Twenty-six years ago the PollerWiesen brand was born; beginning with underground raves in the ’90s, they now host some of Germany’s most celebrated electronic music events. The PollerWiesen team have risen through the ranks over the years, and their two decades of experience is shown through their assortment of killer festivals.
Famous for their immaculate, extravagant productions and impressive lineups, it's safe to say that since the beginning PollerWiesen has accompanied many of the most influential DJ’s and producers to date.
With another epic summer of festivals upon us, we spoke to one of the heads behind PollerWiesen, Mitch Kastens, responsible for Marketing, Programming and Creative to find out what makes these events so widely revered within the industry and beyond.
Having started from the underground raves back in the '90s, PollerWiesen has grown to host some of Germany’s most celebrated events. Why do you think that is?
I think that our history really went along with the development of electronic music in general. It all started back at the very beginning of the '90s. The whole structure that is called an "industry" nowadays developed over the years and with it, PollerWiesen grew along the way, but always kept it healthy and authentic. We're really thankful and happy that it is going for over 25 years and that a lot of people seem to share the same passion and belief in the potential of electronic music.
Techno music has gained a passionate following over the years. Do you see some of the trends that you experienced in the '90s returning?
Yes, musically speaking the trends are like fashion. They come and go in a relatively constant circle. But the most interesting thing about it is the fact that every trend that resurfaces is somehow put in a different context and kind of "remixed". So this makes it fresh, and at the same time has the analogy to electronic music in it where everything is a continuation of something that existed before.
Nowadays it seems as if the '90s are fully back again. In fashion and music. We like techno much faster and harder again, while genres like electro, new beat, industrial, hardcore and trance are becoming strong again. Funnily enough at the same time, the whole thing seems to be as diverse as never. DJ's can play various genres in their set and the same crowd might enjoy a techno stage and in the next moment, they would head over to listen to a Brazil/Africa-infused disco set on the other stage.
You guys are now one of the scene's foremost brands. How do you see the scene developing over the next few years?
On the one hand, we see a growing festival market with international brands developing and stepping into foreign markets. A festival isn't local at all anymore. We kind of went the same way with hosting stages and events in various cities, but our main events are now taking place in our hometown Cologne and Dortmund, with its beautiful Revierpark Wischlingen, where we can do four stages.
What's important to us is that you stay authentic and true to your vision. There's a lot to choose in between for the crowd and they feel which intention a promoter is following. So I think the real value in the future will be to have a distinctive signature that is unique.
On the other hand, however, I see a fast pace in terms of emerging talent, which has it's up and downsides. In the end, I'm a positive person though and think that it's a kind of democratization of the whole "career thing" and the artist has more control over his own thing. New talent and fresh music can come so fast, it's right there to be discovered.
Nowadays you host a variety of parties across the year, including your Day & Night events and the incredible boat parties. What have been your highlights from these in recent years?
A definitive highlight has been the development of our annual festival on Whitsunday in Dortmund. It's our largest event with four stages and in this year we've programmed our most brave and diverse lineup to date. Really happy that it also seems to go well with our crowd and the resonance is great. As a promoter, you can often only learn by trying out new things and despite the risks, you have to pursue your vision. When your guests appreciate it, that's the best reward you can get.
Last year we tried this 'Day & Night' thing for the first time as it was our 25th anniversary. At Jugendpark we can only go until 22h obviously as it's in the centre of the city. So we thought it would be great to include some of our favourite night clubs and artists from Cologne. Plus of course, there's still energy to go on after a 10-hour daytime rave. So here's our new format: PollerWiesen Day & Night!
You, of course, have your flagship festival coming up in June with another diverse lineup – Ben Klock, DJ Stingray, Palms Trax – to name just a select few. Is creating a versatile lineup something you guys are very conscious of?
Yes, I think this is really the way to create something special. You either can invest really high budgets and book the same headliners or you can really go and dig out some of the great talent that's emerging. We like to mix it in a way that fits us best; genres, styles, and smaller or bigger names all mixed up so that there's something to discover for our guests. Isn't going to a rave exactly that what makes it so special? You discover stuff that you did not know you liked before. It has to be a bit disturbing sometimes to be special. So in our case, we hope that our crowd is like us and can enjoy a banging 140bpm techno set and the next two hours a more downtempo psychedelic trip through the weird parts of electronic music.
You also put on a lot of underground talent. Is helping emerging artists also important to PollerWiesen?
We wouldn't speak of 'helping'. We prefer to say 'integrating' or 'inviting'. Our team is involved in various fields of music and is constantly discovering new stuff. We work with music all day and are trying to create something that we love ourselves, with the main focus always on music selection and the sound. The basics of a rave!
With that in mind, are there any emerging artists playing this year that people should take the time to go and see?
We've just released the timetable for PollerWiesen Festival on June 9 with a mixed feeling in between of "Hell yeah!" and "How am I gonna split myself into four parts?". So, if you can split yourself into four parts you should go see all the artists. In terms of emerging artists, I would recommend DJ Brom, Mad Miran, Giant Swan [live], Identified Patient, and SPFDJ b2b Hector Oaks.
And finally, is there anything else we should look out for at this year's festival?
Come over, let yourself go, and discover new fields of electronic music. Be open-minded and hopefully you'll have one of the best days in your life!