This weekend, Brooklyn indie-dance collective Rubblebucket will host their first Dream Picnic gathering at the Knockdown Center in Queens. The event will feature music from the band along with their friends Delicate Steve and Hess is More, plus the recently debuted solo projects from Rubblebucket’s Kalmia Traver (Kalbells) and Alex Toth (Alexander F). And as Traver and Toth explain, the two side-project bands might provide fans with some insight into how the musical couple comes together to create the unique and eminently enjoyable sound of Rubblebucket.
Ahead of their Dream Picnic, which they hope to grow into a bigger festival in the years to come, Traver and Toth discuss how the event came to be and some of the special touches they’re bringing to the party, plus how a silent retreat in Canada served as the impetus for their individual solo creative explosions in the past couple years and when we might expect news of a new full-length Rubblebucket album.
Can you talk about how this Dream Picnic came together—where the idea came from, and whether you’ve done anything like this as a band before?
Kalmia: I believe it was actually Rachael Pazdan’s idea—the promoter with LPR Presents. She came to us with the idea; she’s an idea woman, and she has a ton of them. It just sounded so fun, because we’ve seen bands do festivals and it’s something that we’d definitely considered for a long time.
Alex: Yeah, we’ve wanted to do it for a while. The live experience is such a huge part of Rubblebucket’s package, so to be able to throw an event with all of our friends is really cool.
And how do you know the folks in Delicate Steve and Hess is More?
Kalmia: I’m friends with a couple of the guys in Hess is More, and I just heard them for the first time a couple months ago when I was at Waking Windows in Winooski, VT. And oh my god, I had the best time. I knew they were kindred spirits. They’re so cool, and we’re friends with their trumpet player, so I thought we needed to show these guys off. It’s like live, weird Berlin techno with a full horn section. And they’re all wearing soccer jerseys with their names on them. They really go hard.
Alex: And we’re super homies with Steve [Marion of Delicate Steve]. We’ve been friends with him for years. He’s toured with and opened for Rubblebucket a bunch of times, and I did the Alexander F record with Steve. He helped produced that project and played guitars on the record.
Had you done anything like this before, as far as organizing a festival?
Kalmia We’ve put bills together, but this is a little bit of a bigger scale. Hopefully it’s practice for the real big one we want to have down the line. Just a little dream.
Alex: We had talked about doing something like this for a while, so I think we’ll be expanding on this at some point.
How hands-on were you with the whole process and logistics of it?
Alex: We picked the bands, and Kal’s friend Maraliz [Campos] is doing sound baths. She’s a total character and does beautiful healing sound stuff. She’s a really cosmically in-tune person. So Kal had the idea to get Bushwick’s food co-op involved, and Kal’s debuting a thing she’s had for a long time called Miserybusters, which is an idea for a café/restaurant she wants to open someday. So she’ll debut that, and I can attest that Kal makes the best food I’ve ever had.
Alex: Pretty exciting stuff. I think, in an ideal world, we’d have multiple stages for two days with even more of our friends. I think this more of an effort to give our fans the full picture of Rubblebucket in one spot. And there will be space between Kalbells/Alexander F and Rubblebucket for Steve and Hess is More, but you can hear in Kalbells and Alexander F the dichotomy of what Kal and I blend to form Rubblebucket. I think if you’re a fan, it’s really interesting to see that and hear it right before you. Those two spirits come together to make the Rubblebucket spirit.
Kal, care to expand on your food plans for the festival?
Kalmia: Yeah, Miserybusters has been a dream I’ve had for a long time. I always thought it would be cool to have a café, but I also just love to cook. I’ve learned a lot specifically about healing foods in the past four years. I really, really love good food, but when I went through cancer, there was so much I couldn’t eat anymore because my belly was all messed up from chemo. So I had to start from square one, and I basically just taught myself how to make things that satisfied all of my flavor points that I needed for spiritual happiness, but also that were palatable for my stomach and my digestive system—and really nutrifying. So that’s the basis that I’m starting from. I haven’t finished building the menu yet. It’s probably just going to be really simple but really good, special stuff.
Do you foresee any collaboration with the other bands?
Alex: It’s definitely possible. At Steve’s most recent Brooklyn Bowl show, I played horns, and Steve has played some gigs with Alexander F before, so maybe he’ll come rip a solo or something.
Anything else you want to say about the festival?
Alex: Yeah, I’d like to put in a word that the Knockdown Center is awesome, and people should get their tickets in advance.
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