It’s not every January that you get to start the calendar year on a small, secluded, picturesque island buoyed by an effervescent mixture of beauty, tranquility, culture and mystery. By signing up to take in all the joys that Epizode Festival has to offer, in what was to be its first year being a fixture on the techno festival circuit, the dream was to become a reality for me last week. 

Phu Quoc was my destination to partake in all things underground on the techno scene, with an array of established talent that featured such stars as dOP, Tiefschwarz, Edu Imbernon, Claptone, Sammy Dee, Smash TV, Jan Kreuger, Tobi Neumann and Maayan Nidam amongst others. The island itself was just South of the Cambodian coastline, and is a mainstay for South East Asian travellers and island hoppers with a penchant for white sandy beaches, intermingled with dense tropical jungle backdrops. 

The festival itself was a two-week party marathon, running from 31st December until 14th January, and was made up of three stages that run alongside each other, over the course of twenty-one hours worth of programmed entertainment for its punters each day. Aimed at a predominantly Russian audience in its first year due to its Russian owners and promoters, on arrival for its first sunset set, it was clear why the islands unique setting had been chosen to be the framework to which this event was taking place. Most days we were treated to a spectacular sky that was painted with an array of pink, orange and yellow, with hundreds of revellers frolicking across the dance floor and into the tide-settling, crystal blue sea.

The artists had been cleverly and expertly programmed to tantalise and encourage the ear of the more educated raver. Ravers that like their sets to be long, drawn out transcendent journeys as opposed to the short-dashed main stage fodder that is often fed by many a high profile summer festival, just to bulk up the line-up personnel. One particular set that etched in the memory was a mind-bending Sammy Dee sunrise set that tore at the very heart of genre-crossover agendas, and finished magically on a barnstorming Kraftwerk edit of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’. Also Edu Imbernon’s performance packed a punch with plenty of peak time tech-house rollers and crowd engaging ‘hands in the air’ moments that really played to the atmosphere of the fun-loving and captivating crowd to which he performed.

Epizode’s crowd were enchanting and inspiring, with their energy and love for all things electronic shining through for every magical sunset that they were blessed to. Fancy dress aplenty co-existed with a venue that was beautiful in its production. The organisers really did leave no stone unturned to provide the perfect platform for you to leave the island with nothing but indelible memories to last a lifetime. For a debut year, they showed the exact individuality that will help such an enterprise last the test of time, and give the committed festival-goer that one more extra option in which to pack their case and escape their January blues to next year!