- March 14th, 2011
- Posted in Texas
- Comments 0
This month’s blog post comes to us from our awesome intern, Stephanie Ignacio!
“back in my day, we used to do something called sneaking off to go smoke pot. Nowadays, we do this thing called sneaking off to go take a nap”
-Louis Black, on where he would be at SXSW this year
As the new intern for Republic Tequila this semester I have been presented with many opportunities to attend events that I would normally not even have heard of. On this day in particular I was lucky enough to be able to get to hear Louis Black, the founder of SXSW, speak at an event held by Alcalde magazine, a publication distributed to members of Texas Exes.
Having only ever have been at the venue during a football game, I was pleasantly surprised at the venue’s décor; the perfect ambiance for an evening getting to intimately know someone so innately Austin. As Louis Black entered the room, his face was unmistakably the one gracing the covers of the magazines scattered around the room. He seemed to be one of those eccentric elder gentlemen, the kind that are really upfront about their feelings, though as he began his interview on stage he seemed rather put off about being in the spotlight. He came to Texas as a master student in English and seems like your average old dad…if you dad managed to pull off creating arguably the most important music event that happens in Austin in the spring.
But how did that happen, this seemingly ordinary older gentlemen; oh, I’m sorry, did I mention, also the Editor, of one of the most prestigious Austin publications, The Austin Chronicle. Although he is a famous, “non – learner” Black stated that he had always been interested in books and film – he also didn’t start out as the editor, and prefers to macro, rather than micro edit. As people began to ask questions about the evolution of these two vehicles and how it felt to work on them, he answered simply and humbly that
“it is a privilege to work with people who care about what they do.”
Which seems like a great business model; working with people with whom you are able to share your passions with. As SXSW grows into an organism with a presence that is palpable nationwide, it has changed from a small Austin affair into a festival whose influences reach people even internationally. When asked about the future endeavors of his projects, Black says that the prestige that SXSW has garnered could be a catalyst for the Chronicle’s national recognition.
Now on to the questions that everyone wants to know the answer to. How do they choose the bands and music? According to Black,
“Ten thousand bands submit music online, and there is a two step process, first a graded selection then they are staff chosen…for film, they choose three hundred out of four thousand.”
He also quipped that he stopped being on the panel for listening to bands after about three years, and that they would have to reconcile the fact that good bands will get passed up. The panels obviously care an enormous amount about the quality of content provided, and he said that oftentimes the discussions have been heated
“sometimes they get passionate…I’ve been there when they’ve thrown chairs.”
Overall however, Louis loves what he does. When asked where he would be hanging out in the festival he responded that
“We work in the streets – we don’t sit around smoking cigars and watching porn.”
I personally love that, and I’m sure there is no other place he would rather be. As the creator of something this grandiose in nature, it is only fitting that he watch carefully after his baby. Now, being a college student on a budget I was quite interested to know his take on all of the “unofficial” SXSW festivities that occur –
“In my opinion it makes it great. There’s music everywhere, it makes it fun. I love when I wake up to music at 1:00 AM. My favorite part is standing on the street and watching people. It’s people who love rock and roll. It’s Disneyland for people who love music and film.”
With that last quote, I think that the evening was quite the event. It is so inspiring to see someone who chose what they loved to do and succeed in doing it as their livelihood. If you’re supposed to put out more in the world than you take, I think Louis Black has done an amazing job of that.