVie, how do you find the occasional experience of playing with a different bassist?
Mick Fleetwood: Well… that’s a good question. There’s no doubt that John and I are joined at the hip. For years, I never really played with many people and basically… I don’t really know what I’m doing. (Laughs.) John and I have come up with an unwitting formula, and looking back on it, I have become very reliant on John. Bass and drums are supposed to be conformed, but I don’t know what I’m doing all the time. I’m changing everything in real time. It may sound the same, but the fills are always different. All the songs… I’ve been playing for fifty years. There are many players that play the same thing each time; you know they’ve got it down. I’m really on the edge of collapse… every three seconds, which has become [my] style. (Laughs.) John grabs stuff all the time, to keep time, so that has become our style. That became a frightening thing, to play with another bass player. I’m having to tell these sorts of stories [to them], and they go, “You’re Mick Fleetwood, right? You’ve made all these albums and are seemingly… very good at what you’re doing.”
I go, “Well, not really, I don’t want you to think I’m, you know, going to f**k it up!” (Laughs.) So, when the song ends or I don’t even know where the chorus or a verse is, and they go, “You’re kidding me?” I say, “No, just believe me; when you put your leg out, that’s a real help to me, that means: stop now!” (Laughs.) All of this s**t is going on every night with Fleetwood Mac. If you don’t know, you know it now. Lindsey [Buckingham] is constantly coming back [to the drums], much like [Rolling Stones guitarist] Keith Richards and [drummer] Charlie [Watts], they have a secret thing that goes on, so they know how they are getting the grease going, and I can tell. Keith will go back and go, “Get going, come on, let’s go.” And, vice-versa; they come up with a super groove. I like to be more adventurous with other bass players. I became more confident in just not being anything other than myself. If I had to play with Herbie Hancock or something, I’d have a nervous breakdown, not knowing what the time signature is. Or, playing a Led Zeppelin song, [drummer John] Bonham was in a whole different league technically from me. All these time signatures and hitting things at the right moment, yet being funky at the same time. So I just do what I do now. And, anyone new to my game has to just do that.
A Q&A with actor Stephanie Beatriz and director Jessica M. Thompson of The Light of the Moon
The Light of the Moon is a difficult film, but it is also full of strength and hope. Actor Stephanie Beatriz (well known for her work on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Short Term 12) plays Bonnie, the film’s lead character, with incredible talent and depth. Walking home from a night out with friends, Bonnie is sexually assaulted. The film—written, directed and produced by Australian filmmaker Jessica M. Thompson—chronicles the months of Bonnie’s life immediately following her attack. It is “a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of relationships in the face of a tragedy.” FLL sat down with Thompson and Beatriz to talk about the importance of Bonnie’s story and the making of The Light of the Moon.
Stephanie Beatriz (SB): Well, welcome to our friendship. (Laughs.)
Fine Living Lancaster (FLL): Are you two friends in real life?
Jessica M. Thompson (JT): Not before the film, but best of friends now. We’re soul mates.
SB: Oh, yeah.
FLL: That’s so cool. Working on this movie, you’d have to become good friends, right?
JT: Yeah, otherwise it’d be the worst.
SB: It would’ve been. It would’ve been horrible. What if we’d like, hated each other?
JT: Obviously when you’re an independent director and you cast someone who’s a bit of a star, you can’t audition them and you just have to hope for the best. But, I was like, “She could be a friggin’ diva, I don’t know.” Well, I knew she wasn’t in my heart, I knew.
SB: Also, like, what diva is going to go do an indie film?
JT: They might do it for a certain prestige, you know what I mean?
SB: I guess so, but like, what a dummy…
JT: So I was nervous at first… I was like, “Oh, what happens if she’s just like, ‘No, I’m only giving you two takes of everything’?”
SB: (Laughs.) Alec Baldwin style?
JT: Or if you were like, “No, I’m hard out at this time every day,” or something like that.
