Being at South by Southwest is kind of like being a kid at Disney World. Between the sun and the millions of rides to choose from, you’re left delirious to make your decision. Meg and Laura weren’t any different. Well, except for the fact that they had press passes hanging from around their neck this time.
The duo kicked off Monday by sharing the bus with The X Factor Contestants to the Austin Convention Center, where all the conferences were taking place. The ACC was bustling with people from every corner of the world talking about music. Being thousands of miles away from home, there was something easing about being surrounded by chatter about music that made feel like they belong.
After getting their bearings straight (a.k.a. capitalizing on the abundance of free food), the pair decided to take on the big panel challenge that had been surfacing the air – getting into room 12AB for Richie Hawtin’s interview with deadmau5. So they did what any other fan girls would do: they decided to line up three hours before the panel. “You could probably go to the Building Movements panel before deadmau5 so all you can just stay in the room for the next one”, suggested one of the staff members. And so that’s what they did.
Not to say that watching Andy Ross talk about another life threatening concept idea for the next OK Go music video wasn’t enjoyable, but if only Meg and Laura knew about the last-minute room change for deadmau5, they would’ve stayed in line outside. When Meg’s Twitter feed updated her on the room change, the two headed for the door and found themselves to be the last ones in a long and winding line, surrounded by people pronouncing the DJ’s name as “dead-mau-five”. It wasn’t long till the co-hosts charmed their way to the front with their radio personality (a.k.a. they spewed sarcastic remarks at everything that moved, until the people in front of them budged). Cut to: two seats, five feet away from deadmau5. The wait was definitely worth it. Though it took Laura a second to recognize the DJ without his headgear and Meg to well, keep her composure, the wait was well worth it. deadmau5 addressed a lot of the difficult points concerning EDM that most DJs prefer not to discuss. He advocates “throwing away being a purist”, specifically talking about how style isn’t something that can be taught. There are many institutions today that focus on teaching people the art of EDM. Instead of teaching students how to think, they teach them what to think, pigeonholing their creativity in the mold of preset sub-genres. The DJ also comments on how the industry has homogenized EDM, saying, “it seems like all the mainstream EDM artists are making the same cookie-cutter tracks, and then I wonder why the people at the labels don’t just go home and try to make the music themselves. I mean, why not just cut of the bands?”. Although Hawtin and deadmau5 are glad that EDM has appealed to the masses, they reminisce the two percent days back when it wasn’t so homogenous.
With less than two hours of sleep from the night before, and a truckload of work to do, obviously the only sensible solution was to go out. The two knew that it would be impossible not to spend the night out on the town when they were in the live music capital of the world. Meg and Laura took the streets of Austin, scouting from venue to venue, in search of good-time. After being turned down at The Warner Sound, The Belmont, and Maggie’s, the two realized that they had a hook-up: The North Door. Nicolas Jaar, minimal house DJ, was spinning a set and they knew his manager Alastar Dunkin. At 1 AM, the ambitious duo walked over about a million and one blocks over to Brushy St. in the unwelcoming windy weather (I guess Syracuse isn’t the only place with bipolar weather), and pulled the press card from under the sleeve. There was no way they were going back without getting in to a show.
Jaar played Meg’s favorite track, “The Ego”, putting the lyrics, “the ego is the most expensive thing” on loop. Jaar really did speak the truth with his minimalist beat that took us on a tempo roller coaster. Unlike the typical female vocals that DJs sample, Jaar used a voice modulator to sample his own soulful vocals, giving the track a jazzier feel and filling up the entirety of the room with sophistication.
All in all, adventures and glitches accounted for, there really couldn’t be a better start to South by Southwest for Meg and Laura. As it turns out, everything really is bigger in Texas.