Electric Island Festival becomes a 75th Liberation Day signature event June 22
Hagåtña — Just as the once underground electronic dance music scene has burst to the foreground of entertainment and pop culture, so has Guam’s biggest EDM festival.
For the first time, the Electric Island Festival will be a 75th Liberation Day signature event, and the party grounds are moving back to Paseo, Hagatna on June 22. “We’re ecstatic for the opportunity to be able to work with the GVB and the Liberation committee at this level as it’s been a long time coming for us,” says Jia Wang, CEO of EIF.
When Wang first attempted to throw an EDM festival back in 2010, he was faced with a lot of pushback and discouragement. The scene wasn’t big enough they said. You won’t be able to fill the house they said. It just isn’t possible they said.
“Rejection and failure was, and still is, part of the process and our journey to continue moving EIF forward. Working hard, being patient, and withstanding time is what got us here,” Wang says. “There are certainly no words to fully explain this synopsis, but let’s just say I have a big, dorky smile on my face right now when I think about how all this is playing out.”
The festival will take place inside Guerrero Field near the Liberation Carnival grounds. With the support of GVB and the liberation committee, the EIF team is getting even more creative in terms of production and performances.
“This year we’ll be able to push the boundaries of creativity both in production and special performances. I don’t want to leak out too much, yet,” Wang says. “But moving back to Paseo for the signature event will bring a different vibe, perhaps closer knit as the baseball field is not as stretched out as the Guam International Raceway where we previously held the event, so we can really create a thick vibe that will leave people wanting more.”
Aside from the venue change, the DJ lineup is truly unique this year. The list of quality EDM Djs from Guam was almost non-existent seven years ago. Now the local EDM DJ scene has grown right along with EIF.
For 2019 there will be more local performers mixing sets for EDM fans than those from off island.
“This is the first EIF where we have this many locals on one lineup, paying homage to the rise of electronic music in Guam,” Wang says. “When we first started EIF in 2013 I could barely find three to four, and now we can pretty much stack a festival lineup of electronic music DJs using just local talent. This is something I am particularly proud of — the culture is growing and being recognized.”
The local lineup includes musical artist Jed Antonio of Straight Up Music, and DJs Sylnt, EJ Flores, Big Ken Camacho of Saipan, Dirty Harry, Zodiac Nat and Tom Foolery.
“Super excited to be on the card for EIF Guam,” Antonio says. “Seeing people come together for the appreciation of music is always an amazing sight. It is what it is.”
Radio personality and DJ Ronnie Perez credits the festival for growing the population. A part of the EIF festivities from the start, Perez was one of the few mainstream DJs adding house and techno to his sets since the 90s.
“Absolutely, EIF has influenced these local DJs. It’s certainly made life easier for guys that have tried to do it on their own,” he says.
The off-island talent has also helped influence the scene, staying connected with Guam and helping aspiring DJs hone their craft.
“Guam DJs are dope,” DJ Ace Ramos of Manila says. “They always push the boundaries. I love their approach to trap and bass music.”
Ramos, who performed at this year’s Road to EIF in March, has been influential in getting Guam DJs international experience and exposure.
“I was heavily influenced by Ace to follow in his footsteps of being a traveling/touring DJ,” says DJ Sylnt. “After meeting him, before our sets for 2017’s Road to EIF, he told me about all the places he’s played, and how the opportunity is there. I just need to break out of my shell, and Guam, and look for opportunities overseas.”
Though he didn’t start out being into electronic music in high school, he says he found an appreciation for it through other DJs he’s met and through Guam’s growing EDM scene.
“Sylnt has been dope even before I met him,” Ramos says. “I just gave him gigs here in Manila and probably gave him tips on what to play.”
As Sylnt grew in his EDM style, he also partnered with hip-hop and rap artist Antonio, and the two expanded upon their musical creativity together.
“DJ Sylnt is basically family to me at this point,” Antonio says. “Whether it be our directions as artists, producing in the studio or just chilling while bouncing ideas of each other, he is a homie and someone I always enjoy working with. The energy, creatively, is always on point and the DJ/emcee duo we have going on is something we look forward to delivering every time the opportunity arises.”
“While it is a moment to celebrate, we do have a lot of work ahead to make this year’s signature event as memorable as possible,” Wang says.
“When you’re faced with many rejections, in the beginning, you really aren’t thinking too far ahead since the only goal we wanted to accomplish before was to just get EIF launched -- that alone was a mountain to climb on its own. For us to be the signature event should be taken as a lesson and hard-message in life that we want people to realize.”
Headliners include DJ Worthy, a prominent member of one of the most recognized music labels in bass-house – Dirtybird Records.
“Guam is about to get shook with his debut performance on the island this summer,” Wang says.
DJ Nori will co-headline, and is one of the fastest rising talents from Japan and will perform at EIF in June. He recently signed to dance music’s most prominent label, SPINNIN records, based in Netherlands.
If you go
What: 7th Annual Electric Island Festival
When: June 22
Where: Guerrero Field, Paseo, Hagatna
For more info and to buy tickets:
EIF End of Summer Aug. 24
EIF Halloween Massive Oct. 26
EIF NYE Dec. 31
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