SB: Like what if I only drank bottled water? (Both laugh.)
FLL: Jessica, why did you think that this was an important story to tell now?
JT: Well, it’s particularly important even more now than when I started writing it, and even more relevant. I think the biggest thing was the increase in the amount of sexual assault cases that I was reading about, and it felt like a pandemic. I think it is a pandemic, especially at colleges. So, it was always something in the back of my mind that I always felt – this is a problem that no one is really addressing. That’s not to say that, no one is... we are addressing it in a deep way. There are some people and some organizations out there, like Protector and all of those at the amazing Women Rise that are, but it’s not being spoken about in a mainstream kind of way. Then, actually, a friend was assaulted by a stranger in New York when she was jogging in the Upper East Side, and hearing what she went through at the hospital and the police, and afterwards... She’s a strong woman, she’s a lawyer, trying to go back to work and she didn’t want to tell anyone, which is fine, her choice... I thought, this is a story I’ve never told and I’ve never heard before. I think that as powerful as documentaries like “The Hunting Ground” and other great documentaries like that are, sometimes seeing statistics on screen, though that film is so powerful, it’s sometimes more powerful when you hear just one person’s story, one woman’s story dealing with this, and sometimes it speaks to the bigger issue. That’s what really made me try to change those statistics around, and talk about it in an emotional, deep way, and have consent spoken about earlier on.
FLL: Would you call your movie feminist?
JT: 100 percent.
JT: 200 percent.
FLL: And do you embrace that title?
Both: Oh, hell yeah.
JT: All feminism means is equality of the genders. That’s it. Anything else you put on it is what you or the world has put on it, you know? But, that’s literally what it means. One hundred percent it’s feminist.
SB: The first date I went on with the guy I’m dating now, I asked him if he was a feminist because it’s really important to me and he was like, “No, I don’t describe myself that way.” I was like, “Well, this guy is out.” (Both laugh.) And, then I had to explain to him what it actually means—which is just equality between the genders…
JT: I’ve done that before too...
SB: And I watched a light go on in his eyes, like he just had never heard it that way before.
JT: And when they don’t get it, and they keep insisting that they’re not, I’m like…
SB: Well, then we’re done!
JT: If you don’t believe that I deserve equal pay to you, and you don’t believe I deserve the same respect…
SB: You definitely don’t get to make out with me!
JT: Definitely not gonna kiss.
SB: Peace, bro!
JT: Yeah. I don’t know why it’s become a dirty world and I quite often think it’s men who have made it a dirty word, so you know, that’s just the patriarchy trying to keep us down, we won’t let it. So, yeah, it’s a feminist film, for sure. And, it passes the Bechdel Test.
SB: It sure does.
JT: It definitely passes the Bechdel Test. [Named after its creator, cartoonist Alison Bechdel, a film passes this test if two female characters talk to one another about something other than a man at some point. Only about half of films released between 1970 and 2013 pass this test, according to a study released by FiveThirtyEight in 2014.]
FLL: Did you keep that test in mind as you were writing?
JT: No, I think I just naturally passed the Bechdel Test because quite often that’s how I run. (Laughs.)
FLL: How long have you been working on the film?
JT: Since the moment I sat down to write it, just over two years. For actual production, we only shot in June of last year. One month; five weeks including rehearsals. So June, one month of shooting, then finishing it, and premiering it in March.
SB: That was fast.
JT: From the moment you write, it takes a long time to develop and get funding for an indie film.
FLL: What was it like to get funding? Did you have any pushback on this film due to its sensitive topic?
JT: Of course.
FLL: More so than other films you’ve worked on?
JT: Absolutely. But, to be honest, men have been our biggest supporters in terms of funding and in terms of finances, because I think that they can identify with the character of Matt [the lead character’s boyfriend]. It was hard; it’s a hard sell, a hard elevator pitch. But, then when people get it, they do really deeply get it. They do really deeply think, “I want to be a part of this.” Look, independent filmmaking is hard, but hopefully because we’ve made one film together, and we want to keep making films together, after the continuing success of this one, hopefully for the second one—I’ve heard—the funding become easier.
