It’s no secret that St. John’s has an eclectic and thriving music scene. Fittingly, we are starting to see an influx in music festivals, including the successful bar-hopping Lawnya Vawnya earlier this year. But, the outdoor, camping-type music festival has been one not yet fully represented on the East Coast of our province. One group of motivated individuals, Neon Satori Productions, aims to change this. They put off the successful Summer Soulstice Electric Enlightenment festival over the June 21 weekend. I had the opportunity to talk to two of the organizers, Russell “Razz” Squires and Zane Snow, about the festival and future plans for more. In fact, there is another festival in the works for Labour Day weekend at an undisclosed location near St. John’s. Very mysterious, but certainly fun.
Mike O’Reilly (Tint of Ink): First, tell me about Neon Satori Productions.
Russell: Neon Satori is a non-profit group of like-minded people whose mission is to give people a fun, educational, exciting experience that is alternative and different from what is being provided in the clubs downtown. We focus on holistic health and well-being, alternative and new music, showcasing local artists and creating an atmosphere where people of all ages and walks of life can get together and act as a community of friends and family.
We focus on responsible activities and looking out for each other. We do not advocate any type of dangerous activity or getting “wasted”. Responsibility is very important in setting a good example for newcomers to the events. All acts, performances and the time of the Neon Satori group is by volunteer. Donations are accepted at the events in order to cover the overhead costs and to keep the ball rolling on new and improved events for the community.
Mike: What brought about summer solstice and what did you think of the actualization?
Russell: Summer Soulstice was brought to us by a few of my buddies and myself. After traveling for the last couple years, I have had the amazing opportunity to enjoy festivals from Montreal to New Zealand. I joined party crews in New Zealand and volunteered at Harvest Festival in Northern Ontario. I realized that Newfoundland doesn’t have these types of holistic, alternative events and I thought of it as my kind of “dahna”, my donation to the community. Summer Soulstice was a smashing success, especially as the first festival we have hosted. We learned a lot and can’t wait to do it again.
Zane: I think the solstice turned out perfect, I’ve heard six accounts of how it changed people’s lives. Now that’s an impact.
Mike: What are some of your favourite moments from Summer Soulstice?
Zane: My fav moment was Neil and Slim’s collaboration, that was epic. Also Rozzie playing with The Contenders, amazing, and just the vibe the whole weekend! The fire on Saturday night and the stars that eve and the sunsets, lightning and rainbows. Pure magic.
Russell: I loved when it rained and there were still bodies outside dancing next to the fire. Also, the double rainbow and, of course, the smiling faces.
Zane: Also I should add that the best thing that happened to me was I fell in love.
Mike: Well, there’s no better thing than that. I’m sure organizing something like this requires the coordination and help of many individuals. How did you get involved, Zane? And who else was a part of this?
Zane: I messaged Russ when I found out about Soulstice as a complete stranger and said I wanted to help out. That’s pretty much how it started for my part.
Russell: Chad Feehan and Martha Houston are in on it. Many helpers. I’d like to thank everyone that lent a hand.
Mike: What can you tell me about your next festival in late August/early September?
Russell: Cosmic Frequencies will be a lot like the first event. All acts are by donation and cover charge is by donation. The suggested donation is 20 dollars. It’s surprising how much all the equipment rentals and other materials cost. Cosmic Frequencies focus is to bring us all together for a three night camping event with bands during the day and electronic music at night, showcasing the raw and refined talent of what this island has to offer. The music genres range from hip hop to reggae, to classic rock and punk rock. As for electronic music, we dive deep into house to trance to trap and beyond.
If you love life, nature, people and music than this is place for you. With yoga workshops, live art such as graffiti and painting and some of the best musical talent Newfoundland has to offer, you will be having the greatest time. There is absolutely no aggressive behaviour welcome or tolerated and it is a No Glass Event and is also 19-plus. We will be checking IDs.
Mike: Alright. What else would interested parties need to know?
Russell: The date of the festival is from August 29 to September 1. Friday will be a chill night with electronic music at night. Saturday is when things will start to really amp up, bands during the daytime and electronic music at night. Sunday same schedule. Monday is clean up(haha). As for where, you will have to wait. It’s to be announced. You can add me on Facebook under “Russell Razz Squires.” I will be sending out invitations to the event soon.
Mike: What is your vision for Neon Satori in, say, two years? Five years?
Russell:Two years’ time I would hope the organization has started to collect its own equipment, sound gear and the such. I would hope we have great turn outs to the events and many followers yet to come. Five years’ time it would be nice to see a fully-fledged festival with vendors, food stalls, many performances, people coming from all over Canada and the world. And also to (start) paying the performers, that’s a big one. I really want to be able to pay for the services in about five years’ time. To help careers and well-being. So right now the performers who are playing and helping by volunteering will be in the good books for down the road.