Gamma Festival is a high class event in St Petersburg that mixes avant gard experimental music, art exhibitions and more.
Taking place between the 14th and 16th of July 2017, it will showcase different genres of music, from academic neoclassicism to house music to experimental to deep techno, from a carefully curated selection of 85 artists from 15 countries. Scheduled to play are Regis, Rrose, Terrence Fixmer, Vatcian Shadow, Xosar, Kettenkarussell, Ø [PHASE], Mike Parker and many more, all in a number of cool locations such as the Stepan Razin Brewery, the first Russian brewery founded in 1795. Here we speak tot he team behind the event to find out what makes them, and it, tick.
“our audience is young, art loving, creative people.”
Introduce yourself and tell us how long you have been involved with music and how and where and when you first got involved?
My name is Slava Kostyakhin, I am head of m_division agency.. My partner Ivan and I started all this more then 8 years ago.. but the music got us much earlier.. I have been a fan of electronic music for around 17 years now, but my first meeting with true music was when I started University.. it was 2004 ..it was the first steps to my new life and coincidently at the same time a new club had been opened in my native city – everything seemed to be falling into place.
It was the best club in Siberia for the time and club culture began to break through into our lives.
I was born in Omsk, a truly industrial city in the middle of Russia, which was kind of a “closed city” in USSR for a long time.. I think this city influenced me quite strongly.
So at University I met with Ivan .. we became friends and the story began!
It were absolutely best years in our lives .. University, a lot of new people, clubbing all weekend, doing nothing and of course – the music!
In 2005 Ivan started dj-ing and trying to produce his own music. But in 2008 it all ended .. The economic crisis came to Russia.. and everything closed in the city.. there was absolutely nothing, no clubs, no parties, nothing at all.. so we decided to organise something ourselves!
We put on our first party for 300 friends in the beginning of 2009 and since that time the music became our life! In 2010 we already produced big raves for 2000-3000 people once per month and it was absolutely crazy for us .. we were inspired and went outside of our city.. started to work in our neighbouring cities. Then at the end of 2010 my city became small to me .. I just packed my stuff, got into the car and moved to Moscow..
Who is involved in Gamma Fest, how did you all come together?
Oh, this year we already have a much bigger team then last year!
But up until 2016 we have just had a few managers in our team .. for a long period it was just me and Ivan running everything. Then somebody would like to join and we were always opened for to work with nice people who were on the same level as we were when it came to the music, so year by year we have become a large community that continues to grow very quickly.
What was the original idea – where did it come from, what inspired or influenced it?
You know it was kind of a new step .. Ivan moved to Saint Petersburg in 2013 and we started to work on this since that times. After 3 years we had a feeling that we want to push things forward .. We had matured and together with us our events have “matured”. So it came from inside) At that period already had a big community of talented artists around us that we wanted to showcase to as big an audience as possible. Not only musicians but also multi-media artists, architectures, street artists, painters, sculptures.. and others.. Saint Petersburg is a special place in Russia – there are a lot of creative guys here!
We almost did not think about the concept, but we thought really a lot about the naming of the festival. Finally after two months Ivan called me and said “I know the name – it will be GAMMA” .. and after few seconds I realised that it is exactly that we would like to produce.. just this one word describes everything! The original idea was to unite all the artists together in one place and give them a platform for self-realization.
How did you chose the venues, and why did you? Can you talk us through them?
Our philosophy is not to work in night clubs or with concert venues, etc.
Every event is a new project, with its own concept and own atmosphere – this is the thing that we really like to create! Secondly we are in love with industrial architecture! Where most people will see just an abandoned factory – I will see completely transformed art object!
I feel really sad when I see how people do not appreciate the historical heritage that they have … and this “industrial art” is just standing and dying year after year.
We bring new energy and new life into these places and I feel happy when people start to realize it with us.. this is a transformation of substance, a transformation of the mind!
Every time after our projects, when we leave the place, it starts a new life! Somebody start to work there or an owner get an offer to sell it.. some renovations comes to these territories.
We usually try not to work in the same place twice. Keeping things fresh and organic.
Who does the musical programming and what is the aim? What sort of acts do you want to represent?
Our team. It’s a collective choice .. but yes we sometimes receive some comments that we are a techno festival – but we would not limit ourselves to just one genre!
As you can see, this year we have wide focus.. from experimental AV acts to neo-classic live acts.
Of course we love techno – it is energy it is power. But we are interested in smart, intellectual music – regardless of the format or style.
I think the main aim is to be able to enjoy the music 🙂
And second driving factor is, lets say, education! Yes, we would like to show other types of music, alternative sounds, we want to showcase the deep and different sides to it.
What is the Atification Project? Tell us about it and the whole process involved.
This is a new step after Gamma 2016. Together with our new partner “PBR art” we launched a pilot project, Artification, aimed at supporting and developing various facets of contemporary art and new talents.
The aim of the project is to foster interaction between young and experienced artists, to support the latest trends in contemporary art, and to unlock the potential of young Russian talent.
We launched the open call for artists all over Russia and within two months we have received over 450 applications from artists who specialize in one of the four types of art: media, public art, architecture, or recycled art.
The authors of selected works will create and show their objects on the main showground at GAMMA festival. We were really inspired about results and can’t wait to see it in person.
What is new or changed or different for 2017? Did you learn lessons from 2016?
Of course we have learned the lessons.. there were a lot of them! Its something we do every day, constantly evolving and growing as promoters – fine tuning what we do.
First thing we are strengthened this year was the team we work with.
It became clear that it is impossible to make such a large scale project with the same composition.
And second is that we have quite a different scale! I think that we have grown twice as large and as I see we will grow at least twice as big again next year. Sometime I don’t know how to feel about this.. but we are just keep doing the things that we love and do it sincerely.. maybe this is the secret?
What are the key ingredients to get right for any festival do you think?
As I said before, I think it is about doing things with love for your audience!
I remember one very good quote at ADE five years ago.. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who said it.. it was for some discussion panel in Felix Meritis about “how to get sponsors to your event” and this guy said just one short message – “Just make a good festival for the people, which they will love and all the sponsors will line up for you in the queue”.
What crowds are you aiming to attract? Have you got a certain demographic or market in mind?
Gamma festival is for a wide range of people! Yes, our audience is young, art loving, creative people. And when we make smaller events during the year we of course have a certain audience in mind, because we would like comfort atmosphere. But the festival is a little bit of another story, we would like to bring different people together and show them something new and fresh.
What are you most excited about for this year’s event and why?
Haha, ok without saying everything I will say three things:
First – about the venue – it is f*cking amazing!
The Stepan Razin Brewery, is he first Russian brewery founded in 1795. The factory space allows you to travel back in time, it is here that you find the unique heritage of 18th century industrial architecture, designs of the architects Jurgens and Bohnstedt, amazing arcades and shops, is is so much like a museum space that coexist with powerful Soviet Constructivism.
Second – our Artification project! We selected 58 projects for implementation. It is really interesting to look at the results of this experiment.
And the last is music … we have 6 different stages this year which will work to different schedule during the two days.. Music – is an international language! More and more people come to us from EU and other countries and we are happy to share GAMMA with everybody!
Gamma Festival runs from the 14th to the 16th of July.