Listen to Austin 360 Radio

The Fader Fort presented by Converse set to return for SXSW week 2014

Deborah Sengupta

Editor’s note: This article was originally published February 20, 2014

The RSVP info for the Fort, perennially one of the most popular side parties during the South By Southwest Music Festival, won’t be up for another week, but organizers say the event will return to Pine Street Station, the Eastside haunt it’s inhabited for the last six years. In the last few years badgeholders were given access to the party without a Fader-issued wristband, but this year the party will be an unofficial SXSW event. Almost all SXSW side parties ask for an RSVP, but the Fort is one of the few that actually require it. The RSVP spots go fast. We will post the info as soon as we get it, but you can also check out or follow The Fader on twitter to stay in the loop.

2014 marks the fifteenth anniversary for The Fader magazine which launched in 1999, and the thirteenth year for the annual party during SXSW week.

“In the early years, there wasn’t even a stage - no risers, the bands were on the floor and it was jam packed with people. No one knew what to expect,” Fader president and publisher Andy Cohn said via email. The majority of SXSW day parties at the time were label events, designed primarily as industry mixers. The Fader sought to differentiate itself from the pack “putting on a real event to showcase bands in a different, non-traditional space.”

To celebrate the party’s thirteenth anniversary the Fader promises a mix of familiar faces and emerging artists at this year’s event. The full lineup isn’t out yet but a few of this year’s first-time performers are FKA Twigs, The Orwells, Jeremih, and Isaiah Rashad. The Fader will be announcing more artists over the next couple weeks via twitter. We hit up Cohn for his thoughts about the Fader and his favorite memories from the Fort.

Austin360: The Fader has such a strong track record as a tastemaker. How do you discover new music and what are some of the factors that tip you off to an artist’s potential?

Cohn: At The FADER, we’re not critics, we’re curators of music and music news that we generally love to talk about. At the end of the day, we’re all fans here that geek out over good music, and that’s what our readers connect with, and why they keep coming back. It’s the same with the artists that play our stage.

We’ve always stuck to our mission through our 15 years in existence - and have a pretty good batting average at this point. Artists including Kanye, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, The Strokes, The White Stripes, Rick Ross all had their first covers on the FADER. We continue to spot and publish these features on somewhat unknowns, months before anyone else.

Does it sound new? Does it maybe not make sense? Does it jam? If a piece of music can tick any of those boxes (and, with some luck, more than one) then it’s going to be worth paying attention to.

What are your three top memories from your 13 years doing the Fader Fort during SXSW week?

There’s a lot - Amy Winehouse played our stage in 2007. We booked her before her buzz really took off in the States, and by the time she took the stage in March people just shut up to watch. She commanded that audience. It was incredible. We had the Black Keys play in 2003 when no one knew who they were. In 2008 Lou Reed took the stage with Moby to perform “Walk on the Wild Side”. The time Kanye surprised the audience in 2009 was epic. He brought his whole team with him, with full production. That year was awesome – we had Common, Erykah Badu, Bun B, Janelle Monae all join him.

Any dream acts that you’d love to bring to the Fader Fort stage?

It’s really tough to answer this one, to be honest with you. Last year was my favorite so far, but I say that every year, so… Last year we tried to think of the biggest, most surprising “first” The FADER could bring again to Austin, and came up with Usher. He wanted to pair with an incredibly talented backing band. The Afghan Whigs are one of my absolute favorite bands, and we knew they’d be a perfect pairing. Usher was totally into it, and it was one of the most epic pairings and surprises at the fort to date. Greg Dulli actually just said in a Rolling Stone interview that the idea for their new album came from that performance - he said it was like starting a band for the first time.