This Summer’s Pick of the Best Festivals in Eastern Europe

Each year, more and more music festivals seem to emerge across Europe, with Western Europe now starting to resemble a festival battlefield, where the big events play host to the same artists year in, year out and many smaller ones do not survive. Move across to the East though, as it’s a different story – all sorts of unique and quirky festivals can be found here, and they’re almost always located somewhere spectacularly beautiful with just the right balance of big names and up-and-coming acts. It is over this side of the continent that you’re more likely to find adventruous, open-minded souls, who really care about the music. Below are three of my recommendations for anyone planning to visit a festival in Eastern Europe this summer.

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1) Electric Castle – Romania
When is it? July 12th – 17th
What makes it so wonderful? How many festivals do you know that take place in a castle? EC, which is set in Banffy Castle in Transylvania, provides the ultimate backdrop for boogieing. As well as an eclectic lineup, featuring major names and smaller, more underground artists, there’s a whole array of surprises concealed within the castle’s walls, like secret party areas and hidden hammocks. Now in its fifth year, Electric Castle has established itself as Romania’s biggest electronic music festival and is definitely worth making the journey over to its capital for.
Who should I see? Because I’m all about the Techno, I’m most looking forward to seeing Moderat and Francesca Lombardo, but I also like the Deep House artists on the lineup, which include Dixon, Âme and Maceo Plex. Then of course there are the more mainstream acts like Deadmau5 who, whether you love him or hate him, always puts on a pretty good show and Trance legend, Paul Van Dyk.

2) Into the Valley – Estonia
When is it? June 29th – July 2nd
What makes it so wonderful? Into The Valley’s organisers had the idea of using strange places to host their festival, with one taking place in a Swedish industrial park, another in a fort in Cape Town and now, for the first time, it’s going to be held in a limestone quarry and former prison in Estonia (that’s about as strange as it gets!). However, despite the size of these sites, Into The Valley’s atmosphere is cosy and intimate, and it has a real family feel to it. In terms of the music, you can expect to see world class House and Techno acts, underground DJs and local heroes work their magic on an impressive sound system. Although the festival is only in its third edition, it has already seen the likes of Richie Hawtin, Tale of Us, Nina Kraviz and other big names grace the stage.
Who should I see? My picks would be Jeff Mills for thumping basslines, Marcel Dettman for Berlin-style Techno and Scuba because he’s just all-round awesome.

3) Meadows in the Mountains – Bulgaria
When is it? June 9th – 11th
What makes it so wonderful? Meadows in the Mountains prides itself on on its beautiful natural surroundings and the native community that inhabits the area. Local residents host attendees in the Rhodopian Mountains, undoubtedly one of the most spectacular festival locations in the world, and the organisers strive to use the festival to promote green and sustainable methods; everything from the stages to the shacks are sustainably sourced from the bordering forests, and composting toilets and solar showers are constructed on site. The other special thing about MITM is its strong sense of community and the friendly people that return year after year to escape the chaos of city life. It is for these reasons that so many people cherish this small festival, rather than an extensive lineup of global superstars. As well as nature, music, sunshine and smiley faces, you can enjoy holistic and spiritual workshops that take place over the course of the weekend.
Who should I see? As I mentioned before, MITM is not about big names, and the artists that play tend to be unsigned, underground musicians from Europe. The 2017 lineup is yet to be announced, but will be soon, so watch this space!

Written by: Milly Day

Review: Mission Techno

I talked a bit about Mission Techno in my article on the Techno scene in Germany but after last Friday, I realised no words can really do this event justice; you simple have to experience it for yourself! I was lucky enough to be invited along by MT resident, Don Basti, who picked me up from my hostel in Mannheim and together we drove to MS Connexion Complex, which is just the most remarkable venue. Located on an ancient factory site, it’s dark, eerie and industrial (just the way I like it) and houses four different rooms: Tanzsaal, where all the rougher styles of Techno could be heard, the Main Floor, which catered to Hard Techno and Hartekk fans, the “Classics” room, Stahlwerk, a new addition to the festival and finally Treibhaus, where the DJS mostly played Dark Techno.

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While Don Basti and fellow resident DJ Florian Peschel were setting things up, I explored the venue some more and assessed the line-up, so I could decide who to see play. It was a tough choice, as there were so many fantastic artists, but I decided to kick things off with Leon Glock, who had won the award, “Best Newcomer to Techno”, and who was playing in Tanzsaal. Despite the fact it was very early, several people were already on the dance floor, doing that wonderful German shuffle dance (I’ll never get tired of seeing that) and showing their appreciation for Leon. His set was the perfect start to the night, it was nicely dark and driving, but without being too full-on.

Up next in Tanzsaal was Unmensch, who I discovered recently and whose sets I’ve been listening to repeatedly on Soundcloud, as I think they’re brilliant, but seeing him live took my love of him to a whole new level – his was probably my favourite performance of the night. Not only was the music pounding, but Unmensch is one of these DJs who really knows how to interact with his audience, making him captivating to watch. The energy in the room during that set was electric, each and every person was giving it their all, which made the Berlin crowd look lazy! People in this part of Germany certainly know how to rave.

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I somehow managed to tear myself away from Tanzsaal half an hour before the end of Unmensch’s set, as I really wanted to see the legend that is Talla 2xlc. It was wonderfully refreshing to hear some old school Trance, especially when it’s being spun by such a prestigious DJ, something you don’t normally get the luxury of listening to at a Techno event. Talla treated us to classics such as Push’s Universal Nation, Seven Days and One Week by B.B.E and all-time favourite Zombie Nation, beginning with those famous words from the “We are the walking dead” speech. He then played a couple more recent tracks, including his own remix of Sandstorm and Vini Vici’s remix of Free Tibet, which topped the set off nicely. The vibe in that room was very different, as the average age was considerable higher (no great surprise really) and there was a mellower feel to it, but still plenty of energy. I enjoyed seeing colour and smiles on people’s faces too- something you don’t experience much on Techno nights!

