Music, Photography, Travel, Video

Eight MUST HAVE’s When Traveling to a Music Festival

As a lot of you might know, I’ve spent the summer going to music festivals and doing various shoots with artists. Depending on the festival, you might not be allowed to bring all the things you’d want, since some of the smallest things could be considered ‘banned items’. I wanted to make this post for all of you in case you were planning on going to any future festivals, or anybody who wanted to inquire on which festivals enforce which policies. Enjoy!

  1. Sunscreen – Make sure that you always bring the smallest amount/bottle you can find. When it comes to music festivals (especially ones with huge headliners), they’re a lot like airports. The risk management teams and security at the festivals will inevitably make you throw out your tubes of sunscreen if it isn’t small enough. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bring any! Avoid tan lines and sunburns by carrying around sunscreen. Also, it never hurts to make a friend by offering them some sunscreen on a hot day!3FE67385-7FB6-46BA-AA0B-DBC5C2342B60   (I would recommend using the Avene Ultra-Ligh Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion as it has broad spectrum SPF 50+ and it’s water resistant! You can either get the sunscreen through the link above on Amazon or get it through the Summer FabFitFun box! Use the code ‘UMASS’ to get $10 off your purchase!)
  2. Portable Chargers – Although this might be more important for people who make an attempt at a press pass, portable chargers are extremely useful and can prevent you not being able to reach your friends at a time where you all split up. One of the biggest pluses to having a portable charger is that some of them have a storage compartment on the back of your phone, useful when you’re storing your I.D., passes, or credit cards. The worst thing is having to dig through a huge backpack of excess items while you’re trying to pay for a drink. (I personally use the Morphie IPhone 6 Portable Charger, but I do believe Amazon and Best Buy have other awesome brands to choose from)
  3. Earplugs – This thought came to me when I was front row at a Dillon Francis concert. If you’re like me, you probably might want to get as close to the artist as possible, even if it means you’re going to be face-to-face with the artist’s speakers. It’s all about the experience, right? However, when I started shooting photos for artists that these festivals, seasoned pros would hang me some earplugs to keep your ears from ringing after the performance. Honestly, it’s probably one of the better ideas since the beginning of music festivals. You can still enjoy your concert experience, just take out the traumatic aftermath of not being able to hear anything afterwards.
  4. Tylenol – Obviously, skip this if you are totally fine and live in a region of the world where the combination of loud noises and heat don’t get you worked up. However, coming from Connecticut, we don’t do well when working in heat. Therefore, when you might get a headache, try taking a couple of tylenol. **Disclaimer: I would NOT go drinking at a festival after having Tylenol as it can cause liver damage… Just trying to keep y’all safe**
  5. Hammock – I know this is weird, but trust me. When I went to Firefly Music Festival in Delaware this year, a lot of the campers placed their hammocks in trees that were near the stages they wanted. Sure, you might not be front row, but at least  you get to relax by the stage and still listen to some of your favorite artists.
  6. Business Cards – Yes, I know this seems strange. Normally, I would say ‘screw it’ and just not bring anything business-related to a music festival. However, if you’re a social media influencer, tech savvy person, video producer, or just a guy who is trying to dabble in music production, keep some business cards on you. A lot of artist management hangs out in either VIP or General Admission areas, and it never hurts to give them your information. If you happen to have a Press or Photo pass, this is also a sweet way to end up being invited to more festivals under the affiliation of a cool company. You never know! (I personally use Moo business cards, but Vistaprint is also a good choice!)
  7. Your Planner – With a lot of artists, means a lot of running around. Similar to #6, I’m not a huge fan of walking around with business materials during a time where I’m supposed to focus on having fun. However, if you’re running around trying to capture the performances of 12 artists in one day, you need to be alert to when you need to be there, whether or not you have time to visit certain stations, and when those artists might be doing meet and greets/signings.1631FFC3-00A6-419E-B73A-ED220827E0DA(On the left, Horacio Printing Student Planner 2017-2018. On the right, Kate Spade 2018 Student Planner)
  8. Lastly, of course, you have to bring some of your closest friends – I always look back at my experiences working for festivals with a smile on my face, because a friend of mine (usually who also dabbled in film/photo) also joined me for the ride. It’s always a nice feeling to know that you can see some of your favorite artists with friends and enjoy yourself while working. Also, with such large festivals these days, you start to have trouble finding certain entrances, and a friend can always be the second pair of eyes for you when you’re under some stress.

