VOICES OF FEST: What Drives An Artist's Passion to Create?

By Rivka Yeker
Photos by Morgan Martinez

As we wrapped up our festival run with FEST in Gainesville, Florida, we were unsure what to expect. Everyone that I know that has been to the festival tells me that they count down the days till they go back. I was skeptical, not because I don't love the variations of punk that FEST brings, but because it seems like it is filled with a certain kind of man that I've known since I was first interested in DIY punk. 

Throughout the duration of three days of music and connection, we quickly learned that FEST isn't filled with just one kind of person. It is filled with hundreds of people that each stand for something a little differently but find a common passion for what punk does for them. I learned that each person is desperately searching for community, to hold on tight to the friends they meet, especially the ones that live thousands of miles away.

FEST for us, for Hooligan, became a journey to understand mine and Morgan's identities better and to find solace in the artists we highlighted in this particular series. We found ourselves falling a little more in love with Gainesville as each day progressed. We found ourselves in love with the passion behind the people we met and their kindness for building community and spaces that feel inclusive.

The artists we featured in the Voices of Fest series resemble the people that we were inspired by.

They radiate the entire city with their freshness, their willingness to discuss injustice and understand one another better. These voices are strong. They are powerful. They resemble the FEST that Morgan and I both long to go back to.

They are the voices of FEST that we found comfort in, the ones that made us realize that we can make FEST anything we want it to be. For us, it was a journey of reflection, of laughter and important and productive discussion. 

This is the community we found and the people we will never forget.

What drives your passion to create?
“I find that I get really easily bored when I dive too deep into something. And so, I’ve really enjoyed dabbling and experimenting. And I think what drives my passion and creativity is that it’s the only way I’ve figured out how to really function in this world. My mom told me when I was very young, you know, one of those pieces of mom advice, she said, “Find out what you’re good at, find out what you love to do, and then find a way to get paid for it.” And I still haven’t figured out a way to get paid for what I do, but what drives me creatively are these experiences and trying to absorb as much as I can and I’ve found the best way to do that is artistically and through the people that I meet artistically and being able to validate not only my passion but also other people’s passion with my work.”

KATE / The Winter Passing

What drives your passion to create?
“I would say probably never having to live an ordinary life, not that there’s anything wrong with an ordinary life, I just know that I’m not cut out for it. And I just want to constantly be doing things that amaze me and I want to constantly be seeing new things and making new things and doing it with my best friends. That’s what drives my passion.”

MISKI / City Mouse

What drives your passion to create?
“I guess music has always been therapy for me. It’s like an exorcism. It’s just how I work out my feelings. I don’t feel like I’m a good communicator and I don’t like burdening other people with my problems and I always have, because if I try to start talking to somebody about something, I just start crying. So I feel like my best release to work out my stuff is to just express it this way. Expression in the full form of the word, and just getting rid of it, and putting it out there. I feel like I started doing this way later in my life than other people do. I’m 38 years old. I probably didn’t start this until I was in my mid to late twenties. I actually worked at a record label for a long time and I worked with lots of bands, toured with lots of bands, but never really thought to be the artist. So many bands express the feelings that I want to express and I felt like I expressed myself by listening to them and thinking, “Yeah, somebody feels the way I feel,” and they’ve been putting words to this way longer than I thought about doing it myself. It was an epiphany the day I actually started to write music. It was my own words. That feeling, when it comes together, and you have that hook or those words that come out, there’s no better feeling that makes you feel good about yourself. Even if you’re singing about something that’s terrible. Because when someone connects with me and they tell me that they’ve identified with anything that I’ve written, and even if it’s not about a specific problem that they’ve dealt with but they feel empowered by it for just a minute, that means everything to me. That’s the best feeling in the world. People have said, “Hey, this got me through a really tough time,” and I’ve just cried and hugged them for what felt like an hour. It’s just the best feeling to know that somebody else has thought the same way about my songs that I’ve felt about so many other bands songs. That’s really the whole point of this.”


What drives your passion to create?
“Dreams, justice, and shredding.”

SIMONA / insignificant other

What drives your passion to create?
"When I had just started this project (insignificant other) in 2013, I had 12 songs on my bandcamp that I recorded in one take with a ukulele in my dorm room closet on my iphone voice memo app. I only had planned on maybe like 10 or 15 friends hearing the songs ever. One day, I got a letter, a tape, and some patches and pins from a new friend named Emma who lived in California. This tape contained the first songs that she ever recorded. In the letter, she told me that these songs would not have ever made it out of her bedroom if she hadn't heard my little collection of songs on bandcamp - she said she didn't realize she was "allowed" to write and record an album without anyone else's help or approval until then. I felt in that moment that this is why I needed to do this, to write and play songs, for as long as I live. Emma died a couple of months ago but I would give anything to tell her that I read that letter every day and I will never stop creating. On days when I can't find any other reason, I feel that I do it for Emma and for people like her and myself who need reassurance that we are "allowed" to have a voice."