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I then decided to check out Treibhaus, the smallest room, a kind of witchlike cave with sludge green wavy walls. We managed to catch the end of Don Basti’s first set of the night, a dark techno set that he playing on behalf of Benijo, who had unfortunately fallen ill. Then Seimen Dexter came on and tore those wavy walls down! The first twenty minutes of his set were heavy and fast-paced, and I wanted to stick around to see how it progressed, but I was also keen to see George Perry, so after a short while I returned to Tanszaal. The style of Techno George was playing was deep and full of feeling and, while it was very powerful, there were harmonious elements to it as well. He reminded me a bit of Dekai, one of my favourite DJs here in Berlin, who I’ve seen many times but who always manages to surprise me. Their music is somewhat ominous; it gives you the impression of being chased by a predator. I like it when Techno can evoke such feelings in me.

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Finally, I saw Stormtrooper and Sebastian Groth play back-to-back. Now these artists both have very different styles, with Sebastian being a Techno DJ and Stormtrooper more of a Hardcore guy, so I was interested to see how they’d make it work. Initially, Sebastian played softer and slower but he sped up towards the end, and Stormtrooper slowed down, causing their styles to merge – the outcome was surprisingly good! You can read more about both artists in the interview I carried out with them after their set. Sadly, I had to leave shortly after that to catch my train back to Berlin, but my event finder and partner in crime, Brige Greene, stayed until the end to see Florian Peschel play and reported that “He ended the party with a grand finish.”

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Overall, I can safely say that the organisers of Mission Techno really excelled themselves with this festival; the venue was second-to-none, there was such an eclectic line-up, with so many different styles of Techno (and Trance!) and the crowd was unbeatable. Can’t wait to return for the next event on May 13th. Mission Techno = accomplished!

Written by: Milly Day

Next Generation Techno in Germany

Techno has been popular in Germany ever since the Berlin wall came down and the city unified to create an electronic music scene, with free underground electronic music parties popping up all over East Berlin. It became a major force in reestablishing social connections between East and West Germany, and the style – industrial, energetic and futuristic – made it the perfect soundtrack to mark a new era. Although there was still a lot of conflict between both sides of the country, everyone was extremely excited about this new movement and the possibilities it brought. Many claimed that this harder, darker sound was liberating, as it offered a release, which is why German Techno has always had its own unique and rather Gothic darkness about it. Predictably, this has changed over the years, with minimal Techno gaining popularity in the 2000s, but in recent times, acts such as Ancient Methods have brought this bleak, heavy style back to the Techno scene in cities like Cologne, Mannheim and of course, Berlin.

You’ll find this brand of Techno in the dimmest basement clubs across Germany, where people dance like it’s their last day on the planet, and it’s that power and intensity on the dancefloor that make nights out here so utterly compelling. Below are some artists representative of this scene that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in Berlin over the past few months.

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Dekai and Holger Nielson

After seeing him three times, I can safely say that Dekai is one of the DJs that most gets the crowd going with his hard and pushing sound, which has earned him gigs at major clubs across the city. Holger Nielson can usually be found playing alongside him and, roughly three years ago, the pair started a label together called Ragnarök and began putting on nights in Berlin every couple of months. The label has a very loyal following, making the atmosphere at these nights unbeatable; as soon as one ends, I find myself getting excited about the next. Fortunately, there’s not long to wait now till their event on February 11th, which marks the release of Lukas Freudenberger’s new album and will take place at the much-loved Suicide Circus.

Hefty

Hefty is seen as the preeminent master of dark Techno, and it’s not hard to see why, as that raw, twisted and relentless sound of his is truly unique. After receiving a great amount of support from the people of Berlin and other cities in Germany and across the globe, he was inspired to create own label, aptly named Darker Sounds. I saw Hefty captivate the crowd at Magdalena at what was my first and possibly best night out in Berlin – they certainly seem to go crazy for him here!

Tommy Four Seven

Tommy Four Seven moved from his birthplace of London to Berlin after deciding it offered more opportunities for an artist of his nature, and has now firmly established himself as a name in the Techno scene here. In 2014, he launched own event series 47 at Arena Club and I had the chance to see him close the ninth installment of this night back in November, where he played straight-up Techno to a still packed dance floor. I can safely say I loved every minute of it.

VSK

Another artist that made the move to Berlin to pursue his love of DJing is VSK, whose sound ranges from dark and pounding, to a deep and more intellectual style of Techno. Fortunately for me, when I saw him play at Arena just prior to Tommy Four Seven, his set was nothing short of banging. This took me by surprise; not many DJs go straight in there with the heavy stuff, but VSK played hard, aggressive Techno from start to finish with no messing about, which works just fine in my opinion.

Ancient Methods

Ancient Methods‘ famous words “Music will tear down walls!” are indeed reflective of this producer’s powerful, industrial style of Techno, however he does something a little different to the others in that he features human elements in his productions. By intertwining semi-decipherable vocals and the occasional use of instruments with those bleak and heavy basslines, Ancient Methods creates his own special sound, which is what causes music to stand out. Although he plays in Berlin often, I’ve seen him just the once at Arena, where he warmed the crowd up nicely ahead of VSK and Tommy Four Seven’s sets.

