By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON — For every festival sponsored by an energy drink, there are handfuls of smaller, DIY fests put together by local artists, for local artists. The hardcore/screamo fest, Ghost Throats, is one such example. After being organized for a number of years by Andrew Benson, the reins have shifted to Durell Smith to bring the seven-year-old festival to life. When BeatRoute caught up with Smith, it was hard not to get excited about the upcoming dates in Edmonton and Calgary.
BeatRoute: Can you explain what Ghost Throats is and how you got involved?
Durell Smith: Ghost Throats has always been a fest that looks to present what all-ages shows could be like, or what all-ages shows are like. It’s been trying to cultivate an environment that’s safe and fun to go to and that promotes a good thing in the community, not just local hardcore or indie rock, necessarily. I got involved by helping out with postering and eventually the social media aspect. Now I’m heading it up this year! I grew up in the shadow of [the band] Compromise and going to the Yesterday Was Everything hardcore festival, which was the highlight of every summer for a kid like me. So if I could at least do something similar to that, where we’re able to get kids to take in Rayleigh or Borsht or Feminal Fluids, that would be a success to me.
BR: So, for this particular festival, how are you finding ways to get underage kids active?
DS: That’s always been the challenge, every year. We try to do a lot of strategic postering, like at bus stops where we know a lot of kids are waiting to get to school or to part time jobs, or whatever. Maybe if they see the words, “hardcore” or “punk” or “indie,” they’ll be interested. It can be intimidating to come to a show for the first time and you can tell most of the people in the room all ready know each other. I don’t think there’s a way of getting past that, but what we strive to do is be very open and make it a space where you can meet friends and be an introductory part of being involved in local music.
BR: Where do you see Ghost Throats going in the future?
DS: Well, I really like how we’re maintaining what we already have in town, what we have in Alberta with the scene that’s been happening already for years. What we want to do is really just expand on this hardcore scene and champion all-ages shows. We don’t need to go bigger than where we already are. It’s not so much about growing as it is maintaining.
BR: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
DS: I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all the promoters who I’ve worked who have allowed bands I’ve participated in to play their shows. I’m going to try to pay it back with this one! I wanna thank Andrew Benson, especially, because without his years of commitment, stressing out and this and that, we wouldn’t have Ghost Throats. Kevin Stebner, as well. He’s been a huge inspiration going into this year working with him so closely. And, from the bottom of my heart, Craig Martell. Where would I be without that beautiful, beautiful man? Finally, a huge shout out to Not Enough Fest. They have been a huge inspiration to me, as well.
Catch the Ghost Throats Fest in Edmonton Friday, May 27th at Bohemia, Saturday, May 28th at the Sewing Machine and Ritchie Hall. Calgary gets Ghost Throats Sunday, May 29th at the Hillhurst United. Lineup info is available online.AB, Alberta, Bohemia, Ghost Throats DIY Fest, Hillhurst United Church, Ritchie Hall, Sewing Machine