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Why Kimya Dawson, Killer Mike, And Other Bands Are Standing Up To SXSW Right Now

An old clause in artists’ contracts leads to political outrage—and a commitment to progress

Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles. Image courtesy of photographer Kristina Bakrevski

More than 500 musicians were scheduled to perform at the popular media, film, and music festival South by Southwest (SXSW) kicking off next week in Austin, Texas. Then, on Thursday, Felix Walworth of New York City-based band Told Slant tweeted an image of an unusual clause in his contract—apparently indicating that the festival may refer international artists to immigration authorities for playing unofficial shows. By the end of the day, over 40 artists including Kimya Dawson, Killer Mike, and Ted Leo, had signed an open letter calling on SXSW to “drop this clause from their contract, and cease any collusion with immigration officials that puts performers in danger,” especially “in light of the recent attacks on immigrant communities.”

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