Brett Hornsby is an established DJ, a well-respected event promoter, and above all else, a true lover of music. However, behind the scenes is where Hornsby excels most. And he likes it that way. Now, the Louisiana native, who calls Austin home, is bringing something refreshing to the city that is the first of its kind – the inaugural Stargayzer Festival, a festival Hornsby calls “a labor of love.”
The three-day festival will host over 100 LGBTQ acts from musicians and drag performers to visual artists and performance artists. Just weeks before Stargayzer, Hornsby talks about the inspiration behind the festival, how it all came together, and what he’s looking forward to as it approaches.
You’re really immersed in the music scene. What does music mean to you and how has that shaped the work you do today?
It’s pretty much everything to me. It’s like my books. Like people who read a lot of books, my books are my albums… Listening to them and learning from them, whether it be the composition of the music or lyrics. Pretty much everything I do is centered around it so – I enjoy every aspect. And I make music, but I enjoy being behind the scenes and creating scenarios where people are listening to music and having fun, rather than being on the other side watching it.
How did you first come up with the idea for Stargayzer?
It’s always been an idea, you know what I mean? It’s taken a couple of years for it to take shape. You have to figure out how it could be done and where it could be done… who would be involved, how it would be financed. Every aspect came piece by piece until it was, “Okay, let’s try it.”
Why is it important to have a music festival focused on LGBTQ acts?
It’s really important. It’s important for gay artists to be in the mainstream. It’s good to have something where people can focus on the fact that there are these great gay artists. I don’t think anybody put two and two together and realized that there are so many. Even some people in our lineup, straight people I know, and even gay people I know are like, “Oh, I didn’t know they were gay.” And it’s like, “Yes, that’s the idea!” Look at their contribution to the music world… That’s why this focus is important. And we’ll see how people react to that.
It’s also important because I’ve toured with Christeene, and I’ve met a lot of these people and played with them, and I feel like they’re always talking about doing something where everyone can come together on a bigger scale. So, a lot of elements inspired this festival.
Of course, you could take a music festival like this to so many other places, but why Austin?
Well, it’s my home and it’s very festival rich, so there are a lot of resources here. There’s a lot of knowledge. I’ve been talking to people for a very long time who have a lot of knowledge and experience, and I think Austin has not only the resources, but the property [laughs], which is definitely a concern of mine. Austin’s probably the most unique place in that sense. It’s a city that’s used to large things coming together.
And it’s cool how there will be this huge LGBT festival in Texas.
I know, right? That’s also really important. Even though Austin is the liberal island in Texas, I still think it makes a statement!
The lineup for the festival features a ton of great LGBT artists. What was the process like pulling together so many artists?
It was a pretty long process. Someone I worked with on booking, her name is Tisha Sparks, helped a lot. She’s very knowledgeable about music. And like I said, I met a lot of these artists on tour and I listen to a lot of them. It’s just really a process of going one-by-one and researching them to see if they’re right for the festival, if they’re available, if they want to do this. Then, of course, the finances, so it was a good six months of planning. It’s probably been the most work of all – getting all the artists.
After we booked a certain amount and announced our first round of lineups, a million people emailed us. It was really overwhelming. We had to pick through and research these artists we’d never heard of from all over the world. It was really cool.
A couple of people have said, “The lineup is amazing, there are so many artists, but what are you going to do next year? You’ve booked every gay artist in the world.” But that’s not the case at all. I can do two more festivals with the amount of people we had to tell, “I’m sorry,” who are really really great artists, incredible musicians and really good people. I don’t think there will ever be a shortage. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
What are you looking forward to most?
I want people to come, I want it to be full, and I want everyone to have a good time. I want the artists to have a really good experience. I want everyone who is coming from all over to meet each other and network, and other projects and things to spawn from this meeting, everyone coming together. That’s the whole point of this. There are going to be amazing people who don’t even know each other who I’ve met in different places who are coming together. I know if they meet, something amazing will happen. That’s what I’m looking forward to most – just all of these incredible people being together in one place.
What if people aren’t so familiar with the artists at Stargayzer Festival?
There’s something for everyone at this festival. Even if you haven’t heard of a lot of the people, you’re coming to support the community. People tell me, “Oh, I don’t know many people on the bill.” But what difference does it make? Come and support and you will know of new things when you leave. You will learn a lot about what’s going on in your own community, and I think that’s really really important. There’s never been anything quite like it.
Stargayzer Festival runs Friday, Sept. 12 to Sunday, Sept 14. at Pine Street Station. Look for the full lineup and ticket information at http://stargayzerfest.com.
Interview by Megz Tillman