TIERNEY / The Pauses

What drives your passion to create?
"People. I am so lucky to be surrounded by a diverse and talented cast of friends, family, and acquaintances that inspire me to be better each day."

LUCINDA / Kamikaze Girls

What drives your passion to create?
“My drive to create I think initially came from the frustration of filling a hole inside of me when I was a kid. I was angry, sad, and frustrated and playing music from a young age temporarily filled that hole for me and made me feel like more of a real person. After I wrote my first song I felt a sense of closure and I kept going. 14 years and I’m still filling that hole every day. I create to vent and to put across the things I struggle to say or cope with, out loud. The more brave I get, the braver I feel as a person and more comfortable I feel in my own skin. The more I create, the more I realize how we can use music and art as a means to challenge views, influence change, and help people. If I’m making music, I have a reason to be here, and I don’t want that to ever change.”

CHRISTINA / Gouge Away

What drives your passion to create?

LAUREN / Worriers

What drives your passion to create?
"Creating has always been about catharsis for me, or making things that I’d just like to see exist in the world - whether that’s a political perspective or a drawing. The driving force behind the band is the fact that it’s my outlet to both process the world around me and to connect with other people. Both Worriers and my artwork are my way to ask questions and start conversations, and I can’t picture existing without those two things."

BIANCA / Amygdala

What drives your passion to create?
"My passion in DIY punk is the relationships we build through playing music. Whether it be that our listeners can relate to Amygdala's message or they can learn from it, we are all a work in progress."


What drives your passion to create?
"I would explode if I couldn't express myself and my feelings about issues or stories in any way. I found writing and writing music to be my perfect outlet, where I can dive into a haze of worlds and put together pieces that feel right to me. It's cathartic. And to see people respond to that makes me just want to share and create more."

MORGAN / MeanGirls

What drives your passion to create?
"I write music because it helps me cope with my mental illness in a productive way and has given me a sense of purpose as well as a voice."

RAINE / MeanGirls

What drives your passion to create?
“Creating for me has always been parallel to existing. So much of our world is superficial and I think it can be isolating, so when I make something and someone else connects with it, I feel less alone. In fewer words, my passion to create things is driven by my need to make connections with people. I'm privileged and fortunate in so many ways so to have an opportunity to say something that could inspire or comfort someone who can relate in some way is everything to me.”

SHAUNA / Boyfriend Material

What drives your passion to create?
“Growing up with Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it was easy to shut down in social situations.  I was always a spunky kid but felt like I was fading in the background.  I started going to local shows when I was twelve.  Growing up in the punk scene, you would think I would radiate with self-assurance. Still, I have never truly felt confident.  I have always aimed for my music to be true from the heart.  In many cases, I released songs that were very difficult for me to share.  Writing is therapeutic for me; however, exposing my mental afflictions and history of sexual assault often triggered more panic attacks.  Although I still feel this anxiety, I have come to realize that sharing my music is the one instance that I have not felt talked over.  I have a platform to express myself freely, share my experiences, and relate to others in a way that I never felt was possible.  And that is what keeps me going.”

SHAG / Shellshag

What drives your passion to create?
“To follow up the quest, despite day and night and death and hell.”

DELIA / What Gives

What drives your passion to create?
“Creating music has always kind of been an excuse to hang out with my best friends. To sit in a room with a group of people who I love, get together, have fun, and write some riffs. To me, it’s all about feeding off of each other’s energy, enjoying the company of some of the funniest and smartest people I know, and making something we all can be proud of at the end.”



It's FEST season, and with early bird passes going on sale yesterday, we're celebrating this year by collaborating with some incredible bands for a special "Bands You Can't Miss" piece - highlighting some unreal talent on this year's line-up. 

Check out some of our must-sees and what we have to say about them!


Boyfriend Material - Gainesville, FL

By Rosie Accola

An effortless mix between garage rock and dream pop,  Florida-based Boyfriend Material is fronted by Shauna Healey. Healeys lyrics toe the line between cheerily self-deprecating and raw with lines like, Ive always been a mouse with/uncomfortable opinionsbolstered by dreamy baselines reminiscent of sixties girl groups. Healey only recently started playing with a full band, her first two releases, 2014s Little Boxes and 2015s Far From Home feature mostly vocals and ukelele for instrumentation. These tracks are imbued with the same lyrical wit, but Healeys full prowess as a front woman is truly allowed to shine with a garage rock bass-line to back her up. Boyfriend Materials latest E.P.,  S/T will be available as a cassette via Community records. Snag it if your hearts still aching post Dum Dum Girls breakup.

