Editor’s Note: This article features explicit language.
Landmark Music Festival, a two-day event on the National Mall, brought more than 40 artists, a first-ever venue in Washington, D.C. The Trust for the National Mall is leading the coalition to restore the National Mall.
The Landmark Campaign, a key component of the restoration’s plan, seeks to bring awareness and funds to “America’s front yard.”
This year, Drake and The Strokes headlined the festival held Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
However, there were a plethora of local and upcoming bands who performed, each presenting an eclectic sound and electric energy.
The Writer’s Bloc had the opportunity to interview several groups, from The Mowgli’s and The London Souls to The Joy Formidable and U.S. Royalty.
The Joy Formidable
Q: Where are you guys from?
Ritzy: We’re from North Wales. [To Matt] Oh, and where are you basing yourself these days?
Matt: I’m saying, “Just the south.” South of the giant Welsh wall.
Rhydian: Two-thirds Welsh. Never mind about the other third.
Matt: And I can’t wash that off. I tried!
Q: So what brought you guys to Landmark?
Ritzy: Well they invited us and we were like, “Oh, okay then.”
Matt: We thought we might as well do a show. We hadn’t done one in a while. Twiddling our thumbs in the studio.
Ritzy: Quite a pretty location isn’t it? Not too ugly.
Matt: And, frankly, we’re contractually obliged.
Q: Have you guys been to DC before?
Rhydian: Quite a few times, actually. We love playing DC. Always great audiences. It feels like – well, it is a very musical city, lots of rich musical history.
Ritzy: You’ve got the 9:30 – How’s the Black Cat? Is the Black Cat still going these days?
Ritzy: You’ve got two really great venues there. Especially the 9:30 Club. We love playing there; they treat you really good. Sounds good. It’s kind of the way a venue should be run, if you ask me.
Matt: They’ve got artist laundry facilities so you can wash your undercrackers.
Ritzy: That’s why I like it, is ‘cause you two stop stinking after we play the 9:30.
Matt: No, you two still stink, but at least our washing’s done.
Q: Have you done sightseeing before?
Ritzy: We try when we’re touring, but it’s quite difficult when you tour depending on the way your shows are scheduled. For instance, yesterday we were in Montreal and then at 3 a.m. this morning we weren’t in Montreal anymore!
Matt: This morning we were in Montreal.
Ritzy: And then at 6 a.m. we were here and soon we’ll be somewhere else. But when time allows, absolutely. Those are good days when you get to absorb a little bit of where you’re playing and see the festival, see some of the bands. We like D.C. There’s a lot to see in D.C.
Rhydian: I’ve wanted to see this area for a while, but there’s a festival in the way now.
Q: Other than the 9:30 Club, is there something about D.C. that stands out to you? A specific memory? A landmark?
Rhydian: [To Ritzy] Well, you actually lived here.
Ritzy: I did. I think, for me, it was … I came here just before forming this band with these guys. For me, it was a real place I wrote a lot. I think I found my lyrical voice in D.C.
Q: Where in D.C. did you live?
Ritzy: I lived just outside of Bethesda. I was locked in a basement for quite a long time, so it was a good place to write.
Rhydian: That’s where we like to keep you. […] Mine is the shows, really. It has been a little bit in and out, but we have experienced always really reactive and engaged audiences. We’ve done some interesting gigs here, as well. We did the church – I can’t remember what area that was now. It was very much a communal kind of gig, which we are very happy to endorse. Like you said, it’s got massive musical history, hasn’t it, D.C.? And kind of really questioning, aggressive stuff, as well.
Q: This last one is just kind of fun. What is your one guilty pleasure? Just one. You can only pick one.
Matt: I don’t feel guilty about anything. I do what I want!
Ritzy: That’s exactly what I was gonna say. I like, occasionally, watching a crappy film or watching something crappy on the TV. The only thing I’m a bit of a snob about is books. I’m not gonna waste my fucking time reading a bad book. One chapter in, I’m like “nah. This is rot. I’m not bothered with this.”
