For many up-and-coming musicians, an invitation to perform at a festival can sometimes act as a springboard that can jump start a career. David Bash, the founder and CEO of the International Pop Overthrow festival, knows this to be true: in the late ‘90s, a California-based band called Kara’s Flowers played his festival and a few years later they began their ascent up the charts. Of course, this was after a name change: Kara’s Flowers would end up conquering the world as Maroon 5.
International Pop Overthrow (or IPO, as it is sometimes known) is a pop music festival that has been held for the past twenty-two years in Los Angeles, as well as other cities across the country, including Chicago, New York, Boston, and Austin, TX. IPO has also endeavored to take pop music worldwide, holding festivals in foreign locales such as Stockholm, Sweden and Liverpool, UK (at the world-famous Cavern Club).
David Bash took a few minutes to speak with us regarding his festival, the importance of original music, and how festivals such as IPO can benefit musicians.
Q: What do you look for when selecting acts to perform at IPO?
David Bash: International Pop Overthrow features all kinds of talented artists who specialize in melodic pop music. First and foremost, good melodies are paramount; if they aren't there, I'm not going to book your band.
Q: Why do you focus on original music for the artists that play your festival (rather than covers)?
DB: I was raised on radio, where songs were mostly original music penned either by the artist themselves or people who wrote for them, so original music is particularly important to me (as it is to people who attend the festival). Our fans want to discover great artists who have excellent (and possibly little-known) albums. Having said that, there were always a fair number of fine covers on the radio charts, so I don't mind original bands throwing a cover or two into their sets.
Q: How do you feel festivals such as IPO benefit an artist?
DB: I know this word has become kind of anathema, but they give artists a lot of exposure to the kind of people who have a particularly good chance of digging what they do. Secondly, it helps the artist sell merchandise; the artists who play our festival are traveling to the gig on their own dime, so it's always nice when they can recover some of their money with merch sales. In addition, performing at festivals such as IPO fosters the kind of connection between artists and fans that merely listening to their music can’t provide. Finally, many artists have met each other at IPO shows, and from that has blossomed professional relationships where they have organized shows for each other in their respective towns.