Squamish Valley Music Festival musicians share memories of summers past

Local musicians share their favourite outdoor-festival experiences and tell us who they’re stoked to see
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So, how’s your summer going so far? Have you gotten your ass out of the city and done any camping? Passed out wrapped up in a tent you didn’t bother to set up after getting right wrecked and fucking that chair up like those bangers from FUBAR?

Have you taken a portable DVD player and a copy of The Blair Witch Project to watch by yourself after finding a secluded spot somewhere in the deep woods a hundred miles away from the nearest human being? Freaked the living shit out of yourself by watching Don’t Go in the Woods (both the 1981 and 2010 versions) and then promptly going into the woods armed with nothing but a Bic lighter and a bag of pot marketed in Washington-state weed stores under the title of “The Incapacitor”? Or have you… Well, you get the idea.

The reality is that camping doesn’t have to be terrifying. In fact, it can be pretty damn great, especially when you combine it with music. And by “music”, we don’t mean your iPod and a pair of portable speakers that constantly crap out despite your best efforts to fix them with duct tape. No, we are talking some of the biggest stars of today—the kind of folks you’d have a meltdown over if you ever saw them in public.

Your best bet for catching great sounds in the glorious open air this year has got to be the Squamish Valley Music Festival, which takes place at Centennial Field, the Logger Sports Grounds, and Hendrickson Fields from August 8 to 10. According to Tourism Squamish, the mountain town is only about an hour’s drive from Vancouver. (That’s a mere 20 minutes if you drive anything like we do, which our well-paid lawyers will be happy to know we don’t recommend.) So you really have no excuse not to get behind the wheel.

In addition to killer headliners like Eminem, Bruno Mars, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Foster the People, and the Roots, an amazing lineup of B.C.–based artists will be taking the stage. We rounded up a select bunch of them and asked them to tell us about their own favourite outdoor-festival experiences and who they can’t wait to watch at Squamish.

Louise Burns

Louise Burns is not just a member of Gold & Youth, she’s also a hugely talented solo artist whose latest LP, The Midnight Mass, lives up to its title by being as dark and cinematic as it is beautifully accessible.

Golden outdoor memory: “I am not the biggest outdoor-music-festival fan, to be honest, mostly because I can never see and am a sound snob. But I’d have to say Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at Coachella 2013. Tied with Grinderman’s set. You really can’t go wrong with a Bad Seeds show, and Nick Cave’s energy was vicious; it was like he was taunting the crowd to crawl out of their shell and get primitive. He commands the audience like a cult leader. And there is nothing better than screaming the words to ‘Stagger Lee’ in unison with 10,000 people. Also, have you seen the man hip-thrust? Oh my God!”

Stoked about seeing: “The Roots, for their musicianship; Lykke Li for her earnest demeanour and fashion sensibility. Danny Brown for his hype, A Tribe Called Red for every possible reason, and lots of Vancouver buddies too!”

MGH!

MGH! is the much-loved moniker of DJ and man about town Jason Sulyma. While he’s best known for his long-running and unflaggingly popular Glory Days night (Saturdays at the Biltmore), MGH! has plenty of other endeavours on the go, including being a talent buyer and partner in the two-years-in-the-making new performance space 303 Columbia. Judging by his stream-of-consciousness answers to simple questions, he also drinks a shitload of (take your pick) Red Bull, black coffee, or heavily refined liquid sugar, probably all mixed together.

Golden outdoor memory: “A three-way tie between seeing Paul McCartney perform for endless hours at Coachella 2009 with BFFs Sincerely Hana, Tony X of Needles//Pins, and Chicago BFFs Josh [Young] and Curt [Cameruci] of Flosstradamus, then literally tailgating warm Miller High Life via parking-pylon DIY beer bongs till the entire parking lot was empty except for security staff who let us tailgate to the v v v v early a.m. in the Coachella parking lot or attending some bougie private house party off Sunset Strip in L.A., where Snoop Dogg deejayed G-funk and West Coast anthems and Funk ’n’ Soul cuts all night long while Bishop Don ‘Magic’ Juan the ex-pimp MC’d and chain-smoked the biggest $500 Philly blunts you have ever seen. Oh, and the annual Racoon Party, which is a ‘secret’. Doh. LOL.”

