While at the POPPED! Music Festival on Saturday I had the opportunity to sit down with the executive producer who organized the fest, Alexis Rosenzweig. She was lovely and had some really interesting insights into festivals, fashion and Philadelphia.
Festivals and Fashion go hand in hand. Why do you think that is?
Well for one I think it’s because you’re there all day, you want to be comfortable and you want to look good and represent whatever it is that you’re into. I think that fashion plays a big role in culture and music…how you dress and what you listen to is who you are. Particularly now, there are so many bands and genres of music I think people are even more into presenting themselves in a particular way, to represent whatever group they’re a part of. It’s not so black and white anymore, it’s not like oh there’s a rock n roll person, or there’s a hip hop person, there are so many different interpretations of what that means.
Are you from Philly?
No, but I’ve lived in Philly for about five years now, and I always felt like there should have been something…Philly’s all about hometown pride so it surprised me that there wasn’t something that happened annually…there are some smaller festivals, but since I’ve lived here Philly has become such a progressive place. While it’s not New York or other big cities, there’s been a lot going on in philly over the last couple years that’s really caught my eye.
Well the food aspect of the festival is important to me – Philly’s really becoming a food town. Any time I talk to anybody outside of Philly, whether it’s about a festival or just friends they’re like ‘oh really, there are good restaurants? Really there’s a music scene?’ People think of it as a really small big city, and it is, but I think more people are finding room to do their own thing. That’s the cool thing about a city like this, you can be a big fish in a small pond. And you see that with companies like Urban Outfitters and these big restaurateurs, and the whole food truck thing is big here. Lately I’m finding more people who are thinking positively and don’t really have that perspective that cooler things are happening elsewhere.
I’ve always thought that Philadelphia should have its own music festival…is that what you’re trying to do with POPPED!?
Yeah, I thought it should be a place that represents what the city is. For me, it really was about the park. Despite the weather, it’s still something I feel really passionate about. Fairmount Park is the largest park system in the country…it’s really difficult to get into the park system, and it’s not easy to deal with a city in general, in particular Philadelphia. But the city’s been really supportive of this and I really think it is because this isn’t just a generic block party, there are a lot of things – like fashion – that I’ve tried to focus this on – the food element, the music, curating it, being able to bring artists here that are relevant, that are in the press…all those things add to what makes a festival successful. We were able to bring a lot of press here that normally don’t come for an event in Philly. From the very beginning I’ve tried to think outside of Philadelphia, and how I can shine a light on Philly and show other people that this can be a destination, much like how Chicago is for Lollapalooza…you go out and eat, you hang out at the park, you’re enjoying not only the festival but the city as well.
How would you describe style in Philadelphia?
I’ve been trying to figure that out for so long…I work at a home office, and I’m in New York a lot, so I save my outfits that I really care about for when I’m in New York. I think that people in Philly definitely dress down in comparison…but some of my favorite stores in the country are in Philly. Having Free People here is huge. Also I think people tend to forget that, they don’t think about that style being necessarily “Philadelphia.” It’s really hard to put your finger on it…there are all these themes, in different neighborhoods, like Fishtown has a kind of rock n roll urban cowboy type thing going on. It’s hard to define.
What are some of your favorite music venues in Philly?
Well, Johnny Brenda’s is a really amazing place…and I haven’t been to Union Transfer yet, I really want to check that place out. I think it’s great there are a lot of smaller venues in Philly that give people the opportunity to play to a small group of really captivated people. I saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at Kung Fu Necktie and it was the most amazing show…I’m definitely a small venue person. That’s why I was probably the last person to say this venue was great, but I’m just blown away by how good the sound is. It feels intimate.
I think people, when they put care into a venue it really shows…I think Union Transfer did that, and Johnny Brendas definitely did that, and they did it well… when they built that place they really thought about one person’s experience.
What bands would you associate with Free People?
I felt like Cults totally nailed it…it’s a little girly, and they’ve got that 60s thing going, but it’s still very current.
Thank you so much Alexis and POPPED!