Youll Dig It If: Secretly you know Kristin Kontrol will never come close to the magic of Bedroom Eyes, you have a soft spot for ukeleles and compact lyrical narratives about the process of writing and pals.


The Girls! - Columbus, OH

By Rosie Accola

A punk band that knows the power of a good vocal harmony, a festival experience that includes solid bands and minimal miseryboth of these experiential anomalies await you at The Fest, thanks to The Girls! Classifying their music as both punk and power pop on their Soundcloud, The Girls! music acts an opus of confessional punk pouting stylistically similar to Liz Phair, which makes it the perfect soundtrack for any summer fling. Their latest single, Meet Me by the Pool is the perfect song for sneaking a forty and a glance at yr summer crush. The chorus, crooning tonight/ tonightis begging to blasted beneath the window of your beloved with a boom box Say Anything style.

Youll Dig It If: Your summer goal is to rock a crop top and French a stranger, you need something to dance in your unswear to during balmy summer nights


NO FUN - Nuremberg, Germany

Photo by Arne Marenda

Photo by Arne Marenda

By Jonathan Burhalter

Can you imagine no fun with an inflatable whale and naked man in a wrestling mask? That’s what German punk band, No Fun, has already brought to the table in their debut video. Who knows what will be next! Regardless of shenanigans in the crowd, the trio on stage is a group you won’t want to miss. No Fun brings together garage rock, post punk, and pop in their most recent album, How I spent my Bummer Vacation. Check out “Pull the Trigger” and “Ode an Die Freude” (Ode to Joy) to get ready for this show. No Fun’s sound is similar to Brooklyn based band, Chumped, with more pop, or like Colleen Green with more garage rock.

You’ll Dig it If: If you get down to bands like Bully, appreciate sharing some miseries with a good scream, or want to be able to say you saw No Fun at Fest!

Insignificant Other - Gainesville, FL

Courtesy of  Caitlin Elsesser/Triptych Productions

Courtesy of Caitlin Elsesser/Triptych Productions

By Jonathan Burkhalter

Lo-fi, queer acoustic bedroom pop group, Insignificant Other, will pull at those dusty romantic longings in your heart in a way that might renew your hope that true love might actually exist (but so do unrequited feelings). Their newest EP, Cop Kisser, is a step out of their usual ukulele-dominant sound by bringing in distorted guitars, drums and other percussion, a bass guitar, a trombone, and more to accompany their dreamy vocals. Imagine the floating sounds of Adult Mom with ukuleles, and you’re in Insignificant Other’s ballpark. If you’re a fan of the uke, you should check out their soundcloud page, in particular a song titled “there is a hell and it is called orlando florida”, and their album la gente guapa come fruta fea. Other songs to check out pre-show are “kehaar”, “con artist”, and “choke”. Reflecting on their lyrics might make you more self-aware.

You’ll Dig it If: You like bands such as Patron Saint of Bridge Burners and Yvette Young, have some time alone that you want to spend dissecting your feelings, or if you want to walk away from a set feeling like you grew.

Amanda X - Philadelphia, PA

Photo by Jonathan Minto

Photo by Jonathan Minto

By Jonathan Burkhalter

Amanda X is a 90s alternative, pop-punk, wave, all-female trio from Philadelphia that features vocal harmonies and a dreamy, distorted guitar. Their most recent single, “New Year”, treads lightly with an electric guitar through idyllic harmonies, keeping an upbeat vibe. Albums Amnesia and Ruin the Moment show off their forward guitar and cool style. They blend pop and punk well, using distortion nonchalantly and not adding any over the top finishing or background noise so that the resulting tones are grungy but not overbearing; just solid songs. You really don’t want to miss the chance to see this group.

You’ll Dig it If: You are looking to avoid overabundant reliance on feedback noise and just want to listen to good music wrapped around lyrics that strike beautiful images. If you like bands such as Frankie Cosmos or Eskimeaux, Amanda X is for you!

