Honesty & Spirit: Nachtdigital In Conversation
A festival is important. It has the capacity to offer an alternate reality for as long as those who attend decide to stay for, it is not a physical space in the same way as a club or venue, nor is it bound by the limitation of scale. It can be as it wishes, as long as those who attend are aware of the ethos and role in which they play in making it a reality and a place to belong.
Nachtdigital has been in operation for years. The longstanding German festival has moved from strength to strength pioneering a wave of creative freedom, musicality and self expression in an environment which is both beautiful and enchanting. Tall tales have spread far and wide as to the value of the festival – not only from the performers who have appeared but from those who have visited and used the experience to enhance and inspire their own future. There is a real sense of community and dynamism about Nachtdigital and all that it represents
Last month saw the festival come and go once more, a landmark of the electronic music calendar once again acclaimed and praised. Set in the delicate and serene environment of Olganitz the festival is as much about the physical embodiment of a space as it is the soundtrack. Together the pair create a spectacular assault upon the senses as the tall trees stand looming in the distance, casting shadows out across the lake. The musical programming was incredibly apt with the likes of Ben UFO, Jan Schulte, Burnt Friedman, Courtesy and more all being invited to provide a musical accompaniment to the gracious landscape. Attendees sat by the river bank by day and danced beneath the deep black darkness by night.
There is a sense of honesty and integrity behind everything the crew represents. This much is clear as Jan Bennemann explains:
"It may sound like we repeat ourselves over and over again, but we are so happy with how everything went and what a nice feeling the festival left when we came back to our normal lives. We felt that last year’s edition put quite a lot of pressure on us because it was our twentieth edition and we didn’t want to disappoint our guests or ourselves. This year all these high expectations of having an unforgettable anniversary fell from our shoulders. This was quite a relief and you could feel that. The weekend somehow freed our minds and flushed away a few of our worries…"
There has always been a true focus on diy and independence within Nachtdigital. As a result there has been little media coverage, social media presence and the party has depended largely on word of mouth across many years. Only now have a few lucky partners been invited into the fold if you will but Jan explains why the grassroot nature of self preservation and development still very much exists.
"Everything is handmade, and this is very important to us. There is no big production company in the background which is doing the unpleasant work for us. We all are involved as much as we can and sacrifice a lot of our free time and holidays for Nachti. This is why every single person is so much connected with the festival and the people around it. Honestly, personally I wouldn’t miss the week before and after Nachti because it’s always so much fun to hang out and work together."
From a musical perspective the Nachtdigital crew are led and inspired by the creative process of Steffen Bennemann who has been responsible for programming and the soundtrack of each festival. There is a focus on cutting edge experimentalism whilst a well renowned vision of a true and meaningful party glimmers throughout the entirety of the festival as a whole.
"Steffen Bennemann is the mind behind the programming, so everything you hear at Nachti is based on his taste but also on his vision. I certainly see where he is getting his inspiration from but most of us just let ourselves get surprised by what crazy ideas he has for the next edition. We absolutely trust him in what he is doing."
Further to this Nachtdigital has recently evolved into a record label, a new direction based upon relationships with a number of musicians and artists who hold a personal attachment to the festival in one way or another.
"The whole thing started with the concept of releasing a single record a year with music from artists we invited for the current edition of Nachtdigital and asking for music that is strongly connected to the festival and the experience the artists had working together with us. First on a special 10" format. After that we wanted more space for our artists and went from 10 to 12inch. For the past two years we even extended to double vinyl. This record traditionally gets released on the festival grounds itself. With the past two releases–NDXX and NDFLEX–we pushed things into a direction giving the contributing artists complete artistic freedom and the ability for storytelling. We want them to explore the vast amount of free space on a single side of a vinyl record and pushed them to musically think outside the box allowing them to tell a story that goes beyond a mere dancefloor banger. We really hope that works. NDXX is sold out already and there are only a few copies left of NDFLEX, so people seem to get the idea."
The free flowing nature behind the festival is what has left such a crucial impact on the musical sphere within which it operates. Having been born from a loose concept it has since evolved with a family in support. There is a sense of eager anticipation amidst the collective when asked as to what may follow suit…
"Recently we’ve had some long discussions about the future within the group. We came to the conclusion to leave everything open and to go with the flow so to speak. There is a short-term vision for what might come next but we figured the long-term vision isn’t something that we can put on a sheet of paper for now. We will find our way either in this or that direction and wherever this path leads us to is exactly where we'll want to be…"
Follow Nachtdigital on Facebook HERE. Listen back to a set from the festival by XDB below: