For 13 days in the Month of May 2022, NextFest LA will launch its inaugural year on multiple stages within the LA County Fair experience, which is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. This will be one of the largest indie culture events on the West Coast, if not the nation, with over 200 artists, DJs, boutique parties, and more scheduled to perform.
On May 15 seven specially selected artists will grace the Label Squadz & Unheard Gems stage. Ranging from indie to pop and RnB to alternative grit, these artists are here to do what they do best, perform. The artists performing: Sam Stacy, Cate Tomlinson, Jackii Kennedy, Christina Castle, AprilFoolChild, Stereo Jane, and Caroline Sky.
Unheard Gems’ own, Cate Tomlinson, is ready to take the stage for her first festival appearance. See what she has to say leading up to the experience here with this Unheard Gems exclusive:
Unheard Gems: We are so excited to be co-curating a stage at NextFest LA with Label Squadz and are so thrilled to have you be a part of the experience! Are you excited for the festival?
Cate Tomlinson: I have never been more excited. I’m a little nervous obviously but mostly I just feel ready to do it. I’ve been playing out more than I used to and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity!!
Unheard Gems: This is your first festival appearance! How are you feeling going into NextFest?
Cate Tomlinson: I feel prepared, which is funny because a year ago I think I would be having daily panic attacks if I knew I was gonna be doing this. I think I’ve come a long way in the last year performing-wise and I’m also excited for my family and friends to come see me live, since I’ve mostly been performing in Boston. My mom has been inviting everyone and their mothers to come which is really nice of her. Haha.
Unheard Gems: When it comes to playing live, do you have a favorite pre or post-show ritual you want to share with us?
Cate Tomlinson: Deep breaths? Hahaha. Or taking a shot. I don’t know if you can put that in the interview though. I’m still working on controlling nerves so I’d say visualizing and deep breathing is what makes me feel the best before going on.
Unheard Gems: We are so excited to hear your set, is there a song you are most excited to perform and why?
Cate Tomlinson: Yes! I’m most excited to play my newest song “hurt you.” I’ve played it once in a basement show in Boston, and it’s by far the most fun of my songs to perform. I get to kind of yell into the mic and be mad. It’s a great feeling.
Unheard Gems: In terms of instructions for the audience that day, what would be the craziest, most fun, silly, thing you want to see in the crowd? Apparently, your family and friends will be repping some Cate Tomlinson t-shirts?
Cate Tomlinson: Oh god. Yes, I heard something about t-shirts! I’m really looking forward to seeing those. This is a little premature since the song hasn’t been out that long, but at the end of the bridge I yell the words, “I just want my twenty back!” And I always thought it would be fun if everyone would scream it with me :)
Unheard Gems: What inspired you to start making music? Who were your role models and inspirations?
Cate Tomlinson: Honestly I think it was the TV show “Victorious.” I was obsessed. I put a little band together when I was in third grade and wrote songs for us, and from there I kept writing casually and as a creative outlet through high school. When Billie Eilish started blowing up I hopped on that and was definitely influenced by her vocally, and I learned to use my voice in a way that suited me more. I’d say my biggest role model is Taylor Swift, because she was such an integral part of my childhood and also inspired me to start writing the way I do now.
Unheard Gems: In true Unheard Gems fashion we have to close by asking who your favorite emerging artist is but let's narrow it down to an artist playing NextFest LA?
Cate Tomlinson: I think I’m most excited to see Stereo Jane. I saw them on the set list and started listening to them and I’m a fan. They’re also hot.