• Musiquestria: Approximately Nine Bananas. Interview

    I'm very excited for Musiquestria, this year. We get two tours, some friendly competition, and the chance to party hard with our brony pals! Bejoty and Austin happened to have a break in their time schedule to share some of what's going on with Musiquestria with us. Check it out after the jump.

    Musiquestria! A Moment With Bejoty and Austin.

    Last year we saw the wonderful occurrence of the month long, cross country, tour Musiquestria. It was an exceptional thing for all of us who managed to attend! Many of our favorite artists managed to come together to bring bronies across the country individual concerts, events, and all the FUN that comes with it! The Musiquestria organisers, two fine upstanding pillars of the community, Bejoty and Austin, were nice enough to sit down with me and answer some questions about themselves and the event. For starters, let's allow anyone who hasn't been up to date on things to follow along, shall we?

    Cocoa: Who are you two and what are you all about?

    Austin: I'm Austin, I've done every job imaginable but right now I am performing the function of tour manager and booking agent and general mum of the Musiquestria Tour. I'm all about traveling and getting good deals and… being awesome.

    Bejoty: Myself, I'm a student of Computer Science at the University of Washington, here in Seattle. When I'm not being a full-time student, I do these crazy ambitious projects for the MLP community. I'm the lead organizer of our regional meetup, a founder of the annual convention Everfree Northwest, and most recently, a manager for this cross country music tour, Musiquestria, focusing primarily on the media and publicity angles. Oh, and I'm also a musician of the singer/songwriter persuasion. Austin is my manager for that stuff.

    Austin: Oh right.

    Cocoa: Just a side note, then, all your wonderful popular music that translates exceptionally well to public performance?

    Bejoty: Popular music implies people have even heard my stuff. I'm rather bad at recording and pushing my own songs.

    Austin: I find that when he plays in public, no one notices he's singing about ponies until he tells them. And he only tells them for one song usually. Until then they just hear really good singer/songwriter.

    Bejoty: I tend to make the pony references subtle. It's the kind of music I enjoy hearing, really. Beautiful on the outset, with a dozen or so layers of depth and meaning. The nerdier the secret references, the better.

    Cocoa: Well, I'm a fan. I must say. But that's going a bit off topic. Let's get back to why we're here! Tell me a little about Musiquestria East/West 2014. What have you been up to and what inspired this event?

    Bejoty: Well, this event was obviously an evolution of last year's tour. Last year was a bit chaotic and we learned a hell of a lot from it. This year, instead of putting together a month-long tour across the country, we're taking a much more sustainable approach and simply splitting the tour in two. That way we can safely estimate the costs, and maximize the fun. As an added bonus, we are able to make the funding campaign a bit of a friendly competition this year!

    As far as other inspirations, this community never ceases to amaze me. One of the most motivating factors for organizing something like this is realizing that we can. It's an incredible achievement for a community like this to be able to sustain conventions and music tours. It just takes some ambitious folk stepping up to the plate. I guess that's us!

    Austin: The other motivation, I think, was that I was getting into Tour Management again, and that might have tweaked Bejoty's brain like… "Hey… we could pony this up..."

    Cocoa: That's excellent. Isn't that what all of the lovely creative types we have in the fandom do? Pony things up? A brony musical tour is the logical step from conventions and music, right?

    Austin: Of course.

    Bejoty: Yeah, that’s pretty much where my thoughts went. Hah

    Austin: I’m honestly shocked no one got there first.

    Bejoty: I tend to imagine it's because of how young this community is. Both in average age as well as being a part of an organized presence.

    Cocoa: Well, let's talk about last year's tour, then. How was it? Would you mind breaking it down for me?

    Bejoty: As I think most on last year's tour will tell you, it was one of the most amazing experiences we've all been a part of, yet also one of the most... what's the word, enraging? We, as expected, got under each others' skin a bit by the end.

    Austin: It was really hard but really awesome and we learned a lot about everything.

    Bejoty: A bit on the technical side of things, we sketched out a shoestring tour with a minimum required budget of $15,000. This was in order to be sustainable across the entire month between Everfree Northwest and Bronycon. We ended up JUST reaching that minimum, so we were hurting for food, gas, and lodging pretty much the entire run.

    Austin: No one got food or lodging paid for and that was pretty hard.

    Bejoty: Austin probably has more accurate numbers than me, but I believe we ended with 8 performers, a sound tech, and a bunch of equipment and merch across two SUVs, one pulling a trailer. We played 12 shows between the pony conventions.

    Austin: Eight performers, one sound tech, and a tour manager spread across 12 shows and 8 meet-ups.

    Cocoa: The bronies themselves stepped up in that matter, if I’m not mistaken, right?

    Austin: Oh BIG TIME! Everyone was throwing support at us. Not just money but places to stay, stuff to eat, obviously the group in Albuquerque who offered to DRIVE us to Houston so we could sleep in the car.

    Bejoty: The support and generosity from this community was absolutely amazing. We shouldn't have been able to do what we did, but somehow it all happened. In fact, to be even more specific, we didn't quite reach the level of money we needed by the end of our crowdfunding campaign, but a few generous donations and last second lodging opportunities really saved our skins.

    Cocoa: Shout out to Albuquerque!

    Austin: Woop!

    Cocoa: Last year you had eight performers lined up. Who is planning on making a return, this year?

    Austin: I think that would be telling.

    Bejoty: Ooooooh, I don’t know. It might be a tad too early for spoilers.

