by Devin Culham
We spoke with, Sebastian Eggert, founder of German EDM festival Airbeat-One about how the festival found its footing.
Airbeat-One festival is one of Europe’s longest-running music festivals.
From humble beginnings, festival-founder Sebastian Eggert couldn’t have anticipated that the German festival would someday be approaching its 17th year. Located on an airfield base near Neustadt-Glewe, the annual music festival has built a reputation for its high-caliber artists and even more impressive stage production. With Above & Beyond, Armin van Buuren, Marshmello, Hardwell, and more taking over the stage for Airbeat-One, there are no shortage of reasons why fans flock to Germany this July 11-15th
But it wasn’t always pyrotechnics and big EDM DJs for Airbeat-One. What grew out of a love for music, camping, and dancing almost didn’t survive its early years. However, Airbeat-One has managed to overcome these challenges with grace as it embarks on its 2018 edition in anticipation of creating a weekend of music wonderment for over 40,000 fans.
We spoke with Sebastian about Airbeat-One’s evolution and some of the most exciting moments from the last 17 years.
In its 17th year, Airbeat-One is one of the longest running dance music festivals in Europe – How has the festival evolved since its early years?
The festival grew relatively slow in the first years. We found our music style in 2013. After we booked our first EDM act in 2012 (Fedde le Grand), names like Alesso, DV&LM, and Steve Aoki followed in the year 2013 and our stages in the style of the Maya helped us to find our way into EDM. Over the next few years, we stepped this up more and more which helped us to increase the number of visitors extensively.
How would you compare the dance music and festival culture since Airbeat-One’s first event and today?
The festival developed from only dancing and camping into a real adventure and people travel to our festival to experience things they would otherwise never see. Everything that belongs to the festival is growing more and more and we try to make everything as fancy as possible. Therefore we provide fancy food areas and hospitality areas. The stages are growing and the festival develops to become a real short break from daily life with a fun factor of 100%.
Aside from booking massive headliners, what do you focus on to make Airbeat-One a unique festival experience?
Yes, we try to make Airbeat One a special brand from year to year where you have a festival experience that only exists with us. Through our travel themes, we have created these unlimited material ideas so we can be new and different every year and that is super important to us.
This year the theme is Great Britain. Why do you choose to celebrate different nations as part of the festival and stage design?
We want to be different to other worldwide festivals and we want to create a unique world for our guests. Choosing a different destination every year gives us the chance to still make the festival interesting for visitors and to provide a surprise for them because so that they do not exactly know what is waiting for them at the festival. This creates an awesome look and excitement for them as well as a huge anticipation for the design of the stages and festival areas.
How did you originally decide on an airfield as the festival grounds for Airbeat-One?
I decided on the location because I was looking for a place to host 50,000-70,000 people and it needed to be easily accessible for all the logistics. Of course, everything was still a dream when I first started and I honestly never thought that the festival could grow this big.
Throwing a major festival for over 15 years is an impressive achievement. What have been some of your greatest challenges and successes as the festival and the music have evolved?
The first years were very hard to handle, especially the funding forced us to touch our financial limits. Honestly, we thought about quitting the festival after some years because we lost lots of money. At that time we did not have a lot of help from sponsors or investors, instead, we just managed everything ourselves.
The second big cradle to overcome was the booking of the acts. From 2012 on, I decided to do that myself and book the acts that I personally like and thought were up to date. I listen to music and live sets a lot myself and I think that helps to understand what people would like to listen to.
On top of that, I always want to create fancy stages because I think it’s very important to show something to the visitor that they have never seen before. I love to design a great combination of lasers, pyrotechnics, lights, fire, LED and much more to create a first-class festival experience.
What have been some of your favorite moments from Airbeat-One over the years?
Oh, I’ve had many great moments over the past years. It’s just so impressive to stand behind the Main Stage for a moment. Especially seeing Tiesto, Hardwell or DV&LM play their set and you look into the crowd to see 30,000 happy people dancing, screaming and partying together. That’s what makes me really happy.
What is one thing that you want fans to bring with them to Airbeat-One this year?
I just want them to bring a good mood, fun, and friends to experience the four best days of their lives.