Memo: RE: Micro POPFEST '00

July 20, 21

at Meow Meow

Problem: How do the psyches of individuals participating in said event translate musically?

Examination: After evaluating and discounting several test possibilites (pH testing, chemical fusion, psychoanalysis) the research team settled on the ever-reliable Rohrschach Test, also known as the "Inkblot Test." We opted for this avenue because of its proven reliability in Jungian psychic evaluation, its malleability in the interpretation of results, and also because we quite enjoy working with ink and shiny paper.

Hypothesis: When various creative individuals tour together and play what is hereafter referred to as "Indie Pop" (a genre which doesn't necessarily refer to a set form of music; often just catchy tunes on tiny labels), the kids go wild in an almost Pavlovian response.

Control Group: Mario Hernandez of Alameda, CA band "From Bubblegum to Sky."

Random Samples: Michael Grace Jr. of St. James, NY band "My Favorite," Katy Davidson, Marianna Ritchey, Ryan Wise of Portland, OR band "Dear Nora."

Background: Popfest (previously Tweefest) is a festival of bands begun in 1995 by members of the Indiepop List (an e-mail forum consisting of indiepop fans, musicians, and record label owners). Bands who played at the original NYC Popfest include Magnetic Fields, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, and Sleepyhead. Popfest has occurred yearly since its inception, sometimes twice, in such cities as Boston, Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, and Bristol UK. Activities have included live music, kickball, and watching the Field Mice video over at Keith's place.

Physical characteristics of Popfest attendees often include, but are not limited to, extremely heavy glasses, Izod™, Hello Kitty paraphernalia, and "Twee as Fuck" t-shirts (or, in the case of one particularly brazen San Francisco '99 attendee, a "Fuck Me, I'm Twee" shirt). Portraying a social conscience, some indiepoppers even attended the WTO conference, brandishing signs proclaiming "Not all indiepop boys are gay," and "Imports are too goddamn expensive."

Despite that indiepop fans traditionally travel from all over the world for the festivities, it has remained a somewhat underground event, largely confined to Indiepop List subscribers. (For more information and photos from previous Popfests, visit the American headquarters of indie pop kids the world over: www.twee.net.)

SUBJECT 1:

Mario Hernandez

Interpretations:

1."Two people fighting."

2. "Two old men looking sad."

3. "A clown with big teeth and big hair."

4. "Two fifties-style women and mutant rabbits."

5. "Two cats or skunks."

The subject's bitter side sometimes manifests itself through lyrics and deceivingly upbeat melodies. For instance, in his song "She Floats" from his album Me and Amy and the Two French Boys, the subject examines the devolution of modern society, evoking images of Volvos, corporations, and Beaujolais: "I got the so-called artists singing/sha doo ra ray/they've taken our/warehouse away." The subject appears to be experiencing an urban dissatisfaction, amplified by hard candy melodies. Other aspects of the subject are seen through his unabashed melding of keyboards that sound like they were birthed in anime soundtracks and a challenging, alto voice that's totally unafraid to get fresh. From Bubblegum to Sky is Japanese stationery come to life and given a soundtrack.

SUBJECT 2:

Michael Grace Jr.

Interpretations:

1. "Two people stopping to smell a flower. This is so optimistic of me. Don't worry, I'm sure we will descend into darkness momentarily."

2. "Big chest and small pelvic bone. Is this Barbie? Hmm. This answer is too coy, too clinical, am I holding back all the pain inside?"

3. "Two people blowing bubbles. Again, so bright and cheery and unlike me. Has someone slipped a little E into my Earl Gray? Maybe I should have said two people in a shit fight, but I don't say things like that."

4. "Two aborted fetuses. Someone once told me that being left-handed meant I was the surviving twin of an incomplete pregnancy. Very unnerving. Oh, brother, can you hear me? Are we getting airplay where you are?"

5. "Two people butting heads. But Julianne, I certainly don't mean you and I. This test was very enjoyable."

As you can see, Mr. Grace is a very refined individual, displaying manners more common in a stereotypical Brit than a stereotypical American. His music with My Favorite exemplifies that darker aspect of those manners and a rainy intellectualism¯classic introversion. Their roots are undoubtedly found in the beloved Smiths, Human League and Joy Division, yet they have forged forward with a brand of music that, for too long, was nearly forgotten in America. Grace's psyche suggests a subconscious desire to revolt against today's offensive, Neanderthal rock via wrought-iron poetry. My Favorite, of course, will emerge the winners, emotive and real, with nary a speck of dust on their fabulous suits.

SUBJECT 3:

Dear Nora

Interpretations:

1. "Flying monkeys."

2. "Twin owls."

3. "Mount St. Helens."

4. "Bullwinkle."

5. "Sweatpants."

Dear Nora's collective answers suggest a well-developed, post-modern sense of humor, combining the most straightforward jokes with merry imagination. Creatively, they convey this through their simple guitars and adorable sugary harmonies, witty, whimsical stage banter, and backyard cookout-type party music. Answers also suggest an inherent health consciousness (see answer 5).

Conclusion: Through careful use of the scientific method and the unbelievably precise Rohrschach Test, I have delved deep into the creative annals of each of the subjects' minds, forging new paths for the elusive field of Jungian analysis. The subjects each have such a fine pool of mental and emotional balance that it is nearly guaranteed the audience at the so-called "MicroPopfest" will respond positively (although whether they will salivate is still debatable).