Emily Selke visiting Barcelona | photo courtesy of 3rd Planet Festival
3rd Planet Festival: Remembering Emily Selke
*Author’s disclaimer: The writer of this article is close friends with one of 3rd Planet Festival’s organizers, but reporting from The Key remains objective, as always.
On the heels of the one year anniversary of 22-year-old Emily Selke’s death, her loved ones are celebrating her joy in a way Emily would have seen fit: through music – a whole day of it. This month’s 3rd Planet Festival at World Cafe Live brings to life the passion Emily so embodied and shared with everyone she met.
The Drexel Music Industry Program grad, whose focus was on festival curation, was aboard Germanwings Flight 9525 with her mother Yvonne Selke and 142 other passengers last March when the aircraft crashed in the French Alps.
“When they had her memorial service finally, it was religious oriented and the minister was saying a whole lot about Yvonne and how she attended church all the time, and was very active in it, but he didn’t mention Emily much at all,” said Ashley Kuhn, a close friend of Emily’s who’s been spearheading efforts for 3rd Planet. “It was healing for people who knew Yvonne, but it didn’t feel fitting for her [Emily’s] life.”
After coming together to brainstorm a way to memorialize their friend, Kuhn and a few of Emily’s other close friends (Meredith Perry, Juliet Kimelman, Alex Tyler and Alyssa Stump) realized the best way to share the love they felt from Emily was through a music festival. The naming process seemed obvious, with a nod to Emily’s favorite song by Modest Mouse (her favorite band).
With that in mind, Kuhn decided to hold the event at World Café Live, where she’s been working in different capacities since 2012. “I was actually working there full-time when I heard about Emily, so it felt like the right place to do it.”
While Emily’s festival involvement ranged all over the map from the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh to a festival hear her hometown of Nokesville, Virginia, Kuhn is a newbie to orchestrating music events on a festival scale.
It’s been a “long strange process because SXSW is happening at the same,” Kuhn said. “I reached out to maybe 100 artists. I started with artists Emily loved and got some local artists, too, and others jumped on board because they had the same booking agent, things like that. Emily’s boyfriend is in one of the bands [KODIAK] as well.”
The lineup for the festival includes 15 acts, which includes Oxymorrons, Bombadil and Philly favorites like OhBree and Family Volleyball, as well as a surprise artist who Perry says will “be someone Philly music fans recognize.”
“Before doing this, I didn’t have any experience doing this at all – my experience was in marketing and ticketing.” Kuhn said. “Thankfully, everyone else has different aspects. Service sorority members [Perry, Tyler and Stump are all alumni of Gamma Sigma Sigma] are good at selling tickets, and Julie’s good at PR and press outreach, so she’s been pulling that together. I never knew Julie and Alex or Alyssa before this…but I really believe Emily’s up there watching over this, she brought together people from all over the place.”
The poster art for the festival also came from insiders close to Emily – her cousin, Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes, designed the prints, which display the Philly skyline (plus a Love Park sculpture) against a violet starry sky.
“She had a wide, eclectic taste. We always teased her about the fact that she loved Creed, she loved Bon Iver,” Kuhn shared. “She was open to anything – she saw a band, listened to a band, she loved them, threw herself into it.”
The organizers hope to make this an annual event, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go into a memorial scholarship fund aiding Drexel music industry students who want to study abroad.
“Our goal is to take something that was such an awful tragedy that impacted our lives so much and make it into a happy memory to celebrate Emily, and this is a way that we can show her passion for music. We’d like to bring some hope and happiness to people affected by the loss of Emily and her mom, and to anyone experiencing loss,” said Perry. “Live music can have a really good affect on people, and I know that’s what Emily believed, too.”