 

I hope you all enjoyed my eight things you’ll need to bring when you head to your next music festival! If you have any ideas of what I should write about, e-mail cassidykotyla@gmail.com or just follow me on Instagram at @CasElizabethCecilia and comment your idea on one of my latest photos!

Until next time, xoxo.

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Music, Travel

Michael Blume Q & A–Emerging Artists Without Genre Borders

Michael Blume is an artist celebrating all good things happening in the music industry right now–free forms of expression, interesting development of artistic concepts, and thinking outside the box when it comes to attracting viewers. I did a quick Q&A with him to see what his thoughts were on being an emerging artist, being invited to a big festival such as Firefly, and the more intimate parts to his music.

CasElizabethCecilia: ‘It’s nice to have a chance to sit down with you, Michael. To start, what gets you the most excited before you perform?’

Michael Blume: ‘I think just being with my band, and kind of thinking about the music and how hard we’ve worked to get the opportunities we’ve had… we think about it as just like one big, long journey.’

CasElizabethCecilia: ‘So after listening to some of your songs, your style is kind of eclectic–to me, it doesn’t necessarily fit into one genre. What would you classify your particular genre or style as?’

Michael Blume: ‘I would agree that it doesn’t fit in one genre neatly. It’s not trendy, it’s a new blend. My quick elevator answer is sometimes ‘progressive R&B’, which I don’t love. It’s like R&B and pop mixed into one. It’s really honest, vulnerable, story-telling. It’s kind of a mix of those elements.’

C: ‘So which artists do you look up to the most?’

M: ‘Wow, there are so many. When I think about the musical artists that really inspire me, it’s definitely people who have created their own universe. You know, people who imagined their own universe with their own rules–Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, James Brown. To me, there’s really two types of music–good music and bad music. I’m learning a lot about the visual arts and visual world, too. I’ve been thinking a lot about the period of Picasso where the faces are all disjointed and stuff. He took something where you expected to see something but distorted it and made it uncomfortable. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do in my music right now.’

C: ‘Would you say you’d like to add more of an avant-garde element to your music?’

M: ‘Sure, there’s definitely an avant-garde element to it. I think, essentially what my work is trying to do is ask questions that aren’t necessarily being asked. You know, we’re all following so many rules regarding social constructs and behavior and action, and I want to shine a light on all of this.’

C: ‘Are there any groups or people that you look up to or would like to collaborate with in the future?’

M: ‘So many. I mean, all of the ones I just said. When I think of it, I think the headliners like Chance The Rapper–so inspiring. I think Chance would f**k with what I’m doing. I know this is lofty and kind of cliche, but definitely Beyonce. I think she is the artist of my lifetime. She’s just…she curates everything so beautifully–the music, the looks, the dance moves, the choreography, the vision–she creates this universe so that it’s not just what her music sounds like; it’s what it feels like, it’s what it tastes like, it’s what you take away from it.

C: ‘That’s awesome. So, a lot of your songs are pretty personal and revolve around relationships. Is there anybody special in your life right now?’

M: ‘Well, you’re special. Everybody’s special. I don’t believe in traditional ideals of relationships. If you’re question is if I have anybody special in my life, yes. If you’re question is if I’m f**king anybody, no, I’m not. But, I’m looking for that.’

C: ‘I was going to say, are there any specific individuals behind your songs.’

