Melissa Auf der Maur on Basilica SoundScape: Noise, Art, & Music in the Hudson Valley

by Liz Galvao

If you’re looking for a fall retreat upstate this weekend, look no further than Basilica SoundScape (Sept. 12 to 14), a carefully curated weekend of art and music in Hudson, NY, in the stunning industrial venue Basilica Hudson. Helmed by musician Melissa Auf der Maur and her partner, filmmaker Tony Stone, in conjunction with Pitchfork’s Brandon Stosuy and Brian De Ran of Leg Up, the event promises to be stronger than ever in its third year. Highlights include performances from SWANS, Deafheaven, and Julia Holter, readings from poet Mira Gonzalez, Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy, and Mish Way of White Lung, as well as installations from artist Sterling Ruby, pop-up shops, a local food court, and more.

BUST spoke to co-director Melissa Auf der Maur about what we can look forward to this year at Basilica SoundScape—not that we needed convincing! Here are five reasons why you should check it out:

1. There are awesome women involved.

Besides Auf der Maur herself, who paved the way for women in rock as a bassist in Hole and solo artist in her own right, there is no shortage of female artists at Basilica SoundScape. “On Saturday, we have three different women doing readings— Mish Way from White Lung, Meredith Graves from Perfect Pussy, and Mira Gonzalez, an L.A. poet.”

Auf der Maur said that it was important to her to have women’s voices be a part of the programming. “Julia Holter’s a good example—we were putting together the bill, juggling a lot of schedules that weren’t working out, and I reminded them, ‘We do not have one woman on Friday. This is unacceptable. Are there only men that are making tripped-out, introverted, experimental soundscapes? I don’t think so.’ So we really pushed for it, and Julia Holter was a perfect fit.”

2. It’s in a beautiful, one-of-a-kind location.

Auf der Maur and her partner became involved with Basilica Hudson when they moved to Hudson and realized the back windows of their house overlooked the building. “It’s a reclaimed, 1880s factory which had been basically gutted,” she said. “The building is like a dramatic, industrial church. You cannot walk into this building without wanting to do something there, whether it’s make loud noise music, or take fashion photos, or have an a cappella Bulgarian band of babes sing next to a whale bone exhibit, or get married there.”

The programming of Basilica SoundScape is designed to complement the unique venue, and vice-versa. “The space informs everything. You walk into it and you feel the history and you feel the power.”

3. You can camp out under the stars.

Camping was a natural fit for Basilica SoundScape. “September is the dreamiest month upstate and all of us should be sleeping under the stars in September,” Auf der Maur laughed. “I take it for granted living up here, but [sometimes we] need a hardcore reminder that nature is the secret answer to many questions.”

4. It’s not just a festival, it’s a full experience.

If you’re not a music festival person, fear not; Basilica SoundScape is much more, integrating art and other local events into the weekend. “Every year we want to bring one highly conceptual artist into the space to do something within the weekend,” said Auf der Maur. “This year it’s Sterling Ruby, who’s a sculptor/artist, and he’s building site-specific backdrops for the space inspired by the two evenings.

“Then we have a storefront shop outside of the big building—in there we have a guest curator, kind of local mad man named Dan Bunny, from a legendary punk band from the ‘80s and ‘90s called Bunny Brains. He has a record store in Hudson and he basically brings a pop-up shop and then curates spoken word, music, painters, installation stuff within his little shop. And then there’s outdoor food courts, and we also partnered up scheduling-wise with a couple of other organizations, like Groundswell.”

5. There are multiple generations of feminists represented.

Auf der Maur said that curating Basilica SoundScape introduced her to a new kind of feminist in rock today. “It was so exciting to me, coming from this background in the ‘90s in the first wave of Hole, L7, Babes in Toyland, that whole part of my coming of age, to see Perfect Pussy, White Lung—it’s like the next, next, next, wave of feminism, [which] I love. I find it really exciting to see the similarities. [It’s] a new perspective, but it’s very fucking similar to what it was, and I mean that in a good way. I love seeing that echo effect of when things come back and resonate again with a new generation.”

Basilica SoundScape kicks off in Hudson, NY this weekend, Sept. 12 to14. Tickets and camping passes are available in advance online.

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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