Over the past two decades there is one music festival in Germany that has genuinely stayed true to its roots. What began in 1997 as a party for like minded friends, has evolved into a love-driven electronic music festival in the bungalow village of Olganitz, near Leipzig. The team have kept the charms of their laid back vibe and family run structure, whilst the festival has become a key fixture on the international festival circuit.
Nachtdigital is dedicated to showcasing both classical and modern forms of electronic music, offering five stages for the limited number of attendees to revel in, whilst also being surrounded by nature. This year’s edition, “Nachtdigital Flex”, takes place between 3 – 5 August 2018 and features an exemplary selection of talent alongside newer and lesser-known artists, including Blawan, Burnt Friedman, Demdike Stare, Don’t DJ, Izabel, Jan Schulte, Objekt, Beatrice Dillon, Optimo, Paquita Gordon, Portable, Rroxymore, Ben UFO, Huerco. S and many more.
Ahead of the 21st edition of Nachtdigital we caught up with public relations head honcho Jan Bennemann to find out more about the history of the festival, the people behind it, the challenges they have faced and what you can expect at Nachtdigital Flex. Jan has also kindly provided a selection of photos from the Nachtdigital archives to accompany the interview.
Interview by Tom Durston
Nachdigital Founders Michel & Leo (1998)
For those not in the know please can you introduce yourself and tell us what it is that you do for Nachtdigital and what you do when you’re not organising the festival?
Moin, I’m Jan and I look after PR for Nachtdigital. I also try to organise our small job centre in Olganitz for all the helping hands that want to be part of the festival. Just like everyone else who is part of Nachtdigital, I have to leave my house early in the morning and come back late in the afternoon to pay my rent.
Who else is involved with the Nachtdigital team, what are their responsibilities for the festival?
There are a lot of people involved in the team (+200 volunteers). To name everyone would take a long time but it’s basically a group of friends, young and old who share this common idea and mindset.
The core team consists of about 15 – 20 people with all kinds of responsibilities. These days you have funny sounding names for all of this: CEO, CFO, COO, PR, Marketing, Customer Service – we’ve got them all!
Cast us back to day dot – How did you all meet each other and what kick started this desire to establish your own music festival?
The group that started it all met on a regular basis in a youth club in a village close by and they threw parties together. One day Michel and Leo started a party series called “Granary Rave”, which was basically one of the rare occasions where you could go to a rave in an old barn. One day they wanted to move the party outside to another place. That’s how they discovered the bungalow village in Olganitz and started up the festival Nachtdigital.
Location is everything – What determined Michel and Leo to host the festival at a holiday camp in Olganitz?
Michel remembered this amazing place from back at school, where they would go on school trips. That’s how they came up with the idea to go there and ask to do an event. Thank goodness they said yes, as without the holiday camp Nachtdigital would not be the same.
Traditional Nachtdigital Crew
Setting up the first edition of Nachtdigital must have been a huge learning curve? How many people did you plan to attend and what challenges did you face and overcome?
Luckily Nachtdigital grew naturally over time. The biggest challenge back then was to get enough people to attend and to tell them what our festival was about. You’ve got to remember that back in those days we didn’t have social media.
So the crew had to get in the car with loads of flyers and drive around, dropping them off everywhere, just to make sure people would come to Olganitz. Fortunately it worked! Nowadays we only allow around 3500 guests.
Did you have a list of other locations to host the festival at?
Looking back at the first five years of Nachtdigital, what are your personal highlights?
Unfortunately I can’t answer this question, as I wasn’t working with the crew back then. I was 13 years old back then and I didn’t know anything about music or the people who were involved in it. However I would have loved to see the founders of the festival perform. Luckily they came back reunited as MON (Members of Nachtdigital) last year for our 20th anniversary. I was really happy to see them play again.
Nachtdigital is limited to just 3.5K capacity. I can imagine the temptation to expand the festival is strong – yet you have keep it to this number. Is this strictly a decision that is determined by the venue or is it to keep a close community vibe?
It’s both. One the one hand we cant’t get bigger because there isn’t endless space at the site, on the other hand the size fo the festival is what contributes the most to the vibe of our intimate and family-like atmosphere. So, yes, we won’t get bigger.
