Review: Nachtdigital

Last weekend, I attended Nachtdigital for the first time. Earlier on in the year, I had carried out an interview with Jan Bennemann, one of the festival’s organisers, in which he said, “We put everything we have into Nachti, please come and see it for yourself!” I decided to do just as he suggested and, along with a group of nine friends, made the journey to Nachti’s home of Bungalowdorf Olganitz.

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My intial thoughts as I walked through the entrance were “how lovely to have a live band welcome you in to a festival” and “Holy Shit, look at all these trees!” The official opening was not until 8pm, but there were already plenty of people there, most of whom were drifting about on the lake in all forms of inflatable vessels – it looked like a contest in who could boast the largest and most unique lilo (I was quite envious, as none of us had thought to bring a lilo with us). We took this opportunity to swim and explore the festival site, a picture of pale, rustic colour, surrounded by a large forest. Dotted around the place, an array of quirky art installations could be found, such as smoke-blowing eyes and a light projection of people dancing on the river.

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Once the arena opened, we investigated the different stages, which consisted of a large, open air stage, where you could dance on the sand or in the lake, a smaller outdoor stage just next door, and a dark, sweaty tent with screens displaying visuals. The running order was kept secret, which had its advantages and disadvantages; on the one hand, it made me uneasy, as I didn’t know what to do with myself a lot of the time, and I worried about missing particular DJs. However, once I surrendered to it, I began to see the benefits and learned to follow my ears, rather than a timetable. In this way, Nachtdigital was more experience oriented than headliner oriented, and we tended to stumble upon things by accident, as you simply cannot plan there. One example was on that first night, when we spontaneously came across the “Rave Cave” and found ourselves in a tiny, obscenely hot and cramped (but at the same time fucking epic) club with low ceilings and ventilated padding on the walls, dancing to a DJ who goes by the name Fruchtfleisch. Unlike the other stages, there was no talking or half-assed dancing going on in the rave cave; everyone there was full of energy, flailing their limbs to tracks such as My People by Dwayne Jensen, Floorplan’s Tell You No Lie and Roy Keane by Brame & Hamo.

All of the stages offered a variety of music; there was no “Techno Stage” or “Live Stage”, making it all the more unpredictable. However we later discovered the Ambient Tent in a field outside the front gate where the music was, as you’d imagine, consistently mellow and hazy, and people were mostly sitting or lying down on sofas. There never seemed to be music playing at all stages at once, which made choosing where to dance that little bit easier and brought the crowd together more. On the second day though, we faced a dilemma: dance on the beach to the beautiful Housey melodies of Giegling founder DJ Dustin or venture out on the second Techno Safari of the day? (We’d already missed the first.) I picked the safari, while my friends opted to stay for Dustin, who they later claimed “had the whole festival in the palm of his hand”. According to them, a standout moment was when he played a dreamy remix of Aliyah’s One in a Million, a rather highly sought after track, though it is unlikely to get released. Meanwhile, on the safari, which consisted of a colourful truck adorned with inflatable animals, blaring out Techno (surprise, surprise) and a whole lot of people dancing behind, things were getting a little wild (excuse the pun). I didn’t follow it the whole way, as it was blisteringly hot and I was missing the lake, but a couple of hours later, I was on my way to take a nap in the shade when I heard the sweet sound of 90’s Trance coming from somewhere in the distance. Eventually, I discovered it was coming from the truck, which was now parked up in front of the entrance to the festival, where people were jumping up and down, fist pumping like there was no tomorrow. After playing a series of old school Trance and Techno bangers, the DJ thanked the crowd and the crowd in turn thanked the DJ, who turned out to be ‘very special guest’, Job Jobse.

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Another surprise was walking into the arena at 10am on Sunday to find Richie Hawtin on the decks. I know his presence provoked different reactions, with some people being thrilled to see him, and others wondering why the hell such a mainstream artist was playing at this small, underground festival. I personally enjoyed his set, it was energetic, got the crowd going and he dropped a couple of classics, including Loop by LFO vs F.U.S.E. However, my favourite set of that day, and probably of the entire festival, was courtesy of DJ Polo, who had played in the tent just a few hours earlier. At that time, it wasn’t overly crowded, so we had a nice spot right at the front and plenty of room to dance. Polo’s set was deep and hypnotic, enabling us to get totally lost in the music, and he ended on an absolute gem – 747’s Pangea – my current favourite song.

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Sunday afternoon was very relaxed, as everyone had clearly exhausted themselves by this stage, but the sun was still shining, the music still playing and the crowd still smiling. At one point, a water aerobics session was taking place in the lake, which looked like fun so I joined in. A few minutes in, a girl lost her ring and seemed pretty glum about it, so the instructors initiated a search for it. After several minutes of paddling around, stroking the lake floor, one person yelled “Found it!” and everyone began cheering and splashing. This really reflected the care and consideration for others shown by the crowd at Nachti, many of whom come back year after year. In my interview with Jan, he commented that the festival’s guests “make it what it is” and are “just the loveliest people on earth.” After that session in the water, I could see what he meant.

