Sonus celebrates five years this Summer and is easily one of the highlights in the Croatian rave calendar. The team behind it are a collaboration between Cosmopop, the German rave promoters responsible for Time Warp, and their Croatian counterparts, We Love Sound. We catch up with Cosmopop’s Robin Ebinger to get a window behind the scenes of what is fast becoming one of the scene’s most important destination festivals.
Ibiza Voice: Tell us the story of your involvement in Sonus?
Robin Ebinger: we started to look into options in Croatia in 2009, but didn’t start work until the beginning of 2013. Our friend Dalibor Zjačić from the We Love Sound Crew approached us [about] Sonus and the venue on Pag Island. He and his team promoted a previous small version [of the festival] there the year before. We were right away fascinated by the idea of producing a festival on the island in open air clubs next to the sea. So in 2013 we joined forces and the first multi day edition took place.
Describe the scene in Croatia for us?
Croatia has a huge number of different festivals taking place. There’s something for everyone. The main difference is the setting: you can dance through the sunset and sunrise, accompanied by the sun, the stars and the moon - always in the fresh air, with a beautiful panoramic view over the sea and the Croatian limestone mountains. It makes such a difference [being] in the open air and the sun, it really gives you extra energy.
Does Croatia present any unique challenges for promoters?
Planning events abroad is always difficult. The first Sonus year was pretty tough. It was a new venue and a new format. Five days and five nights parallel in two clubs and boat parties, hardly any sleep and a lot to learn. There’s a different language and culture and of course we had to match the German mentality with the Balkans [laughs]. In the last night we had heavy weather conditions. Once there is heavy rain or a storm you need to react quickly. You need to secure the technical devices in case they are not water proof, depending on the intensity of the weather you need to stop the festival and send the people back to Novalja. Since we can’t control the weather, outdoor events are always risky. That’s why we chose August, when sunshine is reliable.
There is constant talk of Croatia being the new Ibiza, is that true or is it something different in its own right?
The country will expand, the infrastructure is growing and the local people improve on the needs of the guest but I can’t see Croatia becoming the new Ibiza. Every place has its own character and magic.
It feels like Croatia has experienced a 'gold rush' of international festival promoters..
There was certainly no gold rush but a wishful thinking by promoters and media alike. I am not sure whether we have witnessed the peak. Some of the events have already disappeared and the others have to struggle until the last day to sell the tickets. However, this year seems to be funny with many festivals all over Europe. The fans have a boundless number of festivals to choose from.
What are your predictions for the future of dance music festivals?
There will be festivals that make extensive use of technological progression. This will not only mean intensifying the festival experience but also the real-time simulation of reality. There will be more technical devices and things that will distract people from the original essence of festival: listening to music and meeting people. On the other hand there will also be “pure” festivals that cater for these basic motifs; they will concentrate on sound and music without the thrills and frills.
What’s your take on live streaming? Some events now put as much emphasis on video streaming as they do on the live experience itself
From a marketing perspective live streaming is one of the most effective tools of online promotion for festivals right now. Crowds at the festival itself are more influenced by the experience they have right in that moment and might stay and listen to an artist they don’t know yet if the atmosphere is right. Whereas online, streams can be a great tool to present an underground or up-and-coming artist in the context of an established festival brand. If you’re hooked watching a DJ perform live on your phone or laptop, you’re definitely thinking about experiencing the real thing at the next opportunity.
If money was no object and you had a time machine at your disposal, what would be your ideal night out?
That is easy to answer. I would love to travel back to the early rave days and join a party in the legendary Hacienda in Manchester to dance to the sounds of a young artist. who was back then, right at the very beginning of his career: Laurent Garnier.