Welcome To The Future is an electronic paradise set amongst the meadows and forests to the north of Amsterdam. Defined by an authentic appreciation for the roots of dance music, the pillars of the festival are formed from house and techno, with the various stages also celebrating everything in-between. The idyllic setting adds a mystical feel to this un-disturbed haven and the atmosphere transcends the everyday music scene.
Now entering its 10th year, we decided to catch up with the festival founder Gert van Veen to find out more about why Welcome To The Future is so unique and what surprises lie in store for this years edition.
Amsterdam is known for its electronic music festivals. What is it, do you think, that sets WTTF apart?
The recreational area Het Twiske, just outside of Amsterdam, is a really beautiful festival site with sloping hills, lots of trees and a small lake. It’s the perfect location for a festival like Welcome to the Future.
Musically, the festival presents a very distinct underground identity.
The two musical pillars are the two styles the whole dance culture evolved from: house on the one side and techno on the other. So we have a techno stage and a house stage and 4 other stages with everything in between, from tech-house to Detroit, UK house and minimal. Don’t expect any EDM or commercial dance.
How would you describe the ethos of the festival to someone who hasn’t been yet?
Welcome to the Future really is defined by love. Not just from me, but from the whole team, led by Carina Kornfeind. We put a lot of effort into creating beautiful stages and decors, we invite all our favorite artists and try to make every edition an unforgettable experience.
Since the first edition in 2007 the festival has grown organically from 5,000 to 25,000 visitors, yet it still has an intimate atmosphere. The people come to party and have a good time and are really into the music. That’s one of the things I’m really proud of: the great vibe at Welcome to the Future.
Do you have any special plans to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the festival this year?
Yes, for sure. This edition will be even more festive than in previous years. Also we’ve invited several artists who made their Welcome to the Future debut in 2007 - the first edition - and who’ve been friends of the festival ever since. Dj’s like Karotte and Chris Liebing and several artists of the Amsterdam scene: Julien Chaptal, Juan Sanchez and Steve Rachmad. New this year is The Amsterdam stage with all the local heroes, including Tom Trago, San Proper, Makam and my own group Quazar, that started in the Paradiso when Welcome to the Future was still an indoor event in the 90’s. We are proud to say that we will celebrate our 25 year anniversary at the festival.
What was it that made you take the leap from the WTTF parties at club Paradiso in Amsterdam, to a fully-fledged festival and how do you think WTTF has changed since then?
Welcome to the Future had been a respectable independent underground event for some 13 years, when ID&T proposed to work together and turn it into a festival. As ID&T had all the know-how and experience to organize a big event, while Welcome to the future gave it the creative direction, it was a good match. From the very first festival edition it was totally clear that Welcome to the future has its own identity. It’s more of a boutique festival that focuses on the musical underground and attracts a completely different audience compared to the ID&T events.
If you could single out any one highlight surrounding the festival, what would it be?
Having a gathering of 25,000 people to come together, dance to the music or chill out in such beautiful surroundings, is the biggest thrill. Nothing compares to partying with so many friends, who are all into the music. Every edition of the festival has given me this incredible buzz. It’s pure bliss.
What has been the biggest challenge with creating such a popular festival?
Since the first edition of the Welcome to the Future festival, there has been an explosion of festivals in the Netherlands. Many of them compete to get the same artists, a situation that has driven up the DJ fees. So it’s a lot of work to actually secure the line up that you dream of. But luckily all the artists always enjoyed playing the festival, as, like I said, the audience is really into the music. So the DJ’s always want to return in later years.
And the best way to stand out between the other festivals is to follow your musical heart. I fell in love with house and techno with the house explosion and Summer of love of 1988 and since then my favorite place to be has been on the dance floor. I’m totally in it for the music.
Which artists are you most excited to see this year?
Of course all the artists are favorites, because we chose every one for their music. But I’m very proud to have a line up with legends like Carl Craig, Cajmere and DJ Sneak or in the techno area Len Faki and Paul Ritch. It’s also great to have Pan-Pot – who we already booked long before their break-through in the Netherlands - on the main stage. Personal highlights will also be Detroit hero Anonym and DJ De Sluwe Vos, who’s closing off the house stage. He’s one of the best Dutch artists of the new generation, has a big following and is a performer who can really rock the house.
Welcome to the Future’s focus is always on the next step, so what can we expect in the future?
The future will always be the new generation: young and upcoming artists who want to prove themselves and are still eager to give it their very best. The moment they become famous, some of the big DJ names might get caught up in the money game, or take playing for big crowds for granted. Often they also lose their ability to be exciting.
Luckily that doesn’t apply to all of the big names. Some DJs, like Ricardo Villalobos, only seem to get better and gain more depth over the years. But still, a lot of the energy and excitement comes from the next generation - the artists who have the drive to really give it 200%. That’s one of the reasons the Welcome to the Future line up always has had more new names than any other festival. That’s what keeps it fresh.
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