Bad Cop / Bad Cop - Los Angeles, CA

Courtesy of Mark Richards

Courtesy of Mark Richards

By Charlene Haparimwi

You will wish the four badass women who make up the L.A. based heavy laden pop punk band, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, were your very best friends. Formed in 2011 by singer/songwriter Stacy Dee with lead vocals and lyrics by Dee and Jennie Cotterill, these boss ladies signed with legendary punk label Fat Wreck started by NOFX lead singer Michael Burkett. With the influence of 90s punk bands like The Muffs and Face to Face, Bad Cop/Bad Cop mixes Joan Jett like vocals, in your face instrumentation and Beach Boys-esque three chord harmonies to create their catchy, hard hitting songs. After relentless touring they released their debut full length album, “Not Sorry,” and you won’t be sorry to put this banger on any chance you get. Full of anti-love songs, cheers to friendship, and facing mental illness head on, Bad Cop/Bad Cop does not shy away from diverse topics. The lyric from their not-so-subtle song, “Rip You To Shreds,” truly encapsulates the band’s no-fucks-given mentality: “I may be kind, but I’m not a sucker/I’ve got no time for stupid motherfuckers.” Catch them at The Fest and Riot Fest this summer!

You’ll Dig It If: You need to have a nice long drive with your female identifying friends, grabbing gas station slushies and frayed denim jackets as you blast “Not Sorry” on the car speakers as loud as you can.


War on Women - Baltimore, MD

By Charlene Haparimwi

“I’m not going to dance around the fact that there is a war on women. I’m not implying it. I’m telling you,” lead singer of the Baltimore feminist hardcore band Shawna Potter said. Her co-ed band, War On Women, released their eponymous debut album in 2015 on the contemporary hardcore punk label Bridge Nine Records. War on Women is really fucking punk, differentiating themselves from old school punk and riot grrrl, and aligning themselves with their heavy metal influences such as Metallica. The blistering lyrics, powerful vocals and thrash metal accentuates the commentary of pervasive sexism in modern day America. War on Women makes people listen; and you will love their bluntness, energy and understanding of social issues that plague our daily lives.

You’ll Dig It If: You need to scream your heart out along with Shawna Potter while dismantling the patriarchy and tackling sexist issues in the most creative, kickass way possible.


AJJ - Phoenix, AZ

Courtesy of  FEST

Courtesy of FEST

By Nic Deadman

AJJ has left behind their old name and a portion of their manic-depressive folk roots in favor of a full band that spans from goofy minimalist punk to something more closely resembling a symphony. Even when they dive into upbeat, poppy sounds and themes they're still pouring out the darkest heart of humanity - "I Wanna Rock Out In My Dreams" is a good place to see how easily frontman Sean Bonnette transitions from the fantasy of playing a Gibson Flying V in black leather pants to lamenting how he's finding it harder and harder to even define love and sincerity. Their performances match the music - high energy, good-natured, might make you cry, and always ready to upset expectations for a laugh. (If they cover Slayer as an encore, it wouldn't be the first time.)

You'll Dig It If: You're into Ramshackle Glory, Paul Baribeau, Folk punk goodness.


Kamikaze Girls - London, UK

By Laurens Vancayseele

They liked going to Fest so much they wanted to play too. Though last year was singer/guitarist Lucinda's first time in Gainesville, drummer Conor had two Fests under his belt before taking the stage with Kamikaze Girls at Fest 14. DIY in every way, this London, UK two piece plays fuzzy punk rock with a catchy edge that fares well with the Fest crowd; be prepared for melodic singalongs in a packed venue.

You'll Dig It If: Muncie Girls, Milk Teeth, feedback.

Amygdala - San Antonio, Texas

By Rivka Yeker

Amygdala is brutal. Coming from San Antonio, Texas, the 5-piece's sound is passionate and angry. The drums are fast, the screams are blood-curdling and powerful, the guitar is quick and melodic. The band is aggressively loud and they aren’t afraid to embrace it, nor do they shy from confronting important issues like assault, colorism, misogyny, and the patriarchy. Don’t miss your chance to get down with some of the best Anarcho hardcore punk in the game and make sure you snag their upcoming album Population Control.

You’ll dig It if: you’re into Punch and early Cerce and if you want to feel the room shake.

The Winter Passing - Dublin, Ireland

Courtesy of Brixton Agency

Courtesy of Brixton Agency

By Rosie Accola


Ireland-based The Winter Passing provides raucous, soaring, tunes that are perfect for anyone who is still reckoning with the last vestiges of their emo teen phase. The vocals of siblings, Rob and Kate Flynn, coexist to form a comfortable ache, a tension that drives the music and makes it seem all the more earnest. There is something to be said about this urgency, it denotes importance rather than anxiety.  With such an innate hunger for life it’s no wonder that The Winter Passing became an integral part of the Dublin DIY scene.  Above all, The Winter Passing believes in what they are singing.  “The Fever” is what can loosely be described as a killer opening track, with a hammering drumbeat and triumphant guitar riffs that call to mind “Head-on” era Pixies. Their current record, A Different Space of Mind, available for streaming via Spotify. Go ahead and blare it with your windows down while you drive to your dead-end summer job; this record is for anyone toeing the line between reckless and restless.

