… March, April & May: (Not a) Popfest Preview: Pop! South Weekender

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march_april_may_2.5x5 As you’re probably already well aware, the Pop!South 2015 weekender is already behind us and we are entirely at fault for failing to post this in a timely manner! We can only hope that our lovely Scottish friends can forgive us.

Pop!South has been booking pop gigs in the south side of Glasgow for a few years now. Their first weekender, more aptly known as the “All Day-and-a-half-er”, occurred in 2014 and they have kept up the tradition this year, adding an extra night to the festivities. The event, which took place at The Glad Café, included two nights of all-out pop and an afternoon of acoustic sets. February Records band The Swapsies as well as our friends The Mini Skips played alongside bands such as The Just Joans, Withered Hand, Shambles Miller, and many more. From all accounts, the weekend was everything you’d expect: friendly, welcoming, and full of top-notch pop.

Before the weekender, Chris Gillies, one of the many organizers involved with Pop!South, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

1. Can you give us a history of Pop!South Weekender (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
We started Pop!South around May 2013 and enjoyed the gigs we were putting on so much that we thought it would be nice to try something bigger. The first event in 2014 consisted of one full day of music on the Saturday and a slightly shorter acoustic day on the Sunday – this year we’re going even bigger by adding a Friday night gig too.

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
Basically the main group of us in Pop!South get together in the pub and decide on the bands we’d like to play – simple as that! Obviously you have to have a certain number of acts that are going to guarantee you get people in and you have to make sure you’re not going to bankrupt yourself, but otherwise it’s pretty much all personal choice. Occassionally bands contact us anyway and sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing these events?
That if people have too good a night on the Saturday then they may not be physically able to turn up on the Sunday even if they have a ticket for it! That’s what we learned last year!

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the event ends do you begin to plan the next one?
We were pretty late in getting going last year and it’s amazing to find how quickly bands can get booked up in advance. With the level of bands we’re dealing with that might be that they have another gig or simply that they have to work or go to a wedding that day! We had planned on getting started much earlier this year but it was a busy Summer for everyone and it was September before the first band was asked. Seems to have worked out ok though and we’re very nearly there already. We’re never going to have the venue booked a year in advance like the Nottingham alldayer though!

5. Do you have any inside tips for attendees?
Buy your tickets now – we had to turn people away last year!! If you’re coming from outside Glasgow then have a wee jaunt round the Southside. Most tourists won’t make it this far and they’re missing out. Actually some Glaswegians never make it this far!

6. What are some of the best and worst Pop!South moments you can remember?
Selling out our first show was pretty special. Only 14 people may have turned up for our second show, but at least we already had that memory to look back on! I thought the Haiku Salut show was pretty magical too and pulling off the weekender last year with so many people having a great time was pretty rewarding. Any time you find yourself wondering why you’re putting in all this time and effort for nobody to turn up at your shows though, you can almost be guaranteed that someone will come up and say to you that they appreciate what you do or put on a show that blows you away. We meet the nicest folk from all around the world and it’s great!

Just because the 2015 Weekender has passed doesn’t mean there won’t be any Pop!South gigs for you to attend in the future. Keep an eye out on the Pop!South website for more info on upcoming events!

FEB041: 5: A February Records Anniversary Compilation


 
February Records turned 5 in 2014 and to celebrate, we are releasing a CD compilation featuring 14 bands spanning the length of our catalog. Most of the songs have never been released and are exclusive to this comp. We wanted to make this project special. We think we have.

Bands featured on the compilation are: The Swapsies, Brilliant at Breakfast, Ry Smith, Onward Chariots, Summer Library, Boy Genius, Lunchbox, Finnmark!, Ghost of Chance, Secret Charisma, The Halamays, Cozy Catastrophes, The Month of June and The Pretty Greens.

In addition to the compilation, we’ve produced the first physical edition of our zine, “…March, April & May.” The 60-page zine includes interviews with 14 bands plus articles on DIY culture in New England and some February Records history.

There are three ways to order — all through our Bandcamp page:
1. The compilation and zine combo is limited to 100 copies and includes a digital download.
2. Download the digital version of the compilation from our bandcamp page.
3. Order the “March, April & May” zine on its own.

Orders of the CD/zine combo received before midnight (U.S. Eastern Time) Wednesday, February 4, will be entered for a chance to win a February Records feltie keychain made by Lynn Chan, The Quirky Girl Crafter.

