Damian Gelle: Electric Gardens

Damian Gelle: Electric Gardens

With the countdown to Electric Gardens Festival firmly under way and a monster lineup to look forward to, Rave Reviewz' Kamran Ahmed sat down with festival director Damian Gelle for the full story…

RR: First of all, congrats on the 2018 line-up. You’ve got some massive acts coming down, who are you looking forward to seeing the most?

Damian: Yeah it’s hard! I’m actually most excited about the brand, Circo Loco at the Sydney show. I think that scene and sound is so on the up here in Australia as well as in Europe, and I think people will come just for that – they won’t move from that stage! Production-wise what we’re doing with Circo Loco is very minimal, it’s just going to be a really cool area.

RR: Yep, we probably won’t move far from the Circo Loco stage ourselves! It’s a huge global brand and I’m sure you have been to some of their parties in Ibiza - how did that collaboration come about for Electric Gardens?

Damian: Well we offered them a number of shows, because we’re trying to take the brand where it’s never been before. Think about how big it is in Europe, but the biggest show they’ve done here in Australia was just 4,000 capacity over in Melbourne. We wanted to take it to a festival, where it belongs.

RR: Cool. So this is going to be the third year of Electric Gardens, how do you think things have progressed since it started?

Damian: I think it’s a broader festival now, there are more styles of music. And there was never really anyone local that played before, it was always international acts. This time we have a lot of Australian artists that are supporting us – Motez is headlining in four states! It’s probably the first time we’ve focused on the incredible local talent.

RR: Nice. Now, you started SW4 festival in London before starting Electric Gardens here, so have a crazy amount of experience in the game. What advice would you give to a young promoter just starting in the industry?

Damian: I’d tell them to have a point of difference and be passionate. Also, be prepared to lose because you’re going to – and those will be the gigs where you learn the most. Most importantly, you have to be different.

RR: So a lot of festivals (like Future) have been folding in Australia recently. Why do you think that is?

Damian: Well, I don’t think we have the population, but many have set themselves up as if we do. You’re not going to get everyone, so the key is to narrow your focus and stand out. Also, people are now particular about their music tastes and what they want, which is what Electric Gardens is all about. We’re very particular in our curation, our venue choices, the way we manage things - right down to what drinks we serve.

RR: Now this is a bit controversial… you probably heard that they were planning to trial pill testing at Spilt Milk festival but decided not to. Do you think pill testing is a good idea?

Damian: Yeah, it saves lives. If you ban something there’s always going to be a percentage of people who go and do it anyway. It’s like bootlegging and alcohol… you can’t change the human condition. I think governments are naïve to that, but we’re very supportive of anything promoting safety.

RR: Over the years you must have been to a lot of festivals yourselves, what is your favourite festival?

Damian: Return to Rio for me, we had such a ball there! Everyone is in costume, it’s a good size on a beautiful site, and they have the right ethos. They’re doing it for the love of music and their curation reflects it. There’s a great crew behind the festival and the atmosphere is second to none. It has been going for years and I think it’ll get better and better.

RR: Yep, so what’s next for Electric Gardens? We heard you were planning Electric Gardens in Asia?

Damian: We’re looking at a lot of places, but I think the next spot for us will be New Zealand. We’re in talks with a few people elsewhere too, so let’s see what happens. Besides Electric Gardens we want to do some other things with a point of difference, but for now we’re focusing on January.

RR: Great stuff, January can’t come soon enough! Cheers.