Tick Tick Clicks

Heartthrobz. Photo: Emma Nevers Hazlett.

By: Kurstin Reuschel, Editor

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I walked to Tick Tick’s headquarters in the South End of Burlington, in part because I didn’t know what Tick Tick was. Julia Lewandoski, covered head to toe in brightly colored American Apparel clothing, had just finished her radio show at The Radiator and was leading me down unfamiliar streets with her bike by her side. On the way we ran into her boyfriend and co-worker, Dale Donaldson; together we continued the journey to Marble Avenue. 

We entered a large building that seemed to be from a forgotten industrial age of Burlington. Julia led me to a set of stairs; they brought us to a large, dimly-lit room with two rectangular windows that picked up only minimal daylight on the cloudy day. We’d reached our destination: the Tick Tick studio, filled with printing supplies and machinery. A Macy’s-style rack of shirts of various colors and designs was the first thing I noticed, all covered with designs Tick Tick had created. I couldn’t help but look up at the large pastel balloon-like mobiles dangling from the ceiling. I wasn’t sure if they were decoration or served a purpose but they added a “homey”feel to the stark white studio. 

I was a bit embarrassed to ask, but I still wasn’t sure exactly what they did here. Dale responded, “So it’s weird, it’s like Tick Tick is sort of everything that we ever wanted to do, we just started doing.” Tick Tick does in fact do a little bit of everything: Screen printing; booking/promotion; and they’re experimenting with a new record label dubbed “Everyone Records.”

Julia immediately went up to an office area with vintage chairs and sleek Mac computers, Dale followed and I made my way to a comfy orange chair, eager to learn about the mysterious Tick Tick.

Dale and Graham Keegan founded and own Tick Tick. Their revolving cast of characters also includes Nick Mavadeones, who primarily does booking; Colin Patrick Charles; and two interns, Alana Smith and Noah Hoose. Julia concentrates on handling press and everyone dabbles a bit with design.

Dale and Graham started Tick Tick two years ago because they felt that Burlington lacked what they had hoped to find in the music scene when they both moved to Vermont. They realized that they were always traveling to Boston, Montreal or New York to see the shows they wanted; Tick Tick was founded to bring shows to Vermont that were passing it by.

“The major thing the Burlington scene lacks right now is local bands that are actually doing interesting and innovative things” Dale said, “And progressing,” Julia added. “With some exceptions, there hasn’t really been a force to be reckoned with in the past ten years,” Dale said.  “In Indie at least,”Julia added, and Dale agreed. 

When it comes to the booking end, Tick Tick is unique. They serve as a third-party booking agent, which means they don’t have their own venue. They negotiate with both the artist and the venue to book a show.  Their venues range from the Monkey House in Winooski to basements in the area depending on what the artist is looking for. They do all the promotion for their shows, including posters they print themselves, as well as getting the word out to newspapers and radio stations. They have an extensive email list, and much of their promotion is done via word of mouth. 

Asked about their goals for the company, both Julia and Dale perked up and spoke with absolute confidence. Julia responded first: “I would say that in the most vague sense we’re here to support music and art, but specifically to create a music scene for Burlington and greater Vermont while creating an interchange with other places and here. You know, making connections and turning the experience of live music into an affordable, inclusive, unique, memorable experience instead of a vehicle for bars to make money. And making sure that everybody feels they get their money’s worth, fans and bands get paid and feel like people care about them and support them as artists, and basically just making friends.”

Dale followed, “I would second that, and basically we started it because when we were going to shows it would be like a big wall between you and the artist and it was just people being cliquey and pretentious and we want to break those walls down and make it so everyone feels like they are part of it rather than just paying to go see something. We want people to come to our shows and feel like they are part of our show, you know, like we’re here because this is a special thing, because we’re special.”

They both made clear that Tick Tick isn’t about the making money, but rather about creating opportunities and community. Dale ended the conversation with, “Anyone can make anything happen if they want it.”  

Find more about Tick Tick and see upcoming shows at www.ticktick.org