BREAK OUT THE BRASS. SKA IS BACK AGAIN!
Deep in the heart of the capital of British Columbia, the Victoria Ska Festival touches down for its 13th year. This year the promoters have put together something truly marvellous for what promises to be one of the best that the ska, dub, third wave, reggae and hip hop genres have to offer. This year the festival will see hits from by Yasiin Bey a.k.a. Mos Def, Mad Caddies, Dub FX, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Star and Montreal’s own Planet Smashers to name just a few.
Dane Roberts, artistic director for the Victoria Ska Fest, sat down with BeatRoute to talk about the long running festival.
“The first few years were crucial, first year we were full of major doubt,” says Roberts. But after reflection it was clear that the doubt was unnecessary since throughout the last 10 years the festival has grown to major heights, yet maintained its underground cult reputation. That growth hasn’t been easy though.
“We’ve been rapidly growing and we don’t want to over-expand,” Roberts says. “We haven’t gone above and beyond from what we can handle but we’ve definitely come close though.”
One of the biggest changes for the festival is its first hip hop headliner Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) in the festival’s history.
“All the hardcore ska fans have been stoked they know that we’ve branched out,” he says.
Roberts is overjoyed in the fact that they landed Bey in Victoria.
“For the first time its been an obvious step for the festival to have a hip hop headliner; to be able to branch out and reach an audience that we feel would be able to fit in with what we are doing here.”
One of the newest attractions is the inclusion of the Rocksteady Collective that will get people in the community involved who want to express themselves in a visual manner. Rocksteady’s mission statement is “entertain, educate and unite audience regionally and abroad about ska and its related genres” and they hope to bring that mantra to the festival. Rocksteady has applied for a grant to build an art installation, which Roberts says they will use to turn the festival in to an enigmatic oasis with an edible flower garden that will decorate the entire festival and would include a fixture based of the designs of Eric Stefani.
And although Ska Fest has a bit of competition this year in Victoria with Rock The Shores, it looks to be the island’s biggest event of the year, featuring some of your favourite reggae and ska acts from around the world.
You can find individual tickets and weekend passes online at www.victoriaskafest.ca. So break out your checkered tie, wayfarer hat and Harrington jacket! Pack a lunch, gather the troops and bring a pair of clean underwear because there should be no doubts about not missing this event that truly has something for everybody.
Victoria Ska Fest runs July 9 to 13 at Ship Point (Inner Harbour) in Victoria.
OUR TOP 5 PICKS
Dub FX – This hip hop, reggae, spoken word and drum & bass project will sure to have you dancing from start to finish.
Yasiir Bey a.k.a. “Mos Def” – “Mos” is truly one of the greatest artist of our generation! An actor, poet and highly acclaimed MC, this promises to be the best the festival has to offer.
Sierra Leon Refuge All Stars – If you are looking to experience something out of the norm then “SLRAS” will show you a part of the world you may never see.
Los Furios – These local legends have been pioneering the ska movement in Vancouver for over a decade. This six-piece ska reggae act never disappoints.
Sweetleaf – Victoria’s own Sweetleaf will hit the stage for some of the finest reggae tunes you will hear all week!
By Latif Bains
Photo: Retrieved from the Official Mos Def Facebook page