An Interview with EMF’s Mathieu Joanisse
When Mathieu answered my call, he did not seem rushed, despite planning the festival. You must know that the EMF is, by far, one of the tightest music festivals. Here is a short summary of our chat about an event that will blow out the candles on the 12th anniversary of an event considered a must by many festivalgoers.
Shoeclack: What is EMF and how it is different from the average music Festival?
Mathieu Joanisse: At EMF we focus principally on the emerging music scene. We are not the only festival doing this, but in our case we take over EVERY possible venue in the city. In the beginning, before the industry got involved in the project, EMF was really for the people of Rouyn-Noranda, and still is. The general public was tired of driving for hours to see a good live show elsewhere, so we decided to bring the artists here.
Shoeclack: I was reading your objectives on EMF’s website and one thing surprised me: “Contributing to improve community life.” How will you do that?
M.J.: Improving community life means bringing culture here, all the while convincing locals to stay in Rouyn-Noranda. There are a lot of different festivals in the city, they interest people and create jobs. I even know some miners that attended EMF and decided to settle down here after!
Shoeclack: How will you celebrate the 12th anniversary of the festival? Will we see a surprise concert of Owen Pallet?
M.J.: Anniversary or not, there are always surprises at the EMF (laughs). This year we tried to focus on the free concerts. We always try to surprise our customers and to reach out to everyone. People used to tell us that the festival was only for the younger generation. For this edition, the closing show features Daniel Bélanger, and The Feather, a Belgian band, will play in a senior’s residence. The goal is to take care of our festivalgoers.
Shoeclack: Another objective of the festival is to promote original music. What is original music to you? There are few artists that come from Rouyn-Noranda in this year’s lineup, is this why?
M.J.: To promote “original,” for us, means being audacious with our choices when booking the lineup. It’s also means having as many styles as possible, as I was saying before. Often people from Rouyn buy their tickets without knowing what they’re going to see, and at the end of the concert they are super happy. Artists adore playing at our festival, their merch sells well here too.
We have three bands from Rouyn this year simply because we book with offers from local artists. We don’t want to book someone who played the festival last year so we work with what is available, you must remember that.
Shoeclack: A lot of festivalgoers come from Montreal for the event. Are the people from Rouyn still enjoying it?
M.J.: We sold out passes in 24 hours this year. People from here really love the festival. The same people come back year after year. I think we have built a great relationship of “confidence” with our crowd. For a lot of the concerts you see people trying to buy tickets in the streets because it’s sold out. That’s why we tried to add many free concerts with this edition.
Shoeclack: What are the bands that you are the most proud of having booked this year?
M.J.: The Hacker, because I’m a big fan. I love his collaborations with Miss Kittin. Sierre Leone Refugees All Stars also. I didn’t know them prior but they are incredible! They’ve toured everywhere, there was even a documentary made about them. They are as important as Buena Vista Social Club, in my opinion.
Shoeclack: When will the Morasse restaurant become an official partner of the EMF?
M.J.: They’re already partners (laughs)! This restaurant just does not need visibility; there is a line-up in front every night. Morasse helps us with the transportation aspect of the festival. There is a strong connection.