When Kristin & I were invited to Astral Harvest Music Festival it was one of those EASY YESES. Aside from the curiosity to discover a new event, some of the festivals core team have moved to Victoria over recent years (Space Age, Petra) and they have been talking about it non-stop since they got here! At the core of Sunset Labs intention lies creative collaborations – and within this intention building strong bridges with our neighboring cities & festivals just makes sense! So our ears were certainly perked…
The invite first came to Kristin Urbanheart Grant, who was invited to do a live painting performance at the festival and to put up an art show as well! Riding on an upswell of success & media attention, this first out-of-province opportunity couldn’t be refused. Driven by my 2011 TEDx talk, I was then invited by the festival to deliver a workshop on collaboration as part of the festival’s conference stream. And we weren’t the only Islanders – there was a crew! DJ sets were coming from Elevenn, Dodd, Clouddancer, Richgaud, Compass Rose, Tantric Decks, Entelechy & Space Age (he’s OURS now baby). The stars were more than a little aligned, so off we went!
I couldn’t tell you what my expectations were of this event, but I certainly CAN tell that they were exceeded. From the minute we arrived on the grounds the warmth & hospitality of our hosts was evident, and consistent. The land itself was amazing, and in true Alberta form had a monstrous sky that danced and played for us for days. The weather was delicious and perfect, not withstanding a few peak hours midday we quickly learned were ‘chill time’ (aka hot hot hot).
My workshop was early in the festival, which I was grateful for. Friday evening came and I felt pretty ready – I had put the time in on my prep and felt there was some real gems we would get to explore together. Up until this point, I had delivered this conversation 3 times – each in 18 minutes or less. Transforming my short talk into a 75 minute interactive workshop was a fun challenge – and getting to explore how we collaborate with one another and what results we are setting ourselves up for is always a worthwhile exploration. It went great overall, and I would hazard a guess that all the attendees came away with something new. With that complete, it’s time to check out the fest!
Musically, the lineup at the festival was huge, and we thought really well put together. LOTS of great high-level North American talent and some monster international guests packed the 4 stage festival. By Friday night the 1000+ gathering was in high gear and more than ready to dance the weekend away to seriously talented acts like Timothy Wisdom, The Funk Hunters, Goosebumps, Mr. Rogers & Neighbour. Some other personal favorites included new discoveries like Sun in Aquarius & Unlimited Gravity, and also hearing some fresh music from longtime favorites like Shamik, Ill Esha, Eprom & The Funginears! (lotsa video coming – subscribe to our YouTube channel to catch it all!)
While the whole weekend was certainly amazing, the density and back-to-backness of ridiculous talent on Saturday night still has me buzzing. We got Kristin set up painting in the Illumasphere dome, and I jetted out with my camera to take in some music! From Ill Esha’s new sounds and bar-setting basslines we went straight into Delhi 2 Dublin’s passion-packed headline set – which they barely made it for given some flight delays. That said, if there was any fatigue or frustration present for them it certainly didn’t show up in their music! And I don’t know who the new woman violinist is on their team, but they sound like they’ve all been playing together for YEARS. Bravo, D2D! A seriously jam-packed Interstellevator (mainstage) lost none of it’s energy when D2D finished up and the Vibe Tribe Gypsy Circus began (can’t wait to show you that footage). If you take in Astral Harvest in the future sometime, be sure to catch this amazing firey act of performers, dancers, jugglers, spinners and creatives of all types! They put a LOT of time into that show, and it showed – congrats to all involved!
Back to the Illumasphere to check in on Kristin’s progress on the massive canvas she brought with her – it’s starting to take shape! The presence of the Illumasphere, built & brought by Jay Michael & Kylee Dawn (Evolved Productions, Calgary), made SUCH a huge difference at the festival! Aside from it being homebase for Kristin & gifted fellow artist Collin Elder, the dome was a special hub for the whole event – a grounded & musically stunning landing space within the wonderful chaos of the larger event. Jay & Kylee worked hard all weekend to keep it a clean, organized and inviting space that was so wonderful for us to hang in & return to amidst other adventures. Big big props to them for their work!
Time to steal Kristin away and take in Longwalkshortdock – a set many were waiting for all weekend. I won’t even try to describe it – other than to say he totally destroyed it. Any idea how hard it is not to dance like a madman while shooting video of LWSD?? So long as you can appreciate that, let me share with you (below) the 20 minute video I took of the first part of his set! Amazing.
Sunday was a long day.. Kristin did some more work on her art piece (still some work to do on it, she says!), we took down the dome, ate some more great food, got some more hot sun, packed down our camp and headed home… crossing paths with deer, elk, eagles, mountain goats, vultures and one very large wolf. We didn’t stop to chat. Astral Harvest – thank you. Your team is packed full of amazing creators, and now that we know what to expect, we can only hope you again exceed our expectations in 2013. See you then!