Interview With Aftermath Founder Troy Hilton
When the collapse of Kinetik was suddenly announced last year, the dark electronic scene was in shock. As so many bands and fans felt a large power vacuum left behind, so many came forth to launch Aftermath. One of those brave souls is Troy Hilton, and I got the chance to discuss with him the history of Aftermath, as well as what we can all expect from this year's festival.
Let's get right down into a little bit of the history behind Aftermath. It followed in the wake of the collapsed Kinetik festival. When you first heard of Kinetik's downfall, did it crush you a little on the inside? What were your thoughts on the matter?
Troy - "I was on tour with Nachtmahr and Ludovico Technique at the time. We had just pulled into Richmond and loaded in. I went backstage and finally had wifi and there was the email from the festival organizer. He basically let me know about the cancellation and that he’d forward my email to other artists. It wasn’t long (hours) before the emails from the larger artists started rolling in. Unfortunately, with me on tour and having another week to go, I couldn’t do anything right away.
The feeling was, I think, shock. Kinetik was an institution for this scene in North America and with a month before the fest this caught me totally off-guard. I knew something had to be done, but with the tour and my mind racing a mile a minute, I felt very overwhelmed and at a loss as to how to proceed. Also knowing how many people had bought tickets, flights and hotels….I felt an obligation with Toronto being my home turf to do something."
From the collapse of Kinetik you and many others got the thought of Aftermath in mind. Who was it that you first talked with about setting up something new to cheer on the scene? And when did the Aftermath festival go from an idea to a reality?
Troy - "I debated what to do. I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I was kind of weighing my options. Which I did for a few days until I got to stable wifi in LA. I took a look at my Facebook and it had blown up with a group thread with all the smaller artists and a few other interested parties. After reviewing the few hundred messages, and seeing how hungry these cats were, I opened my mind up to the possibility. But I knew that the smaller acts weren’t enough to pull off a festival. And I didn’t want to work against them. So in the end, it turned out that the organizers were Ryan Cameron-Clark of 132 Productions, Alex Kennedy from the I Die:U Die podcast, and Scott Fox from iVardensphere who became the primary organizers along with myself.
It was tough because we had like 5 weeks to put together a festival. So we named it, branded it and released the idea to the public. It was very important to us that this got released to the public asap as we knew many people had plane tickets, hotels and all that that were non-refundable. These people needed to know that they were coming to Toronto and there would be a show when they got here. From there we talked to the bands. Everyone was amazingly helpful. It truly was a team effort. For example, Jimi from Malhavoc helped us get the venue. Wouldn’t have happened without him."
2014 was the first year that Aftermath saw the light of day. How did the festival turn out? Were you expecting it to be so successful?
Troy - "We had no idea what to expect. I mean…we had 4 weeks to pull this off. To me, it was a god-damned miracle ANYONE showed up. But the scene really came together and proved that if you want something bad enough, it can happen."
With 2015 comes a new line up and new opportunities. To begin off covering what will be available at the festival, let's talk bands. Who are returning to the festival this year? And who are new to it?
Troy - "The only band returning is FGFC820. I was very adamant about not having returning acts on back to back years. But Rexx is bigger than me so…Haha. Really, it made sense to have them again since we wanted Bruderschaft. Everyone else is new to the festival this year."
Out of all the acts that have been recruited to join the Aftermath roster, which ones are you most excited to see perform?
Troy - "Personally? Conjure One is high on my list. As is 3Teeth. Tactical Sekt are clients of mine who I’ve never had the chance to sit and have a beer with so that’s really cool. It’ll be awesome seeing a lot of old friends again too – Haujobb, VAC, Leaether Strip. Mr Kitty, I’m stoked to see to as well as the Dreaming. Hahaha – I don’t think there is anyone I’m not excited to see."
Is there any new blood coming to Aftermath? Any bands that haven't really been heard of but will be performing at the festival?
Troy - "For sure! Electrovot deserves to be seen. They opened for me on a couple tours and were just amazing. Peter Turns Pirate is going to turn some heads and I can’t wait for people to see Squid Lid and Glenn Love. Its also Stoneburner’s first festival."
In what ways have you improved Aftermath from last year to this year? Is it more structured and organized?
Troy - "I had more time! We really wanted to be more diverse this year. When industrial, goth, EBM etc was at its peak, we had 'alternative' clubs, thus a much wider audience base. I think its important to go back to that idea and bring this awesome music to the kids that would otherwise have no exposure to it otherwise."
What vendors will be available at the festival? Are there any that really will cater to the dark electronic side of music?
Troy - "Yeah! Storming the Base will be there with all sorts of CDs and vinyl and all that jazz. Electronic Saviors will be there with a number of local clothing designers that we’re pretty stoked to have on board."
Though Aftermath included international acts, it really helps bolster the local Canadian scene. Has the festival help gain attention and recognition back to Canada for the musicians that come from the country?
Troy - "I think that we are really just trying to continue the Kinetik tradition. Really, we aren’t the only one. Terminus in Calgary just had their 4th year and that was amazing. Canada, it seems, is starting to become the forefront of showcasing newer artists within the scene. And it seems like that’s what the people want – new awesome music."
I understand that there will be an after party involved with the festival. What will that consist of and what can attendees expect there?
Troy - "We do have a closing party. I came up with an idea to showcase really cool regions of the world that are scene hotspots. So this year we have one of the DJ’s from Slimelight (Matt Hart) which is based in London UK closing the weekend on Sunday. Joining him we have Joe Letz from Combichrist and Rhys Fulber (Conjure One, FLA, Delerium etc) doing their thing."
Do you have any special guests coming along to the festival as DJs or just guest performers? Anything like that?
Troy - "As well as the closing party, Between bands we have guest DJs from all over. A few from Toronto as well as Xris Smack from NYC, Mike Saga from Philly, Electronic Commando from Florida."
Is there anything that I haven't covered that you wish to add in?
Troy - "Not much I can say! I think the festival lineup speaks for itself. Its gonna be fucking awesome and I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones! Industrial Summer Camp forever!"
Lastly, I wish you success with the festival, and I hope it goes very well for you.
Troy - "Thank you so much!"