Getting to our feet. Ģirts Majors

Getting to our feet. Ģirts Majors
Kaspars Garda, Rīga 2014
14-07-2013 A+ A-
„We are stabilizing and getting to our feet more and more,” frequently emphasizes Ģirts Majors, one of the founders of „Positivus Festival”, when speaking about this event and Latvian live music industry in general. We meet him some time before Positivus on a first week of July during Song and Dance Festival.

Still, it seems hard to meet Majors during the week of Song and Dance Festival. „Positivus Music” are this year's technical producers for Song and Dance Festival closing concert at Mežaparks. Majors has just come back from Glastonbury Festival in Great Britain. Besides, he's also got „Summer Sound Liepāja” where „Positivus Music” people have also made an impact for organising the event.

Does this mean „Positivus Festival” works like a well adjusted mechanism, so there is a spare time to work on other big projects?

Of course, „Positivus” has got to its feet comparing to a time six years ago. The team is more stronger and larger, so people may take bigger amount of their jobs. Speaking of Song and Dance Festival, we would not be able to do this six year ago, it might be reckless. Now we have gained enough experience to take such an event.

Technical producing includes many fine responsibilities creating a whole amount of work volume. It's the first time we join such a splendid event on a government level where „Positivus” just holds a position of assistants. It's much different than organising a festival ourselves from A to Z.

Besides, it's not just Song and Dance Festival. We also help organising „Summer Sound Liepāja”. The programme is mainly curated by us, and the organising team also has our people.

So, a friendship is more important than a competition in such small country as Latvia?

Even though they are considered as competition, festivals cooperate with each other everywhere around the world. It's a common practice. Long-term industry players in Latvia have managed to gain a stability and see some future perspective.

Tell us more about Glastobury. Is it worth to even compare Glastonbury with „Positivus”?

Of course, we can not talk in terms of visitors. We have around ten times less people at „Positivus” than Glastonbury has, but the programme fits well. Many bands playing at „Positivus” are the key elements of Glastonbury. The atmosphere quality of the concert really meets the satisfaction. We can easily compare both festivals in terms of music and atmosphere.

 

 

Glastonbury is different from other European festivals with its „quality” of the audience. It's what surprises the most considering the large number of Glastonbury visitors. The event has kept its background and magic, it's a place where guests enjoy the music and bands feel honoured to perform. Those are particularly melomans coming to the festival through many generations. The magic fills the air of Glastonbury, the same festival sense you can also catch at „Positivus”. We have no reason to think this kind of feeling can be experienced at small events only. Glastonbury proves the opposite.

Going to festivals abroad have made us feel we are doing the right thing when it comes to Latvian audience. It was really important during the first years when mostly Latvian people came to „Positivus”.

It is now clear that a third part of all „Positivus” guests are from abroad. What are the qualities you offer for those who don't know a thing about „Positivus”?

Firstly, it's nature. We are located beyond the pine trees, by the sea. There are only few places like that. Our pine trees are among the most beautiful in Europe.

Secondly, it's the audience. They know a lot about the music and bands playing at the festival. They find out in advance who they are gonna watch and why. If visitors are interested in what musicians have to offer, those bands feel much delighted to perform. Of course, it's also the joy of meeting each other, all those conversations people are gonna experience at „Positivus”.

 

All in all we got quite lucky during those years. We have got many great bands if we bear in mind the competition in Europe is high. Besides, „Positivus Festival” is organised in a very intense festival weekend. But, still. We have the greatest programme.

When Tallinn was The European Capital of Culture in 2011, a live music scene in Estonia opened widely. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but – what might this scene be in Riga?

I would not promise anything for now, it's a bit too early for that. Still, there are more and more live gigs available with the venue capacity of 1000 - 2000 people.

I think, that is the most important for Riga, to create day-to-day live music scene rather than just to organise one stadium-sized show. No doubt, it's an important event, but it has nothing to do with the daily music scene.

Riga is far behind most European cities where attending music gigs is a part of people's life. It's logical considering their large population and good purchasing power. But if we look at the post-Soviet countries, we have achieved a great deal.

We have had a long conversation about the lack of medium-sized concert hall in Riga. Now „Positivus Music” has founded „Palladium”. What else should we have in Riga?

So called „sitting” or acoustic concert hall is essential as experts from academic music industry say. „Palladium” fills the shortage of standing popular music concerts. Also a concert hall with seats is a must in terms of capacity. Those concert halls available in Latvia right now have even less than 1000 seats, so it's not very serious to organise a concert in there.

 

There are legendary stories about various famous musicians spending their free time in Riga flowing together with the daily life crowd. Do pop and rock musicians often get free time for Riga?

Live tours require great physical effort. It's not true rock musicians use alcohol and drugs all the time. It would not be possible to tour from city to city six months in a way like that. Of course, if musicians have a day or two, they may explore the city.

I often get surprised by the former knowledge music stars have when they come to Riga. For instance, Lana del Ray knew a lot about Latvia when she performed here. It turns out her friend is Latvian.

In some occasions musicians express their wish to play in Latvia. For example, we felt that with Sigur Ros this year. They wanted to play exactly in here. Therefore, everything goes smoother in negotiations with musicians and while setting up logistics. Sigur Ros is now on great demand, so other festival organisers did not even get the chance to book them.

What does it mean for a city to undertake the honour of The European City of Culture?

It's a possibility to emphasize our local cultural scene. We might try to bring it abroad, as well. I don't see it as one splendid event. It's rather a chance to present our cultural environment by defining priorities. It is probably the most complicated, to find cultural events worth to take out. It's essential to agree which things might be interesting for foreign visitors.

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