Talking Dillo ... with Mayfest Productions

    Graphic by Emma Kumer / North by Northwestern

    They’re responsible for nearly everything about the festival, from budgeting to booking the main stage. Oh, and speaking of the main stage, they’ll be bringing nighttime headliner MGMT, daytime headliner D.R.A.M., Gramatik, Little Simz and Porches for your Dillo Day enjoyment. They’re members of Mayfest Productions, and NBN spoke to three of them – co-Director of Promotions Justine Yucesan, Director of Concerts Yumi Mannarelli and Promotions Committee member Sam Mandlsohn – to find out everything you need to know about Saturday. (This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

    NBN: How did this year’s lineup come together?

    Communication senior Yumi Mannarelli: We wanted to bring a non-hip-hop act just because, in the past, a majority of the acts in the past that are nighttime headliners have been hip-hop.

    Communication junior Sam Mandlsohn: [MGMT was] No. 1 on the survey.

    Mannarelli: Seeing that information made us really confident in wanting to book MGMT – and, if that couldn’t work out, a band. There was just a lot of support on the poll.

    Communication junior Justine Yucesan: Obviously not everyone responds to the poll, but we reach at least 50 percent of the undergraduate class with the poll. Our responses are around the 4,000s. So for us to bring our top-polling artist for 4,000 responses is pretty indicative of the campus climate.

    Mannarelli: We just thought it would be cool to see how the lineup would shape up different, because at the top there’s a band and not a hip-hop artist. So it made our daytime headliner even stronger, because there was no hip-hop headliner. I don’t think it would’ve been possible to have a hip-hop [nighttime] headliner and D.R.A.M. because that would probably be very expensive, because hip-hop artists tend to be really expensive.

    NBN: There’s always bound to be people who are like, “Oh, who is that?” or, “Why is Mayfest bringing this person?” How do you respond to them?

    Yucesan: One thing that we especially wanted people to recognize this year is that [campus] heavily supported our decision to bring MGMT. On the other hand as well, people last year had no idea who Anderson .Paak was, and the people who went to his performance were just blown away – and, if I can say so confidently, were instant fans of Anderson .Paak. Obviously, we can’t satisfy everyone with one artist.

    Mandlsohn: The big thing is, within our limited budget, we are booking five artists. Chances are you won’t have heard of all of them, but what we do try to do is make sure that all five represent campus’s unique musical tastes, offer something different through each performance. If you haven’t heard of one of the artists … get to know them before Dillo Day, and you might just find a new favorite. That’s part of the fun of Dillo, we think.

    NBN: Lately, it seems like people have been talking about representation in the Dillo lineup. How do you go about tackling that issue, and how does that play into your decisions with the lineup?

    Mannarelli: It’s definitely something we take into consideration … but also, it’s kind of an issue throughout the whole music industry, the lack of representation. It’s not trying to hit quotas or anything through our lineup, it’s more like, “What sounds can best represent these communities?”

    Yucesan: We’ve been polling the highest usually on hip-hop artists in the past ... and especially in that section of the music industry, it’s hard to find a lot of female artists that we can bring that people would recognize. It’s definitely been something that we’ve been talking about.

    NBN: Who are each of you most excited to see?

    Mandlsohn: I’ll go first. I’m super excited for MGMT. They just played their first show back in over three years, and they’ve debuted multiple new songs in their live set with all the old favorites also staying. They’ll be bringing, in addition to just the music, an amazing visual light show for the Lakefill – something we’ve never actually had before at Dillo Day – and so it’s sort of a Dillo Day first, and we’re really excited about that.

    Yucesan: I’m excited for [Little] Simz. I think she’s awesome. One of those very, very singular female voices in the rap industry. I just am biased because I’m from Europe, but I love the fact that we’re bringing a British artist that’s not a pop-rock band. Kendrick [Lamar] just endorsed her. I think she has an amazing energy and her songs are always very – the lyrics are great. I think that she’s going to wow all the people.

    Mannarelli: Fuck, I don’t know. I’m excited for everyone. It’s hard because there’s a different mood that each one of the artists hits for me that I’m very excited about. MGMT is going to be some legendary stuff. Their visuals are probably going to be so amazing, and also it’s a band that we all maybe have connected to when we were younger, and I feel like their legacy is pretty dope. But also, D.R.A.M. with a live band will be so amazing. It’s all going to be really, a lot of energy.

    NBN: How have Mayfest’s discussions about the weather been going?

    Yucesan: It’s unfortunate that, in the end, we need to comply to whatever the fire department says, the University says. Obviously, rain’s not an issue – it’s more like strong winds, all of that is dangerous when we’re right on the lakeside. We obviously, as promo, work to get those communications ready.

    Mandlsohn: We’d encourage people to follow us on a social media channel of choice [and] download the Dillo Day app for iOS and Android for the latest updates, just to stay safe in case weather is inclement.

    Yucesan: Yumi and I were both around when disaster struck [in 2015]. Obviously we’re also as disappointed as everyone else, maybe even more, when these kinds of things happen, since this is something we’ve been working towards all year round.

    Mannarelli: One thing I think people don’t really understand [is that] the second we know, everyone else knows.

    Yucesan: It’s not our decision.

    NBN: What are your hopes for Dillo Day? What’s your perfect Dillo Day like?

    Yucesan: I think every year we just hope that every person on this campus can, even those who are off the bat like ‘I don’t want to go to Dillo Day this year’ … find some sort of draw to Dillo Day. Because it is a day that we put on for students. One of the best feelings is seeing people on the day of just having fun, or people when you get home at 2 a.m. after cleaning up just telling you that they had a great day. Honestly, if that’s what happens then we’re satisfied, even if we’re dying of [lack of] sleep.

    Mannarelli: Specifically with music, my hope would be that everyone enjoys at least one artist, or if someone didn’t like any of the lineup, they found something at WNUR or ended up enjoying one act that they thought they weren’t going to. I hope they enjoy the food trucks. At least something, something. Just one thing, and I’m happy.

    NBN: Do you have any last messages for students before Dillo?

    Yucesan: Dillo Day is supposed to be a place where everyone can enjoy themselves, everyone can feel comfortable. We know that sometimes we bring artists of color, artists that have certain language in their lyrics. We really hope that [non-Black] students are respectful of the entire community as a whole. There’s a lot to sing along to that does not involve saying the N-word.

    Mandlsohn: And, on a lighter note, we’d encourage everyone to pick up their wristband as soon as possible. Every single year, somebody forgets, and they come after the deadline, and they can’t get their wristband, and they can’t get to Dillo Day, and that makes us all sad and it makes them sad. That’s out of our control, it’s just the way the system works.

    Dillo Day, the largest student-run music festival in the country, takes place May 20 on the Lakefill.

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