The 10th annual Stereophonic Festival begins today and runs until Saturday, January 19 in Sackville NB. Organized by and as a fundraiser for CHMA 106.9 FM, (the community radio station headquartered on Mount Allison’s campus) the festival is about promoting a diverse range of music without any commercial distractions. Rock icon, Brent Randall, has classified Stereophonic among the “best alternative music festivals” and this year’s varied line-up is sure to follow suit. (Note: This year’s schedule offers a mixture of all ages and 19+ shows.) Musician Kevin Brasier, the festival’s co-director, shares more on what you can expect this week. ~ Story by Michelle Brunet

AE: How did you get involved with co-directing the Stereophonic festival?
KB: I worked with SappyFest as their production assistant in 2011. My intern partner then, Aly Kelly, co-directed Stereophonic 8 earlier that year. She and her boyfriend Pat LePoidevin encouraged me to help organize Stereophonic 9. I gave CHMA my résumé and the next thing I knew I was hired.

AE: Stereophonic raises funds for Mount Allison's campus radio, CHMA 106.9 FM. To you, what makes this radio station vital?
KB: In a town as small, but creative, as Sackville, our relationship to CHMA is much more direct than perhaps any other town in Canada. Since they are so good to us, we owe them a kind of birthday present; this is what Stereophonic is. I've played music in a few different cities, and writing music in a jam space is only the first step. Who will cover the costs of posters for the show? Who can lend us a PA system? Where can we duplicate cassettes? How can we get our music played on the radio, and share it with all the campus and community stations in Canada? The answer is, of course, CHMA. Also, because Mount Allison has a small student population, anyone can have a weekly radio show, and gain valuable experience in a wide range of communications arts. Our spoken word department is getting stronger every day, and just this year we began to offer kids summer camps. Never have I felt such a strong partnership between a town and its community radio station.

AE: How do you select/recruit the diverse line-up of performers and artists for the festival?
KB: At its core, the festival celebrates and promotes local talent, so we had eight bands and singer-songwriters lined up by September. Sackville is really lucky that bands like The Mouthbreathers and song writers like Jon McKiel call Sackville their home. As for the rest of the bands, some are handpicked, and some apply to play in September. The visual artists are also local; Joe Chamandy, who will be playing with Astral Gunk at the festival, is our art-director, and is responsible for that amazing line-up announcement animation []. He has also delegated tasks such as poster design for each show to other talented artists in Sackville.

AE: Anything special or new happening for the festival's 10th anniversary?
KB: Yes, we have some new innovations for the big ten-oh. Sara Evans and Al Barbour, who run The Black Duck Inn, are letting us use their other store front as a pop-up headquarters. Located right downtown, this space will let us sell festival passes, art, records, tapes, posters and zines for the entire duration of the festival. We will have a professional festival program guide this year, filled with illustrations, interviews, and more. We are also incorporating a new venue into this year’s festival - Pickles Deli. I wanted to get them involved because, as of the last year, they became huge supporters of local music. I think just about every local band paying Stereophonic this year has played at Pickles at some point in the last 8 months.

AE: For someone who has never attended Stereophonic, what is the experience like? Is Sackville completely taken over by music and art in various venues?
KB: Stereophonic doesn't physically take over the town as much as SappyFest does, but one can feel something special in the air during the festival. Many out of town friends are visiting, or coming down to perform, which contributes to the excitement. Also, with nine shows in four days, live music culture pretty much takes over every popular establishment: The Vogue Cinema, Bridge Street Café, George's Roadhouse and many more – you would have to be hibernating pretty hard to miss everything.

AE: Will you perform in the fest?
KB: I will be performing in the festival, playing bass with YELLOWTEETH, Jon McKiel, Marine Dreams, and Go Get F**ked. I can only swing it because we have an amazing group of volunteers. I also have an amazing co-directing partner, Jess Palmer, a total pro.

AE: Anything you'd like to add?
KB: There has never been Stereophonic like this one - this is the best line-up we've ever had. With Maritime cult legends such as Cousins and Cold Warps, to our large headliners like Rich Aucoin and Old Man Luedecke, this years Stereophonic offers something for everyone.

For information on this year’s schedule, tickets and festival passes and a free digital compilation of this year’s bands, check out:

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