Imagine Music Festival celebrated its sixth year with an explosive lineup at Atlanta Motor Speedway. From its inception at as a two-day festival at Masquerade Music Park in 2014, the festival has nearly tripled its audience, now boasting an attendance of nearly 45,000 music lovers and festival fanatics spanning four days. Founded and produced by IRIS Presents, Imagine 2019 has grown both its music and production to a standard that sets the bar for EDM festivals across the United States. From candy-coated shufflers, to cross-eyed headbangers, this festival once again proved it can live up to its reputation.
Continuing the theme of fire and water for this year’s
production of Imagine Music Festival, the artist roster exemplified the
staggering differences between the two elements. The musical talent brought forth
by the event included some of the biggest names in the game, including: Above
& Beyond, Alison Wonderland, Zeds Dead, Claude Von Stroke, Tipper, and
more. Spanning the gambit of electronic music genres and catering to the tastes
of every fun-loving attendee. This massive lineup would not have been possible
without the expert stage production and sound engineering that rivals any major
music event in the nation.
Six unique stages shone bright throughout the interior of
the event, with stage design playing an important role in the experience. Oceania,
the largest stage at the event, hosted EDM moguls like Zeds Dead, Alison
Wonderland, Matoma, and a surprise appearance by Shaquille O’Neal a.k.a. DJ
Diesel. Oceania had physical characteristics that towered over the stage,
supplemented by lights, lasers, and high-pressure fog machines. An enormous
crown sat over the DJ booth and gave even more purpose to every artist’s spot
on the main stage.
Amazonia, the second largest stage at the event, focused its production on visual art, with performances by artists like Detox Unit (visuals by Cullen Hassel), Jade Cicada (visuals by Steven Haman), Tipper (visuals by Fractaled Visions), G Jones, and Louis the Child. It was clear that Music Matters Productions affirmed their presence with incredible sound delivery and dramatic lighting.
Disco Inferno, designed by Algorythm Designs, is aptly named for its pyrotechnics; in front of the stage stood a spire that shot fire more than thirty feet above the crowd. Just behind the stage was a sort of disassembled disco ball that shot smaller bursts of flames. Rusko, Lane 8, Space Jesus, and Dirtybird artists such as Claude Von Stroke, Justin Martin, and J.Phlip put on shows that highlighted their individual talents that took them down the road of fame.
Two stages punctuated the space between the aforementioned
three. Six Feathers featuring Darude,
among many others, and the Techyes
stage, a new addition featuring local underground bass artists, which provided
continual entertainment as attendees ventured throughout the grounds.
A particularly welcome part of this year’s festival was the
organization of its stages. Sound pollution from other surrounding stages was
unheard and almost forgotten. Stage presence was maximized through orientation
and spacing, while genre also played a large part in the lineup.
Sunday came to a beautiful crescendo with fireworks over
Marshmello at Oceania, while Tipper continued with an array of incredibly
detailed and artistic projections beside him at the Amazonia stage. When the
music subsided, there was only laughter and talk of unprecedented joy,
nostalgia, and absolute satisfaction.
From Imagine Music Festival’s beginnings at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the musical talent in attendance has continued to speak for itself. When Imagine found its new home at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2016, they featured a lineup that consisted of the best of the best of Dubstep, with names like NERO, Caspa, Rusko, Borgore, Champagne Drip, and Delta Heavy. As the years progressed, they have continued to add to their list of stars across the map for EDM: Bassnectar, GRiZ, Galantis, The Glitch Mob, Armin Van Buuren, RL Grime, Alesso, Kaskade, Zhu, Lotus, and Green Velvet are among the many greats that have graced Imagine with their presence. The unique styles of electronic music these artists have brought to the table help define Imagine as the all-encompassing event it is today. Needless to say, year 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (year 6 overall) brought in a delightfully rich variety of music perpetuating its reputation as an event that covers the expanse of music available for today’s avid music lovers.
For our full photo album from the event, check our Facebook page. Article and photos by Dylan Essi and Victor Tranfield.
