We’ve talked about the music and the, uh, not-music of Pop Montreal. With the fest now in full swing, it seemed like the perfect time to have a chat with Dan Seligman, the festival’s Creative Director. In the years I’ve been covering music in Montreal, “Dad” Seligman has been a constant presence, quick with a quip but, more importantly, a person whose passion for music has been imbued into the festival that he helped start.
Montreal Buzz: I know you’ve been answering this question all week, but that’s not going to stop me: how did Pop Montreal start?
Dan Seligman: Basically I had this chance encounter with Peter Rowan, who helped get the fest started. He was 20 years older and had worked with the Halifax Pop Explosion and had much a better idea of what festival was- I was pretty young and naïve at the time. I kind of just fell into it and it was like a perfect storm of things happening at the same time, with bands like Stars, The Dears, Broken Social Scene, Metric and Unicorns all sort of coming up at the same time.
MB: Pop has always felt like a fest for Montrealers as much as it is for visitors. How do you guys pull that off?
DS: We have volunteers that work for us all year and a core of 300 for the week of the fest and they’re a hugely important part of the organization. And I’m always taking ideas from different people, from Pop staff, musicians and friends. But what it is, really, is that we’re not a top-down organization, we don’t work that way.
MB: You guys have a knack for finding venues for shows that no one else is using- is that part of your mandate every year?
DS: Well, it’s getting harder and harder to find new venues because we’ve used so many of them now. The Ukrainian Federation is a perfect example – it’s one of the places that people didn’t even notice before we started doing shows there. Since people go see so many shows at Sala or Metropolis or wherever, I think it’s special to walk into somewhere new. Man, you could hear a pin drop at that first UK-Fed show.
MB: Got any new spots for 2010?
DS: You’ll see when you go up Espace Reunion (called the Little Burgundy Pop Loft this year) that everything has been changed from how we did it last year and I think it works a lot better. But new this year? Well, we’re all pretty excited about The Dears shows at Mission Santa Cruz on Rachel.
MB: So, let’s get down to brass tacks- what shows are you personally excited to see?
DS: Let’s see… my main pick might be Miracle Fortress and the new songs of his that everyone wants to hear. Van Dyke Parks, Les Savy Fav, Naomi Shelton, really excited to see all of them. Oh yeah, the Arbutus Records showcase! All their bands- Blue Hawaii, Pop Winds, Silly Kissers, Grimes, pretty excited about what that label is doing.