The guys behind Live in Bellwoods: Great Heart Fest, Humble Empire, talk music, vegan picnics, parties, and their beloved park

Every year, the guys from Humble Empire throw a mini-festival in Trinity Bellwoods Park. Live in Bellwoods has become a beloved annual event, and this year they’re echoing the love by renaming it the Live in Bellwoods Great Heart Festival. We’re partnering with them for this year’s fest, which features some amazing bands, both local and far flung. Pack a picnic in a Live in Bellwoods tote and come lounge to free acoustic sets in the sun. Oh, the best. Below, get to know the guys who bring the love to the park.

SDTC: Humble Empire. That sounds cool. So, what exactly do you do? Don’t be shy!
Humble Empire: We document musicians, mostly in the park, but we do concerts as well. We also make music videos and do some commercial videos. We also throw HumbleMania, our party night twice a month at the Ossington, plus we organize other events and shows like the Love Near Bellwoods Valentine’s Day event and the Live Near Bellwoods concert series. 

SDTC: Live in Bellwoods: Great Heart Fest is the talk of the town. In your opinion, why does this show rule?
HE: The Great Heart Festival rules because it’s four days of free fun and you can’t get much better than that. It’s the best way to spend your day, especially if you are partying at night. And my favourite thing about the Great Heart Festival is that we keep it all acoustic and I think that seeing a band perform with no amplification is really the best way to see them, they have no noise to hide behind and their raw talent can shine through. 

SDTC: How do you choose which bands to work with, not just for Great Heart Fest but in general? 
HE: For the festival week every year we have worked with our friend Bobby Kimberley who runs Young Lions Music Club. He has his thumb right on the pulse of the music scene and always brings us top quality acts. And in general we tend to work with our friends who are in bands, we’ve worked a bit with bands that started out as strangers and became friends, but we’ve got many great friends in great bands, and those are who we try to work with most.

SDTC: What are you really excited about NOW-NOW-NOW?
HE: We are excited about summer and swimming, playing Chinlone in the park and riding boards with wheels. The winter in Toronto is long and it really changes the city, during the summer there is so much great stuff going on that it’s impossible to get bored.

SDTC: You only have 3 adjectives to describe next weekend, GO:
HE: Busy, beautiful, Bellwoods.

SDTC: What’s your favourite food to eat in the park? And/OR what will you pack in the Humble Empire Trinity Bellwoods Tote!
HE: When we pack a picnic in our sweet Bellwoods bags it’s usually fruits and veggies plus some tasty dip, and peanut butter and jam sandwiches maybe. But when we don’t have time to make or bring snacks we like to get pastries and veggie sandwiches from Clafouti. Kyle’s favourite pastry is the Cinnamon sugar and Mike loves the Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate.

SDTC: You were nominated for a MMVA last year for Tokyo Police Club video “Wait Up.” That’s AWESOME, can you tell us how you came up with idea or maybe how you got the dogs to act?
HE: Well, we both love dogs and swimming, so it was just natural for us to combine the two. The dogs we worked with were all pro trained dogs, they were so easy and amazing to work with. We even had a champion jumping dog who leaps off the diving board, all of the dogs were so well behaved it was a lot easier than we were expecting.

SDTC: Upcoming projects you wanna share?
HE: We’ve got two new music videos coming out, one Kyle is editing right now for Whale Tooth, and one we are in pre-production for. Mike is making crafts and trying to find an actor to be in our new video for Graham Wright. Really excited about the upcoming HumbleManias, we’ve got some awesome special guests this summer. Plus we’re jacked about the new season of Live in Bellwoods: we’re hoping to get some of our favourite bands to take some time and sing us songs in the park. 

SDTC: Will the white squirrel be attending Live in Bellwoods next week?
HE: Sad story, we think he might have moved to a new park in the sky. I’ve only heard from one person that they saw him this summer but there is no photo evidence so it might have been his ghost. Though what a great surprise it would be if the squirrel decided to grace us with its presence during the festival.

SDTC: What brunch spot will you hit pre-show?
HE: There is a brand new Vegan place that just opened across from the park and I am sure we will spend one of our mornings there having lunch.

SDTC: Where will you grab pints after show?
HE: Neither of us have been to the Bellwoods Brewery yet but we’ve been wanting to go for a long time, we knew about it opening for months before it was ready and it’s been too busy for us to be able to and try the new beer. But hopefully after one of our days in the park we’ll be able to sit back and relax and drinks some Bellwoods beer.

SDTC: Mike Juneau, we heard through the grapevine that you are the Mayor of Bellwoods. Part 1: Explain. Part 2: If you could make park laws, what would they be?
HE: Part 1. Well I’ve lived no further than 100 paces to the park in a few different houses for the past 5 years. So I have spent a lot of time there, and I kind of use the park as my office whenever I am meeting with someone, and as my studio since it’s where we shoot Live in Bellwoods and I get a lot of inspiration from what goes on there. So I guess after enough people bumping into me in the park, friends started joking that I should be the mayor. I think it’s a foursquare reference but I am not totally sure cause I’ve never played that game.
Part 2. I don’t know about laws I’d make but there are some amazing changes that I’d like to see in my dream version of Bellwoods. I’d put a swimming pool in place of one of the baseball diamonds. Also I’d like if instead of the can collecting people just taking your empty beer they would also sell you a new one.

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