Yorkshire talent fly into SXSW

Dan Kirby, CEO of Sheffield-based innovative software firm Techdept as MC Danimal AKA The Beyonce of Tech

Yorkshire talent fly into SXSW

A number of creative and media businesses are set to be on show at the world-leading SXSW festival in Austin, Texas next month thanks to a Department for International Trade (DIT) Northern Powerhouse trade mission.

Hull punk band LIFE, Huddersfield-based cinema events specialist LIVE Cinema UK and Sheffield software firm Techdept are among more than 40 bands and businesses from Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and North East that are taking part in the trade mission.

The global event takes place from 10 to 19 March 2017 featuring the:

  • SXSW music festival – the largest festival of its type in the world due to showcase more than 2,200 acts from the unsigned to superstars - and conference
  • SXSW film festival and conference for film makers and distributors, screen writers, actors, agents, film crews and fans
  • SXSW interactive conference for web and game developers, programmers, bloggers, investors and inventors and tech and new media

Mark Robson, DIT regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The music, film and technology sectors are increasingly important contributors to the economic well-being of the Northern Powerhouse region and this mission allows us to once again showcase the burgeoning talent in those areas to a global audience at SXSW as the world’s premier event for creativity.”

LIFE - the four-strong band from Hull influenced by “punk, underdogs and our own beautiful city” - make their live debut in the USA with a performance at the British Music Embassy on Thursday, 16 March during SXSW 2017.

Vocalist Mez, brother Mick on guitar and backing vocals, drummer Stew and bassist Loz have toured relentlessly for the past two years including being main support act of Slaves on their sold-out tour of the UK and Europe and have their own headline tour of the UK in April 2017.

The band have enjoyed extensive airtime on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, Radio X and Amazing Radio thanks to support from DJs including Huw Stephens, Annie Mac and Phil Taggart. LIFE picked up ‘Ones to Watch 2017’ tips in DIY, Metro, So Young Magazine and Fred Perry Subculture and achieved coverage in NME, Dork, The Guardian and The Line of Best Fit. Their self-released debut album is due to be issued in 2017.

Mez said: “We can't wait to land in Austin and showcase a bit of Hull culture. It’s been an ambition of ours to hit the US and what a way to start by smashing it at SXSW. We are thankful for the opportunity provided by the Department for International Trade and like all shows we will play it like it's our last - so expect pure energy and some major Hull realness!”

Joining LIFE at SXSW is Huddersfield-based Live Cinema UK, the UK’s only organisation focused on uniting artists, exhibitors, distributors and producers to create experiential cinema events.

The company - a collaborative of film exhibition and creative producers led by director Lisa Brook, projects director Jay Arnold, digital and music co-ordinator Kate Wellham, and creative producer Colm McAuliffe – curates innovative programmes and new art works inspired by the moving image, with regional, national and international partners.

LIVE Cinema UK collaborates with artists including DJ Yoda, Mica Levi, Norman Jay MBE, Stephen Mallinder and Asian Dub Foundation, alongside digital, VR and performance artists, and provides marketing and audience development consultancy for film festivals and distributors, with recent initiatives including grassroots campaign work for I, Daniel Blake, and experiential events for Dad’s Army and Suffragette.

Having attended SXSW for the first time in 2016, Lisa will chair a panel on Selling Celluloid: Finding New Audiences For Film with Kate addressing another on The Future of Cinema In The Age Of VR.

Lisa said: “SXSW is an amazing opportunity for us. As a company that has convergence at its heart, SXSW is THE place to explore the crossover of music, film and digital, which is at the centre of what we do.

“Alongside the panels, we are chairing and producing which address vital questions regarding the future of cinema exhibition, we will be holding key meetings with potential partners and artists in the USA to collaborate on new live cinema commissions.

“We are also scouting films and virtual reality projects to programme across the UK over the next year. As a young company, DIT’s support in attending SXSW this year and last has been absolutely vital. We simply would not be able to go without their support.”

Hosting three events at Great Britain House during SXSW is Sheffield-based Techdept, a specialist firm of 25 ‘technologists’ that produce innovative software to ‘digitally transform’ the business of clients including the Premier League, John Lewis and WWF.

Returning to SXSW for the second time with a seven-strong team headed by CEO Dan Kirby, Techdept will stage two heats and a grand finale of The Tech Off, an extravagant contest involving Dan dressed as the ‘Beyonce of Tech’ offering people a five-minute presentation on the future of tech with the crowd choosing the ultimate winner of a Wrestling Belt of Tech.

Dan said: “Our business helps companies transform using cutting-edge custom tech. To join the Department for International Trade mission is a great opportunity to both learn what’s new, and build contacts to grow.”