THURSDAY OCTOBER 23, 2014
 
Blog INTERVIEWS
CBC AT ECHO BEACH 2013
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Echo Beach. What a perfectly named place for a music festival. With central Toronto often unsuited to hold a large gathering of artists (Virgin Fest went bust a few years ago, Live 8 had to be moved north to Barrie), it may be the future of live music in the city.

CBC Music’s inaugural festival, featuring Sam Roberts, Sloan, Of Monsters and Men, and more, goes down at Echo Beach this weekend. To help it get off the ground we spoke with Chris Boyce, executive director of radio and audio for the venerated broadcaster.

How long does it take to put a festival like this together?

It sort of started a couple years ago. We had to reconsider what music meant to CBC. We realized the industry was shifting, and the ways people consume music were changing. We made a plan to reorient, and that included our connection to live music. A festival was something we’d always talked about. We decided to get it done last fall.

Tell me about Echo Beach.

It’s a relatively new concert venue. What appealed to us is, No. 1, there are few festival venues inside Toronto. Most take place north of the 401, Downsview Park or what have you. And there was lovely serendipity to the name — it was a CanCon hit (by Martha and the Muffins)! It’s a beautiful venue with the skyline of Toronto framed behind the stage.

What non-musical attractions will there be?

We’ll be hosting a special live edition of our comedy / debate program The Debaters. And a bunch of CBC personalities and hosts — Jian Ghomeshi, Rich Terfry, etc. — will be on site. We’ll be using them throughout the venue in interesting and creative ways.

Everyone knows what it’s like to be at a festival — the interminable set changes, taking one drum kit apart just to put the next one up. So that’s what we’re trying to re-imagine. We’ll see what works this year.

The only thing you can’t prepare for is the weather.

That is absolutely the most nerve-wracking part of this whole venture. You can plan so many things so carefully — lineup, staging, special events — but you live in Canada, and you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.

How would you define the taste of CBC Music?

As a brand, it’s really ... odd. If you look at the digital service it’s everything from classical to hip hop, country, rock and everything in between. We reflect a wider range of music than what you could normally find on a radio network. We’re pulling from the adult-alternative to indie rock pool for this festival.

Does your job involve picking the artists played?

I wish I still got to do that. I run radio and audio, overseeing all our music and talk content. We do have a team of programmers who between them program music for a wide range of output, across a broad range of genres — the 50 web stations that are part of CBC music.

That sounds like the best job in the world for a music fan — making mix tapes for the whole country.

It would have to be a dream job, yeah [laughs].

What has been your favourite musical discovery?

It’s hard to say. I would say in the last few months I’ve become very fond of Dan Mangan. I’ve heard a lot from him.

Tickets for the festival are sold out, but fans can hear a live audio stream here on Saturday, starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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