Ottawa’s E.L.E Festival – Building community

September 25th, 2014 by  |  Published in Features, Interviews

E.L.E Festival 2014 lineup

I recently chatted with Sean Callaghan, one of the co-founders of Ottawa’s E.L.E Festival, to find out more about this year’s edition and where the festival might be headed in the future.

It may only be in it’s second year, but Ottawa’s E.L.E Festival has big ambitions and a strong focus on building the local music community.

Zach Raynor, one of the co-founders of E.L.E Festival and a musician himself, realized how hard it can be for new bands to get exposure and make the jump from the bars to some of the larger festivals.

Sean explained, “A lot of artists are working in isolation. We wanted to help them grow their network. We try to bring bands together from different genres and get them to try something normally outside of what they do. It’s difficult for new bands to get into Bluesfest and some of the other festivals. It’s a big jump from the bars.”

He continued, “We wanted to give them more exposure in a pressure free situation. The festival is a free show. It’s also a charity event. We collect donations and help raise awareness. It’s a stepping stone event.”

E.L.E Festival is also about giving back to the community. It is raising awareness for the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs of Ottawa. Festival goers can help donate to this cause in place of buying tickets to the event.

The headliner this year is SonReal from Vancouver. Sean mentioned that, “Headlining acts help grow buzz. Down the road we’d like to have the headliners do some sort of mentorship, so it’s more than just performing, but teaching too, sharing their experience with local bands.”

While the festival began with the intention of helping new bands out, Sean stated, “We still want to make a good show. We don’t want to limit it to just new bands. We’d like to help a band that is on the cusp too.” One such band is Ottawa’s Zoo Legacy, who has been building a steady following over the last few years.

While artist collaborations have been there since the beginning, this year, the festival had the support to actually record and shoot videos for 3 collaborations. (Watch them below)

“We chose artists we thought would sound good together. Everyone was into doing it. It’s a big part of the festival.”

On the future of the festival, Sean said, “I’d like to see it eventually go multiple days. We had over 100 applicants this year. We’d like to expand it across the campus with multiple music and arts related events. We’d like to do more collaborations so that more artists can participate. We only had the support to record 3 this year. Hopefully next year we can do more.”

Sean mentioned several times during our chat just how much support the University of Ottawa’s Community Life Services has given the upstart festival. “Without the support of the University, this festival would not happen. They take care of the stage and audio, as well as security. They’ve been very supportive.”

Check out the lineup and head out to catch some great local music on an outdoor stage. It’s all free!




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