Tag Archives: popfest preview

… March, April & May: (Not a) Popfest Preview: Going Up The Country

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As we have now come full circle and we’ve reached out to just about every alldayer, weekender, or Popfest that we possibly could think of, this will be our last in the Popfest Previews series. We’re very happy to be able to include Going Up The Country!

If you’ve been at any major Popfest or festival in the UK in the last year, you’ve likely met Christie the Bear and her compassionate companions, Kevin and Linda. Christie accompanies Kev and Linda to various events, indiepop or otherwise, to help raise awareness and donations for Macmillan Cancer Support. Kev and Linda also happen to be the organizers behind Going Up The Country.

GUTC is what Kev and Linda call a “charity indiepop mini weekender.” Taking place each year at The Church in Congleton, this year’s charity pop weekender is being held on the 13th and 14th of June with bands such as The Swapsies, The Mersey Belles, Bodyheat, and many more!

Can you give us a history of Going Up The Country (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
The inspiration came from Bentley Cooke of Manchester-based band Help Stamp Out Loneliness back in 2011. At a gig he made a throw-away comment about wanting to play somewhere in the countryside. That weekend we were guest DJs at a Charity Scooter event at The Church House, our local pub. They had bands playing on a truck outside and we thought ‘Could we put something on here?’ Bentley loved the idea so, in memory of his mum, he chose Christies, the world famous Cancer Hospital, as the Charity and Going Up The Country was born. This year will be our 4th. Previously, it’s just been one day but we’ve added a totally acoustic Sunday this year. We aspired to give it a mini-Indietracks feel, our favourite festival in all the world … I hope we’ve succeeded!

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?
Having never done anything like this before, the process was a bit scary! Kev approached bands that we’d seen and enjoyed, so pretty soon we had our first great line up. Disaster struck when Help Stamp Out Loneliness split up (please get back together!). Luckily, The School stepped in as a replacement so our first stab at promoting an event was a great success. As GUTC has become more known, bands now approach us to play too, so if we have space and they have the right Indiepop feel, then they’ll be considered.

What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing the event?
Don’t have flyers printed too soon. It pays to have someone calm and laid back on the team (Kev) to counteract the one who panics and worries (Linda). Help from friends like Jamie Harrison and Pete & Jo Dale have been invaluable.

When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
At the end of the very long day you think do we want to do this all over again? Then you wake up and remember just how much fun it was, add in the wonderful feedback and the answer is a resounding YES. Planning is mainly booking the bands so it’s pretty much straight after. If we see any and think ‘WOW we’d love them to play Going Up The Country,’ we usually ask them there and then.

Do you have any inside tips for attendees?
Congleton is pretty sleepy in comparison to Manchester but it is accessible by train and a fair amount goes on musically and artistically. Cheshire is a beautiful part of the world, so come along and have a pint or two of our real ale Pristine Christine, see some excellent musicians, dance your socks off and, to quote one of the best tweets we ever had, have “the most fun ever in a pub car park.” We finish off with an Indiepop Disco in the pub … the locals just love watching everyone bouncing around and think Pristine Christine is made of cherries ….

What are some of the best and worst GUTC moments you can remember?
Nothing catastrophic has happened yet so fingers crossed for 2015, but there have been a few hairy moments. Rain and cold temperatures in our English Summer is always a worry, although we do have adequate shelter! Bands who forget their instruments … yes they do! Highlights are too numerous to mention just so many talented, friendly and extremely generous people from all over the country — even Spain & Germany — having a really great time … can’t wait …

As always, all profits from the weekend festivities will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support, so why not feel good about watching some of your favorite pop bands? Tickets for the weekender are now on sale. Visit the GUTC Facebook group for more info on the lineup and where to purchase your ticket.

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

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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!

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

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‘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.

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

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We 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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For 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! 😀 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.

…March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Indietracks

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The 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.

…March, April & May: Popfest Preview: Indiefjord

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Indiefjord: mixing indiepop with the beautiful fjords of Norway. Who had the brilliant idea to do such a marvelous thing? Silja Haddal Mork and Mattias Lidehäll, of course! Indiefjord is a weekend-long indiepop party in the village of Bjørke, Norway, occurring on July 12-14. Not only will you be able to see bands from Scandinavia and the UK, dance to your heart’s content, and experience the beauty of the fjords, but the community of Bjørke will also be involved, organizing various day-time activities for festival attendees. What more could you really ask for?

To tell us more about the process in bringing these two communities, indiepop and Bjørke, together for the weekend, Silja and Mattias happily answered a few questions for us.

1. Can you give us a history of Indiefjord (dates, organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved? Why did you choose to set up this event?
We (Silja Haddal Mork & Mattias Lidehäll) moved from London to Norway in the summer of 2013. Soon we felt that something was missing. It was the music and our friends. In order to do something about this we (in november 2013) decided to arrange a party for new and old friends and to fill it with our favourite music. Since we both were involved in the London/European indiepop scene (Silja as one of the arrangers of the club “Librarians Wanted” and member of the indiepop netlabel EardrumsPop and Mattias as a member of several Indiepop bands, including Stars in Coma and Lost Summer Kitten), we had no problems reaching out to the bands we wanted to book. The response was strong and positive! The venue we chose is in a small village at the end of a beautiful fjord. We want to give our visitors a taste of Norway at its finest!