Freude am Tanzen crew (2005)
Let’s look ahead to the festival. This year you’ve named the festival “Nachtdigital Flex”? What’s the story behind the name?
Flex your senses, flex your body, flex your mind.
How many stages do you have this year and what makes them different from one another?
We have an Open Air Stage, a Tent Stage, a Lake Stage, an Ambient Tent and a Rave Cave. Sums up to 5 I guess :)
All stages are different, unique in their own way and something you should experience and can’t really be described properly by words.
Will you have any special art installations or projections happening around / on the lake?
Come and see for yourself…
Where do people stay at the festival?
Right in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nature. In other words: On the dance floor, in the lake or on a mattress on the ambient stage. Some people set up tents but they usually don’t return to it before Sunday night.
What else can people do when the music is not being played (other than sleep)?
That’s a surprise. Sorry, we can’t tell everything beforehand. Some questions can’t be answered just like that.
Last year you hosted an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nachtdigital with our friends “Make Me” at Corsica Studios in London – can you tell us about that party and what went down? (I saw a photo of room 1 with sofas, confetti and Turkish style rugs on the floor, what’s up with that?)
It was sooooo much fun. The picture you saw was from our Ambient room. Which totally turned into a party and people throwing pillows at each other. I’ve never seen this before in a club. We definitely want to come back.
Ambient Room – Make Me x Nachtdigital 20th Anniversary Tour in London (2017)
Open Air Stage – Nachtdigital 2015
Sign Makers (2002)
Do you have any essential tips for people attending this year?
Bring your swimming trunks and inflatables.
Let’s talk travel – how easy is it to get to Olganitz for the festival?
It’s quite easy. All info can be found here.
Your lineup is really strong. Which artists are you most proud for getting to perform at the festival and who are you personally hyped to see perform??
We are really proud of getting all of them to perform. Every single artist will be personally hyped by the whole crew. Honestly, there is no such thing like picking one highlight. It’s the whole package that matters and we want our guests to understand that. This is also the reason why we only publish the names and no running order. Feel it and don’t get distracted by names.
What’s the plan for future? Expand the festival, establish new festivals or keep on doing what you know and do?
We tried that with Nachtiville in the Netherlands. It was epic but unfortunately our partners were not willing to give us the space anymore (another bungalow village). Anyhow, we keep on trying to spread the vibes from Olganitz to other places.
Currently, mainly by hosting club nights at places we like the most, like De School Amsterdam, Bar Rotterdam, about blank Berlin, Szpitalna Krakow, Conne Island Leipzig and so on.
Please tell us about some of the photos that you have provided?
These are some pictures from the very beginning up until now. You can basically see where we come from which is the nicest thing.
Finally is there anything else that we should know before we head to Olganitz?
Leave everything at home you won’t need it…
Nachtdigital Flex is set to take place between 3-5 August at Bungalowdorf, a bungalow village located in Olganitz, Germany, the festival’s nearest travel links are Leipzig and Dresden airports, with options to reach the site using bus, train or taxi.
Inverted Audio is an official media partner for Nachtdigital, we’ll be on hand to bring you all the info you’ll need ahead of the festival and show off the best bits afterwards.
NACHTDIGITAL 2018 LINE-UP
Beatrice Dillon / Bjarki / Blawan / Burnt Friedman / Courtesy / Cubic Space Collective / Demdike Stare / DJ Dustin / Don’t DJ / Evigt Mörker / Holz / Izabel / Jan Schulte / Kinzo Chrome / Maayan Nidam / Make Me / Manuel Stallbaumer & Stefan Schmidt-Dichte / Mozhgan / Objekt / Optimo / Paquita Gordon / Portable / Rroxymore / Sofay / Steffen Bennemann / Violet / VTSS / Wolf Müller & Niklas Wandt / XDB
Bender / cmd q / Map.ache / Mary Yalex / Polo / Sevensol / Underspreche
Adel Akram / Ana Bogner / Ben UFO / Chilling The Do / DJ Carpet Crawler 3000 / Et Kin / Feuerbach / Good News / Huerco S. / Johanna Knutsson / Michelson / Nina / OneTake / Trester / Vai / Weber / Wolf Müller & Cass.
Discover more about Nachtdigital on Inverted Audio.
Flyer for Nachtdigital 1998