ELE Fest’s Sean Callaghan opens up about Ottawa’s newest addition

ele festival, ottawa, music

Once in a while, an event comes along that offers up something a little different. Here at Showbox, we fulfill our obsession with music by being shameless geeks who enjoy dabbling in all corners of Ottawa’s music scene. There’s hip hop festivals, indie boutique festivals, large-scale music festivals, and just about anything else you can think of. The newest addition in Ottawa as far as festivals go certainly caught our attention. The organizers of ELE Fest (short for ‘Everybody Love Everybody’) have big goals, all of which seem to be coming to fruition quite successfully. Not only is ELE aiming to create opportunities in the Ottawa music scene and support local, one of its commitments is to engage youth and get them more involved in the blossoming arts community in Ottawa. If that wasn’t enough, they’re also teaming up with The Candelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs of Ottawa, which helps children and families in the region cope with cancer in a variety of ways. With such a large undertaking in its inaugural event coming up Friday, September 20, I spoke with ELE co-organizer Sean Callaghan to gain a better understanding of what ELE is all about. One thing is for sure – this festival will be a welcome addition to a growing arts community in Ottawa who are craving new ways to express and consume their work. For festival info, see below or visit the E.L.E. website.

With so many festivals in Ottawa, what is it that makes ELE Festival unique amongst the rest? 

E.L.E Fest is unique because it focuses on youth and local musicians. It is created, and organized by Ottawa youths, under the age of 25 and will showcase talented individuals from the same age group. We are therefore not competing with larger music festivals in Ottawa because we have set our sights on a different demographic. Also, ‘E.L.E.’ is an acronym for ‘everybody love everybody’ and reflects the positive, communal atmosphere we are working to create at the festival. Through the festival we hope demonstrate the positive impact music can have on a community at large. In order to do so, we have partnered with the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support programs of Ottawa. We are raising money at the event through food and t-shirt sales, as well as at the after party through ticket sales.

How did the festival come to be? Where did the idea come from?

E.L.E Fest began as a result of two things. The first being the necessity for a stepping stone event between local bar gigs and some of the city’s larger music festivals. And secondly the prominence of competitive live music events for young musicians, such as battle-of-the-bands. Unlike these events E.L.E. Festival will encourage artists of different styles to take the stage together in one-of-a-kind collaborative performances. Thanks to the University of Ottawa’s generous sponsorship, tickets to the festival are free. The performers aren’t required to push expensive tickets on their friends and family. Alternatively, they’re working together to help promote each other and the Ottawa music scene as a whole.

From your standpoint, how would you characterize the Ottawa music scene?  

To me, the Ottawa music scene is a beautiful, budding flower. Our city is rich in talent – untapped potential. Like a flower needs water to grow, so too does our music scene need hard work and perseverance. As budding professionals here in Ottawa, we have to think outside the box, and pursue a career in music with relentless creativity, developing new avenues as we carry the music scene to the next level. We intend to do our part with The E.L.E. Festival. If we can all work together we have the potential to do something very special here in Ottawa. We hope that through our efforts, other young people will be inspired to make a change of their own.

Why is it so important to get youth involved in this kind of event? 

Youth are the future. In order to inspire change we have to lead by example and be the change so that’s why it’s so important for the young people of the city to get involved with the festival. We are trying to spearhead a movement. We’re putting the love back in music. With our sights set on the future, what better way to inspire the younger generations than by setting an example for them.

Is ELE going to become a yearly festival? How do you envision the festival a few years down the road?

Yes, our plan is to become an annual event. We will also expand into a full weekend and, further down the road, into a full week event. Ideally we would like to bring in large acts from all over the world to mentor the young performers and show them what it takes to make it in the music industry. Also in future years, we would like to introduce a mandatory collaborative component between artists. Each performer will be paired with another performer from a totally different genre and they will be required to create a one-of-a-kind collaborative piece. In our first year we’re encouraging artists of various genres to collaborate and expand their musical horizons, as we hope to prove this concept to be effective.


E.L.E. Festival Information

WHEN: Friday, September 20th, 2013 from 5:00pm – 11:00pm.

WHERE: Tabaret Lawn, University of Ottawa Campus. Located at the corner of Laurier and Cumberland.

FREE ADMISSION: $5 donations are encouraged in support of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs.

WHO: We are very pleased to present our lineup of talented young musicians.

The Lionyls | Rock & Soul

Monday I Retire | Rock Blues Alternative

Erich Mrak | New School Hip Hop

StillNative | Raw Beat Rock

13eaudry Muzik | Hip Hop, Beat Box

Go Long (!) | Acoustic Folk Trio

Neegus | Rap, Poetry

Garden of Weeds | Rock and Roll

AkoufèN | French Alternative Pop Metal

Presented by The University of Ottawa Community Life Services.