‘UNDER A STROBE LIT SKY’ | A Pioneer DJ and DJsounds production

Music is a message you know, music is like the speech of all angels let’s say. No matter where you’re from in the world no matter what language you speak you can always hum or sing your favourite song. It’s just something very special about dancing in the sun or dancing under the stars I mean it’s just a little more magical and if it’s a DJ who
knows how to capture that and sew that into their sets then you have something
really magical. Experiencing music together you know that’s just a basic human need I think when people get together and they experience it on mass
and they have these incredible moments it is like a really powerful thing. Music creates memories it puts you in a place and a time but a festival could do that with music you know, it can really like
centre you in that moment and you can kind of take with you the rest of your life. Festivals have just become extremely popular, it’s gone mental you know. There’s an increased risk when anything because more popular. I think people are definitely more demanding in what they expect… It’s clearly not just about music. It’s about the whole entertainment, it’s about the experience when you walk through that gate. Festivals increasingly are the lifeblood of how fans, artists, DJs and musicians get started. There’s only so many people to go around, there’s only so many DJs, artists, acts to go around so there has to be a cut-off point, at some point – I think we’ve reached pinnacle. I love festivals. I do love festivals. It’s a
gathering of like-minded people. Even if you’re not like-minded, you’re there for the same reasons, you know. My, my most favourite early memories of being like a teenager…. is going to festivals. Yeah yeah! All your best mates there… It’s a real event. You save up for a long time to go together, you wear crazy clothes, put funny makeup on… There’s a certain energy and certain like peacefulness about everyone coming together and being in one place and experiencing lots of
different strange and possibly sometimes eerie and maybe even unsettling things.
That feeling of collective experience and coming away and going wow we all just did that together and it was almost like a journey. The general desire to go out in the country in the summertime and sit in the sun and play music, I mean that makes
sense doesn’t it… Being just one of the many
just fucking rolling around doing stupid shit, going and seeing stupid stuff, it’s kind
of what festivals about, isn’t it. It’s kind of like everyone’s there together
all different walks of life, all different mindsets. Some people are into rock music, some people into folk music, but they’re all there, all together having a lovely time. Festivals have just become extremely popular, certainly since we started it’s gone mental. I think just a consensus of industry and
public that it’s something everybody wants. Artists want to play them, managers
want to do them, the public want to go to them. There’s demand and there’s supply. We’ve got three million people now
that are registered, pre-registered. Three million. That’s five percent of the entire UK population, very extraordinary, that want to come. But they can’t all come because there’s only room for 200,000… There’s an increased risk when anything becomes more popular like any, you know we started out as promoters in club nights and you know
the party started as our friends and just our friends and then our friends
friends came and their friends came and obviously after about a couple years you
realise you don’t recognise anyone in the crowd anymore. There’s a risk of popularity maybe bringing, not undesirables, but maybe people that don’t fit in with the ethos of what you’ve tried to start. Now the trick
is to keep the party feeling as good as when you first started it. For the first year we was like maybe 500
friends, 600 friends partying and now because we became an international or global brand, and there’s people flying in from all over the world
and people understand the brand, some others don’t know, so we have to teach
them how to do it. I think the festivals have risen so
much in popularity because they offer such a wide experience to people. If
you think for the same price as going to a headline show like Foo Fighters or
something, that could be a couple of hundred pounds where as a festival for less than that you can experience loads of different genres, you know, loads of different food, you know, so much more going on. I think it’s an explosion of music that is coupled with culture, yeah, and I love it that you get the unexpected because, you’re there, you see so many different
artists, it’s a win/win. They’ve definitely become more
mainstream now, like going to a festival is like you know going on holiday, going
for a weekend break or even like going to the pub, it’s just something everyone
does every year now. There was a time when you never mentioned at work that you worked at a festival or you went to a festival because people always looked
at the negative side of it didn’t they. They always kind of thought that are you into drugs and you’re into getting drunk all weekend it
wasn’t really about that and I think what’s happened now is that festivals
have become quite middle-class because to go to a festival is kind of respected
now, it’s not it’s not frowned upon as it used to be maybe 10, 12, 15 years ago. We certainly get a lot of British people come and park outside and they go glamping, you know, and suddenly we’ve got Lamborghinis next door, I mean loads of them. I mean, what are they doing here you know. Isn’t it odd?! I think people are definitely more
demanding in what they expect. Particularly at festivals where they
