Upon my annual return to Montreal’s Igloofest, I look forward to meeting their team members to learn more about the work and production behind such a large event. This time around I was able to speak with Branding & Communications Director Maripierre D’Amour, who handles this role for both Igloofest and Piknic Electronik.
How long have you been with the festivals and how did you get there?
■ Eight years. I have two Bachelor’s degrees: one in history and one in PR/Communications. I started working in the cinema industry for about 12 years. I knew these guys from coming to Igloofest and Piknic, and they were looking for someone.
Are those things everyone here goes to?
■ Piknic and Igloofest are definitely landmarks in the city and the country. Piknic is every Sunday all summer; if you come to town and ask what to do, people will say Piknic. Igloofest more drives people to the city, so it’s a different approach. I knew about these festivals and I attended them and these guys knew me and came to me saying were looking for a Director of Communications because the business was growing and getting bigger. I decided to move from cinema to music, which was an easy move. It’s a great company and I love the people I work with. It’s very humane and family driven, and we really care abut what we do and who we do it for and the city we do it in, so I think it makes for these magical things you come back to every year.
You’re in this position for both festivals.
■ Yes, we’re year-round. Those are our two biggest events, and we do other things as well.
Do you hav a team? How is it structured?
■ I do. I’m the Director of Branding & Communications. I have a marketing director above me and we work together for everything data-driven, like ticketing. I handle the whole side of image, branding, PR, website, socials. I have someone who has been working with me for eight years who is responsible for communications. I have someone who handles all the social media, a graphic designer of course, an outside PR team, and somebody who does the online advertising. We have a really nice open office here in Montreal, and we all work really hard. When you work for events, it’s something you have to love to do that much and you pour your heart into it. I don’t have to be here every night, but I can’t not be here.
What’s the hardest part about what you do?
■ We do something that makes us unique which is we build communities around our events. People are really attached to the event — we do ads of course because that’s how we reach our market — but we have organic content because people are very attached to the brand so its very important to keep the brand at a really high level in variety and keep communicating and interacting and creating content that’s not necessarily oriented to sell tickets, but oriented to show what’s amazing about what we do. It’s just balancing it out because we need to sell tickets, but you also want to have a brand that’s recognized.
What’s your favorite part of Igloofest?
■ I love how we create a huge playground. I like to say channel your inner child, dress properly, embrace your nordicity, and come out and play. I’m a summer baby; I love summer but Igloofest is such a crazy idea. I like to tell people we take this 10,000 square foot space in Old Port of the city in the middle of winter and we put out this crazy party. That is just so exotic. I love the concept of it all, and walking around and looking at what we built and how we integrate everything from sponsorships. A sponsor can’t just come in here and start handing out flyers and doing something boring. It needs to be interesting, it needs to be a game, and I think we do that well. It’s hard to make people think outside the box and do something other than what they’d do elsewhere. My favorite part is when the headliner starts and the crowd goes crazy and seeing this is what we do and who we do it for. Watching the aftermovie — with artist interviews — makes me very proud to be behind it all.
I know what you mean, I never even came specifically for a headliner until last year. The first five years I just came because of the experience.
■ This is also an interesting sign of what’s happening. Before people would come for the experience because that’s what we do. But as time went on and as we grew bigger and the electronic music scene changed, it became more artist-driven so it’s become a mix of both. Some people come just for the headliners and artists and some just come for a crazy winter party outside. There are more and more who want to come for the DJs they know, so we need to find that balance.
Last year you had a daytime party. Is that happening again?
■ Yes, that’s our family day to open it up to younger kids because we’re 18+ at night. It’s not the whole site and was weird for us to do at first because the site doesn’t give the same impression in the daytime, but it turned out to work. People are happy, a lot of the people who are downtown come through, we build clientele, and we have more people come and know about it.
Anything else notable about this year?
■ We’ve always had a lot of women working, but this year the crew building the site is mostly female. All the heads are women… the VP, the Executive Producer, the site manager. It’s nice to see that change.
For someone who wants to work up tp a position like yours for a festival, what’s your best advice?
■ Go to festivals and meet people. You have to start an internship working in festivals and events. Start from the bottom. You either have it or you don’t, as it’s a lot of hours and time but it’s very rewarding once you put it together.