Music: Interview with Wastelands’ Herlinde and Kasper-Jan Raeman

 Just when you thought you were up to speed on every single Belgian festival worth knowing about, along come Subbacultcha!‘s Raeman siblings with the second edition of Wastelands. They’ve decided to move the festival away from the Ghent DOK site and are now taking over Grindbakken, a former harbour industry structure which has been converted into a multi-purpose space by Rotor architects. Who’s on the bill? U.S. Girls, Ignatz, Steve Gunn, Dracula Lewis and more. 

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Wastelands festival is preparing for its second run. How did the project come about?

Herlinde: We started the festival last year as a summer project by three friends. For this edition, the organisation has been taken over by Subbacultcha! and we asked Smoke&Dust, the Ghent-based label behind The Black Heart Rebellion and Amenra, to collaborate.

Kasper-Jan: We’ve known Tomas from Smoke&Dust for a long time, they run the 019 venue and it felt natural to team up with them. We booked the bands, did the promo and they help us with all the technical difficulties and bar stuff. Thanks guys!

What’s your relationship with the Dutch division of Subbacultcha!? Do they have a say when it comes to Belgian events and general decision-making?

Herlinde: Subbacultcha! originated in Amsterdam 8 years ago. Kasper-Jan asked if he could use the same concept but with membership in Belgium only, about two years ago. We share the same ideas about promoting upcoming international and local bands who are labelled as ‘underground’ and we have the same ‘look’.

But apart from that, we take care of our business separately. We select differently when it comes to the bands, have other items in our magazine, like the scene report we started up only this year, for instance. In the end, we do help each other wherever we can. Subbacultcha! NL is a bigger organisation so we’re very glad they are supporting us as much as they can.

Wastelands was sold out last year. Any big changes to this year’s edition?

Kasper-Jan: We thought about making it bigger this year. We almost confirmed The Fall as the headliner but it didn’t feel right. Wastelands is all about a cozy atmosphere between the artists and the audience, and between the artists as well. U.S. Girls, Steve Gunn, Dracula Lewis, Mark McGuire: they’re all old friends. This is more important to us than growing as a festival.

Could you talk to us about the venue? 

Herlinde: The setting looks so good when you’re inside; all painted white with a view on the harbor. Plus, it’s a little deserted so it fits the name of the festival perfectly.

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Belgian summers are chock-full of music festivals. How do you distinguish your festival in such a saturated market?

Kasper-Jan: Wastelands revolves around quality music, good quality food and drinks – we’ve got vegan food and gluten free beer – and a unique location. We don’t want to be like the other Belgian festivals and feel we’re more connected to the international scene like Le Guess Who? and Incubate in The Netherlands, Creepy Teepee in Czech Republic, or Beaches Brew in Italy. I think people who come to our festival respect our selection, so we’re happy.

What happened to Dirty Beaches‘ spot on the original bill?

Kasper-Jan: He was supposed to come down and jam with his good friend U.S. Girls. It was all planned, we asked him in person and he was down to play but in the end he got a huge offer from Oya Festival in Oslo and his agent confirmed the Norway show. Bummer.

Any personal highlights?

Kasper-Jan: Every single show, even the DJ sets. I know the after party will be great, the stress will be gone and I’ll relax with all my friends.

Herlinde: Ignatz! I’d marry his music if it was possible.

10 August
Grindbakken & 019, Dok Noord – 9000 Ghent