Wearing band gear is kind of like wearing a secret code. Only you and the other people who like that band are going to get it. You see someone on the street wearing the shirt or hoodie of your favorite artist, and even if you don’t say anything to them, you know. They’re cool.
The 2014 Maine Music Hoodie, designed by Portland-based clothing company, Katalyst, kills two birds with one stone. It’ll showcase the name and signature of three awesome Maine bands, and it also lets you show off that you are Maine proud when it comes to music.
Kyle Poissonnier, founder and creative director of Katalyst, makes it a point to support Maine bands — the 2013 Maine Music Hoodie featured three bands (the Other Bones, When Particles Collide and the Ghost of Paul Revere) all chosen by popular online vote. In 2012, a limited edition line of Maine Music Hoodies was produced, featuring bands chosen by Poissonnier, including the Mallett Brothers Band, Dave Gutter from Rustic Overtones and Spose.
“The idea is to bring together talent from all over Maine and make people more aware of just how many musicians and bands and talent we have in this amazing state,” said Poissonnier. “An ode to what we do here in Maine, if you will.”
This year’s hoodie will go the same route with the voting, and the contest as a whole will be sponsored by the Bangor Daily News. Nominations for the bands and artists to be voted on will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 1, and voting for those nominees will start on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The winners will be announced on Jan. 16, and the hoodies will go up for pre-sale the following week, and will be printed and ready shortly thereafter.
Poissonnier knows firsthand how important live music can be for a young person, growing up in a rural community. A little more than ten years ago, he was that kid, growing up in the Somerset County town of Smithfield.
“Being a kid in rural Maine I used to make the trips down to Portland to see my favorite bands like Rustic Overtones and 6gig,” he said. “They gave me hope for getting out of rural Maine and being able to have my voice heard, as they did.”
After attending Husson University in Bangor, where he played football and majored in business, Poissonnier moved to New York City for a few years, where he founded a company called Elykssor, offering high quality, American-made casual wear. Poissonnier returned to Maine in 2011, bringing his clothing company with him, but in early 2013 he closed down Elykssor and rebranded himself as Katalyst, with the same emphasis on quality and American-made. He has since seen his sales grow, with custom-designed shirts for schools and athletic teams, as well as individual sales of fashionable t-shirts and henleys on the Katalyst website, bethekatalyst.com.
Poissonnier can’t name just one Maine band that’s a favorite, and he wouldn’t want to anyway, since supporting the whole scene is what the Maine Music Hoodie is all about — though he does profess an ongoing love for Rustic Overtones. Last year’s hoodie preceded the other big event that Katalyst planned in 2013: the State of the State concert, an all-Maine bill of bands set for the State Theatre in Portland in June. Poissonnier plans to repeat the State of the State show this June, with a lineup announcement forthcoming.
Partnering his company with bands is a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” opportunity for Katalyst and the various artists featured on his clothing and at his events.
“It makes people more aware of what we do. It make people more aware of these artists that like what we do. It’s really a nice give and take between many people that way in Maine,” said Poissonnier. “People genuinely want to help each other out. I have been able to form bonds with many local musicians, and over the years they have played shows for my brand, and established the idea that all of these bands are different genres, but yet all come together for one main idea.”
To nominate a band or artist for the Maine Music Hoodie signature, visit the BDN-Katalyst voting page.