The Basics: Spirit Tribe features a dance stage and a chillout stage, which will collectively host about 30 producers and DJs. The lineup is heavy on local talent, but also includes some visitors from the UK, New Zealand, India, Russia, and other corners of the psytrance diaspora. In addition to the music, the organizers have put a lot of thought into other content, so you can expect poi lessons, yoga sessions, Q&As, workshops, and other events to detune your ears for a bit between sets.
Tickets: 360rmb, which includes entrance to the three-day festival, plus transport from Kunming to the festival site and back. You need to get yourself down there by train or plane. You can buy your ticket with Paypal / international card here, or via Taobao. You can also contact Goa's Beijing team to grip a ticket in person (see below).
Note: They're capping attendance at 250 people. Not going for a massive festival vibe, but more of an intimate, meaningful experience for this one. So act fast to snag your spot.
Accommodation: This is really out there in the nature. No hotels or anything like that. BYO tent / hammock / sleeping bag. Otherwise camping gear will be available for purchase on site.
Food & Drink: Spirit Tribe will be selling a wide spread of snacks to tide over festival-goers, including Chinese dishes and some Western hits (pizza, burgers, paninis, etc). There will be a well-stocked bar with beers and mixers. Most crucially, they'll be importing enough bottled mineral water to cover everyone over the three days.
Safety rules: The festival organizers have laid down a few more ground rules to ensure everyone's safety:
- No fires (no BBQs, charcoal, petroleum, lighters, gas, electric stoves, cooking gear of any kind)
- No glass
- No illegal substances
- Abide by the laws of the PRC, as always!
- No aggressive or violent behavior
- Camp in marked areas only
- Clean up after yourself
We talked with Goa head honcho / festival organizer Psytrance Pete (aka Atoned Splendor) to get some more background on what to expect from the first Spirit Tribe, and what makes it different from other China festivals / psytrance festivals around the world:
Atoned Splendor (left) and Sixears
SmBj: Can you tell me a bit about the location? I know it's on a nature preserve outside of Kunming... What is the landscape like? How did you find this place?
Psytrance Pete: The location is actually my home. It's technically not a nature reserve, but the area is very scenic. We have two valleys, surrounded by mountains, with a natural lake at the bottom. The whole area is covered in eucalyptus and fir trees. Funnily enough, we found it with a simple search on the internet.
SmBj: In general, I've heard of these kind of psytrance festivals taking place in very natural / spiritual places, such as a Himalayan psytrance festival in Nepal. What is the importance of the location for these kinds of events? How does the setting tie in to the music?
Pete: Psytrance is an outdoor party sound. The music is designed to be played and listened to outdoors. If you throw a party in a very stunning natural location, it enhances the vibe to no end. This can also tie into natural phenomena. Everyone has heard of a Full Moon Party by now. However, if you want the ultimate in nature, setting, and time, it has to be a total solar eclipse party. During Spirit Tribe there will be a lunar eclipse on the night of the 4th.
SmBj: How can audiences get to the festival in Beijing? How can someone in Beijing buy a ticket, and how can they arrange transport to the festival?
Pete: Tickets to the festival actually include the bus there and back from Kunming city center. They would need to make their own way down to Kunming from Beijing, either by train or plane. But then on the 4th we have buses leaving Kunming at 14:00, and they leave from the site to come back on the 6th at 12:00.
Tickets for the festival can be bought in Beijing from members of our crew. They are also available on Taobao and Brownpapertickets.com (for Paypal / international cards).
Beijing contacts for tickets:
798/Sanlitun - 185 1345 0115
Gulou - 186 1117 8942
SmBj: Can you talk a bit about the artists playing the festival? Who are some of the top international names?
Pete: We've managed to put together a great lineup across two stages, one dance and one chill. Over 40 artists, we have DJs coming from the UK, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guiyang, and Dali. The headliner is Justin Chaos, who is coming from the UK. He is part of the organization behind Ozora Festival in Hungary, which is one of the biggest global psytrance festivals. As well as playing, he is going to give a Q&A session, which will be a great opportunity for people in China who haven't had the chance to attend a big festival like this abroad to ask some questions.
Pete: Aside from the DJs, though, we really wanted to add in as much content as possible. I always feel that festivals in China are a bit one-dimensional, just music performances and not much else. I personally think that a large part of a festival also revolves around lifestyle. In a way, festivals are pop-up villages of art, music, and culture. For this first edition of Spirit Tribe, we have performances from poi and flow artists as well as yoga classes and a host of workshops on things like painting, string art, natural remedies, and even improv comedy!
SmBj: What about local artists? I know you've just released a compilation called Made in China, featuring some Chinese and China-based producers. Who are some of the interesting local artists to watch out for at Spirit Tribe?
Pete: We'll be featuring a host of local artists, but the ones to watch out for have to be the three up-and-coming producers I worked with to put together Made In China. Beijing-based Acid Echoes, Dali-based Yi, and Sixears, who lives together with me on the land Spirit Tribe will be held on.
SmBj: Talking about basic details... what are the accommodations at the festival? Hotels? Tents? Hammocks? Sleeping bags? Where will people sleep / shelter themselves?
Pete: The festival is camping, so tents. We will have camping gear available to buy on site: tents, hammocks, sleeping bags, etc. We have lots of room for camping on the grounds, also lots of trees for putting up hammocks. We also have two courtyards, but during the festival these will be used to house some activities.
SmBj: What about eating? Drinking? You must go through a lot of water at these things...
Pete: Yep, we will have a range of food. Pizza, Paninis, Burgers, Curry, BBQ, Chips, that kind of thing. And also a whole bunch of Chinese dishes. We will also have a well-stocked bar with a selection of beers, mixed drinks, shots, etc. Yes, water is important. We are preparing enough water for everyone that comes. We have a well on the property and have been told that in the future it could be used as drinking water, but obviously we need to have that tested first. So for this time, we will be bringing in mineral water for everyone.
SmBj: What safety tips would you provide to someone who's never been to such a festival? I imagine things get pretty hectic at times...
Pete: Generally there is nothing much to worry about. Main thing is to keep hydrated. Bring some decent shoes, sunhat, sunscreen, etc, a selection of clothes, including a rain jacket (just in case), insect repellant, torch. Simple things like that.
SmBj: What makes this festival unique? How does it differ from other music festivals within China? How does it differ from other psytrance festivals around the world?
Pete: Well, the obvious thing is that it is a psytrance festival. But I think what really stands out about Spirit Tribe is the extra content we have managed to add in, like the yoga and painting workshops. I've not heard of other festivals in China with these kinds of things. What makes it different from other psytrance festivals around the world is that it is done on a much smaller scale. A festival like Ozora, for example, lasts for a week, has an attendance of somewhere between 15-40,000 people depending on the year, and is jam-packed with content. It's impossible to see and do everything.
The first annual Spirit Tribe Gathering takes place from April 4-6 outside of Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Tickets are 360rmb, which includes entrance to the three-day festival, plus transport from Kunming to the festival site and back. (You need to get yourself down there, though.) Buy your ticket here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further info.