Not to be confused with Independence Day, in which Americans celebrate the separation from Great Britain, the eighth Annual Independents’ Day Festival celebrates local artists forging their own paths.
This weekend in East Franklinton, the festival will feature performing and visual artists as well as food vendors and interactive activities, all representing the independent ideology.
“I think Columbus’ best aspect is independent art. It’s got this culture of people just taking their talents by the reins and going with it. They’re not waiting for someone to drop a boatload of money or resources on them, they’re just doing it,” said James Allison, captain of the festival and Ohio State 2009 graduate with a degree in marketing.
One of the headliners of the festival, Saintseneca, was formed by 2011 OSU alumni Zac Little. Saintseneca will be performing on Sunday at 7 p.m., and they are no strangers to performing live. Saintseneca has 13 tours under their belt, as evidenced by the posters on their website. Independents’ Day will be their last show in Columbus for a while as they are touring America in October and Europe in November in support of their third album.
Little said he knew he always wanted to be involved with music, but he described the process of choosing to study sculpture a “no-brainer” because the two subjects are intertwined.
“It doesn’t necessarily apply to some sort of career trajectory. I suppose it’s a good degree because it comes with a set of skills and you just gotta make your own way. It’s the same thing with playing music, ” he said.
Allison — a member of previously featured Columbus’ Own band Digisaurus — said he remembers playing shows with Saintseneca at OSU’s Browning Amphitheatre back in 2007 when Saintseneca had just formed.
“I remember seeing them when they first started out. Just seeing how they developed was really cool,” he said.
Like any band, Saintseneca started off as a DIY outfit, but they have been signed with two record labels in its career, most recently ANTI. Little said that being involved with record labels hasn’t changed the way that the band does things.
“I think that the general sort of ethos hasn’t really changed. It’s amazing to have somebody who wants to help you conduct the business of being a band. I want to play music, and so that all of that other business stuff that goes along with it, I’m willing to give up,” he said. “We’re still involved in the decisions and everything we’re doing … It’s not like you hand it off and never think about it again.”
Allison agrees that independence doesn’t have to be influenced by a record contract.
“I don’t personally see it as not being independent by taking advantage of resources that are available to you, as long as you’re still in charge of the direction you’re going with your art and the direction you’re headed with your life and your career. And you’re not making any compromises,” he said. “That’s what all of the artists involved in the festival are doing.”
Allison said that committees have been working on the festival since the last one ended, and they are also responsible for choosing the artists that will be featured.
One of the bands chosen by the committee was V!bes. The previously featured Columbus’ Own band even wrote a new song, “All for You,” in preparation for the performance.
“We applied a long time ago because it’s something that we really wanted to do. We found out that we were playing, were pretty pumped about it,” said Kevin Wharff, lead singer. V!bes will be kicking off the main stage on Sunday at 11:15 a.m.
Little gave advice to up-and-coming Columbus bands like many of those that fill the Independents’ Day schedule.
“If you want to go on tour or you want to be in a band … just do it. Build up your own network of friends and bands that inspire you and help those people and I think that you’ll find that there’s a lot of people who are willing to reciprocate across the country,” he said. “That’s certainly a big part of what we still do. Don’t wait for other people to give you opportunities, you kinda just gotta make them for yourself.”
The Independents’ Day Festival kicks off on Saturday at 11 a.m.