July 11, 2013 Features & Images » Feature Story

Do You Believe? 

Behind the scenes at the festival in Whistler Olympic Park

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Organizers of a new electronic music and arts festival hope to turn locals on to a sound booming beyond our borders.

The Morans look less frazzled and sleepless than they should.

They are sitting on their living room couch in their sprawling Alpine home, piles of festival passes, posters and banners are stacked high on the kitchen table behind them. Their two young children chatter quietly on a staircase just out of sight.

But a precarious calm surrounds Jane, a petite blonde who bears a striking resemblance to Gwyneth Paltrow, and her husband Adrian, who is tall with a sturdy build and a handsome, but no-nonsense face.

Then Adrian's cell phone rings.

"Sorry," he says, peeking at the screen. "This is what it's like right now."

They're a week away from hosting the inaugural Believe Freedom Festival, a five-day art, culture and music event that will take place in Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley from July 11 to 15.

The family moved to Whistler from West Vancouver-via-South Africa just over two years ago and almost immediately they began to plot a way to turn their years of experience throwing concerts, their passion for Goa-trance music (more on that later) and the beauty of their newfound home into an unforgettable summer festival that they could grow into something huge.

"There's a gap in the market here," Jane says. "Yes, it's a big risk, but when you weigh out why you're doing it and all the good factors against why it wouldn't work, it's worth it. It's not just any festival, it's a very specific festival that's drawing 40,000 people in places like Brazil and Europe."

That might be true, but they're also aware that the style of electronic music the festival is built around hasn't gained much traction in this country yet. So they created the roster Trojan horse-style, adding two of Whistler's favourite genres, hip hop and reggae, along with the lesser-known acts they love.

Spend any time here and you quickly learn the golden rule: score a Marley (in this case, Julian) and secure a place in Whistler's heart. "Everyone loves reggae," Adrian says. "We've got that common ground. People can agree on some of the music. I think word of mouth will grow (the festival) for sure. That venue can hold 25,000 people. We've done what we can on our budget this year."

As confident and optimistic as the couple is, they still haven't sold as many tickets yet — one week out — as they would like. Questions linger: Can they convince locals to give this brand new event a shot, especially in the busy summer months? Will music fans travel from further down the highway to attend? Will this niche electronic music really win over Canadian fans the way they hope? Furthermore, what the hell is Goa?

Speaking of Whistler Olympic Park

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