they want all the variety of organic or vegan food. They want nice toilets, you
know they want all these kind of facilities. They are demanding from the
promoter to be more creative so you know like before it was easier. For the last
15, 20 years it’s all about opening places, booking DJs and making money. Now these times are over so I really believe that if a promoter doesn’t do
something different… they won’t last. I think effort. The festivals that make effort to make it different. Look, can all just go and chuck a load of tents in a field and put DJ XYZ on and have a lovely time. They’re the ones that sort of fail, are the ones where there’s no effort made. You have to add some extra value to the party other than just the venue and the music so whether it’s decoration, whether it is confetti, whether it’s balloons or whether it’s fancy dress whatever it is you know you have to add something
extra, like festivals probably have bigger budgets to do to the bigger
productions, but it’s, you know, it adds to the experience. We take over about nine trucks from the
UK, we build stages on the mountains, we build stages in forests, we do street party stages, we take over about 350 production people including stewards,
builders, chippies, customer service staff and then we have to decamp them into a foreign country. At the same time we’re doing that we are bringing in
thousands and thousands of people through our own tour operator system, then we’re bringing all the artists and sponsors and the press and we have to deliver about 10 shows a night, about 15 shows in the daytime, it could be a
different pop up, could be 200 people here, there’s an oompah band coming in to play on the bottom of the ski lift, at the same time we could be
doing 5,000 people in the forest. We pretty much invest all of our money
back into our show. I mean that we could have just done the DJ thing and had
a couple vocalists, but we put 15 people on stage and you’re like `this is sick´. Like, if you include technicians and lighting and sound you’ve got, 20-man crew, 25-man crew. You fly out to Australia, you’re spending 200 grand just on getting there, you know? It was 26 I think, 26 hotel rooms 26 flights. It’s mad when you’re getting to that level you really need to be playing big venues and getting paid a decent rate just to cover your costs. I’ve seen stage design becoming far more important now. For us, in order to headline a main, you know, a main stage, we prefer to have a kind of a big, some sort of show,
light show, some sort of screens. You’ve got this incredible blank canvas of a
field, and you can project and now with all of the incredible stuff you can do,
you know, all the mapping and people are so ambitious with their
productions now. We use a lot of lights and video and
stuff in our show, a lot production so it’s really nice because then the whole
thing just gets more and more intense, you know, as the music does and it just
turns into the dark side. With the rise of some of the festivals like
Tomorrowland and Mysteryland, you know, they are more of a spectacle so fans see lots of explosions and lights and stage design. I think it all is bonuses and pluses to the experience. I love it! I love it when you see the co2 and, you
know, the confetti and the lights. I love that, you know, because I see the
reaction it really does, no matter what, if you pump that co2 they’re gonna go
woooooow! So it’s cool, it’s really cool. I think sometimes that can take away from the actual artists and the music. When you’re standing right at the back
you can’t actually see the crazy stuff actually going on onstage and you can’t
even see the DJ. We spend a lot of time working with artists for our visuals and we’re so happy with the current ones that we’ve got, they’re really wacky and
wonderful, but we did notice when we brought them to the bigger stages they
didn’t seem to translate quite as well, you know because these stages are so
complicated they have the centre and then we’ve got the side panels often. So
you often need to get graphics made just for venues. Our way of production is a little different than other festivals we don’t put up big stages with you know big LED walls. Our vibe is, you know, nature. A lot of the production that we do, you know, the staging is all done in bamboo even at the beach. We don’t want
anything too invasive, the backdrop of what we’re offering is the beauty of it and you put some lights and a great sound system and great
artists and a bunch of happy people, I mean, you’re in heaven. The connection with the crowd at a festival if it’s not done right you can… sometimes you’re so far away you can feel disconnected but I also
think that if it’s… the best connections you have when you’re DJing I feel are at
festivals, if, if it’s the right setup. You’ve got to give everyone – the crowd,
the ravers, the artists – to have the best opportunity to have the most fun
possible and if you get it wrong it can be awful at a festival but
if you get it right, there’s no better place. Also what’s great about festivals, as has
been our experience, is that the fans, the dedicated fans, come for you. So
you see, you see the ones that are there for you. You know they have the NERVO flags… so it’s really, it’s beautiful you can see them, you can point them out. I just love it. Definitely you just have moments where you’re looking out over the crowd and it´s like this is great, yeah, this makes it all worthwhile. I think 1994 was Orbital when they headlined which was like a really seminal moment for everybody. It was amazing. And we got asked to do it at the last minute and then so we went, yeah, why not, great, and then at that point we said, well what are we gonna do you know we’ll be playing in daylight so our agent
