Preview: A Sit Down With Space Prom Pioneer & Psych Pop Enthusiast Nordista Freeze

A stranger to no one and a friend to everyone, Nordista Freeze’s relentless “DIY” work ethic puts him in front of crowds all over the country roughly 130 times a year. Freeze’s unique blend of pop/rock beckons back to the 60s while incorporating tropes of contemporary indie rock.

When Freeze isn’t on the road, he’s running his own event/booking organization known as Freezefest. In addition to hosting the wildly popular independent music festival by the same name, Freezefest also hosts what has become their hottest event of the year: Space Prom.

This year marks the third iteration of Space Prom- a night of indie rock fans far and wide celebrating 80s futurism dressed as aliens. Nordista Freeze, his band, and countless special guests will be rocking the night away at The Basement East on Saturday, January 25th.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Freeze and discuss the inspiration behind the event, past Space Proms, and what to expect this upcoming weekend…

Music Mecca: So what sparked your initial idea for Space Prom? What exactly is it?

Nordista Freeze: I actually don’t know where the original idea came from. This is my third year hosting it. When I did it the first time, I was into a lot of outer space ideas. Like my last record is called Cosmic Haus. Actually, my visual artist friend, Jenna Miller threw a thing called Space Prom at her house a couple of years before I threw Space Prom. So I don’t know if I subconsciously got the idea from her. Hers was literally just a party where people dressed up as aliens going to prom, whereas I guess the vision behind mine is like retro-futuristic. It’s a loosely 80s themed night, but it’s more about what the future seemed like in the 80s. Because I think so much of that music, especially the birth of synthesizers, has this futuristic feel but now we’re like a few years past that. (laughing). So that was the goal I guess: to combine prom with the futurism of the 80s.

MM: What kind of involvement has the Nashville music community had in Space Prom over the years?

NF: So the first year I had eight local bands play. It was at that Chinese restaurant Lucky Bamboo. Each band actually took on a different decade from the 30s through the 90s. It was crazy. Everyone played six covers within their given era of pop music.

MM: Can you recall who all played?

NF: I believe so. I had Allison Young do the 30s. You know Allison? Her music is just straight out of that time period, very very classic. 40s was Will Wander . 50s was Fulton Lee. 60s was Luke Krutzke & The High Tides. 70s was Rocky Block. I did the 80s and then Snake Cheney did the 90s.

MM: So why host at a Chinese restaurant?

NF: I had seen a couple of cool shows there. I knew that dude Farro, who plays in Paramore, had done a really cool show there. So I knew they were down to do events in their back dining hall. I just drove there and asked them one day and literally on a notebook he just wrote down like, “Ok, the 20th should work.” And I show up two weeks later and I’m like, “Are we still good?” and he pulls out his notebook and he’s like, “Yeah I got it.” (laughing) I was really afraid. When we started rolling up with all our crazy gear they were all surprised and excited. They kind of quickly created a buffet and were charging people like $10 to eat. It turned out great but at the time I thought the whole thing was a really weird idea. It was like a $10 ticket, which was the most expensive show I’d ever put on. I was like, “I don’t know if anyone’s going to come to this.” Realistically I was hoping for 100-150 people. We ended up having 540. It was packed out.

MM: Can you see yourself ever hosting anything there again?

NF: Definitely. I think it’s a really cool DIY spot. You have to provide your own sound. They literally just give you access to the room. I can’t remember what they charge but I remember it being very affordable. I don’t even know if I can say this on record but it’s BYOB. (laughing) It was a mess! People were just bringing in bottles of liquor into this Chinese restaurant. I was under 21 at the time and just really hoping the cops wouldn’t show up. Everyone was just throwing cash into this bucket this bucket at the front door and carrying in bottles of Jack Daniels. I just knew if the cops showed up I was going to have to run for it. (laughing)

MM: So you mentioned this upcoming weekend would be the third year of Space Prom?

NF: This will be year three. Last year was year two and I shorted the lineup to just me and Arlie. We both just covered like the same time period. I moved it to the Mercy Lounge too to keep more…I guess…structured. I don’t know, just to make sure it actually happened. People were coming from all around and I was afraid to do it at a DIY spot. And then this year it’s just us [Nordista Freeze and his band] with special guests.

MM: What kind of growth have you seen in the event since its inauguration?

NF: Well it was the exact same amount of people who came because both had a 500 person capacity. Year one was really just an anomaly but people just kept talking about it all year so by year two it had become the most popular thing I do every year, which is funny because I never thought a cover set would be the most popular thing I do. Last year it was just so much more of a cultural event where people came from like all these different cities. People came from like Texas and Chicago. It became like a destination event, and this year I think it’s even more so that. Same was true with Freezefest this year. There were more bands form out of Nashville than in.

MM: What do you think Space Prom’s continual success says about Nashville’s music scene as a whole?

NF: That’s a good question, because like I said I really wasn’t expecting it to be as popular as it’s become. I think it points towards the fact that people like committing to something, even though we really don’t like that. Having an event where you have to wear a costume is for whatever reason enticing. Even if you live in Atlanta, people will see this and think, “Let’s make a road trip and do this thing.” There’s just something about a destination event that’s attractive, I think in Nashville specifically. Plus, there are already so many shows going on where you just kind of show up late, leave early, and not really engage, but I think that people are excited for this because it is so uniquely this one-a-year thing you can do and really commit to. You can just make your whole evening about it. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I always wanted to throw prom. I didn’t always have great memories of prom, like it was alright but nothing great. So I guess the event is also kind of a reclaiming of the things I actually liked about prom during high school which was like dressing up with your friends and going out on the town. I guess just trying to make a prom that’s better than actual prom, especially now that we’re all out of high school. (laughing)

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