Heron festival

Author: Roberdo
Date: Jun 11, 2008
Views: 3912

Els, organizer of Heron festival in an extensive and interesting interview

When did you start organizing parties? What is the story about Heron?
I started organising parties in the summer of 2002, with a party called 'It's no utopia'. Was very low budget, not very legal  :) Just a first tryout because we were with a group of people from Antwerp, that tried to make a difference in the partyscene.
It's no utopia was a big success and I was bitten by the organisingmicrobe..
The following years, me and my friends organised a lot of small parties (in the church of Breda in the Netherlands, weddingparty for friends in a naturepark by a lake, ...).
The first official Heronfestival was a fact in the summer of 2003. This time, in agreement with the citycouncil of Stokrooie (Hasselt), we found a big field surrounded by trees which was the perfect partyplace. Heron means 'live your dreams' and is actually a card in the fairy card game. The first Heron flyer was also made with the picture of the Heron card.
In 2004 I tried something different, by joining forces with the guys from Dacru (eskimo and Nemesis), who are also the driving force behind Digicult (together with Davy).
Again, we found a very big field, in Zutendaal this time, but because of bad communication, the permition got denied, only five days before the festival was supposed to start. So we changed the concept last minute to Heron on the Water, to make sure the people had something to go to, though it wasn't an openair festival...
Despite all the bad luck we had in 2004, we put our hads together again and went back to Stokrooie in 2005. Again, the city was very enthousiastic and we put together a two days open air festival, with some foreign friend dj's like Daksinamurti, Gataka, Tristan, ....
The festival was a big hit, with over 1200 partypeople, a heat wave on sunday with temperatures over 28° all day and lots of smiles and happiness.
The down site of the big hit in 2005 was a law suit.. Which we won in the end, but because of all the time and money we had to put in it, there was no Heron in 2006.
Last year, i found the perfect partner in crime... Kurt was one of my best friends and because of his 10 years experience in the sound and light bussiness, he was the last push Heron needed to grow into a professional open air festival. The city of Lommel gave us permition to use a big field with windmills, which gives everything a surrealistic look and energy.
This summer, we have the oppportunity to use the same field again which we will try to turn into an eyecathing, mindblowing and very psychedelic festivalsite.  
Are there many Trance festivals in Belgium nowadays? What makes Heron special? What distiguishes it from all the other festivals?
There are a few festivals in Belgium which are worth a visit, like the Shishu festival (only oldskool), the summerclosing festival Eargasm, Nova's Incident and the Rhakti Dei festival.
Shishu and Rhakti Dei were born in the same year as Heron.
The main difference is that Shishu provides only oldskool music and is in the neigbourhood of Ieper, not far from the french border, Rhakti dei tries to provide a bit of everything, but is mainly dark/breackcore and the festival takes place in Gent most of the time.
Heron serves a lot of different styles of psytrance like progressive, dark, oldskool and fullon. Also in the chillout area you can expect a lot of different sorts of music like ambient, oldies, rock, ragga/hiphop, minimal/techhouse, ... to make sure everybody has his favourite music to listen to.

What was the worst fuck up in your career as promoters?
That must have been in 2004, when everything got fucked up with the citycouncil, on that boat, with a big financial loss and i'm not talking about the mental slapyou get when the whole festival falls apart...

What was the best moment in your career as promoters?
The Heronfestival in 2005 was the best moment for me. To see everybody smile, the long row of people waiting to get in at the entrance, everybody very enthousiastic, the sun shining.. Made up everything that went wrong the year before. I was a happy hippie from saturdaynoon when the party started and it still makes me smile when i think about it.  I also had the opportunity there to thank everybody who participated like my decoteams, dj's, crew, ... Which offcourse gave me a very fullfilling feeling.
Please tell us one curious or funny story that happend at Heron festival!

I guess that the most curious moment was when i got a phonecall after the 2005 festival, from one of the companies i worked with to rent materials like tents, refrigerators, tables and chairs.
They told me I stole two of their tents after the festival, because they weren't there anymore when they picked up their stuff (two days later then they promised, after not returning calls, not showing up on the agreed moment, ...).
So they wanted me to pay over 1000 euro's for two small partytents.. When i didn't pay, they would sue me, which they actually did.  After six months, three visits to the courthouse, lot's of lawyermeetings and scary moments, the judge agreed with me that it wasn't my fault and that i didn't have to pay anything.
One of the funniest moments was again after the 2005 edition, when i went with my crew to a chinese restaurant on mondayevening, when the area was cleaned up and we were ready to go home.
Because we were all very hungry after staying on a field for six days, working our asses off, i told my crew to get whatever they wanted, to eat and drink as much as they could. You should have seen the look on the faces of the staff in the restaurant when we showed up there... 20 very dirty, smelly festivalpeople but with a lot of enthusiasm, wanting to take over half of the restaurant with the whole group, shouting for champagne and whiskey :)

Did you ever have artists playing at your festival that had rock star allures? Would you tell us about that allures?
No, i never had an artist with rock star allures at my festival. That is one of my big strengths at Heron, i only invite dj's and live acts who are very modest, wanting to come over and play because of their love for music, not their love for money... Because of this, i have a few 'resident' dj's now, who will come back every year for a small fee and offcourse travelexpences, but who will stay with us on the same campingsite, not asking for big luxury, just having fun...
We have a strong connection over the years and dj's like Bröte and Tege from Sweden, Juggler from Portugal and the very sweet Kukan Dub Lagan/Gaijin Raijin/Itai Taiko from Israel have become good, loyal Heronfriends.

Tell us about your vision of party decoration and how you implement it into your event!
Every year we try to bring something new with our decorations.. Because we don't work with big outside decoteams that ask a lot of money, we can give the Belgian decorators an opportunity to work on new pieces, work out new projects and expand their knowledge and experience.
Teams like Xibalz, Unio Mystica and Electric Psychoration have taken this chance to see how far they can go and what they can create so the audience is blown away by the decorations they get to see.
This year, expect something big....

What are the most important novelties at Heron?
The biggest difference this year, is that we host a second stage. Because of the diversity between all the scenes in Belgium, i try to puth them all together during these two festivaldays. On one stage, we have oldskool and darktrance, when on the other stage, we mix up progressive trance and fullon/morningtrance.

In Belgium, there are so many dj's performing, that's it's not easy to make a selection, to put on only one stage. So with this second stage, we can give a lot more artists the chance to show everybody what they can do with cdplayers and a mixingtable.

We also try to put some newborn acts on the lineup to give them a chance to promote themselves and start a carreer in music.

Also the website is something new.. on www.heron-festival.be you can find all the info you need about the festival, together with a few pictures, the complete lineup and so on.

The healing/chillout area is bigger this year, same as the marketarea where you can chill out, get something to eat and drink, get free massages and relax.

Our cocktailbar also got a bit bigger, with a large range of freshly served cocktails.

Which festival in Europe beside Heron would you definitely visit? Why?

I've always been a big fan of the Sonica Festival in Italy. Been there three times in a row, and i do want to go back next year (they skipped a year this summer, because of the competition with the Boom Festival). The atmosphere there is reaaally nice, i love italy itself, the food is great, the weather is great, their choice of music on the lineup is perfect for me (lots of progressive, which i absolutely adore) and their locations are always original, stunning, in the middle of nature, with a very good vibe.
Boom is something i will visit for the first time this summer, so i'm looking forward to that one, but i can't really say anything more about it, i have to see it with my own eyes first, before i comment on that one ;-)
Thank you very much for this very extensiv and interesting interview! 
Heron Festival - 05. - 06. July 2008 -  Lommel, Belgium
Interview by Roberdo 

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