Jan Fleck

Jan Fleck‘s passion for harder styles of music inspires him to frequently experiment with different sounds in an attempt to create something new and innovative. Consequently, he has received a great deal of attention for his tracks and DJ sets and rightly so, for when he kicked things off at the last Ragnarök label night back in December, he played what was probably the most interesting set of the night. I was absolutely blown away, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing him again tonight at Phonk!, a new concept of twin Techno nights across borders. Tonight’s event will be the debut of Phonk! and will precede a series of regular parties held in Berlin and Amsterdam throughout the year.

Like I said before, it’s not just Berlin that offers this kind of raving experience, I simply haven’t had the privilege of visiting any other German cities (yet). Throughout the country, you can hear this raw, industrial sound at a number of different festivals and events. Here are a few of my recommendations:

Mission Techno in Mannheim

The Mission Techno slogan is “Nomen est omen”, i.e. the name speaks for itself, which I guess it does, as not a whole lot more information is provided. This year sees four Mission Techno events take place at MS Connexion Complex, a sizeable venue located on a factory site that’s now over a century old in the south of Mannheim, with four different floors showcasing German Techno talent. Their first event of this year is on February 3rd, starting at 10pm and lasting a full twelve hours, so be sure to don your most comfortable raving shoes.

Darker Moods in Augsberg

Darker Moods is a series of banging Techno nights that take place at Kantine in Augsberg, in the club’s ‘schwimmbad’ (swimming pool), usually once or twice a month. The next one will be on January 27th, when Champas, Yannick Tella, Enrico Sommer and Bosedicht will each be taking to the decks to provide their audience with dark and driving Techno all night long.

MEIHT in Offenbach

MEIHT, which stands for “Mir egal ich hör Techno” (I don’t care, I hear Techno) takes place every second month at the MTW Club in Offenbach am Main. Occasionally, the organisers also join forces with promoters of similar events to put on nights in cities such as Frankfurt, Cologne and Darmstadt. The next one at MTW Club will be on January 28th and will see Colombian DJ Luix Spectrum’s debut performance in Germany.

EHCTV in Leipzig

In recent times, Leipzig’s Techno scene has started to rival that of other German cities in terms of creativity and excitement and EHCTV is a shining example of this fact. Next month, the Hard Techno event organisers are putting on an night called Pandora’s Box which carries the slogan “Accept the darkness and you will see the light”. Expect strobe lights, fog and some seriously floor-destroying tunes.

Trieb Klang in Stuttgart

Trieb Klang put on monthly events in Stuttgart, mostly at OneTableClub, where you’ll be exposed to dark Techno at its best and most brutal. Their next one, Techno Auf der Theo, the third of this particular event series, will be held on February 10th with a line-up consisting of Trieb Klang DJs Mr. Peppers, Schiggy and Michael Ott.

Written by: Milly Day

Review: Transmission

Up until recently, I was a Transmission virgin; I had of course heard of the prestigious Trance event, but had never got around to attending it. However, this year I decided that had to change, particularly as it was the festival’s 10th anniversary and I’m now living in Berlin, which is a mere four hours from Prague by bus. I had been told by several different people what an incredible festival Transmission was, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for just how spectacular a show it would be. Upon entering the venue, I was blown away by the sheer enormity of it and instantly captivated by the dazzling lasers, which darted back and forth. As I made my way to the front, where giant LED screens loomed behind the DJ booth, I became anxious that there might not be enough room to dance, as the place was completely packed – Transmission 2016 had completely sold out. Fortunately though, there was ample space to flail my limbs, which I went on to do wholeheartedly for the next eight hours.

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Transmission 2016’s theme was ‘The Lost Oracle’

My dancing marathon began roughly halfway through MarLo’s set, kicking off with his brilliant remix of The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up. Wow! What a way to start. He went on to play a tune that I didn’t recognise, but loved instantly, and I went on to discover that it’s the new Scot Project track, W5 (Waiting For). After that, we were treated to Kyau & Albert’s latest release, Memory Lane, a lovely little progressive number. Then a cover of a song I never dreamed I’d hear on a Trance night got played: Imagine. This had everyone waving their lighters and phones in the air, while I just stood laughing and shaking my head in disbelief. I later found out that it’s MarLo’s own version and features the vocals of renowned Trance vocalist, Emma Hewitt. It went down a treat on the night, but my favourite moments were yet to come though, as I would rather be fist-pumping to a banging track than waving my lighter around to a slow one. Fortunately for me, the next series of tracks were indeed banging – MarLo played his own Join Us Now, a previous ASOT tune of the week, then I found myself jumping up and down and dancing with a bunch of mad Israelis to Orjan Nielsen’s Between the Rays (another MarLo remix), which was such a lot of fun and definitely the highlight of the set for me. I stayed close to those Israelis for the remainder of the night- they certainly knew how to party! MarLo closed his set with a real belter, I Don’t Deserve You Now by Paul Van Dyk ft Plumb, which of course had everybody singing along and was, in my opinion, the perfect way to finish things off.

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Spot the Brit amongst the Israelis…

A deep, space age voice announced the next act, Markus Schulz, a man I’d seen many times, albeit not for a while. As he made his way on to the stage, the visuals up on the screen portraying a Roman amphitheatre transformed into something which resembled outer space- it was all pretty trippy. Fisherman & Hawkins, who had played at the warm-up party in Mecca the night before, came and joined our ever-increasing group, as did Thomas Coastline, who had been on earlier that night. Markus played a number of his own tracks, such as A Better You, The New World and his release with Ferry Corsten, Loops and Tings. I enjoyed hearing his mashup of Stoneface & Terminal’s Spectre and Sebastien & Hagedorn’s High on You, which preceded Novaspace’s newest release, Cygnus. Like MarLo, Markus surprised us at the end with a cover of an old pop song, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, cleverly reworked by Infusion. After that, we were treated to a 15-minute Transmix by Vision Impossible, during which I opted for a change of scene and walked up to the seating area. The view from there was simply incredible, but nobody was dancing! And with songs like The Theme, Hey Now and Free Tibet, I didn’t see how it was possible not to dance. Back to the barmy Israelis it was.

