Festival season is fast approaching, and like many of you, we here at Psychedelic Sunday are making plans to hit as many of them as we can. One of the best psychedelic festivals happens to be right in our backyard. Milwaukee Psych Fest is back and better than ever this year. We talked with MPF founder, Andrew Shelp (AKA Suni Daze) about the fest, the psych community, and his own record collecting habits.
PSYCHEDELIC SUNDAY: Last year was the first year for Milwaukee Psych Fest. I for one was very excited to see a psychedelic music festival in the Midwest. What was your inspiration to start a psych fest in Milwaukee?
ANDREW SHELP: Quite honestly, being that I play in one out of only a few “trippy bands” here in Milwaukee, I was asked to put together a 4/20 show a couple of years ago. So the first Milwaukee Psych Fest was actually in 2012 but it was called the Psych, Psurf, Rawk and Psoul Pow Wow. I changed the name in an attempt to help draw more people to the fest. With the popularity of Austin Psych Fest and the “we are legion” mentality of our “psych” community, I just figure I’d follow suit and change the name to Milwaukee Psych Fest.
It’s more a celebration of all things counterculture than it is just psychedelic. Punk, metal, electronic, hip hop, country, world, new age, goth…whatever. All of those genres of music have at least a few artists that transcend and blur the lines and make psychedelic versions of their respective genres. Last year was only supposed to be a one day, five band affair but after The Holydrug Couple reached out to me to put together their North American tour for them, I had a handful of other bands ask if they could play too. It’s hard to say no to bands your friends with and fans of so it just festered into this huge two-day, 12 band psych fest! It was awesome!
For this year, after last year’s success, and all of the interest that had been shown by the local community, I decided I wanted to make it an even bigger and better event! I’m so excited! Also, don’t forget that there is Echo Fest in Detroit (hosted/curated by Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor), Cincy Psych Fest (curated by Laura Dolan of Electric Citizen and Laura Skags) as well as the Chicago Psych Fest (curated by Steven Krakow aka Plastic Crimewave). Plus, I think that Collin from the band Chatham Rise has one up in Minneapolis too! There are tons of killer “psych” fests around the Midwest. I’m only a small piece of a much larger puzzle man!
PS: This year’s fest has been expanded into 4 days of music, what was the reason for adding the extra day?
AS: I’ve actually added two days PLUS a pre-party show April 12th featuring Cosmonauts! The MPF proper is Thursday through Sunday. I added Thursday because I had the opportunity to have Loop play. No brainer there! I just wanted to make it bigger and better for everyone and try to really help put Milwaukee on the national/global musical map! There is a lot of complacency here and a lot of people resting on their laurels of past accomplishments. I’m hoping to reinvigorate those artists and breathe fresh air back into this city!
PS: Where do you see MPF in the future? How do you think it’ll fit into the grand scheme of the worldwide community of psychedelic music?
AS: Hopefully people will continue to show interest and it will continue to grow. It will always exist and I will continue to do it regardless but for me to book bigger bands, there has to be a continued interest. I’m cool with it being a one day, five band experience like it started off as, and I’m cool with it blowing up! The thing is, I do this as a music lover, not a promoter. I’ve never made money or paid myself out of the money taken in at the door at any of the shows that I put together. I just can’t do it, ya know? I just want to put on a good show and help introduce people to some amazing music and bands! A “thank you” is more than enough payment.
PS: How do you go about searching out artists for MPF?
AS: They’re almost all friends and acquaintances that my band, MOSS FOLK, has played with out on the road. I get a ton, A TON, of band submissions, and it’s really hard for me to not let everyone, especially those that are so passionate about playing, play the festival. It bums me out that I can’t just have a month-long festival and so that everyone can play but obviously, that’s just not how it works… yet. I’ve been introduced to some pretty awesome bands that I’ve never heard of through band submissions. In that regard, it’s awesome! I hope to work with a lot of those bands in some regard in the future.
PS: If you could have any band headline the festival, who would it be?
AS: Loop!!! Seriously, I love Loop. Ash Ra Tempel. Selda (I love world music, especially Turkish jams!). CAN would be a good one too.
PS: I found about last year’s fest about a week after it happened; I was disappointed I missed it! What was the vibe like? Did you get a good turn out?
AS: It was AMAZING!!! I can’t even tell you how pleasantly surprised I was! A very proud papa moment.
PS: You’re in a band yourself, MOSS FOLK, who are you excited to play alongside at this year’s MPF?
AS: Since I don’t pay myself monetarily, I am playing with one of my favorite bands in the world, ever…LOOP! It would be an honor to play with any of the amazing bands playing at MPF though. They are all SOOOOO good! The Blind Shake! Running! Plastic Crimewave Syndicate! Virginia Trance! Verma! I mean, seriously?!!!
PS: You DJ pretty often also, under the name DJ Suni Daze – What’s your personal record collection like?
AS: I have more world records than anyone I know. So much Indian, Iranian and Turkish folk funk! A lot of traditional Indian folk too. I love drone music. A lot of experimental music. That Hands in the Dark label rules! As does Root Strata. My current obsession is all things Finders Keepers though; That label blows my mind! I need more freak beat records, too. I’m also a huge fan of hip-hop, especially golden era underground jams. I also love classic rock. I love music in general. Vinyl is by far the best medium to listen to it on!
PS: What should people expect at this year’s Milwaukee Psych Fest?
AS: It’s going to be absolutely AMAZING! From the ambiance, trippy visuals, cheap booze specials and the best sound system around, to the low ticket costs and second-to-none lineup of bands, I guarantee this will be the best under 20,000 in attendance festival that you go to all year, if not ever. Well, until next years festival that is!
MKE PSYCH FEST 2014 – FULL LINEUP // SCHEDULE:
THURSDAY, APRIL 24th
FRIDAY, APRIL 25th
BEAST IN THE FIELD
PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SYNDICATE
SISTERS OF YOUR SUNSHINE VAPOR
SATURDAY, APRIL 26th (early show)
HEAVEN’S GATEWAY DRUGS
SATURDAY, APRIL 26th (late show)
THE BLIND SHAKE
SUNDAY, APRIL 27th
BRUJAS del SOL
*Lineup/schedule subject to change
Milwaukee Psych Fest will be held at The Cactus Club (2496 S Wentworth Ave). Ticket information and other details will be released very soon!