Posted October 11, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment

Fringe Music Hopes to Expand

More Festivals and a Record Label Coming Soon

By Kathryn L. Casterline

People of all ages flocked to the Track House in downtown Olympia on Saturday, Sept. 27 to attend FringeFest 2014, where local hip-hop, punk, metal, and folk acts performed. I sat down with the founders of Fringe Music, husband and wife Paul and Sarah Wildey, to find out what they plan to do next.

Fringe Music, an online magazine featuring band interviews, album reviews, and playlists started as a blog run solely by Paul. Wildey said it was his love of music that led him to start writing about what was happening with the music scene in Washington.

Paul has been in several bands over the years, most recently Kill Shot and Back Alley Kicks. After he and Sarah got married, he realized that he no longer wanted to be in a band.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be in a band if you’re not going to tour, and I have no interest in touring. I have a full time job and a wife. I love music and I wanted to do something with all the connections I’ve made over the years,” he said.

Fringe Music started as a free Blogspot Paul ran in his spare time. He wrote about his friends’ bands, reviewed albums, and covered local shows. Word of mouth spread the news of Paul’s blog, which allowed him to do more with the project. He and Sarah purchased their own website and enlisted the help of friends to help with the expansion.

The idea is to give people a chance to find out about local artists from different genres; independent artists that you won’t hear on the radio and whose music you can’t find in stores.” -Paul Wildey

Fringe Music is constantly evolving. It has grown immensely in the past six months, but its principles have remained the same: the website is a platform for artists from different backgrounds and genres to come together.

Wildey said, “the idea is to give people a chance to find out about local artists from different genres; independent artists that you won’t hear on the radio and whose music you can’t find in stores.” Fringe Music brings these artists together, makes their music available to the public, and gives independent artists a chance to sell their merchandise.

The site’s store is still growing, but the idea is to create a one-stop shop for all local music needs. Paul and Sarah both work full-time jobs, and they know how hard it can be to find time to make it out to shows. A lot of the music they sell on their website is normally only available at shows.

“If you’re still passionate about music but too busy to get out, our store gives you a chance to catch up on what you’ve been missing,” said Wildey.

Fringe Music does more than just sell merchandise, promote bands, and write reviews. They just had their first festival, FringeFest 2014. “FringeFest came about because my birthday was coming up and we were coming up on the six month anniversary of Fringe Music, so I wanted to take the next step. A festival seemed like the way to do that,” Paul said.

He and Sarah knew they wanted the festival to be an all-day event, and they couldn’t afford to rent out a venue, so they contacted their friends at the Track House, one of the most active house venues in Olympia. The Track House has been supportive of Fringe Music from the get-go and were excited to host the event. “All it took was one quick Facebook message and we were good to go,” Wildey said.

After that it was just a matter of deciding which bands they wanted to book for the festival. Most of the bands they ended up booking were people they had previously covered on the site. Sarah said, “The hardest part was choosing who was going to play. There were a lot of talented musicians we wanted to feature but the set times were already so short that we couldn’t justify adding more bands.”

Finding gear that all the musicians could use was another challenge. About a week before the festival, Paul had to call up old band members and cash in on some favors so that they could get the gear they needed. To their surprise, the festival went smoothly. Sarah had planned ahead and made amendments to the lineup in case people were late, which turned out to be a smart move because one act showed up exactly three minutes before their set was scheduled to start.

FringeFest featured 11 acts total, all from different genres. Punk, metal, hardcore, industrial, folk, and hip-hop acts performed together and they all had an audience. “FringeFest was a great example of what we’re trying to do,” said Sarah. “Everyone came out. People from these different scenes stayed to watch the other acts, even if they would usually only go to punk shows.” That’s one of the core principals of Fringe Music. They ignore genre boundaries and just cover good musical acts that come from or pass through Washington state.

The night before the festival, the two of them stayed up until four a.m. making merchandise, including T-shirts, posters, and sampler CDs featuring the art of Evergreen student Sasha Erickson. “Everyone on the bill ended up being on the sampler CD. We made a limited run of 50 and only sold about five copies.”

It’s just one of many financial risks Paul and Sarah have taken to make Fringe Music successful. The few staff members they have are all volunteers. For everyone involved, it’s more than just a hobby. “We’re very lucky that we have these people working for free because we aren’t making any money. We’re all just doing this because we love music and I think that’s amazing,” said Paul.

So what’s next for Fringe Music? The pair is discussing starting a record label. While nothing official has happened yet, they have been talking to a few bands to test run the idea. “In the future, we would love to sign bands and start our own record label,” Wildley said. They hope to do a festival twice a year, in April and September. As for the immediate future, people can expect to see local concerts presented by Fringe Music.

Fringe Music wants to hear from their audience. People interested in writing to them can find a contact form on the website. They welcome everything from hate letters to love notes, booking requests and general inquiries. No matter what the subject, they promise a response. Bands looking to have their merch sold are welcome to contact them. It’s all consignment-based, so if artists change their minds, they can ask for their product or money back at any time.