Interview: Nadafest Organizers Matt Ashworth and Tim Basaraba
Updated: Oct 13, 2018
#Nadafest 4 returns to Substation in Ballard, running from Friday, October 19th - Sunday, October 21st. The fest is curated by NadaMucho.com with bands, past and current, who've been featured in their annual "41 Bands We're Watching" list. We caught up with organizers Matt Ashworth and Tim Basaraba to talk about how it all began and what they're excited about this year. Day 1 Get info || Day 2 Get info || Day 3 Get info
NadaMucho has been around since 1997. How did it start? How have you kept the passion for more than 20 years?
Tim Basaraba: Matt would be able to answer the "How did it start" question. I was just some dude that was in a band he liked called Lazy Comet.
Matt Ashworth: In 1996 and 1997 me and about six or seven friends were all at our first jobs after college, sitting at a desk all day with consistent access to email and the web for the first time in our lives. We started with email and then made some message boards where we would talk about music and movies and culture. I had made some zines in high school and junior high and had gotten my degree in journalism, so we turned our discussions into NadaMucho.com.
Tim: In regards to 20+ years of passion we just love music and what better way to get free stuff than ask bands to "submit" music.
Matt: That actually was the original premise for NadaMucho.com. Was to try and talk musicians into sending us their stuff. When we started we sent hand-written letters to labels telling them how much we’d love hear more of their artists. Four years later we were already receiving more submissions than we could possibly consume and form an opinion about. It's been that way ever since. There are so many people out there who want to be heard.
How did the two of you meet?
Tim: I don't quite remember but it had to be at either the Rendezvous or Sunset.
Matt: My guess is it was when Lazy Comet and the Valley and one other band from Idaho played the Rendezvous and then Lazy Comet played the Sunset afternoon show and we probably drank and chatted for a few hours afterwards or hung out. Then Tim started coming to New Music Monday – weekly showcase of three local acts – at the Rendezvous with me to talk business.
Tim performs at one of Matt's short-lived and typically poorly attended "Hangover Helper" matinee shows at the Sunset.
When did you both start talking about #NadaFest? Was it a spontaneous idea or carefully conceived over a long period of time?
Tim: We always wanted a fest but never had an excuse so when in 2015 we launched the #41for2015 I had just started booking Substation in Ballard and we had a weird little back room that lent to an eight-act night where people could hear every band so we went from there.
Matt: I booked the Mars Bar / Café Venus in Eastlake with some help from friends for 7-8 years in the 2000s. Sometime in there I passed the torch to Tim since I had a family and needed to be home more at night. He booked a few shows at Café Venus and then we did some other shows together at various venues around town. Since then he’s dedicated a good portion of his life to helping local bands get a chance to perform. He books #NadaFest from the increasing pool of bands who have been in one of our yearly list of local bands we think deserve more spotlight.
Who are the bands/artists you’re most excited for people to see this year?
Tim: Crazy Eyes is always at the top of my list and Downtown is so fucking weird I see them every chance I get. In regards to bands I have not seen live, Beverly Crusher and Thee Deception if I had to name only two.
Matt: That’s the great thing about #NadaFest. All of the bands I have personally approved for inclusion in a thoughtful list of local bands we publish on my website, which means for every artist performing I can explain what I like about them, which I’m going to do on my Twitter feed leading up to the festival.
Tim: This year we had about 150 acts that a few of us put together and then for the 1st time we got together and listened and hacked it down to 41. Some strong opinions and filibusterers later we had our bunch.
Matt: Each year Nada Photo Editor Jim Toohey keeps a running list of new bands we learn about so that we have a base to start with when the process begins. These are bands who’ve sent us email or shared something with on social media. Or bands we’ve seen at local clubs or heard about from other people participating in the local scene. We put them all on a Google doc and share it with a group of 8-10 contributors and we all weigh in and whittle it down. Then at the end people get kind of desperate trying to lobby for their favorites among those in contention for the final spots.
Matt: This year we added a new feature where me, Tim and Jim got together in person four times during the deliberation process and listened to the tracks live and talked about them which seemed to really help the process. That was Tim’s idea who seems to be the smartest of the three of us. Since we both quit drinking a decade ago now we drink green tea. Tim even sits cross-legged occasionally.