In hindsight, I wish we could have named it something else; we just never expected it to last very long. You never expect it to be more than just a weekend. The name actually came from a music blog I was writing at the time — not just music, it was like a Winston culture blog. Basically just writing about friends who were creating visual art or playing music. Just basically if a band was releasing an album doing posts about that. It was called Phuzz Media. Just like a really small pet project. Again, no real intention of turning it into anything larger than that. And so when we had the festival, it was just a really easy name without trying to reinvent the wheel. After that, it was one of those things where the name was already written. And from a fundraising and promotion perspective it was hard to want to move away from the name because people had already associated that event with it. If we could name it something else I would. I’m always paranoid that people are like, ‘Oh, this guy named a festival after himself! What is he thinking?’ Which is like my worst nightmare. It definitely wasn’t intended to kind of have that vibe. It was basically just a convenience that we didn’t anticipate being a six-year long event.
From there we just saw Phil freaking out so we started rounding up more and more people to help him out. Because he’s a masochist.
Something about Philip is that he’s very particular about what he books and it’s going to be good. There’s just so much good variety. Even in 2013 when I didn’t know a lot of the stuff I still had such a good time and I loved it.
Anthony’s got a really good knack for — I don’t know how to describe it — some of the weirder and harder stuff, some of the more punk-oriented stuff or metal. I wouldn’t say it’s really confined to a genre as much as a sensibility. If you know Anthony, then you know what I mean. He’s built some really amazing relationships over the years with bands of all kinds of genres from all over the country. I think in Winston in general it’s good to keep it weird and keep it gritty, especially [with downtown] getting a lot of luxury condos and things. And I think it’s good to kind of remember the grit aspect is important, too. I think he helps keep that alive on the music side.
It’s a collective effort, for sure, which helps diversify the fest — different people select different things. I usually get more of the louder, garage-rock-y heavy style things and the other people will fill in the blanks with more indie-pop or electronic music or whatever.
Half the time I don’t know half the bands. Phil doesn’t know what I’m bringing to the table. I guess that’s cool, so you can be surprised at your own thing.
I got involved in 2014. Philip asked me to be on the Phuzz Phest staff. I thought that would be really fun and said of course. I thought, why wouldn’t you want to help out a local music festival? I don’t play, or I’m not in a band, and I thought that it’d be a cool way to be involved.
Every year, it’s definitely gotten larger. It’s been encouraging — in the beginning because it was such an organic thing that started as a smaller little bubble of audience members and that was the foundation we kind of built on, but it’s been awesome to see different sides of the community come out and different demographics and different people who probably might just be into the folk side of the programming that we do that don’t really care about the garage rock or anything like that. It’s cool to get interest from people with all kinds of music tastes.
Phuzz Phest is a perfect example of us coming together and saying, ‘F*** our own interests; let’s do something incredible. Let’s make something out of nothing — that’s real creativity: creating something out of thin air, from sheer force of will.
In general there are two sorts of music festivals. There’s the sort that’s set up in a field and maybe there are multiple stages but they’re in very close proximity and people are in the dirt or the grass or the mud or what have you…. and if it’s multiple days there’s this implication that people camp.
And then there are festivals set in cities where different venues and parks host these events and the attendees are deeply engaged within the city and maybe have to drive and move around to different venues. Here in North Carolina, Hopscotch is the classic example of that and now maybe Moogfest.
Phuzz Phest has a couple of unique qualities I think in that it’s a festival of the latter sort, but it’s geographically very contiguous so it’s very easy for people to conceivably walk between every venue. Everyone’s working synergistically to make sure the entire festival goes on very well. It’s a really community-oriented operation so every year as we lead up to Phuzz Phest occurring, in the fall we’re developing a plan leading up to the year’s Phuzz Phest. There’s this sort of real enthusiasm among everybody. Philip plays this role of being a leader that combines everyone’s resources.
Phuzz Phest is very much… this is what Winston’s like all the time and we’re really just accentuating the best of what’s already here. It’s very homey.
I think you get a really good feel of different venues and different places and you can kinda leave when you want to. I’ve been to festivals where… I feel very trapped. I love that [with] Phuzz Phest, I live five minutes away. Every year I’ve gone to Phuzz Phest I literally run through the streets of downtown Winston from one place to another because I don’t want to miss an act.
There’s a totally different feel for each place. I think it’s fun how the music kind of matches the venue, and you can kind of leave and go out to dinner somewhere and there’s a lot of freedom, which is one of the things I love about Phuzz Phest.