M: ‘Good question. On the EP…yep. Yep, yep. There are. On some of the songs it’s just one person, but then the rest of the song I’ll kind of exaggerate it. Or, someone will inspire multiple songs.’

C: ‘Describe the song, ‘Relationship‘, to me as a story.’

M: ‘That one is about a relationship with myself. You know, I’m confident that I’m going to blow up one day. And it means that I have less time to do stuff, like see friends. I’m less available to make a call. I’m missing a family thing right now; yesterday’s my grandma’s 85th birthday, I’m missing it by being here. Relationships, I recently found out, are one of the hardest things. It’s so hard because my professional life is my personal life. It’s from the moment that I wake up to the moment that I go to bed.’

C: ‘So, I’m going to change the topic a little bit. Can we be expecting some new songs in the near future?’

M: ‘Oh, yes. We’re finishing an album right now. We’ve got a lot of songs…’

C: ‘Fifteen plus hopefully?’

M: ‘Definitely fifteen plus. We’ve got to narrow it down, though. They won’t all make them on the album. The first single is going to come out next month. It’s been a long time coming; I haven’t released music in about a year.’

C: ‘Awesome. Where was your favorite place to perform and why?’

M: ‘Well, we played at Governor’s Ball a couple weeks ago and that was my first festival gig. They were so excited and super into it.’

C: ‘Alright, so we have one more question. Are you a cat or dog person?’

M: ‘Dog.’

C: ‘Oh, thank god.’

 

Thank you so much to Michael Blume and his management team for coming down to Firefly. Stay tuned for his new single coming out in July and for his future performances!

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Music, Travel

Sitting Down With Quinn XCII: Song Inspirations, ‘Grimy’ Venice, & Daily Doc’s

Sitting down in the dimly-lit press tent at Firefly Music Festival, my heart beating slightly out of my chest and onto the table, nervous for the interview ahead of me. Not only was I about to meet and interview someone in which I’ve belted out his hits in the middle of my shower time, but I was about to do so drenched in sweat, glitter residue, and drinks spilled on me from the tailgate thrown earlier that morning in the festival parking lot. I know, I’m a hot mess. What else is new? No matter what, though, I was determined to sit down with the one, the only, Quinn XCII.

Known as Quinn XCII on stage, the rising star seemed quite eager to talk about his efforts within music and future endeavors. The twenty-five year old singer is about to release a new single in early July 2017, attempting to top his already successful hit singles such as ‘Straightjacket‘ and ‘Another Day In Paradise‘. I got the opportunity to wipe the sweat off my brow and sit down with him to discuss the most important details of his career, and what inspires him the most to get up and perform in front of thousands.

CasElizabethCecilia: ‘First of all, how are you enjoying Firefly?’ 

Quinn XCII: ‘I love it so far. One of my good friends, A-Ok, performed yesterday and it was amazing seeing the crowd that he performed for… it was like thousands of people and just such a cool, positive environment. And that’s what’s so cool about festivals, everybody’s just trying to have a good time… I love that stuff.’

CasElizabethCecilia: ‘So, what is your favorite part about performing?’

Quinn XCII: ‘My favorite part about performing is just seeing people’s reactions in the crowd, I think. It’s one thing to connect with fans on social media, but it’s another thing to see them in person and see how happy they get. It’s really indescribable. It’s super humbling.’

C: ‘What’s your biggest inspiration when coming up with songs?’

Q: ‘It’s super weird because song writing is super sporadic and there’s really no formula to making a song– I would say, though, past history and moments that I’ve lived through are definitely inspiration. I also like to take inspiration from what my friends or family go through and speak on that.’

C: ‘That’s awesome. What makes you the most motivated?’

Q: ‘Honestly, doing shows like this makes me the most motivated. When I do a show like Firefly, or a festival, even headlining shows wherever they may be, you know, it makes me more hungry to get back in the studio and make better music and then go back on stage and perform that music.’