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The view from above

Next up was Ferry Corsten as Gouryella, who came on at 2am but as the clocks went back that morning, he also ended at 2am. An extra hour of raving was a nice bonus, and totally unexpected, as I had no idea it was happening until I saw the schedule. As you’d expect, Gouryella was the first track that got played, as projections of the man himself appeared on the screen. He then proceeded to alternate between Ferry Corsten tracks, such as Reborn and Anahera, and those produced under the Gouryella alias, like Ligaya and Walhalla. He topped things off with Neba, the much-anticipated follow up to Anahera, an uplifting number reminiscent of Gouryella’s classic style.

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Big Ferry, little Ferry

After Ferry, it was time for the legend that is John O’Callaghan to take to the stage. I’d already seen him play twice over the summer, and his set at Captured Festival in Ibiza was one of the highlights of the year for me. JOC never fails to amaze me though, as this set was totally different; darker and more powerful, which actually I prefer. I can safely say I loved hearing every song that got played, as it was just one banger after another, but the standout tracks had to be the new Will Atkinson song, which I believe is called Chasing After You, and Beg Your Pardon by Bryan Kearney pres. Karney, which is probably my favourite song of the year. Yes, it’s more Techno than Trance, but that suits me just fine as I adore both genres and it’s always nice to have a bit of variety. It was also great to hear Cold Blue’s brilliant remix of Steal This Track for the first time, which I’ve been listening to non-stop since. Naturally, JOC played a number of his own tracks as well, including The Forging of Steel and Lies Cost Nothing, before ending on his Dark mix of Armin Van Buuren’s I’ll Listen. What an absolute stonker of a performance! Once again, the mighty Mr. O’Callaghan’s set was my favourite of the night.

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A highly impressive performance by JOC

Nicely energised after that set, I was ready for the next artists, Driftmoon and ReOrder, who were to DJ back-to-back. Although JOC was a hard act to follow, they managed it quite well, with an uplifting 140bpm set that kept everyone stomping away for the next hour and a half. Songs that stood out were ReOrder & Katty Heath – Love Again and Tritonal’s Blackout. The two men went on to play some Psytrance towards the end, before finishing off with a couple of classics, PPK’s Resurrection and the timeless Silence. Last, but by no means least, it was the popular Psytrance duo Vini Vici’s turn to play to the masses. I was feeling a bit weak after dancing non-stop for so long, so I returned to the seating area and wolfed down a slice of pizza (love that you could buy pizza here) and enjoyed the show from above once again. Vini Vici’s set started with a bang, with their most famous song to date, The Tribe, followed by a Psy rework of Tiesto’s Lethal Industry. I was raving away in my chair – it was impossible not to! Afterwards, I rushed back down to the dancefloor, just as Namaste came on. Amazingly, it was still packed and the crowd were going for it just as hard as they were right at the start. After dropping another of their own tracks, Talking with U.F.O’s, they played a series of classic Trance songs, beginning with Binary Finary’s 1998 and a fantastic mashup of Robert Miles’s Children and We Come in Peace by Liquid Soul & Zyce, followed by Adagio for Strings. After that, it was back to the Psytrance with Tick Tock by Sesto Sento and finishing things off with that much-loved remix of Free Tibet.

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The final act of the night: Vini Vici

Overall, Transmission 2016 far was a tremendous success and far exceeded my expectations. Not only was the music on point, but I could not have asked for a better crowd, plus the ‘Lost Oracle’ show was truly mesmerising, with all the lasers, confetti cannons, smoke displays and onstage dancers. It blew my mind. Can’t wait for Transmission 2017!

Review: Captured Festival

Last year, I visited the White Isle for the first time and enjoyed it so much that I found myself crying hysterically on the day of my flight (I have since discovered this is not uncommon), as I simply didn’t feel ready to leave. My friends and I had gone for a long weekend and only managed to get to a couple of parties, one of which was Captured Festival, Ibiza’s only Trance festival, which is held in an abandoned zoo. This year, I listed it as one of my 3 must-visit electronic music festivals and spent most of the summer getting excited about returning to my favourite island and seeing what Captured 2016 had in store for us Trance fanatics.

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The highly appealing swimming pool

The day started off nicely – it was blissfully hot and the first thing I laid eyes upon when I entered the zoo was a swimming pool, which must have been closed last year as I don’t remember it being there, but I was very pleased to see it and got in almost right away. Once I’d cooled off, I clambered out of the pool, feeling nicely refreshed and went and stood in the queue for body painting. This was a bit of an error on my part; the queue was so long and there was no shade, meaning everyone was getting a bit restless and grumpy, but we were all determined to get ourselves painted! However, after a while, I heard the intro to Oxia’s ‘Domino’, one of my favourite tracks (an oldie, but a goodie) and decided I had to go and dance to it. It was coming from the Main Stage, where Sam Mitcham was manning the decks, and he went on to play another Techno classic, ‘Talking to You’ by Josh Wink. Seamlessly blending in the Trance with the Techno, Sam treated us to tracks like Jerome Isma-Ae’s remix of Orkidea’s ‘Nana’ and Dan Brazier’s bootleg of the legendary ‘God Is A DJ’. By the time he’d finished his set, I realised I’d probably lost my place in the body-painting queue… oh well. Totally worth it!