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Speaking of lovely people, I feel a special shout-out should go to the Drug Scouts, simply because they were taking such good care of those who were lost/ tired/ scared/ tripping balls. It’s nice to know that there are safe spaces such as these at festivals for when it all becomes a bit much and you need to get away.

Nachtdigital culminated with everyone dancing wherever they could find a spot at the small outdoor stage, which was totally packed, as it was the only one still open. This was a great way to end the festival – everybody in one place, giving it their all to the sweet tunes being played by Dusseldorf’s Salon Des Amateurs resident, Jan Schulte, and savouring those last couple of hours. At 6pm sharp, the music stopped (they don’t mess around) and we slowly made our way back to our tents.

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Overall, what I found impressive about Nachtdigital was the creativity and variety, combined with high-quality music and a loyal, knowledgeable following. The food options were basic but good, the location was beautiful and moreover, everyone was conscious of keeping the place clean – there was practically no litter on the ground and smokers even kept their cigarette butts in small, plastic containers that were given out at the entrance. I’m intrigued to see how the festival changes from year to year and what surprises will be in store for us next time round- bring on Nachti 2019!

Festival of the Month: Waking Life

Waking Life in Portugal is now in its second year and already seems to be hitting the spot amongst festivalgoers, many of whom described last year’s event as their best festival experience of the summer. British House DJ OCH wrote, “[It was] one of the most colourful festivals I’ve had the pleasure of playing at in recent years” and Christine Kakaire commented in her review on Resident Advisor that “The level of aesthetic detail and artisanship made it clear that the festival was the product of people who have been taking notes at events for many years.” Naturally, this made me curious to find out more. 

I reached out to the organisers, who told me that this year should be better, as they are better prepared and have learned a few things after their experience of the first edition of Waking Life. The measures they are taking to increase comfort and hygiene are probably the biggest changes, and they are also planning to have more shaded areas. Finally, there will be a new chillout stage, further away from the other dancefloors. Other changes can be found in their article A Walk in The Park on the festival’s website.

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Located in Northern Alentejo, one of the most deserted regions in Southern Europe, which only appears to be emptying further, the festival brings life to this sleepy part of Portugal. The main reason for having the festival here is because the organisers wanted to put on an event with a 24 hour license and this location was the perfect size and structure, despite not having electricity or running water (they have to produce this themselves). 

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Waking Life seems to attract an open-minded crowd, with equally open hearts and last year, there were absolutely no incidents. Having a conscious crowd, who are willing to support one another in such a way, and respect the environment, is key for the organisers and for this reason, they don’t promote the festival too much. In 2018, the number of attendees will be restricted to just 3,500, which is still 1,000 more than the first edition. The team are trying to make the festival as noncommercial as possible, which is naturally rather hard, as they rely wholly on private money and ticket sales. They have no sponsorship, though if ever they were forced to choose between getting a sponsor or giving up on Waking Life, they would be sure to select one that ties in with the festival and its values. It’s really a choice between remaining an independent, not-for-profit festival, with fewer people, stages and artists and getting a sponsor to maintain this “purist” line-up, which is so essential to the team. The music is the festival’s main draw, and the reason it attracts so many foreigners, but House and Techno DJs are particularly pricey, and they won’t lower their fees simply because a festival is not sponsored. Variety is also essential for the team and, in the future, they would like to offer more stages with Trip Hop, Ambient, Disco and even Classical music, none of which is easy to achieve on a budget.

The organisers stated: “I think we have quite a special line-up that you don’t see in other festivals. We are really happy with the musical program.” In his opinion, one of the must-see artists is London keyboardist Kamaal Williams and he’s pleased that in general, there is more of a live aspect this year, as he doesn’t want Waking Life to be regarded as just a Techno festival. As it grows, he hopes to incorporate more Hip Hop, Dub and Roots but, seeing as he worked in Techno and House for eight years, he felt it made most sense to begin with these two genres. Ultimately, the idea is to have not only stages, but sounds emerging from all over, such as on the beach, which would fit better with the festival’s organic feel. Overall, Waking Life’s unique selling point is that it combines this organic feel with a friendly (and eco-friendly) crowd and a great line-up, on a small scale. The focus is on building a quality program, complete with non-stop music and performative arts. The team also strongly encourage people to get creative and coordinate unusual activities, such as body scrubbing and painting by naked grandmas and grandpas, as this breaks down barriers and gets you more mentally prepared for a weekend of craziness. If you have any ideas for such activities, or would like to get involved in Waking Life in any other way, visit the Get Involved section on their website.

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Waking Life takes place from June 21 – 24. Click here to purchase your ticket for just €105.


For more articles on my favourite festivals, visit the Festival of the Month section on my website.

