NOCTIS V Interviews Part 2:
Terese Fleming: Mastermind of the Noctis festivals and owner of Scarab Productions
With approximately a month to go until Scarab Productions hosts Noctis V – Baphomiss in Calgary Alta., tickets are selling fast and the lineup of bands has fans amped for September 27 kick off. The festival was originally scheduled to be an event spanning two evenings with a single conference day but was extended to be a three day event from September 27 to 29. Before we go into further details about the festival, we need to tell you about the headliners that Terese Fleming, the mastermind of the Noctis festivals and owner of Scarab Productions, was able to snag. FUCKING VENOM. Venom has not been to Canada since 1985 and it will be their first time in the western part of the country. We at metal-rules.com who will be at Noctis V are just a little excited.
Although labeled Noctis V, this is actually the sixth year Fleming will be hosting a Noctis festival. Due to scheduling conflicts with venues, a smaller version was held in 2011 titled “Noctis 4.20”. Our coverage of last year’s fest can be found here. Aside from last year smaller version, the festival has been held annually since 2007 and has been growing larger every year with international acts actually sending Fleming requests for spots on the bill. “We’ve had some really good press from some of the bands that have played Noctis, and from journalists that attended and word started getting out”, explains Fleming. Noctis has become the biggest heavy metal festival in western Canada and has given Calgary metal fans and the fans from neighboring cities and provinces, and even countries, the opportunity to see many bands that they would not have been able to see without travelling elsewhere. And it all started with some underage metalheads wanting to play their music somewhere.
“My son and his friends were in metal bands when they were 15 and couldn’t play at any of the bars, so I offered to help them organize an all-ages show at the Carpenters Hall [in Calgary],” says Fleming about the beginnings of Scarab Productions. The company has gone from helping stage shows for locals kids to hosting internationally renowned festivals. Fleming did not initially realize how much work such a festival would be – but based on our observations, she seems to have gotten the hang of it pretty quick. “Once I decided to it, I thought, well this shouldn’t be too much work, and I thought we’d do one every year for a good half dozen or so years. Then once I started, I realized all the work involved and since then every year has been my “last” year. Then something happens, like there is a really band I that I want to see, or I get some creative Idea I can’t let go and then I’m sunk. I have to do it.”
Thankfully Fleming keeps getting the motivation needed to continue to run the Noctis festivals. This year’s line-up also includes bands like Agalloch, Pig Destroyer, Blood Ceremony, Manilla Road and Nunslaugher to name a few. Noctis always includes some local acts on the bill and at Noctis V you can catch bands like Phantom Limb, The Order of Chaos and Epi-Demic from the Alberta area.
The panelists and special guests for the Saturday conference are also very enticing and will be providing metalheads and metal musicians some valuable insight from experts of various fields. To give you an idea of the range of invitees, this year photographer Mira Born and author and journalist Martin Popoff are returning again along with new additions such as musician and composer Luc Lemy (Gorguts, ex-Negativa), music video director Doug Cook and the CEO of Ultimate Music Cruises (70,000 Tons of Metal, Barge to Hell cruises) Andy Piller. According to Fleming one of the hot button topics will be, "Has metal lost its ‘extreme edge’? What does ‘extreme’ in metal mean these days? We’ve done ultra-fast, ultra slow and ultra-shocking. Are there any new frontiers for metal to conquer? ". During the Beer and Cheese welcome on Friday night a live “one-on-one” interview with Cronos, frontman of Venom will be conducted by Joel McIvor. We should also mention that our very own JP is one of the co-hosts of along with Kevin Woron (Megawatt Mayhem).
For the entire line-up of bands and list of conference panellists check the Noctis website (http://www.noctisvalkyries.com/) where you will also find information on tickets. Tickets are selling faster than any previous Noctis festival and there are a variety of festival and conference packages available.
Below we have some Q&A with Terese Fleming about what goes into planning a Noctis festival, what to expect this year and some advice to local bands.
How do you begin planning for the festivals?
Usually with a creative idea or a theme. Coming up with the theme for the festival usually is what drives me, Like the "Age of Darkness" for Noctis II, where we had a lot of pagan black/folk bands; or the "Tritagonist" theme for Noctis III where we got a lot more evil, and "Thrones of War’ for Noctis IV, where we managed to a get a few of our favourite war metal bands. It helps me envision the style of band I want to book for the fest, and what direction the art will take.
