By Jamila Pomeroy
VICTORIA – A festival in its own league, Rifflandia speaks to a diversity of genres, musicians and festivalgoers. The multidimensional music festival takes place at various venues throughout Victoria, September 13 to 16. With options to generate the classic festival experience at their main site, Royal Athletic Park, and shows at various cooperative venues and bars, Rifflandia holds space for a multitude of desired atmospheres. The playful nature brought forth by adventures in-between venues breeds discovery though attendees, and innovation through musicians.
“Rifflandia is really a festival of discovery. We have a lot of attendees that don’t know any of the artists that are playing, and it’s more of an experience. People know our festival as a festival to discover things. We started Rifflandia 11 years ago with that philosophy and we wanted to give a lot of the local artists a shot to develop their audience and get in front of bigger crowds. Now it has become about artists from our region, in BC, Canada, and internationally and it’s really grown over the years,” says festival organizer Nick Blasko. Transcending the creative nature of the festival, Rifflandia uses visual expressions to create a fully emulsive space. “We do a lot of collaborations with different artists to play on our theme. We change up our brand every year and try to design the experience around the aesthetic of the brand. Some years it’s been fruit, space, or monochromatic, symbols and geometry. This year it is a flower themed- eleven flowers that are native to Victoria.”
“We have been really working for the past three years to bring gender parity to our bookings and our lineups. We are the closest I think we have ever been this year in terms of the amount of female musicians and female fronted bands we have in the lineup. Our commitment to the local and BC artists is still strong as we have about 86-87 per cent bands that are from BC, and 154 artists this year,” Blasko says.
Beyond efforts in gender parity, event organizers aim to remain current to a wide range of ages, featuring artist such as Jessie Reyez, who is expected to bring in a younger audience, inviting a new generation of festivalgoers. While the festival aims to remain current and approachable to a new wave of attendees, there is also a strong pursuit in serving longtime fans and expanding with their progression in age.
“We are trying to serve a generation that might not be my own, or someone who has come to Rifflandia for the past eleven years. We have new audiences and there are families that have six or seven-year-old kids that have met at Rifflandia, or remember coming to the festival before they had kids- now they have kids (including myself), so we are trying to actor to the families as well. We have an awesome kids area right smack in the middle of the field and you can still see the stage perfectly. A parent could literally have a beer in one hand and their child in the other and be still watching the show: it’s family friendly without being a kids event,” Blasko says. “We brought back Mix Master Mike this year. He is incredible, but represents a different generation. Right next to him we’ve put someone like Son Real and that sort of newer generation. We have punk-rock, we’ve got crazy quasi-metal-noise, an all female hip-hop group.”
Rifflandia runs September 13 to 16 at various venues around Victoria, BC. For a full list of venues, visit www.Rifflandia.com