Ultra Music Festival came and went in a flash, leaving many electronic music fans in the states with little festival options in the country that offer as many acts as Ultra did. However, it is Memorial Day weekend, meaning only one thing; it’s time for DEMF.
Since 2000, Movement: Detroit Electronic Music Festival has been continuing the tradition of bringing in some of the best electronic music acts in the world to the birthplace of techno. Although the festival is the spotlight event in the city for that weekend, the DJs will also be playing around the city’s bars and clubs, in a way making it Detroit’s own version of Winter Music Conference.
When DEMF first got off the ground it was modeled after the great electronic festival in Europe, only offering free admission. That, accompanied by a wide range of talent, drew in a massive international crowd. Detroit quickly backed and acknowledged all of DEMF’s effort, knowing that the city is the origin of techno.
This year’s DEMF features some of the best acts that electronic music has to offer including Richie Hawtin, James Zabiela, Dubfire, Deadmau5 and Paul Ritch. The festivities kick off on Saturday at noon and continue on until Monday.
With the first events kicking off today, Clubplanet recently caught up with DEMF Festival Director Jason Huvaere to talk about this year's festival, as well as its development and other things in store for the future.
Clubplanet: How did you guys get this project started?
Jason Huvaere: The festival started in 2000, we earned the independent rights in 2006. As a promoter we've been promoting events in the city for about 15 years. It was a natural progression getting closer and closer to it. It was originally a city event and they tried a few experiments that didn't work so well so we offered to take it over as an independent event and managed it in 2006. They accepted our negotiations and the rest is history.
CP: How long does it take you to plan something like this?
Jason Huvaere: It's an all year job. We originally were under the delusion that you could take some time off in the summer, it really is now spent sort of laying the foundation for the next year after reviewing all of our notes. The event runs until around the end of June, that's really when it starts to kind of wind down and close. That's when we look over our notes. In order to stay fresh, learn our lessons and apply those lessons into the year after we really have to start working on it right away. So, it's become an annual job.
CP: What do you find most challenging about producing an event like this?
Jason Huvaere: Not being able to control the mass schedule. When we start working in September or November, we're really ready to start working on things and that involves a very large team. This team is made up of a lot of different companies. We try every year to get started a little bit earlier so that we can be concentrating on other things a little bit later - but I'd have to say, one of the most challenging things is just dealing with the patience of not being able to control anyone else's schedule. Whether we're ready or not, a lot of the different people that we work with don't begin to punch in until about March or April. That's always been a pretty big challenge.
CP: What artists have you worked closely with and enjoyed collaborating with over the course of the festival?
Jason Huvaere: I would say the people that I like working closest with would be speedy j - Joachem Paaps, Richie Hawtin - some of the more technical challenges are definitely the things that we get the most reward from because they really kind of put our production teams to the test. That's kind of my gut reaction - I like working with technically challenging opportunities.
CP: What have been some of your favorite moments in past festivals?
Jason Huvaere: Well, it depends on what side of memorable you want to lean on (laughs). I think that last year one of the most memorable things was the continuous security calls for the Beatport stage because it was just total pandemonium. We had people going crazy, scaling scaffolding and shaking like monkeys on the roof. That was a pretty significant memory from last year’s festival. It was really one of the first times that we had ever housed such a crazy thing. That was pretty exciting. As far as other things go, there are so many different shows. I spend most of the weekend on foot so I deal with both the artists shows as well as the vendor communications and city communications so my head is pretty divided during the weekend itself.
CP: What are you looking forward to this year?
Jason Huvaere: I would say from in advance Speedy J live is playing for the first time with his video guy, which is going to be a really advanced show. Carl Craig is playing live, I'm really excited to see what he's been working on over the past couple of years. From a nostalgic point of view we've got Nucleus and Egyptian Lover, which I think is really special because these guys were really excited to play Detroit. I think that that's definitely going to bring an old but new element to the event itself. There's a lot of different live stuff that's going on for the first time. We've added some crossover artists to the bill and we've received a lot of positive feedback so I'm really interested to see what this audience’s perspective and perception is of the festival itself once they get here. We've got a lot of Benny Benassi, Moby and Girl Talk followers and those types of fans are going to be coming to the festival for the first time. It will be a great opportunity for Detroit and the event to showcase all the other talent it has to offer and maybe convert some techno fans.
CP: Are there any other festivals that you've used as a model or example for your own?
Jason Huvaere: I feel it's really unique. I've attended a lot of festivals and I've had a lot of great times but you can't compare one place to another in my opinion - you just can't. A place really dictates a lot of the energy of any unique event. I wouldn't say that we compare it against or model it after anything; we definitely have some friends and neighbors - Mutek and Sonar. Festivals of that nature we definitely consider as sort of sibling events but I wouldn't say that they are directly comparable.
For more information, and a full line-up of parties, check out www.demf.us and www.myspace.com/detroitmusicfest.
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