There are only a handful of festivals that can legitimately claim to have it all. One festival that fits the criteria is Denmark's NorthSide.
Two attributes generally rise above others when choosing a festival: lineup and ethos. NorthSide boasts perhaps the best 1,2,3 punch of any festival this year with Frank Ocean, The Prodigy and Radiohead headlining.
Taking place in a park in the southwest of Aarhus, NorthSide encourages its attendees to think green in all aspects of their festival experience.
Music has always been an effective way of communicating and raising awareness. NorthSide is a festival that uses its platform to change the conversation surrounding sustainability, showing that being a green initiative doesn't mean a great time can't be had.
We caught up with NorthSide organiser John Fogde to dig deeper into this and see what his festival has in store this year.
For someone who hasn’t been to NorthSide before, how would you describe the ethos and atmosphere of the festival?
We are an urban festival without a camping area, with a strong focus on quality, a high level of service, delicious organic food, and challenging and thought provoking entertainment, all set in beautiful surroundings within walking distance of downtown Aarhus. In other words, we are an exciting, hassle free festival with an amazing line-up.
Do you think it's the role of a music festival to provide people with the music they want to hear, or show them what is out there?
Both. A lot of people come for the headliners and we definitely have them this year with acts like Radiohead, Frank Ocean, The Prodigy, The 1975, Run the Jewels, Richard Ashcroft and James Blake.
But the power of festivals is their access to music fans, to present them with new and exciting stuff they perhaps wouldn’t normally seek out.
NorthSide takes pride in presenting a strong contingent of local, Danish talent. For those who might not be familiar with these acts, can you highlight a few?
Local heroes Liss are a nice get for us this year, and they will be familiar to at least some international guests as well. Off Bloom are getting international press now as well, and finally I’d really recommend people checking out Saveus, who just did a tour with Years & Years.
NorthSide runs under the core values of innovation and sustainability, does this influence how you put together the line-up?
It doesn’t really, except in some instances where our track record with organic food and a focus on recycling waste from the festival makes us more attractive to bands, who can basically choose to go to whichever festival they’d like.
How do you balance your dedication to sustainability with throwing a great party?
By making everything super easy for our guests. Access to organic beer, wine, drinks, and food is hassle free, and the majority of wrapping for food is made from sustainable materials. Sorting waste afterwards is done in easy to figure out containers widely available throughout the site, which means you barely have to think about it and can focus on having a good time with your friends.
NorthSide works hard to get its festival-goers involved in its environmentalism efforts, what is the thinking behind this and how has it gone over so far?
The work we do reflects the personal values of the creators of the festival, so we’re basically just trying to create a festival that we would love to go to ourselves.
And the reception has been incredible among our guests. 94% consider us an event aware of sustainability, but more importantly 87% percent think the work we do is important.
Aarhus, where NorthSide is set, is one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2017. Do you have anything special planned to celebrate this?
The main thing is our big closing show. Normally, we have a curfew at midnight Sunday night, but this year that gets pushed quite a bit, so Radiohead can close out the festival with a really long show.
What are some of your favourite moments from previous editions of the festival?
I was blown away by Arcade Fire in 2014 and Beck last year. Nick Cave gets mentioned a lot when we talk about the best ever shows at NorthSide, and having Robyn and Röyksopp play a show together one year was also pretty special.
If you could get any act (active or disbanded) to headline next year, who would it be?
Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, The Strokes, Tool, and The Cure are definitely up there, and if we could reunite Pavement or R.E.M. that would be awesome. We also need to have more rappers at the festival, so Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper would be fantastic.
What are your hopes for NorthSide going forward?
Last year we managed to become the first cashless festival in Denmark and this year we’ll be the first 100% organic festival, so those two things are huge.
But other than maintaining that, I really want to work more on the part of the program that isn’t about music. We need more art and artists, performers and dancers, poets and comedians, and a lot more.
We’ve taken a few small steps toward this, but I think it’s something we could add more of to make the festival even more diverse, challenging, and exciting.