RELEASE UNDER THE SUN –
Sweet Vibes from Guelph’s Newest Music Event
By. Kevin Priddle
With the weather hovering around a near-perfect 30 degrees and not a rain cloud in the sky, it turned out to be the perfect day for a picnic in the park and the perfect backdrop for Guelph’s newest outdoor music event Release Under the Sun.
A collective of local Guelph DJ’s and music enthusiasts teamed up to plan the event which took over the Royal City Park along the Speed River near Gordon Street on Saturday July 14, 2012.
The event kicked off at 2 p.m. with the DJ’s setting up in the park’s gazebo and onlookers trickling into the surrounding space to hang out on blankets, toss Frisbees, hula-hoop, tightrope walk, and of course dance the day away – all while enjoying some deep and sweet house music.
By the day’s end over a hundred people had come to join in on the fun, and the event’s success was obvious. It was the perfect summer Saturday, and for me, the perfect way to spend my 24th birthday.
We interviewed† Aaron Rahim (a.k.a. DJ Feelgood) – the mastermind behind Release Under the Sun – to learn more about the event and the house music scene in Guelph.
Tell me a bit about where you got the idea to do the event and the planning process to make Release Under the Sun a reality.
The idea behind the event was inspired by events such as Piknic Electronik in Montreal and Cherry Beach in Toronto. Basically both those events are very similar to Release Under the Sun, where they have live performers – usually DJs – playing electronic themed music, while people have a picnic and enjoy the summer weather.
It’s a very sort of laissez-faire environment and that’s sort of what we were going for. We just wanted a nice community event in the park where you could walk by, hear some good music, and toss the Frisbee around. Basically, the definition of relaxed.
I felt that it was possible to do in Guelph because the underground house scene here is actually pretty healthy So I approached the city and they were pretty cool with the event and then I talked to some local vendors such as the Joint Cafe, Resolve, CFRU, Red Tree and they were all on board to help out and then it slowly picked up steam and the event happened.
What happened on the actual day? Give me kind of your feelings leading up to it. You must have been not really sure what to expect.
With an outdoor event it’s a bit different than an indoor event in the sense that you’re at the mercy of the weather. On the Wednesday before the event the weather forecast was threatening something like 50 mm of pouring rain and lighting and thunder and all that. At that point I was sweating bullets because I didn’t really have any escape plan. Either it was cancel the event or try and do it in the rain, which probably wouldn’t have been feasible.
But as the event approached the weather forecast turned to the complete opposite and ended up being like 30 degrees, sunny, and not too humid. So we got set up in the park at around 11 a.m., people slowly started filtering. Initially I was a bit worried because there weren’t too many people out, but towards the end I believe my buddy counted over 100 people just hanging out and enjoying the vibes.
How would you describe the crowd and the people coming out? Did you talk to any of them? What were they saying?
Yeah I tried to go around and talk to a lot of the people that came out and make sure they were having a good time and that, because feedback is essential when you’re trying to start an event like this.
Everyone absolutely loved it, a lot of those people were saying “oh we need this to happen every week inGuelph” and things along the lines of that, which I absolutely love to hear.
The crowd that came out was very much the crowd that I hoped and expected would come out. Everyone was out there having a good time and relaxed. The people who wanted to dance danced, some people just like chilled out on the picnic blanket, others were tossing a Frisbee around, riding their bike around… so you know the summery vibe type of crowd.
Who did you have come out and play at the event? Can you just give me a really brief bio on everyone.
I knew right off the bat that I wanted some of the more veteran DJs from the Guelph area, the guys who sort of support the local underground scene and who really know what they’re doing,
So I went with Dino, a.k.a. Deeno, who’s been spinning in the area for the past 20 years and he’s sort of our house expert. Then Kaelin, The Shiking, he does Funk Night at the Albion, other Release events with myself, and also runs his own thing called Open House Music. He’s another guy that’s been doing this for like 15 or 20 years and really knows what he’s doing. And then there’s Barry, a.k.a. DJ Ampz, a good friend of mine who’s been really helpful with getting me into the scene and stuff like that, and also has 10 years of DJ experience under his belt.
Can you just tell me a little bit about DJ Feelgood and you know the Guelph house scene in general, and where you think things are at in that town?
Well DJ Feelgood is the alter ego of myself. I’ve been DJing in the area for about six or seven years now. And in terms of what I play, I guess I try to stick to more techno-y, progressive type roots.
In terms of the scene in Guelph, we’re in an interesting position because as everyone knows electronic music has become really popular in the last year or two. That has its good and its bad, the bad being of course that a lot of electronic music has become very commercialized and it’s a bit more of a money making factory as opposed to the ethos of the rave scene that the electronic music used to stand for.
But at the same time you’re getting so much more creativity from some of the younger guys, like I’m blown away when I find out there’s some 17 year old producer that’s spitting out these amazing tunes… so yeah there’s good and there’s bad.
In terms of Guelph specifically, I think we’re doing a lot better off than at least when I started university. When I started there was like one electronic night a week and now I’m sure we’re pushing seven or eight at least.
What’s next for Release Under the Sun?
Based on the success of the last one we definitely are going to have another event towards the end of August. I think the people who came out – like I said – really enjoyed it and I’m fairly certain that they’ll come out to the next one. It’s the kind of thing where once you get the ball rolling more people will come out and it’ll start being more of a regular occurrence. But yeah, at the end of August I think we’ve got something planned.
Anything else you want to add about Release Under the Sun?
I think events like the one I’m trying to push here are a bit unique in the sense that they’re not out to make money they’re more about supporting the community and are powered by the community. So if there’s an event like this going on in your town or if you’re in the Guelph area and you enjoy these types of events, your support and telling your friends via word of mouth or whatever about these events is essential to keep these events going.
†Editor’s Note: Interview has been edited for clarity.