Why Attendees of This Fiji Music Festival Leave the Island With “Feelings They Can’t Quite Articulate”

Whether it's to a faraway beach or your couch for a weeklong Netflix bender, we all take vacations. But when was the last time you went somewhere that actually changed your life?

This year will see the eighth edition of the dance music festival Your Paradise on Fiji's Mamanuca Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean typically frequented by digital nomads and affluent honeymooners. One of the world's top destination fests, it's more akin to a scene out of Nearest to Heaven than a rave.

Your Paradise, which returns December 10-16, is what happens when daydreams shed their quixotic layers and become reality. Just a few of the sights and sounds you'll experience at the festival include breezy beach yoga sessions, sun-kissed Catamaran rides through azure blue waters and sultry electronic beats on an idyllic oceanfront mainstage.

And that doesn't even scratch the surface, considering the festival's grounds turn into a sumptuous jungle rave at night. There's a reason organizers are selling just 700 tickets this year. 

EDM.com caught up with Ignacio Garcia, Co-Founder and Director of Your Paradise, to discuss how his team has cultivated "the world’s most unique and intimate music event."

Famous DJs behind the decks at Your Paradise Fiji 2018.

EDM.com: Walk us through some of the core values at the bedrock of Your Paradise.

Ignacio Garcia: At the very core, Your Paradise is about discovery—in all its meaning. Beyond the physical discovery of traveling to a beautiful part of the world, there is something unique about living with 700 strangers from across the world on an island, discovering new music and interacting so closely with the artists.

After all is said and done, the really special part is seeing guests and artists creating a lifelong connection to Fiji as a country.

EDM.com: Anyone can dream up "the world’s most unique and intimate music event," but not many are capable of delivering it. Can you talk about some of the biggest struggles you experienced back when you launched the fest in 2014, and how you've since overcome them?

Ignacio Garcia: Building out the initial concept and event program was difficult. The logistics of the event are complex—we’re on a small island, less than 2 miles long, having guests arriving from 3 different countries and 6 international airports across multiple time zones.

AV Infrastructure was also limited at the time in Fiji to support an event like ours. We actually had to help the local AV company by funding the purchase of the sound system.

EDM.com: The Republic of Fiji isn't exactly a hub of electronic dance music. Why exactly did you choose Fiji back then? And would you say Your Paradise is responsible for bringing rave culture to somewhere it's never been?

Ignacio Garcia: Fiji is the ultimate destination, period. It’s a safe, tourist-friendly destination that has kept its own traditions and culture. It’s also geographically in a great part of the world, in the middle of the Pacific—with direct flights from the U.S. West Coast and Australia’s East Coast. It made sense to seek the ultimate frontier for the ultimate destination event.

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We’re responsible for introducing Fiji to a different type of tourist, one that is willing to travel across the world for music. Music fans also value and respect local culture and the environment. The synergy between the locals and the traveler is incredible and seeing electronic music fans embrace Fiji has been super special. It’s these two completely different worlds coming together that sets Your Paradise apart.

EDM.com: Destination music festivals were heavily stigmatized in the wake of Fyre. What would you say is the secret sauce to organizing a successful one like Your Paradise?

Ignacio Garcia: The line between idealization and reality can often be blurred. It’s easy to get caught up in crazy ideas that can’t be executed. Guests are super understanding and appreciative of the effort, even if things are not perfect.

A successful event is one where by the time a guest leaves the island, they have feelings they can't quite articulate and we’ve met expectations they didn’t even know they had.

EDM.com: Considering the festival's "genre-less" ethos, how do you go about curating lineups? Can you describe the creative process?

Ignacio Garcia: Preparing a lineup for a festival like Your Paradise is like hosting a dinner party for 800 of your closest friends worldwide. We know everyone has their individual preferences these days, but you've got to provide a few crowd favorites that suit everyone. We look at what's popping in specific markets and serve up some of that. Then we like to sprinkle a little flavor with upcoming acts we are digging. And lastly, a little dessert to surprise the guests so we can exceed expectations.

This year's lineup, for example—Ben Böhmer leads Anjunadeep’s takeover, has a European influence with many fans in Melbourne and Los Angeles. In contrast, other bass artists such as Getter appeal heavily to American and Australian fans, and drum & bass legends Netsky and Sub Focus appeal to the U.K., New Zealand and West Australian markets. In contrast, acts like Skeggs are prominent in the Australian and Californian "surfer" markets, and Vintage Culture is just smashing it on every corner of the globe.

When booking, we keep an open mind. That is how we want the punters to experience the event.

EDM.com: What exactly inspired you to become an official member of the Mamanuca Environment Society of Fiji?

Ignacio Garcia: After seeing the very real impacts climate change is causing the Mamanucas and the Pacific islands more broadly, it was pivotal we played our part. The Mamanuca Environment Society is operated by a team of female-led marine biologists and they give us guidance of best practices on how our team, guests and artists can participate in sustainability and environmental activities.

What actions can attendees take to help foster a more positive impact on the Mamanuca area of Fiji’s west coast?

Ignacio Garcia: All guests, artists and volunteers will be able to take part in mangrove, tree and coral planting as part of the event program. We also host multiple activities where funds raised go towards the MES pledge.

Looking into the future, we want to ensure all event-goers maintain an ongoing connection with Fiij. So we will be using sustainable blockchain solutions for all past, present and future guests and artists to measure their impact and contribution once they have left the island.


Facebook: facebook.com/YourParadiseFiji
Twitter: twitter.com/yourparadiseexp
Instagram: instagram.com/yourparadise

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