Interview: Omar Barragan of The Metropia Experience

The Metropia Experience inaugurates, June 7-8. Get tickets here.
4325 N. Ravenswood, Chicago, 60613    | Thurs., June 7, 2012 at 2:00pm |Fri., June 8, 2012 at 11:00pm

The Metropia Experience is about to kick off this week. Here’s a little exchange with TME’s creator. We got to chat a little about his life, motivations, and of course this once in a lifetime kind of festival. The Metropia Experience is in fact more than just any other festival in an already thick festival town. TME promises to highlight local and regional talent in 3 major cities across the U.S. and we couldn’t be prouder to have the whole concept pop off in very own backyard. For info about tickets, bands, and the full 411, check out their website.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always complaining about getting press to those giant, run down, plaid out, run-of-the-mill fame-whored festivals. Too many people, barely enough time to chill with the music, and definitely no authenticity in an overly commercialized scene. So, looks like the universe heeded my distress calls and created the kind of music experience that condenses top notch, local and emerging artists under one roof.

The most exciting part about the Metropia Experience and the entire concept, is by far its exclusivity, its intimacy and the chance to be up close and personal with some Chicago’s very best new talent. Who wants to waste their hard earned dollars on giant festivals where you’re just one of millions in the crowd, when you can have a more sincere and upfront experience with musicians and artists who you can one day say, ‘oh yeah, I knew them back when…” With great respect I present a little Q/A with Omar Barragan.

Please, tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, where are you from, and how did you come to this work with Metropia.
Creator of opportunity is how I’d like for you to see me. In every aspect of my business I like to employ the skill and knowledge of students or those that express a desire to excel in their respective fields. I live by the motto, “Pay it forward.” In nearly every aspect of my life I’ve been helped by people who care about me. As an event producer and entrepreneur I’m amped about METROPIA because there is so much talent to be showcased, yet not enough opportunity to do so. The METROPIA Experience is that opportunity and it’s the reason I created this event.

I was born in Mexico and grew up in El Paso, TX. At 18, I moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University where I received my degree in Communication. Since 2003, I have excelled in the event marketing industry, having started my own company, BAO Promotions.

What is your roll or involvement with Metropia and how much work would you say has gone into creating this event.
As the Creator and Executive Producer of METROPIA, I live and breathe The METROPIA Experience from the moment I fall asleep, in my dreams and as soon as I wake up.  Seeing this concept come alive is my most present goal.  Since the roll out of the event got started in mid-February, I have devoted over 100 hrs per week to the production of this event along with my team of very talented individuals.

What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve found along the way?
Haha, perhaps getting people to pronounce the event name. Some people say it Metro – PIA, while others get it right in saying it all in one word METROPIA.  : )  Another challenge is trying to ensure that people don’t see METROPIA as just another music festival.  METROPIA is an experience that is unique to each host city.

Why do you do what you do?
I’m driven by the unknown.  I like to leave a trail where no trail has been left before.  METROPIA is spearheading an effort to truly showcase the talents of your surroundings in an organic way.  Much like the food you eat is organic, I feel that your music could be too.”

What is the Metropia Experience exactly? And what makes it different from other festivals?
We’re the first music event experience to showcase all local (some regional) musicians. It surprises me that no one has done it before on this scale and in such an intimate manner. The METROPIA Experience concept calls for an intimate event space where those in attendance are given an opportunity to truly embrace the local scene.  In addition, METROPIA is the first event to be held in an 80,000 sq ft. warehouse that embodies the essence of recycling and sustainability.  The pieces within the space at Architectural Artifacts are all repurposed materials.  We’re also the first music event to spotlight an anti-bullying organization, The Bully Police Squad.   Finally, The METROPIA Experience is the first music event experience that will bring this specific concept to every major US market under the same name. In essence, only in Chicago will the event be named The METROPIA Experience, which is meant to solidify the fact that this concept originated here and deserves no mention of the word Chicago.  Every other major US market will carry the name of the city.  For example, in NYC, the event will be named, The METROPIA Experience-New York

What’s your personal mission statement?
Pay it forward.

What excites you professionally?
I get excited when a new idea pops into my head and I’m able to develop a team of professionals to pull it off.    Perhaps the most exciting thing is to share an idea that people admire, feel inspired by and want to see grow.

How were the artists selected for Metropia? What were the criteria?
METROPIA is slated to feature 24 artists with a few additions being made closer to the event.   We wanted to make sure that nearly every musical genre was represented, so we have about 1 – 3 performers represented any of the following categories of music: Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Hip Hop, Rock, Electronic, Dubstep, Folk and more.  These performers are already admired by their community and bring a large fan base.  We wanted to provide attendees a diverse group of talent.  We listened to over 400 submissions and we narrowed it down to those selected based on talent, personal drive and ambition, fan base and the fact that they all – for the most part – reside within the Chicagoland area.

What can we look forward to with Metropia’s launch and its growth in the future?
The great thing about METROPIA is that each year will be different.  Each city we bring the concept to will be different.  I just ask that people continue to look forward to seeing new emerging talent every year, as this is what we want people to walk away with.  I’d close the door to METROPIA Chicago happy as long as someone says, “WOW, I can’t believe I just saw over 24 AMAZING LOCAL artists I never knew existed in my own city and I got to do it under 1 roof.”

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