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Community Spotlight: Fuss Fest

Hey folks! Hope this post finds you doing well.  I've been M.I.A. for a bit because The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an amazing game that has taken over my life. This is how I've chosen to spend the precious few moments allotted to me on this mortal plane.

Anyway, I really wanted to take some time to give some blog love to the folks over at the first ever Fuss Fest!
For those who don't know, Fuss Fest is a femme-centric music and arts fest that's going on this Saturday over at Yoshi Now in Fresno! To celebrate the event I spoke with its organizers: artist Pris Van Rye, Midwest Moms vocalist and OtherXcore zine author Sam Retton, Sci-Fi Caper vocalist/bassist Emelia Guadarrama, and vintage clothing purveyor Rio Toi. Read it up, share, pack some sunscreen, then head out to the fest! 

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Spanspek: All of you are either artists or musicians involved in the Fresno area. Is this your first event of this type, or something that you've done before?

Pris: I myself have put together things before at Dynamite [Vinyl]. Like I put together Zine Fest last year, a few other events, and some shows. 

Sam: Me and Emelia were involved in the Women's Art and Music Festival of Fresno (WAMFF) last year, and have decided to focus on this instead.

Spanspek: Are you willing to speak about why you're splitting off?

Sam: It's a lot of work and that's really cool, but for me personally I felt like my expertise is better used in a different setting. I feel like [WAMFF] is a great cause but I would rather be a supporter than be involved in it again.

Spanspek: What separates Fuss Fest from WAMFF?

Sam: That event is a fundraiser for paid internships at the Rape Crisis Center for Women's Studies students. It has a specific fundraising goal, whereas Fuss Fest is more of a free effort to promote women and femmes to people in Fresno.

Spanspek: So is that the main motivation; to promote femme values? 

Pris: No, there are a lot of music festivals in Fresno and it's very rare that you see female musicians or artists that are presented in that light. It's a lot of male driven bands, male driven promoters. We kinda wanted to set something up completely different. Kinda put a little more light on female artists and musicians, as well as queer and trans and other people that aren't really presented in the festivals that we have here in Fresno.

Spanspek: That definitely shows in the lineup you have. Can you talk about that a bit?

Pris: Yes! We have a lot of female fronted bands. We have a lot of musicians that we pulled from out of town that have played Fresno before. They are friends of ours that are in mostly queer bands, trans musicians; a lot of them were really stoked to come back to Fresno.

Spanspek: Is there anyone that you all are particularly excited to have perform?

Pris: A lot of them actually. There are some artists like Bedroom Witch who are really cool. There was an article about her in Bandcamp, and I followed her music after that and became a huge fan. So it's gonna be really cool to see her in person cause I haven't yet. And she's stoked to come up here from L.A.

Emelia: I'm excited to see Great Hart. They were really fun to watch the first time they came. I bought their tape and it was really really good, we still play it in the car all the time. But I'm also excited to hear Sister Mantos. It's gonna be fun. Are they closing out? [Everyone says yes]. Oh, save your energy. [Laughs]

Spanspek: I was curious, how did you guys manage to get Kooleidoscope out of retirement?

[Laughs] Pris: We just asked. That's all we had to do, just a simple ask.

Emelia: Yeah, Ronnie's a sweet heart, how could she say no? [Laughs]

Spanspek: I just thought she was out the game is all.

Pris: She took a small hiatus. She said it's gonna be her last show for a while so it's gonna be pretty cool.

Spanspek: What's the meaning behind the name Fuss Fest?

Pris: I thought of it as kinda making a fuss about presenting women in music. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Spanspek: It's definitely needed for sure.

Pris: Yeah, I think I was in a rant to my friends about how annoyed I was with current line ups in most festivals and I was like, "I'm gonna have to make a fuss about it." [Laughs] And then I was like, "Huh, that would be a good name."

[Laughs] Spanspek: You mentioned that the festival is free, but you're asking for donations?

Pris: We're asking for feminine product donations. We're going to try to give them to the Marjorie Mason Center as well as potentially Mothers Helping Mothers and possibly Common Space. And we decided to do that because it would make the fest accessible to people who may not have money to spend on going to a show, but may have some pads laying around that they're not desperately in need of at the moment.  I think it'd be great for people to bring [donations] because it might help somebody. It would especially help the trans community; like if someone has things that someone who's transitioning can really use. Some people don't have access to cloths or anything like that. So donations of those things can really help out.

Spanspek: Any other random things that you'd want the readers to know?

Pris: Yeah, we get a lot of questions about whether [Fuss Fest] is for females only. Not at all! [Laughs] Everyone is welcome.

Spanspek: Wait, is that an actual perception out there?!

Pris: Yeah, I've gotten questions on Instagram about whether it's for females only.

Spanspek: How's it been working together, the four of you?

Pris: We've all been really close friends for a while so it came together pretty easily. I sent out feelers saying I was gonna put this together and everyone was like, "I wanna help." [Laughs] I was like "Absolutely, come join me!"

Spanspek: This isn't relevant to the festival, I'm just curious as to your thoughts on this: as far as Fresno/Tulare County, do you feel like the area is supportive of femme fronted acts?

Emelia: It's never been a problem...

Pris: It's not really an issue issue. Most particularly, not to bad mouth anyone, but recently there was Grizzly Fest and I don't remember, where there any female artists at all? I don't feel like there were, maybe I'm wrong.

Spanpsek: Even with the festival we put on, we're really bad about that. We try our best to get femme fronted acts, but even we have room for improvement.

Pris: Yeah, it's not always the easiest cause there really aren't that many female driven artists in Fresno. There use to be more but right now we're in a bit of a slow down. I think the lack of venues definitely hurts that as well.

Spanspek: That's true. Is that why there aren't too many local acts on your lineup? There just aren't too many to be had?

Pris: Yeah, there's a few that I would have liked to get on, they just weren't available. But there's a lot. There's a scene right now: Artesia has female artists. The Millennials have a female vocalist. There's a few others as well. Hopefully next year we'll be able to get them on.

Emelia: And we definitely applaud anybody that wants to try to do something in Fresno. We just want to try to do it to. We're not taking away from other festivals. The support is there in Fresno. It's just a matter of making it happen.

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Thank you to Pris, Sam, Emelia, and Rio for taking the time to talk about Fuss Fest! It was a lot of fun!
For more information or questions on Fuss Fest, e-mail fussfest@gmail.com or head over to their Facebook and Instagram pages!

Thank you, goodnight, thanks for reading, and goodnight! Also thank you.

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