Afro-Punk Festival Returns for 8th Year of Rock, Food and Fun

Co-producer Matthew Morgan talks black cultural movement

Matthew Morgan, Afro-Punk film and festival co-producer (Image: Morgan)

What about the artists? How were you able to get them to buy into the event?

The artists are the ones that really support it. They’re doing it because they get it; they’re doing it because they didn’t have the opportunity to do it. There are a lot of alternative artists that play to a predominately white audience. When they hear they can perform to an audience that is probably the most diverse, the most multicultural, predominately black audience that they’ve probably ever preformed in front of, you can’t help but be excited about that if you’re a person of color. ‘Cause you’re so used to performing to white people. And people really, really dig it. Erykah’s a huge supporter; Janelle has been phenomenal. I mean, they’re all people just that really love it. Pharrell [Williams] is coming this weekend to hang out, he’s not performing, he just wants to come and hang out.

What is a typical day like for you at the festival?

I don’t know what other people do, and I’ve never had a “job”… but I assume people that produce festivals sit in an office and they deal with the problems that are ongoing. I can’t sit still, so I spend the whole day checking on every single element that is happening. And I like it, people ask me to get an assistant, they ask me to carry a radio; I don’t carry a radio, I don’t have an assistant. I just like to walk around see people, listen to what they’re saying, look at their faces, see what they like, what they don’t like, and try and get a little bit of the experience that I felt when I first did my first show. If I can see that in other people, then I know that we’re continuing to do the right thing.

With the festival becoming bigger and bigger, are you worried that it might become too mainstream?

We know why we’re doing it and we know all the other elements that are so important. We have so much work to do. The festival is one component, but we produce commercials, we do marketing for brands, we’re making a new film, we’re trying to create content for a YouTube channel. We’re still not seeing the type of media that should be out there; we’re not seeing our stories told the way that we would like to tell them. There’s so much missing that we’re so far away from worrying about that. The playing field is so unequal, that at the point that it becomes equal, I’ll be on the beach somewhere.

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