April is finally here, which means rainy days spent daydreaming about future sunny ones, and planning which summer festivals we will be attending this summer. While the current political climate may make us feel like we don’t have time to plan or attend music festivals, one music festival is working on bringing together music, communities, and activism this summer: Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, IL.
“It’s a pretty volatile political climate,” Pitchfork President Chris Kaskie told BUST in a phone interview. “It is volatile comprehensively, and we try to be good spirits to both the community of arts and artists that are performing and putting on music, but also just the communities that are supporting us and other businesses.”
Pitchfork is not only a famous music magazine based out of New York, it is also one of the most successful, and in my mind, best music festivals in the country, and it is located in the coolest city, Chicago.
This year’s festival has a lot of exciting artists and collaborations. The headliner is BUST's April/May cover girl Solange Knowles. Pitchfork will also be collaborating with Knowles’ innovative platform Saint Heron. This collaboration will include poetry readings, Black Cinema House film showings, and art installations by Black artists. All of this is a part of Pitchfork using its platform to allow artists the opportunity to bring awareness to causes and issues close to their heart.
“We have a platform that we can create awareness,” said Kaskie, “and try to at least, create a platform where we can understand the things that are happening because at this point it feels like it’s all you should be doing.”
Knowles collaboration is just the tip of the iceberg. Kaskie says they will also be announcing other community collaborations with organizations that are bringing light to gun violence and the cyber troubles we are having here in our city.
The activism doesn’t stop with collaborations; it bleeds onto the stage as well. The line up this year has a lot of badass women performing. including Chicago soul singer Jamila Woods, Dawn Richard, Frankie Cosmos, Jesse Kanda, Angel Olsen and one of my favorite activist artists, Madame Gandhi.
Madame Gandhi was the former drummer for M.I.A and is the iconic free-bleeding runner of the 2015 London Marathon. She now writes music that elevates and celebrates the female voice. Among her many songs is the empowering dance track, "The Future is Female."
These types of performances are thrilling for the planners of Pitchfork. Kaskie says It’s exciting because in some ways as a company or a festival it is harder to engage in activism. But artists don’t have that yellow tape, they can say outright what the problem is and music festivals like Pitchfork give them the platform they need.
“It’s an exciting way to say hey here’s a piece of blank paper and do whatever you want to do here, and I’m pretty sure what you’re going to do is going to be great and we are going to believe in everything,” said Kaskie.
That type of freedom is great, especially with all the negative things that have been happening with women in music, like the Keisha case. Since Pitchfork is a magazine and a festival they get to be on the periphery, Kaskie says their entire approach to music and planning is that all voices are equal.
“We have many strong female performers at the Organization,” said Kaskie, “we work very hard to make sure it is representative of the world. We wish could make the festival twice the size and do more of it.”
The women performing this year will now be a part of long tradition of badassery in performance. Past female performers include FKA Twigs, Grimes, Feist, and M.I.A. to name a few. Although this is Solange’s first time headlining at the festival, this is not her first time at the festival.
And if you have little ones, you’d be happy to know Pitchfork is kid friendly. According to Kaskie, it’s a good environment for kids because the whole thing is based on discovery and open-mindedness. Kaskie has brought his own young daughter to the festival many times, where she has met her heroes Grimes and Feist.
If you are seeking music, feminism, and activism Pitchfork is the place. Maybe Malia Obama should come to pitchfork this year instead of Lolla.
“In this world we are living in that is super depressing and super confusing music is a constant, “ said Kaskie, “and hopefully the festival this summer reminds people of that and also of ways you can use that as a platform of awareness or just take your mind off things, every day we think about ways to better things, we can’t do it all but we do our best.”
Pitchfork Music Festival will be held in Chicago, IL, July 14-16. Tickets are $55 for a one-day pass, and $175 for a three-day pass. To purchase tickets and for more information on the festival and other festival events, click here.
Isabel Dieppa is a writer and actor. She is a part of the performance duo Of This World in Chicago, IL. Her interests lie in science, art, and history. Past writing includes interning for the Chicago Field Museum ECCO program, the national theater blog HOWLROUND, music reviews for UR Chicago, and in a former life was a beat reporter for the Indiana Daily Student. She loves archaeology, kitties, and dancing. The next big adventure may include an archaeological dig in Peru. Follow on Twitter @isabelsdieppa
Top photo from BUST's April/May 2017 cover. Photography by Nadya Wasylko // Styling by Peju Famojure // Makeup by Tracy Alfajora // Hair by Amy Farid // Nails by Miss Pop // Shot at Attic Studios
More from BUST