Interview – Rock im Dorf’s Valentin Geiseder on the difficulties of organising festivals, Austrian music and why the future is green

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RID18 by christoph weiermair (4)
(C) Christoph Weiermair

There are lots of exciting, entertaining festivals in Austria; whether it is the chilled-out ambience of Acoustic Lakeside, the free Popfest at Karlsplatz or the more commercial “grandaddy” of Austria festivals in the form of Frequency or Donauinsel Fest, there’s something for everyone over the summer months. One of the best of the bunch is located in Schlierbach in upper Austria and goes by the name of Rock im Dorf!

If you’re looking for a smaller, more manageable festival with top bands, an easy-going vibe and friendly atmosphere, then this festival not far from Kirchdorf an der Krems is an essential addition to your summer festival ‘to do’ list.

Substance is Meaningless caught up with the long-term member of the rockimdorf.at cultural organisation and current Booking and Press officer Valentin Geiseder, to talk about how the festival has developed over the years, why it is important to think regional when organising festivals and who the stand-out acts at this year’s festival between 12th to 14th of July could be.

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The first “new instalment” of the Rock im Dorf festival took place in 2013, what has been the biggest thing that’s changed over the years?

It was a constant improvement every year, we are definitely better organised these days, we got a new venue in 2014 which we optimise every year to make it more exciting and comfortable.

What was the reason for starting the festival back then? Did you expect it to be as successful as it has been?

 

We wanted to create a cultural summer highlight for our region, giving value, inviting the bands we love. Getting friends to come together for two weeks to build and decorate the festival area.

 

That first festival back in 2013 had a pretty impressive line-up, with the likes of A.G Trio, Bilderbuch, Francis International Airport and more –  which artist are you most proud of being able to say, “they played on our stage?”

It makes us very proud to be able to give a platform to emerging and highly talented artists to perform in front of big audiences that are passionate about music. Being able to see that we’ve been able to help a little with an artists career and get awesome feedback from our visitors keeps us motivated to do this.

 

programmkurator_valentin-geiseder_photo by christoph weiermair
(C) Christoph Weiermair

“We have such a strong passion for what we do. Nothing’s difficult about this job when you have that ” – Valentin Geiseder

How much work really goes into a festival like this? When do you start booking the first acts and preparing for the festival?

We usually start collecting and assessing feedback right after the festival. We then build up an organisational team in the autumn. Weusually start booking acts between December and February. It requires the whole year for some people in our team.

What would you say is the hardest thing about organising a festival like this?

We have such a strong passion for what we do. Nothing’s difficult about this job when you have that. We have an amazing crew, that’s our biggest asset to get the difficult things done.

RID Crew
The Rock im Dorf team

 

Hearts Hearts will be performing on Friday, 13th of July. 

Does Rock im Dorf have a certain code or ethos when it comes to the bands it books?

 

Yes. We like to mix established headliners with the freshest talent around. We try to focus on the Austrian music scene and of course, great live bands.

 

I’ve been to Rock im Dorf and loved the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the festival. What do you think makes the festival stand out from other festivals in Austria? 

Well, Austria has a lot of great festivals, but I think its exactly this atmosphere you described that makes it so special.

Rock im Dorf doesn’t just have a reputation for good music, it’s also been commended for its efforts to be a Green Festival. What are the key things you do to keep this festival green and how can other festivals learn from your examples?

It’s very important to interact with the local community, farmers, landlords… this is what we had to learn during the first few years. Comfort is a key aspect these days, keeping the festival clean and regional is an essential part, and I think lots of other festivals are improving in that aspect. Our key green points are supporting regional suppliers, rewarding visitors who arrive by train and those who refuse to drop their waste/cigarettes on the grass.

Yukno will be performing on Friday, 13th of July. 

This year’s festival has another extremely solid line-up of mainly Austrian artists (check out the complete Rock im Dorf playlist below), who are you most excited about?

I think its the whole package. My personal favourites are probably Yukno who just released an amazing record, and I think Hearts Hearts and Lea Santee have great potential on an international stage in the future.

Who could be the biggest ‘unknown surprise’ people shouldn’t miss out on?

I’m really excited about Farveblind, a Danish artist I discovered in a small club in Ljubljana this February. They had this amazing live energy that convinced me to invite them for one of the closing slots of the festival.

Favreblind will be performing on Saturday, 14th of July. 

Are there any surprises in store for visitors this year? Anything you’re trying out for the first time?

Our team is working on some great improvements in decoration. What it will be exactly is a surprise. You should also watch out for our afternoon entertainment program which will be announced soon.

It’s always difficult to predict to future, but where how do you want this festival to be in 5 years time? Are there plans to make it bigger, or are you happy with the way it is?

 

We are still improving and learning every year, especially in terms of decoration, team spirit and comfort. Maybe we are going to invite some bigger names, if we have the opportunity, but the core values will always remain the same.

Is there another festival in the world you’ve attended that you were impressed by?

Personally, I also prefer festivals with this friendly, more cosy attitude. We recently formed a small association called “NOEFF” with other Austrian festivals where we share a lot of our experiences and our passion for organizing festivals. The member list includes a lot of great festivals you should check out: https://www.facebook.com/noeffreunde

 

 

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