said to Bjork, could we swap could they play last because they’ve got
this big production. She went, yeah sure. So we played that and there was a lot of resistance to prove a couple of people onstage twiddling knobs and pushing buttons can actually carry an audience. At Glastonbury at the time people would
go off, you would find your little places dotted around playing techno or electronic music, secretly, you know, but there was no main acts or
anything so they were just gagging for it, they’re really gagging for that electronic sound and it was just like boom! Glastonbury is one of the sort
of, you know, huge, huge yard sticks and you know great business model and
everything, do you know what I mean, of how to do a festival. It was the beginning of
Glastonbury’s love affair with all things electronic which today is vast I
mean Glastonbury is big enough and unique enough that some of the spontaneity that goes with the electronic culture can happen there. At Glastonbury me and Norman, Fat Boy Slim, we did a back-to-back and all those people in that tent they come to watch me they hadn’t come to watch Fat Boy Slim. They get there and it’s like `who’s that? Is that? Yeah it is´ and you know what it was actually brilliant. I was obviously really excited about it, but sort of dubious because he can play stuff that’s a little rambunctious should we
say. There’s a chance it could have been bad but it worked absolutely brilliantly. Festivals increasingly are the sort of
the lifeblood of how bands, artists, DJs, musicians get started. It’s
harder and harder to do your own shows, festivals tend to be well monetised, they
give you a platform, they plug you into all kinds of media and exposure that
you wouldn’t necessarily have, or even if you’ve already built your own community
and you want to kind of go wider, playing the right festivals can very much
trigger opening you up to a wider audience. Festivals were massively important to us in terms of breaking Rudimental
through, you know, the key difference with us is that we took the electronic music
experience and played it live. Loads of people on stage and we brought
the whole thing to life you know, and that became our calling card really,
so for us we kind of came through at the cusp of the revival of festivals. Yeah, it was integral to our success I think, our live show. We just literally did every single festival we could, we said yes to everything and that really helped us grow our live show become better musicians, better
performers and I think it got us a lot of fans. To play at, you’re preaching to the non-converted, so you’re playing to people who just, they’re at the festival, they think I’ll go check them out they’re you know playing,
great, and you might win people over you give people something new to experience. You get to play to massive crowds, crowds that I never, ever thought, never ever dreamed I would
play to – I mean 18, 19,000 people. It’s the smaller areas that feature the new music
so in Silver Hayes, Block 9, Unfairground, you know, The Common. If you look at if you look at the lineup there’s over 3,000 acts that play within
the festival so the satellite stages as we call them are very much
responsible for driving the new music they’re kind of the step into the festival. I love it how at festivals there are stages where there are, you know, a lot of up and coming artists and I definitely remember when we were
more up-and-coming, yeah, and we’d be on the side stage and you’d be doing what
you do and I just I love the freedom that brings to those artists. When you reach the main stage there’s more of an obligation to play a certain way,
you know, to be a little bit more of a crowd pleaser and so in a way you’re… it can be less, it’s a little bit less creative. Oh one bad thing about festivals that
you’re not gonna get at clubs is if you’re not playing in a tent and the
weather’s bad, yeah, then it’s a bit of a drainer. The thing about rain is, you know, you can’t sit down on the floor. You’ve got to find a chair, that’s, you know, the backs of your legs end up killing you by the end of
the festival because you know just pulling all that extra weight of mud
around. There’s a Dunkirk mentality about Glastonbury Festival because more times it rains and it’s muddy than it is sunny and hot and the atmosphere when it’s
raining and muddy is just as good as the atmosphere when it’s hot and sunny. We got to play the Pyramid Stage the second time we played Glastonbury, yeah, and that was, we were so excited but about three or
four songs through the set there was a lightning strike like right near the
stage and we didn’t know what was going on there just thought because we all had
our in-ears on we were in the music they told us you’ve got to get off and they
cut the music off and we were getting pissed off. Yeah, and you can hear Locksmith on the mic, on YouTube you can hear him like `fucks sake´. Our stage manager is like `what the’ you know, we’re not getting off. When you’ve built yourself up to a show, blood, sweat and everything, a lot of artists have put their life into this, it does hurt and
sometimes it’s not human, sometimes it’s literally like technology just goes, I’m
gonna just shut down, or water gets into a tiny bit of the amp. Oh we had a funny time it was at Tomorrowland in Brazil We were having the best time, like it was
just one of those sets where everything flowed, it felt great, it felt great,
and there’s the right amount of nerves so you’re excited but you’re
not shitting yourself. But then the last song right before the last drop like it’s building, it’s building, its building and then someone throws a t-shirt, a wet
t-shirt from the crowd, in a ball, it hits the CDJ on the pause button.
