Please, introduce Creepy Teepee to the readers who may be unfamiliar with it. For how long has it been running now, and what led you to its founding?
Creepy Teepee is not a typical festival, it is rather a three-day educational city event with a wide scope, aiming to present the most recent tendencies in various music genres and showing their most progressive artists. We started in 2009, but this year it is officially the 13th one, because we were interrupted by the covid pandemic. We held an online-only version at that time too, but we still consider this year’s event to be number 13.
I am part of the A.M. 180 Collective, which is an active promoter crew that has been doing concerts since 2003, and we also run the A.M. 180 Gallery of contemporary art. Between 2008–2014 we led the A.M. Discs record label, and we have been running a show on Prague’s Radio 1 since 2003. As such, Creepy Teepee expands upon and complements these activities, and honestly, it all started a bit as a coincidence – we were approached by the chief curator at GASK and his team in 2009. For the first two years it was a music festival organized by GASK, but afterwards we and the curatorial team left and the festival became a purely DIY activity.
Creepy Teepee has already been held at five different locations – first in the GASK gallery, then in the local brewery, the Vitamína, in the yard of the Jesuit college, last year was in a park, and this year we’re returning to the Jesuit college. Nonetheless every year we create a kind of an autonomous city within a city, and although we are intimate with the city of Kutná Hora, the location doesn’t matter at all – it could be held wherever, even in another country, the event is about the people who come visit and who organize the festival, and the concept isn’t necessarily site-specific.
From the very beginning, we aimed for the event to connect the musical and artistic communities and to allow them to present to the other – I’m not sure this effect was achieved, but I do feel that these communities are closer these days anyway.
Did you have a particular vision when founding the festival? Did you have to reconsider some aspects of it throughout the years, or do you feel you are staying true to your original intentions?
It started out as a very community-based event. It still is, but we had to limit the capacity to 1000 people – we wouldn’t really want to hold an event for more people than that, considering the size of our team. If the event was larger, it also wouldn’t foster the creation of friendships and connections in a way that a limited capacity enables.
It changed in that during the first years, only 200-300 people would come, and most were from the Czech artistic communities – our friends and people we knew, but with time the festival crossed the borders through word of mouth, and it became an international event where most of the audience are now from abroad. Despite this, I don’t feel that the event’s atmosphere has changed. An interesting thing that happens is that many of the artists performing have never met, but know and respect each others’ work, and this leads to many interesting connections and collaborations, both musical and artistic, and this has been true of Creepy Teepee since the very beginning.
We used to receive comments about the event’s visuals, sometimes in regards to their legibility, and this is linked to the visuals that I and Niky create. While I agree it can come across as alien, I do not intend to take up “normal” PR strategies, and we also simply lack the time to be doing a serious PR campaign as some larger events. To some extent the event is about chaos, and I feel that people have gotten used to it and started to actually enjoy it – we don’t really receive complaints in this regard anymore.
All in all, I don’t think the festival has changed since 2009. It was always about breaking down walls and amplifying tolerance, and this is reflected in the selection of genres – we don’t focus on a specific one, and yet all the performers work with similar material in their music, but we don’t care in which format. Creepy Teepee’s motto is tolerance in all directions, be it artistic or gender – apart from fascism and nationalism, which have no place there. It is tolerance towards extravagance. I suppose we may seem like a bunch of weirdos coming over to throw a party, but what some consider weird is meant to be a norm at Creepy Teepee – it is a safe space.
Creepy Teepee is known for its original and distinctive bookings. How do you choose the artists for your event, and is there a method to how you arrange each day’s lineups?
We keep an eye on what’s happening, we follow and research current tendencies through various media and information channels. But frankly, the acts are artists we enjoy ourselves, who caught our attention during the last year, and who we want to share with others. While we have learned to adapt to some of the audience’s expectations, we have the final word in the selection. Not all artists we invite can make it, yet we are still amazed by some of the names that have and will perform at Creepy Teepee. The renown the event has built for itself throughout the years helps in this regard. Another factor is whether the artists we approach even play live, and whether they are available – some come while on tour, while others fly in only for Creepy Teepee, sometimes even for their first European performance.
Personally, I am a fan of post-hardcore and screamo, and these are usually represented in the lineup, but this year there’s less of them due to availability reasons, and the same applies to rap and reggaeton artists. Every year is a little different, and it also varies due to what’s happening on the music scene. This year we took a different approach in that we looked into how good the artists are live – whether they put on a good show. Last year had a lot of electronic music and experimental work with sound, while this year focuses on the artists’ approach to live performance to make sure the acts aren’t interesting only in terms of sound, but also visually. We found that we enjoy those aspects as well, and honestly, the pandemic changed the community – people want more emotion, an experience, and sharing a feeling at a concert. The demand for emotion has increased.
As for arranging the lineups, it’s about keeping it diverse, but it mostly comes down to the artists’ availability – it may seem banal, but we don’t necessarily focus on the actual order of the artists, partly because as the festival approaches, some booked names have to cancel for various reasons, so in the end we simply aim to keep it interesting. This also makes attendees waiting for a specific artist or genre listen to things they may not know or be interested in before coming, which is what also makes the event educational. Anyway, it is actually quite common abroad that musicians of different genres play together because they are from the same community.