Atlanta, GA – Going to great depths to ensure that this is the most immersive Imagine Festival yet, Iris Presents has announced that Imagine will be expanding to four days, which will be accompanied by full music programming on the Disco Inferno stage, early arrival camping, and an extra day of fun. Taking place at Atlanta Motor Speedway this September 19-22, 2019, the added day will be free to everyone who purchases a 3-day ticket and available for a limited time until August 15th. Imagine has also unveiled the full lineup, in addition to several other big announcements, including a brand new stage- TechYes / Guerrilla 360 and a Saturday pool party.
The full lineup by stage, listing artists additions first includes:
OCEANIA STAGE: Drinkurwater; Eddie Gold; Mantis and Midnite Panda. Previously announced artists for Oceania include: Diplo; REZZ; Above & Beyond; Alison Wonderland; Zeds Dead; Marshmello; Alan Walker; KSHMR; Matoma; 1788-L; Ghastly; K?D; Leah Culver; Said the Sky and Svdden Death.
AMAZONIA STAGE: G Jones; Jade Cicada; JuJu Beats; Scales and Zen Selekta. Previously announced artists for Amazonia include: Louis the Child; Tipper; Cherub; Detox Unit; Goldfish; Phantoms and Thriftworks.
DISCO INFERNO STAGE: Lane 8; Space Jesus; Blunts & Blondes; Sullivan King b2b Kai Wachi b2b Kompany; Boogie T; Squnto; Alex Lucas; Otica; Ployd; Throwdown; Vivid and White Rhino. Previously announced artists for Disco Inferno include: Claude Vonstroke & Dirtybird Players Stage Takeover; Anna Lunoe; Dr. Fresch; J.Phlip; Justin Jay; Justin Martin; Nora En Pure; Rusko; Wax Motif; Grave Gang b4b set with Subtronics, HE$H, joined now by Boogie T and Squnto.
TECHYES 360: Amine Edge & Dance; Anthony Attalla; Black v Neck; Charles Meyer; Ciszak; Clyde P; Doons; Dr Boom; Ernesto; Franklyn Watts; Galo; Greco; Hunter Reid; Lee K; Mark Starr; Ronnie Lopez; Techneekz; Tim Baresko and Treasure Fingers.
AERIA / SIX FEATHERS STAGE: Eddie Gold b2b Midnite Panda; Big Mansions; DaddyDough; Ian Live & Friends; Julian Gray; Laser Assassins; MC Word; Nhexis; NOA|AON; Paraleven; Reliquary; Ricky Raw; Torch x Elevate Block; Previously announced artists for Aeria include: BT; Darude; AK1200 and Reid Speed.
SILENT DISCO STAGE: Bandikook; Chachuba; Comisar; D:RC; Deep Technicians; Deff Jeklyn; Dose Dromer; Exit 9; Fear & Lowe; JD; JStella; Kozmic; Krushendo; LaGoons; Leet; Magnesk; Mettapattern; Mike’s Revenge; Movin Keys; Octl; Riven; Shakes; Stranger Candy; Sylo; Tripnotic; White on Rice; Xenotype and Zubah. Stage takeovers by Ian Live & Native Groove.
In addition to music pulsing throughout the festival grounds and into camping, Imagine has partnered with Beatbox Beverages to host a Vegas-style daytime pool party on Saturday. All festival-goers are invited to the party and can add the pool party to their ticket. VIP campers will automatically have the pool party included as a part of their pass. DJs for the pool party will be announced in the coming weeks.
Finally, for those Imaginers looking to get a head start on the week, Imagine is opening up the camping grounds for early arrival on Thursday, September 19th. Early arrival camping passes can be purchased as a part of a 4-day combo pass or as an add-on for those who already purchased their camping passes for Friday through Sunday.
