Interviews

Interview with Juan Antonio Muñoz about Be Prog! My Friend 2018

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Be Prog! My Friend festival organizers: Juan Antonio Muñoz and Andy Farrow

 Here at Proglodytes, we have learned that one of the best ways to promote progressive music is through festivals. Festivals are not just great ways to learn about new music and bands, but also opportunities to meet other like-minded individuals.

As far as lineups go, one of the most consistently impressive festivals I’ve seen is Spain’s Be Prog! My Friend festival.  Last year, Be Prog! won the Progressive Music Award Magazine for Best Event. This year, with heavyweights such as A Perfect Circle, Sons of Apollo, Steve Hackett, Pain of Salvation, Gazpacho, Baroness, and others, Be Prog! My Friend’s lineup looks to be one of the best ever. We spoke with festival organizer Juan Antonio Muñoz to learn about the past, present, and future of Be Prog! My Friend.

What is your personal history with progressive music?
The world of progressive music is so vast but there are so many avenues to get in to this music that it felt like a natural process for me. I started listening mainly to death metal, especially technical death metal. One of my favourite albums ever is “The Sound Of Perseverance” from Death which is a great example of technical and progressive metal. But the bands that definitely made me want to explore the “prog world” were Opeth and Anathema. I really liked their death (Opeth) and doom (Anathema) eras but the progression of their music opened my mind to start listening to bands such as Jethro Tull, Camel, King Crimson and Rush. I’m very open minded to music so I go from listening to Morbid Angel to Emperor to YES and to Rainbow.

 

How did Be Prog! My Friend come to be? Where did the name come from?

I simply thought that the different worlds of prog could live together under one roof and this experiment is working out so far. Just seeing the line up of the second edition of the festival you can understand my musical taste as we had Camel and Meshuggah co-headlining, something really rare that you don’t really see anywhere else.

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The name of the festival is just a wordplay on the Bruce Lee sentence “Be Water My Friend” but in this case the idea of the name of the festival is for people to be “prog” themselves, which is to be open minded and ready to hear new bands who are part of this scene.

Many festivals seem to expand each year, with bigger and longer lineups. Be Prog! My Friend seems to take a different approach, instead including a smaller list of diverse bands. What is the driving motivation behind the smaller roster?

Our intention has been clear from the beginning. I wanted to do this in a nice and comfortable place like Poble Espanyol and in a beautiful city like Barcelona. But the most important thing was to offer something different. This is not a massive festival with tons of bands because I originally thought and still think it is preferably to have less bands but ensure that who we do have here play long, full sets.

The result is that we have quality bands and fans will get to see them play full shows in a great environment.

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Even with the smaller lineups, Be Prog! My Friend seems to have one of the most diverse lineups, with bands that range from classic prog rock (like Steve Hackett) to very heavy, dark experimental music (such as Oranssi Pazuzu). Do you ever worry that fans of the older, more traditional prog might not like the newer music, and vice versa? Or have the fans at the event generally been adventurous and accepting of the rosters?

Definitely this is our biggest challenge. I’ve come to recognise that the younger members of the audience are much more open to listening to the classic bands rather than some of the older members who are less open to newer artists. I noticed this from the first edition of the festival and it seems to be the case every year.  Our intention is to always mix the old with the new though.

Where do a lot of attendees come from?

From all over the world! Japan, Canada, South Africa, Australia and most of the European countries. It is really nice to see that there are people interested in attending this festival from all the corners of the world.

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 Be Prog! My Friend has proven to be a very successful venture, winning the Prog Award last year for Best Event. What is the guiding philosophy of Be Prog! My Friend?

Our premise were clear from the beginning. There are plenty of massive festivals in the world with loads of bands playing in a huge places but my intention was never to replicate this.

We push forward with the idea of hosting great bands that even in some circles might not even be classed as ‘prog’ with-in the scene but I don’t care, as we know that we offer an excellent line-up in a stunning location and everybody who attends can feel the great atmosphere and enjoy it a lot. For many people Be Prog! My Friend is the main event they attend every year and is the focal point where they meet up with other friends from the scene and have a wonderful time.

What are some goals for the future of the festival?

We will continue running the festival under the same idea and hopefully the more classic prog fans will come to understand and accept the content of Be Prog! My Friend and embrace some of the newer and more left-field prog acts that we put on that are a little different to what’s usually on offer. It’s about time…

Check out Be Prog! My Friend’s incredible schedule, and make sure to attend!

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