Lecompte brings back DIYDAY

Bringing back Do-it-Yourself culture to KW

Marc Lacompt - ONLINE Will 2
Photo by Will Huang

After last year’s great success, DIYDAY will be returning to Waterloo on Nov. 1 at Chainsaw. Despite the festival’s young age, organizer Marc Lecompte has extensive experience within the Waterloo art scene. Since moving here 11 years ago, Marc has dipped his toes in the likes of music, print media and cuisine.

“I came to Waterloo — I didn’t see as much stuff happening as I wanted, so I just tried to make things happen as far as the arts scene goes,” Lecompte said.

During his early years in Waterloo, Lecompte started a zine called CTRPLLR, a community-driven publication where local artists and writers could submit their work to be published. Lecompte would print 500 copies for each monthly edition and hand them out for free around the city.

His most notable achievement to date has been the success of the Princess Café. Since taking ownership in 2010, Lecompte has made changes to just about every aspect of the café to perfect the warm and inviting atmosphere.

Walls filled with artwork— including a beautiful moon mural near the back­ — enclose the quaint space. The dining area exudes a cottage-like atmosphere, with mismatched seating and wooden accents.

“We tried to go for more of a homey feel, change the menu, change the décor. We introduced craft beer and began hosting events like concerts, comedy nights and trivia nights,” he said.

Changes to the menu are recurrent, as the café has won awards for their cuisine.

“As far as food goes, the thing that I’m fortunate for is that I’m not some high-end chef. I like to do simple things like kick-ass sandwiches, wicked soup and salad,” said Lecompte.“ We like to do simple things but super well.”

Since the success of the cafe, Marc has gone on to develop its evening alter ego, Cheeses Murphy, which is open from midnight to 3 am every

Friday and Saturday. Operated out of the Princess Cinema box office, Cheeses Murphy presents an elegant rendition to a childhood favourite: the grilled cheese. The booth celebrated its third anniversary this past weekend.

In addition to his successful ventures, Lecompte maintains a selfless approach to supporting the arts in the community.

“All the shows I put on are not-for-profit. I may put shows on in my café, but it doesn’t feel right taking money from artists. So what if I lose money? At the end of the day it’s about giving the utmost support to artists.”

Lecompte’s most recent addition to the Waterloo community is DIYDAY, a festival where artists, writers and business-owners can set up booths to exhibit their work to the art-curious public. Curiously enough, Lecompte never intended for the festival to be an annual event.

“I really wanted to book this band The Famines for a show, but they could only play the day, so I organized DIYDAY last year as a daytime festival, but it got such a positive response. I wasn’t expecting it to go the way it did,” he said.“Everyone was asking if it was an annual event, so I figured why not”

This year, attendees can expect the likes of Kitchener-Waterloo based illustrator Jon “Bearface” Johnson as well as Jon Hendy, an artist who takes a unique approach to physical art.

“He repurposes these old wrestling dolls and action figures, makes new clothing and gives them beards,” Lecompte said.

In addition to a multitude of other artists, Weird Canada will be in attendance to share the new and weird in Canadian music.

“It’s a way that Canadians can hear a lot of new music that they haven’t heard before. Aaron and Marie, the owners, run a little record store out of their apartment in Waterloo just down the street from the café actually,” Lecompte said.

Lecompte managed to book the band Absolutely Free, who were recently signed to the celebrated Canadian label Arts & Crafts.

“I’m super excited for people who don’t know about them, because I think they’ll be blown away,” Lecompte said.

Other activities at the festival will include silk-screening and a community-driven zine will be created and printed at the event.

“We’ll have a station where you can write or draw whatever you’d like and then submit it to a zine that will be printed just for the event. It allows everyone to get involved with a community art project,” Lecompte said.

Lecompte’s passion for the art community is evident; if he continues his efforts to support and expand its presence, and others follow suit,

Waterloo may just become the cultural hub that he longed for 11 years ago.

“You’ve got to make the change happen that you want to see happen — you can’t just sit around and wish for better food or better shows in the city” he said.

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