Written by: Milly Day
Photos: www.facebook.com/225011164237594/photos/

 

Review: Nation of Gondwana

After carrying out an interview with André Janizewski, one of the organisers of Nation of Gondwana, I became intrigued by this festival and decided to go and see it for myself. What André said that had appealed to me was the size – a crowd of no more than 8,000 people – and that many of these people have been going to the festival ever since the 90’s, as it’s managed to retain its underground flair over the years. Sure enough, one of the things that stood out to me was the relaxed, old school vibe and the number of people who informed me that this was their umpteenth year at Nation of Gondwana because it’s “the best festival you’ll find in Germany”.

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After arriving at the festival site and pitching our tents, my posse and I headed straight to See, a stage on a hill besides Lake Waldsee, where Valencia’s Upercent was playing the perfect warm-up set. It didn’t take long for us to get in to the zone; the crowd, music and art installations were all on point. I was particularly impressed by the creative use of plastic chairs, which made up the backdrop for the stage and hung, illuminated, between the trees. At around midnight, we decided to check out another stage, Birke, which was named after the trees beside it. The music in there was considerably more pumping, as local DJ Patrick Malessa was blasting out dirty Techno and the crowd were loving it, although I got the impression they were holding back somewhat – Saturday night is the big one at NoG, so I think many people were conscious of conserving their energy for the remainder of the weekend.

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At Birke, we met a couple who told us about the “tiny club”, aptly named Schrank (cupboard), which could fit no more than thirty people. Like any good club, there was a sizeable queue outside, with a ‘one in, one out policy’ and we waited roughly 25 minutes, before being given the nod to enter. Small, sweaty and intense, Schrank was a unique experience and a lot of fun. We stayed there for about half an hour before deciding to return to See, where another local DJ, Sven von Thülen, was behind the decks. After a short, energy fuelled dance in front of a projector displaying psychedelic graphics in an area I dubbed the “Tripping Zone”, I decided the lake looked like a more appealing place to flail my limbs, so we kicked our shoes off and headed on in. To my surprise, the lake was really warm and I enjoyed splashing around in there and talking to experienced Nation goers, who had been coming back to the festival year after year. Eventually though, tiredness got the better of all of us, so we decided to call it a night and save ourselves for the following day.

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Saturday morning began at Naked Lunch, where we’d had dinner the night before, a delightful food stand with equally delightful staff, who provided hungry ravers with pulled pork baps, quesadillas, “Raverbenedict” (like eggs benedict but better) and other tantalising savoury treats. With its cosy seating area, this became our regular mealtime spot and turned out to be a pretty good place for socialising too. It was there that we met a couple of guys who informed us the “official opening” would soon take place at See. I had no idea what to expect, but as we were sitting there on the hill, several middle-aged women casually walked up on to the stage and began waving to the audience. They introduced themselves as the Grünefelder Frauenchor (Grünefeld female choir) and went on to sing several feel-good songs, both in German and English, which had the crowd singing along and waving their hands in the air. One of the organisers even joined them at the end in singing the chorus to Hallelujah. Though it was quite bizarre seeing a choir perform at a festival, I thought it was a really lovely way of including the locals and making them part of the event.

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Over on Wiese, the main stage, which had not yet opened the previous night, Beda was playing a mix of Dub Techno and Deep House. We danced for an hour or so but then our attention got drawn to the area right of the stage, where a group of firemen were hosing people down. I had seen photos of this and was hoping the firemen would be present at this year’s Nation, as it was damn hot! As soon as we spotted them, we ran over, kicked off our shoes, dropped all our possessions and began dancing under the water. It was incredible how this lifted us; I had been feeling a little groggy from lack of sleep, and the humidity wasn’t helping, but after ten minutes of being hosed down I was back on flying form, as were my friends. I also appreciated the fact that, once again, the festival organisers had involved people from the village of Grünefeld, who were clearly enjoying bringing all these people such happiness. They obviously have a great relationship with André and his partner.

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As we knew it was going to be a big night, we decided to enjoy some downtime in the forest, where we dragged a groundsheet and our sleeping bags and dozed peacefully for a couple of hours beneath the beautiful pine trees. Then we headed back to our tents, donned our matching black and gold outfits, complete with glowsticks and neon blue and green water pistols, and made our way back to Wiese. Anja Zaube, another popular Berlin-based DJ, was treating the crowd to a deep, dark Techno set, which we raved to for a bit but I was conscious of getting over to See to catch the start of Radio Slave.

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As darkness fell, different lights began to appear and the stages became a picture of colour, with pretty, decorated umbrellas twinkling and bobbing up and down amongst the merry ravers. Radio Slave played a fun, diverse set, featuring Butch’s remix of Basement Jaxx’ Good Luck, 90s banger, Needin’ You by David Morales and Deep Dimension’s current dancefloor destroyer So 1992. A few minutes in, we met a very likeable German guy, who repeatedly told us how much he enjoyed our energy and intensity and strongly suggested we head back to Wiese for Joel Mull as soon as Radio Slave’s set was over. We did as he said and, although we only caught the last forty minutes, it was definitely worthwhile, as those forty minutes were probably my musical highlight of the weekend. We rocked up around the time he dropped one of my favourite old school tracks, Age of Love by Jam & Spoon, then it was nothing but raw, pumping Techno after that. The lasers on that stage also completely blew my mind and, combined with the music, sent my excitement and energy levels into overdrive. After Joel’s set, we stayed to see the mighty Daniel Avery play until around 2pm, by which time we were in dire need of a short break.

