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Deathwaltz Media: DeathFest in 2013? Maybe!

September 14, 2012

Deathwaltz Media Group is a Philly promotion company with an ear for originality. Justin Berger started the company a year and a half ago after he realized that managing bands might be easier than making it in a one. Our Brian Wilensky spoke to Berger about the business.

What do you look for in bands that send you material?

We look for new, fresh artists that defy a single genre. We aren’t too interested in any acts that keep it safe. I grew up listening to a lot of fusion, and the idea behind Deathwaltz is to really push the genre-bending as far as we can.

You work a lot with jam, dance, improv and world music. What draws you to those genres?

I started really promoting when I became fascinated with world music. The shows were almost exclusively at The Rotunda in West Philly, and always free or with a donation. The shows were part of a project I called the Diaspora Series, which focused on experimental world music, and all seemed to have an audience of avant-garde musicians who sat down in chairs and studied the musicians pretty hard. It’s sort of the antithesis of what I have been doing for the past 2 years with electronic music. The change in direction happened when I began helping out in a managerial role for the band Grimace Federation. They had abandoned the jam scene for a few years and I felt it was necessary to have them get back into the jam/electronic world. When I made the transition to the more accessible live music, I saw that crowds began to flock and even combine. Since then, I have had a lot of fun placing two or three bands on a bill whose scenes never seemed to intermingle.

Philly hasn’t had a major annual festival until the announcement of the Made in America Festival. Why do you think that is?

The reason there hasn’t been a major music festival in Philly is because there hasn’t been a promoter that is willing to give it a shot. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into making a successful festival. It’s really a goal of ours to put together a large festival one day. We realize, however, that it’s important to have the perfect team to make such a thing possible. So this year we made it a priority to be involved in some fashion with every major festival so that we can start to assemble a team of the baddest motherfuckers in the business. We are focusing a lot of our time to making this goal a reality. DeathFest? We’re still working on a title.

What does Philly offer to you as a promoter other markets don’t?

Until recently, there weren’t really any promoters in Philly that worked with everyone. It made it very difficult to get things done. For some reason, I haven’t had any issue working with the majority of venues and promoters in the city. Because of this, I am able to know when to do things and when not to do things. I like to think its because everyone that works for the company is charming, good-looking, and hard-working, but I think the times have just changed. Everyone knows it’s more important to work together and prosper together, rather than all compete. I’m not sure that our neighboring cities have this theory down yet.

What does the Philly scene still need?

A Center City venue that everyone loves to death.

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