It’s been nearly two weeks since Six Shooter Records’ beloved Interstellar Rodeo festival announced it would not be returning in 2020. This comes a few months after Astral Harvest announced it was taking an indefinite hiatus as well. While the group that runs Astral Harvest has been quiet about the reason behind cancelling, Six Shooter has been quite transparent.
“This is hard for people to wrap their brains around but Interstellar—as much as I love it and it’s a part of my identity—it’s not my core business,” says founder of Six Shooter Records, Shauna de Cartier. “The record label, Six Shooter Records, and the management company are really our bread and butter.”
The label has also been experiencing tremendous growth and de Cartier says the artists have to come first.
“They demand all of our attention,” she says. “Interstellar is really a labour of love to my hometown of Edmonton, but we can’t afford to ignore our artists three months out of the year while we do this festival.”
One group de Cartier links to the label’s growth is Regina’s The Dead South, a folk-bluegrass outfit that has been killing it in the industry as of late.
“We have a gold single in America, which is pretty unheard of for any Canadian artist who has signed to a Canadian label,” de Cartier says. “We also just signed July Talk to a management deal. We’re managing William Prince and he has a new record coming out. Tanya Tagaq, Whitehorse are getting bigger … It’s just burgeoning right now.”
de Cartier also admits that the future of Hawrelak Park did play some role in the cancellation of the festival.
“When you’re doing your business planning you say ‘OK, What’s the vision of the company in three to five years?’ We are looking at a potential closure of Hawrelak Park while they do some redevelopment, which can be very detrimental to the momentum of a festival,” she says.
According to de Cartier, without the Hawrelak Park canopy venue, it would be next to impossible to run the festival. In 2014, severe weather conditions sent the festival scrambling for a plan B, but nothing stuck.
“2014 was a really challenging year. We had to cancel the Friday night because of the weather, but on Monday it was going to be sunny at 27 degrees, and that the sun was like a beacon to me. So we cancelled the Friday not knowing if our insurance was going to cover it and rebooked a new lineup on Monday, which included Corb Lund,” she says.
de Cartier says the Hurtin’ Albertan was also the inspiration for adding the Monday set that year.
“[Lund] called me on the Friday and said ‘Shauna I’m there for you. If you want me to play I’m there.’ So we rebooked it for Monday and got the city to issue the mayoral proclamation of Corb Lund Day for the Monday. I was texting agents till three in the morning making this all happen and it came together,” de Cartier says. “That’s where the slogan ‘Just Be Awesome’ comes from—that experience and that day.”
So is the eight-year-old Interstellar Rodeo going to be added to the list of Edmonton’s cancelled festivals? de Cartier says it’s up in the air at this point.
“I don’t want to say it won’t come back because I love it so much and there are people coming out of the woodwork now that we’ve made this announcement,” she says. “Maybe potential sponsors that are sad to see it go, potential investors, things like that could reverse the decision potentially. But it still doesn’t resolve the struggle for us to find the time to do it. But yeah, I don’t wanna say ‘Oh no, we’re not going to do it again’ because we might do it again.”
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