Power and Glory Ride to British Columbia: An Interview with Hyperspace Festival Organizer, Joey Hockin

With a focus on the melodic/power metal side of the spectrum, Hyperspace Metal Festival is gearing up for its third edition in a few weeks, from April 15-17th at Funky Winker Beans and the Rickshaw Theater located in the post-apocalyptic-looking, drug zombie-populated, urban cage match that is downtown East Vancouver, BC. Featuring headliners Into Eternity, Witherfall and Iron Kingdom in addition to a mix of glossy talent primarily hailing from various parts of the U.S. and Canada – Helion Prime (CA), Ravenous (AB), Silver Talon (OR) and fourteen others – Hyperspace has certainly dug its heels in in support of virtuosic tunes, melodic riffs, cloud scraping vocals, enough sweep picking to give those watching mild cases of arthritis by association and enough leather vests to give a field of cows the heebee-jeebees. We originally caught up with festival organizer, Joey Hockin (pictured below), who otherwise promotes shows under the title of Journeyman Productions, two years ago to talk all things Hyperspace 2020. Then, something happened. Now that Hyperspace is back, so are we, nagging Hockin for an update about his fest, life without your first love and how he never said die.

*photo by Derek Car

So, what have you been doing the past two years?
Other than trying not to go insane, I’ve been working on my own music. My band, Apprentice was lucky enough to get to play a couple of awesome shows in 2021 and that definitely helped to keep my fire burning. Ever since we got word earlier in 2021 that we would be able to do shows again I’ve been in planning mode putting on a few local shows and preparing for 2022. It’s been an obstacle course navigating all the rule changes that keep happening and constantly postponing and re-planning shows, but that’s the nature of things these days.

After the first cancellation in 2020, how much were you working on the fest with the hope/assumption that it was going to happen in 2021? At what point was it clear you had to move on and did that make you hesitant to start organising for 2022?
After the postponement from April 2020 to September and then again to April 2021, I’ve been making sure the festival is good to go if things do open up enough for us to have the festival. We actually had a complete lineup ready to go for April 2021, but we were holding off announcing that until we knew for sure the festival could happen. Ultimately, it didn’t so I postponed again to April 2022 and reconfirmed as many bands as I could, filled in the gaps and waited for official word to go ahead with the festival.

Were you ever close to throwing in the towel on Hyperspace Festival?
I’ve put in far too much work to let the festival die. The support behind the festival has been tremendous and the bands have all been ready to go just waiting for the official go-ahead. Luckily, logistically, we were able to carry over all the details like flights, venue booking, etc. to the next year so we were able to keep most of the planning that had been done intact.

How has the Vancouver scene been impacted by almost two years of no live music? Have you managed to stay connected to the scene throughout the pandemic? How has the reaction from the local scene been to the news you’re continuing to move forward?
We lost a few venues, which really hurt, but we were fortunate to have a couple hang on. Many of us kept in touch online, but after a while, we all went into hermit mode just waiting for this to be over. We were able to have a handful of local shows happen in the fall of 2021 and it was like a big family reunion. Many hugs were had and it was like no time had passed at all. Everyone is very excited about the upcoming concert season and we’re going to hit the ground running with likely the best year for shows yet in Vancouver.

Was there any hesitancy in booking bands from outside of Canada for 2022 knowing that, even though the border is open, it remains an expensive hassle to cross?
Assuming everyone is fully vaccinated I don’t anticipate any extra difficulty with bringing in out-of-country bands. In my experience, the Canadian border is actually an easy one to cross for bands wanting to come into Canada. We’ve rarely had bands get turned away at the border and as long as the bands stay in Canada in less than two weeks the paperwork involved is very minimal. It’s a great thing for fans of live music in Canada because a lot of bands come through and we don’t need to make the trip to Europe to see a lot of our favourite bands.

What’s going to be different about this year’s version of the fest?
The third edition of Hyperspace will be many steps above the second one. We’ve added another day and have some very cool exclusive appearances such as Archon Legion (members of Unleash the Archers) who only play once every few years, and Planeswalker who will be making their live debut at Hyperspace. We also have the triumphant return of Stu Block in Into Eternity and Witherfall’s first-ever Canadian show. This really is a dream lineup for me and as a fan; I’m very excited for April to come.

What can you tell us about the history and impetus of the fest?

Hyperspace was started to fill a void that needed to be filled because bands and fans of the power metal genre in western Canada didn’t have a festival that catered to them. It’s really managed to bring together everyone that gets stoked on the genre across western Canada and beyond and it definitely feels like people were waiting for something like this to come along. It’s become very easy to put awesome lineups together because there are so few festivals of its kind in North America. If you are a fan of power metal and its adjacent genres, this is the fest you want to be at!

Why did you select Hyperspace as the name for the festival?

There’s been a shift within power metal in the last little while, especially among newer bands, away from fantasy themes and more towards sci-fi themes. I wanted to highlight the fact that this festival is all about the new wave of power metal bands coming up in North America that are all soon to be household names.

What lessons have you learned from pandemic-imposed inertia? Have the past 18 months changed your perspective on any aspect of your everyday life and/or your life as a music fan and concert promoter?
I think all of us have had no choice but to spend a lot of time getting to know ourselves better than we ever have. I’ll definitely have a new appreciation for all the things I took for granted such as the amazing music scene we have here. I have really missed going to shows every weekend, not just for the live music, but for the social aspect. I definitely plan on putting more effort into the friendships that I’ve developed through the scene here, I didn’t realize how much I missed that until things started to get rolling again and we had that high school reunion feeling. I really hope attendees of Hyperspace will have that same feeling of seeing old friends and returning to the lifestyle that we all love. It’s going to be an unforgettable weekend and I absolutely cannot wait.

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