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Shishi Meriwani: “The concept of The Gardens of Babylon started to shape in my heart and soul”

Photo Credit: Fooxa Photography

The Gardens of Babylon are looking to host their very first festival in Amsterdam this May 14th. Noorderlicht and NDSM in Noord will be receiving attendees with a garden of vivid hues and inspiration spread out across three unique stages. Offering DJs, live bands, acts, immersive performances, speakers, spiritual activities, and much more, The Gardens of Babylon will showcase the talents of BLOND:ISH, Stavroz, Madmotormiquel back-to-back Sarah Wild, Arabella Memdouh, Arabella Memdouh, Niv Ast [live], the Kalaha Moon band, Matthias Meyer, Robag Wruhme, Yulia Niko, Garden City Movement [hybrid set], Sinai, soundofoz, Nasiri, Kevin Valentine and Nawras Altaky, Breath & Energy, Salmaan and Hamada’s Dabkeh.

As everyone gears up for the ‘Butterflies in Babylon’ festival, EG caught up with its creator, Shinshi Meriwani, to learn more about the gathering, the Gardens Of Babylon brand, event promotion, and more.

EG: Hi Shishi, welcome to EG! How has the year started for you?

Shishi Meriwani: Thanks for the invite. I was mostly home lovingly hibernating until the end of February! But after a short hibernation, I resurfaced with the Gardens of Babylon brand. And even though the world is a mess for various reasons, the events have returned in many countries and we are kicking the pedal to the metal for as long as we can. We are currently working on our new open-air music festival in Amsterdam, our monthly residency at Las Dalias Ibiza, numerous international shows, and the preparations for The Monastery. Man, full steam ahead!

EG: Sounds exciting. Looking back, how did you first get into promoting and why?

Shishi Meriwani: Wow, I think “promoters” always start with organizing parties for friends. Same for me… I never thought I would become a professional promoter during that time. It didn’t feel like something serious, but here I am. When the concept of The Gardens of Babylon started to shape in my heart and soul, it was clear I wanted to take this to another level. To seriously invest all my energy in this project. It’s done with so much love… I also feel that we are not really promoting events only. We’re not trying to sell lineups and tickets. We are organizing events that can bring lasting joy to people’s lives. At least that is the goal :-) Friendships, business partners, future husbands, and wives… We have seen it all come to life.

EG: What is the story of The Gardens of Babylon, a brand and label, where did it all started?

Shishi Meriwani: The idea came from the trips to Burning Man. The desire to create a warm and loving place at home, but one that could generate the money. In all fairness. We manage to avoid VIPs at the majority of events. But people work hard to organize events. The musicians give their life to produce the music. I wanted to create a global family that would come together for the love of music and the curiosity in life. I kicked off in 2016. I got a LOT of help from volunteers that shared my vision. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it through the first show.

EG: The ‘Butterflies in Babylon’ festival is debuting this month – how was the concept born?

Shishi Meriwani: We got the opportunity to host a festival at the cultural hub Noorderlicht on NDSM Werf in Amsterdam. That is a BEAUTIFUL spot, one ferry ride away from the city center. It was quite short notice for the dreams we had, but it’s an opportunity you can’t refuse. The theme ‘Butterflies in Babylon’ is inspired by the two-year cocoon we found ourselves in. This spring we can finally tap into the colorful butterflies inside all of us and fly freely! I am really happy with the concept and how it resonates with the beautiful spring weather we are expecting next week!

EG: We have all been through challenging times with the pandemic, how did you get through this period?

Shishi Meriwani: Even though it was super tough, I used this period for self-development and transformation. It definitely worked because I met the love of my life and moved countries. For me, I will always have certain gratitude towards this time because of that. But I am very aware I was one of the lucky ones. During the pandemic, I gave my all to take people along and use this time to go inward and fix some unfinished business. God, I was just so glad we’re getting out of this madness. And then, as soon as we were passing this hurdle, the war started in Eastern Europe. WTF? So sad. The suffering is constant. We all need to work harder to maintain love and kindness in this world.

EG: What are you most proud of having organized for the Butterflies In Babylon festival and why?

Shishi Meriwani: The festival in general is a big achievement for the team. But we really created something special in a very short time. We have a very refreshing lineup. The more vested names such as BLOND:ISH, Stavroz, and Robag Wruhme, are joined by incredible live acts and a cool back-to-backs by Madmotormiquel & Sarah Wild. We have a very very big festival market where you can really go crazy on the most amazing creations. And both the spiritual village program plus the immersive performances and our world stage will offer a day of exploration.

EG: As a promoter, what are the most influential lessons you have learned, and what piece of wisdom would you pass on to other promoters?

Shishi Meriwani: Never think too easily about a new project, but don’t let new opportunities scare you away either. In the end, you have all the power to work your ass off and just make it happen.

EG: What’s next for the Gardens of Babylon for the rest of the year?

Shishi Meriwani: We have a ton of international shows… But all my love after the ‘Butterflies in Babylon’ will be vested in ‘The Monastery’. Two year’s we canceled our four-day festival, but this July we return.

But first ‘Butterflies in Babylon’, this project is incredibly special and close to my heart. I hope I see a lot of you there.

EG: Thank you for your time, Shishi!

You can learn more about The Gardens of Babylon’s debut Amsterdam music festival here, and purchase your tickets here.

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