Into the Valley has quickly risen to become one of those telling festivals. If you're talking to someone and they mention they're going to Into the Valley, you instantly know two things: 1) They like great music. 2) They understand music's transformative power.
After two years set in a scenic quarry in Rättvik, Sweden, the festival is moving to an abandoned prison in Rummu, Estonia. As well, the organisers behind Into the Valley will be introducing six new festivals around the world by 2019, two of which have already been revealed. Into the Factory is starting this summer in an abandoned factory in Stora Vika, Sweden and Into the Castle beginning in 2018 at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa.
With so many interesting things happening with the brand, we spoke to 'Into the' festival series booker Ulrike Schönfeld to ask about these unique festival locations, the purpose of the festivals, and how everything's coming along.
For someone who hasn’t been to an 'Into the' festival before, how would you describe the ethos and atmosphere of the festivals?
It's the mix of music, art and international attendants, friends from all around the world who gather for a social moment in time, where everything is magical and perfect, at least for 72 hours.
All three of your festival locations seem to contrast forward-thinking electronic music with very unique, historical settings. What is your aim for the relationship between the music and the setting? And how do you think this relationship impacts the way people experience a music festival?
For us it's important to do festivals in places where there hasn't been an electronic music festival yet. We try to give people a truly unique experience by taking them to places they haven't been before, for an experience they will not easily forget. That's the idea behind the marriage of venue and forward thinking music.
There are festivals around every corner at the moment, so it's important to do something different. We're not saying we're the only ones taking this road, we are good friends with the Outline festival in Russia, also Craig Richards is starting a new festival in Norfolk called Houghton Festival, as well as Meadows in the Mountains. We are big fans of that sort of festival experience, and we are aware of different diverse and interesting proposals going on around the world. We believe that people are fed up with mass festivals, big EDM events, with 70 to 100k people. What others and we are proposing is an escape, a vacation from everything and everyone in a setting that allows the imagination to roam free and be whoever you want to be in a fairy tale environment.
All three festival settings have deep histories. In the cases of the sunken prison Rummu of Into The Valley, and the Castle of Good Hope of Into the Castle, these histories include some pretty harsh suffering. Do you believe music can play a part in healing these wounds?
Music is the answer to almost everything. Its vibrations have been proven to heal and even show designs when projected in water. It is possible to change the bad karma of those places by making something beautiful. The positive energy of 6000 plus people can really change the energy of those places. And since our aim is making people happy, we will do our very best to imprint both locations with healing and love.
What would you say you are hoping for when bringing together a festival line-up?
I always aim to do something different than the rest, and I try not to repeat the lineups favoured by other festivals.
Do you think it is the role of a music festival to provide people with the music they want to hear, or show them what is out there?
It is on us to educate the younger generations musically. If we become mere crowd pleasers we have failed in our duty to both entertain and educate. A festival must not only bring out the biggest headliners but also those almost forgotten old heroes, the young, the new, the quirky, the diverse voices out there that might be drowned by the top ten artists of the year.
Into the Valley is only three years old, but has already generated quite a buzz. Has the speed of the festival's success surprised you?
Expect the unexpected. When we started out planning the very first Into The Valley we were hoping the people would be eager to become a part of it, but perhaps we could say we are overwhelmed by the response we've got from both the press and the crowd. We are very grateful for the rave reviews and support, and of course, we always try to learn from our mistakes in order to make our experiences better each year. And most importantly, without the support of our friends since day one, it wouldn't have been possible.
How has organising multiple festivals differed from concentrating on one?
It's actually not that much harder because you're using the same structure, but with a bigger team. Teamwork is essential in what we do, as we turn each other's work into a machine that serves the purpose of bringing forth these gatherings.
What are some of your favourite moments from previous editions of your festivals?
Jamie Principle's performance of Your Love. Sonja Moonear B2B with Zip. Jeff Mills performing The Bells. The outstanding performance of Kornel Kovacs from Studio Barnhus, who made some people cry. The iconic performance by The Black Madonna. And last but never least, the one and only Ricardo Villalobos, back to back with Zip.
What is your dream for 'Into the' festivals looking forward?
Performance wise, I'd love to have Martin Gore from Depeche Mode singing Compulsion on stage. And if I could dream big, I'd actually love to do a festival in North Korea, once they tear that wall down.