Interview With MEGAPHONO Music Festival - Ottawa

We connected recently with the founders of the MEGAPHONO Music Festival in Ottawa to get an inside look at what they are all about. The MEGAPHONO crew has been around the globe scoping out industry leading festivals to support emerging talent straight out of the national capital region.

Read-on to find out more about this interesting group of likeminded individuals who are the driving force behind Ottawa's MEGAPHONO Festival and how you can get involved.

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:What can artists expect when they attend MEGAPHONO and what is it exactly?

MEGAPHONO:MEGAPHONO is a music showcase festival, so a bit different than a standard music festival. The purpose of this festival is to invite and fly in a lot of music industry folks from around the world, and have them see local and regional artists perform. The point of it is to make new connections between artists and people that can help them, and hopefully contribute to spreading the word about our scene.

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:How did this vision come to fruition and who were the founding members?

MEGAPHONO:"We built it out of the Kelp office (which was Lesley Marshall, Melissa Kaestner, myself and Rachel Weldon at the time) and were fortunate to have seed money from the Ontario Music Fund to get it off the ground. We also partnered with APCM who were instrumental in helping us integrate a strong Francophone artist component and connecting us to that scene".

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:What is the inspiration behind MEGAPHONO?

MEGAPHONO:"Travelling to music showcase festivals around the world and seeing how some of them did a great job of making sure you knew about the local artists when you were there. Reeperbahn (Germany), The Great Escape (Brighton UK) and Iceland Airwaves are all solid examples of music showcase festivals that have been influential over the past decade and always attract great industry people...they are the best places to get noticed and make connections if you are a band that is serious about trying to establish a career in music".

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:On your website it states that "Booking agents, record labels, music publishers, film/TV music supervisors, managers, publicists and other industry folks will descend on Ottawa". Can you elaborate on this and what this means for the artists who attend and how should they prepare?

MEGAPHONO:"As with the past two years, we will again strive to bring a diverse group of music industry people to Ottawa. If you are a band starting out and have made it to the point where you need to start building a team (ie. have toured regionally and gotten some press), then this event is an ideal way to accelerate that process. Few if any bands are successful in establishing and sustaining music careers without the help of a team---booking agents, publicists, record labels, publishers and managers---this event is tailor-made to make a ton of connections at once and play in front of these people without having to spend tens of thousands to travel the world doing so.

Artists should look at our delegate list ( and research the people online, so they understand what they do, and if they might be an appropriate person to help them".

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:Do you have any personal highlights from the previous events / seasons that you would like to share that would encourage local artists?

MEGAPHONO:"I think we have done a decent job of building an event that reflects Ottawa's music scene. It is laid back, and there are lots of opportunities to hang with people and get to know them. The shows are mostly smaller, no-frills affairs, and we have always tried to move the festival around the city to different neighbourhoods, so our guest delegates can get a real sense of the city and our music scene. The Diefenbunker shows were a big highlight in 2015; last year I thought our tour through the mill with performances from Isaac Valentin and Her Harbour was pure magic".

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:How many artists turn up for this event?

MEGAPHONO:"We have had around 50 each year; this year I think we're creeping towards 60".

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:Do you have meetups during other times of the year, or other ways for artists to connect outside of MEGAPHONO?

MEGAPHONO:"We have worked with CityFolk and Ottawa Bluesfest the past two years to incorporate an industry component into what they do. We are also planning an Ottawa International Music Summit at the JUNOs on Thursday March 30th, so stay tuned for info on that once we survive MEGAPHONO".

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:Where do you see the vision for MEGAPHONO going in the next few years?

MEGAPHONO:"We hope that it continues to grow and we are able to bring more and more people to Ottawa. We also hope to have see more successes from alumni like New Swears (who just signed with Dine Alone), and that we can say "Ottawa" at other music events around the world, and people will know it and be able to name a few bands from our city".

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:Does MEGAPHONO have any needs or requests they want to share for sponsors or reach out for volunteers?

MEGAPHONO:People can sign up to volunteer here:

OTTAWA ARTS NEWS:Is it too late for artists to get onboard, if not what is the process for an artist to be involved?

MEGAPHONO:If they aren't already playing, artists could get a delegate pass (if they want to come to panels) or a show pass here:

Connect with MEGAPHONO:

@megaphono (twitter / instagram)


Ottawa Arts News wants to thank Jon Bartlett,Lesley Marshall, Melissa Kaestner for this exclusive.

Images Courtesy of MEGAPHONO by Photographer Scott Doubt.