Can you introduce this year’s lineup? What are some of the main genres the audience can look forward to?
There’s definitely a lot of genuine hyperpop indeed – a lot of acts that started and got big during the pandemic, and which caught our attention and are still relevant. We have just announced food house, who are the last “headliner” to be announced, consisting of Fraxiom and Gupi. Fraxiom performed at Creepy Teepee last year and we became friends, so we invited them both to play together this year. They make electronic music and release on Dog Show Records, the label of Dylan Brady of 100 gecs.
Another artist that comes to mind is underscores, who has recently turned from hyperpop to a more songwriter approach, which makes the music more accessible. Then, we will have Frost Children, who also border on hyperpop, but mesh in some 90s emo, crazy electronic music references, and I think it is likely they will soon sign a major label deal.
Beyond hyperpop, we have some Czech artists too – there’s dné who has been coming to the festival since the beginning and has recently released a new record. He is a long-time friend of Creepy Teepee, which is why we called on him. We also invited Amelie Siba as we enjoyed her last record, and the same goes for Brighter Days, a post-hardcore band with amazing live shows. There is also Gertie Adelaido, a member of the Creepy Teepee crew who makes this crazy genre crossovers. And, lastly, there’s Hothouse, who are a kind of a Czech response to Iceage, this sort of dark post-punk. With Slovak artists, we have Fobia Kid, a hyperpop-emo rapper. He has these awesome fairy-tale, pessimistic lyrics that reflect the emo-romantic tendencies in art, which is interesting to hear in rap.
Generally there will be a lot of experimental pop, some indie guitar bands, and even electroclash – we have Snow Strippers, who are flying in only to Creepy Teepee, who were named by Needle Drop the best electroclash since Crystal Castles. It’s a very Y2K thing, which is a theme featured across the festival and also in fashion, the art scene, and in general. Then there’s Nation, a Californian post-punk electronic duo releasing music on the same label Year0001 as Yung Lean and Drain Gang. Then there’s Pretty Sick, a post-grunge artist who supported Yves Tumor on their American tour. We are also hosting Haru Nemuri, the Japanese musician blending post-hardcore with electronic music, Hannah Diamond, the star of PC Music, Grace Ives, rising star of upcoming indie pop and finally, an artist who many may consider the greatest star of this year’s lineup, Alice Glass, ex Crystal Castles. I also want to mention Uniform, they performed at Creepy Teepee in 2019, a dark post-hardcore / electro noise act who have become quite legendary, or Cremation Lily, this dark electronics / industrial, harsh noise ambient project bordering on rap, as they collaborated with for example Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. Who is also coming back this year is Evanora:Unlimited, which is this dark, performative show delving into pessimistic atmospheres of the future-less young generation; this particular skepsis is something many of our artists work with – some brood in this mood, while others reflect it through positivity. Then Puce Mary – a star of heavy noise electronics, and that is a quite well represented genre in this year’s lineup too; we enjoy this heavy, performative noise approach, the darker electronics. There are even some indie bands – this genre seems to be making a comeback, somehow, but in the raw, Y2K sound.
We don’t really choose artists based on their location – the main criterion is if we find them interesting. The fact that many artists this year are from New York / USA in general is a coincidence.
The festival has been going on for a long time now. Do any memorable moments come to mind, some which you could share with our readers?
Well obviously there have been plenty of funny and bizarre situations, but many are just simple, mundane things. What makes me really happy is that Creepy Teepee has led to lots of collaborative albums, songs and feats of people who met at the event and went on to create art together. We’ve also had many artists who wanted to move in to Kutná Hora after the festival because they loved it so much there, but I managed to talk them out of it. The ossuary also attracts lots of people – it used to be mainly metalheads, but now somehow everyone wants to go see it.
Is there anything else we may have omitted which you would like to mention?
Personally I am glad that this year we started organizing the event sooner. Last year, 14 days before the event I completely burned out and was really down for the rest of the summer, so we agreed to start organizing this one earlier. What also comes to mind is that although we started the event as an exercise in tolerance, this approach is now replicated by many other large festivals – they are open and queer-friendly, which wasn’t always the case. I think it is great that the attitude of openness towards difference, with which we started the festival years ago, has now become the norm. I don’t claim it’s because of us, but society is changing.
Another major thing is that we are against drugs, and despite our best efforts to communicate this to the attendees, it does not resonate with them. It frustrates us that people abuse drugs at the event, and since me and most of the organizers have barely ever had any drugs and are straight-edge, it really frustrates us that people get high at our event, especially during electronic music and techno performances. This really bothers us and we would like to appeal to all attendees to be tolerant towards people who do not use drugs, take real care of themselves, and treat everyone with respect. The music we book is interesting enough to be listened to without psychoactive substances to amplify its effects – I know it may sound naive, but I just don’t think it’s necessary. Culture is the only drug and it can stand its ground without any chemical support. That is why one of our slogans is “Hugs, not drugs”.