Monthly Archives: May 2014

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

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For our next interview, we switch coasts and focus on New York City. We could honestly ramble on and on about the glory of NYC Popfest. Given that February Records was strictly based in the northeastern corner of the US up until very recently, NYC Popfest has always been our go-to weekend. We say it every year and 2014 is certainly no exception – Maz and Clyde have once again outdone themselves.

The festival will take place in various venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, beginning on Thursday, May 29th and ending with an all-day affair on Sunday, June 1st. Various U.S. States, Australia, Europe, and the Dominican Republic are well represented this year with an incredibly strong balance of debut performances, reunions, and some of the most popular current bands in indiepop.

So, we asked Maz to answer a few questions for us about this year’s NYC Popfest. We’ve had our own adventures and experiences in NYC and we strongly urge you to take Maz’s advice regarding the subway!

1. Can you give us a history of NYC Popfest (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
The history of NYC Popfest actually goes back to 1995, but it was called Tweefest back then and it was an outgrowth of the indiepop mailing list. Popfest returned in January 1997 as a bicoastal event, and it featured bands like Holiday and The Push Kings. The current version of NYC Popfest began in 2007 with half a dozen organizers. Four of the organizers continued the festival in 2008. My friend Clyde was one of the original organizers and he asked me if I was interested in organizing the 2009 festival. At the time, I had experience booking bands at our indiepop dance party called Mondo. I had a great time at both the ’07 and ’08 Popfests and naturally jumped at the opportunity to be involved in 2009. Ever since 2009, Clyde and I have been organizing Popfest. 2014 marks our 8th consecutive year!

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?
We contact most of the bands that end up playing at NYC Popfest, although there are a handful each year that have asked to play. We don’t really have a formal application process, but do encourage bands to contact us if interested in playing. It’s challenging to only choose 30 bands each year as we get hundreds of requests. We don’t have any hard rules as to who can or can not play, but we try to change up the lineup significantly from year to year. Since NYC is renowned for its diversity, we aim to attract an international lineup. Bringing in bands from around the world, as well as from different eras of indiepop, is especially important.

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing NYC Popfest?
Try to relax and enjoy the festival because it goes by extremely quickly.

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?
I usually take June-August off completely from any Popfest planning. Then I begin contacting bands in September or October.

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
If you’re coming from out of town, make sure to plan at least a few extra days before or after Popfest to enjoy NYC. And plan ahead if traveling by subway, as NYC public transportation can be unpredictable on weekends.

6. What are some of the best and worst NYC Popfest moments you can remember?
The best moments were seeing bands I never thought I’d get a chance to see live, like The Wake and Close Lobsters. And meeting so many wonderful people from around the world.

The worst moments are the near heart-attacks I would get when a band would have trouble getting into the U.S. — whether it’s due to a volcano or delays at an airport. There was also the time when The Monochrome Set tried to come to their own after party and were turned away by the bouncer because they didn’t have IDs! That was sad.

Thanks, Maz!

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For more information, including ticket information, mass transit directions to venues, lineups and times, check out the official New York City Popfest 2014 website.

…March, April & May: Popfest Preview: San Francisco Popfest

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In the U.S., May is about to end in a whirlwind of excitement. We have certainly missed San Francisco Popfest, haven’t we? This year, the West Coast event is back and with an incredible international lineup, bringing the Bay Area fans what the organizers are calling “four epic days of indie pop magic.” With bands like Rocketship, The Softies, The Zebras, Boyracer, and Lunchbox to name but a few of the acts, Memorial Day weekend is bound to be just that: indiepop magic.

Occurring in various venues throughout the city, San Francisco Popfest will take place from the 22nd through the 25th of May. One of this year’s new organizers, Josh Yule, answered a few questions about his experiences with setting up SF Popfest for the very first time.

Can you give us a history of San Francisco Popfest (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
I believe SF popfest goes all the way back to either ’98 or ’99. I was recently talking to Mario of Kids on a Crime Spree (SLR & popfest alums) who is one of the original organizers. He mentioned how it started and how at first it was just a bi-yearly event. I recently noticed in a past-shows link for The Aislers Set where they had 7/8 1999 as playing with Rocketship for the SF Popfest. So we have some proof this thing has been around for quite sometime now. Aaron took on the event for the remainder of the years and had some great lineups.

How I got involved was Aaron had approached a friend of mine that I did a monthly with here in SF, called shine on, about helping out and DJing a few of the popfest events. We of course graciously accepted and, from what I understand, Aaron retired and passed the torch on to us. I hope to run into him at some of the shows this year!

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 process is not too intense or choosey. We just approach bands we would like to see and hope the rest of the Bay Area feels the same as we do. Of course we stay genre specific, and this year I did get a few submissions from bands to play that in my opinion had never heard of the SF popfest prior, and for that matter, probably thought the word twee was just a misspelling of the word tweet.

What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing SF Popfest?
I have definitely found a few more grey hairs on my head, but have learned to take a step back when things get too out of control. After all, this is strictly for fun for me. It is not a job. Ya know some people collect hot dog paraphernalia and some people like to book popfest shows. I just happen to enjoy doing both as a hobby. But as far as what it has taught me, I have learned that all these people playing these shows genuinely love the indie scene and do it for the music, not the money. I look up to some of these bands more than I did in the ’90s now, and I feel as though I have made some really fantastic new friends in these last few months.

When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
Well, last year, I was a little wet behind the ears and learned to start earlier. So from here on out new years day is when I will get started. Actually, today, I was contacted by one of my favorite  Scottish indie pop bands about them possibly playing next year. I can’t say who it is yet, as I do not want to curse it, but it’s pretty awesome!!

Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
Be sure to apply lots of sunscreen and keep well hydrated when attending Coachella.

Thanks, Josh!

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Popfest attendees who purchase four-day passes will also receive a limited-edition cassette featuring rare tracks from this year’s line up. That sounds like incentive to me! Additional information regarding those four-day passes, individual tickets, bands, and participating venues can be found at the SF Popfest website.

Check out our exclusive interview with Tim Brown of Lunchbox, who will be playing the festival. And download our re-release of Lunchbox’s 2001 EP “Glow Like There’s No Tomorrow.”