For a limited time, up until August 15th, 4-day General Admission passes are available starting at $269- the same price as a 3-day pass and $289 for a 4-day pass with Early Arrival GA camping. VIP passes with express entry into the festival, exclusive viewing areas, VIP bars, and lounges, and private air-conditioned VIP trailer restrooms start at $369 for a 4-day pass and $539 with a 4-day pass with camping. Payment plans are still available for a limited time. Tickets are available online at www.imaginefestival.com. Imagine Music Festival is an 18 and over event.
Atlanta, GA – After giving fans a glimpse into Chapter Six of the aquatic fairytale, with the release of the theme for Imagine 2019- “What Lies Deep at the Bottom of the Ocean,” the first round lineup is finally here. Featuring a series of mind-blowing headliners, as well as talent that underscores the depth of this annual announcement, fans are once again invited back to this aquatic mecca September 20-22, 2019. Headlining artists joining previously announced Seven Lions, include: Diplo; REZZ; Above & Beyond; Alison Wonderland; Zeds Dead and Marshmello. With still more headliners to be announced, this initial collection of top tier names are joined by over 30 additional artists.
Featuring four main stages, with more stages and artists to be announced, Imagine’s immersive aquatic fairytale will permeate all areas of the festival- from the infield to deep into the early morning in the camping areas. Additional artists on the 2019 performer lineup include: Oceania Stage: Alan Walker; KSHMR; Matoma; 1788-L; Ghastly; K?D; Leah Culver; Said the Sky and Svdden Death. Amazonia Stage: Louis the Child; Tipper; Cherub; Detox Unit; Goldfish; Phantoms and Thriftworks. Disco Inferno Stage: Claude Vonstroke & Dirtybird Players Stage Takeover; Anna Lunoe; Dr. Fresch; J.Phlip; Justin Jay; Justin Martin; Nora En Pure; Rusko; Wax Motif; Grave Gang and HE$H. Aeria Stage: BT; Darude; AK1200 and Reid Speed.
“Finally we are able to let the cat out of the bag and show our fans what has taken many months to curate,” says Iris Presents founders Glenn and Madeleine Goodhand. “Each year we challenge ourselves to top the previous lineup and that is proving to be more and more difficult. We are thrilled with the initial lineup and have many more gems to reveal over the next few months.”
General Admission is available now starting at $199 for a 3-day pass and $249 for a 3-day pass with camping. VIP passes with express entry into festival, exclusive viewing areas, VIP bars and lounges, and private air-conditioned VIP trailer restrooms start at $299 for a 3-day pass and $329 with a 3-day pass with camping. Payment plans are available for a down payment as low as $57.00, where fans can elect for four low monthly installments. Tickets are available online at www.imaginefestival.com. Imagine Music Festival is an 18 and over event.
Imagine Music Festival is produced by Iris Presents. Visit www.imaginefestival.com for the most up-to-date information.
Hidden away in the northern cap of Finland is a place called Levi—home to the largest ski resorts in the country and known for being one of the few places on earth to spot natural phenomena like the Northern Lights and the midnight sun. During the off-season, Levi is home to fewer than 1,000 people, but during the holidays, the many restaurants and hotels (and one top-of-the-line dance club) open up to nearly 20,000 tourists hoping for a winter wonderland getaway.
When my boyfriend and his family invited me to spend the holidays in the Arctic Circle, I did not expect to find myself on the back of a speeding dog-sled or eating copious amounts of reindeer meat in a dimly-lit elvish cavern, but above all else, I certainly did not expect to run into one of Europe’s most famous producers of all time. Ville Virtanen, better known by his stage name Darude, was thrust to international stardom in 1999 with his hit song, Sandstorm. Although Virtanen hails from Finland, Sandstorm gained worldwide popularity, especially in the US, as it exposed many people to the world of dance music for the first time ever. While Sandstorm is one of the most widely recognized songs in dance music, Darude is still regularly producing new music and performing around the world. I had the opportunity to see one of his performances in Levi, while I also got some time to ask him a few questions. For clarity, my questions are formatted in italics, while Virtanen’s responses are standard styling.
Carlie: Coming from Finland, what’s it like getting to perform in a place like Levi?