C: ‘Great. Now, I know this is kind of off-topic, but what do you like to do in your free time? You know, like when you’re not performing, when you’re not interviewing… what do you do to unwind?’

Q: ‘You know, I love playing video games, I love playing Fifa… Now that’s I’m in California, I love trying to hit up the beach.’

C: ‘What’s your favorite area of California?’

Q: ‘Definitely Venice. There’s something about Venice–it’s kind of grimy but it’s great for people watching.’

C: ‘Oh, you like people watching, too? We’d definitely get along. Okay, so, speaking of free time and being in L.A., being a blogger I’ve seen your presence in Justin Escalona’s ‘Daily Docs’, can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with him and if you guys feed off of each other for artistic collaboration?’

Q: ‘Yeah, of course. So, Justin was using my music for his videos and one day he messaged me and we started talking online. One day he asked me where I was from and when I said L.A., he said he was from L.A. too. We got lunch one day and all of the sudden just became friends. And now, I see him pretty often now. It’s crazy what the internet can do about bringing people together. I can attribute a ton of fans to him because of his skills. His market is kind of similar to mine, so that crossover is very valuable.’

C: ‘Can we expect some new songs coming our way anytime soon?’

Q: ‘Oh yes. You can expect a single coming out July 7th, another single in August and my album comes out later on. I’ve been working on it for the past year, so just being able to put out an album for the first time under a major label and giving it the proper treatment that I always hoped that it would someday, it’s so humbling.’

C: ‘Have you ever wanted to collaborate with someone and didn’t have the chance to, or are you looking to collaborate with somebody in the future?’ 

Q: ‘Definitely, yeah. It’s weird because I don’t do a lot of collaborations– not because I don’t want to, I just feel we haven’t really felt about reaching out to anybody and now being with the label, we have more connections to do so. I’ve always wanted to work with Jack Johnson, or not the typical feature with someone that you see everyday. But, there’s also guys like Jon Bellion, who I love, and Chance The Rapper, Twenty One Pilots– I could go on for days.’

C: ‘So, speaking of Jon Bellion… a lot of your fans have compared you to Jon Bellion saying that you two are similar in style. How do you respond to that, and how would you classify your own style of music?’

Q: ‘Going into [my career], I knew I was going to get those comparisons. I don’t mind it whatsoever. He’s one of the guys I look up to. I would describe my genre, though, as pop music, but it’s a melting pot of different genres to be honest. I think the industry’s going in a way that’s leading to the term ‘genre’ losing it’s meaning, in a way.’

C: ‘Personally, I’m a huge fan of ‘Straightjacket’. Can you tell me the inspiration behind it? Is there a story that we should all know?’

Q: ‘Yeah, so I dated a girl who a while ago who was–?’

C: ‘Who was crazy?’ 

Q: ‘Yeah, pretty much. Essentially she was just was two-faced, and acted totally different in public than with me, and pretty much was a goody-two-shoes in public and behind closed-doors was so different. I think one of the worst qualities in people is being fake. I think that’s why people like the song so much, because the topic resonates with so many people.’

C: ‘A few of your songs touch on some pretty intimate concepts of relationships and love– do you have anybody special in your life?’

Q: ‘I do. I have a girlfriend of two and a half years. She’s awesome. I also have family members, siblings… I don’t like necessarily writing specifically about them, which is kind of weird because a lot of artists do that. But, what I like is just taking inspirations about their feelings and thoughts and spinning it into a song.’

C: ‘Do you have any advice for future artists?’

Q: ‘I guess I would say just to be yourself. You don’t have to conform to what the popular person is doing. I think it’s so easy to want to be swimming along with the trends, and the more you don’t do that, the more you stick out and that’s what I try to do. I think that’s probably the best advice I could give.’

C: ‘Alright, last question but a fun one at that. If you could visit any country, which would you pick and why?’