    Austin: I think there will be an appearance from almost everyone from last year if we get our full tour paid for… whether or not that would mean they are on the full tours or not is another story.

    Bejoty: We do have a healthy handful of interested musicians already, some relatively unknown, some very much well-loved. Both rising stars and veterans have the potential of hitting the road with us.

    Austin: There's some very exciting surprises so far… Even I am excited and I'm planning the thing!

    Bejoty: Me too.

    Austin: We're really trying to get smaller names as guest performers as we want to help the community grow.

    Cocoa: I’ll have to spur some of the folks I’ve been talking to, recently, into emailing you guys.

    Austin: Yes, please.

    Cocoa: With the Beast, East Coast, and the Best, West Coast, both being divided into two competitive tours, how will the performers be splitting themselves up, or is that something that is still to be determined?

    Austin: We're essentially having 2 totally separate tours. Some of the musicians will be the same in both, but mostly it's due to availability of the musicians.

    Cocoa: Excellent. So there’s a possibility for cross exposure?

    Bejoty: Yup! Though if we get enough demand, we'll probably allow some new faces into the limelight as well.

    Austin: Literally all the money we get goes to the tour, so if there's more money, we can do more things. The main problem is musicians can't afford to come with us because they have to pay rent and we can't afford to take them because we have to buy hotels and more cars. You know?

    Cocoa: Absolutely. Travelling across the United States is no small feat. The chance for anyone to do it is worth investment, especially if it involves bringing happiness, hope, and positivity to bronies in as many states as possible. When approximately/exactly are the tours happening and are you planning on attending any events?

    Austin: We're starting after Everfree and BronyCon, so while we're not affiliated with them, we will be there running around and should have a table at both conventions. West Coast starts 3 days after Everfree Northwest in Seattle and East Coast starts 3 days after BronyCon in Baltimore. Each tour at full strength will be 20 days and 10 shows, with events in between for hangin'. The west is up first, in July, starting in Seattle, and the east starts up in August, from Philadelphia.

    Cocoa: My friends in the south are all looking forward to you guys, and they will be attending some southern conventions. Do you know when the southern leg of the tour will be? 

    Austin: We're hoping to hit Albuquerque on July 17th, but that date is tentative. Whether we make it there or not is all up to funding.

    Cocoa: Will we have an East vs. West band battle royal?

    Austin: Ahaha. I don't know what that means, but yes, we will!

    Cocoa: I'm sure bronies will be looking for ways they can help through donation, support, and help with specific concerns. What can they do to get in touch with you guys and what can they do to help?

    Austin: They can help with pretty much everything! Obviously, donating is one of the best ways to ensure we have a rad tour. But also donating your house to us for a night or two for sleeping, bringing us food, and just spreading the word as far as they can! In addition to that they can also help by suggesting places for us to play, especially if they book tours or are very cheap.

    They can contact us via e-mail - [email protected] or through twitter @musiquestria and to a lesser extent, tumblr and facebook. And my skype is xsolarxsisterx and they can feel free to contact me, I have a Skype chat going of people who want to help us out.

    Cocoa: Awesome! That’s pretty much good for me. Do you guys have anything more you would like to add? Anything special or important that you feel folks should be aware of?

    Austin: That’s a good question.

    Bejoty: Hmm

    Cocoa: A personal message to all of our readers out there, perhaps?

    Bejoty: Haha, I keep thinking of super sappy cliche things.

    Cocoa: Let it go, Bejoty, let it go!

    Bejoty: I mean, it really is true though. This community was sparked by something as simple as a children's show, and has grown tremendously over a few short years. Looking back at its origins, I can't help but be amazed at just how far we've come. And it's all because we want to participate. We want to add to the insane vortex of creative energy, to better ourselves and those around us, to make something happen that no one could believe is even possible. I want to see that continue, and I want to see the fandom keep evolving and being the unique, awesome glob of amazing that got us hooked in the first place.

    Austin: *Claps*

    Cocoa: Certainly. I think we all share your sentiment. Let's do our best to make it all wonderful, everyone!

    Austin: Yes!

    Cocoa: So, last thing, how bananas is it going to be? One bananas? Two banana? Three?

    Austin: Probably about nine bananas.

    Bejoty: Yes, approximately nine.

    Cocoa: You heard it here first, folks, Musiquestria: Approximately Nine Bananas! That concludes our time. Thank you both very much for affording some of your busy schedule for me. It was wonderful talking with you guys.

     Bejoty: Hey no problem! It's our pleasure. Thanks for putting this on!

     Austin: Yeah, it's been cool.

     Cocoa: For sure!

    That’s it from Musiquestria for today. Last year's events were super exciting and this year's could be even better. Something important for us all to remember is that music is one of the best methods for us all to reach out to people with love, acceptance, and fun. Performances allow us to get together and invite our friends and family to something we think is worth supporting. 

    Especially wonderful is that this year there are plans for a full West and East tour as long as we make it happen! Let's show our support. Every little bit helps.

    Musiquestria WEST [ http://igg.me/at/msqwest2014 ]
    Musiquestria EAST [ http://igg.me/at/msqeast2014 ]

    Official Site [ http://musiquestria.com/ ]
    Twitter [ http://twitter.com/musiquestria ]
    Facebook [ http://facebook.com/musiquestria ]
    Tumblr [ http://musiquestria.tumblr.com/ ]

    If you need to reach them immediately, have something that can help them out, or you're a musician who is would like to showcase your stuff, drop them a line directly:

    Email [ [email protected] ]

    Thanks for reading!

    ~Cocoa Delight