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We took a leisurely stroll around the festival site, during which we encountered a cosy clothes printing store with a tea bar, where a few people were swaying to mellower sounds. We stayed there for a bit to chill and watch the world go by, but knew we’d probably doze off if we spent too much time there, so once again we made our way to See to dance to 80s grooves, courtesy of Gerd Janson, up at our favourite spot on that hill. At that time, there were even more lights and some seriously mad, trippy visuals over the lake, which try as I might, I could not get my head around (and I was stone cold sober). We finally decided to call it a day soon after that, and the three of us returned to our tents feeling ultra satisfied.

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Sunday morning began with a hearty brunch, followed by a much-desired hosing down by the legendary Feuerwehrmann, which woke us up nicely. We continued to dance in the water to the sounds coming from Wiese, played by iconic German DJ Monika Kruse, who, like many others, claims that Nation of Gondwana is her favourite festival. Her set was the perfect start to the day, everyone around us appeared to be in a good mood and it was clear to see how much Monika enjoyed being there; she didn’t once stop smiling! More exploring led us to a beach area on the other side of the lake, where people were napping or just taking it easy, which we walked along before venturing into the forest. (Somehow we got lost in the forest and ended up having to climb over the fence to get back on to the festival site, but that’s another story.) The only other artist we saw that day was Sven Dohse, who I had high expectations for, as André had described him as “a local hero”, who’s been coming back to the festival for over twenty years. As André said, Sven has his own special style, which makes him stand out from the other DJs, and he certainly knows how to please the crowd. It was a packed dancefloor and each and every person was well and truly going for it. A highlight of this set had to be when two people dressed as Sea Rescue Captains made their way through the crowd with stepladders, which they then stood up on and began pouring glasses of champagne for everyone. They were thoroughly entertaining, and had a great energy, adding a nice touch to the closing performance. Eventually, it was time to leave beautiful Waldsee and return to normality in the city, so we begrudgingly packed our things and made our way back.

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Overall, my first time at Nation of Gondwana was a very positive one, in fact the festival far exceeded my expectations. I loved its authenticity, its retro feel, the chilled yet wonderfully weird crowd it drew in, and the location. Then of course, there was the music! Everything from House and Techno, to Trance, Disco, and New Wave could be heard over the course of the weekend, making it all the more diverse and interesting. The most special part, however, was the loyalty of these festivalgoers, who have been coming for so many years, as well as the loyalty of the festival organisers to Nation’s fans and the people of Grünefeld. That’s pure love and dedication right there.

Bring on NoG 2019!


Written by: Milly Day

 

An interview with Family Piknik

Family Piknik is a one-day House & Techno open air festival in Montpellier, probably the most renowned part of France for electronic music, which aims to combine great music with the atmosphere of a smaller, more intimate festival. The message is simple: come with your family and friends to party all day long. Family Piknik frees itself from clichés in order to make space for a cultural gathering in which all generations communicate through the music. This year, it is being held in a new venue in the exact location where Borealis, the first legal Techno festival in France, took place back in the nineties.

 

I caught up with the organiser of Family Piknik to ask him a few more questions.

How did the idea for this festival come about?
 

It was actually during my time in hospital following a motor accident. This disrupted my DJ career and I began thinking about new ways to promote music after more than a year off the circuit. I came up with the idea of launching a brand new festival in the south of France, where I grew up, both as a man and an artist. There was no concept quite like ours back in 2012: a one-day, open air festival that was both family-friendly and offered decent, underground DJs.

 

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How do you go about putting this concept into action?
We encourage Techno fans to bring their children so they all have a great day out. When you are close to 30 years old, you don’t go out as much as you used to, so our festival is a good way for parents to get their fix of underground music, while enjoying a picnic with their family and listening to the best DJs. Kids are able to entertain themselves in the Kids Area we build for them.

 

What makes Family Piknik the best open air festival in France this summer?
Like I said before, there is nothing else quite like it. In France, our concept is unique, even if it’s inspired by Love Family Park in Germany and Piknic Electronik in Montreal. We bring the best DJs together in an open air space so they can play all day long to a crowd of smiling festival-goers ranging from 7 to 77 years of age.

 

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Could you tell me a little bit more about the location?
After three years in the center of Montpellier, we are returning to Grammont, a park with numerous trees and a rich history, as it has been the epicentre for Techno in France since the 90’s; Montpellier has always supported Techno. It is also a much more convenient location for us, as it’s bigger and we’ll have a lot more space.

 

Who can we see on the line-up?
We’ve hosted many headliners since 2012, such as Solomun, Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice, Maceo Plex and many more. This year, we’ll have Marco Carola, Luciano, Black Coffee, Miss Kittin and Hot Since 82. We also do a big free opening concert on the Friday evening, with Booka Shade (live) headlining.

