Since 2011, Harrison Diskin and Tim Findling have been throwing shows as Curated Music, a Michigan-based progressive music initiative. Now, one year later, Curated Music is, along with Mojo Films, one half of the backing for StereoTerra. I sat down with the two pals to talk about running a festival in its first year, dealing with angry gun owners in Beaverton, Michigan, and what Curated Music means to them.
Natty Morrison: When did Curated Music start up?
Harrison Diskin: Our first show was a small show in Hamtramck, Michigan in March of 2011.
NM: Do you remember who played?
HD: I believe it was Freddy Todd, Jaws that Bite…Grant Griz. It was just an awesome little party, we probably had like 50 kids out at this little bar. The club owner gave me a $75 bar tab for each show [laughs], so it was a fun place to do shows at.
NM: From where Curated Music started, to where it evolved to now…do the two match?
Tim Findling: The surprising thing is the vision we ultimately had is being fulfilled. But with all our expectations, we never thought we’d be throwing a festival a year and a half ago. We’ve gone from throwing $500 shows to throwing $500,000 shows.
NM: Can you tell me about the genesis of this festival (StereoTerra)?
HD: We were approached by Mojo Films, and they needed a talent buyer and artist relations team to consult with for a music festival.
TF: They knew they wanted to throw a music festival, but they didn’t know what direction they were going. So they had a few ideas of some of the artists they wanted to book from another talent buyer they had from New York, named Gustavo. So they came to us hoping we could bring another a different element of electronic music to the festival, and it kind of grew into an actual electronic music festival.
NM: Who were some of those early acts they wanted to bring in?
HD: It was everyone from the Verve Pipe, to Asher Roth, to Kid Rock. [Laughs] We only had about three weeks to start booking, so we were kind of limited in scope of time. But I think next year, with a lot more time for booking, we’ll be able to come out with some shining diamonds.
NM: Who was one person who was really out of your reach, but you really wanted to get?
HD: Honestly, off the bat, Pretty Lights, but he’s at Red Rocks this week.
NM: Who have you guys been most looking forward to seeing this weekend?
HD:RJD2, GRiZ, Michal Menert. I just think this is such a star-studded line-up for Michigan.Also, it should be noted that there are a few acts that were not headliners that made a huge splash. I think Robotic Pirate Monkey did extremely well…Tittsworth. Crushendo almost stole the show last night.
TF: And it was cool having Michal Menert, because he was our first real show at the Magic Stick in Detroit, and that was one of those shows that really kept us going. To us, it kind of established Curated Music.
NM: Going off the name, Curated Music, it’s apparent that you’re, essentially, curating the music you want to hear. Like a meta version of a DJ. So, what’s more important, establishing Curated Music to you, or to other people? At the end of the day, are you looking to please yourself more than other people?
TF: To be honest, almost, yeah. I think sometimes our standards are higher than the standards of the fan, so other people might have saw us as an organization after the first few couple shows we threw, but I think [the Michal Menert show] was something Harrison and I walked away from thinking, “Wow, we really accomplished something.” And I think that has to come first before we could have done something like this.
NM: There were issues with the first site of StereoTerra that forced you to seek out a new locale. Can you talk about that?
HD: StereoTerra purchased land for this festival in Beaverton, Michigan, which is about a mile and a half away from where we are now, and the city council wasn’t happy.
TF: The Township had a few people who were unhappy with…the type of people who were going to be coming to the
festival. I’m quoting what they said at the town hall meeting, they said, “We don’t want city folk in our town.” And I think that’s a total misjudgment, because I don’t think festy-goers are necessarily “city folk.” We tried to go through every avenue possible to get the right permits we needed to. They kind of blocked every attempt we made. They sent us notifications for the hearings too late. We got to the point where we realized we needed to find another location.
HD: We also needed to move it for safety of the festival goers. The residents of Beaverton were so outraged about having a music festival in their city,that they were making threats online, they were calling in with angry, angry reports to the sheriff, to the city council.
TF: They made it clear they didn’t want us there. We actually had somebody come to the first site, while we weren’t there, and shoot shotguns through one of our semis. There were bullet holes.
HD: There was a Facebook group where they discussed it, and one of the quotes was, “We should have a gun
shooting party the same night as this music festival.”
NM: Do you feel like this new site gives you everything the first one could have provided?
HD: This is where StereoTerra was meant to be. We’re going to be here for the next five years.
NM: How would you describe running an event like this? Stressful?
HD: It’s definitely stressful. It’s busy. It’s often times heavy on your heart; it’s heavy on your body. But at the same time, it’s rewarding when you see all these cars pulling in and setting up their tents in the woods. And that’s because the StereoTerra team was able to remove 4,000 plus trees from the forest. And they were able to pour 8 tons of sand on this beach front to make this amazing VIP area.
NM: Do you feel like you’ve had moments to stand back and appreciate what’s happening around you?
TF: It’s a lot of information to take in at once. There’s a lot always going through my head that it’s hard for me to sleep. I think we’ve had little moments in time where me and Harrison looked at each other and thought, “Wow, this is finally coming together!” It’s unreal. It’s emotional.
HD: We’ve been working so hard on this since day 1 and we are surrounded by everyone who made this happen. But during the process of building this festival, we weren’t all together. I was on the road, travelling the country to cover music festivals. Tim was back here promoting, and the team was here on site. So to be here, all together with everyone, and be able to high-five everyone is super cool.
NM: Tim, I saw that you brought your parents here. Are they proud?
TF: I mean, when they heard I wanted to start throwing shows, obviously that wasn’t something they thought was going to happen, or that I would do well. It’s nice to finally be able to show them something of pretty big substance, at least for us, as 22 and 23 year olds.
HD: My mom’s so proud.
NM: Are you already thinking ahead to what you would like to do to take StereoTerra to the next level?
HD: I’d like to see another stage. I’d like to see more recognizable names. I mean, we have 365 days to make that happen.