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Borealis Festival: New Alberta festival ready for intimate test run

Thursday 06th, September 2018 / 14:00
By Paul Rodgers

Phatcat, one of Borealis’ organizers performing at The Starlite in Edmonton.
Photo by Michael Benz

CALGARY – A new festival is under construction as this article is being typed, with paths getting carved out and stages soon to be built. On September 7 and 8 in Breton, AB., which is about 250 kilometres from Calgary and 50 kilometres from Edmonton, Alberta’s new boutique festival experience will take place.

The project came about when Jeff Owen, who has a large piece of land in Breton, decided he wanted to do something with it. He had done a small party there, but he wanted to take it further, to a bigger scale. His girlfriend got on board and helped him get it off the ground. They got in touch with Edmonton DJ and promoter Dean Phatcat Musani (Future Roots, YEGDNB), who signed on and then contacted Calgary promoter and photographer Michael Benz.  

Benz says that the aim of the new festival is partially to achieve further unification of the rave community in Alberta, stating many people in Alberta go to B.C. for their festival experiences. There is, of course Astral Harvest in Alberta, but Benz says he feels as though that festival has more of a pull from the Edmonton contingent and added that their organizers have been nothing but gracious and supportive of this new Alberta-based festival.

“Its a very far divide from Alberta to B.C. so why not have a similar type of boutique experience in our province, with a lot of talent from our province while we also dip into some people from B.C. next year and the year after,” says Benz. “Its basically a joint effort of Calgary and Edmonton people to make something work between the two of us.”

So what is a boutique festival anyways?

“A boutique festival is a very well curated musical endeavour, basically from start to finish,” Benz explains. “Its kind of seen as a journey musically and as well as that, it has very nice eclectic touches in terms of the deco. Were putting very large amounts of effort into our deco.”

They also will have full harm reduction, medics and security on site.

“It’s meant to be built as a very sustainable model from the first year so we want to make sure that we have everything offered that a regular, fully-fledged festival does.”

The lineup is entirely composed of artists from Calgary and Alberta, representing numerous genres of electronic music, but Benz says they all have one thing in common:

“The line up is diverse and weve selected very crucial players in the forward-thinking music scene between the two cities. Thats kind of like the key thing that we want to flex is everybody has a forward thinking attitude — not retrospective its forward thinking.”

With the success of the Alberta Electronic Music Conference (AEMCON) in mind, Benz believes this new festival is a next step in Alberta’s collective rave community. 

“AEMCON has been a great effort in unifying Alberta and this is the next step to making sure that it has those same aspects of cultural unification in very much more of a music setting in a very committed festival time.”

They have capped ticket sales at 200 and are currently about halfway sold out. The intent for the first year is to keep it small and intimate, and have it be a learning experience for all involved before looking to make it bigger and better next year.

Borealis Festival takes place on September 7 and 8 in Breton Alberta. Learn more about the location and lineup on Facebook @borealisfest

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