This April, Portugal sees the return of Lisbon Psych Fest. Taking place in the vibrant heart of the coastal metropolis, the event will gather international musicians as well as mind expanding visual artists in the culturally rich Bairro Alto neighbourhood. We caught up with organiser Tommy from Killer Mathilda to delve into the genesis of the festival. The Fuzz Club presence is strong this year, with The Underground Youth, 10 000 Russos, The Orange Revival, and TAU all slated to appear. Pre-sale tickets are still available on the official site.
What motivated the originators of this festival to create this event?
Tommy: Basically, we're a group of friends who grew up in Lisbon with some of us having different international backgrounds living in the US, UK, Sweden, and elsewhere, but finally settled in Lisbon. In rediscovering our hometown we realised there exists a certain potential in terms of venues and spaces for projects like these. Being back in Lisbon opened up an opportunity and desire to export that same experience in a way. We also went to the first edition of Levitation France in Angers back in 2013.
We've always listened to rock & roll - from more folky rhythm and blues to psychedelic stuff....always trying to discover old and new scenes. So witnessing a psych revival with different bands, labels and festivals appearing all over, gave us a desire to follow it and try to do something of the same nature in our hometown. Furthermore, we saw Lisbon as an obvious but sometimes neglected stop on European touring circuits for small independent bands. We just wanted to be a part of something, having bands over that we like and put up some great parties which Lisbon definitely has a touch for. Ultimately, just wanting to be involved somehow in the cultural renaissance of Lisbon through music.
Above: 10 000 Russos, Fuzz Club Festival 2015
What type of experience is Lisbon Psych Fest aiming to create?
We're a small indoor festival which gathers bands of a similar psych genre under the same roof for two days. We like the idea of gathering improbable bands from very different cultural background but that nevertheless relate to each other under the psych umbrella. For instance, this year we'll be having Chui Wan from Beijing, China, as well as Chicos de Nazca from Santiago, Chile. Basically, gathering a diverse range of bands from around the world.
It's also about creating an affordable, indoor, music-centric festival that is in the city centre and outside the typical summer-festival season, and intimate in the sense that musicians, audience and staff all work and interact with each other in a laid back environment.
We work with an amazing venue, unique in the sense that it is housed in a former printing press in one of the oldest neighbourhoods (Bairro Alto) in Lisbon that recently celebrated its 500 year anniversary. It's the coming together of the psych community in the Iberian peninsula and beyond at a unique meeting point.
Above: Chicos de Nazca
What is the general music scene in Lisbon like (as well as the psych/garage/underground scene)?
There's a growing number of bands appearing in Lisbon everyday under different alternative genres and as there are a number of very well-established venues in Lisbon (such as ZDB and Musicbox) - and others more recent, such as Sabotage or Damas - with regular agendas and the steady booking of bands has enabled a good flow of concerts all year a long, which of course gives the opportunity for a lot of emerging bands to play. Coupled with this are a number of new promoters who are also seeking to bring new bands and take advantage of the growing number of venues...
This is also starting to make a difference in breaking away from the sole habit of mainly summer festivals gathering and attracting audiences. In some sense, Lisbon Psych Fest hopes to compliment this phenomena by adding to the agenda as a small time, off season, urban music festival. The paradox these last years in Portugal, is that amid the economic crisis which has meant people have less money to spend, gigs and festivals continue to boom and promoters have the difficult task in trying to make these affordable while at the same time guaranteeing a wide audience.
How did the debut of the festival go for you all? Will there be any expansions or additions from last year?
Our debut went surprisingly very well....good turnout and very positive feedback from the press, and we had a number of people coming from other cities in Portugal as well as from abroad. The bands gave a us really good feedback as well, and they enjoyed besides the festival itself, the opportunity of being in the center of Lisbon and to be able stroll around town for some hours during the day.
This year we're expanding in terms of the lineup, bringing a few bigger names, and adding two kickoff events at the renowned ZDB with a very special guest! As well as at Musicbox with a really interesting Russian band, and an opening act of a great promise in the Portuguese independent music scene: Ghost Hunt. We're expecting to collaborate with some local artists who will display their work at an exhibition within the venue, as well as a pioneer liquid light experiment.
Above: The Orange Revival, Viper Room, Los Angeles California Fall 2015
What things do you look for in bands/artists to put them on the lineup?
Our aim is to promote the local music scene and bands that we perceive could be whisked up into the international psych scene, and maybe LPF might be a first step into touring abroad. We were really happy to see Dreamweapon from Porto do a tour in the UK last year. This year we'll be having Sun Blossoms, Ganso, and Twin Transistors (from Leiria) who we think are really promising emerging acts in Portugal. We're also really excited to have Alek Rein (from Lisbon) and his full band this year, who will be playing his long-awaited first full-length album (out in the Spring).
Above all, we are looking for bands we like and listen to and take into consideration bands that have gotten good feedback in Portugal and played before. We also debut bands that we believe have a unique sound that will last within the genre and beyond. When Pauw and Desert Mountain Tribe played last year, they had only released their EPs, and since then have put out their debut records and played in major festivals such as Liverpool, for instance.
This year we'll have The Orange Revival, a band that has put out some amazing records and we'll surely be seeing them more and more around Europe (with their latest out on Fuzz Club). Amazing Portuguese trio 10 000 Russos. New project by Shaunny (Dead Skeletons and Camera). And of course, Gnod and The Underground Youth who have played before and are already well known.
Stay tuned to the Fuzz Club blog for more upcoming festival updates. The season is nigh!
- Lindsay Krause