 

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What advice can you give festival-goers attending Family Piknik for the first time this year?
Bring your family and friends, bring a picnic, and arrive early so you can enjoy the whole day with us!

 

What does the future hold for Family Piknik? Do you see it becoming a 2 or 3 day festival at some stage?
Well this year, we have the free opening concert, so in a way we are already spreading the festival across two days. We hope to expand our concept beyond France in the future, because the Family Piknik brand is well-known now, and we get requests from promoters based in other countries. We’ll see how we can grow, however, we are not a festival that focuses on money and getting big. For instance, we have decided not to sell more than 15,000 tickets and we limit the festival to two stages, so as to keep a friendly atmosphere.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for the interview and I hope to see you dancing with us this summer!

 

For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.

 

Composed by: Milly Day
Photos: Patrick Ortega

Interview: Audio Farm Festival

The Audio Farm crew, who are well-known for their legendary electronic nights in Manchester and North Wales, are a non-profit, non-corporate organisation. Their new festival is a far cry from the money-hungry festivals that seem to dominate the UK’s festival scene, with all the money from ticket sales going to The Green Paw Project, a charity that works to save the lives of helpless animals in third world countries- if that’s not reason enough to go, I don’t know what is…

I caught up with Ste Chesters, one of seven directors of Audio Farm Festival, to find out more.

For those who haven’t been to Audio Farm Festival, could you briefly describe the experience?

Audio Farm Festival is a wealth of experiences, stimulating all the human senses and opening the portals to a world of possibilities in an explosion of imagination. It provides a safe space to expand your skillsets with progressive workshops and talks, where talented and knowledgeable healers offer alternative treatments to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul through holistic disciplines, massage, guided meditation, gong baths, yoga and shamanic journeys.

How and when did the festival first come about?

The Audio Farm collective started from a small rig called Jumpleague that put on raves in North Wales. Then, in 2009, we all moved to Manchester and in to the infamous house at 148 Wellington Road. Audio Farm was born with our first event featuring Jon Carter and Hybrid, and the second was Greg Wilson’s return to Manchester with A guy called Gerald. We ran monthly events and, in 2013, we went to friend’s 30th birthday on a site called The Workhouse, a local festival site we had partied at over the years. At that moment, we decided to put on a festival on a date that was just five weeks away! We curated and set up the festival in five weeks and over 500 people attended. Since then, we have put on a festival each year.

What kind of music can we expect to hear?

Everything from House, Techno, DnB and Psytrance, to the live bands on the home drum, to Gypsy Folk, Tribal and Funk. We also have The Nest, where you can enjoy 14 hours of acoustic live music a day right opposite a lake. One stage is a double tipi, home of Afro Sounds, including our Reggae Sunday, which will be hosted by my North Wales collectives. Headliners of the festival include Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, Cari Lekebusch, XDB and Jerome Hill.


And what else is on on offer, besides the music?

We will have a healing area for replenishing the mind, body and soul. Housed in yurts and tipis, our healers offer vast alternative remedies such as Reiki, Gong Baths, Shamanic Practices and Massage for groups and individuals. Then there is the Tent of Symmetry, beneath which you’ll find tools to expand your mind, revitalise your soul and realign your body’s chakras. With a full range of therapeutic workshops including Kundalini Yoga, Guided Meditation and Cacao Ceremonies, this is the place to experience practices from ancient cultures from all over the world. We also have the Speakers Keep. This little nook of the festival is where you’ll be able to listen to and partake in fascinating talks, debates and lectures, with subjects ranging from Animal Welfare, Philosophy and Physics, right the way through to Consciousness Expansion.

Besides this, we offer a Children’s Area, Performer’s Corner, Fire Zone, Jamming Area, and plenty more!

What, in your opinion, makes Audio Farm stand out from other festivals?

We are non-corporate organisation curated for love, not money, and Audio Farm Festival is a transformational festival, which focuses on healing, wellbeing, spreading positive vibes and inspiring people. We are also a 100% vegan festival and all our profits go to charity. All this, along with good quality music from across the globe, is what I believe makes us special.

Over the past few decades, other UK festivals have changed from free-thinking and love-fuelled events to corporate businesses. Sadly, over 45% of festivals in the UK are now owned by a handful of corporate companies with one objective: making money. These corporations see festivals as a way getting rich, whereas Audio Farm has, and always will, stand up against these corporations. We will continue to run our events for charity, and curate them for love, rather than selling out to these corporate companies that are trying to monopolise our beloved UK festival scene.

Who or what has been your greatest influence?

The Audio Farm Collective are all seasoned festival-goers and over the years, we have been inspired by many of these festivals, namely Boom in Portugal. We got inspired to create a transformational festival like Boom and we aim to inspire others in the same way.

Can you tell me a little more about The Green Paw Project?

