Dunk!Festival 2014

Shortly NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION named Europe’s biggest post-rock festival, Belgium’s dunk!festival, one of Europe’s best small Festivals. 2014 marks two anniversaries of dunk. First it is the festival’s 10th edition. Second NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION and dunk scored a hat trick by working together the third year in a row. So we talked to Wout Lievens, one of dunk’s organizers, the about festival’s history, how it started and what it is now, the philosophy behind and how the line-up gets chosen. This year’s headliners anniversary line-up features acts like AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR, GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT, EF and SLEEPMAKESWAVES and a lot more.

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of dunk!festival. How did the festival start?
Dunk!festival started in 2005 as a replacement of the benefit evenings for the basketball team I was playing in. Actually it was Luc Lievens, my father, that came up with the idea and he’s still ‘president of dunk!festival’. The first editions didn’t really gain a lot of money for the club so Luc decided to organize the festival independent from the basketball club.
In 2005 I was 16 years old and played at the festival with my band. Sometimes with two different bands on the same edition. But later editions I got more and more involved in the organization which made it more difficult to play with my own band. And since a few years I am 100% focussed on the organization part.

What happened over the last ten years? How did dunk develop?
In 2005 the complete line-up were bands where at least one member played in the basketball club that organized the evening. It was only one evening with 3 bands. Since it were local bands we did have quite a lot of visitors and of course a lot of fun. The next edition was already focussing on post-rock music with bands like MOTEK, MADENSUYU and TRANSIT and the same local bands we had in 2005.
We always focussed on quality in every aspect of the festival. As if that is not difficult enough we stayed true to our own personal music taste being post-rock and other instrumental or alternative genres. By doing that we’ve built a very small but extremely thankful fan base located over Europe and even further.

Dunk!festival has a very familiar feeling and never has been about making profit. How do you work and what’s the philosophy behind dunk!festival?
The quality in every aspect of the festival is very important to us. We want to organize a festival where we want to be part of. If we have to choose between a ‘user friendly option’ or a ‘more profit option’ then we’d go for the user-friendly option. We’re just a bunch of friends having fun and trying to offer that to our visitors. That is what makes the friendly atmosphere. Offering free breakfast and coffee at the festival means instant friendliness at a very small financial cost :-).

Dunk!festival became Europe’s biggest and most important post-rock festival. How do you feel about that fact?
We are very proud of the position we have reached in the post-rock world and we’re honored to be often called the biggest post-rock festival in Europe but we wouldn’t say that about ourselves. There are other people organizing great events like Aloud Music Festival in Spain and Arctangent in UK. Probably with a bigger crowd and line-up than ours. Actually we’re building a partnership with these festivals. Everyone involved in organizing post-rock shows and playing post-rock music is a hero. It’s not really the kind of music you play or promote to make money. You’re only doing this to tell a story. Your own story. Or promote a unique story. And those bands are doing all it takes to bring their story to an interested audience. And that’s where we want to help. Offering great bands to an interested audience. I think by doing that and staying true to the music you automatically build a very strong connection with your audience. That was something we learned from the successful crowd funding campaign we did last summer to fund dunk!festival2014. We collected €15.000 while we set our goal to €10.000. That was pretty amazing!

How do you chose the bands that play dunk?
In the first place we ask the bands we have on our own wish lists. Every dunk!festival edition starts out with a concept line-up. Let’s say the ideal line-up. And mostly it turns out pretty close to that. Sometimes even better. We also receive hints from friends and other organizers or record labels and of course we learn to know new bands by going to other festivals. Next to that we receive a lot of applications by very motivated bands to come over and play at dunk!festival. Some of them also make it to the line-up.

How would you describe dunk!festival to a deaf person?
I would describe dunk!festival as a very friendly environment with people from all over the world enjoying the stories told by very motivated bands coming from all corners of the world just to tell that story. Besides that I would show him a selection of paintings, mostly romantic, impressionism, landscape paintings to explain the kind of stories that are being told on our stage.

What do ‘hope’ and ‘passion’ mean to you?
Hope means always stay positive and dare to dream. Passion means follow those dreams and make things happen. Just because it’s your dream.