What would you do, if you were Charlie Bucket standing inside a mega chocolate factory armed with a magic wand, a bag of euphoria and a set of master keys that unlock all the elements of a magical music world? This mega factory has many moving parts and doors that provide you with access to the worlds greatest on stage performers and music talents. Each door leads you to a different stage, a decorated platform that presents a new and exciting vibe! Your only task, is to ensure that all your friends come together for one epic live music experience, where memories that last a lifetime are created…
With the festive season upon us, we thought it timely to catch up with Jsik Bouhbot, a man whose worklife mirrors the scenario we have just painted. Jsik produces three South African mainstay’s in the festival landscape including H20, Spring Fiesta and Ultra South Africa.
ON THE LIFE OF A FESTIVAL DIRECTOR…
@Houseonmag: Take us back in time, to Jsik Bouhbot the 18 year old or ealier just before your big break, what was it that drove you to the live entertainment and events industry?
@JsikBouhbot: I always enjoyed the dance scene but felt there was much room for improvement and I had believed I could make a difference in the industry. I have always had a passion for music and many of my personal friends were DJ’s which drove me to the industry.
@Houseonmag: Are there any fond memories you would like to share, that many people surely would not know about?
@JsikBouhbot: One of my fondest memories was when I did the Boy George event with a full house of 12 000 patrons, they announced on the radio that the highways were all blocked due to traffic, patrons were standing outside in the rain, waiting to get in. It was a great accomplishment in such a short space of time in the dance scene.
@Houseonmag: If you are not putting together South Africa’s greatest dance music events, what are you doing?
@JsikBouhbot: I like to travel to other dance events to constantly learn and experience what they have to offer so I can improve my own. Family is very important to me and when I’m not hard at work, I spend my time with my wife and children.
@Houseonmag: Outside of the festivals you have a hand in putting together, which is your favourite to attend?
@JsikBouhbot: I enjoy attending the Ultra music events around the world, each year I choose a new country. Another favourite is the Amsterdam Dance Music Festival at ADE.
@Houseonmag: In your 20 plus years of experience would you do anything differently, if so – what?
@JsikBouhbot: The scene is dominated by male artists, I would love to encourage and help develop more female artists as the ones we do have are very talented and I believe there is room for more in the dance industry.
ON TRAINING, DEVELOPMENT & SOCIAL CAUSES…
@Houseonmag: The dance festivals you produce have a charitable element tied directly to them, where a certain portion of proceeds are donated to various causes, what is the importance of giving back?
@JsikBouhbot: I believe in always helping those that are less fortunate… from animals to cancer funds and children’s homes. If everyone just helped a little I believe a big difference can be made. Seeing the joy and change from our charitable donations is a great feeling.
@Houseonmag: What is your view on the state of opportunities for on-the-job training and development for young people in the live technical production environment?
@JsikBouhbot: I think the current market has many opportunities to offer, we have highly skilled production personnel and training and development is easily achievable.
ON THE ECONOMY OF FESTIVALS…
In 2016 the Spring Fiesta was an economy in the region of R20 million, if I am an 18 year old social entrepreneur and keen to put on live productions that offer artists in my community the platform to showcase…
@Houseonmag: What word of advice would you share with me?
@JsikBouhbot: Follow your dreams and set yourself goals, start with small productions to gain experience and build your brand. This industry requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
@Houseonmag: What would you say is good starting capital for a music festival the magnitude of Spring Feista, H20 and Ultra, how do these scale in production value and what are the determining factors?
@JsikBouhbot: These are all determined by the artists’ fees and scale of production. Ultra being the most capital intensive as we have the best artists in the world catering for 40 000 patrons.
@Houseonmag: These festivals are cashless environments, how has technology changed the landscape of festivals over the years?
@JsikBouhbot: It has allowed a much better experience for patrons allowing easier access at the gates. Cashless cards have made simple things like buying drinks, food and festival essentials a much smoother and faster process. We can also learn patron’s trends so we can improve the festival experience further.
@Houseonmag: What production value and other technological advancements can patrons look forward to this season?
@JsikBouhbot: We bringing back something special for Spring Fiesta that we did when we hosted the great Avicci, imagine a giant claw over the dancefloor with crazy effects & pyro coming out of all sides… people are gonna be in for a treat!!
ON SAFETY AND SECURITY AT FESTIVALS…
@Houseonmag: What sort of incidents have you come across during festivals and how can patrons better prepare for their own safety and security when attending festivals?
@JsikBouhbot: Patrons lose valuable items all the time, I suggest you only bring essentials to the festivals. Always let your friends know where you are at all times and arrange a meeting point if you are separated from one another.
@Houseonmag: Where would you rate safety and security on the importance barometer of any event production?
@JsikBouhbot: I would rate this as the most important, we have highly experienced security and medics on site, and we work closely with the cities disaster management. We are always prepared for any scenario.
Over the years Jsik Bouhbout has built some of the most successful, award-winning dance event brands in the
country… H20, Ultra Music Festival, Electric Circus and Spring Fiesta to name but a few.
Ultra, H20 and Spring Fiesta were nominated for Best Festival in the 2017 Dance Music Awards SA, with Ultra ultimately taking the title! All three dance music festivals have again been nominated for the 2018 edition of the Dance Music Awards SA.
ON BRANDS AT FESTIVALS…
@Houseonmag: What are big brands specifically looking for when partnering with music festivals of such magnitudes?
@JsikBouhbot: Brands are always looking to plug their product into experiences that are aligned with their strategies, so sales would be one objective as well as PR & marketing value by associating themselves with our festivals.
@Houseonmag: What sort of work goes into establishing, securing and maintaining these strategic long-term and mutually beneficial relationships?
@JsikBouhbot: Literally knocking on doors. If your property has a track record its easier to get replies, once you get the meeting to propose the event, you basically have to sell your event to them & show them how they will get the appropriate returns on their investment.
ON FESTIVE MUSIC…
@Houseonmag: Music and performances at festivals, what do you look for when booking performing artists and DJs?
@JsikBouhbot: Musical knowledge and crowd interaction are very important factors. An artist having a large fan base is also a contributing factor.
@Houseonmag: Over the years are there any major festival anthems you would like to recall that have shaped memories or defined memorable moments for you and patrons?
@JsikBouhbot: One of my most memorable anthems was when Swedish superstar Avicii played Levels, every single patron had their hands in the air and were singing along. This moment showed me the power of music and the unity and freedom enjoyed by everyone!
@Houseonmag: And this festive, what music can we look out for?
@JsikBouhbot: This season we have Major Lazer Sound System at H20 as headliners along with 50 of SA’s top local talent. Spring Fiesta will feature Charles Webster and the best local artists SA has to offer.
@Houseonmag: Any parting words…
@JsikBouhbot: I highly recommend attending one of my festivals so you can experience what my team and I work so hard for in bringing world class productions to South Africa, Cheers.
Collaborators Note: H20 Remembrance – A very special event dedicated to H2O Co Founder, the late Paul Forbes, takes place on 29 September 2018 at Wildwaters in Ekurhuleni, featuring Major Lazer Sound System alongside 50 of SA’s top local talents. Just a few days later on Saturday, 6 October 2018 the Spring Fiesta, Dance Cultures National Holiday returns for its 8th consecutive year featuring international headliner Charles Wesbter, and a special Afrotainment Showcase with DJ Tira, Distruction Boyz, Tipcee and Dlaba.