Scene & Heard

SOUND SEEKERS: Behind the Scenes at Arb, part one

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Behind the Scenes at Arboretum Fest: Part One

Thoughts on Ottawa’s Cultural Future with Fest Founder Rolf Klausener

Months before the first annual festival launched last year, musicians and chef-folk around town were talking about “Rolf’s food and music thing,” which has since become the Arboretum Arts Festival, a small-scale party that celebrates indie rock and eating well while outside.

Klausener, 37, long-time Ottawa musician who toured widely with his band The Acorn, is the festival’s founder and, along with manager Stefanie Power, puts together a line-up of cool, contemporary Canadian indie rock acts. This year’s Arboretum Arts Festival runs August 16-17 in Waller Park, the grassy area behind Arts Court, as well as in the nearby SAW Courtyard and at St. Alban’s Church. Headliners include Owen Pallett, Jim Bryson, Doldrums, Diana, and Holy Fuck along with Mike Feuerstack, NDMA, and Roberta Bondar. Find the full line-up here.

Rolf Klausener plays around on a ukulele. Photo by Pat Bolduc.

Before the festival begins, SOUND SEEKERS met with Klausener to talk about the behind-the-scenes details of festivals and cultural life in Ottawa. Here is part one of two of quotes and quips about the festival.

The More We Get Together … Together ….
“It’s clear to anyone who works in the cultural centre, that Ottawa is super vibrant, and super-connected right now. Everyone is supporting each other and it’s really cool. I see a punk band retweeting a café, or you have restaurants advertising for other restaurants in their restaurant. That interconnectedness means that people have clued in that if we just do things together, we can actually get more things done and pool these micro-niches and develop them into this bigger cultural niche.”

The Whole Point of It
“In developing the festival, we realized this is what it has to be — this city-wide high five. This is the stuff that we feel is very relevant and challenging. I feel like we’re trying to encapsulate the cultural explosion in the city.”

Last year's innaugural Arboretum Festival drew a great crowd — and boasted three Polaris Prize nominees.

Programming Back-Pat
“Last year, we had three Polaris nominees. This year we have Owen Pallet who’s won the Polaris Prize and he’s produced albums for Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear. Diana is going to be a big band. I had my ear to the ground on them because their manager is my manager as well. They got signed to Jagjaguwar, the same label as Bon Iver.”

#OttawaProblems
“When we started, it was because of a very private discussion I think a lot of people were probably having in the city that sounded a bit like, ‘Ottawa fucking sucks.’ A lot of the ideas we had for the festival, I feel, have become part of a public discussion in the city.” (more…)