In the heart of Vancouver Island’s rainforest lies the coastal dreamland known as Ucluelet. The magic that surrounds this little town is almost visible in the iridescent mossy undergrowth and bioluminescent underwater stars. Once a year, Ukee - as the locals call it - gives regular folk, such as myself, the opportunity to indulge in its magic with the added perk of live music. Otalith Music Festival brings forth the richest West Coast experience in the most intimate setting. This year the stage is graced with the presence of Shakey Graves, People Under The Stairs, Fidlar and many more. Otalith reflects Ucluelet in all its quaintness with camping so close you could roll to the festival. But enough of my gushing – to give you the real inside scoop, festival coordinator Warren Recker shares what Otalith 2016 has in store:
What does Otalith encapsulate as a Festival? How does it differentiate itself?
I suppose festivals are inherently different because of the people who organize them. Everyone has a different idea of what a festival should be, and the interesting part is trying to amalgamate those different views. Of course, Otalith is a Not-For-Profit, meaning no one gets paid, which might be the biggest differentiator from other festivals. The goal is to put on the biggest rock show on the coast and use the proceeds to donate to great local initiatives like The Jamie Collins Legacy Fund and Pacific Wild.
What is going to set Otalith apart this year?
Two things that set this year apart: Shakey Graves and Sold Out. I think we have been trying to get Shakey Graves up here since the first day of Otalith and we couldn’t be more excited! Friday night is going to be a very special night. The biggest challenge a festival has when it’s starting out is getting popular artists to come all the way out to Ucluelet to perform at a festival they’ve probably never heard of. After the success of last year, Otalith has turned a corner and is becoming known as a good place to play. We try to show our artists as much West Coast hospitality as possible.
What do people have to look forward to this year?
You can’t find a better location than Ucluelet for a festival. Anyone who has been to the coast knows that once you hit the intersection between Tofino and Ucleulet - better known as ‘the junction’ by islanders - everything changes. Everything slows down. The big beautiful trees, the warm inviting people, mixed with the smell of the ocean, create an incredible energy that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I am looking forward to seeing 1500 people having a good time. We start ramping up for Otalith in January with tickets going on sale February 11th. It is a long journey right up until the gates open. We show up on Wednesday August 17th to an empty baseball field and start setting up. Two days later, we will have a campground full of 1500 people experiencing something magical together. It’s almost like a drug. The high is amazing, and on Sunday around 2pm when everyone has left and we are breaking it all down, the low is just as amazing. I am also looking forward to all the families this year! I have had a lot of families asking if Otalith is kid appropriate, and it absolutely is! I don’t think there are a lot of young festivals on the island that cater to parents under 40 years old. Otalith is for everyone – the hard-core festival-goer as well as the family of four. Bringing everyone together definitely creates a positive environment.
What's the ‘good time for a good cause’ concept about?
It’s simple. We put on a festival. Everyone shows up, parties for the weekend, and we donate money to amazing local initiatives! This year we built our own ticketing capabilities, so instead of using a 3rd party service that would charge 6-9% to our festival-goers, we charge a flat 6%. Three percent goes towards the credit card processing and the other 3% is donated directly to the Jamie Collins Legacy Fund.
Photography & Interview by Elyse Mathes