Get ready for a weekend of raw, unbridled energy as the My People Fest takes over Berlin on July 14th, 15th and 16th. The festival will feature a lineup of some of the amazing underground punk bands from around the world, performing at two of Berlin’s most iconic venues: Cassiopeia Club and Ost Hafen. The festival will feature three days of non-stop music, as well as a number of DIY workshops, lectures and panel discussions. To celebrate, we have teamed up with Lilian, the main brain behind this undertaking, and discussed a lot of interesting aspects of this particular gathering and punk festivals in general. Check out our interview below.
My People Fest 2023 is more than just a music festival – it’s a celebration of the DIY punk ethos and the community that it has built. The festival organizers are committed to creating a safe and inclusive space for all attendees, and are working closely with local organizations to ensure that the festival is accessible to everyone.
Hey there ! Thanks so much for taking some time with us. Appreciate it a lot. Before we get into the details of the upcoming My People Fest 2023, please give us your brief wrap-up of the past year. How was 2022 for you personally?
Hey! Thank YOU so much for this opportunity! Really appreciate!
Last year was an interesting one. The RECORD LABEL didn’t manage to release new records on time due to delay on mixing/mastering production (rescheduled to January and March 2023), but the “BOOKING” part of MY PEOPLE expanded considerable (including new allies and solid networking), with the booking of a couple of concerts and EU/UK tours.
What is your own background in punk and alternative arts?
I am in the punk/hardcore scene as of the end of the 90’s. Initially got dragged on this world by the Riot Girl movement, and stayed after connecting with the local SxE scene of my home town.
Since then I played in half a dozen bands and had small tours, wrote fanzines, had a CD-R/Cassette Record Label and Distro, as well as organizing concerts and small festivals. Musically wise like a lot within the genre. Mosh metalcore, punk-rock, melodic hardcore.. As long as it has a good and meaningful message, I am in.
Apart from the first edition of the fest, what kept you busy last year? Give us some more details on your operations at My People Records.
As mentioned before, the Record Label was quiet last year, but booking wise I started planning MY PEOPLE FEST 2023 in June 2022, booked 5 EU/UK tours on summer 2023, local gigs and MY PEOPLE FEST 2022, with ZULU from Los Angeles as the headliner.
What are your key takeaways from putting together My People Fest in 2022?
I learnt HOW IMPORTANT such events are. One thing is believing in political intersectional theories, and another thing is expirriencing.
Everything MY PEOPLE does, either as a RECORD LABEL, BOOKING D.I.Y. AGENCY or FESTIVAL, it’s to promote a more diverse hardcore/punk/alternative music scene.
Most hardcore punk concerts are filled with all white cis guys on stage, and this doesn’t represent the scene. Neither in Europe or North and South America.
First MY PEOPLE FEST was sold out before it took place, where people cried, hugged each other.. and some people mentioned coming back to concerts after feeling safer and included.
I got a lot of feedback about how people enjoyed the concerts and themselves. And also super important, I got a few messages where people mentioned that they would finally try to learn an instrument. It really inspired people!
Also got nice feedback from all bands, and that meant a lot too.
How did this idea get started?
When cov*d hit the planet, I spent a total of 10 months combined at home, as gastronomic business couldn’t operate in Germany for a good while until 2021. I felt really depressed because my “only” skill was cooking and I wasn’t allowed to work, finding myself stuck at home. I started a phase of self hate blaming myself why I didn’t attend university when I was younger or had a second skill/profession. Even if as a hobby.
At the same time there was an explosion of nostalgic hardcore related Podcasts and I thought I had some to say too. Did a series of episodes and then I was back at my job and free time was over.
The podcast was focused on highlighting bands with at least one BIPoC or woman-queer-trans*-non binary band member.
Within time I decided to release tapes again as I used to do back in early 2000’s and when concerts were allowed in Germany again, I put on a few concerts in 2022.
That’s how it all started (again).
How many attendees did you get?
Sold out house with 240 attendees. That was bananas!!
What are the biggest difficulties in organizing an independent event of this kind?
Setting a line up that can both stand up for bands one admires and wants to support, while also having bands that will help bring enough people to cover the costs. This brain chess game is cruel. But works well with the right balance of bands.
By the way, how is the independent gig and venues scene in Berlin in the post-COVID times? How has it changed compared to the pre-2020 era?
People are thirsty! Lots of sold-out gigs, and a lot of bands from abroad coming around. Was also a difficult time to book venues, as there were hundreds of rescheduled tours to take place from 2020 and venues were fully booked all year long in a few weeks.
Some important venues closed their doors too, due to financial loss during the pandemic, as Germany kept Clubs closed for more than 24 months.
Ok so back to the upcoming edition of the fest, organizational wise, can you give us any clues to what you have coming up? Will there be any major changes compared to last year?
There are indeed major changes! This year the festival will take place during 3 days, and two of them will be Open-Air. No camping site yet, but it will be very Berlin, very urban. There will be 5x more bands than in 2022, and it will be more enjoyable, as during the weekend it will take place by the Spree river.
Vegan food vendors, info tables and lectures were added too. Let me elaborate more in a second.
How important are non-music activities at the festival grounds? Give us some more details on the lectures and the food part of the gathering.
This part of the festival will be as important as the music from now on. Despite enjoying the first edition in 2022, I missed a couple of things that would make me happier.
I missed having some Food vendors around, and as Veganism it’s a huge part of my life, there will be 4 food vendors with vegan options only in this year’s summer edition. Expect Afro-Caribbean, Asian-fusion and fast food. All vegan.
There will be organizations with info-tables, bringing awareness regarding the causes they support, as well as raising money for political causes. Confirmed so far are: FAUCHKRAMPF, International women space, SecondBandShirt & Black Earth.
Other organizations openly against Nazis, pro-Mediterranean human rights boat rescue and Veganism/Animal liberation have been invited, but are not yet confirmed.
So far BLACK EARTH is confirmed to talk about climate change/crisis from the perspective of BIPoC activists and the INTERNATIONAL WOMEN SPACE will talk about their experiences as immigrants and refugee women in Germany ( very relatable to Europe in general), especially by BIPoC women.
What do you look for when looking for artists to complete your lineup?
As a black woman myself (and not European yet), I miss seeing more people like me represented in the hardcore scene. On the intersection of racism and sexism, I feel brutally misrepresented when it comes to concerts and festivals.
And that’s the root of the name MY PEOPLE. Either by being a non white or no cis male, I want to see more people like me around. I want to see MY PEOPLE spreading a good message too.
Back to the question, “the first rule of the fight club is”.. I look for bands with at least one BIPoC or woman-queer-trans*-non binary band member. Followed by bands with those characteristics that have a good message, sounds nice and can inspire people.
What motivates you and your team to do this festival?
I am an “one person’s operation” with the help of lovely friends and volunteers. And what motivates me and like minded people it’s to see a positive change in our community.
I am very frustrated by the lack of awareness of promoters booking concerts and sometimes even festivals, where all band members are white cis men.
For an alternative scene, often connected to left wing ideals, promoters & collectives are sending a very dangerous message by booking concerts where all bands are 100% of white cis males.
The opportunity to experience a moment where diversity feels normal, it’s what motivates me and possibly everybody helping out! It is an anti-racist and anti-sexist stance, from theory books to being put into practice. And those fights are still needed also in our scene!
In one sentence, what makes a great punk festival?
“Good vegan food, long lines for vegan soft-ice cream and bands that make people’s hearts vibrate.”
Traveling hundreds or thousands of kilometers to collective sweat while listening to loud music often in the middle of nowhere, it’s nothing but pure passion!
What else are you looking forward to in your local music scene and community in 2023?
More bands! Berlin needs new blood and more people playing in bands!
Lastly, are there any bands or labels you think we should be looking out for this year?
Oh my dog! There are so many great bands! But sure all bands playing MY PEOPLE FEST 2023 should be on people’s radar. Legit!
As of Record labels, QUALITY CONTROL HQ, FLATSPOT & CAUSTIC do a great job! Shout out!
Awesome, thank you so much for your time. Feel free to add anything you like and all the best in 2023! Fingers crossed for a wicked party at My People Fest 2023!
Thank you so much for giving space to MY PEOPLE! Looking forward to having the time of my life in July 2023!
If this interview catches the attention or curiosity of someone, make sure to check MY PEOPLE FEST website! By the time this interview will be released, the first line-up announcement will be online!
Take care of each other! Peace!!