If everyone leaves the festival with a smile on their face and in need of a good night’s sleep, then yes, we will be happy…
The upcoming Coracle beach music festival at the South Vietnamese coastal campgrounds at Ho Tram on November 16th to 18th promises to be an alternative to the ubiquitous electronic music events in recent years. Boasting more than 30 international and local bands and DJs, this concert experience places a high value on live music. With two stages right on the beach, one for live music and one for DJs, fans will be able to alternate their desires as wished.
To learn more about this unique concept, Greg Dolezal from Bliss Saigon caught up with Damian Kilroy, who is the festival’s lead producer and idea man, to discuss his inspiration and what we can expect. This project is also a collaboration of some of Saigon’s most prominent promoters of music and the arts – Loud Minority, Saigon Outcast, The Observatory, and Cargo Remote.
Greg (BS) – What was your motivation to start this project?
Damian – When I worked with Rod at Cargo, we always talked about doing a festival from the start but thought the best way was to put on a number of live shows, build a reputation and then take that into a festival. After Cargo closed, I was gutted. We’d worked so hard and invested a lot to build something that was starting to get somewhere. Then, I moved to Vung Tau with my fiancée and opened up a bar, and I was still getting inquiries for acts wanting to play Saigon, but there was just no venue that could hold 500-1,000 people that were set up to do proper gigs. It was eating away at me and I wondered, how come a city the size of Saigon has no venue for this stuff?”
So, once things were a little more settled, I got back to thinking about doing a festival. In my mind, I thought 2 stages – live and DJ. I always had a lot of respect for what Dan had done with the Observatory, so that was the start. I spoke to Dan and he was keen. I wanted Rod to be involved, so went up to Mui Ne to see Rod. Around that same time, Linh popped down to Vung Tau and we had a chat. I told him we were looking at doing a festival. All of us came together pretty quickly. I think we all felt it was something that was needed in this part of the country. Between us, we have a lot of experience and we all care a lot about what we put out and I think that is a good thing – it had to be high quality.
Greg (BS) – What are some of the highlights from your experience with promoting the arts in Saigon?
Damian – So many. We’ve been lucky. Every band we’ve hosted has been great and we’ve had some amazing shows. BRMC was our biggest to play for 1,000 people and it rocked. Mac DeMarco, The Vaccines, Frank Tuner, The Lemonheads, Little Barrie, Oddisee (who’s headlining this festival), and the list goes on. At every show, I’ve always felt proud, whether we won or lost financially, it’s great to see quality bands play here. We all do it because we want to see these events flourish.
Greg (BS) – What distinguishes Coracle from other festivals around Vietnam?
Damian – I think content first and foremost. I was proud of the shows we put on in Saigon. No one else was bringing those acts here. When thinking of doing a 2-stage format with a live stage and DJ stage, then Observatory was my first thought for putting together a DJ stage. They care about what they do. I can’t do what the Obs team do, so it makes sense to bring in the people who are good at that. As for the live stage, without meaning to sound conceited, we did put on the best live shows in Vietnam.
Greg (BS) – DJs and electronic music are very popular in Vietnam, but you choose to invite live bands — is there a style of music you’re particularly interested in?
Damian – I love live music in many forms and I want the line-up to reflect that. Oddisee has been one of my favorite hip-hop artists for years, so I’m thrilled that he’s coming back. His band is insane! Blood Red Shoes are an amazing live act. The bill is really eclectic and that’s how we want it to be. If I listen to one genre of music for a while, I get bored.
I do feel live music is under-represented and under-appreciated in Vietnam, so I want to see more quality live music and more original music, especially from young Vietnamese artists. I like DJs, too though! I just think the Obs team are best at that. Stick to what you’re good at.
Greg (BS) – How did you choose the location? Do you have any history in that area?
Damian – I live an hour away from the site. I just rode up the coast for a couple of days, stopping off wherever I thought might make a viable festival site. Bien Ho was a ready-made campsite. It was a bit rustic but I liked that. There were ‘resort’ areas with camping but didn’t quite have the festival vibe about them.
Greg (BS) – What are you doing to mitigate the environmental impact of this festival?
Damian – Obviously, there are things we will do to manage best we can in terms of restricting plastic use. We have already invested in cleaning up the beach where the festival takes place, and we will clean up after. We were hoping to partner with a new ‘non-plastic’ initiative that showed interest in being a part of the festival and providing bio-degradable cups for the event which would have been great but they were not forthcoming sadly, so we’re looking at other options.
Greg (BS) – Is organizing a festival this size anything like the way you thought it would be? Any surprises?
Damian – It’s the first year and the first time all four of us have worked together. It’s not easy because we all have a lot going on and live in different towns. The first edition is always the hardest. I think once people come and experience the festival and have a great time, it’ll make year 2 a little bit easier in some ways.
We already have a couple of amazing acts lined up for next year which we’re really excited about but right now, we’re focused on making this year the best it can be. The location is great, the line-up is the best I’ve seen for a festival in Vietnam and the weather looks great so forget your Moonboots, you shouldn’t need your wellies!
Greg (BS) – Anything you’d like to add?
Damian – Obviously, we all love living in Vietnam and we’re excited about bringing a great festival here. We hope a maximum of people will share this adventure and spend an unforgettable weekend. If everyone leaves with a smile on their face and in need of a good night’s sleep, then yes, we will be happy.
More information about the festival HERE
Coracle Festival – Bien Ho Ho Tram Camping – Ho Tram
16-17 November 2018