Sugar Mountain Festival has been going strong in Melbourne town for a dwarf's handful of years now, but in 2015 they're coming straight out of the dungeons of rap and entering the light. An already impressive lineup is topped off by headliner Nas, who will be performing his magnum opus, Illmatic, from start to finish. We grabbed some time with festival co-founder Brett Louis and discussed why Sugar Mountain is different to your usual tank top and fake Ray Bans summer music festival.
For those who don't know, can you explain how the festival goes down on the day?
Our main objective for the festival is to make it as convivial and interactive as possible. This is how the Sugar Mountain experience is different. Moving to a larger scale format with both outdoor and indoor stages we get the opportunity to dream big and pull off something we have been working towards since day one.
Scheduling is always the trickiest part, making sure there are no obvious clashes and ensuring that everyone gets to see the artists they are there for. We will have all five stages running concurrently showcasing a diverse musical offering, visual art and new media. The different styles of performances – whether it musical, visual, collaborative or those special one-offs that we take great pride in producing will resonate with each individual festival goer differently.
Sugar Mountain is a place where creativity is to be absorbed and celebrated, to do that we are making the setting full of life – we couldn’t be more excited about the visual artists that are shaping the festivals visual environment.
Nas has been performing Illmatic from start to finish on a US tour last month. Visuals of New York accompanied the performance, is this the same treatment his Sugar Mountain set will get?
His Sugar Mountain set will be very similar, with a few extra surprises. I have been waiting a long time to hear this album live.
Will Time is Illmatic be screened?
I was lucky enough to see it this year at MIFF, we hope to have some screenings leading up to the festival.
Why have you moved on from the Forum? You've got more space now, but how do you plan on using these new rooms at the VCA?
The Forum was a great venue, full of history and an amazing setting but after three years it was time to develop and grow. We are always looking to evolve. As a team we earmarked this site ages ago, it was very much a pipe dream.
Is there a big enough venue there for everyone to see Nas?
The two outdoor stages are perfect in size and the Dodd Street main stage will be able to house everyone that is there to see Nas. The indoor stages are ideal for collaborative and smaller more intricate performances. We always want the one-off performances to be intimate.
Will there be outdoor stages? Will the visual shows be intentionally different because of that alternative lighting?
There are three outdoor stages this year, we will be activating the stages in different ways. The change in setting and being predominantly during the day is a challenge that Pete , the creative director, has been stoked about. The secret for us, is how the festival evolves from day to night… but I can't give too much away.
You invited Kirin J Callinan back? Do you know what he's got planned this time?
Some solid hints will be revealed soon. He’s an artist that belongs on our line up and his creativity paired with ours, gives the whole team a chance to deliver something special.
What's the performance you're most excited about personally?
Shit, you can't make me choose one. Seeing Nas play Illmatic is a given, so I’ll give you one more, Iceage, because they are worth all the hype.
Sugar Mountain takes place at the VCA in Melbourne on Saturday, January 24. You can buy tickets HERE.