Virtanen: I’ve actually played here numerous times. It’s an interesting place because there’s always a mixed crowd, but obviously it’s ski season, and it’s almost New Year’s Eve so the area is very festive. With this area you never know what you’re going to get. Not going to lie, I’ve had weird gigs here, like mid-week or Easter time where I’ll play for a small handful of people, but I’m always excited to come here because I love the snow, myself, and I think tomorrow I’ll probably go do some snowboarding, as well. The Hullu Poro Areena is a really nice venue. There’s great sound both on the stage and on the dance floor, so I’m very much looking forward to being back there.
One thing that makes interviewing you interesting is that you actually started making music the year I was born—1995—what are some noticeable changes you’ve seen in the contemporary dance music scene?
Well, I guess the big, main difference is that back then it wasn’t a big industry and it wasn’t mainstream like it is now. A lot of things contribute to that, but I’d say the internet and the development of technology—all the possible ways to create music and how it’s available to everybody— have not only contributed to people being able to share music, but also people being able to create music. Somebody like me, who back then and even now, I’m not that great of a live player. Unfortunately, I never took piano lessons or anything. I played ice hockey as a kid. But even people without live music playing skills have access to computers to make music. Now almost everybody who wants it or is interested in it has access. With all that, I think the awareness and the accessibility to dance music has become so easy and so wide that nowadays, we’re not talking about the underground dance music scene. It’s mainstream, it’s pop, and any big artist—the Armin van Buurens, the Calvin Harrises— they’re all basically pop. The dance records that end up on the radio or on the top of Spotify, those artists can still make harder or darker or more underground dance music, but what becomes their biggest hits are just clear-cut pop songs with an electronic beat.
Yeah, we have kind of started to see electronic music sprinkle its way into every other genre. There’s even electronic country music now.
Oh of course, exactly.
Who are some modern artists that you listen to— some of the younger artists that are coming up that have impressed you as an artist?
I don’t really know about younger. I don’t really know anyone’s ages and I don’t want to bring anybody down by bringing him up, but Avicii, to me, was kind of a younger kid who came after me and his rise to stardom was obviously one of the reasons why electronic music became big. He was one of the huge contributors. Like how you mentioned electronic country, he was one of the guys who fused, quite freely, different aspects of different genres and probably contributed to that melting pot. Martin Garrix has been around for a good while and has obviously established that he’s pretty much the biggest DJ in the world, according to DJMag Top 100. He’s done slow, ballad types of tracks, he’s done a little bit of trappy stuff, and a little of this and that, in addition to his sort of normal, festival-style bangers. Which, again, is one of the things that makes people more and more used to the idea of not having such separate boxes for what an artist can do. I like the idea of there being more freedom and people not shunning you for not always doing what people expect you to do. I made a track with Ashley Wallbridge this year called “Surrender,” and we had a singer called Foux on it. Ashley has sort of also been bubbling under for the longest time, but I think sometime soon he’s probably going to be a mainstream name. Definitely someone to look out for.
Who are some of the artists that first inspired you to get your start in electronic music?
Oh wow. I was actually listening to a lot of 80’s hair metal [laughs], like Bon Jovi and Twisted Sister. Around the same time a lot of German-style dance music like Bad Boys Blue and Modern Talking, that kind of stuff. None of it was really trance, but it was more of my generic background in melodic, sort of easy, mainstream music. That’s kind of what I’m about and really where I come from. In Finland, we never really got all the new stuff or all the big stuff, but we had a pretty decent dance music culture, even when I was getting into it. We even had some mainstream dance music on the radio, like Rhythm of the Night or Dr. Alban. After I started touring internationally, I realized that a lot of Europe had similar music to Finland, but America didn’t and that was weird to me. The US is a big country and when I was getting booked, it was always to these huge cities—LA, New York, Seattle, Miami—the cities are so big that even though dance music wasn’t even close to mainstream, the club scene was very good. To me, those club scenes seemed very similar to Finland, or Europe. What I didn’t understand was why dance music wasn’t on the radio at all.
