A small town in mountainous central Italy isn’t the first location that springs to mind when thinking about electronic music. In Foligno- located in the province of Perugia- however, the Dancity Festival is bringing the energy and magic of electronica to a European audience. The eight edition took place last weekend and featured the likes of Ghostpoet, Mathew Jonson, Zombie Zombie, and Craig Richards. Here, organiser Giampiero Stramaccia opens up about the festival’s philosophy and why it is rivalling the major European music events of the summer.
V: When was Dancity Festival initiated? What was the motivation behind its launch?
GS: Dancity is a cultural association, born officially in 2006 in order to diffuse an idea of music and experimentation, especially focused on electronic music and digital arts, in an area of Italy that is at times neglected, and where the interested public is forced to travel many kilometres to be able to listen to the music they love. In the beginning there was only the passion of a group of friends with a crazy idea, and over time it turned into the internationally ranked event that it is today.
V: What makes Dancity different from the other festivals?
GS: Dancity Festival is not a festival you go to because it is nearby, or because it is trendy, but because experiencing an electronic music festival in the centre of a small medieval town can be one of those elements that will radically change the perception of what you are listening and dancing to. Foligno is incredible, it is full of artistically curious people, that however are afraid to believe in the impossible and to stick together. But a few years ago, something began to change: there is a wonderful jazz festival, independent labels are coming out, and Dancity represents one of these realities that is doing its bit with tenacity, love, and unimaginable risks.
V: How do you select artists to perform at the festival? Is there set criteria or is it more about personal taste?
GS: Personal taste alone won’t cut it when organizing a festival – there is sensitive criteria in the various hues making up the universe of electronic music. They give life to that common thread that, according to our idea, binds the stage line-up. It has worked up until now, and it is also one of the distinguishing features of our festival. It would be much simpler to showcase a label for uniformity – we search for it by putting together artists that might have never even met. Last year, for example, Nicolas Jaar asked Pierre Bastien, who played before him, to encore together… Juju & Jordash and Move D met at Dancity Festival for the first time, then decided to collaborate again.
V: How has the public reacted to the festival’s experimental music style?
GS: We try to stimulate the public to break barriers and confines that arise between those who love pure experimental music, and those who love straight-up kick. The latter are usually more open-minded.
V: How has the festival developed in recent years?
GS: The festival has grown in audience numbers and notoriety as the years have gone by. One aspect that we care about especially is that each year we try for at least one original production, always doing our best to link it to what our local area has to offer from a musical standpoint. Obviously, these realities are light years away from electronic music, for example in the past we created projects with folk music bands, classical music ensembles, a children’s choir who sang in Japanese, we used the cathedral bells for a project with Mouse on Mars’s Jan Werner, and it is this aspect of cultural distance that makes musicians curious to work with us – possibly much more than if we were to offer a collaboration within the same language and artistic domain.
V: What was new for Dancity festival 2013? Which highlights were you most excited about?
GS: Shackleton with the drummers of the Quintana jousting tournament, and Tigran Hamasyan with LV – a great jazz pianist who played along with these two artists from the Hyperdub family. I was also personally very curious to see Robert Hood live, and Metro Area, returning live after so many years.
V: How does the town of Foligno adapt to the festival? Why did you choose this particular location?
GS: Foligno is our city, it’s where everything began and where we would like the Festival to continue to grow. Part of our motivation is exactly this, to help our small town expand beyond its own horizons, to be able to leave some kind of artistic legacy to young people – younger than us, since we have been at it for 8 years. This is why, for the second time this year, we have selected a series of motivated volunteers to help the organization and our own volunteer work. Hopefully this way, new life will continue to be instilled in the process, and we will have somehow changed the perception of music and music listeners in a town as small and “ordinary” as this one. We do have support from the city and the province – but that is not to say that we’ve had to overcome many obstacles, and, again, take great risks to make everything happen, year after year, including this edition. And from the standpoint of the festival setting in the city, Foligno is gorgeous and charming, its inhabitants friendly, and all of this together creates the perfect environment for the festival that we wanted from the beginning – a casual, relaxed atmosphere to enjoy music and art – a place where lasting connections can be made.
V: What is going to happen with future editions of the festival?
GS: I can tell you what we hope will happen – we hope that we will be able to overcome barriers and obstacles of a financial nature and to be more accepted and aided by the local institutions. What we pledge on doing is to continue to work hard and with passion, to make sure that the public will be able to see our vision as much as possible, to create a true contact between artists and spectators, give continuity and coherence to the line-ups, link a certain sound to a certain location and vice-versa, create an osmosis with the local setting and, most importantly, music first, and the names come second. This is what people can expect in the coming editions – we hope not to let them down.
-Words by Giorgia Scavo
Photos of DANCITY FESTIVAL 2013 by Andrea Luccioli, Mauro Sensi and Giovanni Galardini.
For more information, see www.dancity.it/festival/2013/ita