SB: Fingers crossed.
FLL: What do you hope audiences take away from your film?
JT: I find that one hard to answer because it’s like I’m dictating. Someone else asked me that, and I said I don’t know if that’s up for me to say what they should take. Everyone should take out what they want to take out, but I would like to think that people will take good things, positive things, and feel impassioned or empowered, and like they’ve been identified on screen and are being seen on screen.
SB: I want people to walk away with the feeling of like, you know that girl. You don’t know that you know her, but I bet you know her. You know somebody that this has happened to, you do. To start having conversations with people where you can create a safe space to have people talk about it. If somebody walks away from this movie and then is like, “I wonder if there’s someone in my life?” That maybe starts to introduce the idea that you can talk to me about that, and I’m going to tell you that it wasn’t your fault. I’m going to tell you that I believe you, and I’m going to tell you that you didn’t do anything wrong. That would be amazing.
JT: Someone did say, “I feel like I have the dialogue now to speak to my friend who went through this better.”
SB: God, that’s really great.
JT: I hope that that happens.
“Good as Hell”
The crowd was amped up and dancing from the first set of the night until the last note of the final song rung out at NPR’s SXSW Showcase at Stubb’s BBQ. Though we enjoyed the entire concert, featuring acts like The New Pornographers and Sylvan Esso (who played a killer set of their best known songs and crowd favorites), Minneapolis-based singer and rapper Lizzo rose to the top of FLL’s “Faves” list. We were already huge fans, but her live performance featuring her “all-female crew” was celebratory, riotous, and frankly, in the words of Lizzo’s hit single, “Good as Hell.”
10 Minutes with Kylie Hughes
Hometown: Malibu, CA
On her music: “I dabble in a bunch of different genres,” Kylie says. “But, I have pop sensibilities. Like how Taylor Swift’s album, ‘Red’ was half country and half pop. My music is very catchy, accessible lyrically, and guitar-based.”
Trips to SXSW so far: “This is my first time in Austin! I have spent lots of time in Nashville, though, and have to keep reminding myself that I’m not there.”
Favorite shows to binge-watch: The Bachelor (“Along with everyone else,” she laughs.), RuPaul’s Drag Race, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, Reign (“Nothing ever happens, but it’s so pretty to watch,” she chuckles again. “Good music, good clothes – I’m in.”
Musical influences: Elle King, Kacey Musgraves (“A well written song can be done in any style,” she explains.)
10 Minutes with KOLARS
Band members: Lauren Brown (drums/percussion) and Robert Kolar (vox/guitar) [A simultaneously adorable and totally kick ass married couple.]
Genre: Desert Disco, Glam-a-Billy, Space Blues, R&Beyond
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
On their unique genre descriptions: “All of those came from Robert trying to describe our music,” Lauren laughs. “I just feel so over the indie-rock sensibility, it just doesn’t make sense with our music,” Robert adds.
Trips to SXSW so far: “This is not our first rodeo,” Robert says, smiling. “But this trip so far has been particularly magical, and so not insane,” Lauren adds. Robert has been to SXSW four times; Lauren has been three times.
On how they met: “We met in a basement bar in New York City,” Robert recalls. “I walked in and Lauren was in this leather jacket, playing pool. She started knocking in balls like she was a pool shark or something.”
Their favorite places in Austin: “Lamberts! It’s the first place that ever booked our band in Austin, and they have great food,” Lauren says.
On where they’d go if they had a time machine: “Medieval times... there’s magic, knights,” Robert starts. “Wait,” Lauren laughs. “Are you talking about like, a mystical version?”
