How DGTL Festival Became One of the Most Successful Festivals in the Dutch Scene
Over Easter weekend, Holland-based DGTL Festival will return to its headquarters at the NDSM Docklands after three straight sold-out editions that caused a stir in the Dutch event industry. That means the fourth edition of the festival, occurring March 26-27, 2016, will take on an unprecedented scale when it comes to both musical programming and the role of DGTL’s other core pillars, ART and REVOLUTION.
Three and a half years ago, DGTL began as a gamble to find a new festival concept boasting a more selective approach to programming than most other festivals. When it debuted in Spring 2013, DGTL Festival proved that the bustling Amsterdam festival scene was more than ready to sink its teeth into the newcomer; its debut sold out and established its reputation as the region's newfound festival season opener and a strong festival brand both in and outside of the Netherlands, thanks to event trilogies during Amsterdam Dance Event and even a full festival edition in Barcelona.
What DGTL has emphasized since its conception are its three pillars: Music, ART and REVOLUTION. Music-wise, DGTL sets itself apart with balanced programming. While other festivals hinge on ticket-selling headliners, DGTL evens out its musical assortment by combining those bigger names with a wide variety of local and international upcoming talent, together with unexpected back-to-back sets such as when Job Jobse shared the stage with John Talabot in 2015, churning out one of the most memorable performances that weekend. The festival's lineups and performances feel delightfully risky, and keep the crowd on their toes and thirsty for more. That’s why DGTL also relies significantly on out-of-the-box live acts, like recurring artists as KiNK and Ame. In 2016, the fest's mouthwatering lineup pays even more attention to the techno spectrum by billing such artists as the mighty Nina Kraviz, RØDHÅD and DVS1.
That same taste for excitement also translates to DGTL’s second pillar, ART, which was born from the need to manifest cultural and artistic projects within the festival concept. This led to displaying a range of onsite conceptual art performances and set-ups that engage visitors beyond the loud music and general festival madness. It speaks to the core of DGTL’s mission to create an unparalleled festival experience from which people can come away with some extra – an eye-opening moment or something to think about long after the festival ends.
This year’s theme will be Installation Art. The concept will revolve around a sky-high transmission tower that intercommunicates with smaller towers scattered across the vast NDSM terrain. A creation of Altijd Raak, the recent winner of the festival's annual Art Pitch – a competition that allows a group of design artists to build and host their own art installation at DGTL – the ten-meter-high tower will allow guests step into a mysterious world of lights, mirrors, and sound.
DGTL's third pillar might be the fest's most ambitious one yet. REVOLUTION was designed as a way of efficiently and compellingly bringing about real changes to the way this community produces festivals, and especially what we all leave behind. This year the fest will collect plastic cups – the ecological nightmare of the festival world – and recycle them for other uses such as art or fully working skateboards. The biggest changes this year will be the presence of reusable drinking cups and one stage being run completely on solar power. Like the fest's other core elements, REVOLUTION is a work in progress with the end goal being a fully self-sufficient festival.
DGTL has been blessed with a remarkable journey and meteoric rise in an extremely short time. Its potent mix of resolute underground dance music programming; conceptual art to give a meaningful dimension to the festival experience; and a forward-thinking ethos of sustainability and environmental responsibility have all helped turn DGTL into an international force to be reckoned with. Let the countdown begin.