Introducing: Virgo Festival
If what you are looking for cannot be found in the vast crowds of behemoth Bristol day parties, then one such intimate festival, now entering its third year, raises its head above the serene brow and deserves your attention.
Set in the sprawling lakeside grounds of a Tudor Manor house in Devon, this celebration of electronic music is quite unlike anything else you are likely to have wet your palettes with. Clean Conception were in attendance last year, and made the climb up the staircase to the walled garden at the back of the house to watch 3 hours of Amsterdam (via Berlin) heartthrob, Hunee trash expectations through flawless Funktion 1 Sound to a crowd of about 200. The festival had sold out, as you might expect for a party of 500 people boasting names such as Dan Shake, L.A duo Pschemagik and Nicholas Lutz, across a pair of outdoor stages and single stone Hall inside the house; perfect for those who don’t want sweat dripping from the ceiling.
Intimate doesn’t cut it; you are likely to have had a run in with every party goer there over the course of the 3 days. A sun soaked and sofa scattered hill between the lake and the house is the forum for these meet and greets. Proper food and drink are the order of the day, but come night time and Virgo’s secret weapon was revealed. When the Manor exploded into 45,000 Lumens of interactive projection we were so surprised that we got caught in the headlights for a full 3 hours - hallucinogens are rendered entirely unnecessary.
Virgo has just released its full lineup for it May bank Holiday throw down. Joining Berghain/Panormabar resident Tama Sumo comes Fabric resident and man of the hour Craig Richards, Job Jobse (resident from dearly departed Trouww) and Boston disco edit mastermind KON. Other names include Tel Aviv’s Moscomann, and Bawrut alongside Virgo regulars Jane Fitz, Ishmael, Dan Shake, The Menendez Brothers and Voyeur. The programmer clearly has a handle on what makes parties pop – residents from arguably Europe’s top 3 clubs of the last 15 years brings a wealth of experience to bear on the blissful garden’s attendants. Every one is famed for their ability to work a dancefloor, and whilst their notoriety as producers doesn’t necessarily rank as highly, they are true selectors in every sense of the word. Bristol mainstays include Chris Farrell (Idle Hands) and live performance from Ishmael, alongside a day curated by the inimitable Shapes crew featuring Dropout Disco & Shenk.
We decided to have a chat with co-founder Jacques, to try to suss why it is this recipe leaves quite such a sweet aftertaste:
What’s the best party you have danced at in the last 6 months & why?
I’m not one to brag but I think it might have to be our Virgo Launch party a few weeks ago down at 512 in London. Such a great space and there was a real good vibe in there. We had all our usual crowd down so everyone knew each other, and with the small capacity it was exactly how we wanted it and very much in line with the festival’s ethos. Andy Blake and everyone else played amazing sets right through till 6am and the tunes were roaring out of that Martin Audio system. We also had our best mate Dan boggling everyone’s minds with his brilliantly trippy visuals.
Andy Blake knows what’s up! What one thing should every Virgo dancer bring with them?
Their best smile. We like those.
All black or all glitter?
Obviously glitter. But biodegradable, let’s look after mother earth!
If you had to predict a crowd surf from one of this year’s performers, who would it be…?
The Menendez Brothers.
What is your key ingredient for party atmosphere other than the soundtrack?
Soundtrack is always important, but to get it right you need the whole package - from the production, location, the sound system, the crew/staff… It’s one big canvas and you want all the colours to work together. For me one of the most important ingredients is the crowd. If you’re surrounded by sound people all smiling and having a great time together then you’re on to something special. This is something we’re very particular about at Virgo, making sure we bring in the right people to join our team and focus on reaching out to their friends and their friends’ friends, as opposed to throwing loads of money in to adverts and reaching out to wider audiences. It takes more time, but growing organically is the way you build something special.
Who else are you most hankering to have play one of your throw downs?
I’m probably one of the biggest Andrew Weatherall fans on the planet. A Love From Outer Space in our walled garden we call The Jam would be a dream come true.
Weatherall must be from another dimension; got to agree with you! And one up and comer?
Kenny White. A true selector. He’ll be playing a special B2B set with his pal Danny Bushes at Virgo this year.
Front right or front left (or neither)?
FRONT LEFT obviously! But I do like a good walk about the dance floor. I usually try to find the best spot for space to dance and for sound. Not very good with sardines.
If Virgo could serve only one drink, what would it be?
Tequila Martinis baby
Damn! What labels are you keeping your eye on at the moment?
You should really check out my Virgo partner Ben’s new label Revoke. Proper stuff being pushed out with a first release from one of our favourites Derek Carr. Some really amazing music and they’ve got loads more exciting stuff in the pipeline.
A quick desert island disc; what LP would you take to your atoll?
Cheikh Lô – Degg Gui on the French label Chapter Two
Which 5 people would you want at your afters (living or dead)?
Kenny fuckin’ Powers and Will Ferrell. No explanation needed.
Kim Kardashian and her fantastic derriere to hold the champagne reception.
Jane Fitz on the decks.
David Attenborough to document everything for his next sequel ‘The Afters’.
Jacques Adda, thank you for talking to us! The May bank holiday is going to be live. Get your tickets here and see you in the garden!
Words by: Alec