One of the greatest things about SXSW is the fact that you (literally) never know what cool thing you are going to find. Case in point: we bought boots! In the Austin Convention Center, we found Penny Luck shoes. Specializing in hand-made shoes and boots, Penny Luck was founded by Brian Munoz. We were drawn in by their unique display, creatively utilizing a mobile showroom built from a customized Chevy Blazer. The Penny Luck team was at once enthusiastic and engaging. All it took was a quick fitting, and we were sold on the quality, style, and craftsmanship. Try your luck with a pair at pennyluckshoes.com.
Be still our hearts. You know you love a restaurant when you go there twice during a one-week trip AND head home having purchased one of their official employee tees. For FLL, that place was Irene’s Restaurant & Bar. Named after one of the investor’s grandmothers, Irene’s infuses the cool, trendiness of Austin with retro 1960s vibes. Eating there is as comforting as spending time at your grandmother’s house... but, like, back when your grandma was super young and way cooler than you. And, in the case of Irene’s, all of this coolness is accompanied by a sense of genuine hospitality. No ‘too cool for school’ attitudes here. Check out their iced chai lattes (SO GOOD) banana pudding with homemade vanilla wafers, or, our favorite, the sweet Ricotta toast with bourbon-brown sugar ricotta and citrus marmalade, and piled high with pistachios. Find Irene’s online at irenesaustin.com.
Lamberts Downtown BBQ
THIS RESTAURANT IS THE BEST. Yes, caps lock might seem like a bit much. But, trust us, Lamberts is worth the emphasis. The bar is amazing: if you’re a gin fan, be sure to order their Cucumber Gimlet (made of a simple yet fresh mix of Hendrick’s gin, muddled cucumber, and lime juice). You really can’t go wrong when ordering off of Lamberts’ menu, but we LOVED the Frito Pie, an elevated take on a classic comfort food. Made with flavorful chopped beef, pico, goat cheese, and their house queso, all layered and baked on top of Fritos... this dish really is unlike anything we’ve eaten before. Now do you understand the caps?
We knew we were in for a good time at Create & Cultivate’s SXSW pop-up conference when we were greeted just inside the event entrance by a sapphire box emblazoned with the phrase, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” From there, the day only became more of a dream. La Croix piled up their watercolor signature boxes to create a fun photo booth, of course enjoyed while hydrating with their fruity sparkling water. Noosa Yoghurt provided fuel in the form of a yogurt s’mores bar. Roasting marshmallows over an open flame, we felt like we were back at summer camp, surrounded once again by some of the coolest women mentors. Next up? A cute new hairstyle at the Dry Society hair-braiding lounge. After wandering around the many pop-up stations that could occupy a girl for the entire day, we settled in to listen to some of the event’s inspiring, fascinating, and radiant guest speakers. The theme of this day was absolutely “Girls Support Girls” and, as you can probably guess, we were on board. An energizing day spent celebrating and learning from tough-as-nails women came to a close with keynote speaker Kristen Bell, who discussed her non-profit, This Bar Saves Lives. All we can say after the rad day we had with Create & Cultivate is: we are RSVP’ing “YES PLEASE!” for next year’s event. Check out C&C and their upcoming conferences at createcultivate.com.
10 Minutes with Birthday Club
Band members: Valeria Pinchuk (synth/noise), Stephen Wells (vox/guitar), Travis Peck (drums), Nate Dietrich (bass)
Genre: Indie Rock
Hometown: Houston, TX
On their music: “Psych-pop rock,” Valeria says. “Our music sounds like candy to my ears,” Stephen interjects. “The other day someone told me that we sound like the love child of Hanson, Violent Femmes, and The 13th Floor Elevators, which was very flattering,” Valeria responds.
Trips to SXSW so far: This was Birthday Club’s first trip to SXSW, though members of the band had all been there many times before with other bands or musical endeavors.
Their favorite places in Austin: Tamale House East for breakfast and Mayfield Park (“That place is the spiritual heart of Austin,” Stephen says. “We always hit it up when we’re in town.”)
