For five adrenalin-propulsing nights next week the cutting-edge of global electronica arrives in Derry for the best dance party on the calendar.
Celtronic 2019, running from Wednesday, June 26, to Sunday, June 30, will see acts from Japan, Bulgaria, Germany, Scandinavia and Britain line up with the finest in local electronic music. The ‘Journal’ caught up with promoter Gareth Stewart to talk about what very much remains a festival with a difference.
‘Stewrty’, who has been bringing the electronic underground to Derry since the days of Deep Fried Funk in the 1990s, delivers not so much a PR promo as a restatement of a dance manifesto.
“When we set up Celtronic in 2001 it was almost to be anti-festival. Back then you had the likes ofthe big festivals ripping people off, people having a bad experience,” he said.
“Another thing was that young people were being negatively presented in the media. It was all about Waterloo Place, anti-social behaviour, violence in the street, ‘all young people are scumbags’, that type of thing.
“Now we’re back in the same position. That’s all that’s going on at the minute in the Press. On the other side is people are getting ripped off again. Ticket prices are too high. Acts are getting paid stupid money. Nineteen years later it’s come full circle. We’re trying to get acts at one of the busiest weekends of the year for festivals. You have Glastonbury [Britain’s biggest festival], Roskilde [Denmark’s biggest festival], The Awakenings [the biggest techno festival in the Netherlands]. You’re competing against them,” he added.
Celtronic, nonetheless, has managed to counter the competition from its more commerical cousins across the waters, however. ‘Stewrty’ and his colleagues have built a strong reputation that has allowed them to assemble a stellar line-up of acts yet again with headliners including KiNK, DJ Nobu, Mano Le Tough, Move D, Axel Boman, Dr. Rubinstein, Courtesy and internationally renowned Irish artists Krystal Klear, Or:la, New Jackson, The Cyclist, Ryan Vail and Elma Orkestra.
“KiNK, from Bulgaria, is probably the best live act in electronic music that you’ll ever see. His show’s spectacular. A genius. All the acts are brilliant. They’re all really relevant. We hope this line up can expose people to the kind of experience you get in Berlin or major cities across the world.”
‘Stewrty’ says a really pleasing factor has been to be able to re-book a Derry artist such as ‘Or:La’, who is homegrown and yet a regular now at Berghain, Berlin, - ‘the best club in the world’ - who now flies the flag for the city globally.
“When we started Celtronic in 2001 we had a launch in the Strand Bar. At the time we were importing acts but now with Or:La, The Cyclist, Ryan Vail and Darren Allen, we are exporting.
“That’s what we want now when young people see someone from Derry on the stage. It breaks down the barriers and people realise you don’t have to be from New York or Berlin to be in this game.”
Over the past two decades Celtronic has earned the respect of artists by keeping true to the roots of the early dance music scene while always looking forward.
“Celtronic is non-profit. It’s about the experience. With all the acts you are seeing they are usually playing to a crowd of 10,000 to 20,000 people at festivals but at Celtronic you get to see them up close and personal which was always our angle, to keep it intimate.”
For the full programme visit: www.celtronicfestival.com Tickets are on sale now at The Millennium Forum Box Office (00442871264455) and online at eventbrite.com.