What kind of research do you do before getting started?
As far as organizing the fest, the 4 years of promoting local all ages and bar shows and my general business experience have been great for background experience. As far as Noctis itself, it’s a festival that specializes in bringing bands to Calgary that have never been here before and are unlikely to tour through here, or haven’t toured through here before. So, it’s a real balancing act between picking underground acts that fans here want to see, and those that will draw enough people including from beyond our locale, to pay for staging the festival. That’s where the real research comes in, in terms of looking at bands’ touring histories, their album sales, their recent releases, how many top 10 lists they’ve been on…and keeping your ear to the ground in terms of what the local interests are and what the local opinion setters are rallying about.
For the most part Noctis has different bands every year, but this is Midnight’s third time back. What is about the band that has you asking them back?
Aside from being an awesome band that everyone should know about? They seem to have kind of crept into the Noctis psyche more than most bands. They epitomize the raison d’etre for Noctis - to highlight some of the best but underexposed from the underground. The first time they performed at Noctis III, we had a little bit of a glitch in the schedule, and I bumped them from the Friday to the Saturday line-up. I was in the audience while they were playing and I could see mouths hanging open in surprize, and people were saying to each other "Who the hell are these guys?" In the usual festival post-mortem, they were one of the most talked about bands of the fest, and yet, one of the least known going into it. Last year, we had a band drop out at the last minute and Midnight really helped me out by filling in. This year, so many people wanted to see them again, I thought what the hell, so do I! My crystal ball tells they’ll be playing the big stages in Europe soon.
I always see great comments and thank you notes posted from bands on various websites. What is your favourite response from a band about playing Noctis?
Probably the one from Sodom, who said that it was one of the best festivals they had ever played and that they had a wonderful experience here. They play a ton of fests so I was really touched by their comments. From the conference side of things, I got a wonderful note from Sam Dunn, who thought the conference was a very unique and important metal event that should be held annually. But I have received a lot of other wonderful thank-you’s, and even gifts…it’s been great!
Any bands you are still trying to get perhaps for another year?
Yes…Bolt Thrower. If I can get them, there will definitely be a Noctis VI!
This year you announced the addition of a Thursday night to Noctis, what lead you to extend the festival?
Mostly I couldn’t fit enough bands I wanted to see on just the two days. Also, we have a fair number of people who are arriving on Thursday night, and who want to make a long weekend of it, so this seemed a really good idea on several fronts.
The conference portion has been very successful and well attended since its inception at Noctis III. What do you aim to provide through the conference to the attendees this year?
Some of the same [as the last conference]. What we want to do is make it a really valuable resource for metal musicians where they can get information that they can’t easily get anywhere else. We’ll have a number of outstanding metal artists, mangers, journalists, agents, and label heads that can answer a lot of questions like, "How do I get signed? ", “What’s the touring environment like?", "What’s the most cost effective way to promote my band" and "When do I need a manager, an agent, or a lawyer?" And some topics will be different and geared specifically to the musical aspect: we already have a song writing session booked with Luc Lemay from Gorguts, and we’re working on a drum and guitar clinic. And, we’ll offer our traditional DIY Recording Clinic by Sacha Laskow and Tomislav Crnkovic of Perfect Fifth Studios.
Which band(s) are you most looking forward to seeing on a Noctis stage this year?
Oh my, I think that would be like trying to choose your favourite child. Difficult and not a good idea.
What is the most challenging aspect of planning Noctis?
All the time involved – its huge time commitment. After that, I would say the difficulty of finding contacts for some speakers, and sometimes bands.
What do you look for in the local bands to put on the bill?
I look for bands that have put a lot of effort into themselves, have toured Western Canada and paid their dues, so to speak, and who have the fans to show for it. Occasionally I stray from that formula, but not often.
Any advice for bands looking to play a festival like Noctis (or Noctis next year)?
Yes, have good music and do your homework. Get some radio play, have a well-produced CD, tour, get an electronic press pack together, or failing that, have your logo, a band photo, a discography, and a bio all ready to go. It really is the easiest way for us to give you any attention. And be a good sport about not getting on the bill. It’s hard to pick among so many good bands so don’t take it personally. Maybe next time.