Click here to order.

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Best of 2014

We almost totally flaked out on year-end lists this year. But, here they are, for what they’re worth.

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DANNY
I listened to a lot more new music in 2014 than I usually do, but I know I still barely scratched the surface of what was out there. Some of these albums I liked instantly and listened to them over and over. Some of them took a while to grow on me.

10. Fear of Men – Loom
9. Fireflies – In Dreams
8. Martha – Courting Strong
7. Ex Hex – Rips
6. Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place
5. Dum Dum Girls – Too True
4. The Hobbes Fanclub – Up At Lagrange
3. Alvvays – Alvvays
2. Withered Hand – New Gods
1. Flowers – Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do

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KRISTIN
Per usual this year, I tried to steer perfectly clear of all the hype bands. Yes, that’s right, I still have not heard the Alvvays record. Nor do I plan to, regardless of how many times someone tells me I “need” to hear it. Sorry, folks!

I also don’t think this year was extraordinarily great for albums. Singles and EPs, perhaps, and I still have every intention of writing about those elsewhere, but I had trouble coming up with 10 albums I absolutely loved this year. I have instead settled on five. Three of these five albums really had to grow on me before I began to fully appreciate them and I’m awfully glad they did:

1. Withered Hand – New Gods
2. Martha – Courting Strong
3. Glamorous Life Savers – Resurrected Elsewhere
4. Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place
5. The Hi-Life Companion – Our Years in the Wilderness

… March, April & May: (Not a) Popfest Preview: Big Pink Cake Christmas Party All-Dayer

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march_april_may_2.5x5 ‘Tis the Season! It’s nearly that time of the year: holiday gatherings, mulled wine, festive sweaters and, of course, the Big Pink Cake Christmas party.

London’s pop outlet Big Pink Cake has been organizing a Christmas-themed all-dayer for the past several years and 2014 is no exception. This year’s lineup is chock full of incredible pop acts, including February Record’s own Finnmark. The intimate gathering, happening this Saturday (13 December), is not to be missed if you’re in London. A little last minute, we asked one of the organizers, Matthew Rimell, a few questions concerning the event.

Can you give us a history of the Big Pink Cake Christmas Party (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
Well we’d been putting on gigs for a while in both London and Bristol, but decided that we kind of needed to scale back a bit because of how busy we all are … A Christmas party seemed like a nice idea, to get friends together and bands that we liked. Heather and I had put on indie pop weekenders before, in Bristol and although we love doing them they left us physically exhausted, an all-dayer seemed like a better burst of activity and then having the next day to recover … Or not.

What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
Well it’s sort of floating around in my head for a little while, leading up to summer … It’s a combination of asking and being asked … Bands that we really like, have put on before or bands that have grabbed us by going to gigs throughout the year. A lot of bands though have become friends over the years, so we love them and the bands their in — what better excuse to have a party.

What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing the Christmas Party?
Try to sort out most of it during the summer when you’ve got a bit more time … Otherwise it can get a bit panicky when September happens and people are too bogged down with stuff … I think it’s to give stuff plenty of time because things change, new things might have to be thought about … I think time is a key issue.

When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
During the summer time when my job is much less of a strain … I love August! I wish it was August all the time … But I’d get bored wouldn’t I? Maybe not … I think organisation is a bit too grand really … It’s a bit of a thought, a bit of passion, then an action with hopefully a yes as the desired response … We aren’t that organised and I don’t think we’d want to be. Fun has to be the main element, or forget it.

Do you have any inside tips for attendees?
Not really, just enjoy yourself and have a lovely time … You’re amongst kindred spirits, who are there for the specialness of the quieter afternoon session upstairs by the Christmas tree and chandelier … Come and join us all for a curry during the break if you like and then jump up and down to the full on electric session in the cellar for the evening. We love both sessions, they present something different and special … But mostly its friends coming together … it really is a great feeling to be around people coming from all over the world for our small little event.

What are some of the best and worst Christmas Party moments you can remember?
Not really any worst ones (yet) … Although Heather and I did get a bit ‘silly’ when we couldn’t have the Christmas tree last year … Heather and I are old and best friends from school … Sometimes we can get a bit daft — you know, in the way best friends can get. The best bits are too many … Seriously, we love seeing everyone having a lovely time, making friendships and smiling. The bands also, every single one that we’ve had has been totally special and have made it for us and everyone else. There are literally too many bands that stick out for me … But mostly it’s the atmosphere created by everyone … That’s the reason why we do it.

