The backstage pass to innovation: Chronicles of Kris Krug at SXSW

A Vancouverite at SXSW. Here's what's going on.

Hey folks, it's your boy KK here—Kris with a K, Krug, not the champagne, but just as bubbly and twice as intoxicating, diving headfirst into the digital bacchanal that is South by Southwest Interactive.

Camped out in Austin, I'm living the dream alongside my lawyer-turned-lifeline, Lindsey Bailey, armed with cameras and a press pass that's my backstage pass to this tech circus. This isn't just another gig; it's a pilgrimage to the mecca of tech, culture, and everything in between.

Circa 2006 babyface KK videoblogging my way through my first South by Southwest way back when.

Marking my 16th SXSW, I've played nearly every role in this community over the years, from Advisory Board Member to Sponsor to Speaker to Attendee, with a bit of Renegade Outlaw thrown in for good measure. IYKYK.

The festival officially kicks off today, and geeks have been streaming in all week from the far-flung corners of the multiverse, each drawn to Austin like moths to a flame of enlightenment and connection.

Checking In: Smooth like butter

Stepping into SXSW was like entering another world where everyone speaks your language—through nods, winks, and the universal dialect of excitement.

Badge pickup? A breeze. It's the kind of smooth operation that makes you question if you've accidentally slipped into the VIP lane.

Volunteer vibes

The volunteers, these unsung heroes of SXSW, buzz with an energy that guides lost souls like myself towards our next epiphany. Their dedication reminds us that SXSW transcends being merely a festival—it's a thriving community.

Anticipating the Vancouver Invasion

The excitement continues to build. I'm here with open arms to welcome the Vancouver delegation—a slice of home in the heart of Texas.

Names like Rob Calder, Carol Anne Hilton, and Silas Gephardt, perhaps not widely known now, are set to make big move here at SXSW as part of the Vancouver delegation supported by CreativeBC and InnovateBC. With events at Canada House looming, it's about to get real.

Dropping owls on Austin and launching Hootsuite at SXSW 2011 with Dave Olson and Dan Martell.

The people make the party

SXSW's lifeblood isn't just the tech, talks, or the groundbreaking reveals; it's the people. A melting pot of dreams, ideas, and ambitions where you find your tribe, if only for the festival's duration. Each handshake, each shared laugh serves as a reminder that at its core, SXSW is about forging connections and finding your people among the crowds.

The 2012 SXSW Interactive crowd from the stage at one of my talks circa 2012.

The Trade Show: A curious blend of innovation and controversy

On the trade show floor's opening day, I found myself in a curious mix. Among tech pioneers stood the U.S. Army, an entity that seemed out of place at a festival celebrating artistic and technological innovation. Their presence, amid whispers of artist boycotts over sponsorship concerns, added a layer of complexity to the SXSW experience, highlighting the diverse and sometimes discordant elements within this annual gathering.

Yet, my focus was on uncovering groundbreaking AI advancements. Among the myriad exhibitors, ESAI and Emotion.AI stood out. Present as part of SXSW EDU, these startups offered a glimpse into artificial intelligence's future, promising to redefine our interaction with technology.

Raincity Studios Crew circa 2008… Eric Hermans, Robert Scales, Kris Krüg, Uncleweed Dave Olson.

FATALE: Planting the flag for the future

Many of you know about the dream simmering in my mind—a festival that blends elements of SX, TED Talks, Meow Wolf's immersive art, and Mutek's digital creativity, which I've dubbed FATALE: the Future of Art, Technology, and Alternative Living Experiment.

Roaming the crowded streets and buzzing panels of SXSW, I'm on a mission to knit together a network of innovators and dreamers who share my vision for an event that breaks boundaries and ignites imaginations.

Expanding Horizons: Future Proof Creatives on the move

SXSW is a fertile ground for exploring possibilities for Future Proof Creatives. With six sold-out events in Vancouver marking a trailblazing path in 2024, the demand for a fusion of creativity and AI technology is clear. I'm here scouting next cities for our transformative experiences—Seattle, SF, LA, Austin, Chicago, Miami are all contenders.

Thanks to the deep connections nurtured in Texas and a potential basecamp via Lindsay's law firm, LBLC, Austin might soon host an experimental AI training workshop and meetup, lighting up the Lone Star State's creative landscape come May or June.

SXSW: A crucible of connections

Remember that one time the audience mutinied and chased baby Mark Zuckerberg off the SXSW stage? I do… I was the first guy to talk to him backstage after the talk and he was like… “WTF just happened KK?

The essence of SXSW lies in the serendipitous connections it fosters among attendees from the vast realms of creativity and technology. As I weave through this living mosaic of talent and ambition, I'm reminded that every conversation, every chance encounter, could spark the genesis of FATALE or propel Future Proof Creatives into its next growth phase.

Austin, with its unique blend of innovation, artistry, and open-hearted hospitality, provides the perfect canvas for these ventures.

The journey ahead

As SXSW unfolds, I'm here not just to observe but to actively participate in this grand tapestry of innovation. Between seeking collaborators for FATALE and plotting the expansion of Future Proof Creatives, I'm fully immersed in the exploration and connection spirit that defines SXSW. Camera in one hand and vision in the other, I'm ready to document each moment, eager to share this journey's story with the world.

Let's keep our focus. Diving into the AI panel track, we're looking straight into the future's heart—a quest amplified by the vibrant spirit of Canada House.

This isn't just a foray into the unknown; it's a dedicated mission to chronicle AI innovation's cutting edge for the Canadian Tech Journal and Vancouver Tech Journal.

And there's more—I've brought along a trove of surprises set to make this SXSW unforgettable.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips from the sidestage at SXSW, I essentially transformed into a rock 'n' roll photographer here, honing my craft over a year by photographing bands and rockstars in Austin.

Wrapping it up

There you have it—SXSW through the eyes of KK: part tech enthusiast, part storyteller, fully prepared to dive into the next adventure. Being here is about contributing to something larger, about transporting those experiences back to share with all of you.

From Austin's heart, with love and a dash of Texas flair, this is Kris Krüg signing off.

P.S. A huge shoutout to CreativeBC and the Province of BC for their support, enabling me to access $1500 in travel subsidy through the Passports to Markets program. Immense gratitude for your backing! Also big ups to InnovateBC for supporting the Vancouver delegation.

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