The five senses are the gatekeepers of your reality. While some might be cherished more than others, your sensorium — the entirety of your sensory perception — works in harmony to paint the world you experience.
Through music and art our community actively celebrates this door from our environment to the mind. Where most events focus on sight and sound, one festival, curated and hosted by members of the Philly-based funktronica band Tweed, seeks to stimulate the whole package.
2018 will be SENSORiUM Festival’s second year, coming in hot from a heavy inaugural event in 2017. With headling acts Sunsquabi and Tweed, in addition to heavy hitters like Esseks, Chee, Philly’s own Wax Future, and Zebbler Encanti Experience should be more than enough reason to draw you to Philly’s Ukie Club on August 25th. However, if (for some absurd reason) you’re not yet sold, keep reading to hear from Tweed themselves as to why SENSORiUM will be an event like no other.
After a successful inaugural year, what are you most excited to see pan out this time around?
Joe Vela (festival curator / Tweed drummer): This year were going to be focusing more on doing some really cool art projects, which is the theme of SENSORiUM, the amalgamation of the senses. We’re going to be focusing on doing some really cool extrasensory, interactive art projects. One thing that I know we’re going to be doing is different themed lounges across the event grounds.
What themes did you have in mind?
Joe: Right now were talking about jungle, desert, outer space, under water. There will be areas to hang out and interactive things going on inside of those tents. Visual elements, and other extra sensory: touch, taste, smell.
What are you hoping that this festival provides to Philly’s arts scene?
Joe: The mission behind this festival is to do something really good for music fans and the community. Something really fun and enjoyable; something special and different in our own way.
Dan McDonald (bassist): I think it’s also an opportunity for people to come from afar, like I’ve been getting hits from people as far as North Carolina that don’t really know Philly, but we know them from being on the road and as far as anybody that’s ever been hospitable while we’re out on the road, it’s an opportunity for them to come and get a taste of how Tweed does Philly.
What do you think makes SENSORiUM stand out apart from other music festivals?
Joe: In addition to the extra-sensory installations, it’s in the city and not a camping getaway festival. Another thing is we’ll have 3 stages; there will be no stops in music.
Dan: Maybe four, if I bring the RV [laughs].
What goes into curating a music festival that aims to have such an impact?
Joe: We have a really great team of promoters in Philly right now. Our core staff is like 15 people, the day of the event were going to be managing 40 people both staff and volunteers.
It’s a really big team, and being a musician you have to be an entrepreneur. Its taking your art and making it something that’s digestible for people and a consumable thing. This festival brings that together and is definitely going to be one of our biggest shows of the year.
As a band, Tweed dove full time into music in 2016. How have you noticed your music and your following evolve over the past few years?
John Tomczak (keys/synths): We’ve been able to spread out so much more and show what we’re doing to unique crowds and to different people. Especially from 2016 when we first hit the road to now going back to the same places a second time in 2017 and having a more familiar presence there and seeing some people we met a year before bringing out their crew, excited to help us show them a good time.
Joe: I think over the last 2 years we’ve really focused on crafting our own musical style, and that has translated to the live shows. I’d like to think that we’ve grown a lot as musicians, looking back I think it’s true that we have, and at the end of the day it’s about playing good music. And if you can get it out to people’s ears, eventually it will spread word of mouth.
What do you love about the jamtronica scene Tweed is a part of?
AJ DiBiase (guitarist): The whole jam scene is filled with avid concert goers, people who appreciate live music and improvisation and seeing a certain level of musicianship between players and a group. And I think that’s something alone that’s pushed us to evolve as musicians and really put on a great performance, something to be remembered.
Joe: These people go to a lot of concerts and you can’t put anything past them. You got to be real and genuine and the real deal, and that pushes us in a really good way. And we play with a lot of amazing bands that inspire us, it’s a privilege and an honor to that and I think in part its helped us become a tighter cohesive band, it’s the challenge in itself.
Dan: The jamtronica scene is kind of like a hidden gem, and there’s tons of people that I’ve taken to a show that didn’t even particularly like a band that I’ve been in love with for years. It’s one of those things that once you bring someone to a live show, if they’re open minded they’re gonna have a good time and it’s gonna be exactly what’s up their alley.
Joe: I think one thing that sets Tweed aside from a lot of other bands is that we have such an amazing fan base of people that are from all different walks of life all different affiliations and styles but what brings them together is looking for a really good time, I think there’s a lot of positivity in the crowd of our shows.
Your last album came out in 2016, last year you were working on a new album. Any updates, or other new project youre excited about?
Joe: We’ve been working on this album for like a year and a half and we’re really trying to put out a quality product; something we truly believe in. I wouldn’t say we’ve been taking our time, but we’ve been doing all of the work that needs to be done and not taking any short cuts on this album.
We’re working with a really great producer, Jeff Mahajan, nickname is Mud, and he’s out of Brooksound Productions in New Jersey. We also did a couple sessions with Jesse Miller from Lotus. He really helped us get through some roadblocks on some of the songs and helped push them over the line, he had really great ideas. Were definitely going to have at least one of our singles released before SENSORiUM, hopefully 2 of the singles by SENSORiUM, and a really cool music video we’ve been dying to release.
You only get one chance to release an album, and as soon as its out we’re going to get started on the next one.
Has there been one specific moment when you guys realized you were exactly where you were supposed to be in life?
Dan: I’ve been there for years, man. I mean Tweed has been a dream, playing with these guys, they’re my best friends and we don’t beef ever. And we hear a lot of the bands complain about that kind of thing so it’s nice to be above that.
John: I remember the first time we all got in the van together, before we got our trailer and we were packed in like sardines and drove around for a month, then got out of the car a month later and still would live in the same house and see each other every day. We’d all still love each other. We’re a big happy family.
Joe: I think it’s a lot of those little moments that add up. The one person that falls in love with you when you’re really far away from home and they love your music. Or the nice person you meet when you’re travelling on the road. As far as a big moment, one of my most memorable Tweed moments was playing Peach Music Festival and meeting Santana. I was eating shrimp on stage during the Santana set and I was like “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”♦︎