A festival of Opportunities
Story By: Emma Kalka
Photos By: Zandari Festa & Emma Kalka
It’s that time of year again, when indie bands and musicians from around the world descend upon Hongdae for a long weekend to play music, connect with music industry professionals, drink beer, and just have fun.
Spread out over nine venues within 10 minutes walking distance in the heart of the indie music scene in Seoul, Zandari Festa is set to run from Sept. 26-29 this year. The showcase festival has a total of 119 bands and artists playing over the weekend with 65 local acts and 54 international acts from 20 countries including Taiwan, Hungary, France, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, China, and the UK.
“For us, it’s very important to support local live clubs that also help us production-wise with their professionalism,” said organizer Livina Tanovic.
And while there will be dozens of sets for music fans to catch with a range of styles from jazz, to punk, to hip-hop and EDM, the core of the festival is to connect bands and musicians with others from around the world along with concert and festival promoters. It is this international aspect that makes it unique.
“It’s all about diversity and it’s truly global, but still intimate,” said Tanovic. “Artists, professionals and even audiences who come to Zandari Festa get along together through music no matter where they are from or what they do.”
This year marks the eighth installment of the showcase festival since its start as a town festival in 2012. It has grown into the international event that it currently is, showing off Hongdae culture and the non-Kpop music scene to the world. In line with its continuing growth, this year features a few new features.
There are more special stages hosted by countries and cities, including Taiwan, Hungary, Busan, France, Canada, Hong Kong, and the UK. The festa is also opening its doors to teens through the new project “Music TEEN-dustry”. Underage attendees can now buy tickets to certain showcases and participate in conference sessions.
“We believe that involving young people will help to encourage the scene that is not a part of a huge entertainment industry such as Kpop,” Tanovic said.
Also, the festival is branching out and including hip-hop acts this year. There is a special Busan showcase featuring rapper JTong with local band Lowdown 30, as well as a set by local female rapper Choi Sam and internationals acts HAMZA from France, Antoha MC from Russia and Too Many T’s, an old school hip-hop trio from the UK.
Zandari Festa is not a festival that books so-called “headliners” that sell tickets, according to Tanovic, so the best experience the audience can have is just enjoying the musical diversity.
“If you’re interested in the music business or industry itself, Zandari is actually the only international event in Korea where you can participate and learn,” Tanovic said. She added that what they look for in selecting acts are bands that can deliver what they want to express through their live performances.
And it must be doing something right - its garnered the attention of bigger festivals such as Focus Wales and Liverpool Sound City.
While organizers believe that each one of the 119 bands performing this year are worth checking out, a few to keep an eye on are some of the bigger international names - The Sherlocks (UK), Amazing Show (Taiwan), Jordan Klassen (Canada), Fran Palermo (Hungary), Schnellertollermeier (Switzerland) - as well as emerging new Asian acts such as Pyra (Thailand), Harahells (Japan), and The Hormones (China).
Some of Tanovic’s personal picks are Airy, DTSQ, Platform Stereo, Organic Beer and Baek Hyunjin from Korea, and Guess Band (Japan), Two Weeks in Nashville (UK) and ba. (Lithuania) on the international side.
For the future, Zandari Festa doesn’t necessarily hope to get bigger.
“We hope we could earn a bit more profit so that we could keep doing this,” Tanovic said. “Other than that, always the same - we hope people come listen to music, drink beer, and make friends.”
Tickets and more information are currently available at Zandari’s website (http://zandarifesta.com).
Date: Sept. 26-29
Location: Prism Hall, Veloso, Flex.Lounge, Redbig Space, MUV Hall, Club STEEL FACE, The Con-vent Live Club, Evan’s Lounge, Ryse Hotel (Hongdae, Seoul)
Zandari Pass (includes entry to official showcases): One-Day - 44,000 won; All Days - 88,000 won
Zandari Special Package (Official showcases + Conference + Special Stages): One-day - 66,000 won; All Days (includes after party) - 121,000 won
Special Pass (one-time entry to special stage): 33,000 won per day
*Zandari Teen Pass (some showcases + conference): One-Day - 11,000 won; Fri-Sun Pass - 33,000 won
* Only available to those under 18