We got together with a chat with Timo Helmers, head organizer of VIVID festival, which is opening its doors for the first time this year in Kristiansand, Norway on September 25th and 26th. The festival focuses on audio-visual expression of post-rock and post-metal, featuring bands such as Spurv, 1099 and Tides from Nebula.
Tell us a little about yourself and the team behind VIVID.
We are a small team of only two: me, Timo, & my partner-in-crime Idunn, but with a lot of passionate, skilled friends and volunteers helping out. I am a carpenter making scenography for movies and theatre, and my girlfriend Idunn is a designer. We have just moved together in the old part of town in Kristiansand and want to chip in to the culture life in town by adding a post-rock/post-metal festival to the mix. We have many years of experience organizing underground parties and concerts at an old mill close to town, but this will be the first time we organize an international festival.
Where did you get the idea for VIVID? What inspired you?
I have always wanted to make a festival of my own. With this dream, I went to Dunk! Festival in Belgium and Postfest in Denmark, and became even more convinced that a post-rock festival was something I wanted to bring back to Norway – a bunch of enthusiastic people completely captivated, almost getting “eaten” by the music and wanting to see every single band at the festival. I want to say as well that I discovered some of the bands in the lineup at the Arctic Drones review section. Thumbs up!
What’s the music scene like in Norway?
As Arctic Drones readers will probably know, Norway is most known for its metal scene. In addition, we get to see a lot of international bands of all genres touring the country. The post-rock music scene in Norway is really good in my opinion. There are many young bands which are doing great, but it’s hard to get their music known because they are not playing popular music. The biggest music scene is situated in the capital and that’s also where most of the post-rock/post-metal bands originate as well.
How do you think the location and surroundings will work together with the music?
We think our small coastal town will create a unique, intimate and memorable context for such a festival. The venue for the festival is the old cinema in town. The space is not built as a traditional concert hall, but offers a lot of new possibilities such as the huge backdrop for projections among its facilities. The town center is surrounded by the sea on two sides, and the venue and festival hotel is situated only a few blocks apart.
The description reads that the festival emphasizes “audiovisual expressions, inclusion and hospitality.” How do you plan to do that?
We will spend time making visuals for the bands that want it, and facilitate those that bring with them their own material. If time allows it, we will curate an exhibit where local artists interpret tracks or whole albums by the bands playing at the festival.
In regards to inclusion and hospitality we have kept the prices considerably lower than the average price for a festival pass in Norway, hoping to make it affordable for both more people locally and internationally to join. We have organized the band hotel in such a way that the whole hotel is booked by either bands or fans. Throughout the festival we will invite bands and fans alike for tea, host after parties and if possible invite some of the artists to share their knowledge and experience through a workshop format. Primarily due to their music, but also as an act of inclusion, we have applied and received funding from Music Norway to invite a post-rock/electronica band from Pakistan, hopefully further cultivating our impression of cultural expressions from that part of the world.
If you had to pick one thing that sets VIVID apart from other festivals, what would it be?
We are proud of the international line up considering VIVID being such a small and intimate festival, but what may distinguish us from others is our attempt to explore audio-visual expressions in various ways.
What can visitors expect overall?
Memorable concerts, a nice meal, new friends sharing the same interest in music and a taste of Norway.
Since this is the first time, were there any challenges in particular getting the festival set up? Any advice to others who’d like to do something similar?
It was not easy finding a venue by naming rock and metal in one sentence, but we have overcome both this hurdle and even managed to get some public funding. The funding is however far from making sure organizing a festival is not a financial risk. So we need to have people buying tickets as well ;). To do so, we need to promote the festival. Promoting a post-rock festival is difficult because the term and genre “post-rock” is unfamiliar for most people, but we have tried pushing the festival at gigs that somehow relate to post-rock although the bands playing might not be post-rock bands as such. Social media pushes the festival towards new people and hopefully all the likes on our page will materialize in people joining the festival. Last but not least – making a festival takes a lot of work and a lot of different skill sets. We have a whole wall in our apartment for to-dos and a online project management tool to keep us on track.
One piece of advice we can give so far: be positive and do not let any setbacks or negativity prevent you from moving forward ;).