The Green Paw Project is aiming to raise £30,000 to build an animal wildlife sanctuary in Malawi to help rescue and rehabilitate wildlife, such as leopards and antelopes, and aid in the fight against poaching animals through frontline work in the National Parks. With funds raised from previous Audio Farm events and festivals, Green Paw’s project ‘Mission Malawi’ will kick off in October with a free veterinary clinic and Rabies campaign for locals of Malawi, which is project managed by the Audio Farm team, founders of the charity. As 100% of Audio Farm Festival Ltd’s shares are also owned by the Green Paw Project, the ticket money goes towards event costs and the remainder is given to fund the vital work of the charity. This is all on top of the donations that have previously been generated from past events and festivals, which amounts to an incredible £14,756.

Any last words?

“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.” ONE LOVE, ONE TRIBE x

For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.

Composed by: Milly Day
Photos: www.onetribefestival.org

Festival of the month: Own Spirit

With an adventurous spirit and a similar vibe to Boom, Own Spirit, which is held in Aragon in the north of Spain, has one main aim: to enrich the Spanish Psytrance scene. It first took place in 2015 after a series of smaller parties and gatherings held amongst a group of friends named “Own Style”, all of whom are avid music producers. Having discovered Psytrance at a random party, the idea of a festival combining this type of music with alternative therapies came about spontaneously, together with the name “Own Spirit”.

The Psytrance scene is prominent in the north of Spain, so it’s not surprising that Own Spirit attracts an international crowd, with visitors from more than 30 different countries attending last year. Paola Chirico, the Project Manager, and the festival’s director, Francesco Ibáñez, describe the festival as “welcoming, transformative, inspiring and fun.” During the first years, the team managed to develop a concept that included a healing area, family activities, a market and a circus, to name a few features. So whether you want to sweat away in a temazcal, practice yoga, watch a circus performance, or just dance 24/7, you’ll find your place here. Paola added “We like to use the word multidisciplinary festival. You can take what you want out of it.”

After three years of light and change, Own Spirit has been given a new home, surrounded by nature and a crystal clear lake. The birthplace of most of the crew is very close to this location and Francesco had previously organised some smaller gatherings in the area, along with his tribe – this is actually where everything started. The new location has been a major change for the festival.

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This year, the organisers felt obliged to change the festival dates as well, after discovering an eagle was making his nest on the site around the time the festival was usually held. The way in which the crowd reacted to this news gave them the strength to sustain this change, a personal highlight for the entire crew. Naturally, there have been several other challenges, such as building absolutely everything from scratch and designing the festival as a zero impact event, but sheer persistence on their part has thankfully kept Own Spirit alive.

This year, you’ll be able to catch the likes of Merkaba, Kalya Scintilla, Estas Tonne, Outsiders, Vertical mode, Djantrix and Earthling playing at Own Spirit, to name a few. For more information, visit the festival’s official website.

Written by: Milly Day
Photos: Benedetta Broggi

Interview: Agnieszka Górka of Goadupa

Located in the Bieszczady Mountains in Poland, Goadupa is still fairly unknown, yet the organisers describe it as “a festival so wonderful that it takes your breath away from the very first day”. With the festival seeing its 8th year in July, I decided to speak to Agnieszka Górka, the PR and Marketing Manager, to find out just what it is that makes Goadupa so special.

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Can you tell me how Goadupa first came about?

It was the initiative of the Egodrop crew, who used to organise Psychedelic Trance parties in underground Krakowian clubs and one day thought, why not organise an open air event? Egodrop parties have become quite popular, so 2010 was the perfect year to start thinking about something bigger. We found the lovely Bedkowska Valley with Sokolica, the tallest rock in the Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska region, with multiple eye- catching rocks including the famous Dupa Słonia (literally translates as “The Elephant’s Ass”) and Iglica (“The Needle”). It is surrounded by meadows, forests, rocks and there’s a waterfall just a few steps away – the perfect place for such an initiative. So, together with Brandysówka, a household for visitors in the middle of the forest, the Egodrop crew organised the first open air called Goadupa, the name being a play on words between Goa Trance and Dupa Słonia rock, a natural wall we used as our main stage back then. The first edtion gathered around 300 people and was a 24h party. Now, Goadupa is a festival for thousands, lasts 4 days and offers much more than just music. In 2015, we decided to move Goadupa to its current location in the Bieszczady Mountains, as the festival had grown so big.

What do you believe makes it special?

The place, Bieszczady Mountains, the wildest, most magical land in Poland. From the Main Stage, you get a panoramic view of the mountains, whilst the Zen Canyon stage, complete with blankets and hammocks, is located near the forest canyon. We also have very good news for those who want to attend the festival with their kids – this year, we are particularly focused on the needs of parents and their offspring. For years, Goadupa has provided a special Kids Area in the forest, where childhood education practitioners organise original workshops and games for children. This time, we’re going a step further in creating a special zone for families in a shaded spot, providing a space to have meals and play with their children, or simply to meet with other families. Additionally, we are preparing designated showers and toilets for children and their parents.

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I gather from the name that the music will be mostly Goa Trance, is that correct? What other styles of music can we expect to hear?

