Harmonious diversity and beautiful simplicity: a conversation with schiev festival

Pictures by Schiev 2016

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Before you turn around thinking you don’t need yet another music festival, schiev is a concept that actually deserves your careful attention. From the outset, this team is very clear about what you can expect between Friday November 10 and Sunday November 12 at Beursschouwburg: ‘a simple music festival’. With the exclusive programming of brand new and exciting music in the spotlights, schiev is able to create a unique and adventurous three-day discovery through all corners of the contemporary electronic music scene. Not convinced yet? Let this conversation we had with the schiev team about music, the European Union and the Beursschouwburg persuade you. With a third edition on our doorstep, we’re ready to dive into this festival that is as brilliant as it is simple.

“A simple music festival”. Why this tagline?

"When we first started brainstorming about the festival, we were pretty sure about what we wanted, but also about what we did not want. Recently, we have realized that a lot of peripheral things at festivals like food, atmosphere and extra activities can demand a lot of space at the cost of what it should be first and foremost: a series of concerts. With that tagline, our idea was to clearly state that we are not some kind of Disneyland. We put the focus on what's really important: the music."

So tell us what schiev does differently compared to the other weekend festivals.

"It's difficult to know if it's obvious for the audience, but we take our curation seriously. The different projects presented have all been carefully selected and programmed in a specific order, which should underline the qualities and dynamism of every act. We also put a lot of effort in building a casual, simple and welcoming atmosphere. No one should feel out of place, just because he or she doesn't know an artist or a genre. We ask a lot of faith and curiosity from our audience so that we’re able to book a lot of lesser known projects, which we showcase in the most welcoming context, so the audience can fully appreciate them."

What has been the most memorable schiev moment so far out of all of the previous editions?

"There are several: L'Ocelle Mare gave an astonishing concert last year. His music is not so easy: it's basically just acoustic, it needs the attention of a fully devoted audience, but we were really pleased with how people reacted. For a good 40 minutes there was almost total silence, which means the people have understood what we were trying to bring to the table. Low Jack’s set on the first edition was epic too: going from French rap to a massive gabber tune, returning to 4–to-the-floor techno in a flick! Then we also laughed a lot when IVVVO ended his set with a massive Oasis acapella. Everyone was like “what's wrong with that guy”, but it was actually very beautiful, very 'schiev'."

What kind of artists did you book for this year’s edition? Who are you looking forward to the most?

"As usual, we’ll try to have some variety within our so called ‘experimental lineups’. Our good friends and SHAPE colleagues Les Siestes Électroniques use the words “adventurous music”, a definition that could better fit our programme. This year’s artists come from many scenes. From Thomas Ankersmit to Danny L Harle and from Lieven Martens Moana to Clara! We basically try to cover the full scope of the different micro niches we love these days. We sincerely look forward to see all of them, as they all have something really interesting to show. We have a kind of a silly rule we use when we book artists: annoy the audience of artist 1 with artist 4 and vice versa. We try hard to confront the audience with things they wouldn’t feel comfortable with at first. When there’s an unpredicted match, we believe we have succeeded in our job. There aren’t so many events that allow you to get out of your comfort zone nowadays. Obviously, you can’t like everything, but you can try to understand what makes certain artists interesting for others. It’s a good exercise to keep in mind. We at schiev live by this rule. Our past line-ups would have never looked the way they did if we hadn’t done this exercise ourselves."

You’re part of the SHAPE platform. What’s that exactly?

"SHAPE is a European platform that’s co-founded by Creative Europe. With over 16 festivals and artistic organizations, SHAPE aims to support, promote and exchange innovative and aspiring musicians and interdisciplinary artists with an interest in music. Over 144 artists have been supported through this platform in the last 3 years already. SHAPE has formed schiev quite a lot to be honest. Even if we know a lot about the music we want to book already, the opportunity to discover emerging artists through tips from 16 of the best organisations in Europe has been a tremendous source of inspiration for us. This is also the perfect opportunity for us to export Belgian talents elsewhere. Artists like Hiele, SKY H1, Maoupa Mazzochetti, Lawrence Le Doux or Yves de Mey are included in the network. Finally, SHAPE provides us with the opportunity to confront our vision with other those of other promotors in Europe. It’s an interesting way that allows artists to ‘experience Europe’ in a different way. You can be very critical of the European Union, but it does bring together a wide array of different ideas, artists, visions, experiences and whatnot."

Can you tell us a bit more about why you chose Beursschouwburg as the venue? What are its assets for schiev?

"It’s cutting edge yet never snobbish, challenging yet extremely open and welcoming. The Beursschouwburg embodies the exact values we’re trying to stand for with this festival. After looking for an empty space which we would turn into a concert location from scratch, we decided to look for proper venues instead. Beursschouwburg was at the top of our list - and to our great surprise they accepted straight away. Upon entering this venue, you would think that the central location, the capacity and their good sound system are its primary assets, but once you get to work alongside this team, you realize that the people working there are the true blessing. This place is kept running by the loveliest and most compassionate people. They have been of great help from the start and we couldn’t be more grateful."

Any final tips for the first timers at Schiev?

"Be yourself - it’s ok if you don’t like something. Be curious - give everything a try. Be nice and respectful - we have the friendliest audience. And we hope everyone feels welcome and free to enjoy, dance and have fun here!"

Schiev festival takes place at Brussels’ Beursschouwburg between Friday, November 10, and Sunday, November 12. Full lineup, more information and tickets can be found on schiev.com.