Garbage’s Shirley Manson and Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry to Keynote SXSW

While not mentioned in the announcement, feminism seems very likely be a theme of their talk.

Shirley Manson
Carlos Tischler/REX/Shutterstock

The annual South by Southwest conference announced its first 2019 keynotes this morning, and along with Instagram founder Kevin Systrom and “Sharp Objects” showrunner Marti Noxon is a shared keynote between Garbage singer Shirley Manson and Chvrches frontwoman Lauren Mayberry. The conference takes place March 8-17 in Austin, Texas.

While not mentioned in the press release announcing the keynotes, both singers have been outspoken feminists for years and, in the era of #MeToo, that seems very likely to be a theme of their talk. Manson has spoken in the past of being sexually assaulted as a teenager and recently published a harrowing op-ed in the New York Times about her experience with self-harm. Among many similar comments, late in 2016 she spoke with Australia’s 7:30 about the erosion of women’s rights.

“I think that’s a result, in some ways, of a generation that followed the ’90s, and women took for granted their human rights,” she said. “[They] thought they were there to stay, not really understanding that human rights get eroded constantly and you always have to be really vigilant to make sure that these rights that women have fought so hard for remain in place.”

Mayberry has spoken out many times as well, particularly after a 2013 column in Britain’s The Guardian in which she spoke of the sexist comments she experienced online. “What I do not accept is that it is all right for people to make comments ranging from ‘a bit sexist but generally harmless’ to openly sexually aggressive,” she wrote. “That it is something that ‘just happens.’ Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not. Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to ‘just deal with.'”

Perhaps not coincidentally, both singers are Scottish.

Other featured speakers announced include Jason Blum in conversation with John Pierson; writer and 2017 Time Person of the Year Susan Fowler; architect Bjarke Ingels; artist and musician Amanda Palmer; co-founder of Upworthy and Fellow at the New America Foundation Eli Pariser; author Michael Pollan; media theorist and author Douglas Rushkoff; Benevolent AI CEO Joanna Shields; futurist and author Amy Webb; and more.

“We’re excited about the addition of our Keynotes — Kevin Systrom, who as the co-founder of Instagram has redefined the culture of the modern internet and the way that we connect with others; Marti Noxon, whose prolific career and dedication to her craft has created some of the most beloved and acclaimed series of the past two decades; and Shirley Manson with Lauren Mayberry, two talented musicians whose passion, continued experimentation and career evolution are values we celebrate at SXSW,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer.