The grassroots festival POP Montreal was created with the goal of delivering live music to people who love the experience of seeing performances. This fall, the festival celebrates its 13th anniversary from September 17-21. Sonicbids and POP Montreal are close partners, and there are more than 40 slots reserved for Sonicbids artists across just as many venues in the gorgeous Canadian city. We chatted with Dan Seligman, one of the festival's co-founders, about how the festival has grown and what he's looking for in bands.
What was the thought behind creating POP Montreal? How did the festival come about?
When we started the festival, me and my partner Peter Rowan were coming from the perspective of music managers. I worked with my brother's band Stars, and he managed Julie Doiron. We were a bit put off by our experiences at festivals like CMJ, SXSW and CMW and felt that bands were always the treated like the least important part of the equation – like they were cattle herded out in front of disinterested industry reps.
We wanted to create a festival that was an artist-centric event where the importance was placed on connecting with music fans. Our hopes were that we would create a festival that artists loved, and that we would attract the best emerging talent, and then the industry would come and want to be involved because of the great quality of the event!
How have you seen the festival change over the past 11 years?
We've gotten bigger — more bands, more venues, more days, more associated events like fine art, film, conference, craft fairs, kids' events. We've become more organized and more legitimate in respect to doing everything above board and compliant with legal regulations (at first we had several late night not-so-legal loft parties). But I hope the spirit and the essence of the festival has remained grounded in the desire to bring a community together to experience good music and good times. I think we've continually done a better job on programming more diverse and interesting bands. The goal of the fest continues to get better and better every year.
What's the crowd and overall vibe like at POP Montreal?
Our festival is for music fans who really love music. The vibe is great – it's really fun. There's a lot of energy and a general feeling of positivity around the festival's different venues.
When you're considering acts to perform, what makes a band stand out?
We are always looking for originality, creativity and something slightly different.
What advice would you give bands who haven't performed at many festivals? What should they know about the experience?
Festivals are a great place to meet other musicians, learn from more experience performers and to be inspired by all the creative energy around you. Be open, drink water and have a good time!
The deadline to submit your application for POP Montreal is Monday, May 12. Apply today!