Hot Press meets the organisers of Dublin's newest festival, YS Fest

We spoke to the organisers behind Dublin's newest festival YS - Festival 2017, taking place at The Bowery this evening.

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of festivals in this country – not only has Electric Picnic expanded hugely from its humble beginnings as a one day festival in 2004, to a capacity of 22,000 in 2012 to seeing over 55,000 revellers grace a field in Stradbally last year, there’s also been a surge of boutique festivals on our small, fun-loving island. From popular contributions to the scene such as Body and Soul and Forbidden Fruit, and even smaller offerings like Another Love Story, Stendhal and Fuinneamh, it seems there’s something for everyone.

One thing that seems might have been missing is something on the heavier and more alternative side of things. But, no longer. The guys from Venture Presents and HEFT Events are hoping to change this with a newbie on the festival scene – YS fest. Taking place in The Bowery in Rathmines on Aug 4, it looks as though they’ve created something for a niche group that had, up until now, been poorly catered for.

We caught up with Julian and Dean, two of the mean behind the festival, to hear about its mythological offerings and what extra finishing touches they have added to ensure it will be a night that will, no doubt, make its mark on the festival scene and be around for many years to come.

Tell me a bit about how you came together – Julian you’re the face behind HEFT Events and, Dean, you’re doing Venture Presents – how did you come to collaborate with each other?

Julian: We started doing a funk night together called Go Funk Yourself – well actually, it’s not specifically a funk night, the policy is kinda funk, hip-hop, soul, rap or just kinda basically music that makes you dance – but we started doing that together and it went really well and we decided to join forces.

Dean: Yeah I think that was kinda the initial part – one or two gigs we were in the same venues together and got chatting and then both saw how passionate we both are and that’s, I think, what drove us to team up because it all seemed to make complete sense – 2 brains can be better than 1!

J: Then we got asked to move our funk night up to The Bowery and they loved it and asked us to come in as their full time bookers so that’s what we’ve been doing the last few weeks. It’s been exciting - a little bit stressful – but that’s why it’s good to have a co-captain of the ship! But yeah, lately we’ve been working on getting The Bowery rocking and continuing on with HEFT and Venture Presents and Go Funk Yourself at the same time

D: There are a few new surprises on the way as well

Can you tell us a bit about YS Fest – there’s a bit of Greek mythology in there?

D: Yeah, at the beginning YS was something I did before we teamed up, I did it in The Academy. Same sort of concept as we’re doing here, getting a mix of alternative bands and trying to stick them all under one roof. Even though there is a bit of variety in the acts, I wanted to try to blend them all really well to try to keep everyone entertained and interested – that’s the makings of any festival, really. I was trying to get loads of extras added in as well, loads of live visual performances, keep it high octane so basically from when you walk in the door to when you leave, there’s not one second that there’s not something happening that will turn your head. Or ears. Or eyes. There didn’t seem to be anything happening up this way on that scale that really brought all these elements together to make an alternative arts festival. I mean, Ireland is an AMAZING place to work in terms of festivals at the moment, but it seemed to be something that was missing a little bit and something I felt very passionate about.

With regards to the mythology, there’s this lady and she gets banished from the land because she’s not high up, or in the princess class and she was a little bit of a rebel or what have ya! So she was banished to the island for all eternity. With that then she got real lonely and she started thinking how she would get people out to her so she decides to host a massive party. So she throws this big seductive, rock and roll party and everyone swarms to the island, causing the island to sink and it stayed underwater for all of eternity. The atmosphere created this magic that kept everybody there and made them be able to breathe underwater and stay there and party on, basically!

But yeah, we had it in The Academy and it was amazing but then bringing it in here we’re adding another element – the more rock element, so it’s more alt, rock and metal – and it’s on a pirate ship! So it couldn’t fit the theme any better. It’s gonna be a lot more interesting, a bigger blend of music and more visual performances and all that. It’s definitely worth heading down to. The mix of bands and everything is gonna make some night of entertainment.

The bands that you have are all sort of from a similar genre, and they all have a really nice flow together – this was on purpose then, to maybe give the festival a proper sense of identity and bring a lot of likeminded people together?

