Music Waste

Interview by
Evangeline Hogg
Fiona Dunnett

Broaching touchy subjects in a tight knit community can be daunting. That being said, taking on the responsibility of having an active role in creating positive changes can be absolutely terrifying. Especially when these changes will have an effect on something as sacred as say, a long standing music festival.

Music Waste has been under scrutiny over the past few years. This particular festival originated in the late ‘90s out of disdain towards Music West, a corporate rock festival that bands actually had to pay to partake in. It is the love for Vancouver’s local music community that makes Music Waste different, organized by teams of volunteers. However, there have been whispers of its tendency to be a little (okay, very) cliquey, and to have a level of exclusivity towards band selection. Even so, it has been a treasure among musicians and music lovers alike. With its cheap tickets and lively venues across the city, it has made for over twenty years of inspiring and entertaining weekend festivals.

Discorder had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Eleanor Wearing, new Director and committee member of Music Waste, about what her team is planning to do to reinvent this beloved festival for 2017.

Discorder Magazine: Well, first off, what is Music Waste to you?

Eleanor Wearing: I think Music Waste represents a really great sampling of what the city has to offer, in terms of all types of art. Because it’s been going on for 23 years, it also represents this desire that has existed in Vancouver to consistently present something against mainstream culture.

DM: Do you find it interesting that Music Waste is predominantly run by musicians? Do you think that offers it a certain kind of strength?

EW: I think that anytime you have organizers who are also musicians, you just get people who can sympathize with what musicians in this city are up against and what they have to go through. So, I think that it benefits the festival because a lot of the organizers are mindful of keeping it easier for the bands, and also mindful about wanting to pay bands as much as possible.

Music Waste || Illustration by Fiona Dunnett for Discorder Magazine
Music Waste || Illustration by Fiona Dunnett for Discorder Magazine

DM: Despite the empathy, though, there has been criticism about how Music Waste has been run in the past. Do you think it’s because of how small Vancouver is, or maybe because genres tend to lump together?

EW: I think it’s a combination of both, to be honest. There should be lots of things that are going on. … I think the problem is not necessarily the size, but people maybe feel like they have to be in competition for things. If you’re paying money to put on shows and you want to make that money back, you’re going to have concerns about people coming.

I also think with the second part about what you said, genres tend to stick together. One of the things we’ve seen with Music Waste is that it has this dominant garage and psych-rock tinge to it. That is not the kind of festival we want to have happen. Music Waste should not be one pocket of Vancouver’s music and art community, it should be a [survey] of all the different things that are happening.

DM: What do you think some of problems were with how Music Waste was being organized in the past?  

EW: It’s been a few years since there has been an open call for organizers. People have been asking [friends] if they’re interested in helping organize, which can be great, but you wind up working with people from the same social circles. We just recently posted on our website that we’re looking for new organizers. It’s important to keep things fresh.

DM: It sounds like you want to make it more inclusive. Would you say you’re planning on supporting different types of cultural representation that haven’t been as represented in the past?

EW: Absolutely … I think by opening it up to new organizers and changing the way we do the selection process will provide more intention towards showcasing the wide variety of talents in Vancouver. We hope that [by bringing in more organizers], it will create more of a bridge between different communities.

DM: Any final thoughts regarding how these positives changes are going to effect Music Waste?

EW: You can put on a great event and also be totally mindful of these issues. I think it’s time for us to grow up a little bit and get more serious and pay attention. It’s going to be more interesting, and it’s going to be more diverse, and it’s going to inspire people to maybe pick up an instrument or apply to help organize.


Learn more about Music Waste and how to get involved at, or follow them on social media. And check out the Winter Waste Fundraiser, happening Friday, January 20 at Pat’s Pub with Mirepoix, Cindy Vortex, Maneater, Hazy, Co-op and Devours.