We are official media sponsor for Avantgarde Festival held in Schiphorst 2013. This year will be a very special year, because it's the 10th Anniversary of the festival. With mastermind behind Faust and "father" of festival Jean-Hervé Péron we discussed the past and the upcoming festival, that will be held from 21- 23 June 2013.
The festival is now almost 20 years old. The very first was in 1996 . What can you tell us about the beginning of the festival. What was the concept behind it?
Direkt vom Herz, pur ins Ohr 1996 – 2004 l’art pour l’art organisiertes chaos avantgarde meets bonne-cuisinne.
I would say this extract of our worksheet in 2004 expresses best what the concept of the Avantgarde Festival is. Basically it means: "direct from our heart, pure into your ears!"
Carina, my beloved wife, and myself wanted to organize an event where EVERYONE could come and have fun, from the village-grandma to the city-punk... an event to celebrate the pagan highlight of a year: the "Sommersonnenwende", the summer Solstice!
A bunch of set builders colleagues agreed to help me build an unusual stage and create interesting decorations. We spent a fantastic week in a beautiful location nearby my village and the result was really good: between Arabian nights and industrial wasteland, illuminated trees and ponds, heavy draft-horses and old-timer cars, martial art and sopranos, plus all sorts of bands playing all kind of music!
Enormous success !
…but we lost an awful lot of money and it took us two years to recover! The next Festivals were in 1998 and 2000 with a very similar scenario: the audience was just amazed and ever so happy, but we kept on loosing money. We decided to drop the Festival.
Then something funny happened: people and artists started to constantly ask us WHEN would be the next Festival and WHY did we stop and oooh PLEASE do another one! Years after years! In a way it was soothing for our souls as we knew we had organized something good, something people were badly missing. In another way it was excruciating because we just did not have the money anymore to pull the event…
2004, four years after the last Festival, we wrote to all the people and artists who had been asking us to do another Festival and told them: "OK, we organize BUT no money for nobody, total DIY Festival, all profit, if any, goes to us. Basta!"….and it worked. The audience brought homemade food for us to sell and even "passed the hat" and gave us the donations. The artists brought their own PA, asked for no fee, no transport. And we ended the Festival 2004 with a profit, very small yes, but still, a profit! This will be the only Festival were we did not loose money!
For the first time, the Festival took place at Carina's farm in Schiphorst. From then on, continued to take place in Schiphorst.
Three Days Of Utopia 2005 - 2012
2005, we entered the Internet World and had a website for the first time. Chris Cutler, old friend of mine from the times of Henry Cow and Faust touring together, when asked to describe his feelings about the Festival found this marvelous sentence: "Three days of Utopia". He also mentioned with a smile: "Best food here and…worse fees!"
2008 we created an official association: the "Avantgarde Schiphorst e.V." in order to be acknowledged and eventually subsidized by the government. We did get moderate subsidies in the following years from local organisations, but they could not cover the lost we suffered. The Festival reputation grew enormously in these years thanks to the internet and soon we received many submissions from groups from all over the world. Our line-up grew to quite peculiar dimensions. In 2010 we had a proportion of 1 artist to 2,5 spectators!!! By now we enjoy a rather legendary status: why is this? Probably because our Festival is small and we input an enormous amount of love, care, respect for our audience and all the artists we host. In return we get here the best audience any artist wishes to have and the highest quality of art any audience would dream of.
After the Festival 2012, I noticed a change was needed. I realized we were slightly getting "out of tune" to what was happening with the younger generation.
2013, we enter a partnership with Clouds Hill, Hamburg recording studio and Label directed by Johann Scheerer. Johann and his crew will be co-curating and organizing the tenth anniversary of the Avantgarde Festival.
What changed during all these years as far as festival goes?
The Festival is a monster!
See, we never had a "business" approach to our Festival and I am afraid we have not changed much…The fact that we had managed to do the Festival 2004 without "loosing feathers" induced us to organize the next one, a bit bigger, with more artists, a proper PA, more audience… And the result was a beautiful Festival where everyone was totally happy, where ultimately no-one even asked about the line-up as they all fully trusted the Festival taste.
Carina and me were now in the hands of the monster. As soon as one Festival was over, people and artists would virtually ram our door and start asking about the next one! We became in a way the servants of that adorable monster, from September to June, every year.
Changes? Well, we improved our shuttle service, we improved the sanitary conditions on Festival site, we maintained the quality of homemade food, we improved the sound quality, we added stages (we now have four performance places, all indoor!),...but the real answer to your question is, that there was no substantial change neither in the philosophy nor in the finances of the Avantgarde Festival. We remained idealists.
What part of Avant-Garde Festival 2013 will have Clouds-Hill Studios?
Johann is co-curating the Festival. He is from a younger generation and closer to the pulse of what's happening.
He runs a beautiful recording studio in Hamburg, as well as the label. His crew is taking most of the work off our shoulders.
As a foot mark, I would say with a smile that it is not at all easy for us to give our baby in someone else's hands after 17 years...even if it is a monster.
How do you decide which artists will include into the lineup of 2013?
We are two curators, each with his own taste and knowledge of "the scene". We had separately collected lots of submissions sent to us as from September and already filtered them as "must have", "maybe" and "no". Then we met and first discussed the "dynamics" the "dramaturgy" of the line-up. That means we decided about schedule, set length, breaks, about the sort of music that could be played at a certain time...you know, that sort of theoretical line-up. Once we had done that, we started filling the stage slots with our chosen groups and see what the picture looked/sounded like. After that we had to check if our favs were available and affordable.
Nurse With Wound
We are proud to announce, that It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine will be media sponsor for the festival. We are all looking forward to the 10th Anniversary of Avantgarde Festival.
Thank you for your interest in our Festival. We hope to welcome some of your readers at the 10th Anniversary of our Avantgarde Festival.
Avantgarde Festival / Art-Errorist/ Faust
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
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