You’ll Dig it If: You’re curious about the DIY scene across the pond, you stand in solidarity with women in pop punk scenes. You love an aesthetically pleasing music video or two.

Slingshot DakotaBethlehem, PA

Courtesy of The  FEST  

Courtesy of The FEST 

By Laurens Vancayseele

After thirteen years of being a band and three years of being married, Slingshot Dakota’s combination of catchy keys and pounding drums has become a staple of Topshelf Records’ catalog. This charming duo is returning to Gainesville for the fourth time in support of their newest record “Break”. Singer/keyboardist Carly Comando also bolsters an accomplished solo composing career that netted her an Emmy award in 2008.

You'll Dig It If: You're into Football, Etc. and Lemuria but with keys.

Gouge Away - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Photo by  Farrah Skeiky

Photo by Farrah Skeiky

By Rivka Yeker

This is the hardcore band you’ve been wanting to listen to. They’re fast, political, and ready to wreck everything around them. Vocalist Christina Stijy stirs unrest with her lyricism about veganism, assault, and reclaiming strength in a world that tries to snatch it. Gouge Away is raw, angry, and ready to tell you about it. You can listen to their new album on their bandcamp by clicking here.

You’ll Dig It if: you’re into aggressive hardcore and woman-fronted power.

Jabber - Oakland, CA

Courtesy of  Jabber

Courtesy of Jabber

By Rosie Accola

They say never judge an album by its’ cover, but the Josie and the Pussycats-inspired cover for Jabber’s latest release Well... Just Jabber made my heart swell with love. I was even more delighted by the energetic tracks like “anymore” which boldly proclaims, “I don’t wanna be in love with you anymore” beneath an estatic drum beat. It’s the sort of record that oozes femme power, just like the 2003 live action Josie and the Pussycats film. It’s simultaneously snarly and sweet, just like all the best femme punks. Sonically, there are hints of early ‘90s The Donnas and Lindsay Lohan’s garage band in Freaky Friday, as someone who owned a copy of Disney! Girls Rock!circa 2002- - this record is practically a dream come true.

You’ll Dig it If: You know all the words to “Three Small Words”, you’re in need of a post break-up pick me up

The Island of Misfit Toys - Chicago, IL

By Johnny Fabrizio

By Johnny Fabrizio

By Rivka Yeker

This is one of the most exciting bands to see live, as they cover the entirety of the stage with a Slipknot-sized band of nine people. Island knows how to give you a performance, as vocalist Anthony Sanders brings his theatrical charm to the mic, the band works perfectly together, all clearly enamored by their time on stage. Everyone in the band is remarkably talented, and holds something special in what they each individually bring to their unity, and it’s genuinely just a joy to watch, and if you know the music, a blast to sing along to. Listen to their most recent album I Made You Something on bandcamp.

You’ll Dig It if: You’re into Say Anything meets an orchestra meets a musical.

Shellshag - Brooklyn, NY

Courtesy of  Shellshag

Courtesy of Shellshag

By Brooke Hawkins

Shellshag is a power duo from Brooklyn, NY comprised of members Shell and Shag. Their most recent album, released on Don Giovanni in 2015 is a ripper, and definitely an album not to miss. Appearances on the album come from members of Screaming Females, Tweens, Vacation, and Black Planet. From their stand up drum kit, to their giant light-up amplifier with antennae speakers for each member, they sure know how to liven a crowd, and start a punk rock party. After you check out their show, watch their Shellshonic Shag O' Vision webseries for more punk-fueled internet fun.

FFO: Screaming Females, Tweens, Aye Nako, and Big Eyes, Don Giovanni Records

City Mouse - Riverside, CA

By  Faith Cardelli

By Faith Cardelli

By Brooke Hawkins

City Mouse delivers jammy pop-punk straight from California. Their sound is melody driven, with strong '90s sounding leading vocals. Check out their upcoming release this fall/winter on It's Alive Records.

FFO: Murderburgers, Spraynard, The Plurals, Costanza

Additional notable mentions on this year’s lineup:
The Flatliners, Lemuria, Tenement, PUP, Rozwell Kid, Jeff Rosenstock, Cheap Girls, United Nations, Antarctigo Vespucci, The Menzingers

For all information regarding passes/hotels/merch for this year's FEST 15 - please visit http://thefestfl.com

Check out the full line-up by clicking HERE.

See you in Gainesville!