Freakout Festival, previously known as The Psychedelic Holiday Freakout, took place in the heart of Capitol Hill in Seattle, WA. The festival spanned over December 8th & 9th 2016 with a few different venues to check out, all thriving with local talent. While wandering from bar to bar I would have to say that Chop Suey was the highlight of this festival for me.
Inside Chop Suey, there were two stages that comprised the venue. The main stage was actually raised above the venue floor and was well lit. The other stage was off to the left and had a smaller setting. There wasn’t much lighting and it contained a smaller bar and seating. This allowed for that stage off to the left, to be much more intimate. The first set that I caught in Chop Suey was Guayaba.
Her intense set and the intimacy of the venue enabled people to closely watch her show and also the ability to go up and thank each artist for their performance. Something you won’t get at a larger venue or larger festivals. Guayaba’s performance at this stage was remarkable and definitely set the bar for the remaining artists. She is a must see in the Seattle area and I would recommend anyone checking out a future set.
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to interview her. When her set was over I walked over to introduce myself, which was easily done because of the intimate size and feel of the venue.. Originally, after I met her we were going to do the interview at the venue, but the timing wasn’t good and the noise levels weren’t ideal for having a normal conversation. However, I was able to plan a meeting with her in Ballard at Hattie’s Hat restaurant.
Olivia Hatfield, or better known by her stage name; Guayaba, is a Seattle Native born in a naval hospital in Bremerton, WA. She has lived in both Seattle and the Bremerton area most of her life. Her living situation is comprised of other local artists who are constantly collaborating to develop their skills and progress with their music careers.
Spencer Schumacher: You were formally known as Aeon Flux, what made you rebrand and purse the alias Guayaba?
Guayaba: I am not super attached to the names of the projects I do. I actually played under another alias before Aeon Flux. Aeon Flux was a little too tongue and cheek for some people. I wanted to be able to have my music played on the radio as well, so I thought changing it to that would allow listeners to know who I was easier.
SS: I noticed that you have a high interest for bugs, have you always or is it a little more abstract then that? Can you elaborate?
Guayaba: It is definitely visible that I like bugs. Before my interest for them I was a little afraid of them, but became to be fascinated by insects.I think the most contributing thing to helping me overcome my fear is when I was 17 or 18, at the Pacific Science Center. My visit there I discovered my interest for insects. I was holding a cockroach, a big cockroach and fell in love with them. Later down the road, I bought one as a pet and named it peaches.
They are amazing and I have definitely developed a passion for them. They used to creep me out where I couldn’t even look at them, but what changed my viewpoint was the beauty of insects and how it relates to the black experience. Insects are vital to the ecosystem and society undervalues their importance and beauty.
SS: In one of your FB posts you mentioned that it has been a tough year, but making music has definitely helped. Can you elaborate if that question isn’t too personal?
Guayaba: I think it has been a tough year for everyone in 2016. Pre-election a lot of life was happening and I just graduated college. I tried to move to Seattle, from Bremerton and was working retail at the Buffalo Exchange in the University District. This was a really intense environment for me at the time.
SS: I noticed that you are going to be playing at Kremwerk on December 15th alongside some other local artists including Luna God . Your last album Black Trash/ White House was produced by Luna God. Can fans expect a live performance with the both of you?
Guayaba:Yes, absolutely. I have to talk to Luna God, but it would be comfortable for me and he would be playing a guitar there as well too. I would be vocalizing and he would be on beats if that were to happen.
SS: The following was taken from the article, The Spiritual Prowess of Guayaba. “Anyone who exists at society’s hazy edge can testify that there is reward for being different.” What does this mean to you?
Guayaba: In the context of my existence being black is hard as shit in general. Not the fear, but the realization we elected Donald Trump, it is wild. Friends that are experiencing hate crimes. So much coming at you at once and you can’t handle it. All of this in itself is compiling, but if you can overcome this you stand out as someone who didn’t crumble under challenges.
SS: The title of your album Black Trash White House is bold in itself. What did you intend to get across when you chose that title?
Guayaba: First off, I am super bad at picking titles. This title stemmed from a picture of myself when I was 11. I was on the the strip in Washington, DC for school. During this time, I was really sick in front of the White House and the only person looking at camera. I was straight faced and pissed; wearing a strawberry shortcake shirt that said, “I am only as sweet as I look.” Thinking about that time in my life and how life is now with current events put it into perspective. Growing up was with a lot of white trash people. Bremerton is pretty diverse and that is who I hung out with in my younger years. We used to ride around in parking lots doing wheelies with four wheelers. If my friends are white trash I must be black trash.
After being at the smaller stage for the first performance where I experienced Guayaba, I made my way back to the main stage. The next act was a Seattle band Moon Darling. Their band name, in itself, gives a great depiction of their unique sound. Their set enthralled. The 60’s synth and downtempo vibes made for a relaxing environment, putting me in a trance and allowing me to focus on the music and not my surroundings. I think that this is another artist that I would go out of my way to see again, anywhere in the PNW. The audience was into the set and this made a cohesive atmosphere for all that were participating.
Collectively, I would say that the artists who played at Freakout Festival provided a good feel for the Seattle music scene as a whole. There were numerous genres ranging from hip-hop to indie music. Overall, I would recommend this festival to anyone looking for a down to earth vibe and meeting genuine people. Believe the hype with this festival. It’s city central and allows for individuals to walk around at their own pace checking out the other venues, hosting various artists. It does a great job of showcasing up and coming talent and creating a space for artistic expression as well introducing the community to the depths of the local talent. Freakout Festival was a pleasure to attend and I cannot wait to be a part of the next one!
Be sure to check out Guayaba’s Band Camp webpage where her newest album BTWH is showcased. Check her out on Facebook, and the up and coming artists next performance will be at Kremwerks, in Seattle, on December 15th.