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Max Graham working his magic

Next to take to the Main Stage was Max Graham, who I’d never seen before, so I was intrigued to see what kind of set he’d play. Like Sam, he mixed Trance with Techno, getting a thumbs up from me as I love both genres and always appreciate a DJ with an eclectic style. Max kicked things off with the beautiful ‘Sun in Your Eyes’ by Above & Beyond- what a way to start! He then mixed that in to a brilliant remix of ‘Power’, courtesy of Hoxton Whores & HXTN before throwing in beloved Trance classic, ‘As The Rush Comes’, which I’ve heard on the dancefloor countless times, yet somehow it never gets old. As the sun began to set, Max slowed things down with his own remix of ‘Not Enough’ by Solid Stone and Jennifer Rene, a blissfully Balearic number, before ending with Mark Knight’s ‘Yebisah’. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed by that performance.

Thrillseekers playing ‘Affinity’ in the Seal Pit

Opting for a change of scene, I walked across to the Seal Pit Arena, where the mighty Thrillseekers was halfway through playing a vinyl set. The arena was absolutely packed, and each and every person was dancing. That’s what I love about these types of event; people really let go and enjoy themselves, rather than standing around posing, which makes a nice change from the likes of Amnesia and some other superclubs. As expected, Steve played a number of Trance classics, including an instrumental version of 4 Strings’ ‘Take me Away’ and ‘Universal Nation’ by Push. He also treated us to the gorgeous ‘Clear Blue Water’ by Oceanlab, before finishing on one of my favourites, ‘Age of Love’. A flawless ending to a flawless set.

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John O’Callaghan on the Main Stage

I had to go back to the Main Stage after that, as up next was John O’Callaghan, whose set at Cream the previous week was so fantastic that it had left me wanting more. This time, he managed to excel himself and play an even better set, during which I simply could not stop stomping! I had arrived just as Will Atkinson was finishing things off with his awesome remix of ‘Sunset on Ibiza’ and felt a bit gutted that I’d missed him but hey, you can’t see them all and unfortunately it’s necessary to make a few sacrifices at these festivals. JOC blasted out a number of vocal gems, beginning with Flynn & Denton’s ‘Say My Name’ and proceeding with another favourite of mine, ‘Ashley’ by Filo & Peri. Naturally, the crowd were singing along and the singing got louder as JOC progressed with a track of his, ‘Stay With Me’ – I think that had to be one of the highlights of the entire day. It was banger after banger after that, with so many more great vocal tracks, including Bryan Kearney’s ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ and a remix of Zara’s ‘Lost’. He played more of his own tracks as well, such as ‘Lies Cost Nothing’, ‘One Special Particle’ and his remix of ‘Save Me’ by Gareth Emery. Towards the end, the magnificent Mr O’Callaghan took us all right back with an old school number, Binary Finary’s ‘1999’. Could not have asked for more than that.

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The crowd going nuts during JOC’s set

After two hours of incessant dancing, I decided to take a short break with my friends on one of the bean bags by the pool. From there, we could hear the pounding beats emerging from the Animal Hospital, a new stage hosting Hard Dance acts such as BK, Andy Farley and Rob Tissera. I had wanted to check out this stage, but simply couldn’t tear myself away from the Trance!  After roughly half an hour, we made our way back to the Main Stage, just as Bryan Kearney dropped a banging remix of ‘Come to Me’, which the crowd went mental to. Despite being the last act on that stage, Bryan managed to keep everyone’s energy levels high with uplifting mash-ups like ‘Pearl Airport’ (Photographer vs Johnny Shaker) and ‘Out Of BeachWave’ (Rank 1 vs John O’Callaghan vs Nalin & Kane). That’s three for the price of one right there! Like the other DJs I’d seen that day, he also dropped in a couple of Trance classics, namely ‘Supernature’ by Stoneface & Terminal and his edit of ‘Take Me Away’. I also got to hear the very song that first got me into Trance, the sublime ‘Saltwater’ by Chicane. That was a special moment for me. Kearney finished his set off with a filthy Psy track, which I am yet to discover the name of, but you can hear it in the video below. 

Bryan Kearney ending his set in style

Things came to an end at midnight, when everyone began making their way onto the bus to head back into town and on to the after party. I was exhausted, but couldn’t resist going along so that I could see Jordan Suckley, Scot Project and Sam Mitcham (for the fifth time!) All in all, a combination of the atmosphere at Captured Festival 2016, the glorious weather, and the unbeatable line-up made it a true success and I’m already looking forward to seeing how the festival shapes up next year.

Written by: Milly Day

Review: Sunfall

The first ever Sunfall took place just over a week ago at Brockwell Park, Brixton and from the minute I saw it advertised for the first time, I knew it had to be on my list of must-visit music festivals for the summer. Not only were some of my favourite artists on the agenda, namely Ben Klock and Mind Against (I’m a bit of a Technohead), but the festival organisers had the genius idea of combining the main event with a series of after parties, with one ticket granting access to both the day party and an after party of your choice. I thought this was an inspired concept, as so many London festivals have a ridiculously early curfew, meaning the festivalgoers are left at a bit of a loose end once the music stops. The other way in which it differed from most festivals in London was its sound system, which was exceptionally powerful- a nice change from having to push your ears up against the speaker in order to hear the music properly!

