Zandari Festa helps bands and the music business connect globally.
Most music festivals focus on bringing in the biggest acts from around the world to attract more spectators. However, local fest Zandari Festa, now in its fifth edition, places its focus on the musicians and how it can help them.
Zandari Festa is part indie showcase, part music conference with bands and industry folk from around the world. The goal, according to founder Dalse, is to help Korean bands go overseas and to help overseas bands come to Korea. In the process, local audiences are treated to a wide variety of bands and artists spread out over four days of performances in venues throughout Hongdae.
“Zandari Festa is especially for the musician, not for the audience. So we will make [conferences about] how can we support the musicians,” he said. “How can [Korean musicians] go overseas? And then, how can [overseas musicians] settle in Korea? We want to talk about many situations.
“This year, the Zandari Festa theme is ‘Respect.’ How can we [build] respect between the audience and musicians? And the musicians and company people? We need to respect each other more.”
The festival started in 2012 as a way to help Korean indie bands network overseas. Dalse says at the time he needed to build relationships between bands here and music professionals abroad to help introduce foreign audiences to Korean bands. In 2010, he initially tried to take Korean bands overseas, but the endeavor was much too expensive. From there, the idea for Zandari Festa was born: An event that would bring together foreign and Korean bands and music professionals to provide the opportunity to expand globally.
And the idea has grown. Dalse says this year there are 150 bands playing in the festival, which runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. Of these, 100 were picked from Korea and 50 from overseas. Also, the French and UK governments have created special stages and are sponsoring five bands from France and six to eight from the U.K. as well as sending a delegation. In addition to the European countries, delegates from Chile, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Asian countries will be present.
“This is not just for the Korean music companies and Korean bands. We want to make relationships with other countries in Asia. So we will try [to bring] more Asian delegates and other partner countries,” Dalse explains.
Another difference this year is the number of bands. Past festivals have grown until there were well over 200 bands playing. Dalse admits that having that many bands made it too difficult for the audience – which reached about 3,000 last year – and delegates to catch most of the performances.
And despite so many music companies being present, Dalse says the festival is not about business, but rather creating the opportunity to build relationships and giving bands the chance to do that themselves rather than relying on others.
“At Zandari, culture is more important. So we increase the relationships and the talking between countries. I think it’s the most important situation, because when they make some relationship and then talk, they can do it themselves,” he says.
This opportunity is something that Tokyo folk duo Nature Airliner appreciated when they came to Zandari Festa last year.
“We got to meet a lot of great people and we were really impressed with the warm spirit and deep kindness of most Korean people, so we are looking forward to meeting even more Korean people, as well as building on the friendships we have already started,” says guitarist Laurier Tiernan.
Little E from Korean electronic duo EE, who are performing in the festival for the first time, says they are hoping to discover other cool acts at this year’s event and take advantage of the networking opportunities.
“There are so many festivals nowadays, but Zandari is different. This festival gives lots of support to great new artists and tries to introduce them to the global market. I think this is amazing!” Little E says.
For Estonian band I Wear* Experiment, also playing in Zandari for the first time, while they are on the lookout for collaborations, they are also looking forward to meeting the Korean audience.
“Our experience has shown us that the further south we travel and give our concerts, the crazier the crowd gets in front of the stage. As we come from the very north of Europe, then we hope our experience will not fail us this time and the audience will put on their dancing shoes and it will be a very intense concert,” says keyboardist and guitarist Hando Jaksi.
But for many Korean bands, Zandari is an integral part of the indie scene here in Korea.
“Zandari Festa is a true representative of Hongdae. It’s the only indie festival in town that receives a lot of love,” says guitarist-vocalist Park Junhyung from psychedelic rock band Julia Dream.
For vocalist Kim Naehyun from Rock N’ Roll Radio, it is impossible to separate Zandari from the indie scene, saying, “I think that [Zandari] shows the creativity and self-sustaining power of the indie scene. Personally, I firmly believe that as Zandari grows more, it is the gateway to success for new bands or the turning point in the careers of older musicians.”
Zandari Festa runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 in around 10 venues in Hongdae, stretching from Sangsang Madang to Veloso to Gogos2. Performances will run from 5pm to 10pm all four days of the festival. One-day tickets are 30,000 won and two-day tickets are 50,000 won.
Special VIP passes are available for 100,000 won and come with access to all showcases, including the special British and French showcase nights, opening and closing parties, music conferences and free Zandari merchandise. Tickets are available on Interpark.
The full line-up and detailed schedule for the showcases will be posted on the Zandari Festa website and Facebook page by the end of September.
Website – http://www.zfesta.com/en/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/zandarifesta
Story by: Emma Kalka / Photos by: Zandari Festa