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