Yes exactly. Even now, the music that my friends and I listen to— experimental bass music, future bass, even the big-name house artists, the ones on Dirtybird Records— you’re not really going to get any of that on the radio. We mostly listen to our music on Soundcloud. It’s just a great platform for less mainstream artists to share their work. Who are you listening to right now?
Hmm…[laughing] I sometimes feel guilty. I don’t really actively listen to music in my free-time. We might have some techno on Spotify on in the background, or just the other day I searched “uplifting house” and got a mix of like, techno and 120-125 BPM house. I enjoy it, but it’s not like I need to be listening to my bangers when I’m off. Some house or deep house, softly playing in the background is what I like. Rufus Du Sol, Fisher, stuff like that. When I first got into music, I was actively listening to it all the time. Exchanging CDs, recording on the radio. It was everything I did. Now I sit in front of a computer making music and playing in front of crowds, so when I’m off, I’ve just sort of hit my limit of actively listening.
What was the experience of having Sandstorm become such a hit like? Did you expect that to happen?
It’s funny, I wasn’t even really considering myself to be a musician at that point. I had one synthesizer, one computer, and one sequencer, and I was just using any and every little sound or gadget or software I could to put stuff together. I was really just having fun. I wasn’t trying to put myself down, but I was always thinking “professionals are up here, and I’m somewhere down there” and the gap was just so huge. I didn’t have any education in music. I didn’t have the right gear. I never dreamt about this life, not because I didn’t believe in myself, but I just never even saw this as a possibility.
Is it crazy now being one of the huge names and playing on lineups with artists that you once looked up to?
Oh, so let me tell you one of the things that blew my mind just a couple months ago… Pet Shop Boys played in Helsinki and I got to open for them. I did a soundcheck and had a chat with Neil Tennant (Chris Lowe wasn’t there at that point) and it blew my mind. I still have some of their tapes that I’ve recorded. We had a good chat and he was just such a nice guy. A lot of times people tell me that they started making music or that they got into dance music because of my tracks or something and that’s the biggest compliment ever to me. That’s the cool thing, if you end up getting to meet that person that you look up to, most of the time they’re normal people. It’s a nice thing to be able to sit down with someone who has a skill similar to your own, or just have a quick high-five and kind of recognize that they might be older or have more career experience, but that mutual respect is still there. Most of the time it’s the press or other people that put artists against each other, but most of the people actually in the industry are totally fine with each other, even embracing each other.
I actually notice that a lot, especially in the electronic music community. Instead of competition, there tends to be a lot of collaboration. With technology nowadays, you could sit here and have a collaboration with an American artist and never even meet the guy or girl that you’re working with. There really are limitless opportunities for artists to work together.
Oh, I know! My track “Surrender” with Foux… I’ve never met her.
Really? So you just went back in forth online, or?
The connection came through Ashley, who’s the other writer/producer on the track. He had a connection with her so he asked her to sing. They didn’t even sit in the same room while she recorded the vocals— he’s from England and she was all the way in America. It’s the same with my track “Timeless” that was released a couple months ago. Jamie Lee Wilson (JVMIE), who’s an Australian artist living in LA, we’ve never met face-to-face. I’ve chatted on the phone with her, but those vocals came from me sending her the instrumental and her saying “cool!” A couple of days later I had the vocals.
What are you looking forward to in 2019 with music?
Well, all going well, I should have six tracks come out next year, last year I only released two, I’ve been holding back for a big project that’s coming soon.
A new album?
Hmm… Not an album. But a project. When you see it… you’ll know! [Laughing] But I’m excited! I think there will be some guaranteed exposure. It’s a big thing… A good thing! Some people will definitely be surprised or weirded out by what’s coming, but what I like about the last ten years or so is that there has been a lot of collaboration and mixing of genres. I find that cool! After being around for a while, I feel that it’s necessary and healthy to venture out and be outside your comfort zone. That’s what I’m doing now… no country music for me though!