“Welcome Home” is a greeting you hear often at Shambhala Music Festival, a sacred place known as an adult summer camp. The festival is held yearly at Salmo River Ranch, buried deep in the Canadian forest. Generally, attendees flood through the gate (running even) as early as Tuesday, while the music starts to blast off on Thursday-Sunday morning. But don’t think I mean the music ends at 3 a.m.; music generally fills the air until around 7 or 8 a.m., or really whenever the DJ has finished their set. The only rule here is the respect the land and one another, and to always have a smile on your face.
Shambhala Music Festival brags 6 unique stages, each with extremely complex designs that encourage attendees to “play” and become friends.
The Pagoda, or mainstage, has a three-story design. From the crowd, individuals can play, roam, and climb on amazing structures to see each of their favorite artists. The Village, most commonly referred to the bass stage, is designed to mimic the Ewok Forest. (Yes, Star Wars). The Village is basically a strand of tree houses, and dance floors. Journey down to The Living Room during the day, or the night, to party on the beach of Salmo River, one of Canada’s most pristine and beautiful rivers. Crowds get funky, and the music can be heard far down the river, even if you can’t see the stage. The Ampitheatre often becomes the place to meet friends, located near food and shops. The stage has giant red and white tent like features, and a sunken dance floor. The Grove is a journey itself, with bright lights and stunning visuals. The Fractal Forest is a creature of its own, it’s mystic and draw known to only those who have attended.
The AMPhitheatre bragged a tent-like structure full of new friends happily swaying to the music. Bryx started the afternoon off with melodic highs and lows. Bleep Bloop murdered from 10:30-12, mixing funky tones into his set, a self proclaimed “outspace bass” artist. G-Jones followed up Bleep Bloop.
The Living Room shined with similar brillance as Shasta, Dubconcious, Vinyl Ritchie, and many more as the sun set on the crowd. On Friday the music was even nastier, with sets from Sugarbear, Dakini, Justin Hale, Cause & Effect, Kill Frenzy, Ekali, and many more. The Village saw acts such as Canadian-native Stylus Beats, followed by Datsik. Datsik’s set oozed love for his home, as well as nasty beats. Next, the one and only Skrillex played to a shoulder to shoulder crowd. Downlink murdered the stage, but one found themselves running to the Grove to catch Liquid Stranger.
The music doesn’t stop until sunrise (or often well after). Saturday afternoon, attendees were immersed in the hip-hop showcase, which was a break from EDM to a funky, hip-hop afternoon. Etc! Etc!, Terravita, and Excision handled the Village at night; the Pagoda (mainstage) vibrated with music by Griz, Each stage offered music by amazing musicians. Sunday screamed with musical brillance, with headliners such as Thomas Jack, Kygo, Jauz, Jack Beats, Camo & Crooked, Zomboy, Big Gigantic, AC Slater, Biome, heRobust, and Pretty Lights.
Conducted by Chelsea King and Dana Wright
We had the opportunity to sit down with Britz Robins, part of the Shambhala Music Festival family to talk about the festival. Britz is a Canadian native who grew up in Canada. She started working with the festival in 2007, and became the first full-time employee for the group in 2008. Since her start the festival has transformed and is reborn every year, bringing a magical experience to its attendees. We asked her some hard questions, and she responded with the enthusiasm and love that Shambhala veterans all seem to share.
CK: Good morning, Britz! It looks like you’re already out on the Ranch, working hard!
Britz: Good morning! Yes, I’ve actually just settled in a few days ago.
CK: What makes the Ranch the best location to host Shambhala year after year?
Britz: There’s something about this property that’s just so snuggly. When you’re on the property, you feel like you are so removed from the world. There’s something magical about it. The property is owned by the “parents” of Shambhala, so we are able to make permanent and semi-permanent structures. It’s so different from other festivals in that sense. We are able to build on every structure year after year. A lot of people that attend the festival say that the reason they come back every year is the land itself. We have the river flowing through, it’s just beautiful.
CK: Many of the artists that I’ve spoken to have said that over the years, Shambhala is their favorite festival to play. I won’t name names, but why do you think that this is? What creates the magic artists feel when playing on a Shambhala stage?
Britz: It’s beyond the stages. The reason it’s such a special place for artists. Artists come and they all stay in tents and camp out. A lot of artists will come for one day, and decide that they don’t want to leave and end up staying the whole weekend. It’s a magical experience for a lot of the artists, almost like summer camp. Artists have a different level of collaboration here, a lot of spontaneity happens here. You’ll have surprise appearances, surprise remixes, etc.
DW: Can you tell me about the concepts and inspirations behind each stage design? They are always so intricate!
Britz: We have six different stage designers for each stage, so they all have different visions. For example, The Village actually started out to represent the Ewok Village. It has been that way since 2003, and prior to that it was called the Avalon Forest. The Ewok Village concept has grown over the years and continues to get bigger and bigger. The Pagoda is our “main stage,” and it was the first and only scaffolding stage we had in 2003. Back then, that was something to write home about. It’s since grown, with the addition of a new stage director. He created a “Temple of Dance” feeling at the Pagoda, where we go to celebrate ourselves and creativity.
DW: Every stage is extremely visually pleasing to the crowds.
Britz: And if you think about it, video mapping is a very new technology. I believe that The Pagoda was one of the first stages to adopt the technology. Video mapping has really transformed our stages. I think that the Village is the only stage where we don’t use video mapping.
CK: The Village also using PK Sound to fuel their music. Can you tell me about that?
Britz: PK Sounds has a very unique history here. PK Sound was actually born at Shambhala. Jeremy was known for creating really loud sound systems for car audio. He would compete in competitions, and he had won awards. From there, he decided branch out and began building speakers, and PK Sound was born.
DW: That’s amazing! PK Sound has definitely grown over the years. What surprises can we expect in the art department this year as far as installations?
Britz: Well, for one, our Tiki Lounge that is normally down by the river has transformed. Now, it’s a Coconut Lounge! They will have some fresh and delicious coconuts there, so come check it out!
CK: Mmm, sounds delicious! What is the most important thing for you when throwing a festival of this size?
Britz: Without contest, safety. The healthy and safety of over 10,000 people is extremely important to us. We work closely with our local emergency services, firefighters, etc. We want everyone to be safe, and have a good time. Everyone in our community really works to make sure everyone is safe. You can’t lie down to have a nap without someone waking you up to make sure you’re okay. It’s a really comforting feeling, and portrays our small town vibe. It’s a very special thing.
DW: What are you most excited for this year?
Britz: I’m excited for everything this year. It’s going to be an amazing time. The Fractal is going to look different, but that’s all the information I can give you on that now.
CK & DW: Thank you so much! We look forward to the festival!
Britz: Thank you guys! Can’t wait to see everyone at Salmo River Ranch!
Be sure to Check out the 2015 Showtime Compilation below:
Start planning now for next year; the magic will be back!