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What Makes Pop Poli-tick?: The Symposium

Posted by Goran / September 29, 2008


Now, many of you may not realize that there’s a whole lot more to the week of mayhem better known as Pop Montreal than just cramming a billion trendy indie bands into an intense series of performance throughout the 514. The festival seems to have something for everyone, including Art Pop, Film Pop, Puces Pop, Kids Pop, and last but obviously not least, as it’s the subject heading of this post, the Pop Symposium! This year, the Pop Symposium is scheduled to run from Thursday Oct.2 through Sunday Oct. 5 giving you the opportunity to interact with a plethora of informative and inspiring panels, workshops and presentations.

Irma Thomas 3.jpg

The Symposium tends to be the more accessible (i.e. less exclusive) portion of Pop. Events held at St. Laurent’s Main Hall and Green Room (a.k.a. the Mile End Cultural Centre) are both free and open to the public. “I’m really trying to build something inclusive and community focused; a forum for our community to share ideas, to debate, to strategize together; a place to learn…” remarks the Symposium’s creative director Quinn Caruana. As a result of her planning and programming the potential for boosting your music IQ is bottomless. For example, on Thursday you’ll have the privilege of debating Net Neutrality issues with MTL crooner Patrick Watson, NDP Candidate Anne Lagacé -Dowson, and the coolest law nerd around Keith Serry. Immediately following, you’ll have a panel of experts advise you on how to survive, and hopefully thrive, in the cut-throat industry that is indie rock. And if that’s not enough, you could even stick around to interview the legendary New Orleans Queen of Soul Irma Thomas, record her responses, and then mash them up to the sick beats of Law Prof. Tina Piper and DJ's Ripley and Kid Kameleon during the Sampling, Creativity and Open Source Culture workshop.

sista nancy 3.jpg

You’re saying, “it’s already too much. Please stop!” My response: “NEVER!” Friday’s program will be more akin to a pad for your launch into intergalactic indie stardom. Yet again, a panel of industry experts will advise you on becoming an international success, while another overqualified panel will address your deepest career concerns, and still another will show you how to write the catchy poppy hooks that are more dynamite given the quantity of fish you’ll obtain as a result. And you wanted more legends? Fine! You can also stick around and chat with the iconic indie rock singer Lydia Lunch and discuss your M.C. ambition with the queen of the bam bam Sista Nancy (she a one in a three million).

Oh no, did I miss one of your perversions? I’m sorry. Perhaps you’d prefer to philosophize over film scores with Who is KK Downey’s Matt Silver, critique music journalism with egos from SPIN, Rolling Stone, New York Times, Pitchfork and Vice, or learn how to repurpose your household goods/obsolete electronics into ghetto blasting instruments. Now you’re telling me my sentences border on run-ons. Well you've cornered me into it this time. Then you crowned me with a dunce cap screaming, “Blah-blah-blah – Rap – I’m a jerk – Hip-Hop.” Dude, I already gave you sampling and Sista Nancy and now you want more. OK fine. This year, with a passive focus on hip-hoppin’, festival organizers will also be bringing you a panel on the ongoing progression and permutation of rap music and it's numerous associated cultures.

Lydia Lunch 3.jpg

“Pop loves hip-hop. It always has. But this festival is about music; the experience of music,” explains Quinn in response to, “what’s the connection between hip-hop and one of the world’s hottest indie-rock fests?” I guess pop’s younger, rebellious, hand-me-down-sporting and sampling sibling has so vigorously developed and grown into the mainstream that consumers can hardly separate it from it’s independently rocking senior sister. According to Quinn, the aim of the symposium is to provide a “casual and open environment” for creating connections during “this five-day arts onslaught.” Whether reestablishing hip-hop and indie’s consanguinity or bringing festival-goers/fans together with their favourite artists, the Symposium truly is Pop’s coupling oasis.

‘Symposium’ comes from the ancient Greek ‘syn’ (together) + ‘pinein’ (to drink). Thus, it is somewhat ironic that this ‘social gathering at which there is an exchange of ideas’ will also serve as my daily detox during Pop. Fortunately Quinn has also planned to provide, “catering from Scratch Kitchen throughout the day to keep (potentially hung-over) people alert.” It’s now officially an offer I can’t refuse. If you need more information about this ‘convivial party with music and conversation’, please click here and all your queries shall be answered. I hope to see your sexiest hangover faces soon.

Logo from Pop Montreal
Irma Thomas from flickr user Barry Yeoman
Sista Nancy from Sista Nancy's myspace
Lydia Lunch from flickr user



rachel / October 2, 2008 at 09:19 am
hi! i work in nyc this week and cant do pop montreal. The panel discussions sound really interesting - esp "The Herstory of Hip Hop" , "Sampling, Creativity, and Open Source Culture Discussion" and "Rap Culture: From Motherland to Ghetto to Township and Back". Do you know anyone who is or would be willing to live blog the discussion or if they will be available in any way online?
G / October 2, 2008 at 01:53 pm
Hi Rachel,
It's too bad you're missing out. Last night was the opening night and it was already ridiculous. It's going to be a great weekend. As for live blogging at the Symposium... I'm not too sure if that's going to happen. If anything, I would check the Pop website periodically to see what they post. Maybe they'll do some podcasts or something. Otherwise, check back here at midnight poutine. I know that some of our writers expressed interest in covering the bits of the symposium.
Patrick Mickey Factz Hobkins / December 31, 2009 at 07:04 pm
Gotta love this post. Can't but help remind me of my fave hip hop artist Mickey Factz whose lyrics is a crowd pleaser!
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