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Kicking things off with Fatima Yamaha 

After queuing for a fairly short period of time, I went straight to the North tent to catch the start of Fatima Yamaha’s set. I hadn’t ever seen this man play before, but the friends I was with wanted to go along and I trust their taste in music, so I thought I’d join them. I was pleasantly surprised, as is so often the case when you go to see an act with no expectations. The tent was busy, without being too packed, and Fatima certainly captivated his audience, who swayed to his slow-burning synth tracks and began chanting along when he dropped the famous ‘What’s a Girl to Do’. From Deep House to Techno (that’s the beauty of these eclectic festivals), it was time to check out Donato Dozzy next. For some of my friends, it was a bit too early in the day to be exposed to rolling, Trance-induced Techno, but this is my kind of a music down to a T and it certainly got me going. Despite only being able to catch the last half hour of the set, I’d say it was one of my most memorable performances of the day.

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Having fun in the sun

Once Donato had put down his headphones, I decided to explore the festival a bit and take a look at some of the other stages. We were lucky to have blissfully balmy weather, so it was nice just to sit on the mud-free grass and chill, but I spent more time queuing for the toilets than doing that (Sunfall, that’s my only criticism; more portaloos next year please!) After grabbing a delicious halloumi wrap, I was feeling refreshed and revived and in the mood for some more Techno. Initially, I had wanted to see Job Jobse play back-to-back with Joy Orbison, but the North tent was simply too crowded and there was very little space to dance, which is enough to put me off. Besides, I knew I’d be seeing Joy O later that night at the Dimensions after party, so I didn’t mind giving his daytime set a miss.

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The incredible (and also incredibly hot) Ben Klock

The next act I saw was Mind Against. I had high expectations for these guys, as I’d seen them once before at TimeWarp in Buenos Aires and remembered being completely blown away. Thankfully, they did not disappoint this time round – their set was massive enough to fulfill that mighty sound system and I found myself unable to stop dancing until the very end. It served nicely as a warm up for the next and last DJ I saw that day, the mighty Ben Klock, whose set I’d been looking forward to all afternoon. I don’t even think I can put his performance into words; it was simply incredible. Those pounding, relentless beats had me repeatedly yelling “This is so f***ing good!” to nobody in particular, whilst fist pumping with one arm and using my other to cling on to the barrier in front of me (I had a great position which I could hardly give up). We all quite literally stomped till we dropped in that tent, which I can safely say was my favourite spot of the festival, mostly because each of the artists I saw there smashed it, but also because I found the people more genuine. It seemed to attract real music lovers, who were drawn to the festival by a desire to support the acts they adore, as opposed to a lot of the festival attendees, who I think just saw Sunfall as an excuse to get pissed.

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Sunset at Sunfall

We stuck around to watch the sun go down over the festival site, before taking part in a spontaneous yoga session-  just what you need after a day of raving! It was then time to refuel before heading to the Dimensions after party at Bussey Building, where Joy Orbison and Ryan Elliott were due to play back-to-back until 5am. This was when my excitement really kicked in, being a creature of the night, for as good as it was, the day party had felt like the warm up and for me, THIS was the main event. Joy Orbison treated us to a nice mix of Techno, Deep House and Funky House, even throwing in a bit of Hip Hop at one stage. To my surprise (and it was indeed a very pleasant surprise), the venue wasn’t nearly as crowded as I was expecting it to be, considering it was a sold out event. I can only presume that a large number of people had overdone it during the day and peaked too early, a shame for them, but it meant the rest of us had plenty of space to flail our limbs. Unfortunately, Ryan Elliott never showed up and when we asked where he was, the festival organisers claimed they “couldn’t find him” as apparently he’d simply disappeared after his daytime set. I later found out from Ryan that he’d gone to take a quick nap and woken up four hours later when, much to his horror, he realised it was too late to go down to the venue. A pity, but nobody seemed too disappointed and it didn’t make the after party any less enjoyable. Even after the lights had come on, there was a decent number of people still going for it on the dance floor, and a handful of us actually made it to a second after party (but that’s another story).

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Joy Orbison tearing up the decks

Overall, the first Sunfall was a pretty big success, thanks to its wonderfully diverse line-up and all the different after party options, which meant there was something for everyone. To find out about what Sunfall 2017 has in store, you can register via the festival’s official website and receive all the most up-to-date information on the event. I’m sure, and indeed I hope, I’ll get to go again next summer. In the meantime, here’s to more music and fun in the sun as this year’s festival season continues!

Written by: Milly Day

Burning Man in Europe: Where the Sheep Sleep

You’d have to be hiding under a rock not to know what the legendary Burning Man Festival in Nevada was all about, but if you don’t then let me try and explain – it’s not easy to put this unique event into words, but essentially Burning Man is a temporary metropolis dedicated to music, art and self-expression held in a vast desert populated by extremely open-minded individuals. Sound appealing? Well you might be pleased to hear that Burning Man is now making its way to Europe! It will take place over three days and the festival organisers are giving it a new name: Where the Sheep Sleep. Read on to find out more and discover how you can get amongst the madness.

Why the change of name?

A couple of years ago, a group of Dutch ‘burners’ approached the organisers of Burning Man about bringing the festival to the Netherlands, but they wanted to give the event its own unique flavour and this meant giving it a different name, one which is true to the context of the festival.

When and where will it be held?

Where the Sheep Sleep is taking place this year from July 29th to 31st, but unfortunately this event has already sold out, so you’ll have to get tickets for next year instead! It’s going to be held on a nature reserve in Veluwe, a glorious stretch of fields, lakes and forests, where I’m guessing you might catch a glimpse of a sheep or two…

Below is a map illustration demonstrating what the site will look like.

Burning Man site map

How will it differ to Burning Man in Nevada?

There are Burning Man events all over the world, such as Flipside in Texas, which is the longest-running and AfrikaBurn, the largest. A few years ago, I went to the first Burning Man event in Argentina, which I hear is becoming increasingly more popular, as are the events held in Israel and Japan.

