I was a performer at launch fest last year, and I’m so grateful for that opportunity. The exposure from launch fest lead me to many opportunities, most notably being a part of the interesting Vancouver speaker series, which then led me to sharing my story about music and mental illness nationally on CBC radio 1.
Programs like launch fest are important because the path of an artist is twisted and confusing and can often feel like you are going no where. There is no “indie pop star” degree program. When I started playing music, I had no idea how to survive in this industry where you face rejection every day and you have to keep going. But I knew I had to keep going. I have a lot of mental disorders (clearly,) and every time I see a new therapist they ask me “Are you sure you want to be a musician? Don’t you have a plan B?” But I DO have a plan B, C and D. They just happen to be novelist, film maker and professional belly dancer. Because I believe people don’t choose to be artists. We are born artists, and then we are faced with these big scary industries and we have no idea how to approach them. This is why a program like Launch Fest is such a game changer.
First of all, Launch Fest actually pays young performers. Usually when I perform I actually lose money. Earning money for my work is unbelievably uplifting. I was actually able to put the money I earned at Launch Fest towards my first full length album, which was recorded last summer and will be released in the fall. Launch fest also gave me an opportunity to meet other artists who are dealing with the same challenges I was, especially people who work in other art forms that I would normally never have the chance to meet. Now more than ever, with viral videos being one of the main ways to be known as a musician, it pays to know film makers and dancers and actors. If everyone in the program worked together, I'm sure we could make a video ten times stranger and Sia's Chandelier.
But the most important part of Launch fest is the mentorship and the chance to learn from people who have done it, and are doing it. Even just meeting someone who is making a living as an artist is a reminder that what we are trying to do isn’t impossible, even if everyone else in our lives thinks it is. My mentor, Gary Crystal, helped me organize my mess of ideas into a plan, and opened my eyes to the many grants available, and since launch fest I did receive a demo recording grant from Factor and am in the process of applying for more. That’s why we are so lucky to be a part of Launch Fest. Because we can learn from each other and learn from those who have more experience. This isn’t American Idol or so you think you can dance, because in the end, we all get to win.