Amplifest Organisers On The Past, Present And Future Of The Festival

By on 10 August 2016

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Next weekend sees Neurosis performing in Portugal for the first time ever at this year’s Amplifest. The sixth edition of the festival also boasts one of it’s finest lineups yet, with Aluk Todolo, Oathbreaker, Prurient, Kowloon Walled City, Minsk, Mono and many more.

We caught up with André Mendes and Ângelo Carvalho to find out more about the history of promoters Amplificasom and what Amplifest has in store for us this year…

Congratulations of 10 years of Amplificasom this year! How have you managed to sustain it for so long? If someone were to go back in time to when you first started out and told you you’d still be doing this in a decade’s time, how would you have reacted?
“Thank you so much! We think the main ingredient for success was to not overthink things, but be focused on finding a balancing point between the passion for what we are doing and keeping our feet on the ground. If you told us, ten years ago at our first show ever (Enablers at a tiny bar in Porto) that today we would book Isis, Swans, Godflesh, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Converge, Cult Of Luna, Russian Circles, MONO, Deafheaven, Shellac and that we would be about to have Neurosis for their first time in Portugal, we would smile at you and, once again, try not to overthink. We’d simply make it happen.”

You’re also celebrating the sixth anniversary of Amplifest this year too – how would you say the event has grown and developed over that time?
“It’s a fact that the percentage of Amplifesters from far away is growing edition after edition (this year, we’ll be a family coming from at least 23 countries) and the interest from the national and international media also grows every year. We also see bands booking tours motivated by our invitation to play at Amplifest, even bands that have never played in Europe before. We believe those are very good signs that we are reaching more and more people each year, but our main focus is to make sure that everyone has the best weekend ever.”

This year’s lineup is looking as incredible as always, and definitely befitting of the festival’s sixth birthday. How did you go about planning and choosing each band? Are there any bands you’re particularly proud of securing this year?
“We are obviously very happy to have Neurosis performing in Portugal for the first time ever after 30 years of their career and booking them was a starting point for the programming (and also the reason this edition is taking place in August), but every band and every initiative at this year’s edition is equally important. We don’t say this just to be polite, it’s what we really believe.”

Do you feel any pressure when booking bands, as if you have to live up to previous years?
“No, we don’t feel that pressure of living up to previous editions, but we know that we have very hard working promoters and each year we do our absolute best to have the most relevant bands. But we feel that each edition was always better than the previous one.”

Aside from the bands, what else do you have in store for us this year?
“Films, exhibitions, listening sessions (for example, MONO’s next record will be publicly played for the first time at Amplifest ), Amplitalks, including one with Scott and Steve from Neurosis talking to José Carlos Santos about the their 30 year anniversary. It’s not a festival, it’s an experience.”

Looking back over the history of Amplifest, what would you say has been the festival’s defining moment? What’s been your most memorable performance at the fest?
“We can’t really pinpoint a defining moment. Every edition has touched us in some way and we learned and grew a lot with each one. From the goosebumps of seeing Godflesh performing at Amplifest 2011, to Godspeed’s unforgettable show, to a three-hour marathon of Swans, to Converge providing the sweatiest show ever at Amplifest, we can’t really choose one. Fortunately, we have been collecting many memorable moments.”

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing festival organisers in this day and age?
“For us here in Portugal, we are in the corner of Europe so it’s not easy for bands to reach Portugal in their tours, so that makes things a bit harder. But our main obstacle is the lack of support – we don’t have any kind of funding or sponsorships so ticket sales are the one and only source of income. It’s a fact that nowadays there are a lot of lookalike festivals, so the audience is very spread. At the same time, we believe that we have a very specific and focused lineup; for example, last year we had Altar Of Plagues followed by William Basinski, followed by Converge. The year before we had Yob, followed by Peter Brötzmann, followed by Swans, Pallbearer and Ben Frost. We believe in this programming philosophy, with eclectic lineups with forward-thinking and innovative artists, and we see that the audience understands what we propose.”

What does the future have in store for Amplifest?
“Right now, we are completely focused on making this next edition the best one. We want to make sure that the audience and the artists have a really good time. It’s been a really rewarding adventure. We’re talking about ten years of Amplificasom, ten years of our lives, so you can imagine how important this is for us. All the moments we lived, all the friends we made, all the dreams we saw come true. Yeah, it’s been a real adventure and let’s see what the future holds.”

Amplifest takes place in Porto, Portugal from August 19th – 22nd

You can find Amplifest on Facebook

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