yeah, can you believe it and we’re going like this, and suddenly this t-shirt comes flying and the music stops. It was a miracle also because
the CDJs have a barrier over them, so yeah this guy should go and play baseball or some ball sport because it was an amazing aim. I don’t think people talk enough about
the economic benefits of festivals they talk a lot about the problems that
festivals can bring sometimes and those problems are real and most festival
promoters liaise with local authorities and police and so on to try and navigate
that. It’s without question that there’s generally an economic upside to having a successful festival in your area. I mean it’s definitely enriched the
the community. You have 70,000 people all taking taxis renting hotels or condos, having dinners, you know, going out drinking and that’s a big
boost to the economy. I think ADE brings about 60 million extra income to the city but the promotion value is even much bigger. The council, the tourist
board, the mayor of Mayrhofen embrace it, they love it. We bring a lot of business to the town in the shoulder part the season and what happens is the people in the town come to life for that week as well. For people in Mayrhofen it’s their best week of the seaon because they’re invaded by thousands of really up for it happy, friendly, youngsters 25 to 35 year old
people. All the kids in the resort, all the youth like 16 plus,
they’re excited because the resort comes alive. So we have a really close relationship with the local community and we have three NGOs that we work with
so we’ve been able to fund certain projects all over the world, so you can
kind of you can build a bit of a relationship with the people on the
ground there and that for me, like that’s the stuff that’s really interesting
about the festival, being able to have a platform which we can use to donate
money and, you know, help other people. Greenpeace get half a million pounds
every year and so do Oxfam and WaterAid get a lot money as well so there is a
burning mission there about improving the quality of life on earth and
everything. People are traveling further afield to go to festivals so they don’t just try and do it on their doorstep, they’ll do it outside of the UK as well.
A festival in Europe is probably going to be cheaper, warmer, drier, you know,
nicer to go to than some of the festivals in England. You go to EXIT
Festival, 99 euros, right, when you get there it’s like £2.50 a pint and you’ve
got a huge lineup and your experience is something different and you’re also
mixing it with your summer holiday and it doesn’t rain. At ADE you see people from all over the world coming over so there’s a delegation with 50 people from China in one plane and delegation from India, from Mexico, from
all over the world and that’s so great about this music, it’s really connecting
people from all over the world. I guess the growth of Croatia and the
scene there is a bit of a phenomenon, you know, who’d have thought that would have
happened, you know, in my early days of my career, I mean it’s amazing how many events, clubs, festivals and things that are going on there. Croatia now is one of the five most popular destinations in the world and before Tisno was as all the Dalmatian small islands and small cities, was the place for a family vacation,
family destinations, and in that question Tisno has changed. Festival tourism is
something new. Our local people are accepting this festival very good
because the habits of the family guests are not mixed with the habits of the party
guests and people who come to the festival. The fact that you’re in this mad little
village in the middle of Croatia and it’s just a beautiful place and because
of that the atmosphere and the vibe and the way people behave because you’re in
this amazing and idyllic place, it just changes things, you know I mean? And that
is effort to put that on. There’s so many great settings to dance, so you can be dancing on a boat for four hours and then you can come back in and dance underneath the Olive Grove then you can go over to the beach bar and you’re just
looking at the coastline here and it massively amplifies whatever
you’re feeling. That music, in the trees looking out onto the beach in this
beautiful country is kind of what makes it. That wouldn’t work if you’re doing it
in Grimsby, on a Wednesday, in the dark, you know what i mean? Out the back of a fish and chips shop. Fish and chips, I like fish and chips. I think the important aspect of the
festival is still the music, you know, and maybe what the festival stands for, its
ethos, because a lot of people tend to go to events now that resonates with
something they believe in. Internally we try to ban the word
festival because we just think it’s a gathering and a celebration of life. Most
festivals you go to I think are pretty one-dimensional, you go, you listen to
music and you come out. Here we’re just, we’re trying to create what you would
actually do in the course of your lifetime that you would love but
encapsulate in a day. We want to have a good time but we also want have meaning.