The name is confusing for foreign people because as I mentioned before, it is a wordplay. Goa music is actually only a very small part of what we offer in terms of the music; this year, we’re preparing four stages showcasing different music, each with an amazing line up. The main stage is the Psychedelic Trance stage, where you’ll hear all kinds of Psytrance including Progressive, Full On, Goa, Dark Trance and Hi Tek. On our second stage, the Chill & Groove, you’ll find ethnic and chilled sounds, interwoven with Techno and bouncier rhythms and our third stage, Zen Canyon, gives festivalgoers the chance to sink deep into the sounds of mature Electronica. The fourth stage is a huge surprise for all fans of the event, something which has never before been tried by organisers of similar festivals in Poland. Goadupa is the first festival to offer its audience a venue: Life Stage. This stage is exclusively dedicated to instrumental music. You will get a chance to enjoy psychedelic sounds of Stoner Rock, Jazz and Hip Hop. So as you can see, there is a great deal of variety and Goa Trance is just a small percentage of the music on offer.

Besides the music, what does Goadupa offer?

The organisers take care of the spiritual development zone and guests will have the chance to participate in all sorts of spiritual workshops, personal development courses, massages and classes, such as yoga and juggling. It is also worth mentioning the rich programme of lectures, film screenings, talks on spiritual development, health and ecology… the Healing & Workshops Zone offers everything that a human being trying to break free from his or her daily routine could dream of. As always, it’s a diverse programme, and everyone will be able to find something to suit their tastes.

Can you describe the setting of the festival?

In the past it was a Mecca for hippies, artists, and lost wanderers whereas today, this setting is home to some of the most ‘cult’ locations in Poland – a must to visit, if only once in your lifetime, as a more colourful, joyful, and beautiful spot than the Bieszczady whirling in a shamanic dance at Goadupa is hard to come by.

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What type of people come to Goadupa?

Goadupa caters to those looking to break away from their day-to-day existence for a few days and enter a world where needs of the heart and soul are priorities. We all want to stop in our footsteps for a moment, lose ourselves in the beauty of the moment and experience something extraordinary together with friends and family. It is difficult to experience the world this way in mundane daily life, with all of its duties and obligations, and be here and now. We invite all open-minded people looking for an alternative lifestyle to experience the magic. Young, old and families all are more than welcome.

I read that you can only purchase tickets at the festival itself – what are the reasons behind this decision?

Actually, we have online sales as well! You can buy your ticket here.

For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.

Composed by: Milly Day
Photos by: Wojciech Drabek’Styropian’

Festival of the month: Forest Star

Forest Star is a magical gathering in Urla Forest in Sweden, which embraces togetherness and claims to be all about the love and unity of the people. Indeed, it has been described by visitors as “the most loving festival that has taken place” over the Swedish summer and Emma Vilda, one of the organisers, told me that for her, Forest Star is about learning from the past and remembering the sacred ways of living, finding a way to heal and grow in the modern world, so that people can help one another create a better world with more love.

The festival first came about when, after years of travelling, Emma realised she longed to find her roots and create a life with a deeper meaning. Back in 2009, around a bush fire in Australia, a vision appeared to her of returning to her home in the north of Sweden to her family’s land, where she would gather the tribes and bring back the roots of the land to them. She envisioned a place in the nature where people could meet and share the magic of life in a safe environment, heal and grow together.

Not long after the first gathering in 2010, Emma made new friends and connections and, together with some of them, she studied old ways of living, including traditional songs and ceremonies, which they wanted to bring back to life. Shortly after, their crew, Urla Tribe, started to be shaped. Now, this tribe come together every year in June to celebrate the summer solstice. They dress the midsummer pole, a symbol of both male and female energy, with flowers and encourage festivalgoers to dance around it as a celebration of life.

Besides this, there are daily yoga and meditation classes, workshops, a handicraft market and plenty of delicious food on offer. There is also a children’s section which includes theatre performances, face painting and a playground in the forest. On the Saturday night, women from Urla Tribe perform a sacred dance on the main stage, undoubtedly one of the highlights.

Emma claims that Forest Star would probably be long gone if it wasn’t for her stubbornness and a very few strong souls supporting them with unconditional love; everyone involved in the festival is fundamental in making it happen year after year. “I think our visitors can feel that we are doing this from our hearts and it’s important for us that every visitor has a beautiful time”, she added. “The festival site is a blessing to us all.”

Forest Star takes place from June 21 – 24. Click here to purchase your ticket.

 

Written by: Milly Day
Photos: www.foreststar.se

Interview: Mel Pressler of Her Damit

Her Damit brings Techno lovers from across Europe to an abandoned bunker near Berlin, where industrial backdrops and dense woods make up the setting for this unique festival. Each year, the line up features a combination of local favourites and international names and, whilst it’s constantly expanding, Her Damit’s organisers claim that preserving the festival’s intimate feel is more important to them than making money through ticket sales, so they deliberately limit  the number of visitors. I asked Mel Pressler, one of the organisers, a few more questions – read on to see what she had to say.
 

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Describe Her Damit in a nutshell

The main focus is the music, followed by the light and visual effects, and the sound concept. Decoration only plays a minor supporting role for a good reason; as we always pick very unusual locations, we don’t want to cover up what they have to offer, but instead embrace it. For this reason, the lighting plays a huge role.


