As far as music festivals go, Ezera Skanas is definitely one of a kind. Set in the middle of a lake, musicians play on rafts and people paddle out in darkness then, as the first light appears, the music begins and the listeners drift to find a good spot. It gets very little publicity and is deliberately kept a secret, so for the past few years, the festival has only reached people through word of mouth.
I caught up with Reinis Spaile, one of the founders of Ezera Skanus, to find out more about this intriguing concept and what drove him to transform the idea into a reality.
After-movie of Ezera Skanas 2016
Me: I absolutely love this idea of a festival on rafts and boats- how did you come up with it?
Reinis: It began as an experiment on how sound travels on the wide water surface, then developed into a space for free creation without any borders or rules. We created it like a utopia that we could all be a part of and find a way to contribute, despite our diverse disciplines – film, design, photography, choreography and music. The end result was a ritual where, in this diversity, we celebrate the sunrise, the beginning of a new day.
Me: Wow! How has it evolved over the years?
Reinis: In 2012, there were more people performing than there were attending, but it has grown significantly since then, with more people choosing it as their morning destination. Many travel from afar to experience this collective dream during sunrise. Every year we develop a new artistic program, which we need to be very sensitive with because the music and set design should respect everybody’s individual experiences. We perceive the music as a soundtrack for the rising light and the rising awareness.
Me: So what different styles of music can be heard?
Reinis: The music adapts to the changing scenery, starting from the minimal instrumental music that is played in the darkness, till the impulsive music at the silhouette phase, and climaxing with spacy music as the sun rises. It interprets the state of sleeping, dreaming and waking up.
Me: How would you describe the type of people Ezera Skanus attracts?
Reinis: People who attend this event vary in age, from young, hyperactive teenagers, to adults and elderly couples and singles. All are united in their desire for a personalised experience. The interesting thing is that they’re all separated by the water because everybody travels in their own boat, yet somehow water connects them and there is a unifying feeling in the air. The audience respects the silence, solitude and nature, and uses this experience as a chance to listen to their thoughts.
Me: What would you say are the most essential items to bring?
Reinis: It is a serious and adventurous trip, so everybody should be well-prepared. The lake is large and the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s helpful to have a light, warm outfit and tea or other hot drinks to stay warm, as well as a proper boat. It is also important to double-check the forecast before leaving home!
Me: How do you want people leaving Ezera Skanas to feel?
Reinis: The best outcome is when people return home confused, asking themselves “Was it real, or was it a dream?”
Me: Have you had to overcome any major challenges for the festival?
Reinis: Every year, the festival faces different challenges, with the greatest being adapting to the ever-changing weather conditions. This is an ongoing relationship; the nature is wild, so we must make sure we listen to it and adjust our plans accordingly.
Me: Any final words?
Reinis: Once I woke up 5am and went to the central park. There was nobody there, but the sight was absolutely stunning and I thought to myself that there should be a million people here at this moment to see the beauty of the sun rising. It is a very calming moment that starts and ends the day in a peaceful way.
You can find out more about Ezera Skanas via their Facebook page.
For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.
Composed by: Milly Day