Earth Frequency Festival director and event creator Paul Abaad spoke with The Echo about this four-day journey into dance and tribalism.
What is the vision for the festival?
Earth Frequency Festival began as Earth Frequency, a small tree-planting doof. Although it’s grown and evolved a lot since then, it’s always been based on a meeting point of celebrating life with music, art and workshops, positive actions, outcomes and learning experiences, and being a point of connection for the creative communities of southeast QLD and northern NSW. I guess since it started growing beyond its initial format/concept, the vision has been to develop it in to a mid-sized festival that retains the intimacy and less commercial vibe, but has the professionalism and creative possibilities of a bigger event. We’re now capping numbers at 5,000 total onsite, which feels like a great number to be working with.
Who are the people, or the demographic, that typically attends your event?
It’s really varied actually – everything from families to city people and clubbers, to hippies and doofers, and we’re starting to get more local people from the area the event takes place in to come and check it out. Earth Frequency is musically very diverse and offers more than just a few stages of music, so it attracts an awesome mix of people from different walks of life.
What do you offer that is different from other festivals on at this time of year?
I’d have to say the venue is a really special feature, with flat camping, powered camping options, possibly the best toilet and shower facilities in an Australian festival venue, and we are under an hour from Brisbane and two hours from Byron Bay. The music lineup is also unique to Earth Frequency – it’s an intentionally eclectic approach and cover a wide range of electronic music genres, mixed up with live bands, world music, workshops and performers. Earth Frequency is aiming directly at the middle point between what people might expect from a doof/electronic event and a more live-band-focused festival, which makes it a bit hard to categorise… but that’s exactly where it’s supposed to be!
What highlights does your program offer this year?
We’re really happy to be hosting Beardyman, who is, without doubt, the world’s quickest-witted and most creative beat boxer. His improv sets cover a lot territory and he can rock a dancefloor with nothing but sounds generated from his mouth. The Desert Dwellers will be doing a special expanded live stage for the end of their tour that will feature fire performers, dancers, live musicians and more… definitely one to not miss. Also The Herd is a really special booking – these guys are real pioneers for the Australian hip-hop scene but their large band format sets them aside from most acts in the genre. On the trance/techno side of things we have Ace Ventura, Son Kite, Minilogue, Alex Stein – all as first-time bookings, plus a big domestic lineup. And we love bass music too so there’s a big lineup including Opiuo, Sixis, Digital Rust, the Spoonbill Ensemble, Quanta, Beat Fatigue and many more. Overall it’s the strongest music lineup that we’ve ever had, with 30 international acts and 30 interstate acts on the bill.
If I were going to Earth Frequency, what would I need to do to ensure I was well prepared and had a great time – ie is this a camping festival?
Earth Frequency is a four-day camping festival. Camping is included in the ticket price, but we do have camping upgrade options including the deluxe camping option (powered campsite, early arrival, close camping) and bell tents. As a summer festival, it’s important to consider a good camping setup including an esky, some shade, sun protection and shoes. I think you get the most out of the experience if you come for the full four days, drop all your expectations and ideas, and just go with the journey that has been set up. Bring anything that will make your time more fun and more comfortable, and don’t be afraid to express yourself even if that means dressing up in outlandish costumes and decking out your campsite with an interesting theme!
Where is the festival – tell me about the location, what to expect, why it has been chosen?
The festival’s venue is Ivorys Rock, which is in southeast QLD – not far from Ipswich. This venue has been chosen for several reasons: its location – being south of Brisbane means a much better travel time for our friends from northern NSW; it’s a beautiful outdoor venue capable of hosting around 5,000 people; and it has the best toilet and shower facilities I’ve seen at a festival venue in Australia. The venue has been designed with sustainability in mind; it has easy access in all weather conditions and the venue owners are really supportive and happy to work with us on all our eco and sustainability initiatives, which is great, as this is a key aspect of the festival.
What does coming together dancing do for people, do you think?
I think people come to festivals like this because they need a break from their usual reality. We all live busy, fast-paced lives, often juggling a lot of work and stress. The chance to come out to a beautiful location, drop all your responsibilities for a few days, and just soak up good music, dance out all your stress, hang out with your friends and make some new ones is like medicine for the soul!
What should we expect for this year’s Earth Frequency?
We’re on track to deliver our best festival yet – the music lineup is our strongest to date, we have a massive array of art, performance, workshops and other activities on offer, and we’re coming in to our fourth year at Ivorys Rock and so some of the usual logistical issues that inevitably come up with a new site have been worked through. I couldn’t be more excited to be offering the 12th edition of the festival.
Ivory’s Rock, 17–20 February. For tickets, directions and program information go to earthfrequency.com.au.