What does the name mean?

In the previous project, we had played with that expression in our PR (in English it would mean something like “bring it on”) over and over again. I always found it very powerful and applicable in many ways, and I liked it very much. To give my new festival this name also comes down to nostalgia, as I am a very emotional person, and it took me a very long time to get over being sad about the failure of the former project; maybe some part of me didn’t want to let go of it at that moment. However, the expression also fits perfectly to what I would like to express – I connect the name “Her Damit” with pure energy.


What provoked you to start the festival in the first place?

One could say that Her Damit is a personal continuation of another failed project with friends. It took place in Prora and, when we discovered the location a few years back, we shared a vision of a festival. We spent nearly two years with the planning and organisation, and eventually completed it. It took all our heart, soul, strength, and passion. Unfortunately, our cooperation did not function very well. When it was over, we were faced with the shards of our shared vision and also our friendship. This weighed very heavily on me—in many ways. I wanted to quit it all, never do a festival again, and leave everything behind me. However, luckily there were people close to me who pushed and motivated me so much that I pulled myself together and gathered my remaining energy once more, continuing this journey on my own. I shaped a new concept based on my very own vision and that is how Her Damit was born. Above all, I am very ambitious to break new musical ground in the German festival scene.


Her Damit caught my attention as I’m a Techno fanatic! Naturally, Germany is home to thousands of talented Techno DJs- how do you go about picking a select few for the festival?

In terms of bookings, it is a constant tightrope because everything should be perfectly balanced out: House and Techno, a mix of well-known DJs and new, up-and-coming ones. In general, I’m not only interested in booking big names,  and would prefer to go for variety. The lineups are based on an idea, some sort of a musical story I want to tell our visitors  during their timr at Her Damit. Concerning the artists, is very important to me that they understand their craft and have a “rave heart” at the right spot. Artists who have their very own fingerprint and style always impress me a lot.

 

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Photo: Marius Knieling

Could you tell us a bit more about the festival location, Freudenberg, and why you choose to host it there?

Not far from Berlin, we found a former bunker complex from the GDR times that seemed perfect for us. So we moved from the island of Rugia to Freudenberg, into “exile.” The local community and the residents of Freudenberg greeted us with open arms and what began as this “exile” location has now become our home. However, like with every move, changes came with it so it was inevitable that the festival would change, but we have adapted to the new surroundings. The bunker complex in Freudenberg reminds me very much of old rave times, hence I’m always saying that last year’s “Her Damit im Exil” was an homage to ’90’s rave culture. There was a very stripped-down concept behind it.


Besides the music, what else would make this a worthwhile trip for those coming from beyond Berlin?

You have to discover and explore Her Damit; it’s totally off the grid. The journey there is an experience in itself, as it’s very trippy, and the location is also worth a visit. Sure you can go to good clubs in Berlin every weekend, but our festival is only once a year, and from year to year, things are developing and improving. We do more than our very best to keep things muy exciting and fresh.

For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.

Composed by: Milly Day
Feature photo: Sophie Pröttel

Interview: Anton Shoom of Yaga Gathering

Yaga Gathering is a 4-day alternative lifestyle festival with a focus on the arts, held in the open woods in the Varėna District of southern Lithuania. This year, it is expected that artists from over 20 countries will participate at the gathering. Besides the vast number of art projects and exhibitions, you’ll find live and electronic music, handicrafts, holistic therapy and wellness activities. I spoke to Anton Shoom, one of the organisers, to find out more.

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Am I right in thinking Yaga has been going since 2003? How has it changed over the years?


Yes, Yaga dates back to 2003. At the time, it was called Shambala, but after three editions we changed the name to Yaga in 2007 (the festival didn’t go ahead in 2004).

What was the motivation behind starting this festival in the first place?

An idea to host an international psychedelic gathering was behind the initial efforts, plus a lack of alternatives both in the region and nationally.

What have been your highlights?

There have been so many many highlights over the years, it’s impossible to select just a few. With such a diverse programme, there are highlights in various different areas: music, visual arts and performances. Every year, there’s something we really look forward to.

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And what were your greatest challenges?

The greatest challenges were, and still are, to make changes; people get used to things and expect them to be the same each time. When you do make changes, they are often treated with skepticism.

How do you select the artists that play?

Primarily according to personal preferences. Every stage has a curator and they do most of the work, however we work closely with one another and discuss the overall direction of each stage.


What else is on offer, besides the music?

It’s things besides the music that are being focused on, not for the majority, but for a big part of the audience. Yaga has an extensive daytime programme and this year, we are going to focus on a particular theme: Shapeshifting, and we’ll include relevant workshops and lectures. There will be handpicked tattoo and fashion workshops, lectures by Shaltmira and much more.

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What makes Yaga special, in your opinion?

The mantra The Vibe is The Tribe sums it up quite well I suppose.

For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.

Composed by: Milly Day
Photos by: Paulius Burkšaitis