In less than one week, the lovely IMMERGUT-Festival is about to begin. We can’t wait for this special weekend in Neustrelitz, north of Berlin, to mesmerize us once again with it’s cozy atmosphere, wonderful setting and last but not least: its decent line-up. With artists like THE NOTWIST, EFTERKLANG, BEACH FOSSILS or JENS LEKMAN, the guys from the IMMERGUT-team once again proved themselves to be skilful in gathering not only some of the most prominent but also promising acts of indie music. To fire up the anticipation even more, we sat down for a chat with Mathias and Marco from the team. Read here what they had to say about their philosophy, growing old but staying young and the often underestimated importance of mosquito repellent.
‘Jedem Ort sein Wesen’ (Every place its nature) – that’s what a claim on your homepage says. What is it, that makes Neustrelitz such a unique place for a festival?
Mathias: First of all, the majority of us has a strong personal connection to this little town. It’s our hometown. So, that’s one reason to make the festival happen at this place. Another, of course, is the nature which surrounds it.
Marco: Absolutely! If I’m telling someone that I come from Neustrelitz, most of them know about it because of the FUSION FESTIVAL, the IMMERGUT, or because they once spent their holiday in this region. The latter became an important factor for our festival as well – the IMMERGUT always feels a bit like holiday, too.
The first time the festival sold out is 10 years ago, with 5000 people attending back then. And ever since, the festival hasn’t grown. Why is that?
Mathias: It’s just that there are enough of those big, crowded festivals with bands, that start playing around noon. We’ve known that for a long time and we don’t want that. With the limitation of 5000 people, we try to keep up the intimacy among the visitors, and between the bands and their audience. It’s this family-like atmosphere that we would like to preserve by limiting the attendants. You might get the possibility for a reencounter with people you once met here, and there’s certainly a good chance to cross someone’s path at least twice during the two days.
Marco: And it’s quite usual that bands, after playing their gigs, decide to stay and party along with everybody till dawn. The team, the artists, the audience – it’s like a 5000-people-circle of friends.
The IMMERGUT established itself as one of the most popular indie-festivals in Germany. Did the audience change over the years?
Mathias: I got the impression that it’s become a bit rejuvenated but I guess that’s not a phenomenon only we experience. Besides, there were a few younger folks joining the organisational team after the festival’s 10th anniversary. Some long-time fellows left, even some original founders, which, in my opinion, influenced the booking and through that, the audience as well.
Marco: I think, first and foremost, we just got older. However, the expectations might have changed. We can see that clearly in the wishes people express on our Facebook-Page concerning the Line-Up.
“We try to keep up the intimacy among the visitors, as well as between the bands and their audiences”
How does that influence the booking? Do bands come and ask if they could play or do you still have to go around yourself, convincing them?
Mathias: It differs. Luckily, we don’t have to work our balls off with every band we’re asking. But that’s not necessarily the case with the bigger names. We also like to invite bands, that we somehow got into and that aren’t well-known over here yet.
Marco: That’s our aspiration anyways. We would like the people who are coming to IMMERGUT leave with at least four or five artists which they weren’t familar with before they got here.
You organise the festival in the form of a society with members from different sections and places. How does the project “festival” come into being under those circumstances?
Mathias: First of all, a lot of the folks live in Berlin, which makes it a lot more comfortable. Apart from that: Skype, Dropbox, Mails, Phone – you name it.
Marco: These constellations lead to quite bizarre moments from time to time. Recently, there’s been a skype-conference between Texas, Brazil, Malaysia and Berlin. It might get a bit exhausting now and then, but somehow, it always kind of works out in the end.
Mathias: Also, everyone’s got different interests, so that we can easily apply them to the different sections of the organization. F.e., the opening-evening at the theatre in Neustrelitz, the exhibitions at the festival-area, booking, public relations or the organisation of the IMMERGUT-Zocken, our annual football-tournament. Everyone is free to apply themselves in the field that fits their interests.
Which artists are going to enter the stages of IMMERGUT this year and to which one of them are you, personally, looking forward?
Mathias: Well, every single act should be exciting. But I had to say that, right? So, to be honest, I’m especially eager to see THE NOTWIST. They are going to interrupt their recording sessions for us and maybe they’ll play some of their new material. Furthermore: BEACH FOSSILS and JENS LEKMAN, whose only festival-apperance in Germany will be at the IMMERGUT.
Marco: Definitely BEACH FOSSILS and JENS LEKMAN. But I’m also looking forward to GOLD PANDA and TIERE STREICHELN MENSCHEN, the latter have been quite entertaining in the last year already.
Mathias: And it should be interesting to see how THE VACCINES will be getting along with our small stage, because they’ll just play 2 other, remarkably bigger, festivals this year.
“In the best case-scenario, people would get in somekind of a holiday-mood.”
A weekend-long parallel-universe amongst meadows, woods and water. What do the visitors have to expect beside the stages?
Marco: As I stated earlier, in the best case-scenario, people would get in somekind of a holiday-mood. We have more than ten bathing lakes around the festival that are only about fifteen minutes away, if you go by car. A walk to the port or through the city might be enjoyable as well. Apart from that, we got the football-tournament I mentioned earlier and of course, the opening evening in the theatre on Thursday. This time with a concert and a movie from and with german fake-techno-pioneers Fraktus.
Your homepage contains some anecdotes from former festival-visitors. Which stories from the past years stuck with you?
Mathias: 2006, the moment in which FEIST started to loop every single instrument during her last song, becoming the solo-entertainer while her band was long gone.
Marco: 2009, when the whole audience during the THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES-gig sat down and singer Ebbot Lundberg started walking through the rows, singing.
Besides tent and camping equipment – what should one bring along to the IMMERGUT?
Marco: Footballshoes maybe, but definitely some mosquito repellent.
What do hope and passion mean to you?
Marco: Our passion is expressed through the fact, that we’re all working as volunteers. And of course: the hope for good weather.
Interview: Luise Köhler
Text: Henning Grabow