POP Montreal is an annual not-for-profit cultural event that champions independence in the arts by presenting emerging and celebrated talents. The 5 day festival showcases more than 400 performances to audiences of over 60,000. It delivers a bold cross-section of art forms and events, including concerts, symposium discussions, artisan and visual art exhibitions, fashion shows, film screenings, and, of course, a few all-night parties.
Founded in 2002, they helped break countless emerging artists to the world while providing a dizzying and diverse array of headliners like RZA, Fever Ray, Bonobo, The Orb, Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega, Godflesh, David Byrne, St Vincent, Death Grips, Macy Gray, Swans, Butthole Surfers, John Cale, Beck, Franz Ferdinand, Regina Spektor, Queens of the Stone Age etc. Check out the teaser on this year’s addition!
To get you hyped for the 18th edition of POP MONTREAL, we sat down with the festival’s founder Dan Seligman to get an inside look at his DIY journey at the head of this remarkable Montreal institution. Meet the man who faced down an angry Diamanda Galas and lived to tell the tale.
1) What inspired you and your partners to start this festival back in 2002? What continues to inspire you year after year to put in the long hours of work required?
We wanted to create the next Osheaga. We are inspired by THE YOUTH!
2) What are the Not To Be Missed performances at this year’s edition? Which conferences are you most excited about?
In terms of music : Tirzah, Jess Sah Bi & Peter One, Backxwash, Aldous Harding, James Baley, Teto Preto, Rakta, Mavis Staples, Ian Isiah, Trapped in Elan’s Mansion. + about 250 more! For the conferences, the Moor Mother and Tika talk and the Why Do We Like Misogynist Music are probably my two top picks!
3) Please share some anecdotes about your proudest, most triumphant moments of the festival? And what was the most hilarious disaster?
So many amazing memorable shows! Making a church full of people dance to disco with GIORGIO MORODER was pretty cool. There have been a lot of amazing shows, almost too many. SISTER NANCY singjaying at the back of Lambi was a classic. D.R.A.M tripping on mushrooms with the crowd losing their shit. THINK ABOUT LIFE for our sweet 16. ANNETTE PEACOCK at the Ukrainian Federation.
In terms of hilarious disasters. they are usually not hilarious. I guess when we had DIAMANDA GALAS about 10 years ago and she hated her hotel because there was too much noise. That was a bit of a situation to deal with.
4) Can you give us some insights into your selection criteria when choosing which acts to book? What are some do’s and dont’s for bands that want to apply? Got any stories about the innovative ways a band got your attention?
Do make really great music. Don’t email us a week before the festival asking us if there are slots. We are always scouring the world looking for fresh shit so if you are making real music we would like to hear it!
5) Recently some new festivals with heavy corporate funding have been trying to muscle in on your territory. How do you compete when the corporate festival cabal tries to take over? Has it affected your funding in terms of grants, permits etc…? What can fans do to help support indie festivals and venues against this attempted takeover of underground culture?
We compete by being connected to an actual music community and music scene. We also compete by being a little different. cheeky, irreverent. We are not cookie cutter, boring and generic. Fans who love POP and want to support the local music community should come out, buy a ticket to a show and buy a beer at one of the bars we run. That is always appreciated and never taken for granted!
The 18th POP Montreal festival takes place from Wednesday, Sept. 25 to Sunday, Sept. 29. For programming information and to purchase tickets, passes and packages, visit popmontreal.com.
If Pop Montreal is not enough entertainment for you, a visual must-see is the Feux Follets Chinese Lantern Festival!
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Simon is 20 years into a life sentence in the music biz. He's performed at major international festivals and worked with Grammy Award winners. As Music Curator for BKM he gives you a sneak peek behind the curtain...