Burning Man in Argentina

Aurora Festival: Argentina’s first Burning Man event

What’s different about Where the Sheep Sleep is that these Dutch burners have actually set up an affiliate of Burning Man called Burning Man Netherlands, a non-profit organisation that aims to extend the culture and core principles of Burning Man into a larger world.

Burning Man Netherlands will attempt to create the same temporary metropolis, where everything is based on participation and involvement, but Where the Sheep Sleep will obviously be much smaller scale than the legendary festival in Nevada, with just a thousand people estimated to attend next year. Still, I have no doubt it will be truly spectacular in its own way.

How do I get involved?

First of all, you need to register through the Burning Man Netherlands Facebook group, then you must apply for Event Membership, a yearly membership that is required to gain access to the festival. You will then be notified via email when ticket sales go online.

What should I take?

As well as your usual festival survival kit, I would advise packing the following:

Binoculars – Veluwe is one of the best places in the Netherlands to see wildlife, so it helps to have a decent pair of binoculars.
A camera to capture the beauty of the festival (and the madness).
Cycling gear and helmet – more than 1,700 of the country’s famous White Bikes can be found at the park and are free to use so if you fancy cycling here, be sure to bring all the correct kit.
A pair of walking boots or trainers to wear on a morning hike (if you’re not feeling too rough from the previous night).
Sunglasses and hat, as it is summer after all.
Crazy fancy dress – you couldn’t possibly attend a Burning Man event without at least one outrageous costume!
Loose clothing. Comfort comes first.
Plastic cups, bowls and cutlery, as well as a shedload of bin bags to put them in once you’re done with them. Burning Man festivals are LNT events (Leave No Trace) so it’s crucial that you clean up after yourselves.
An LED head torch to wear around the festival site at night and anything that glows in the dark, as it will get pretty dam dark here once the sun’s gone down.
Gifts – Burning Man festivals survive on contributions to and from the community.

More information

Other than dates for this year, location and details of how to sign up, not much information has been released, but the Dutch burner community have revealed that they’re planning some pretty major activities in four program areas: Arts, Culture, Civic Involvement and Education. You can read more about each program area here.

In terms of the music, Dutch DJ De Kunstenaar has taken it upon himself to create three mixes that reflect the sound of Where the Sheep Sleep, which you can download for free. Click on the links below to get your hands on each mix.

 

Hope to see you all at Where the Sheep Sleep 2017!

Written by: Milly Day

My 3 Must-Visit Electronic Music Festivals in Europe This Summer

In my last post, I wrote about Luminosity Beach Festival, my favourite festival of 2015, which sadly I’m unable to return to this year. However, I’m planning to make up for it by attending three other awesome events, which are about as different from one another as they could be. Below are details of my must-visit electronic music festivals in Europe this summer and reasons why I think you should join me at each one.

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Will Atkinson at Captured Festival 2015

1. O.Z.O.R.A
Location: Dadpuszta, Hungary
Date: August 1st – 7th
Tickets: €100 – €130

O.Z.O.R.A. Festival is one of the biggest open-air gatherings and, with its location in a lush green valley just 30km from Lake Balaton, it is the perfect place to embrace nature and music, and simply let go. The festival brings together DJs and producers of Psytrance, Goa Trance, Techno and Acid House, who will keep the audience entertained each evening through to the following afternoon on two stages – the Main Stage and Dragon’s Nest, both of which are decorated with colourful tapestries and psychedelic patterns. However, this festival does not revolve solely around music; it’s about bringing people together to share knowledge, ideas and experiences. There are also daily yoga sessions and a variety of workshops on everything from alternative massage therapies to batik. Sounds a bit like a playground for adults, no?

Why it’s in my top 3

I love the idea of a week-long outdoor party, plus I’m just so intrigued, as I keep being told there are no words to describe Ozora; you simply have to go to find out what all the fuss is about. Looks like I’ll have to get my hands on a ticket then!

What to expect

The banner greeting visitors at the festival site reading “Welcome to paradise!” should give a pretty good indication of what the festival is like.

Artist I most want to see

Progressive Techno duo Nanoplex, not only because my good friend Chris Williams makes up one half, but also because I love their sound.

Useful links

Ozora website
Facebook event page
View full line-up
Buy tickets

2. Captured
Location: Benimussa Park, Ibiza.
Date: September 11th
Tickets: €39.50 – €65

Captured Festival is run by Driftwood Ibiza, the guys who put on the fantastic Trance boat parties and Sunk nights at Vista Club, but this takes place in a rather more unusual setting: an abandoned zoo. I was lucky enough to be able to go to Captured last year, and it certainly did not disappoint. This year, the line-up is even more spectacular and, with three arenas featuring laser shows, visuals, dancers and even magicians (say whaaat) I can guarantee it will be just as good, if not better. On the Main Stage, you’ve got the big names playing Future Trance and Progressive, whilst the DJs at the Seal Pit will be spinning vinyl only (expect to hear some true classics). 2016 also sees the introduction of the Animal Hospital, where some of the best Hard Dance acts will take to the decks, so if you like your beats a little more pounding, then this is the place to be! As well as these arenas, the venue is home to an open air pool, several chill-out areas, a massage area and a string of food and merchandise stalls- you can’t ask for much more than that.

Why it’s in my top 3

It’s Ibiza’s only Trance festival and I’m a Trance nut, so I couldn’t possibly head to the White Isle without paying a visit to this one! Also, who can say no to a festival held in a zoo?!

