Midwest DIY’s Adeline Menchaca – Interview

A smiling Adeline looks off-camera in what appears to be a suburban neighborhood in the Fall.
Adeline Menchaca photographed by @lleencuisine

Capo Fest is just around the corner (three weeks to be exact) and music fans around the Midwest are practically shaking with anticipation. Amid the excitement and stress of hosting a 24-band house show, festival founder and general DIY-er Adeline Menchaca was kind enough to answer some questions about experiences with her local scene, music as a community, and what it’s like to Do It Yourself.

Adeline performs on-stage at the DIY venue Panda Palace! Another bandmate is pictured in the background, as well as fairy lights, a banner with the name 'Panda Palace' spray-painted on it, and Adeline singing energetically into a microphone.
Photo credit: @lleencuisine
Tell us about yourself! What is your name, pronouns, where are you from, and what is your role in the DIY community?
My name is Adeline Menchaca, she/her and I am a trans gal from Mount Prospect, IL, soon to be moving to the north side of Chicago. I play bass in Panda Diplomacy, Squirrel Girl and I will be joining Ferret Bueller as well. I book shows at the Panda Palace, I make flyers for bands, shirt designs, sticker designs etc., and I am hosting my very own festival this summer! June 22nd, more info @DiplomacyPanda on twitter and instagram, or on my facebook @ Adeline Menchaca. In addition to this, I shitpost a lot on my twitter.
What first got you into the DIY scene?
I worked at Dunkin Donuts for about a year when i was 16/17. One day a few DIY kids came in and invited me to their house show in Arlington Heights once my shift ended. My best friend and I headed over and had a fantastic time. We had never been to a show besides huge stadiums for dad rock bands, so the fact that someone could host 3 bands in their house was killer to us. A few months later, I went to the Subterranean to see Mom Jeans, Retirement Party, Boss Fight, Graduating Life and Shortly. SubT is now my favorite venue, and I’m there at least twice every month or so.
Music can be a challenging industry to be in, especially in DIY where everything is up to the individuals in the scene, from the funding to the promoting to the booking, and everything in between. What’s the hardest part about what you do?
For Panda Diplomacy, its money. We’ve been wanting to record forever, but the costs associated with recording, mixing and mastering has been a huge hindrance for us.As for the Panda Palace, the hardest part is making sure people are respecting the house. My mom owns the Palace and lets us host shows monthly, so I do my best to make sure people aren’t being assholes. Being a substance-free venue has been a huge help for that, as we get a lot of attendees from the local high school. Some of the people that still go to Prospect High have reached out to us after being inspired by the Panda Palace to start their own bands. This is incredibly rewarding, and we’ve always supported local Mount Prospect musicians such as The Difference and The New Recliners.
In addition to the hardships, there can be a lot of rejection and a lot of mistakes doing what you do. What keeps you going through all of that?
I love the DIY community. That’s it. Friends like Lettering, all of Beach Cats Records (special shoutout to Elyse, Dom, Dev, Kenton, Lonny and Gage) have been incredibly helpful and supportive. Booking Capo Fest has caused me a lot of hardships, but I am so incredibly excited. Capo Fest has brought me so many pals in DIY!
There’s obviously a lot of great stuff about doing what you do! What are some of the best things and ‘perks’ that come to mind?
Being friends with bands I listen to daily is probably the sickest part. It’s really cool to be able to meet fellow musicians that kick ass. In addition to this, not having to deal with bookers, promoters and venues is an absolute blessing (Except for Melissa Adams from Out of Context entertainment in Chicago. HUGE shoutout to her, best promoter ever.). If you’re a band, look into turning a house into a venue. It’s done so much for us. Free shows I don’t have to drive to with bands I love? Amazing.
Has there ever been a moment where you stopped and thought ‘this is amazing – I can’t believe this is happening’? Or a time you can recall feeling especially excited/happy/proud, etc during your time in DIY?
Oh god, so many times. Whenever a band confirms for Capo Fest or any other house show, it feels awesome. Putting out Boston, MA was also really exciting, getting signed to Beach Cats Records, booking my first show, and making the art for each flyer and the final Capo Fest lineup flyer. All of it blows my mind. Also, getting asked to tour. But that is a bit of a secret for now.I’ve definitely had some tough moments in DIY. Lots of tears and stress from managing shows and Capo especially, but it’s always worth it in the end.
What does DIY mean to you? How has it served your life or have you observed it serving others’ lives?
DIY is my life. If I’m not booking a show, I’m doing art for a band or going to a show. DIY has brought me so much confidence in my abilities and I’m incredibly grateful for all that the amazing community has done for me. Fans are respectful, too. I think DIY really has an amazing fan community in addition to bands and record labels. It’s really unlike any other community.Also, I’ve made some awesome friends through DIY, shoutouts to Isa, Ellie, Colleen, Jinno, Dom, Roddie, Yvette, Elyse, Olivia, Conor and Angel.
