I’ve only been to one festival in Seoul and it wasn’t Zandari Festa. Zandari happens after South Korea’s summer festival season and takes place over three days. This year Zandari Festa 2015 will take place October 2-4, host over 200 artists, and take over Hongdae with a huge selection of local and international acts playing at the many venues within the district. It’s one festival that I really want to attend.
Applications are still open and bands can apply until July 31, 2015.
With Zandari Festa growing since its 2012 start, CEO and co-founder Dalse took some time to answer questions about the festival: its origins and the future.
What made you decide to start Zandari Festa? It’s like a counter to the big rock festivals in the summer.
I try not to compare Zandari Festa with other festivals. The idea for Zandari Festa was to make a musician-friendly event that was cool, fun, and interesting. We try really hard to show a high-level of respect to all styles of music and the artists that make them at Zandari Festa.
When you started in 2012, what were the biggest challenges?
We want to make Zandari Festa a place for global networking. The market for indie music in South Korea is very limited. So our long-term vision is to create a bigger market for Korean bands. This was one of our biggest challenges in 2012 and still is today.
We’re continuing to work on improving this though, and try hard to invite as many overseas bands and industry professionals as possible to Zandari Festa each year. We’re hopeful that this will help create more opportunities for Korean bands and will also create more opportunities for overseas acts in Korea too.
Zandari Festa is becoming more international with overseas artists coming to play. Was that one of the original goals?
Yes, it was one of our goals. At the first Zandari Festa in 2012, there were bands that traveled from two countries for the fest. However, last year there were acts from a dozen countries that came to Hongdae to be a part of Zandari Festa with us. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re happy with the progress that is being made.
Is there anything that you’re proud of with Zandari Festa? Like a milestone?
I’m proud of the festival and how we’re continuing to build it up. We want Zandari Festa to be a festival where musicians come first. All artists performing at the festival are treated with the same respect and are shown the same appreciation regardless of how popular they are. And I like that with Zandari, we’ve created something where musicians are encouraged to take a very active role in the event.
Zandari shouldn’t be controlled by a small group of people. It should be controlled by the musicians who want to be a part of the festival. And although Zandari is a for-profit company, revenue and the bottom line are not what this festival is about. Instead we want to create a culture in which musicians can share their music with appreciative listeners, meet peers and music lovers from around the world, and have a lot of fun and enjoy themselves during Zandari Festa.
With more industry professionals attending Zandari Festa, do you think the festival is a stepping stone for Korean bands to get noticed internationally?
Yes, I think it can be that. We want many Korean bands to network and make friendships that can help them discover new opportunities in Korea and overseas. But the festival is about more than just gaining international exposure.
Do you have a favorite performance from a past Zandari Festa?
Yes, Galaxy Express’ surprise set at aA Design Museum in Hongdae during Zandari Festa 2013. The group came out and did a short set during the encore portion of No Brain’s concert. They had had some problems over the summer and were on a bit of a hiatus before their surprise show. When they came out on stage and started playing the crowd went crazy and the energy in the venue was amazing! It’s something I’ll never forget.
Any expectations for 2015’s event?
Zandari Festa 2015 will take place in Hongdae from October 2 – 4. We’re still accepting applications from acts who want to play at this year’s fest for a few more weeks. We’ve had some very cool international bands apply so far, and we’d love to have more performers from all over the world submit applications as well.
We hope any overseas musicians that come to Zandari Festa have a great time and get to know about our culture and Korean bands. We also have many international delegates who will come to the festival. For a lot of them, this will be their first time visiting Hongdae. We believe that Zandari Festa and Korea’s music scene will make good impressions on them.
If you could get any band to play Zandari Festa, who would it be?
I want to have all musicians that have their own individual style and uniqueness and are passionate about making and performing music join us at Zandari Festa! Come share your music and enjoy the festival with us. You’ll be happy you did!
How do you decide the amount of bands that will attend?
We decide this based on the number of people we think will attend the fest each year. We hope all acts that play at the fest – whether they are Korean or an international performer – get the chance to make new fans during Zandari Festa.
What recommendations do you have for fans who want to attend Zandari Festa?
Don’t only watch bands you’re already a fan of. Be sure to check out some musicians that you’re unfamiliar with and discover some great new music during the festival.
What recommendations do you have for bands who want to apply?
Be confident and true to yourself when making music. When you create something you love and are passionate about, it will sound amazing and will impress not only us, but all people who hear it.