Pop-Preview: Catalpa NYC Music Festival

bill bodkin previews the exciting new music festival debuting this month in new york city…

While we can lament the death of the album, bemoan the current state of pop music and shake our fists at the gods for the death of alt rock radio (at least in the New York/New Jersey area) — one thing we can bask in, wrap around our shoulders like a warm blanket, imbibe in like an ice cold lager, is the proliferation of awesome music festivals that have become all the rage.

Seriously, how can you not love a music festival? One to two days of non-stop music, delicious food, cold beer, exhibits, interactive events and a throng of people, some of who may be very good looking and wearing very little. It’s a beautiful thing.

On July 28 and July 29, New York City will experience a brand new festival — the Catalpa NYC Music Festival on Randall’s Island. The festival, produced by the Dublin-based musical promotion company Frisky, is a two-day long mash-up of the very best in alt rock (The Black Keys, Cold War Kids), hip-hop (Snoop Dogg, A$ap Rocky), hipster coolness (Matt & Kim, TV on the Radio), EDM (AraabMuzik, Girl Talk), jam (Umphrey’s McGee), reggae (Matisyahu, The Dirty Heads) and so much more.

The wide array of tunes you’ll be hearing from these superstars of sound will be coupled with a slew of up-and-coming artists that are pitch perfect for hungry music fans looking to be aurally satiated.

And lest we forget, if you want to get irie for two days, the iconic counter-culture pub, High Times, will be presenting a stage with nothing but the best reggae riddims all weekend.

Then again, if you just want to hang or if there’s a band you’re just not digging at the time, there’s plenty for you to do at Catalpa. Ever experience a silent disco? How about going nuts and getting a “sham marriage?” Or maybe you wanna chow down on some dope local eats? Of course, if you’re a sucker for a nighttime visual display that features 30 foot fireballs while DJ’s spin hot tracks, Catalpa’s got you covered.

Recently, Pop-Break’s editor-in-chief Bill Bodkin spoke with Tony O’Brien, a member of the Frisky team, about all things Catalpa — from the origin of the festival’s name to all the cool things going down at the end of July on Randall’s Island.

Pop-Break: Let’s start off with the basics, what’s the significance of the name, Catalpa.

Tony O’Brien: This may sound like something Ron Burgundy would say but the ‘Catalpa’ was an old ship that was purchased by an Irish man (James Reynolds) who lived in New York back in 1875. The ship was then sailed to Australia and used in the escape of Irish men from fremantle prison who had been locked up by the english crown for supporting the Irish Independance movement. These men subsequently returned to New York to live out their lives in a free and independent manner. More info can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalpa_rescue

Snoop Dogg will be performing the entire Doggy Style album at Catalpa. Get your spot in the crowd early, this’ll be packed fo shizzle.

We are essentially an Irish owned company based in New York so the name made sense but it also flows nicely off the tongue. Catalpa.

PB: Why go with such an eclectic line-up of rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, EDM, blues and more? Why not just stick to one, specific musical genre?

TOB: We are big fans of a lot of different musical genres here at Frisky. We just love music and we are always on the look out for great new tunes!

We want Catalpa to be an eclectic mix of audio as well as visual treats. In selecting the artists for Catalpa we have tried to cater to a variety of different genres but we have also tried to select some really fresh new artists mixed in with the more seasoned pro’s. To this end we think we have done a solid job and we hope our fans agree.

PB: Speaking of the line-up, you’ve got some of the biggest names in the world headlining and performing, what bands do you feel, that might be currently under the radar or unknown to the masses, that you feel will really impress people?

TOB: Yeah I mean everyone knows The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg and TV on the Radio but we’ve got some great lesser known talent on the Catalpa lineup also. AraabMUZIK who is just insanely good with an MPC at his fingertips is producing tracks for a lot of big names of late and then theres The Sheepdogs who are set to tour with The Kings Of Leon and are also the first ever unsigned band to make on to the cover of Rolling Stone.

Keep an eye out for AraabMUZIK at Catalpa

PB: A direct quote from your website: “Catalpa is filling what we see as a gap for an event quite beyond the ordinary in New York City.” Can you elaborate on this? How are you guys different from the slew of festivals hitting the New York/New Jersey/Philly area this summer?

TOB: We see Catalpa as a sensory experience and we want to do our best to stimulate as many senses as possible. The audio goes without saying and hence the line up. Visually, we are going to have some amazing stages including the Arcadia Spectacular which shoots out fire and then a whole host of quirky art installations as well as some interactive structures that just look cool. We are going out of our way to reduce the corporate influence as much as possible as well. We place great importance on the aesthetic of this festival. Its all about entertainment and we want our attendees to be fully immersed in the catalpa experience, right up to their necks in it! Finally, we have been hard at work sourcing some of New Yorks finest eateries so that we can make sure we bring our attendees the best nosh their taste buds can handle.

PB: You’ve got so many unique elements to this festival from the Arcadia Spectacular and The Church of Sham Marriages to The Silent Disco and the eclectic array of food on hand — what do you think is one of the most unique festival elements people can experience at Catalpa and why?

TOB: There are so many elements that it is going to be hard to choose. We think that Friskys Church of Sham Marriages is a very unique opportunity to express your feelings for someone or something! Its the first of its kind in the US at a festival to the best of our knowledge. We have had a big influx of booking for this as its just so much fun. Who wouldn’t want to get married in an inflatable church by a pimp pastor.. Hallelujah! With that said we are constantly looking for more elements every day and really trying to push the envelope so that people can come away feeling like they just had a genuinely unique experience! Catalpa NYC is not just another festival, Its New Yorks Festival. New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world and we would like for Catalpa to be an extension of the New York ethos.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.