What to expect

Euphoric Trance music, friendly faces (most of which will be adorned with animal themed face paints) and the vibe of a huge festival combined with the intimacy of a much smaller one. Oh, and plenty of sunshine of course 🙂

Artist I most want to see

Menno de Jong. He played at Captured last year and stole the show, in my opinion.

More information

Captured website
Facebook event page
View full line-up
Buy tickets

3. Sunfall
Location: Brockwell Park, London.
Date: July 9th
Tickets: £50 – £62.50

Sunfall is being brought to the UK for the first time this year by the team behind Outlook and Dimensions Festivals, who have joined forces with three London clubs – Phonox, The Nest and XOYO – to create a unique event that reflects London’s eclectic music scene. There are two parts to this festival; a daytime rave in Brockwell Park, and several after parties with different themes, with one ticket granting you access to both the main event and an after party of your choice (I’ve gone for Dimensions with Ryan Elliott and Joy Orbison). The best bit about Sunfall is that, unlike all other London festivals, there is no curfew, meaning you can keep the party going till the wee hours of the morning. The festival programmer, whose name is Andy Peyton, said the following: “Our background is in London clubbing, we understand the importance of great sound and longer sets. With Sunfall we wanted to bring that attention to detail to the British summer festival we know and love. Our day-to-night concept allows us to marry these two cultures.” Cheers Andy!

Why it’s in my top 3

It’s a brand new festival and I’m always up for trying something new, plus I like the concept of having one main event and lots of after parties. I’m a sucker for an after party, as I don’t appear to have a stop button!

What to expect

A wide range of electronic music performances, from House and Techno, to Dubstep and Drum ‘n’ Bass, by both renowned artists and more underground DJs.

Artist I most want to see

It would have to be Ben Klock, as I saw him play at Industrial Copera in Granada and he absolutely blew me away. After four hours of relentless stomping, I could no longer feel my feet.

Useful links

Sunfall website
Facebook event page
View full line-up
Get tickets

I’ll be writing reviews of each of these festivals too, so stay tuned!

Written by: Milly Day

Luminosity Beach Festival: The Ultimate Trance Festival

Last summer, I saved all my money (and energy) for one festival: Luminosity Beach Festival at Beachclub Fuel in Holland, which I can safely say was worth all the hard work and nights out I sacrificed. For pure Trance lovers like me, there really is no better Trance festival than Luminosity (or Lumi as it’s more commonly known), as it features the biggest and best names in Trance, as well as smaller, less well-known artists, who play over three days. On the beach. In the sunshine. With a bunch of other smiley-faced ravers… is that enough to entice you? If so, read on to find out more about this year’s event and how you can be a part of it.

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Waiting for the madness to begin

When is it?

Lumi’s coming up pretty soon! In just one week in fact, however day tickets are still available, so you’ll pleased to hear it’s not too late to get your hands on one. The event begins at midday on Friday June 24th and goes on till 11pm on the 26th then for the more hardcore amongst you, there’s an official afterparty which runs from midnight through to 6am. Wowzers.

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Dancing to Trance in this setting = sheer bliss

How do I get tickets?

It is no longer possible to buy weekend tickets via Eventim, the official ticket agent, however you can still purchase tickets for Friday here. If you’re itching to go for the whole weekend, have a look at the Luminosity Beach Festival Facebook page, where a number of people are selling spare tickets, or check out ticket resale websites such as Ticketswap, Stubhub and Seatwave.

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Our crew last year

Who’s playing?

Uff, who ISN’T playing! I can guarantee pretty much each and every one of your most beloved Trance DJs will be on the agenda as, like I said before, all the biggest names get asked to perform at this awesome Trance festival. Some of my personal favourites on this year’s line-up are:

Jordan Suckley
Sean Tyas
Will Atkinson
Adam Ellis
The Thrillseekers
Menno de Jong
Eddie Bitar
John Askew
Standerwick
Mark Sherry
John 00 Fleming
Indecent Noise
Sam Jones
James Dymond
Darren Porter

Head to Luminosity’s website to view the full line-up and find out when each DJ will be taking to the decks.

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The Thrillseekers played twice last year and smashed it both times

How do I get there?

If you’re not based in the Netherlands, you’ll firstly need to have a look at last-minute flights to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (for the best rates, use Skyscanner). From the airport, you hop on a train to Amsterdam Centraal then take another train to Zandvoort aan Zee via Haarlem, which takes roughly half an hour. Once you’re in Zandvoort, take Bus 81 to the venue, or a taxi. When I went, my friend and I hired bikes and cycled to the festival each day, which saved us a bit of money (and was a lot more fun!)

Address: Beachclub Fuel, Zeeweg 84, 2051 EB Overveen, Netherlands.

 

Where should I stay?

Pretty much everyone I know (myself included) opted to stay at Center Parcs last year, which was a great choice as it’s cheap, conveniently located and means you have plenty of options for places to keep the party going at the end of each day. Our apartment became the go-to place each night, after we hosted an after party there on the first night, which meant none of us got much sleep but it was ohhh so much fun. And yes, we continued to play Trance, Trance and nothing but Trance into the early hours of each morning.

If you’d prefer to get away from the madness and give your ears a rest at the end of the day, there are several options for hotels, including Hotel Hoogland, Hotel Zeespiegel and Amsterdam Beach Hotel. For a more extensive list, and to make reservations, visit Hotels.nl.

To get yourself in the mood, have a read of my Luminosity Beach Festival 2015 review, which I wrote for Data Transmission, and check out the official after movie below. I’m gutted I won’t be able to make it this year, but a family member is getting married, so I can’t really miss that! Have a great time if you’re planning on going, stomp hard for me and enjoy every minute.

I’ll be getting my ticket for Lumi 2017 as soon as those early birds get released…

Written by: Milly Day