Amongst the burgeoning quantity of music festivals positioned upon Croatia’s coast, Dimensions Festival has always stood out and sustained itself as one of electronic music’s finest providers of across Europe, supplying the crème de la crème of House, Techno, Disco, Jazz, Funk and Soul by way of seminars, lectures, intimate workshops and a consistent flourishing festival experience.
Located in one of most unique festival settings amongst an ruins of the 19th century Croatian Fort, Punta Christo and with a crowd devoted to more underground style of music, the whole Festival is far more committed to the music itself and experience rather than solely party culture. We managed to catch up with Andy Lemay, one of the driving forces forging Dimensions Festival’s legacy so far to discus the distinctive and unique festival experience, what to check out on site as well as the many projects that Dimensions Festival are now pioneering and what to expect going into their 6th year.
We have to congratulate you on turning 5 which is a huge achievement, has it been difficult consistently attaining the crowd that you’d personally like to see attend Dimensions Festival?
I don’t think we ever tried to create a festival to get a curtain type of crowd so its not a problem or difficulty really. The people come have a common interest in good music and are from all over Europe; and all the ones I have encountered are incredibly good people too. I think the crowd of like minded music lovers form all over Europe and further afield who come to Dimensions is without doubt one of the best things about the festival. 48% are from the UK but the other 52% are from all over the world; India, Australia, Thailand, Cananda the US. Its amazing really, very humbling to think ripples of Dimensions can spread that far and have enough of an effect to make people want to fly half way around the world to join us!
What’s your favourite stage and why?
I know a lot of people from the office would say The Moat and it is amazing but i have a soft spot for The Stables, for those who havent been its a 800 capacity venue surrounded by 30 foot walls all around it. Obviously it used to be the the forts old stable complex and the only way in is via a giant stone archway. You can follow the the path around the venue to the top of the old walls and look down on the sea of people below. It’s really well lit too and houses a lot of the broken beat and more soulful house sounds, perfect dancers venue. Mungo’s is also an incredible venue but I cant choose two stages can I?! We’re lucky to have some of the best festival stages you can find.
What do you think sets Dimensions apart from the plethora of Croatian dance festivals that have sprung up?
I sound like a football manager in a press conference now but we tend to not focus too much on whats happening around us in terms of what sets us apart. Our favorite things about Dimensions are the lineup, the venue Fort Punta Christo and the people who come. I guess thats unique to Dimensions, as other festivals have their own unique atributes too… shit I sound like a politician, safest answer ever!
It would seem as though turning 5 has matured Dimensions into something greater than just a music performance, with the addition of the DJ Directory and the introduction of Seminars and workshops, what’s your vision behind that? Can we expect to see any more additions?
the festival is made up of a bunch of music geeks really, and we are super interested in the processes of the music, as well as promoting and working on projects involving the whole culture surrounding. We don’t ever want to settle on solely running Festivals.
The Knowledge Arena is one example. It started three years back in collaboration with tony Nwachukwu of CDR. Tony was a bit of a hero of mine growing up and used to go to CDR well before Dimensions. I thought CDR was such a great idea and Tony such a great guy that he was the first partnership I made at Dimensions. Out of this The Knowledge Arena was born in collaboration with Johnny Scratchley and is an educational space for workshops and tutorials on site and we now do them all over Europe too.
The DJ directory was something important to us as a festival and is still in its infancy. I really think there is a responsibility for Festivals to provide a platform to showcase emerging talent, its also one of the joys of the job. A lot of Festivals have quite similar lineups, all great… but the top, big headliner names can all look the same! Dimensions has always booked a lot of artists that we love over their potential to sell tickets and saw them as more long term bookings. Our full lineup is massive! it doesn’t make much business sense but does make for a better more interesting event, and it’s a chance to discover new names as well as see existing favourites. So the DJ Directory is a collection of DJ we love and want to support all year round using the platform Dimensions has built and then invite them to play the festival aswell. The idea is new and we have loads more work to do and many more DJs are going to be added but there are some very interesting developments behind the scenes that we hope will see the project grow year on year.
Aside from this we are starting a record label that we are very excited about. Its as eclectic as the Festival with releases lined up spanning jazz, house techno, and more. keep and eye out for Dimensions Recordings.
I also wanted to pioint people to a new project with Lexis from Music Is my Sanctuary called the Art of The Mixtape. You can find more info here and its open to anyone with a great music collection. Pretty interested to see where this leads. We have had some incredible submissions so far.
With the DJ directory specifically curated to shine a light on emerging artists – who are particularly excited about showcasing?
Going back to sounding like politician but its pretty hard to try single out one DJ, we love them all hence their inclusion. That said I’m very excite about what Errol Andwot and Alex Rita are doing with their Touching Bass night/ brand and both of them as DJ s too. Sean OD is a beast of a DJ. Anu and Debora Ipekel have amazingly interesting music tastes. I’m a big fan of Shy One too, mad music taste and record collection. Fin (Minus Kendal) is 19 and buying £350 records and is brilliantly obsessed. Lorenzo was recommended for the directory by Alex Nut and his mixes have become a new obsession. Kamma played at the Festival last year killed it and we had to add, brilliant DJ and just back from a tour of Japan too! Making moves. There is a lot of talent in there and I recommend checking the mix series to find out just what I mean.
Do any special precautions have to be taken to ensure that the beauty of Fort Punta Christo is not ruined by the festivals there?
There are a group of people called the Fort Guardians who actually live in the Fort all year around and do a lot to look after the venue. We also spend a lot of time building and improving parts of the fort year on year. This is from a health and safety point of view and also to preserve the amazing venue. Its not the easiest place to put on a Festival but so worth it when we open and see the look on peoples faces when they arrive up there for the first time.
Who were you most excited about booking this year and why?
Tricky one. Theo Parrish is my favourite DJ and will be back for the first time in 3 years and will be playing all night long, Theo at his best. Shuggie Otis! Im a huge fan boy and this will be great to witness. Hanna is one of my favourite house producers and this will be his first European show ever i think?! Catching the DJ Directory crew playing in the fort is going to be great to see. Josey Rebelle is one of the few DJs to have played every Dimensions and is one of my favourite DJs, I never tire of watching her play. Dam Funk will do a special set on the beach that will be a highlight no double. Scott Grooves! I love Scott grooves and really happy he is coming out. Paul St Hilaire and Rhauder, London Modular Alliance, Kerem Akdag, Interstella Funk, Nicky Siano, Amp Fiddler, Cymande, Ata Kak, Moses Boyd in the amphitheater and of course Grace Jones! the list could go on and on to be honest.
And finally, after 5 years what has been your personal stand out moments since its humble beginnings?
Year one. Theo Parrish into Moodymann at The Void stage. I got emotional. Then Larry Heard last year. His first live show in 25 years. Had no idea how it was going to live up to the hype but it did and even managed to surpass it! Absolutely amazing.