Favorite Candy: “The late, great Butterfinger BBs,” Nate smiles. “RIP.”
Inspiring Global Change Through Women’s Stories
A collective of four incredibly talented and intelligent women came together to share their stories of resistance and persistence to inform, educate, care for, and empower women around the world at the Inspiring Global Change Through Women’s Stories panel. Their stories ranged from secretly opening schools in spite of death threats from the Taliban, to a doctor in Egypt who is now working for the United Nations, to a filmmaker in Pakistan, and finally, to an American social entrepreneur. All four are dedicated to bringing awareness and concern to the litany of problems women face worldwide. Learn more and join this important cause at connecther.org.
From Gutenberg to Google
Jon Meacham was on the panel, “From Gutenberg to Google: How Tech Can Transform Faith.” That’s why we first walked into the forum… for Mr. Meacham. We can admit that some of us here at FLL have a bit crush on him and his ability to bring history alive and charm us with his slow Southern drawl, as well as his keen eloquence and ability to make us think. This time around, Meacham spoke on how our faith and spirituality do not necessarily have to bring us back to a formal religion, but back into being a part of a community that cares for one another. Meacham, Sally Quinn of The Washington Post, and Shawn Bose, CEO of Deily.org created On Faith, an online community with this purpose. Each advisor of the online platform brings an interesting perspective, from Meacham, a devout Episcopalian who finds comfort in the discipline of a formal religion, to the still questioning Quinn who, after the death of her beloved husband Ben Bradley, traveled the world in search of enlightenment and answers to the questions that have plagued humankind from the beginning: why are we here? What is our purpose? As Meacham pointed out, in this day and age of political consternation, it is most appropriate to find ways to connect with one another, rather than dividing and isolating. Find more at onfaith.co, or on Twitter @onfaith.
Sipping on our signature cocktails in the Resistance Radio SXSW headquarters, checking out the prototype of the Amazon Prime Air Flying Drone in person, and generally digging the Cool Kid mixed with a Spy Thriller vibes of the Amazon Prime Video PATRIOT Party, we were met with one question: “Who is John Lakeman?” You’ll have to check out the Amazon original series, “Patriot,” now streaming, for the answer to that question.
Looking for makeup without any of the bad stuff that’s still totally glam? Check out Elevé Cosmetics, an Austin-based cosmetics brand that promises its products are all natural, vegan-based, and GMO, gluten, paraben, sulfate, phthalate, and cruelty free. We love their Bombshell Beauty Balm for breezy, lightweight coverage, and their Lip Liq, a liquid matte lipstick that dries matte but feels comfortable all day. Shop the brand at elevecosmetics.com.
“For the Olfactory Connoisseur”
If you are as obsessed with having a signature scent as we are, check out Riddle Scented Oils. The scents completely live up to their slogan—“For the Olfactory Connoisseur”—and are totally unique. Based on our (very thorough!) sniff test at SXSW, we suggest Riddle Oil Original scent for those who love clean, fresh smells, and North Wind for a slightly sweeter, beachy scent. Shop the scented oils at riddleoil.com.
Boiler Nine Bar + Grill
Boiler Nine, located in part of what was originally the Seaholm Power Plant offers elevated dishes and cocktails. A highlight of our meal was this bright and beautiful mussel dish. Be certain to try the beer bread as well, it didn’t last long enough for us to get a photo! boilernine.com
A very short Fasten ride from downtown will result in your entire life being changed (there’s no Uber in Austin!) The E.T. at Fleet coffee is almost literally life-changing – it will at least change the way you look at coffee. The ingredients include lime juice, simple syrup, espresso and tonic water over ice. It’s simple and simply perfect. We recommend that you get three: one to drink there, one for the ride back to downtown and then an extra, because you’ll be wanting to turn the car right back around when the first two are gone.