For more information, check the event page here.

5-Year Anniversary Compilation and Zine

I know we’ve been a little quiet over here lately. We still have a few interviews to finish up for our Popfest Previews series and another EP release in the works for early next year, but we’ve also been working on something a bit bigger. Something we’re now ready to reveal to you.

February Records turned 5 this year and, to celebrate, we are releasing a CD compilation featuring 14 bands spanning the length of our catalog. Most of the songs have never been released before and are exclusive to this comp. We wanted to make this project special. I think we have.

The CD will feature bands from our current roster, including Finnmark, The Swapsies, The Halamays, Cozy Catastrophes, Ry Smith, and The Pretty Greens. However, we wanted this compilation to celebrate everything the label has accomplished over the years, so we reached out to bands we have worked with in the past, such as Lunchbox, Onward Chariots, Ghost of Chance, Brilliant at Breakfast, Summer Library, The Month of June, and Secret Charisma. There is even a track from NYC’s Boy Genius who has played more than a few gigs that February put on in the early years though they never officially released on the label.

In addition to the compilation, we’ve decided to produce the first physical edition of our zine, …March, April, & May. The zine will include interviews with each of the bands represented on the compilation plus much more.

Though a physical release date has yet to be set, we are aiming to have everything printed, pressed, stamped, and sewn together by the middle of December. We’ll be updating you of our progress along the way because, let’s face it, this is the first time we’ve done anything like this and we’re excited to share it all with you.

Kristin & Danny

Compilation contributors:
Boy Genius
Brilliant at Breakfast
Cozy Catastrophes
Finnmark!
Ghost of Chance
The Halamays
Lunchbox
The Month of June
Onward Chariots
The Pretty Greens
Ry Smith
Secret Charisma
Summer Library
The Swapsies

… March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Lima Popfest

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march_april_may_2.5x5We love that there are more Popfests cropping up all over the world. It seems as though people are really taking their love for pop music and combining it with the pride of their culture. Lima Popfest is certainly no exception to that. This year will be the very first year for the festival, celebrating the pop bands and DJs of Latin America. We know where we wish we could be on the 17th and 18th of October!

1. Can you give us a history of Lima Popfest (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
Since I returned to Lima in 2009, I felt the need to have a Popfest in Latin America. I became an active part of the independent pop scene when I joined the noise pop band Eva & John in 2011 and I remember having long conversations with Roque from Cloudberry Records about organizing a Lima Popfest. Earlier this year, I talked to my friend Carlos Luque from Camisa de Fuerza and he supported the project. Inspired by the Sao Paulo Popfest and the Madrid Popfest, we started working on the first edition of Lima Popfest which will be held on October 17th and 18th in Downtown Lima.

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
For this first edition, Roque, Manuel (Eva & John) and I suggested some bands from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil and Peru. I remember the first bands we contacted were La Ola que Quería ser Chau and Las Ligas Menores from Argentina because they make some amazing songs. Later, Trementina and My Light Shines for You from Chile. We also contacted some great bands from Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the band Peru from the UK, but it was a little more difficult to get them here due to the distances and other issues. For the Peruvian bands, we chose them because we think they are some of the best in the local scene. For future editions, we will be accepting applications to expand the lineup. After we launched the festival, we have been contacted by artists who make great music and they need to be heard.

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing a popfest?
Well, it is our first edition so there are a lot of lessons to be learned yet.

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
We will take a couple of months off after the first one. So, in January 2015 we will start planning the next one.

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
Just to have fun and get ready to jump and dance with these amazing bands. If they are coming from a different country, they must try our amazing food, drinks and maybe take some time to visit Cuzco, Arequipa, Trujillo and other cities in Peru.

6. What are some of the best and worst popfest moments you can remember?
It is the first one so we are expecting to have more “best moments” than worst to tell you about in the future. Thank you for the interview. We invite everybody from all over the world to come to Lima in October to enjoy some of the best indie pop bands from Latin America.

Thank you, Daniel!

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For more information about Lima Popfest, please visit their Facebook page.

