Interview & Festival Preview: KOI Music Festival, CanadaIf you’ve been looking for a reason to visit Canada, hitting it up with KOI Music Festival is a perfect one. And if you are already in Canada, time for a road trip to what promises to be a fantastic event. 

The leaves are starting to change colour, and the air has a touch of crispness creeping in as fall arrives in Canada. But the busy festival season isn’t over yet. The Kitchener Ontario Independent Music Festival, better known as the KOI Music Festival, will be taking place September 13th and 14th in Southern Ontario, Canada.

Curt and Cory Crossman, two brothers from Kitchener, developed this event to showcase the talent that exists in Kitchener. For an independent music festival, this thing is huge, featuring impressive headliners like Classified and Treble Charger, the Planet Smashers and the Mahones, and a whole pile of local acts.

It’s clear that a lot of work has gone into getting this thing together. Cory Crossman tells us, “We put a great deal of time, energy and resources into each year’s festival but this year we’ve put in even more. This is KOI Music Festival’s fourth year running. We started in 2010 and haven’t looked back! KOI Fest is a full time career. The day after the fest wraps up we begin planning for next year. It really is a 7 days a week, 365 days a year job.” This is on top of the brothers also running their own streetwear clothing company called ARC Cloathing Co. So, these guys like to stay busy.

After a long, hot summer filled with killer festivals from coast to coast to coast, why does this one stand out as a must see? “Canada does have many festivals but not many like KOI Music Fest. We differentiate ourselves by being very community oriented and engaging. Our festival is loaded with musicians and you’ll often bump shoulders with artists that are performing on the mainstage as you walk through the vendor market or crowd into a venue to catch an up and coming artist. We are a low key festival that embraces and welcomes all. Many artists are drawn to the festival because of the laid back grassroots feel it has. Each year the festival attendance has doubled in size and last year we had over 7,000 people make it out.”

Kitchener has not hit the national stage in terms of being a hot bed of music quite yet, although the Crossman brothers have been aiming to change that through the KOI festival. But it sounds like that area of the country is ready to take on the world. “The scene in the tri-cities (Kitchener Waterloo Cambridge) is staying strong with great music venues like The Boat House, Maxwell’s, Little Bean, The Hive, Chrysalids, and Starlight. This community is very arts focused and the City of Kitchener has really put a focus on growing the arts and culture scene with a major emphasis on development of the music scene. It’s a very interesting time to be involved with music in Kitchener. “

And by the looks of the bill, there is indeed a very healthy scene that might be one of Canada’s most underrated with some great bands to take in. “As for locals to catch there is a plethora of unbelievable bands but I’ll keep it short and sweet. Courage My Love are playing on Friday directly supporting Treble Charger. You must check out these young ones. They are making some serious noise at home and abroad internationally. Local favourites like Teen Violence, Exalt and Wayfarer should not be missed!”

Like Cory says, that list is short and sweet. The festival is pretty sizeable to say the least, so if none of those bands catch your eye, there is no shortage of others to choose from. “This is our largest line up yet with 164 performances from 161 bands! This year has after parties on the Friday night as well as a breakfast acoustic show featuring local band Credit Valley and one of the festivals main headliners Cute Is What We Aim For. We are really excited with the growth of the fest but with it comes an increased work load. It’s not an easy task putting an event on at 11 indoor venues and on an outdoor stage, especially with the small team that we have in place. So please come out and support the show and have one last amazing summer memory!”

And, while you are enjoying a last blast of summer fun, pick up an event t-shirt put together Civilian Printing (along with ARC Cloathing Co.) which looks amazing. You might want to order one just for the sake of having a really cool shirt, even if you can’t make this festival.

Check out the KOI Music Festival website for more information on this great event and to order your shirt! They are also on Facebook and twitter.

Words by Chris Hearn. More writing by Chris on Louder Than War can be found here.

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Deep in the heart of Canada, on the north shore of frigid Lake Superior, is a town called Thunder Bay. That\'s where I am from. That\'s where I started to write. And that is where I started to discover music. Now, I\'m a married man with two boys. I still love music. I still go to shows. And I still visit Thunder Bay, even though I haven\'t lived there for many years. What will you find on my iPod? You\'ll find lot of Americana, classic country, heavy stuff, punk and plenty of “guilty pleasures”.


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