This past week we here at Jozi-Deep had the pleasure of chatting with Ilsa Roberts From Smoking Dragon and here’s what she had to say to us.
1. Where did the idea for Smoking Dragon festivals originate?The name comes from the dragon mountains… Drakensberg…. The smoke of firebreaks, wood stoves out, the chimneys of and the smokey mists that are always there. At the end of the year we usually build a dragon and burn it at midnight……this year we are asking everyone to place a personal note inside the pyre describing the worst aspects of 2018 in this way we will burn away all the accumulated angst… ready for a New Year.
2. How would you describe Smoking Dragon to someone whose never heard of it ? The festival is about breaking down barriers. A wonderful way to do this is through music. The line-up is extremely important to us. We have 6 stages set at the dam, near the river, in the fields looking onto the Northern Berg Panorama and in and around the lodge. Each stage has a different theme and attracts different types of people. so all these cliques end up meeting in a wild place at an emotional time of the year. Each genre creates a different mood. So it is a festival for people that enjoy art and love music as well as natural beautyFor people who want to branch out socially and meet new people …. As opposed to those who just want to escape and shut themselves off from the world.
3. How did Smoking Dragon end up taking place at the beautiful ampethitre lodge ?\Each year Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge hosts a New Years Party … these began in about 2000 … so about nine years ago the parties demanded to be recognised as more than just a party…. And so the beast awoke.
4. What are some of your personal favorite performances from over the years by all the incredible artists ?Brother Moves on, The Muffins, Cortina Whiplash …. They were with us from the start.. recently Nakhane, Lo_Ghost, Sun Xa …
5. What makes Smoking Dragon different from other music festivals around S.A.?Smoking Dragon runs workshops within the surrounding community before the festival. We capitalise on the fact that people pour in from the cities with skills and experience and by using tickets as collateral we are able to entice them to help us to run these. SD also showcases female musicians on the first night to expose people to the wealth of talented women in SA that struggle to get gigs because of their gender… we sift through music that has been recorded on cell phones and in back rooms, trying to give everyone with talent. Chance to be heard. We also have a PINK TENT. A space that openly states that all genders and sexual preferences are welcome. It sends out the message that Smoking Dragon will not harbor bigots, specifically people who are intolerant towards the LGBT community but also people WITHIN the LGBT community who have become apprehensive of socialising with Heterosexuals. So to be very clear the PINK TENT welcomes Heterosexuals too. I think the festival is truly representative of al South Africans and their music.
6. What advice do you have for first time festival goers coming to Smoking Dragon this year ?Leave all your branded clothing, electronic devices and other urban clutter at home… open your minds, open your hearts and just be the best person you can be for three days…… it could change your life.
We thank Smoking Dragon for having us this year and we look forward to seeing you all there along side the Jozi-Deep team.