XOXO 2015 Recap
XOXO is a special type of gathering. It’s a festival of like-minded makers—art, music, games, technology, film, storytelling and more. It morphs and evolves year by year, becoming more diverse, more indie, more social, more family friendly. It listens and actually reacts to concerns over harassment and safety.
XOXO has an independent spirit that attendees foster and take pride in. This speaks volumes for the brands and companies who choose to patronize the festival.
We've gathered some thoughts from other Instrument folks who attended. It goes something like this:
One of Cecilia Doan’s favorite speakers was C. Spike Trotman. There were few outlets and publishers that took Spike seriously as a professional comic illustrator. They doubted her choices and creative ability, and instead judged her character and worth every step of the way. She found a way to make a business out of making things that spoke to her and others like her who weren’t being represented in the media. Through sharing her truth, she was able to stop listening to and eventually silence the voices that told her she couldn't succeed.
Anil Dash's talk exposed on some of the internet’s most fundamental influencers, many of whom are obscure to the average person. This led into why he created Makerbase alongside Gina Trapani, a community-run platform that facilitates the goal of attributing credit to all the people who make stuff like apps, websites, and artworks online. Anil also wonderfully constructed the presentation with Sheila E/Prince and Sheila E/Michael Jackson bookends.
The most memorable quality about XOXO for Brian Hefter was the incredible amount of humor that threaded through the majority of the talks, even the ones that involved some of the greatest personal struggle.
The Toast founder Mallory Ortberg exemplified this to a T. It was her first time speaking, and she infused lighthearted self-deprecation that reminded all of us of the point in our own lives where we walked in blind and did the best we could. We are lucky to get a chance to hear their stories and learn from their experiences.
It might be because they share the same first name, but for Dan Schechter, Dan Deacon’s show consisted of one part music, one part stand-up comedy, and one part team-building exercise. A high level of experimentation and creative genius also shone through for performers such as Open Mike Eagle, CVS Bangers, and games like GNOG, which was both beautiful and challenging. Roberto Curtis, whose band Ancient Heat performed at XOXO, loved the handmade emoji sodas and how cool it was to see how technology vernacular bleed into so many aspects of the festival.
🌲🗻🌞 / Marionberry, Ginger, Lime
🍃🍋✨ / Cucumber, Mint, Lemon
💃🎉👄 / Watermelon, Jalapeno, Lime, Salt
🍑🙅💫 / Peach, Orgeat, Lemon
🍠🌳🍯 / Fig-Maple Shrub, Soda
🌚🌿💥 / Black Pepper-Caraway Shrub, Soda
For some, the festival was the highlight of the weekend. Attendees could choose to get just the festival pass or go for the full conference pass. For some, like Thomas Reynolds, getting just the festival pass left them with a smidge of regret.
Colleen Purdy said it best. It’s hard to boil XOXO down to one sentence. Every XOXO reminds us that there's courageous people making cool shit and putting it on the internet. We can’t wait to see what XOXO does next, especially with the organization’s move into our Outpost in just a few months.
Article contributors: Tina Glengary Cordes, Cecilia Doan, Roberto Curtis, Colleen Purdy, Brian Hefter, Thomas Reynolds, and Dan Schechter.