Matt: It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s not a pleasure then, is it?
Ritzy: I’m not snobby about anything else. It’s nice to swap things up –
Matt: Bridezilla. That’s a shocking one, isn’t it?
Ritzy: Yeah. You and I – why were we watching that the other day?
Matt: I don’t know, but by the end I just had to switch it off.
Ritzy: It was too much shouting!
Rhydian: Yeah … mine would be smoking, but that’s not a guilty pleasure, that’s addiction.
Q: You’re from the Gaithersburg area?
Q: So are you familiar with the University of Maryland, College Park?
Ace: Oh, for sure! Yeah! My girlfriend goes there.
Q: So do you spend a lot of time there?
Ace: Not anymore. She doesn’t live on campus anymore.
Q: Oh, that’s where we’re from. But you spent some time at Maryland?
Ace: Yeah, for sure.
Q: Does the campus mean anything to you? Do you have any good memories there?
Ace: I met my girlfriend on campus at a party that I was not invited to. So yes, yes, yes, plenty of good times at Maryland.
Q: Growing up so close to D.C., have you spent a lot of time here?
Ace: Nah. They ask that shit a lot, like what’s it like? I guess, because I’m from the area, I don’t really come down here and visits because it’s more, like, some tourist shit, you know what I’m saying? I should, but no I don’t. I don’t.
Q: Were you here yesterday?
Q: Were you able to see any of the artists?
Ace: I saw Drake, of course. That shit was pretty tight. He did ‘Back to Back,’ he did ‘Hotline Bling.’ So yeah.
Q: What was your favorite song?
Ace: I’m not gonna lie, probably ‘Back to Back.’ Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Q: Have you heard his new mixtape yet?
Ace: With Future?
Ace: Yeah, yeah, I fuck with it. I fuck with ‘Big Rings,’ ‘Jumpman’ – jumpman, jumpman, jumpman, jumpman! And uh, I like, what’s the other one?
Q: I like ‘Scholarships.’
Ace: ‘Scholarships’? I gotta listen to that again. I don’t remember that. Oh! And ’30 for 30 Freestyle.’ He body that shit.
Q: Have you been able to check out anyone today?
Ace: Nah, just been fuckin’ roamin’ around, talkin’ to everybody.
Q: Do you get a lot of press or is this kind of new for you?
Ace: Um … I get a lot of blog love, but this is kind of new, walking around to everyone saying, “Ace! Ace! Ace!”
Q: So you’re, how old? 23?
Q: How does it feel to have this much success so young?
Ace: Um … I don’t think I have that much success, so there’s no ceiling and I’m just trying to keep going up. I don’t think I have that much success.
Q: Do you have a current guilty pleasure?
Ace: Eating too much pizza. Ledo’s pizza. Are you hip to Ledo’s? There’s one in College Park. Do you go there?
Q: Oh, yeah!
Ace: Exactly, so that’s my guilty pleasure; eating too much pizza.
Q: What is the worst movie you’ve seen recently?
Ace: Worst movie that I’ve seen recently? Damn! I don’t know … I’ll tell you the stupidest thing that I’ve seen: all that reality dumb shit that’s on TV. I hate reality shows. That shit is poison for your brain.
Q: So what shows do you watch?
Ace: ESPN. I don’t really watch TV, to be honest, unless I’m at my girl’s house. I’ll just watch ESPN. I just got into Narcos – are you hip to Narcos? – on Netflix. It’s about Pablo Escobar. And then I just like documentaries and stuff like that. I just watch a lot of, like music interviews. A lot of Breakfast Club and Hot 97. Yeah.
Q: If you had to describe this weekend in three words, how would you describe it?
Ace: Three words? Very, very epic.
Featured Photo Credit: Matt Thomas of the band The Joy Formidable. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Maya Pottiger is a junior journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.
Cassie Osvatics is a junior secondary English education major and may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
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