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to request to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
We know a lot of bands since almost all of our friends are playing. For us, it was more a matter of choosing the best ones from a bunch of amazing ones. Since it’s our party, we are very picky and only book those who we are personal fans of and people that we like to hang out with. After all, it’s a party for the people playing as well.

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing Indiefjord?
We soon realized the importance of having the locals involved in the planning. The festival is in a very small village and it won’t go by unnoticed. It’s important that the people living there feel that it’s something they are part of and not an invasion of aliens. The people we are working together with are also great assets in many ways and help us solve problems before they even occur.

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? Or, if this is the first of such event, when will you start planning for next year?
We started organizing in November, but if we do it again we’ll probably start sooner. The earlier everything is set, the better. There’s a lot of logistics to think about and such issues are easier to handle if you solve them early on. The timeline for this year was: 1. book the venue, 2. book the bands, 3. meet the people that we’re cooperating with, 4. advertise advertise advertise.

5. 

Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
Always expect bad weather. It will rain and it will be a lot colder than you can ever expect. If you bring warm clothes that can keep you dry then everything else will be a joy! Dancing helps too, so that’s our biggest recommendation!!

6. What are some of the best and worst moments of any Popfest that you can remember?
Best: 
Mattias: ‘Allo Darlin at any festival/popfest. I’ve cried tears of joy in several parts of the world while attending their gigs.
Silja: The very start of Librarians Wanted: me and my friend Roo met David at Indietracks 2010, we were dancing to Stars in Coma and decided to start a club in London. We decided we’d try to book that band one day, and nearly a year later we did — and that’s how I met my Indiefjord-co-organiser and boyfriend Mattias, he played in that awesome band. Everything is connected to Indietracks! It was also a great highlight to DJ there in 2011 with Librarians Wanted, felt like we were coming home.
Worst:
 Mattias: Playing keyboard with Stars in Coma at Indiepop Days Berlin in 2010. The sound of the keyboard was barely audible and I had no idea what I was playing. At the last song I just gave up and went out in the audience and danced instead!

Silja: None! Popfests are 100% happiness to me. There should be more of them! Especially in Norway…

Thanks, Silja and Mattias!

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There are no traditional tickets to Indiefjord, instead you contribute a donation that will go toward the bands and the overall community. For more information on the donation process, the activities scheduled over the weekend, and how to get to Bjørke, visit the Indiefjord website.

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

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I’m going to let you in on something I’m not especially proud of – I had no idea Roma Popfest existed until a few months ago. Awful, right? Where have I been? The U.S., I presume – that faraway land where we are quite removed from so much.

Now that I’m aware of such a great event, we want to share it with you! The women behind Frigopop are also responsible for Roma Popfest. Their reasoning couldn’t be any better: As their website suggests, “there is a Popfest in New York and one in San Francisco, another in London, Berlin, Madrid. Why not to Rome?”

As you will read, the 2014 edition will be the fifth year for the Rome festival, occurring on 16 and 17 June at Traffic Live Club and Le Mura, respectively. This year you can expect a mixture of folk, synthesizers, dreampop, and even a band labeled as “swaying palm trees” via Google Translate. I’m on board, what about you?

1. Can you give us a history of Roma Popfest (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
The first edition of Romapopfest took place in 2010, and there have been one every year ever since, so for next June we’re preparing the fifth edition! At the beginning we were five girls organizing pop concerts and dj sets in Roma, and we just thought it was a good idea to create a popfest in the city; we started to work on that. Since the third edition, three of the girls left so now it’s just me and Priscilla De Pace, but we’re often helped by friends.

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 isn’t a specific rule, we just try to combine our preferences to those of our audience: we contact the bands but sometimes we might also accept applications. Unfortunately, indiepop as a genre, is not very popular in Rome, so usually we have to cross out some bands we really like but who won’t bring any people to the show. That is why we often focus on Italian pop bands; they’re really great, even though they might not be very popular outside our country. If you need some examples, go check Green Like July (they’re playing this year’s Popfest!) Brothers In Law, His Clancyness, Dumbo Gets Mad and many others … Anyway our headliners this year are The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, I think you might know them … 🙂

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing Rome Popfest?
Free drinks for bands, as well as balloons on the stage, are never enough.

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 usually begin six months ahead. There’s isn’t a specific timeline, we’re quite unorganized. But we know the things that have to be done so we just try to do that in time for the shows!

5. Do you have any inside tips for festival goers?
Festival totebags are always amazing and very cheap, so buy them! Let the festival atmosphere follow you during summertime.

6. What are some of the best and worst Rome Popfest moments you can remember?
I think one of the best moment I can recall is the first edition, 2010. The response we had has been amazing, people were really very happy to be there. 

The worst moments were probably those spent working hard to hand out flyers and to build stage designs with our own hands….!

Thanks, Frigopop!

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The entire lineup (including biographies), ticket information, directions to the venues and more can be found at the Roma Popfest website.

…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.”