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During Eurosonic Noorderslag we asked festival directors about their plans for the coming festival season. What can we expect for the lineup? Will there be any changes to the festival site? Will gender equality be represented on stage and is sustainability an increasingly important topic? We spoke to director Ide Koffeman and looked forward to Down the Rabbit Hole 2019.

The lineup: what to expect?

“I have high expectations from many acts in our lineup, like Agar Agar, Ólafur Arnalds, David August and Jordan Rakay. The performance of Thom Yorke in Carré last year was very special. We are currently in contact with Tarik Barri, the creator of Thom’s visuals, in the light of a collaboration. It would be great if he has an art installation on the festival site, integrating the lineup and the grounds. Maribou State are a promising act as well, their last album is really exceptional and mature. For now, they have been programmed on the same day as Khruangbin, so it would be great if they play the song ‘Feel Good’ together. I can imagine that song becoming the anthem this summer, even though it’s already a year old, perhaps as a sort of revive this summer.”

Nirwana Tuinfeest

“Editors and Underworld are the headliners so far. We try to create a lineup with eight or nine acts at the top of the bill. Robyn and Vampire Weekend are incredibly good acts for example, and Foals closed the first edition of our festival. There are many headliner-worthy acts out there. Moreover, we’ve got a lot more acts in store who I hope to sign, so we’ll see. Furthermore, I found SONS were doing a great job here at Eurosonic. I hope they will be at Down the Rabbit Hole, but we will have to talk to their agent. I think it would be cool if the second announcement contains all the other acts, but we’ll have to wait and see how that works out.”

“Regarding the programming at night, we try to make sure people can wander around and be surprised and excited with what they find. We try to program serious acts in the Fuzzy Lop again, but we’re not a festival of techno parties. We also want to improve Wilde Haren, as it has to be more intimate.”

“Additionally, there are Dutch acts with whom we have some crazy ideas. On top of that there will be several surprise shows: at least fifteen performances won’t be announced in any way.”

Foto: Kamiel Scholten/Festileaks

The future: which wishes do you have for Down the Rabbit Hole?

“We tried to book Christine and the Queens, we’ve been following her for a while now. Unfortunately, we couldn’t offer her enough; in her home country she’s still a lot bigger. She would have been a beautiful act to have, we’re fans. Tame Impala seems to tour this summer and will probably release a new album; it could easily be the year of Tame Impala. At MOJO, we’re always in contact with them. We’ve got several festivals in the Netherlands, so if and where also depends on their agenda.”

“Regarding genres, at Down the Rabbit Hole we book a wide range of different acts. We notice that electronic shows are becoming increasingly better and that the performance gets a higher priority. We saw that last year with David Byrne and St. Vincent, who brought complete, distinct productions. Previously, you noticed that the visual aspect was less important within a festival show, but I’m glad that’s getting better. David Byrne’s show was a performance you’ll still talk about in five years’ time. It’s a good thing the visual aspect is becoming more important.”

Photo: Tom Hagen, Bilbao BBK Live 2018

The festival site: will there be changes?

Teddy Widder will become a bit wider and higher to improve the visibility. In general, the fields are staying the same, but the DNA and theme will be renewed. We’ve come up with many new ideas that we’d like to try, so we will definitely do that. In general, the festival site remains the same, but it’s great to do something new and creative every year.”

“The Thursday night (before the festival) remains the same this year. We’ve got some ideas floating around and are talking to some people, but we prefer to spend our money on the festival (site). We don’t have, and won’t get, a permit to make more noise on Thursday night. On the other hand, people coming up with something to entertain themselves adds something to the atmosphere as well. Maybe that’s something we’ll have to facilitate more.”

“Regarding The Grid (the entrance), we’re looking into a few things at the moment. Maybe we can do something with the artists responsible for the visual design of the festival. Tarik Barri would be a great option as well. This year we won’t have the spectacle that we dream of for the long run, we still have to grow towards that. Still, in the next few years enough will be happening.”

DTRH18 Hotot
Photo credit: Debbie Spaan / Festileaks

The future: how will Down the Rabbit Hole keep improving?

“At the moment we don’t have the ambition to grow in terms of visitors. The festival site can’t cope with more. Additionally, it’s a deliberate choice to only have three stages. This ensures we have to think a great deal about the lineup. We want to keep the terrain open to have space where you can relax as well.”

“We are a relatively young festival. I think we have to develop the identity of the festival first. It’s an advantage that we have an amazing team. Apart from the goodwill among visitors, we also have goodwill among Dutch artists who want to perform at our festival. We make good use of this. It would be great if we could organise the festival in ten years without announcing the lineup; that everyone (visitors, artists and acts) has faith it will all be alright.”

Foto: Kamiel Scholten/Festileaks

Sustainability at festivals: how are you approaching this?

“Everything we sell on the festival grounds has been bio-based since the beginning. The plastic that you see is made from corn; everything is made from vegetable substances and can be composted. We have never been very public about this, but we will change this, so visitors can join us in our efforts.”

“Everyone wants the festival site to be clean and it would definitely help if more visitors feel responsible for cleaning up after themselves. In total, 60% of waste originates from the campsite: we can’t do it alone. We have several plans on how to pay more attention to this this edition. For example, we’re working on a pilot with a compost machine that’s accessible for visitors. It’s not completely sure yet, but we’re working on it. We’re really looking into it and it’s a dream to make some real improvements in this area.”

DTRH18 camping
Photo credit: Debbie Spaan / Festileaks

Primavera Sound introduced ‘The New Normal’ with a fifty-fifty division of men and women. What are your thoughts on this?

“The only thing you can really do is take a nuanced position in this. On the one hand, we endorse the movement: women should get more support in getting recognised as serious performers and bandleaders. That’s something we would have endorsed ten years ago. On the other hand, a booker of a festival should always look for artistic quality: the biggest priority in signing acts is finding an act who’s great live. We don’t book acts who are big on Spotify, but aren’t able to live up to the expectations live.”

“Meanwhile, as a music industry and society you want to make an impact when you notice there are not enough women out there. In that case you have to exaggerate a little sometimes, like Primavera Sound is doing right now. It’s definitely a great lineup, but if this has always been the strongest lineup, they could’ve done this two years ago. In that sense it’s a little exaggerated, in the hope that the public opinion changes in the long term. I can definitely agree with that line of thought.”

“Currently, we are booking acts in terms of relevance and availability. If there’s an interesting act touring during Down the Rabbit Hole, we try to book them. Still, it’s always somewhere in the back of our minds. This year we have Robyn on the lineup, last year we had Fever Ray as a headliner, and PJ Harvey has headlined before. If possible, we keep it in mind.”

Foto: Joris Bulckens

More festival interviews

We have asked more festival directors to shine their light on the summer of 2019. You can read our other interviews here:

Down the Rabbit Hole 2019

down the rabbit hole 2018

Down the Rabbit Hole is an annual three-day music festival located in Ewijk, The Netherlands. The festival was first organised in 2014 and has been nominated for two European Festival Awards. Fun fact: Down the Rabbit Hole has the three main stages named after various rabbit breeds.

  • Location: Ewijk, The Netherlands.
  • Date: 5-7 July 2019.
  • Tickets: on sale for €159 (weekend pass).
  • For more information, see the official website.

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