By: Anand Harsh
Two back-to-back live band tours, runs with The Floozies and Russ Liquid, and a festival slot in Australia? It'd be difficult to say Troy Probst is anything but en fuego at the moment.
Filibusta is absolutely crushing it, right now. And it just so happens that at this time last year, he was hustling his ass off getting his track in for The Untz Challenge, and then went on to win the sucker, gaining him slots on seven major festivals.
This year, the two winners of the competition will be awarded slots at Summer Camp, Infrasound, Wakarusa, SONIC BLOOM, Electric Forest, Farm Fest, The Werk Out, Backwoods Bash, and Dancefestopia. Amateur producers and electronic acts are highly encouraged to enter the competition, because it's an absolute boost in the ol' career column
Don't believe us? Fine. Believe Filibusta.
Absolutely! It was about this time last year that I was struggling to put together my first actual tour. After I announced that I had won The Untz Challenge, I started seeing a surge of opportunities come my way. As a matter of fact, I was able to book 7 MORE festivals the very same summer in addition to the 7 won through the competition. Keep in mind I had never played a big legit festival before, so it was like a HUGE door had opened right in front of me. Since that summer, I’ve been able to book dates much more easily with such an extensive festival resumé, including my Awakening Tour with Pleasure, Drop the Brass Tour with Ryan Viser & Goodness Gracious, and even a supporting slot on The Floozies Do Your Thing Tour. It’s the prime example of a snowball effect...Without a doubt I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not won!
Is there a stigma against entering festival slot competitions that you'd like to dispel?
I was under the impression that being a festival competition winner that I wasn’t going to play very good slots after all the hard work I put in, but that definitely was NOT the case. I would have to say I had a some of the better slots and bigger crowds a lot of these festivals! My other concern was that I was going to be treated like a contest winner rather than an artist playing the festival. Also UNTRUE. Staff was super polite and in most cases received the same hospitality as any other artist. I only had once instance where a sound guy deliberately called me “the contest winner,” rather than Troy or Filibusta, but later apologized after hearing my music and seeing the crowd I was able to draw and entertain throughout the duration of my set!
You had entered The Untz Challenge 3 years in a row before winning--what made you stick with it?
Honestly….I wanted it…bad. Coming from a small farming community left me with absolutely no connections and no following, especially in electronic music. But I was just so hungry to make a bang in the scene. I knew I had to do something BIG, something to turn heads. I’m actually glad it took me 3 attempts to win. I was definitely not ready my first year: a slightly egotistical kid with barely enough original music to fill an hour set. The second year: Had the original set ready, but not the following needed to be able to draw crowds at festivals. But in the third year, not only did I have a LIVE original set planned, but also so many people supporting me through both the voting process AND in the crowd during my sets! The 3 years kept me humble and really allowed me to appreciate the hard work that goes into building yourself into something. There’s not too many times in my life that i’ve been able to say “I’ve earned this” and actually know it to be true.
You ended up incorporating last year's runner up (Ryan Viser) into your live band--can you tell us a bit about how that relationship was formed?
Ryan Viser and I were neck and neck to the very end of the competition. We didn’t even make contact with each other until the final day of the competition when I hit him up in a Facebook message simply saying “I hate you!” Jokingly of course, as I knew he was pushing just as hard as I was to get votes. We actually still joke about us being competitors today since we play my submitted track “Let it Ride" in the LIVE Band set. I believe his exact words are “an overwhelming amount of stress” when he hears the song coming into the set. I couldn’t agree more! After the challenge had ended, it was unanimously decided that it was much better to move forward together. Since we were both at the same festivals and he played trumpet, I asked him sit in during my sets. While booking my fall tour, my direct support had to unfortunately drop out for legitimate reasons. Instead of finding a replacement, I decided to ask Ryan and my guitarist friend from St. Louis, Goodness Gracious, to join me on stage for the tour. Thus, the creation of the Filibusta LIVE Band!
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering The Untz Challenge?
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