During the isolating snowstorm of January 2016, Katie and Stephen Petix – the duo behind DC based band Technophobia – reflected on their journey recording and releasing their album. The duo decided their next step needed to work in tandem with their passion to better their community and affect positive change.
“We had given a lot of thought to the music industry and record labels and stuff like that and nothing seemed to connect with our ideologies,” Stephen says. “We had talked previously about doing something with our record where we can donate to charity and it kind of blossomed into ‘let’s start a nonprofit!’”
And thus, Working Order Records was born. The label is 100 percent not for profit, and operates under the motto “music, impact, vinyl, change.” Katie and Stephen first worked with Life Pieces and Masterpieces, a nonprofit providing arts education and mentorship to young African American men in need in Ward 7.
After the success of that campaign and playing various DC area charity shows to benefit charities such as Planned Parenthood and House of Ruth. Inspired by that model and hoping to make an even greater impact on the DC community, Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival came about.
Katie and Stephen chose the Greater DC Diaper Bank as the beneficiaries for Working Order’s first ever festival. The Northeast, DC based charity’s mission is to “empower families and individuals in need throughout DC, Maryland and Virginia by providing an adequate and reliable source for basic baby needs and personal hygiene products.” After communicating with the organization on their greatest needs, the couple settled on two programs to be the direct beneficiaries of Tiny Cat.
“Something that resonated with Katie, and with me, was one of the programs called The Monthly. Feminine healthcare items are taxed as luxury items in many states, and that should be criminal to me. That is one of the programs we are supporting – to provide feminine healthcare products for women in poverty in DC, Maryland and Virginia,” Stephen says. “The other program we’re helping them with is called The Baby Pantry. The Baby Pantry is great, it provides all these extraneous needs for baby care that people don’t usually think about.”
For the festival itself, Stephen called on the DC music community, including longtime friends and partners at the Black Cat, who will host the two-day festival. The lineup features a wide range of styles in the dark music genre: EBM, post punk, minimal electronic and experimental electronic, to name a few, are reflected in the lineup.
“All the bands we approached were really into it and excited about the idea of the proceeds going to charity,” he says. “They were also excited about doing it in DC because things like this don’t really happen in DC. We’ve got a bunch of artists that have never played here.”
As Technophobia, Katie and Stephen have deep roots in the dark music and DC music community. Their band will be playing at the festival, and Stephen says that in addition to the charitable aspects of Tiny Cat, they’re looking forward to sharing the stage with “bands that we’ve always wanted to play with but never had a chance to.”
“Community is important to us,” he continues. “Not just our community in DC but our larger music community. It’s important to have people involved in this positive thing that we’re doing.”
The DC community has definitely rallied behind Working Order and Tiny Cat. Just last month, the organization won a $1,000 grant from The Awesome Foundation’s DC chapter to help with the cost of bringing an amazing pantheon of artists to DC for Tiny Cat.
When asked about playing multiple parts in the production of the festival, Stephen was quick to show how passionate he is about what he’s doing with Working Order.
“Part organizers, part on the bill – that’s what we always do,” he says. “There’s a DIY aesthetic to what we do. It’s definitely a labor of love.”
Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival takes place Friday, August 3 (Hante, Kontravoid, Technophobia, Remote/Control and Radiator Greys play) and Saturday, August 4 (Crash Course in Science, Tempers, Void Vision, Twins and Aertex play). Tickets are $35 for a two day pass and $20 for a single day pass. Doors at 8 p.m. both nights. All proceeds directly benefit the Greater DC Diaper Bank. For more on Working Order Records, visit www.workingorderrecords.org. For more on the Greater DC Diaper Bank, visit here.
Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com