Events, Features, Interviews, Previews

Interview: Beyond The Valley Organisers

Beyond the Valley has come ahead in leaps and bounds since it first entered the festival scene as a ‘boutique’ New Year’s festival at Phillip Island in 2014.

A move to a larger, purpose-built site at Lardner Park in 2015 provided some teething problems, but those issues were skilfully rectified this year.

For such a young festival, Beyond the Valley’s third edition proved to be its best, with a diverse line-up across three days and an additional ‘early settlers’ day for those wanting a little extra, capped off by a surprise visit from the Berlin masked man, Claptone.

Underground house and techno fans were treated to sets in the dance tent from the likes of Detroit legend Carl Craig, Berlin techno great Oliver Huntemann and Israeli’s Guy Gerber, complemented by an impressive pyramid stage design and superior lighting.

At the imposing main stage, music lovers were provided with a variety of tools for a good time, highlighted by killer sets from Aussie favourites Sticky Fingers, electronic hip hop duo Hermitude and American electronic producer ZHU.

Melbourne’s own Dom Dolla superbly closed the festival in the dance tent for the third year in a row, bringing an end to a memorable four days at the farm.

The success of the event is a testament to the hard work and dedication of its up and coming team of organisers, Tom Caw, 25, Nick Greco, 25, Christian Serrao, 24, Filippo Palermo, 23, and Michael Christidis, 23.

In the lead-up to this year’s event, BTV assured punters would be impressed by the vast improvements to the overall festival experience and site.

btv-014The addition of colourful shade sails at the main stage not only looked great, but also provided relief from the heat for punters. Photo: Arianna Leggiero

Autosea writer Mitch Guy spoke to the festival’s team about how they delivered on their promise and didn’t allow a little rain and mud spoil a good time.

Autosea: What major improvements did you make to this year’s festival?

Christian: We changed the security company and hired two new contractors – one handling the festival arena and Central Park stage, and the other handling all gates and campgrounds

A different cleaning company was hired to ensure cleaner facilities and a greener view when it came to waste management.

A floor was installed in the dance tent to ensure there was no dust and we installed two large colourful shade structures and had over 100 large umbrellas.

We served bags of ice for $5 all day, every day, and improved the overall experience by expanding our market village to over 30 stalls, adding the inflatable chapel and the incredible climbable animal by Joel Dean Stockdill.

The ‘Lakeside with Autosea’ bar was a huge hit and somewhere for people to relax by the lake during the day listening to great music.

The separation of Central Park from the main arena was like it was in BTV’s first year.

Central Park is its own mini-festival within the festival and people loved that in the first year, so we wanted to do that again.

The addition of five extra information hubs within the campgrounds made assisting patrons with any issues they had during the event a lot easier for both organisers and patrons.

Autosea: The décor, lighting and staging seemed to go to another level this year, and I believe you guys were inspired by festivals overseas. Can you explain who is in charge of these facets and how it all came together?

Filippo: You’re correct in assuming it was inspired by festivals overseas.

This year I did a lot of travelling and attended festivals such as Coachella, Pitch in Amsterdam, Melt! and many more, which inspired many ideas on how programming, décor, lighting, stage FX and sound works abroad.

While I was technically ‘in charge’ of this department, the real masterminds behind everything you heard and saw at our stages were our production managers, Nick Marson, Andrew Mutton, Matthew Jens and their teams, along with our friends at Stage Kings who decorated and built the main stage décor.

Stage décor is a process of sending inspiration and mood boards to a stage designer, who then turns your vision into something creative, original and most of all, real.

It’s also their job to achieve a design which is in line with the aesthetic of surrounding areas and the image we try to portray in our brief to them.

We couldn’t have been happier with the job they did this year!

BTV-298.jpgThe festival lifted its stage décor and lighting up a gear this year, with the dance tent transforming into another world at night. Photo: Arianna Leggiero

Autosea: You seemed to have the local community on board more this year, how did you achieve this?

Christian: We held a number of community briefing sessions at the BTV venue throughout the year, allowing supporters of the event as well as residents with concerns to come together to ask questions and be involved with the planning process of the event.

This helped to ensure any concerns that local residents had were rectified before the event took place.

Autosea: One qualm I had was the sound wasn’t loud enough in the dance tent at times, and the fact that the music finished at 1.30am, 1.30am and 3am across the three days. Why was this the case and is there a chance this will be improved next year?

Christian: Running any event, no matter whether it’s in the middle of the city or in the country, you must abide by Environment Protection Authority (EPA) regulations.

These regulations state that the music must not be louder than 65db at the nearest residence and all music must cease at 10pm.

We applied for an extension to play music later than 10pm and were granted those times.

We always want to be able to play longer and louder, however we need to ensure we comply with all rules and regulations.

We are working with the EPA to find ways to be able to play louder without affecting our neighbours.

Autosea: How did the ‘Lakeside with Autosea’ bar come about? Why did you introduce this stage and what did you think of it? 

Filippo: We really loved everything Autosea were doing with their shows as well as the music genres their DJs were playing.

We thought it’d be a great addition to have them run a stage at BTV, and what better stage than the lakeside bar!

Pietro Cavalieri definitely did a great job with the DJ console design.

autosea-stage-011The ‘Lakeside with Autosea’ bar provided festivalgoers with a space to relax with a drink and a bite to eat, while enjoying quality music in a picturesque setting. Photo: Arianna Leggiero

Autosea: Who was your favourite act or what was your moment of the festival?  And what was your best improvement or feature of this year’s BTV?

Christian: My favourite act was Bakermat – he’s an artist that plays perfectly to the crowd and gets everyone up and dancing.

My favourite moment was definitely seeing patrons sliding through the mud on their stomachs in the middle of the festival arena and then to see freshly laid hay the following morning, making the site look like brand new again.

It was a great moment for me because it was a true testament to our great management at the event this year, being prepared for whatever Mother Nature threw at us!

My favourite improvement was definitely the colourful shade structures, they not only served a great purpose, but they looked great too!

Autosea: I’ve noticed BTV has posted on Facebook asking which acts people would like to see. How strongly is this taken into account when booking artists?

Nicholas: Very strongly, we take every suggestion on board when we book our lineup.

At the end of the day, the patrons are the ones coming each and every year, so we want to give them what they want.

Autosea: Do you guys have a vision for future BTVs?

Christian: We’re taking BTV year by year.

We want the festival to continue to grow and get better with each year, but we will always ensure it never loses its soul.

btv-260If the smiles on faces throughout the festival is anything to go by, Beyond the Valley is set for a long and vibrant future. Photo: Arianna Leggiero

For more BTV photos, you can check out photographer Arianna Leggiero’s collection at http://www.ariannaharry.com/visual-diary/ or stay tuned for photos on the Autosea Facebook coming soon!