… March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Popfest Berlin

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march_april_may_2.5x5For the past 5 years, Popfest Berlin has been hosting a series of international bands in their German city. This year is no exception! Over the course of a weekend (September 26th and 27th, to be exact), bands from Spain, the UK, and Germany will play to an enthusiastic crowd in the Grünen Salon. Instead of drinking lots of German beer, as Sandra suggests doing, we will be stuck wishing we were there!

1. Can you give us a history of Popfest Berlin (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
We started in 2010. I had just moved to Berlin and met Uwe and Olaf from Firestation Records. I hadn’t been involved in the indie pop scene here before and I was wondering if there are enough people out (t)here to start something like a Popfest. So I set up a Facebook group called Popfest Berlin. Within hours it had over 100 members and everybody was asking: when and where?! I was overwhelmed … but I had actually no idea how to organize it! :D Anyway this was the point of no return! Luckily, Uwe had already organized lots of parties and concerts, and some days later the venue was fixed and we (Uwe, Olaf, Andi from the Pop Assistants and me) could start working on the first Popfest Berlin line-up.

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
The only rule is: More pop less shit! When it comes to choosing bands, we all have a quite different taste, though it’s all indie pop. This makes our meet-ups sometimes really heated! ;) We don’t have an application process and contact most of the bands on our own (which is quite hard sometimes!), but are always happy about requests by bands (and fans)!

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing Popfest Berlin?
There’s never enough free beer for the bands! And, unfortunately, also there’s never enough money to pay the bands fair :( This is really a serious problem, since most of our bands come from abroad and have high traveling costs. We are really grateful for their effort!

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
Usually, right after the Popfest we are so excited, that we can’t wait to meet up again and discuss about the next line-up! But then we take a small break and start about eight months before the next one. It surprises me, but we got quite organized over the years!

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
German beer! Loads of! And stay on the dance floor until 5 o’clock in the morning!

6. What are some of the best and worst Popfest Berlin moments you can remember?
My favorite moment was when Amelia Fletcher used my tambourine on stage! I bought it ages ago and never had a use for it, but I knew one day it would get its 45 minutes fame ;)

Well, the worst one. As I said before, there’s never enough money, and there was one time where we didn’t sell enough tickets. That was really disappointing, but didn’t keep us from going on! Because all the people, who have been to our festivals, are so thankful for setting up Popfest Berlin and bringing indie pop to Germany!

Thanks, Sandra!

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For more information regarding the line-up, tickets, etc. be sure to visit the Popfest Berlin website.

FEB040: “REXROTH” by Ry Smith


 
Ry Smith is the musical mastermind behind the once-prolific Long Island folk-pop band Eastern Phoebes. February Records released the Phoebes’ 2011 EP Gypsy Paw. Now, since relocating to Rhode Island, Ry is making music on his own, churning out solo pop gems with a slightly darker tone. REXROTH is a self-proclaimed “record about sadness,” tackling so many of the twists and turns of life.

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The 13-song pay-what-you-want download comes with an exclusive interview with Ry.

…March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Indietracks

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march_april_may_2.5x5The one festival that really needs no introduction: Indietracks. For many people it is the pinnacle of indiepop festivals. For those of us who have never been, we’ve all heard stories. For everyone who has gone and experienced it, they always say the same thing: “You’re going to love it!” The festival has inspired songs (i.e. Northern Spies’ “Swanwick Junction” and Lisa Bouvier’s “Every Year Until We Die”), has a good handful of attendees who return year after year, and hotels are fully booked by Christmas.

So, what’s the story behind the festival? We asked Team Indietracks a few questions to find out!

1. Can you give us a history of Indietracks (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
The festival started in 2007 and was the idea of Stuart Mackay, who worked on the Midland Railway in Derbyshire restoring trains. He thought it would be great to have an indiepop festival there, and amazingly the railway agreed! So they ran a small event in April 2007 with just a few bands and DJs, followed by a first weekend festival in July 2007. Stuart, Emma Hall and Daniel Chapman organised these two events, with a lot of work and support from the Midland Railway team, especially Andrea and John Hett.

From 2008 onwards, the festival grew and invited bigger names like The Wedding Present and Los Campesinos! in 2008, and then Teenage Fanclub and Camera Obscura in 2009 (when we asked Elefant Records to help curate the bill). As the festival grew, more of us joined the team to help with all the work. Stuart, Emma (H) and Daniel have left the team now, and John Hett from the railway sadly passed away in 2009. The current team is Marianthi, Ian, Nat, Alice, Emma (C) and Andy, with lots of work from Andrea, Alan and the railway staff. We’ve all been involved for several years, so hopefully the festival is still in safe hands!

