WELCOME TO NOWHERE FESTIVAL / PHOTO BY DYLAN PYLE
Kia ora Ben! How are you doing today?
Kia ora! I’m doing great thanks. Busy, but good.
Can you tell us a little bit about what your involvement with Eyegum Music Collective looks like?
I’m a member of the core event organising crew, being a co-curator of both Welcome to Nowhere and our newest festival Great Sounds Great. I’ve been involved with Eyegum for 6 years and in terms of Welcome to Nowhere I mostly look after artist liaising, music programming, funding and on-site logistics.
What's the story with Welcome to Nowhere Festival - its beginnings and journey so far?
Welcome to Nowhere started out being called A Gathering in the Forest, with the first festival held at the start of 2017. It came off the back of other small indie festivals, in particular Chronophonium, finishing up around that time and the Eyegum crew wanting to start something similar closer to Pōneke. The first step was finding a location and they were lucky enough to come across an incredible piece of paradise in the middle of nowhere. Since then, it has undergone a name change and grown to be a sustainable and much-loved, but still very much DIY, part of the summer scene in Wellington and Whanganui, as well as for others around the motu.
TWILIGHT AT WELCOME TO NOWHERE / PHOTO BY BETH MOUNTFORD
It sounds like a bit of an intriguing festival, from its name (Mint Chicks-inspired, perchance?) to its mysterious location: “Somewhere outside of Whanganui”. Can you give us a few hints about what we might expect over those two and half days?
You’re spot on with the name inspiration. Punters can expect an exciting, unique and eclectic programme of music, poetry, performance and visual art in a stunning location. There will be two main stages, plus a few other stages and performance spaces spread throughout the site, which is set within a limestone ravine, includes a beautiful swimming hole and is surrounding by regenerating native bush and the rolling hills of the Manawatū. There will also be a few secret sets, sessions and workshops (as well as a pub quiz) that won’t be announced until people arrive at the fest.
You're also hosting a pretty killer lineup this year, featuring acts from Aotearoa and beyond. Can you tell us a little bit about what drew you to these particular artists?
Each year, 2023 included, we try to curate a programme that is interesting, diverse and showcases some of the best independent music and art being created in Aotearoa, while also representing our own tastes and preferences. We unfortunately had to cancel in 2022 due to COVID and so we have a lot of the amazing artists who were booked to play then returning this year. In addition, we’ve added some new acts to the lineup that we’ve wanted to book for a while or who we’ve got into over the past year. We’re of course pretty stoked to host for the first time a major international act, Ty Segall, who’s one of my personal favourites and someone I’ve been hoping to see in New Zealand (let alone our festival) for a long time! On the other end of the spectrum, we’re proud to feature some great local Whanganui talent, including friend of the festival, the incredible Anthonie Tonnon.
THE SWIMMING HOLE AT WELCOME TO NOWHERE / PHOTO BY TRENT WILLIAMS
From what we can see (and from what we have heard), Welcome To Nowhere is a pretty unique and tight-knit festival. What elements are important to you when curating or even attending these events - that make them feel so special?
Although it’s a bit of a cliché, we really do have the best audience, both those who return every year and the first-timers. I think it’s impossible to come to Welcome to Nowhere and not feel the close community that is established for those three days. A lot of this comes down to the indie nature of the festival, but we as a group are also very mindful of this atmosphere and try and do what we can to cultivate it. This includes carefully considering things like the size of the event, the type of programme we curate and the safety and wellbeing of everyone on site. We also spend a lot of time crafting a performance schedule that flows well and overlaps as little as possible so that people can take their time and see as much or as little as they want. Overall, we want Welcome to Nowhere to stand apart from other larger festivals and to provide the best possible platform for our amazing artists.
Where can people find out more about the festival and purchase tickets?
We’ve got all the info people need over at our website here, where there are also a few remaining tickets available (although these won’t be around for much longer).
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You heard Ben! There are less than 50 tickets left for this very special event, so make sure you grab your tickets HERE - before they're all gone and you are very sad.
Check out the full lineup HERE.