So here we go. South by Southwest 2013 kicked off today in my adopted home town of Austin, Texas. Scotland will be well represented over the next 10 days or so with around 12 Scottish companies here for the Interactive festival, at least 1 really cool film, and 12 great bands. I’ve tried to list as much as possible below:


For those readers that are unable to make it to Austin this year you will be pleased to know that it is raining here today (see photo above). The storm before the storm? For anyone who is here or who plans to attend, you will soon realize that a) the sun will be out soon, and b) you don’t care because this is one of the best festivals in the world, in one of the best cities in the world.

Scottish Development International are helping to promote several Scottish companies at this year’s Interactive festival. Many of them will be in attendance at the UKTI stand in the convention center and also at The Great British Breakfast on Tuesday March 12 from 10:30am to 1:00pm, at the Old School Bar, located at 401 E. 6th St.

You can RSVP for that breakfast event here:  Here are the Scottish companies that plan to attend. I’ll be there in my attorney guise :

Companies Website
Nile HQ Ltd   
Little Riot
FreeAgent Central
The ISO Organisation
Tag Games
Speech Graphics


The Film Festival side of SXSW continues to grow and attract some really interesting filmmakers and projects, and there have been several Scottish films here in past years. I remember in 2011 the T in the Park inspired ‘You Instead‘ was screened here and did very well, and this year Austin will host the world premiere of The Great Hip Hop Hoax.

Directed by Jeannie Finlay, the film tells the true story Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd, two Scottish rappers who found that the music industry wouldn’t take them seriously because they were Scottish. So they created the new personae of Silibil and Brains, two LA Homeboys who were hailed as the next big thing from California. And they signed a record deal with Sony.

Turns out that Billy (Silibil) is a friend of a friend so I might have more from him next week, but here are the details of the screenings and the trailer. It looks amazing.

World Premiere: Thursday March 14, 4.15pm, Stateside Theatre, 719 Congress Avenue

Additional Screening: Friday March 15, 9.45pm, Alamo Ritz, 320 E. 6th Street

The Great Hip Hop Hoax – SXSW 2013 Accepted Film from SXSW on Vimeo.


Onto the main event as far as I’m concerned. The music. I think this will be my 10th SXSW music festival. The first was in 1995 when I studied at the University of Texas on a year abroad from Edinburgh. I was here for SXSW in 1999 and then again in 2003. That was Vic Galloway‘s first year I believe and there was only one Scottish band at the festival – Idlewild. The following year saw the first ‘Scottish Invasion’ when Franz Ferdinand, The Delagados, The Trash Can Sinatras and about 10 other bands conquered Austin thanks to support from the Scottish Arts Council and an amazing late night party in East Austin!

Since then the SXSW Music festival has played an important part in bringing new Scottish music to the world. Back in 2004 every band would be designated one showcase and were told not to play any unofficial gigs or parties. Frequently, any unsanctioned performances would be shut down by the police. Now however, there are no such restrictions and bands are free to play as many shows as humanly possible.

In years past I have collated all the Scottish gigs into one list but this year I’m just going to give you a link to the official showcases and the list of all the parties.

UPDATED March 12, 2013

Here is a link to download every Scottish show listed by date :

Here is a link to download every Scottish show listed by band :

(Thanks to Stuart Thomas and Creative Scotland)

This year both Scottish events will take place at Latitude 30, which for 355 days of the year is a strange bar/club that sells $2 Jagerbombs, but for the next week has been repainted and rebranded as the British Music Embassy (see photo above that I took this morning). Here are details:

Showcasing Scotland Wednesday March 13 at the British Music Embassy, 8pm-2am

Kassidy, The View, Camera Obscura*, PAWS, Holy Esque and Tango in the Attic

Showcasing Scotland, Friday March 15 at the British Music Embassy, 2pm

Jackmaster (Numbers), Young Fathers, JD Twitch from Optimo and Rustie.

To attend the Scottish Showcase on Friday afternoon, RSVP here.

There is also a Facebook page now at

Also playing at SXSW will be:

Frightened Rabbit    (who played Conan this week and are about to get massive here)


Mike Scott: Adventures of a Waterboy

Here is a link to one listing of all the unofficial parties, and here is another one. Warning – don’t try and read it all in one go.

And if we make it through all this we’ll likely drink margaritas and record the annual Song by Toad SXSW podcast in my garden on the last Sunday. Send me an email if you want join in the fun.

Finally, my advice for any first time attendees is simply this: pace yourself.



*Unfortunately Camera Obscura have had to withdraw due to a family illness.