The Inside Scoop on All Tomorrow’s Parties

by Laurie Henzel

You know the old saying, “behind every good man, there’s a good woman…” well in the example of All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival founder Barry Hogan, that is certainly the case, and the woman in question is Deborah Kee Higgins, his wife and Australian transplant who has been working behind the scenes with him at ATP since 2004. ATP, founded in 1999, is a different kind of rock festival, usually on the small, more intimate side, but one that attracts A-List rock icons and music fans that want a different kind of experience.

            While the festivals have taken place all over the world, this years New York ATP is happening Sept 3-5 in a funky, borscht belt hotel/country club called Kutschers in Monticello, and if you want to do something really, really cool next weekend, you’ll invest in some tickets and hightail it up to the woods for an experience you will never forget.

            I’m stoked for this years shows which will be curated by none other than film maker and silver fox, Jim Jarmusch, the line up is full of Rock-n-Roll royalty. Iggy and the Stooges, Sonic Youth, The Breeders, Mudhoney, Scientists, are a few of the acts performing over the 3 day event. In addition to the rock, there will be movies, courtesy of Criterion, comedy acts, and a book club! I caught up with Deborah (photo below), who had a few minutes to chat while getting ready for ATP, and here’s what she had to say.

LH: So I imagine ATP has really evolved over the years and obviously become much bigger, what’s it like now?

DKH: Everything has evolved, everything is constantly evolving. From every event we look at new things we can do and try to think of new ways to make the experience a more enjoyable one for fans. In England we do have a cinema, but things like having Criterion (at the NY AtP) means they’ve introduced us to Jim Jarmusch ….who is now a curator this year. There is a Book Club which is a new feature we’re doing; we get the curators to pick their favorite books, put them in a reading list, and choose a couple to actually have a book club about.

LH: Do the authors ever come to them?

DKH: Luckily yes, two of the authors are going to come, Samantha Hunt who wrote The Invention of Everything Else (a novelization of Nikola Tesla’s life)  and Luc Sante is going to be talking about his book Kill all Your Darlings….so those two are going to come because they know each other so they’re going to interact. We’ve had authors before in England as well, but we’re definitely going to start pushing the book thing a lot more. A lot of us involved in the company are huge readers…so there’s also a natural evolution I think you’ve got curators recommending their favorite film, favorite music, why not their favorite book? – it’s a natural progression. I’m excited for it!

LH: What I liked about last year was that Kutchers is small, and you get to see these bands in such an intimate setting, and sometimes the musicians are just hanging out in the crowd.

DKH: One of the things we wanted to do with ATP was make it an experience that appeals to us, it means having that intimacy, and just being able to wander around, and bump into musicians, nothing against huge festivals, but we like to make it more of something we’d personally want to see, I mean there isn’t even a VIP area.

LH: have there ever been any weird “super fan” experiences of people bugging the talent?

DKH: That’s one of the great things about ATP is that people are out there and they are very respectful of the artists. I mean some of them say hello. I haven’t had an sort of bad experiences. There are people like Nick Cave…when I saw him walking around at the Dirty 3 weekend I made sure I was walking with him. It was really just people saying “oh hey Nick” as he walked passed.

LH: For you personally, I imagine that some of these musicians and artists might be your idols, how has working with them been for you?

DKH: Well, Jim Jarmusch, I love all of his films and have forever. It’s a huge thrill. I feel very lucky to be able to meet some of these people and some of them have also become friends. We feel privileged that we’re in a position that we do get to meet our idols in a way. There are times at ATP when we get to choose our favorite bands from all over the world or bands that we love that are not that big, that we sort of get to nurture and bring over and expose them to this world. That’s a huge privilege.

For a complete list of the line up, click here. There are still tickets available, don’t miss this!

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