If you’re into the electronic music scene and its outstanding showcase, the Garbicz Festival will strike a note for you. It Head of Production and Head of Arts, Fritz ‘Windish’ Dyckerhoff, and a special team organize a ceremony every summer which means a unique experience and “a voyage more than just a festival”. A reference within the cultural sector, promoter of educational projects and trained in the management of creative industries, Fritz is also known in the rave world stage as a DJ and producer, part of the duo Soukie & Windish and as one of the founders of the URSL Records label.
Right behind the border with Poland, a natural reserve is hidden from everything. Guarded by a bunch of Poles, Germans, Swiss, and English, this beautiful forest and its star lake are always something singular. It is hard to find an electronic festival with such a natural setting around it and also, such a magical group caring about the beauty of nature and people. Nothing less than two of the most special Berlin’s crews make up their squads: the Bachstelzen Collective and the Holzmarkt 25 Cooperative which includes the clubs’ trilogy: Bar25-Katerholzig-Katerblau. However, the melting pot does not stick there, many other worldwide artistic expressions are called to participate and work towards aims. Apart from teaching the partying know-how, Garbicz’s culture actively promotes core values such as tolerance, integration, and peace. Not for nothing, everyone wants to return to this friendly utopia, -as the song goes- bigger than paradise…
We caught up with Fritz ‘Windish’ Dyckerhoff to talk about the Garbicz festival and take stock just right after its seventh edition.
Electronic Groove: Hi, Fritz, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Tell us a bit about the festival story. What is Garbicz for the creative mind behind it? How did it achieve global prestige, even its own metaphors?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: It is for sure a very deep but diffuse knowledge of how to celebrate. The experience of all our crew from the times of Bar25, Love Parade, Ostgut…educates. It provides you with the right information over the years, which is really important for a good and intense gathering. How to trigger the right emotions, invite the right people, do the wrong things together…, learn from each other and do it again. For decades now. This is applied science and generates a like-minded network. We are doing a festival from professionals for professionals. And we share our knowledge with our polish crew, and they bring it into their networks. This is how cultural education work via festival over borders. Most important: we don’t want visitors, we want participants.
EG: Beyond words and thoughts, how do you manage to carry out a cultural and creative industry in an independent and successful way, without falling into sponsorships that could change the spirit and the vibe of the festival?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: This is indeed very difficult. First of all, it is possible since the festival shareholder always reinvests every cent into the ground, the future, and never privatized the money. Anyhow, a festival like this is always unfair. We try to equalize all payments as good as we can. All headliners get the same money, all residents get the same money and the ratio between them is always reasonable. Within our different departments, we try to establish a basic rate for a day for every crew member, but of course, you need specialized external people that get some more. In any case, all companies that work for us are partners, from over the years, and they support us with friendly deals. Mainly, because all of them want to come and party with us. Sponsorship would not work for us. We do not dance in the name of brands. And nobody should. Making money is the opposite of why you should do a festival. Earning money for your work is just fine.
Apart from that, we think that governments should support events like ours more. We are doing social service, and we educate young people like theatre and opera does. Especially Garbicz is a cross-border festival in a region with a very tragic history. Our work brings peace into this region and improves the relations between the Polish and the German and is important for young people in the European Union. We have a peacekeeping Impact.
EG: What challenges do you and your crew face to make each edition special, and why is it announced that something will change?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: Everything is in a flow and every year we are facing different challenges and many little aspects do change all the time everywhere. And only changes make things special. If you embrace change, you embrace uniqueness.
EG: In times of environmental alerts, music festivals have a role to play with respect to the climate crisis. How are you responding to this and which are the future plans?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: We think it is important to reconnect people with nature. The rest will follow. We have our Conscious and Ranger Team to sensitize our guests for the surrounding. Besides, we did educational videos with our little monster Garbor.
“We are doing social service, and we educate young people like theatre and opera does”
EG: That all headliners get the same, that there are no Sunday’s tickets or the line-up is not published in advance, settles a basic ground for everyone’s experience, rather than pop-up visits or highlights. Why this line in contrast to several festivals that focus on hiring just big headliners and boast each?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: It is not what our festival is about. DJs and artists are normal people that want to celebrate as well. On our grounds and with our people they can reconnect with the roots, their own base, and why they are doing their job. Almost every artist stays for more than one night and enjoys a party with their own breed.
EG: In addition, to the music rainbow and showcase activities, how does your team face the fact that Garbicz became an annual ceremony, with all the in-depth aspects involved in a ritual?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: It becomes more complex year by year, and we need to refocus every time. We are also facing the fact that all of our projects want to grow and evolve. But our space and budget are very limited. It is in human nature to make things better next year. And better most of the time means more people, more resources. We are now at a point where we have to stop physical growth and evolve into other directions. Emotional and psychological growth.
EG: Strikes nowadays often are nothing less than street parties. Without going into further details, if affiliation, philosophy, lifestyles, and spirituality are increasingly recreated within the club culture and raves scene, what values are important for you to promote and which ones clearly guide the Garbicz Festival?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: Gatherings out of time help people to interact on a higher level. They reconnect out of social borders. Of course, our festival is expensive and like this, we exclude people from the experience on our ground, but the process works anyway. Because especially the wealthier people are important to make a change. They have to learn to give and gift. To let go. And they will take values learned on the streets, into their peer groups to infect stubborn people with new values learned. And the loving connection between people from different backgrounds is important to create peace. You do not fight your family. And Garbicz Festival takes the responsibility to form and foster a global family.
EG: After six years of support, the mayor of Torzym suddenly rejects Garbicz’s permission to celebrate the festival, even though the fire department and other authorities had nothing to complain about. How did you solve the unexpected episode a few days before the festival had begun? Since Részard Stanulewicz has almost four more years of government, despite almost two decades in office, do you expect more surprises of this kind?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: Authorities always want to control things. In this case, it is a provincial power play. We have a lot of influential regional and international supporters that will back us, and help our festival to do its work.
EG: Zooming in on art and its executors, as an artist, what do you like most about performing in a setting like this dream forest with also a very special human environment?
Fritz Dyckerhoff: It is pure bliss! The dust on your forehead is the crown you were always searching for.
EG: To close the interview, let’s jump to a short Ping-Pong questionnaire…
- Cement, marble or wood? Marble
- Chicken or pasta? Pasta
- Beer, wine or whiskey? Always and forever. Beer
- A sunrise or a sunset? This question is too intellectual
- Analogue, digital or both? Music first
- 110 or 140 bpm? Music first
- A favourite piece of music? Harlem River
Fritz Windish: Soundcloud