You booked Capo Fest 2019 this year, and that’s coming up on June 22nd! Can you tell us what Capo Fest is?
Capo Fest is our very first festival, featuring an impressive lineup of all DIY bands, magazines and collectives. We’re going to have merch, raffles, food and 9 hours of incredible artists on 2 stages. I booked all of it myself through sending DMs on Twitter to my favorite bands and a few local friends such as Infamous Martyrs, Witches of Warboys, thank you im sorry, and light blue lines. It’s going to be fantastic, come through!
What was the process like putting together Capo Fest? Where did the idea come from, how did you start, and what has it been like thus far?
We had been hosting shows for a few months and wanted to kick it up a notch, so I texted my mom and got permission, tweeted it, and by morning we had about 40+ bands in our DM’s looking to play. By then, it had gained too much traction to back out, so we’re making it happen. Over the next few weeks, over 200 bands messaged me. We have a notebook at Zack’s with notes on almost every band that messaged us. I remember Tyler Plazio was one of the only people to send us a music video, and that stuck out to us a lot. Plus, it was a killer video and song. We started looking for local friends and smaller bands across the Midwest that sent us DMs, and then I hit up some friends that have played the Panda Palace in the past. Shoutouts to The Weak Days, Thank You Im Sorry, Infamous Martyrs and Vermont for coming back! After finding a few smaller bands, we began to look for headliners and mid-size bands. Everyone I messaged was incredibly excited that we were hosting a 24 band DIY festival in a house. Huge shoutouts to the Sonder Bombs and Absinthe Father for headlining a brand new fest across the Midwest!I talked to Conor from American Spirits for help whenever I’d panic about having 200+ people in my house in little ol’ Mount Prospect, and he was a massive help for me. Conor gave us some ideas from Fauxchella, such as raffles, food, wristbands and staggered set times. My friend Bridget from The Weekend Run Club also helped me out a lot, especially by donating a PA/Drum Setfor us to use for the backyard stage.
Is there anything about Capo Fest that you’re most looking forward to?
Meeting everyone is always what I look forward to most. Fans at the show, fellow musicians, the rest of Beach Cats, and everyone else who helped make this happen. If you see me at a show, at Capo or at a Panda Palace show, PLEASE come say hi! I love meeting people in the DIY scene!
What is the Number 1 reason everyone should come check out Capo Fest?
It’s going to be $10 for 9 hours of incredible music! Bands are coming from D.C., Philly, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas and more. Support these phenomenal musicians! In addition to this, the Panda Palace is a substance-free safe space for anyone and everyone. The lineup is incredibly diverse as well!
Should we be expecting a Capo Fest 2020??
Hopefully! If all goes well and we can get some good numbers, we will look for a venue to host the next Capo Fest. However, as for another Capo Fest at the Panda Palace, probably not. But, if we do find a venue for next year, expect something amazing.
Do you have any other projects coming up in the future that you’re excited for or working on?
Yes! I’m in a skramz project called Squirrel Girl, and we are looking to start gigging and recording ASAP. In addition to this, Panda Diplomacy has some exciting secret stuff in the works!
If you were to give advice to someone who wants to get into music or other aspects of the DIY scene, what you would say?
Do it! DM me if you have any questions or need any help. I’m super accessible, and I love doing my part to help grow the scene. Aside from that, persevere. Music takes time, money, blood, sweat and tears and Panda Diplomacy has definitely experienced that. Once we started hosting shows and booking the Panda Palace, we grew so much and now we have so many friends in the scene. Just put your work out and make friends! Have fun with it!
Are there any bands/musicians/volunteers/people in general who are also doing a great job in the scene that you want to shout out?
Haley from Absinthe Father, Conor from American Spirits, Vermont, The Weak Days, The Weekend Run Club, Lettering, Infamous Martyrs, Ellie Hart from L.E.A.D. DIY, and Niiice.I’d also like to shout out my mom for letting us do this, Dev from Beach Cats, Angel Frescki, Zack Miller, my pals Isa, Yvette, Dom and Colleen for being gnarly as fuck.
Any last words?
Follow us on Twitter/Insta @DiplomacyPanda! We post all our shows and updates there. Also, come to Capo Fest! It’ll be a killer time and I hope to see you there! Also follow my personal @AdelineMenchaca for even more shitposting.

Follow Adeline on Twitter and @PandaDiplomacy on Twitter for updates and news about Capo Fest and her other musical projects!

Show-goers are gathered in front of the Panda Palace's DIY stage setup, talking happily with one another and waiting on the show to start.
Photo Credit: Adeline Menchaca

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