Ahhh, the season of sweaty tents, warm drinks and befriending weird strangers is upon us. A nightmare to some, but an unmissable yearly tradition for others. If you are one of those people that can’t wait to see all of your favourite artists you have been listening to all year (or new ones you have never heard of), then this article is for you. Every year, Red Bull Elektropedia has a few stages at some of the best summer music festivals our country has to offer. On the menu this year: cutting edge dance music on our massive stage at Dour Festival, cosy club nights at Lokerse Feesten, serious party vibes at Couleur Café and proper raving at Extrema Outdoor. We have asked the same set of questions to all our partner festivals this year, each with the goal of finding out what you should look forward to exactly. May you get yourself ready for yet another festival season for the books! Oh, by the way, you can win 2 x 2 tickets if you scroll down right now!
Represented by: MATHIEU FONSNY
Location: Dour Date: July 11 – 15
Red Bull Elektropedia stage name: Red Bull Elektropedia Balzaal
Red Bull Elektropedia stage since: 2011
Any changes this year for your festival compared to other editions?
"The whole festival will see a new set-up for the 30th birthday edition! I can’t tell you much more, but expect some big changes!"
...and what about the Red Bull Elektrope- dia stage? Any changes there?
"Yes, some. First of all, it will be open for five days now instead of the usual four. Up until this point we always had two days of drum ‘n’ bass and two days of house and techno – but this has proven to be unfeasible this year. So we have just one day of junglism now, but more drum ‘n’ bass acts will be performing on other stages throughout the festival to compensate. This year, we spiced things up a little by booking a more varied set of artists for this stage.
"Who will be gracing the RBE stage this year? And why?
"So many artists! Let’s summarize. Day one: Diplo and friends (with Mr. Oizo and more). Day two: drum ‘n’ bass (with Black Sun Empire, Noisia and more). Day three: techno (with Stephan Bodzin, Pan-Pot and more). Day four: house and electro (with Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Boys Noize and more). Day five: Berlin techno (with Amelie Lens, Robert Hood, Ben Klock and more). All in all, I’m really proud
to have Diplo and his crew over – he is so big he’s almost living on another planet. He rarely performs in Europe anymore, so it’s great to have him baptize our stage on its first Wednes- day night. Other acts I’m really looking forward to are Honey Dijon, Daniel Avery and Boys Noize; I have no doubts they will destroy the dancefloor completely. Last but not least, I’m so proud to offer local talents like Farrago, Cellini and Goldffinch a place under the spotlights. It’s no more than what they deserve."
What makes the RBE stage stand out at your festival?
"Each year we really put a lot of time and effort into the production of this stage – and every year it’s completely different. It has become our second mainstage in many ways! For us, the most important thing is that it needs to be visually overwhelming. In order to do that we always work with top-tier live visual artists. For last year’s edition all visuals were curated by VHS Collective, with BBBlaster, an absolute powerhouse in the worldwide VJ scene, taking care of business. Having professionals like that doing their thing really makes the stage look better, especially when the lights and visuals are reactive to the specific music that’s being played."
How would you describe a perfect day at your festival, from dawn till, well, dawn?
"First of all, it can’t rain – however, we’re in Belgium, so you never know. The perfect visit should start by arriving at the festival site with all your friends. Walking around, letting yourself be surprised, discovering new artists you haven’t heard from before, bumping into people you know and making new friends along the way. I love how the community aspect of this festival is really strong; it really does transcend age, nationality and music genres!"
What were your personal best 5 minutes in the history of Belgian festivals?
"That’s a tough question. There have been many beautiful moments, most of them happened – for me at least – at Dour, obviously. One concert that comes to mind is the one Nils Frahm did in 2015. As a classic pianist, his booker really didn’t like the idea of him performing in a tent. I guess he feared that people would just talk over it and maybe he could even make an excellent target for empty beer cups. But that didn’t happen at all, it was one of the most intimate and beautiful concerts I ever saw! Now that he has a new album, we had to get him back for this year’s edition."
Belgium is being praised from every corner of the world for its splendid festi- val-scene. What gives? Are ‘we’ really that good?
"Our crowd is world class. During the year, us Belgians can be really closed and shy, but when the summer starts we know how to throw ourselves a party! Belgian crowds are really well educated too, by the way. So for me it’s great to see such a healthy festival scene here. There’s a good balance between big and small, mainstream and niche, etc. For such a small country that’s no small feat!"
How about the Johnny Law: do you have a good relationship with the local au- thorities? In what way is this essential for conducting a comfortable and carefree edition?
"It’s not just essential, it’s crucial. These are hard times for security, the pressure is really high – so we really want to make sure we have a strong relation with the local authorities and the security companies. We are always down for feedback on how we can make the security process as swift, carefree and customer-friendly as possible."
Will your current location hold for X more years? Or will you need to expand to main- tain the current growth?
"Slowly but surely, we’re still growing in attendance every year. But there’s no real pressure on moving to another location for now, though. That said, you never know what the future holds, right?"
How’s your festival agenda looking for this year? (BE and not BE)
"For me, there are festivals I visit for work (networking, discovering new bands, etc.) and there are festivals I visit for fun. For the former, I have Sonar in Barcelona, Movement in Detroit and Plisskën in Athens in the agenda – and for the latter, I will be heading to Amsterdam Dance Event, SXSW in Austin and... yeah, Sonar. I guess that one is good for either (laughs)."
Join us at our Red Bull Elektropedia Balzaal between July 11 and 15. We have 2 x 2 tickets for a day of your choice! All you have to do is click this link and fill in your details!
More info, lineup and details: www.dourfestival.eu