Detroit Electronic Music Festival is one of the quintessential EDM events in the U.S., so why not translate that energy, particularly from the early days, in another location? With the first Drop Fest, which occurred on August 11, local events coordinator and promoter Jerin Sage looked to replicate that vibe in Flint.
With a successful start, Drop Fest featured three stages of DJs from Flint, Detroit, Ypsilanti, and even Chicago, along with live art installation, vendors, and other attractions. Events were held at the Flat Lot, RiverBank Park, and Rutherford Parking Structure in downtown Flint and covered all EDM genres.
Crossfadr spoke with Sage about the future of this new EDM event.
How did the first event go?
Sage: I think the first Drop Fest can best be described as fun, positive. It was motivational – I think is a good way to describe it – but especially, there was with the weather, you know, we got rained out, so we had to change some things around at the last minute, but it didn’t really effect much. There was great music out there. The turnout was very positive. There were no negative confrontations, or even situations all day. A lot of people were just smiling and dancing and enjoying the music. It got a lot of local DJs and people in that scene come out and be a little more well-known – so that was really good as far as being able to put it out there on the main strip of Flint, you know.
After doing the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, why did you decide to create another EDM event in Michigan?
Sage: It was an idea that had been thrown around for a while. I had been trying to do a lot more event production around Flint to try to bring the community together, over the past several years, a lot of media production, so this turned into another shot at something that hadn’t happened, and in Flint, we see jazz festival and the car shows, and we’ve got a lot of other different types of music festivals down there, and this was just one of the genres that’s up and coming, and it’s been around for a long time, just underground, and so this was kind of an opportunity to give it a shot and see if people can relate to it. It definitely was a learning experience as far as some different approaches to take to next year for sponsorships and partnerships. It was all thrown together in about three months. With that in consideration, I think it went very fantastic.
As far as all the DJs being able to be there, the sound was all right, and all of the mechanical, technical, logistical problems and issues weren’t there. We didn’t have any issues at all. So as far as the actual festival, security issues and hospitality, the trash pickup and everything, they were all great. No one left a big mess or destroyed anything. So, for downtown Flint, I think it definitely was a huge success. It was definitely inspired by the early years of Detroit Electronic Music Festival, but with a Flint twist.
What are your plans for the future? Will there be a Drop Fest in 2013?
Sage: There’s definitely going to be a Drop Fest 2013. It’s already in the works. It has actually been in planning stages since before Drop Fest 2012 actually came down. We have the potential sponsors already, and I have been hoping for a lot bigger names to come out and see the potential behind us and see the city space that we’re working with and see the actual venue, because aesthetically, it was a lot of fun and just beautiful to be able see so many people experiencing the downtown Flint area. I think that’s it’s something we need to do most definitely in the future. So, it’s going to happen.
Are you planning to keep it Midwest and Michigan based, or would you like international performers on the bill
Sage: Well, I would love to have international performers. That all just is going to be depending on the budget that we end up having this year, because it’s all out of pocket and self-funded, just kind of underground, thrown together by a small group of people that are just trying to do something positive around here. But the music, bounce around the streets of Flint, if somebody’s out there and wants to get on board and sees the vision and wants to help us out with that, I’m sure we’d love to have them. But, as of right now, it’s going to be a year of trying to get some money together and find some sponsors to see what kind of entertainment we can come up with. This last year, almost all of the DJs just volunteered their performances for the festival, so we are mostly working on mostly on budget. I see it being a lot of that to give some of the smaller-name DJs a chance to come out, but definitely needs some headliners. I know DJ Psycho said he was down next year, and Dabura said he was down next year, so we’ve got them for sure. Hopefully, they can talk to some of the other, better-name DJs and get the word out.
EDM festival attendance in the U.S. is up. Where do you see that going with your events in the future?
Sage: Well, I’ve been going to Detroit Electronic Music Festival since the very beginning, so, year by year, I kind of notice that maybe it does get smaller, but maybe not – maybe it doesn’t get smaller, maybe, I think, it’s just different crowds, or something, every year, but how it relates to the whole thing, I’m not very experienced as far as the entire big scene goes around the area. It’s wrong of me to say that, really, but I’m hoping that if people are looking for more fun and social things to do, that they’ll put Flint on the map, and realize we do have something to offer and we have plenty of space for people to come. Not only explore but look into different business ventures and things. We have a lot of vacant space here that needs to be taken up, and if we can get positive, good things going on out here, then we can build a large city of out it. That’s what we’re at least trying to do – anything’s worth a shot, as far as that goes – but I’m not sure how the Flint scene relates to a larger scale, except that I haven’t really seen a lot of people, and everyone that I know really doesn’t want to come to Flint. That’s what I’m trying to do, as far as the larger scale goes. We’re not on the map, and we need to be.
Do you have other events planned in Michigan?
Sage: There’s going to be more in the future, for sure – nothing at the moment that’s going to be large scale, festival style. But there’s definitely a lot of smaller shows that are going to be around town throughout the year. Probably a couple of parties, and things like that, but kind of smaller promotional things. It’s all in the works – always in the works.
For a music-related question, Detroit is the birthplace of techno, but today’s EDM performers are generally coming from Europe. Do you think that Detroit’s performers and scene could see a potential resurgence?
Sage: Well, Detroit is the birthplace of, or is known as the birthplace of, and also, I think it will remain home to a lot of people that used to be in those warehouses and underground, driving from spot to spot with directions and calling hotlines, and stuff, but I think Detroit is always going to have a spot in peoples’ hearts and definitely influence, as far as where the scene has gone on a lot of levels. I’m not sure how they do it in Europe, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of evolution before everyone realizes it’s good music and it’s fun to dance to. So, wherever that shifts in the rankings, or whatever, home sweet home. But evolution is always a good thing, especially in electronic music: more sounds, different beats, different production.