D: That’s it exactly, it is all about getting a small few different groups down because all of these sub-genres and slightly alternative genres do have a general following and a bit of a clique and some people might be very hell-bent into their own genre but, you know what? The music that they’re gonna hear isn’t going to make them leave, it might even change their minds and they might really enjoy it. That’s the idea behind the blend and the curation of it all – to keep everybody happy, if not overjoyed, with what they’re listening to on the night.

Having a glance at the line-up the bands are all lined up in way that should help them gain fans from the other bands fans and vice versa.

J: Yeah, everything is somewhat on a rock/metal spectrum but all of them, as Dean said, sub-genres of all of that complement each other really well and there’s definitely a lot of bands who have never played together and probably wouldn’t have shared a stage in the future either. It’s great to have them all in the same place, on the same stage and on the same day and, I hope, a lot of their fans will crossover and create one big happy family.

D: You know yourself, how many times have you been down to a festival and you’re wandering around and a band caught your ear. You’re down to that festival for a handful of bands and the atmosphere and you come back out loving whatever amount of new bands because they caught your attention along the way. It was the same with the last time we ran it, people were coming out saying ‘I never thought I’d listen to this’ and they were blown away, which was great to see. Everyone paid full attention to all the bands and keeping it on that scale really helped push that.

Tell us a bit about the bands that are playing – there’s some pretty nice names in there with the likes of New Valley Wolves, Megacone, Tanjier and Chancer….

D: Well, what’s great about Chancer straight off the bat is that it’s their debut show in Dublin. They're made up of an entourage of some of the best musicians that some people might know from Val Normal, Punch Face Champions for example – there’s a collection there – and I think they’re kind of the underdog that are going to blow up and blow people out of the water. Literally! So many good puns when it’s on a boat!

J: New Valley Wolves as well are on a mission to ‘destroy soft rock bull s**t’, as they say, and ‘slay the pig of ignorance’! So that’s what they have planned for us on the 4th!

There’s a lot of exciting bands there, obviously Megacone as well, everyone is still talking about their last show with Yonen in The Sugar Club and I really can’t wait to see what they’ve got planned for this.

D: Possibly the only Quest Rock band in the world!

J: Then we’ve got some new guys who have just been really making splashes – Blackbird and Crow are just a 2 piece from Donegal but they’ve a larger than life stage presence and they’re really making waves all over. They’re a really hard working band – they just got back from playing a festival in Portugal to thousands of people – if you look at the photos it’s incredible. they’re really doing some great things and they’re not just going for your run of the mill kind of try get a gig here and there , they’re going around playing biker rallies, they’re busking at the side of festivals, they're doing anything to get people to hear their music and we really like that so they’re on the bill

D: I saw them for the first time there recently and I have to say I was really, really taken back. For a 2 piece, they know how to rock it.

J: And this is a 2 piece with no drummer by the way, so they pack quite a punch. Scally as well, he’s a madman! You’ll see him running around the venue half naked pouring whiskey all over the attendees and lighting himself on fire, so we’re looking forward to that as well!

D: Stairwells as well are another band who are, again, kind of off the cusp. They’re kinda melodic, kinda post hard-core – fantastic band. Tanjier are an up and coming new band as well – their sound is amazing.

J: WOLFF is a band I’ve really been looking forward to seeing for a while. I’ve been following them for so long; I just haven’t had a chance to make it out to a live show yet. They're doing so well for themselves though – one of their songs just got picked up by HBO for a new show, which is HUGE so really excited to see where these guys are going in the future., but also just to be standing up there at the front on the 4th to catch a live show and get a real wallop of rock!

D: And whether you’re inside or outside there’ll be fire and people hanging out on the roof and doing all sorts of things, there’s a lot more little surprises in there.

J: We’ve got fire breathing jugglers and juggling underwater

D: Flying mermaids and all sorts of stuff! It’s gonna be interesting, put it that way.

Tell us where we can find out more information on the festival, and of course on what you guys are doing separately?

J: You can keep an eye on The Bowery Facebook page and thebowery.ie to keep up to date with all the stuff in the venue. There’s the YS Facebook page, and of course HEFT Events and Venture Presents on Facebook for everything myself and Dean have up our sleeves – there’s always something happening there so keep an eye and an ear!

It looks like people are going to be spending a lot more time in The Bowery over the next while so!

D: They already are! We’re gonna have to start throwing people overboard soon!

 

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