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Festival Spotlight: Unknown



Once in a while (Ed: er, every year surely) a festival comes along that just gets it right. Whilst thousands of like minded people listening to cutting edge music in the sunshine drinking lot and wearing little sounds like a fairly foregone conclusion, it cannot be denied that festival to festival, atmosphere varies widely. This is, in Data Transmission’s hungover-insightful opinion all down to the attendees. For anyone that’s gone to an event expecting a near-religous odyssey of sound and spent the entire weekend jammed in the middle of the PhoneDirect winning sales team from Crawley, who all happen to eat 40kg dumbells for breakfast, or on the flipside, travelled out expecting a mad one with mates to end up an event with more ice-cream drenched parents and screaming children than the queue for Legoland, festivals are in reality a tribal thing.

One festival that got this early and got it right is undoubtedly Hideout. Marketed via the right parties and networks, with a line-up year on year consisting of all electronic muscle and 0% body fat and, most telling of all, with ticket sales this year remaining capped at 8,000 despite announcements of more boat parties and a new stage, its small wonder that Hideout 2013 sold out almost immediately.

Hope is at hand however, as the team behind the Croatian gamechanging event this year premier another, entirely new Croatian based festival: Unknown . Occuring on the 10th – 14th September up the coast from Hideout and with a line-up that includes Nina Kraviz, Disclosure and  Henrik Schwarz, it’s clear that the event has the potential to be a serious September Yang to Hideout’s July Ying. Data Transmission speaks to promoter Mark Newton about the end-of-summer event.

Unknown in terms of date, setting and line-up is a very different animal to Hideout. How did it come about?

When we started Hideout in 2011, we were touring Croatia with our local event partners getting a location firmed up. A site became available – and it was absolutely amazing – about 3 hours north of where Hideout now is. It’s a kind of natural resort – beach, leafy campsite, a jetty for boats and up to four star accommodation in the areas as well. We already felt the whole-superclub set up for Zrce beach sort of suited a mid-July festival better so we’d settled on that for Hideout but here was such an amazing site, we felt we had to use it for something. We started bouncing ideas around and we felt that, in contrast to Hideout, we’d like to try something like a more traditional UK festival, with an emphasis on live acts on stages. With Hideout we are quite restricted in terms of live acts, so Unknown was designed to feature more of those live artists.

The line-up itself seems to be a bit more mellow than Hideout

I think that’s a general theme of the event. Hideout is designed to be a rave on a beach. Unknown is designed to be if anything a bit more of a holiday as well. I think people will see when we release the final confirmations of all the live acts the vibe we’re going for.

How did it come together?

We had some acts we wanted to book for Hideout that we felt would actually better fit this, we had acts we felt would suit both and then our partners, Field Day, also had a real input as to what theme-wise would work. A lot of it really come from us taking this general idea of a UK like live festival and, with Hideout having gone so well, pushed it to artist agents and had an open discussion with them – all of whom had a lot of confidence in us so were happy to supply us with a lot of great artists.

On Hideout you have a numbers cap, is there an angle your end on making Unknown a second Hideout or are you keen to have the two as very distinctly separate? 

The two are separate: when people come down to the site and see the place and experience the line-up, that will become very obvious. With Hideout having the rep is does already and with the event being in Croatia it would be mad us not using the name to let people to know its our festival, and we do expect some crossover in terms of crowd- but it’s very much gonna be its own entity. 


There are a lot of foreign festivals now that are marketing themselves as something of a holiday in general rather than just a simple festival- in part because it’s not as cheap as it was to fly out now. Do you think that’s going to have an effect on the crowd going to these events?

I’m not sure if it’ll change the crowd so much. When I was at university you’d go to your summer festivals, your Glastonbury, your Reading, Creamfields then you’d also go on a holiday. But now with money being a lot tighter and students having to pay more to go to Uni, there’s less disposable income there. People still want to go to a festival, and go on holiday, preferably somewhere they won’t get rained on. They can’t afford to do both, so they just book to come to a festival but build time around it. We saw a lot of that last year after Croatia – a lot of people went island hopping or checked out Dubrovnik .

Hideout had a great set up with the beach and superclubs. Unknown’s a very different site – what different challenges will you then face while setting up?

We’ll no doubt have challenges that weren’t an issue with Hideout, but we’ll have a lot that were found at Hideout too. Hideout is obviously a lot easier to do because it’s all centered on Zrce Beach. The company that own the site are one of the biggest, and most professional, tourism companies in Croatia, and they were really easy to work with. Hideout to us, and to them –  felt like a real showpiece, a real pinnacle of Croatian summer tourism because they were so keen to make it something absolutely next level.  We’ve worked with the same company and individuals to come up with the concept for  Unknown and as a result we’re confident: we feel we’ve already got the native backing and expertise to overcome any challenges.

Hideout was mostly a British crowd. Will this be the case for Unknown?

Because we’re UK promoters, we do predominantly market to the UK. We do get numbers of East Europeans very keen to come to Croatia and they do attend Hideout, and I imagine they will come to Unknown however both events don’t necessarily coincide with their summer – Croatians tends to be late July to mid August. Similarly, Italians tend to have August but not September, and that tends to dictate their decisions when it comes to attending festivals.

What advice would you give aspiring promoters regarding setting up an event like this?

It’s a long arduous task. Start off small – a room in a club and build gradually. Make sure you offer something unique – don’t try and mimic something someone’s already doing as people are not going to forego a tried and tested event they go to year-on year to come to your unheard of one. Expect to lose money before you make money and don’t give up. 99% it will come through for you as long as you keep a level head and keep it professional!

Unknown runs from the 10th-14th September in Rovinj, Croatia. Tickets are available here 


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