“The idea was to take the sound quality and the amazing line-ups that we put together for festivals like Time Warp to a new location with a completely different vibe; sun, sea and beautiful settings.”
At Junction 2, we love Boston Manor Park. We love it in the afternoon when friends meet and lounge together in the sun. We love it at night when we’re all together in the hidden rave world we’ve created under the M4 motorway. As much as we love it though, we’re still constantly seeking out other festivals and other organisers who also throw parties in locations that mean the world to them too. That’s why, for the third year running, our friends at Sonus Festival in Croatia are joining us to present their own line-up, including Loco Dice and Apollonia, at The Stretch on Saturday 8th June. Robin from Sonus told us about the ethos of the festival, and about what makes the Croatian coast so special for clubbers.
Founded in 2013 as a joint venture between the organisers of Time Warp (Cosmopop) and Zagreb’s We Love Sound crew, Sonus hosts five days of house and techno’s most dynamic performers in a unique set-up at Zrće beach on the island of Pag. For 2019, selectors from Apollonia to Zip are already lined up to take over the beach in a series of pre-parties, parties, after-parties and off-party-parties; all of them with a holiday atmosphere. Robin explains the origins: “In 2013, when our friend Dalibor from We Love Sound approached us, we were immediately fascinated by the idea of putting on a festival in open-air clubs next to the sea. The idea was to take the sound quality and the amazing line-ups that we put together for festivals like Time Warp to a new location with a completely different vibe; sun, sea and beautiful settings.”
“When people arrive at Zrće beach they immediately understand that each club has its own special flavour, but what they have in common is that they’re set up to be like one arena; plus they all rock like hell.”
From the very start, what Robin calls “a destination festival, which combines a summer holiday with a music festival”, was a mix that struck home with techno fans. He remembers that “the first edition took place in 2013 and was so successful that the second year sold out in presale.” It wasn’t just the music that drew clubbers from across Europe back to Pag, but an alchemy that was also created by the event’s organisation and location. “The festival is split across three clubs; Papaya, Aquarius and Kalypso, all of which are in the current DJ Mag Top 100 Clubs poll.” Despite this split location, Robin says, “When people arrive at Zrće beach they immediately understand that each club has its own special flavour, but what they have in common is that they’re set up to be like one arena; plus they all rock like hell.”
It seems like everything comes in threes at Sonus because in addition to the three clubs there are three key elements that drive it. First, of course, there’s the music. “The soundtrack to Sonus is delivered by an extensive line-up, with more than 60 artists from the underground electronic music scene. Some of them play extended sets, B2B or day and night showcases. For us, sound is everything and we want to present the artists we believe will bring the best experiences to our fans in a setting that never compromises on sound.” Robin also speaks about the importance of using Sonus as a megaphone for emerging talent too. “It’s important to open up a platform like Sonus to local talent and international newcomers too. That’s a huge benefit for our guests because with so many hours, events and stages within the festival, the fans can discover new artists but still catch the international headliners.”
“It’s important to open up a platform like Sonus to local talent and international newcomers too. That’s a huge benefit for our guests because with so many hours, events and stages within the festival, the fans can discover new artists but still catch the international headliners.”
Then, he says, there’s the parties. “There are parties from dusk till dawn, five days and five nights, all in the open air. During the day you literally dance into the sunset, and when the night comes there’s this second peak time when the sun rises over the Adriatic. The early morning hours are very special, they bring a nice twilight atmosphere when the shores and the mountains become visible in the distance again.” For those with the stamina to keep going, there’s more. “There are also two after-parties, one of which happens on the sixth day. That one is open-ended, that’s where the legends unfold…”
Finally, Sonus pushes the idea of turning a music festival into a summer holiday by venturing off the beach too. “The third aspect is the boat parties that happen each day. They’re an exclusive four-hour trip and the tickets are limited so they usually sell really fast. Those parties are filled with international, top-notch artists alongside local talent or newcomers, all playing amazing music in the middle of the sea for about 250 people.” The sea and the island figure further in the festival too because, as Robin says, “There are lots of other activities that you can devote yourself to. There are water sports, but you can also just explore the island with a squad or rent a boat to discover secluded coves and bays with crystal clear waters.”
“Music is at the heart of it, but I also believe that, like us, the people at Junction 2 do everything with a lot of passion. We are ravers and we are authentic because we believe in what we do. This is what our fans can feel and it makes the difference.”
When asked about coming to the UK for Junction 2 though, there’s no question that Cosmopop are happy to leave behind dancing “under the sun, the moon and the stars” for a weekend. “The UK is the motherland of rave”, says Robin. “We always intended to produce a show, or maybe present a stage at a suitable festival, and so when we first learned about LWE’s new festival we felt this must be a cool place and event.” Since Sonus started their collaboration with Junction 2 in 2017, it’s been a relationship that they’ve been happy to extend. “Junction 2 has developed into a very important, relevant but also authentic, platform for the music our organisation presents and promotes. It has really managed to fix its position in the international festival landscape, and to attract people from all over the world. We also hear from artists how much they’ve enjoyed the vibe of Junction 2 and the way LWE work.”
Ultimately, although it might lack the sandy shores of the Adriatic, Robin thinks that it’s the spirit of Junction 2 that makes it sympathetic with Sonus. “Music is at the heart of it, but I also believe that, like us, the people at Junction 2 do everything with a lot of passion. We are ravers and we are authentic because we believe in what we do. This is what our fans can feel and it makes the difference.” When the dancers gather under the The Stretch’s canvas roof for Sonus’ contribution on Saturday, it’s this shared focus on conveying a passion for dance music that they’ll be in for. “It’s a line-up with long-time Sonus artists and friends. People will be able to discover the sounds of Loco Dice and others who’ve played Sonus before, only here it’ll be on a warm summer day in a mind-blowing outdoor London setting.”
Sonus host The Stretch at Junction 2 on Saturday 8th June.
Junction 2 returns to Sonus Festival 18th – 22nd August 2019.
More info coming soon.
Words: Stephen Connolly