April may seem like its a long way off, but organizers of the annual Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival (TWSSF) have been busy toiling away behind the scenes since November, planning an incredible lineup of music and more for the annual event.
So far, the musical lineup set for the main stage in Skiers Plaza is shaping up to be pretty impressive. Sue Eckersley, president of Watermark Communications, the company responsible for producing TWSSF, confirmed that they have already booked four acts for this year's event: Whistler's own DJ Mat the Alien; Canadian indie rockers, Tokyo Police Club; New York's gypsy punk group, Gogol Bordello; and the Vancouver-based psychedelic rock band, Black Mountain.
While Black Mountain and Gogol Bordello are newcomers to the Whistler scene, Watermark actually brought TPC to town when the band first broke, about four or five years ago.
"We had them on the main stage and we also put them in the Kokanee Freeride series and we're going to be doing that again, which is huge, to see Tokyo Police Club in a small club!" she added.
Watermark also branched out of the "tried and true" pool of groups to book Gogol Bordello, in the hopes of bringing a different type of audience to town.
"We're trying to drive traffic to Whistler, and this is a group that their followers likely wouldn't necessarily come to the festival or Whistler, and we know that they will (to see the band.)"
"They are going to be a huge draw!" Eckersley said of Gogol Bordello, "... They have a bit of a cult following."
She pointed out that they sold out three shows at the Commodore last fall, without any advertising.
"I've heard people that I respect that see a lot of music shows say that they've never seen a better live show."
And electronic-music lovers will also have something major to look forward to: organizers just announced on Monday morning that RJD2 is confirmed as headliner for "The End," the festival's all-night dance party, which will be held on Saturday, April 23 (the final night of the festival.)
While Watermark wasn't aiming for something wildly different from previous years, in terms of delving into other musical genres, they did want to continue to grow the event, post-Olympics.
"We did really well in the sponsorship game early," Eckersley said, pointing out that they were able to confirm their lineup earlier than usual because they had a new title sponsor for the stage come on-board this year (they plan to announce the new sponsor next week.)
She added that 2010 was tough, in terms of sponsorship.
"Last year definitely was a challenge to get sponsorship because of the Olympics and both because the sponsors were putting money into the Olympics and because the Olympics made the talent more expensive," Eckersley explained, "So we got the double-whammy last year."
But many of those pop, rock and hip hop acts have been "coming down to reality again" in terms of their pricing, and this year, Watermark is planning to offer a "dynamic mix" of music, with more offers still out on the table.
"The fun thing about that is that we're just going to blow people out of the water this year!"
"Thursday with Tokyo Police Club and Black Mountain together, that day is going to be insane!" Eckersley said, "...On any given festival over the years, Black Mountain and Tokyo Police Club could be our headlining day, but its not going to be!"
Eckersley hints that they are in negotiations with a huge act for the headlining show on the Friday, and that they hope to make an announcement on Tuesday.
"I'm very excited about where we are - this is by far the earliest that we've confirmed acts."
Pick up a copy of next week's Pique to see how the TWSSF lineup is shaping up!