Stoked about seeing: “Selfishly ‘stoked’ to be seeing ma first-ever live-visual set on them expensive Squamish Fest big screens that will be executed by Geni3 of RUTS—Re Up Trippy Shit | Sing Sing—who has produced and edited videos for Mad Decent releases including Rusko and J-Wow of Buraka Som Sistema etc. etc. etc.—and for all the juicy smoke-machine fog we are gonna blast everyone with.”

Rykka 

Rykka released an album, Kodiak, on which each song was written from the point of view of a different animal, because that’s just the sort of ambitious rock ’n’ roll badass she is. The jet-set singer calls Vancouver home, at least when she isn’t in Toronto, Zurich, or Berlin.

Golden outdoor memory: “In 2010 my sister bought us tickets to see Tegan and Sara and You Say Party at the Malkin Bowl. Game changerrrr. I saw tUnE-yArDs in Berlin.…I think at Berlin Music Week at the old airport hangar. That was friggin’ sweet. Boys Noize was there too. I almost had a heart attack and my face was almost all the way burned off from pyro—that’s a sign of a great concert, yes?”

Stoked about seeing: “I took my very first trip to L.A. in April this year and always had the radio on full-blast driving in traffic, ’cause L.A., haha. That’s where I discovered Phantogram. I’ve also loved Lykke Li for a long time and I’ve never seen her live. I’m also excited to lose any agenda and explore to find my new favourite music.”

Sleepy Tom

Sleepy Tom is known to his family, friends, and friendly family physician as Cam Tatham. When he’s on-stage, he’s known to discerning EDM fans as one of Vancouver’s fastest-rising stars, with his credits including Diplo remixes for BBC Radio 1, Contact Festival appearances, and the brilliantly futuristic new EP, Jobless.

Golden outdoor memory: “The best festival I’ve been to was probably Sasquatch Festival in 2010. Had a great group of friends there that were all experiencing the Gorge for the first time, so that made it pretty special. Got to see LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Kid Cudi, A-Trak, Boys Noize. Highlights were probably seeing my now label boss A-Trak smash it and also when my friend Mike was brought out on-stage by Kid Cudi. Mike is ‘that guy’ who was punched by Cudi at the Commodore Ballroom in 2009—needless to say, he apologized and they’re friends now!”

Stoked about seeing: “I’m definitely excited to see Danny Brown—one of my favourite artists/people right now and he’s a Fool’s Gold labelmate. Skream—he played one of the best DJ sets I’ve ever seen at FVDED in Vancouver last year. Arctic Monkeys, the Roots, Boys Noize… List goes on!”

Cityreal

Cityreal is an MC and producer whose impressively wide-ranging list of collaborators includes bluesman Wes Mackey, documentary filmmaker Peter Mettler, Swollen Members, the Vancouver Film Orchestra, and addictions specialist Dr. Gabor Maté. Also, he has a song called “F*ck Stephen Harper”, and who can’t get behind that sentiment?

Golden outdoor memory: “The best outdoor concert I’ve ever seen would definitely have to be Florence and the Machine in Deer Lake Park in summer of 2012. The first thing I remember about the show was arriving when the opener finished, and as my friends poured cocktails from the stuff we had snuck in, I watched the techs setup two drum kits, a harp, and the rest of their massive stage setup, thinking to myself this is going to be so much better than the ‘two turntables and a microphone’ shows I had taken in recently… And it was. As soon as the Machine walked on, the crowd rushed to the stage; then Florence Welch had an epic entrance. It was an amazing performance, and her mostly calm but very powerful stage presence was inspiring. Her voice and their style of music are massive and sounded surprisingly fantastic live.”

Stoked about seeing: “Nas. Nas is by far one of my favourite artists, and I have not had the opportunity to see him perform live yet. Plus, Illmatic is such a legendary album that’s such a favourite of mine and so many of my friends. I can’t wait to hear it performed live, and I feel extremely blessed to be playing the same festival on the same night as Nas. Arcade Fire: another favourite of mine that I have not had the opportunity to see perform live yet. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about their huge stage show with 10-plus pieces to their band, apparently. I love their music, plus they are arguably one of the biggest bands in the world right now, and they’re from Montreal. So, I truly can’t wait to see that set. The Roots: they’re legends in my world and Black Thought is definitely in my top five rappers. Tonye Aganaba: on top of performing with me, Tonye will be performing two hours earlier, at 2 p.m. Friday, at the Subaru stage. She is both one of my favourite Vancouver artists and one of my favourite Vancouver people.”

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Raccoon
The party army started the raccoon party! Before facebook existed if you can believe it. Mad props.
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