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Big Fam Preview

Festival fans across the state will have an opportunity to experience a new and independently-run music and arts festival in Northwest Michigan at the end of August.

The Big Fam Music and Arts Festival will be celebrating its debut in Lake Ann, MI, after being postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival will take place from Friday, August 27, through Sunday, August 29 at Harmony Pines.

The lineup boasts big names that are recognizable from elsewhere on the Festival Circuit, as well as a cornucopia of local and regional artists - many of which are from Michigan.

On a personal level, this weekend will be very important to me, as it will be my first festival since September 2019, and the first opportunity I’ve had to write a story about one since August of the same year.

Ahead of the big weekend on the horizon, I had a chance to speak with Andrew Martin, who acts as the Marketing and Communications Director for Big Fam.

Since we run in the same circles, I’ve met Martin a handful of times, but have never actually had an opportunity to talk with him at-length. Earlier this week, Andrew communicated with me via Email to fill me in on the details.

Martin, along with several other people behind Big Fam, has been involved with other small, independent festivals and small-scale events in the past, such as Sacred Vibrations and UpNorth Music Festival.

“Our team has contributed to many different festivals and events over the years,” Martin told me. “Those experiences have led us to collaborate with one another and achieve total comradery to create this immersive and unique experience at Big Fam.”

Speaking on the mission statement for Big Fam, Martin says the team is looking to create an enjoyable and unique experience for all involved.

“We aim to produce a top notch, professional event that builds relationships spanning near and far,” Martin said. “Our goal is to support the community that we are making our home in, we hope to be an impactful and helpful entity in the local community. I hope the attendees will love and cherish this event as much as I do. We’ve devoted our hearts and souls to this project for over two years, and it’s great to see how much support we’ve gained already. My intention is for us to be a bright light for not only the attendees, but the community as a whole. That’s all we can ask for.”

With the pandemic considered, Martin says that postponing the event has given the team more time to get creative and reassess the production side of things.

To help make up for that, the Big Fam team also hosted a series of livestreams featuring the artists on the lineup, which were viewable on Twitch.

“To give a simple response, 2020 gave us an opportunity to sit back and take time to look at this project from a birds’ eye view,” Martin said. “We got to reevaluate some things, gain more production and put a lot more detail into this project in all aspects.”

As previously mentioned, the event will take place at Harmony Pines at the Harm Farm. As its name suggests, the venue features several acres of property surrounded by a pine forest.

“This property is a hidden gem of over 300 acres of gorgeous fields, forests and magic that we’ll get to unfold together,” Martin said. “One of our Directors, Kevin Kreta, found this property a couple years back, and I'm beyond blessed that we found him and have him as a part of our family and team.”

When looking at the lineup, many festival-goers should recognize names on the top bill. For example, Sunsquabi is an electronic jam group who has collaborated with artists like Griz in the past.

In addition, readers may recognize Dixon’s Violin, who has played at events such as Electric Forest. Those who have attended may have seen him play his ethereal electronic violin music during yoga workouts in the early afternoon.

“We’ve been curating the lineup for about two years now,” Martin said. “At this year’s event, you’ll get to experience a glimpse at each one of our favorite music styles and projects.”

In fact, Martin himself will be performing under his DJ Moniker “A Tropical Martian” on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Interview With a Local Artist-

Undated Courtesy Photo of Patrick McKenzie, one half of FENDZ

While the lineup boasts these well-known names, the lower bill also features a curated selection of local and regional artists as well.

Among those are the Kalamazoo-based electronic duo FENDZ, who have been active in the local scene for years.

Earlier this week, I was able to speak with Patrick McKenzie, one half of the duo. McKenzie had previously been performing under the name Large Mouth Bass before joining up with Travis Wagner, who makes up the other half of FENDZ.

To start with, McKenzie explained the style of FENDZ.

“We like to do a little bit of everything, but the main chunk of our music comes from the 2012-era dubstep, a little more melodic rolling bass,” McKenzie said.

However, the duo’s style isn’t limited to dubstep. Recently, they released the “Chemicals EP,” which encompasses more of an alternative rock sound.

“When me and Travis teamed up, he made it clear that he didn’t want to have any side projects, and that whatever kind of music we wanted to create, we were going to put out under one name,” McKenzie said. “That’s truly shown by the Chemicals EP. It’s something he wrote like five years ago. We’ve also been working with a live bass player and a drummer, just writing whatever kind of music we want in hopes of making a live performance stage show out of it at some point.”

While McKenzie was originally a solo artist, he joined Travis Wagner about two years ago.