We want to have meaning in our lives and we want to be mindful so when I
think about it what we aspired to do is have mindful entertainment, meaningful fun. Lost Village is not just a musical festival. It is an immersive sort of like theatre
experience. The idea was it’s like being inside of a film, sort of like a
Spielberg meets Stephen King scenario. I know from for my own
experience I don’t want to just go and necessarily listen to music for three
days straight, it’s a really strong part of what’s important but it’s also about stimulating all those different other areas that people demand,
you know, we want people to be able to feel comfortable to go and do, you
know, yoga or some holistic treatments on like a Saturday morning.
You don’t have to go and spend the night in a field or in the woods or
wherever you know there’s lots of other things you can do and places to hang out.
You can go and paint and you can go and like sit in an oxygen tank, with your head in an oxygen tank and you can do all this crazy stuff and I think that diversity and approach and also, as I say, making an effort. Bluedot was like, had seminars during the day, all science orientated, you know, we had the Jodrell Bank telescope. It’s clearly not just about music,
it’s about the whole entertainment, it’s about the experience when you walk
through that gate. I mean I always thought of having a festival where you
you walk along a pier, you know, to get into the festival, with all your stuff and then you go down a huge slide, you know, and that’s your entry into the festival. So I think people want a sense of adventure and utopia. You need to find unusual locations you need to give them a little bit more than just, you know, your bog standard festival with a few tents and a few stall holders. Are there too many festivals? I mean, I don’t think you could ever have too much music to be honest. In Holland they have like 360-odd festivals, music festivals in a year. They’re pretty much all packed. Only in Amsterdam during the summer we have 150 festivals it’s unbelievable and Amsterdam is not that big. I mean, they all seem to be surviving at the
moment, you know, lots of them have something different to offer. I think
maybe festivals that all have the same lineup might suffer. If people start to perceive that it doesn’t matter where they go in the world the lineups are
more or less the same, the danger is that people tire of the idea of going to a
festival, that it becomes predictable. There’s only so many DJs, artists, acts to go around so there has to be a cut-off point at some point, and I think we’ve
reached pinnacle. I don’t think you can have any more and if there were less I don’t think it’d be a bad thing. You know, festivals have a bright future,
I think. I don’t think that it’s going to die, I think that, I think that commercial pop music may slow down a little Techno is like the classical music of this era. It’s not going to go out of style, we have longevity. I don’t see any reason for them to stop, they seem to diversify, they seem to be growing in numbers. There’s small ones, there’s big ones. People want to experience music, you know, human beings are, you know, social
creatures, you know, we like mixing with people, having fun, traveling to new
places you know, we’re inquisitive, we want to do these things so I think
they’re going to continue to grow. You go to work 9:00 to 5:00, you do what you have to do and the weekends yours to go party, let loose, and forget about all the
drudgery of day to day life and that is, that’s the same as it is, it’s always
gonna be the same you know. At the end of the day ravers are gonna rave. My grandfather and my father always tell me people are gonna keep on
dancing, they are gonna keep on partying, that will never end. I think we just need to keep evolving and kind of always trying to change it and kind of you know tweak it and make it better. Long may it continue, hey? Long may continue, another 10 years maybe. What do you think? I think we have a really powerful live
music scene in this country and it’s to be cherished as part of our heritage
here so I hope it continues for a long, long time. You know the world is a very complicated place right now and the electronic community is one place for
sure where you can walk on a dance floor and a none of that matters and I think
at the end of the day we probably could use as much as that as possible right now. I think that without festivals, I think the world would be a much duller place.

6 thoughts on “‘UNDER A STROBE LIT SKY’ | A Pioneer DJ and DJsounds production

  1. This is amazing! Great work

    If you're a DJ, come say hello https://www.getbooked.academy/roger-sanchez-music-industry-hustle

  2. summer music festivals.Now just another arm of the corporate entertainment monster.Glamping ,djs because in the UK all the clubs are closed,brands because brands are important.Right now everyone that went too Woodstock is crawling out of their graves to eat all of humanity

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