“Austin’s been like our second home for so long,” Andy Cohn, president and publisher of Fader magazine, said over the phone from his office in New York last week.
This year, the Fader Fort will celebrate 15 years in Austin during the South by Southwest Music Festival with an unofficial, invite-only event at Pine St. Station, produced in coordination with local company Transmission Events. Invites to the event will be distributed to the Fader’s current database of subscribers and previous attendees.
The full lineup will be announced via the Fader’s Snapchat, fadersnaps, and at Fader.com by March 10, but the Fader confirmed a few artists today. Producer Metro Boomin, who’s worked with the likes of Nicki Minaj and Future, Oakland rapper Kamaiyah, Mexico City’s dance music collective N.A.A.F.I., American-born Nigerian recording artist Davido, Brooklyn-based rapper Desiigner and rock band Sheer Mag will all play at the Fort this year.
If you haven’t heard of any of those artists don’t worry, that’s by design. Fader has always been about discovery, presenting emerging artists ahead of the curve. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Odd Future played the Fort when they were on the verge of exploding. In 2014, largely unknown neo-soul singer Sza played a mid-afternoon set at the Fort. From the stage, she confessed that a year earlier she was living out of her car. Last month, she shared the lead track on Rihanna’s blockbuster new album “Anti.”
Over the past few years, superstar guest pop ins have come to dominate discussions about the event in a way that troubles Cohn. “I think we’ve set expectations based on some big surprises we’ve done over the years with people like Kanye and Usher,” he said. “Those are great when they happen. When they don’t and it starts to become a thing that people are actually complaining about, I think for us that kind of tipped a bit last year.”
So this year, the Fort is refocusing on discovery.
The Fader has also extended its programming to include a two days of The Arcade at Fader Fort (sponsored by Toyota Prius) during the SXSW Interactive Festival. The Arcade will feature will feature emerging names in tech, gaming, and comedy, showcasing their latest creations and takes place on the Monday and Tuesday of SXSW week, followed by the traditional four days of Fader Fort music programming sponsored by Converse.
The collaboration with Transmission began when the Fader signed on as a media partner of Fun Fun Fun Fest last year. Neil Maris, head of production at Transmission said his team is excited to expand the relationship. “We will be handling all production on the Fader Fort this year, which is very exciting since it is one of the most anticipated events,” he said.
This will be the event’s last stand at Pine St. Station, where they’ve been for the last several years, as the property is likely slated for redevelopment as part of the Saltillo Tract project.
“The city has been great in allowing us to have one more shot at it and (after) we’ll go back to the drawing board and see what we come up with,” Cohn said. “Really thinking about the future and how we envision the Fort growing down the road, I think having Transmission in the mix is going to be very crucial to that growth.”