Arts & Crafts founder talks 10-year anniversary plans
It's been a decade since the release of Broken Social Scene's landmark You Forgot It In People launched the careers of artists like Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew and Leslie Feist. But more than a milestone for BSS (who have semi-officially disbanded), this year also marks the anniversary of the record label born from their success. Arts & Crafts Records have been steadily releasing albums to critical and commercial acclaim since 2003, and last week they announced a series of events and releases (dubbed AC10) to celebrate ten years in the music business.
I sat down with Jeffrey Remedios, founder of Arts & Crafts, at the label's office to talk about AC10 and the Field Trip Festival. Sitting on a retro couch surrounded by vinyl pressings of the latest A&C releases and sipping tea out of an Iron Maiden mug, Remedios seemed excited about AC10 not just as a celebration of the label and its artists, but of the community supporting them.
How long have you been planning the Field Trip Festival?
For a while now. We thought, ten's a big deal--that we got that far--but if we're going to do something, we wanted it to be more about a celebration of our artists and about the community we come from, and as a vehicle to promote the artists we work with and some of the amazing artists in other disciplines we've gotten to work with over the years.
We thought, God, all these other towns have amazing festivals; why can't we?
Did it take a lot of time to choose the venue?
We thought about this for a couple of years — throwing a big event — and just when Fort York came up as a possibility, we were like, "Yeah, that's the space." The shows that have happened there have just used the Garrison Common space, and we're going to use all of Garrison Common and all of Fort York. We're going to use the whole thing. The Fort'll be open, and you can take tours and stuff.
Is there anything else you can let us in on?
We're working through a bunch of that stuff now, like how we're going to engage the city in terms of a ton of gourmet food trucks, as well as with a food marketplace, and working with craft beers and wines — yeah, it'll be a whole experience. Come early, bring your kids, and spend the whole day. There'll be lots of stuff to do, and lots of stuff to check out. We've got a few other announcements to come of things we're going to have.
What else are you doing for Arts & Crafts' 10th anniversary?
We're going to do a retrospective release that's a double album, quadruple vinyl with some of the most well-known songs we have. There'll be some stuff that hasn't been released that's rare, but that we think is sort of awesome. We also wanted to do something new, so we asked our whole roster to pair with someone else from our roster to create a new recording. We wanted also to connect with some other artistic disciplines, so we're working with Norman [Wong] in a photography collaboration, Jeremy Laing in a fashion collaboration, and House Of Anansi to do a short story collaboration.
We've always looked at ourselves as being more inclusive as opposed to exclusive, and there's just so many amazing artists in this town, in our communities. And when you get to know somebody, then you think, how can we do something together? The 10th anniversary is a nice platform for a lot of that stuff. And we thought, well, what do we do a lot of work with? We've done a lot of work with fashion, we've done a lot of work lately with literature and book publishing, and we do a lot with photography. We thought, how do we do stuff in those areas that are true to who we are and what we're about, but kind of celebrate and honour some people who are close to us in those arenas? It was fairly organic, how it all came about.
What else can you tell us about the collaboration disc?
We really wanted something new. Something that was a new recording, and new performances. We've built a stable of artists that support each other and are in each other's lives, so that should be the focus. What if we just pair the roster, get everyone to work with someone else — so it's really like a creative process — and then we'll see what they come up with. Different people have taken it in a lot of different directions.
How about the fashion collaboration?
We're friends with Jeremy and we love his work, and he knows a lot of our artists, so we went, how do we take the kinds of things that he does and come up with a middle ground on a $1000 women's dress and a band T-shirt? He's going to work with a series of Arts & Crafts artists and pair them with visual artists, and create stuff with them in collaboration.
Note: All proceeds from that will go to the MusiCounts charity.
The Field Trip Festival will take place Saturday, June 8th at Fort York. If you haven't heard anything about Field Trip, Arts & Crafts made a handy video for you to watch. This is guaranteed to be an unbelievable show, with acts including The Darcys, Zeus, Jason Collett, Cold Specks, Ra Ra Riot, Hayden, Bloc Party, Feist and, of course, Broken Social Scene.
When pressed further about exactly what else audiences can expect at Field Trip, Remedios got a little cagey.
"We've got a few tricks up our sleeve," was all he'd say — so I guess that's his final word on it. For now.
Writing by Adam Brady. Photo by Andrew Williamson