Interview: Mau from AMFest
AMFest has been running for 5 years now but it only really came across our radar last year when the standout quality of the lineup, featuring the likes of And So I Watch You From Afar, pg lost & Sleepmakeswaves, really caught our attention.
This year we are teaming up with them to help bring them to a wider audience outside of Spain. Their 2018 lineup announcement went out this morning and they have absolutely outdone themselves with a monstrous selection of bands including Mono, 65daysofstatic, Toundra and the mighty Amenra.
In the wake of that we thought we’d grab a chat with Mau, one of the guys behind the whole operation, to find out a bit more.
(((o))): Tell us a bit about AMFest. When did you start & what made you want to take on something like starting a festival?
AMFest was born Aloud Music Festival back in 2013 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona-based label Aloud Music. It was meant to be a one-off but the success and the unexpected big crowd that attended those first 3 days led the organizers to do it again in 2014.
By then the team behind the festival was already a bit bigger and in 2015 it changed its name into AMFest, with a cultural association made of 12 people behind it. We would have never thought we’d make it to 2018 and with even more energy and hype but, eh, look at us!!
(((o))): We first became aware f you guys last year when you had a spectacular lineup. This year’s is shaping up to be just as good. How do you pick the bands you put on? Do you have a wish list?
That shows us how much work is to be done on a promotional side of it. It will be the 7th edition this year and so many post/prog/math/experimental lovers in Europe don’t know about us. There is a booking department that works with 10-15 months in advance on the festival date to be able to bring over our dream lineup every year: we are a small team where everybody proposes artists and actively participate in the brainstorming.
Obviously, reality is then different from dreamland and we find ourselves with loads of obstacles. Touring periods of bands overseas, exclusivity agreed on by bigger festivals throughout the year, other promoters going for the same bands, and of course… budget, budget, budget!! With no big sponsors nor public funds behind us, it’s often hard to compete with other players. Still, we came up with lineup that always excites both the team and the public.
(((o))): What is the post rock / math / whatever scene like in Spain? Does Barcelona have a scene of these kinds of bands?
That scene in Spain has been very buzzy for years now. From bands like 12twelve in the 2000’s to the more recent exploit of bands like Toundra or Jardín de la Croix, there is a big scene both in the country and specifically in Barcelona.
You can find Spanish bands in the lineup of festivals like ArcTanGent or Dunk! every year and that shows how much talent there is down here. We try to give local bands as much space as we can in the lineup, and we have always been around 50% of it for them.
(((o))): You’ve just upscaled the venue this year, tell us a bit about that?
After 6 editions and the beautiful and worldwide-known Apolo, where we had the opportunity to work with great professionals, it was time for the AMFest to move on and look for its own location, its own blank page to write a new era on.
The venue we moved to, Fabrica de Creaciò Fabra i Coats, used to be a textile factory very popular in the region and it was taken over by the Town Hall around 15 years ago and turned into an area dedicated to the development of arts in all its shapes. It’s a beautiful building where we’ll be able to customize the space and give it our personality, rather than hosting 3 days of gigs in a club. It’s more of an actual festival now.
(((o))): Taking on a festival of this scale is a huge undertaking. How far ahead do you have to plan this & do you have a team to share the workload & worries with?
You are right, and we sometimes wake up in the middle of the night screaming “What have we doooooone???”!! The team behind the festival is made of 12 people with specific areas to look after and all the organization is being handled by that team. Nevertheless, we’ll need to be surrounded by more people as the date gets closer.
(((o))): Festivals like Arctangent & Dunk have shown that events on this scale for this kind of music can work & have helped raise its profile. Is that an inspiration to you for what you’re doing?
We have been friends with them since the very first day. We visit their festival and they always come to AMFest, we keep in touch during the year and it’s a very healthy relationship. We see them as our bigger brothers and they are a huge inspiration to us. And we hope to be so for them too!
(((o))): Is there anything new that people should be looking out for this year?
The lineup is the best we have ever had and it’s also the most eclectic so far. There is instrumental more traditional post-rock of bands like Mono or Toundra, dark post-hardcore of Amenra, the electronic live coding-based “Decompostion Theory Show” of 65daysofstatic, 90’s top-class indie rock of The Notwist , Soup or Caligula’s Horse for prog fans, A Storm of Light for metal lovers, the psychedelic stoner of My Sleeping Karma just to mention a few and, of course, a bunch of local bands we will blow away our friends coming from abroad – as well as a third small stage dedicated to modular experimental music for those who love very weird stuff!
(((o))): Do you have a dream lineup if money wasn’t an object?
The lack of money is good to keep your feet to the ground and work with your brain and use your logic. Also, if we could book all the bands we wanted one year, what would be left for the next edition??
(((o))): Finally, is there anything you’d like to tell our readers that we haven’t covered?
We’d be really happy to welcome more fans from abroad the ever. Every year you are more and more – of course a weekend in Barcelona in October is attractive for many. That, plus the lineup, plus the beautiful environment of the festival, should be a no-brainer. Ah, and members of the staff will hug you anytime you bump into them if you wish so! See you in October!!