San Antonio’s music, film and startup venture scenes will be represented at the annual South by Southwest festival taking place March 10-19 in Austin.
The interactive portion of SXSW, which blends commerce, technology, design and policy, includes one San Antonio-area resident and a local startup company that seek to make a name for themselves in their respective growth fields.
One such scheduled local participant is Ray Kaderli, an entrepreneur, real estate investor and developer who is building the first permitted hempcrete single-family home in San Antonio.
Located in the 300 block of Moselle Avenue on the city’s west side, the structure will serve both as a rental and a prototype to demonstrate the effectiveness of biocomposite material—a mix of processed hemp stalks and a lime-based binder—for reliable, affordable construction, Kaderli said.
President of the U.S. Hemp Building Association, Kaderli will be part of a March 11 SXSW panel about carbon-zero building with hemp-based materials.
Kaderli said hemp-based and other carbon-zero building materials have much potential because they help to create a healthy environment for inhabitants of a structure constructed with it, and that such materials do not have the negative effect that traditional wood-harvesting has on the ecology.
“This is the concept of environmental stewardship. I try to apply it to everything that I do,” Kaderli said.
Kaderli said there is work to be done to demonstrate that sustainable building material such as hempcrete is both durable and cost-efficient.
“Both can save me money in the long run,” he said.
While Kaderli’s March 11 panel is open only to SXSW badge-holders and attendees with a SXSW day pass, Kaderli said he and counterparts in carbon-zero construction will be part of one activity during SXSW that will be open to the public.
That event will be held 8-10 p.m. March 11 at Friends and Allies Brewing Co., where civil engineer and pioneering hemp builder Sergiy Kovalenkov, a Ukrainian refugee, will promote a hempcrete housing project that he is spearheading.
The $40 ticket includes a donation to Hemp. Ukraine. Recover, a campaign to support hemp-based housing for 90 refugees in the war-torn country. Admission will also cover two drink tickets and a Ukrainian dessert cheesecake.
A March 13 panel will include Lawson Picasso, a local communications manager with national engineering firm WSP and an advocate for solutions to social inequities in marginalized communities.
Picasso said she was chosen to be on a SXSW panel about food insecurity in Texas because of her work with the San Antonio Food Bank and the nonprofit Feeding America. She said the panel will emphasize the growing severity of food insecurity in many communities, and that food insecurity is a byproduct of larger socioeconomic challenges, such as lack of affordable housing and stores with healthy foods.
“This brings to light that this is a social issue and a crisis that needs more eyes on it. That’s especially true right now as shelves in our stores are not staying stocked. Food insecurity will become an epidemic if we don’t address it now, and even people who can afford to buy food on a regular basis, this crisis will get to resonate with them, too,” Picasso said.
Picasso said there is a need to respond to socioeconomic challenges that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of issues that were there previous to 2020 were given a bigger platform when we saw that everyone was living on a razor’s edge. The social safety net that was in place prior to the pandemic was not sustainable for the average person,” she added.
Some current and former San Antonio-area musicians are scheduled for official SXSW shows, including R&B/soul/hip-hop artists Jay Amari and 7098, hip-hop/rap performers BabiBoi, Yung Bambi, DJs Hella Yella, Akasha and Prince Euro, soul band Mojoe, Konrad Wert’s one-man band Possessed by Paul James, and cosmic country group Garrett T. Capps & NASA Country, who will be part of a Spaceflight Records showcase.
Another San Antonian slated for an official SXSW concert is Destiny Navaira, whose family features Tejano legends Emilio and Raulito Navaira.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Destiny Navaira has sung backup for her father, Raulito. Her first solo album, “La Preferida,” earned her Female Vocalist of the Year at the Tejano Music Awards in 2021 and other recognitions.
Destiny Navaira’s latest Latin Grammy Award-nominated album, “Dime Cómo Se Siente,” produced by her brother Rigo Navaira, has resulted in her collaborating with noted Tejano groups, such as La Leyenda, Grupo Bronco, La Casetera and Lupita Infante.
Destiny Navaira’s March 18 performance at SXSW is her first appearance at the renowned multimedia festival, and she said she could not be more excited about it. Navaira said she has long sought to be an official part of SXSW ever since her days attending The University of Texas at Austin.
“I am especially excited to perform my latest off of my new album ‘Dime Como Se Siente’ because it proves that my goal of recording songs outside the normal of the ‘Tejano’ genre I come from has done the job I wanted it to and that is growing my audience,” Destiny said. “I am also excited to hear new music and take inspiration home to continue my career.”
Big screen participation
The SXSW film festival will include participation from Fidel Ruiz-Healy, a native San Antonian and award-winning filmmaker, who worked with fellow New York University alum Tyler Walker to film the short movie “Dead Enders,” which will be shown in the Midnight Shorts program.
The 12-minute film is about Maya, a young, disaffected gas station clerk who does not seem to care about much in life until a nearby oil drilling operation recklessly awakens and releases a group of mind controlling parasites that force Maya to realize other perspectives in life.
“Dead Enders” is the second film that Ruiz-Healy and Walker have shown at SXSW, following a music video they previously shot for a band.
The two filmmakers said they would often bump into each other at NYU and eventually became friends and collaborators, shooting short movies, as well as doing some filming in San Antonio.
“Out in San Antonio, it’s easy to have a home base because you can always find resources, a crew and locations there instead of paying exorbitant prices to shoot in New York City or Los Angeles,” Ruiz-Healy said.
“Dead Enders” evolved from a script that Ruiz-Healy wrote at NYU and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruiz-Healy and Walker tried to think of fun short movies that they could shoot.
Regarding “Dead Enders,” Ruiz-Healy said, in the plot, the invading bugs try to convince Maya to work in a dead-end job—forever.
“You can be like a glorified bug zombie in exchange for living a dream life of complacency, but she realizes she needs to do something different and move on with her life,” Walker said.
Ruiz-Healy and Walker said Maya’s plight in “Dead Enders” could symbolize the current movement of people who have been leaving their jobs for other career opportunities since the height of the pandemic.
Ruiz-Healy and Walker said they plan to shop “Dead Enders” to genre film festivals, with hopes of securing a deal to produce a full-length feature version of their movie.
“It’d be like looking at the doomsday, post-apocalyptic scenarios in a more realistic sense,” Ruiz-Healy said.
Walker said, however, he and Ruiz-Healy want to maintain their semblance of independence in the filmmaking world.
“You don’t want to sacrifice the vision for a sense of independence,” Walker said.
Official SXSW functions are open to badge-holders and attendees, with day passes that are available at the conference registration site at the Austin Convention Center.