A conversation with Blueprint’s Matt Owchar on the redefinition of Vancity’s electronic festival
Vancouver, BC – Originally published March 14, 2016 – As we inch farther into the month, Vancouver music aficionados ready themselves for five days of live music madness which is set to overtake the city from March 23rd-27th. Seasons Festival is no new-comer to the festival experience, and annually offers a remarkable amount of highly interactive shows throughout the city at a wide range of venues. In regards to this year’s duration, the festival is longer than ever, while still offering a single wristband to partake in all five days of music events. “Seeking to celebrate the communities of people around the arts and highlight the inter-connectivity of these creative industries,” Seasons also welcomes a new audience by inviting recognized hip-hop influenced acts such as: Just Blaze, Iamsu, Tommy Genesis, Keith Ape, and LNDN DRGS.
Some might say that Blueprint has solely championed redefining the live music experience within Vancouver, and this year they don’t fail to redefine those boundaries yet again. While the festival has always revolved around a heavy electronic music presence, the diverse line-up of 2016 is a fresh approach which is similar to the genre-meshing tendencies we’re currently seeing in music. We had a chance to catch up with Blueprint’s marketing manager and talent-buyer, Matt Owchar, to discuss the structure of this year’s festival and what they’ve done to create an experience that you won’t want to miss. Check it out below.
“I guess this boils down to the fact that Seasons is a festival where anyone can check out a lot of diverse programming no matter what kind of music fan you typecast yourself as.” – Matt Owchar
Matt Owchar for Blueprint: Q&A
Interview conducted by Kira Hunston for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: We’ve seen a large expansion in the scope of the festival this year. Tell us a little bit about what lead to the decision to include rap acts along with the usual electronic bookings?
Matt Owchar: The overall strategy has been to go more “cerebral” and “experimental” with bookings in general for Seasons Festival. So in that sense, acts like Keith Ape, IAMSU!, Tommy Genesis, and LNDN DRGS are all a little outside the normal rap music genre whole all being hip hop acts no matter which way you spin it. Without a doubt, all of these acts are having a great year and are heavy influencers in their respective scenes. It’s a huge pleasure to have them be a part of the festival and help us with the direction we’re moving in.
HipHopCanada: You’ve got a dynamic lineup of rap acts coming together to play in a festival setting such as, Just Blaze, Tommy Genesis, LNDN DRGS, and Keith Ape. How has the festival been constructed to offer a unique experience for rap and hip hop fans specifically?
Matt Owchar: I guess this boils down to the fact that Seasons is a festival where anyone can check out a lot of diverse programming no matter what kind of music fan you typecast yourself as; although this demographic barely exists in this day and age. The 5 day wristband gives festival goers the best value possible with access to over 30 events alone featuring 60+ artists. The whole idea is that there will be shows where there will be some crossover where hip hop fans might be inclined to check out acts that aren’t necessarily rappers, but obviously come from a Hip Hop influenced background. Producers like Stwo and Sango, or even someone like Sophie for example.
HipHopCanada: You must have seen a lot of great artist performances over the past few years. What qualities make an artist a good fit in the lineup for Seasons Festival specifically?
Matt Owchar: Seasons has been a lot of learning for us; both in terms of how to run a festival of this magnitude and well as the functionality of a wristband system where the idea is to encourage people to experience music they might not already be familiar with. In terms of this year specifically, the quality and critical appreciation of artists was definitely what mattered most for a majority of the line up. It’s exciting to be able to promote a festival that does have a majority of that to offer.
HipHopCanada: What other expansions have been made this year to attract a wider range of audience other than those who may be drawn to the EDM scene?
Matt Owchar: Well our 2 day main event is a prime example of acts that may be on the fringes of EDM, but most certainly are much more than that. Porter Robinson and Odesza are both unique acts with strong fan bases of their own that grew from the strength and resonance of both their albums, but also their incredible live shows. So booking with that mentality top down on the line up was pretty easy to do. In terms of community support, the help of some awesome curators like Malcolm Levy, Derek Duncan, and Andishae Akhavan has helped as well. It’s a perfect representative of people outside of the realm of EDM that are willing to see Blueprint for more than just that.
HipHopCanada: Where do you see Seasons headed into the future in regards to booking artists from different genres outside of electronic music?
Matt Owchar: Electronic music is one of the core tenets of the festival so it may evolve as electronic music does, but it will always remain a core focus. When it comes to hip hop bookings however, the line is blurry. Hip hop started out as electronic music and continues to be made that way for the most part. So maybe it’s a stretch to book some hip hop acts for Seasons, but the mentality there is about booking acts outside the norm in some way that makes them a logical fit. Either way, I think we’re off to a good start this year and we can only hope to build on what we’ve done in 2016.
You can still grab tickets for the festival at http://seasonsfestival.com/tickets
Interview conducted by Kira Hunston for HipHopCanada
Photography of Matt Owchar by Chris Danforth/Highsnobiety
Twitter: @ExpendableYouth | @Blueprintevents