Dutch EDM Festival Organizers ID&T To Set Up In India
Co-founder of festivals such as Mysteryland, Tomorrowland and Tomorrowworld, Irfan Van Ewijk talks about bringing one of his EDM fests to India
If electronica music wasn’t mind-boggling enough with the number of sub genres, DJs and festivals popping up before you can say EDM, there are events such as Mysteryland which travel across the world and ensure the fest has a fantastic draw wherever it is held. Organized by Dutch company ID&T, named after its founders Irfan Van Ewijk, Duncan Stutterheim and Theo Lelie, Mysteryland will take place at Harlemmermeer in Netherlands in August and Santiago in Chile in December. But before that, the festival, which has hosted DJs such as Armin Van Buuren, Paul Oakenfold and Swedish House Mafia since 1993, will set up at Bethel Woods in New York in May, the original site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
Says Van Ewijk, who was in India as part of MTV Youth Marketing Forum, “People have been calling up that venue [Bethel Woods] for ages and it’s been denied for whatever purposes, concerts or political rallies, except for the 25th anniversary of Woodstock in 1994. But we just clicked with them. We told them how we wanted to embody the message of love, peace and happiness in our attendees’ mind. That way, we position our festival is what appealed to Woodstock, which is why they granted us permission.” In his interview with ROLLING STONE India, Van Ewijk also talks about bringing one of their events to India. Says Van Ewijk, “We cannot reveal what we’re going to do, but we are going to deploy brands from our group in India very soon.”
What are your plans while you are in India?
As you know, ID&T has joined the [entertainment company] SFX group in October last year. We have been active internationally for over 10 years now and we have been seriously looking into expanding in India. We want to deploy some of our festivals as well. This is sounding quite general, but that’s because I can’t reveal my concrete plans at the moment.
You took your dance music event Sensation across to Korea, Turkey, Thailand and Taiwan. And then, Mysteryland also expanded into several cities across the world. Is going global the way forward for EDM festivals?
No. I’m responding with no, because there is a big distinction between a destination festival and a traveling festival. A destination festival such as Tomorrowland and Mysteryland are very well embedded in the local region – they borrow a lot of cultural, creative elements from around them and there’s a continental influence.
Do you feel that there’s any kind of fatigue setting in with the big DJs across the world performing at all the big festivals too many times?
No I don’t think so. Rather, people have become tired of paying $100 for a concert or waiting a whole day in line to get into a concert or even line up for their refreshments. I think that’s a very one-dimensional approach. People know what’s possible and what is limited when it comes to nightlife, clubbing and festivals. They want to be entertained from start to finish – from the time they go there to the time they go back home.
Do you think organizers should start off with club gigs or start off with big open air festivals?
This is a difficult question. I think that our example of establishing a company like ours is a bit unique. We had really bad times as a company despite being able to survive the last two decades. It’s a business approach when you say organizers should keep [gigs] small and comfortable or step in to the big arenas. We climbed the ladder. We did raves just for fun, with no commercial dealings or motivation. After that, we were so enthusiastic to go further and make it our business.
I think it’s good to start small because you get experience and know what you’re doing. I approve of people going big after starting off small.
How important are things like Beatport charts and DJ rankings when you have to pick artists for your festival?
I’ve seen a huge shift from the focus of the experience on the dancefloor and bringing people together and sharing the experience to focusing on big talent names. DJs are now becoming pop stars. We usually look for people who are more accessible in the dance clubs and those who are looking for more space and reach.
I think there is a distinct difference between a promoter – a brand who hires DJs and starts selling tickets – and a festival – who try to shift the weight to look beyond star DJs, hedonism and try to create an atmosphere where people are more indulged in the experience rather than just consuming music. The latter is also a top notch experience, but we want everything to blend in.
Which cities are big on the EDM tour map right now?
There’s no uniform answer to that one. Every nation and city has its own kind of appeal. In South America, people are so open and joyful and helpful and in Asia people go ballistic and are grateful that they can see their favorite artists for the first time. In the U.S, they are a high-demanding crowd. Wherever I’ve been along with our crew, they feel so energetic and joyful when they have produced the song.
Personally, I can’t wait to see the Indian crowd respond to our event. What other brands like Sunburn and Supersonic are doing here and people staying overnight for festivals, we realize how fast it’s growing. It’s going to be thrilling.