The 35 Denton crew is at it again. As the end of the year approaches, this festival team is busy revamping their image, scoping out bands and getting the word out.
Yes, the four-day event called 35 Conferette and North By 35 and held every year the weekend before South By Southwest invades Austin, has once again gone under a name change among other switch-ups. But the spirit of the fest will hardly change.
Natalie Davila, director of programming for 35 Denton music festival, said this upcoming year's lineup will be more focused and involve more community outreach than ever before. In fact, integrated as part of their website redesign, 35 Denton is asking members of the music community to send in suggestions for the musical acts they want to see at the fest.
Davila, up for a Dallas Observer Music Award this year in the "Best Local Music Advocate" category, recently sat down with DC9 to give is some more details about the plans for third annual 35 Denton music festival.
How are things going this year so far with booking?
Things are going really well! We're in the first stage of reaching out and making inquires and finding out who is available and what our options are. So far, so good. But it's difficult because we want to try to announce our first round of confirmed artists in early October. Bigger agents for bigger acts are planning that far in advance, but some of the smaller stuff it's harder to get confirmed.
Tell me about the "Booking Suggestions" feature of the new website. Why are you taking requests from the general public?
We felt like it would be a good idea because of the overall music community in Denton. The best thing about it is the music lovers in this town really have their ears to the ground and are really aware of up-and-coming bands before other people are. I think that's a real asset. My whole reasoning to have that feature incorporated into the website was that if there was one artist that the community spoke out and said, "Hey we this one act to play," that is something that's really useful going back to an agent. We can say, "Hey, look, we've done this thing where we've let the people decide. This is something that the city of Denton has asked for."
How much consideration will you actually give these booking suggestions?
Some of the stuff we book will undeniably be stuff that people are suggesting. A lot of the things people are suggesting are things we were already kind of tossing around. But we're considering having a "Most Requested Artist" or "Fan's Pick" group. Perhaps it could be a continuation every year. Overall, we're just trying to improve the content of the festival, have richer content. And we feel like that could potentially be a good idea. The people who are actively going to be on the website suggesting bands are our heaviest followers. Their opinions matter, and I want to know what people are into. We had reservation about bringing in hip-hop because we didn't how people would respond, but we are totally getting requests for hip-hop -- more than I thought.
Have a lot of people sent in suggestions?
Yes! Yes! And it was actually getting forwarded directly to my email account, and so in one day I got over 100 emails.
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That was totally me. I must have filled out that form like six times.
Yeah, I asked our tech if there was any way these things could not get sent to my email address and I could go into the back of website to view the answers. So we're working on that. But this kind of response is exactly what we wanted. We want people to feel like their voices are heard and that it's relevant. This festival is for the community, by the community. It's something we're all mutually invested in. We want to bring people what they want to see.
What will be a main difference between this year and next year?
Next year, in my mind, as far as booking is concerned, it's more about quality and less about quantity. We had over 200 bands this year and we really want to scale that number back. There will still be more than 100 bands, but we're going to be more selective about things. This year, one of the issues, which we received a lot of criticism about, was we had so much stronger stuff fall on Sunday. That's always going to be hard to navigate because of South By -- that last day, there are a lot more bands available being routed through this area at that time. Now we're in a better position where we have more leverage to spread out more evenly across the weekend.
Let's talk for a second about this festival's identity crisis. Where'd you come up with the name for this year?
I actually was not a part of that. Those decisions are always made by the owners of the festival. They reason why it was changed from 35 Conferette to 35 Denton is we had a huge issue with people understanding what [conferette] meant. No one could pronunce it, no one knew what it meant. I had lots of agents that would put on their contracts "35 Confederate." Ugh, god. It sounds so bad!
You think the name 35 Denton will stick?
Yeah, because if we change it again I'm going to slam my face against a wall. I just keep thinking about this poor girl last year. I don't know who she is, but she got this massive tattoo of 35 Conferette with the logo. It was a huge tattoo she got on her thigh. I keep thinking she's probably really pissed off.