Q: ‘Oh, gosh. I’ve never been to Europe, so I want to go there next year for shows and stuff. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland– I have a couple friends who have gone there and they all say it’s beautiful. I also like Scotland and England.’

Well, Quinn (although we all know that’s not your real name), it was a pleasure speaking with you. Quinn XCII’s album drops later this summer, so make sure to check it out on Spotify! Make sure to follow my Instagram and Quinn’s as well!

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Music, Travel, Video

Obtaining Press Passes–How To Talk The Talk & E-Mail To Your Heart’s Content

One of the biggest questions I’m asked these days are how I’m able to attend a bunch of concerts, specifically over the summer. While many people are doing their 9-5pm internships in cities that result them in a massive amount of debt, I chose to waitress and instead focus on growing my brand and improving my filmmaking skills. Maybe it’s not the life I truly had asked for, but in all honesty, it’s a lot more fun than sitting in a cubicle all day slaving over my paycheck. Instead, I get to connect with hundreds of amazing artists who share the same passions that I do–creating things that people will love.

So, how did I obtain press passes? No, I didn’t have to jump any fences to sneak into concerts, nor did I pay $500 a ticket to go, either. In fact, it was quite simple. Here are some simple steps for your enjoyment.

  1. Grow your brand so that people can’t say no. Though it took practically my entire college career to grow CasElizabethCecilia, it finally got to the point in which employers and people that I’d run into would ask about it and inquire on my skill set because of what they saw. Make sure to always have a great backing of followers and connections before you approach larger-scale venues, especially if you want to get an honest response.
  2. Surround yourself with the right people. Now, going to a somewhat-rural university like I did, there were only a handful of people that I would have considered to be “top-notch” filmmakers who were also serious about their profession being filmmaking. One thing I would suggest is to reach out to people who you admire and hope for the best. I’ve ended up meeting tons of people along my travels because I’ve followed them on social media, attended one of their classes, or followed in their styles of filmmaking or editing. When you surround yourself with the right people, not only will your skill set skyrocket in its capability, but you’ll be able to have a great connection base for future gigs and opportunities.
  3. Never discourage yourself when people remind you that you’re replaceable. In this industry in particular, you’ll run into a billion other filmmakers, bloggers, authors–you name it. The point is, there’s a lot of talent just waiting to be scooped up. It’s important to keep your head up high, however. No one wants to hire someone who isn’t confident in their work, and you will feel a lot better getting a recommendation from someone when they make a remark on how pleasant you are to work with.
  4. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. One of the biggest fears I have is being hung up on. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s just the feeling that a total stranger doesn’t want to talk to me freaks me out. But, it’s something you need to overcome if you’re going into the filmmaking and journalism industry. It’s not good enough to e-mail someone, especially when you know a thousand other people are e-mailing that specific record company or booker every day. Think about it. Manager’s reach out and help out the artists they know first because they have personal contact to them–if you reach out to someone via e-mail and don’t get a response, they realize they don’t know who you are, and they throw you into the pile of “no’s”.
  5. Always follow up, no matter what. I’ve personally been at fault for this one, and trust me when I say I felt like an ass down the line. Following up with an artist’s management is the fine line between being a jackass and being a courteous and grateful artist. It let’s the management team know that you’re serious about your job, and therefore more likely to be obtaining future credentials or access to connections in the future. It’s a big deal, and though a lot of people don’t take it as seriously as it should be, it could make a lasting impact on someone’s career path.

 

Before you go embarking on the tough and bumpy road of obtaining a press pass somewhere, look at the artists you’re looking to shoot. Then, look to see your following. If you’re just starting out, e-mail or call the management team of the artist who’s opening for the headliner, which puts you in a relatively good position to meet not only the headliner, but the people who follow on tour with them. Smaller artists are also dying for connections and are more likely to approve your request as well.

With that being said, good luck young artists! Stay tuned for more! As always, xoxo.

 

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