INTERVIEW: Talkin’ SXSW with Teddy Abrams & Jack Harlow

SXSW, the biggest musical festival in the world, just came and went. From 03/10 to 03/19, downtown Austin, Texas transforms into an exhaustive carnival of film, technology, video gaming, music, celebrity, oddity, food truck courts and rappers shooting music videos in the streets. It’s a glorious mess of a festival that plays out like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book; the experiences are varied and totally up to you. I was able to connect with several journalists and acquaintances that I’d previously only been able to reach with internet exchanges.

I wrote in more detail about my experiences here, but I wondered what Louisville’s other representatives who traveled to Austin thought about their experiences.I reached out to all the artists and DJs we were aware of who made the trip, to gather their reflections. We wound up with anecdotes from both Jack Harlow and Teddy Abrams, and here they are:


Never Nervous: What was the best show you saw?

Jack Harlow: Seeing the Cool Kids was really tight. But outside on the back patio of the same venue, there was some British DJ doing this amazing grime set for like an hour and that shit was fire. That was the night I decided I liked grime.

NN: Most chaotic scene you saw?

JH: Jazz Cartier’s set at the All In show that Private Garden hosted. That man is a star. Had heard a lot about his live show before but you really gotta see it with your own eyes.

NN: Best food spot you came across in Austin?

JH: I just kept going back to the Roppolo’s on 6th street. Had prolly 10 massive slices of pizza throughout the trip.

NN: Most memorable moment of the trip?

JH: A big one was definitely seeing Dorrough crash the stage at that same All In show. I didn’t even recognize him though. I just saw this large, bodyguard-looking fellow walk out on stage and perform a random ass song that no one knew. I assumed this was some last minute artist that got added on as a favor, really didn’t think too much of it. Then suddenly “Ice Cream Paint Job” came on. I figured he just wanted to play a familiar song that had some nostalgic value, but then he started actually rapping over it. I was confused as hell. I think the crowd was too but they definitely were still enjoying themselves.

Something was definitely wrong because I could see the promoter on the side of the stage chewing out someone that I guess he deemed responsible for this madness. Halfway through the track they finally turn off his sound and someone literally takes the mic from him. He looked disappointed but he just kinda walked off stage and that was the end of it. I knew something was up because KYLE was supposed to have gone on next, and I hadn’t seen any other names on the run of show. Afterwards my guys told me that Dorrough literally had told the stage manager that he was indeed, KYLE, when they asked. Incredible.

NN: Any surprises about the festival you weren’t expecting?

JH: The amount of people. I had heard it was huge but I wasn’t anticipating the streets being completely clogged at certain points.

NN: A piece of advice you’d give to anyone trying the festival for their first time?

JH: I would say just try to find beauty in the chaos. It’s definitely a taxing experience but it’s a rite of passage in a way, so I was glad to get it under my belt


Never Nervous: What was the best show you saw?

Teddy Abrams: This was my first time at SXSW. I was only there for the show so I didn’t get to take a lot in. The person who manages Rachel Ray’s publicity is who coordinated that whole day. She came to Forecastle 2 years ago and we did a collaboration on the main stage, which lead to the set we did at SXSW. There were a lot of moving parts with no breaks between the bands. We worked it out for this year almost as a trial to see what was possible. We also used the Austin Symphony because we wanted to tap into the local scene. One thing about the festival is there were so many bands, there was no time to sound check or rehearse. It was about going in the moment with the string quartet and working with the other bands.

NN: Most chaotic scene you saw?

TA: The volume of people that were everywhere and doing every possible thing. Anything related to culture or entertainment was all happening in one place. It’s weird experience because it’s so highly concentrated. Seeing people clumped together in masses was a wild experience. I wished I’d been there for more of it; the panels and conferences. But I can add a side note, the festival shows off the city really well. It wasn’t just about the actual acts it was also about accentuating Austin. It’s part of the fabric of the city more so than just a venue.

NN: Best food spot you came across in Austin?

TA: There’s so many places. It’s one of the best food cities in the US. There’s a restaurant on the south side called Odd Duck, which is great. There are a lot of hipster like restaurants and coffee places on South Congress. I love great coffee. And they have all these food truck courts, I went there after the show that we played.

NN: Most memorable moment of the trip?

TA: Yea, so it’s kinda of an unusual thing because you wouldn’t think of Rachel Ray as a big proponent of music industry, but she loves bringing together food and music, and I had never met her face to face. But she was eventually able to come over and say hi; she was so gracious and thought it was such a special experience for her to bring together orchestral components to other bands. For her to get really excited about that side of it was really special for me.

NN: Any surprises you weren’t expecting at the festival?

TA: I didn’t know what to expect because I’d never been to Stubb’s and seen that particular lineup. I was surprised by everything. I thought the audience was awesome because if you do free music and beer and you’ve got hot temps and people are waiting to get in, but the audience was so positive and super energized. And people just get excited to see things up close, that was probably as close as you’d get to Weezer at a show, you could get right up front with them if you wanted to. To get that close to them in the front row at a stadium concert would cost a lot of money.