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
There’s a few ways we select the bands. We invite bands to send us applications every autumn, and then have a listen to see which ones we like the most. We usually get several hundred applications and have a great time listening to everything! There’s also a wishlist on the Anorak message board, and we always look at that and try and book the bands near the top of the list, as well as picking up on any great ideas further down the list. And then there’s always lots of bands we have in mind ourselves. We try not to have any bands playing two years in a row, but otherwise there’s no rules! 

Hopefully this gives us a varied and interesting festival. This year we’ve some amazing artists that have never played before (Gruff Rhys, The Chills, Dean Wareham, The Popguns, Sweet Baboo), some Indietracks favourites returning (Allo Darlin’, Withered Hand, The Hidden Cameras, The Just Joans), some great overseas bands (Los Cripis, Lost Tapes, The Very Most, Thee AHs) and lots more besides! 

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing Indietracks?
Never underestimate the imagination of the Midland Railway staff! Every year they come up with something creative and slightly crazy. Last year there was a beach on the festival site, which ended the weekend in perfect condition despite a huge and merry late night singalong taking place there on the Sunday night. They’ve also arranged for an owl sanctuary to be on site during the festival and they also brought glow sticks along one year. Last year’s festival also ended up with one of the bar staff playing “The Last Post” on a bugle at the end of our final disco. We really have no idea what they’re going to do this year! 

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
We’re planning for the next one now! There’s a few bands that couldn’t make it this year that we’ve already asked whether they could play if we hold the festival again next year. And then we usually invite bands to apply in the autumn so that we can start booking from January onwards. We’re writing this in mid-June and we’re still booking bands now — it’s good to be organised, but helpful not to pin down absolutely everything too far in advance just in case someone amazing becomes available at the last minute. We were really pleased to book The Chills in early June this year and fortunately we still had space on the bill when they became available!

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
We’d suggest watching a few bands in the tin tabernacle church, even if it’s a band you’re not familiar with, as the atmosphere in the church is amazing. We’d also recommend visiting some of the railway attractions — the light railway and the miniature railway in the country park are wonderful, and it’s great looking round all the old trains and buses in the transport museum. And remember to go and visit the owls next to the railway canteen (Johnson’s buffet). Oh, and if it’s hot, there’s ice cream in the Swanwick Junction station shop! 

6. What are some of the best and worst Indietracks moments you can remember?
The 2007 festivals were incredible, as we couldn’t believe we were able to hold indiepop shows on such a beautiful location. Over the years, there’s been some really special shows (La Casa Azul, Teenage Fanclub, Edwyn Collins spring to mind first). It’s also been great to see bands that played at Indietracks fairly early on (Allo Darlin’, Standard Fare, Just Joans) come back and play to huge crowds in later years. I can’t think of any worst moments — things have gone wrong of course (eg. the thunderstorms last year that meant moving Camera Obscura to the indoor stage at short notice) but in those situations the fact that all our bands, our stage crew and our audience are all really nice and all help each other to fix things means that those moments  actually  become the best moments too! 

Many thanks to Team Indietracks!

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For the full line-up (including interviews with each band), schedule, ticket information, and more, please visit the Indietracks website.

FEB039: “Way Last June” by Cozy Catastrophes

 
Cozy Catastrophes is the solo recording project of Greg Adams. Using guitars, bass, Casios, Moog, glockenspiel and drum machines, and inspired by twee pop, Swedish pop, self-help books and Bobby Rydell’s sweaters, Cozy Catastrophes creates music for teen-age record hops, in-town driving, and lonely hours. The Bloomington, Indiana, resident released his debut album, An Instructive Amusement, in August 2013 on his own Beehive Rebellion Records. The homemade, bedroom-pop recordings of the debut album were clever and slightly cute. Any song called “I Wish This Sweater Were You” was already going to be a big hit among the two of us at February Records. The new Cozy Catastrophes EP, Way Last June, is a bit more electric, but the songwriting is still just as clever as the debut album.

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The 6-song, pay-what-you-want download comes with an exclusive interview with Greg. Cassette versions of Way Last June are also available for purchase directly from Cozy Catastrophes.

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The debut album [from Cozy Catastrophes] has a catchy melody and a good, positive feel.Pop Camp blog (translated)